Chinese Localization: Selecting The Best Voice Talent

If you’re planning to establish or market your brand in China, you need to give precedence to local culture and language in every move you make.

17% of the global population is native Chinese. They also have a consumer market that’s expanding at an incredible speed.

In order to establish yourself in the second largest economy in the world, you need to localize your business strategies. This is why localizing voice-overs in native accents is a crucial part of expanding business in the Chinese market.

In order to successfully translate voice-overs from English into Mandarin Chinese, there are a few rules to take into consideration.

Chinese: A Macrolanguage

Chinese is a macrolanguage—one that combines many similar languages that share the same history and cultural origins. Despite their similarities, speakers of each sub-language are not well-versed in others that collectively make up the macrolanguage. This means that speakers of different dialects are unable to comprehend other dialects, despite being part of the same macrolanguage.

There are 13 different sub-languages that combine to form the greater Chinese language with a million speakers belonging to each. This shows the extent of the sub-languages which singularly would not suffice to serve the entire native community.

This is a clear indication that voice-overs need to be done in a dialect that serves Chinese speakers globally and not just a single community.

Language(s) Of The People

Recording 13 or more variants of the same voice-over sounds like a hassle, doesn’t it?

What you need is a language variant that can be understood by a large number of Chinese-speaking people and serves your business needs alike. Five dialects that the list of 13 can be shortlisted to include:

  • Mandarin
  • Cantonese
  • Taiwanese Mandarin
  • Taiwanese Hokkien
  • Shanghainese

Mandarin: There are currently 873 million natives who speak this language; it is the most widely known Chinese language. For most people, Mandarin is a term interchangeable for Chinese.

The diasporic Chinese community based in China and U.S amounts to a total of more than a billion people including second-language speakers which are 178 million. This gives us an idea of why Mandarin would be a wise choice for localizing voice-overs.

Cantonese: This dialect has 62 million speakers worldwide. It is not only the dominant language in Southern China but also the official language in Macau and Hong Kong. With an economically-diverse population well-versed in Cantonese, it can serve as the second-best option for voice-overs.

Taiwanese Mandarin: This is the official language used in documentation. Even though it’s similar to the larger Mandarin language, the accent is slightly different. Most people in Taiwan are second-language speakers even though there are 4.3 million speakers of Taiwanese Mandarin.

Taiwanese Hokkien: One of the native languages of Taiwan, it’s popular in media, education, entertainment and daily conversations. The speakers belonging to this dialect amount to 15 million in total.

Shanghainese: Spoken mostly in Shanghai and adjacent regions, there are around 14 million speakers who speak Shanghainese. Despite its numbers, it is of immense significance to use this in voice-overs because of Shanghai’s economic importance.

Variety Of Scripts

In order to improve literacy in the People’s Republic of China, the character set of traditional Chinese was simplified to come up with an alternate script. Even though this may have helped in improving literacy among the natives, it has complicated options available to businesses when selecting an appropriate script for advertising.

An expert voice-over artist needs to understand the importance of this aspect and opt for Simplified Chinese to render video campaigns relatable for the vast majority.

Are you ready to give our voice-over artists a shot?

LIMPID provides excellent translation services from English to Mandarin Chinese which help localize business strategies and produce mobile content accurately for the target audience. We offer Mandarin Chinese voice overs as well as translations of e-mails, mobile content and other texts into Chinese.

In order to get your audio-visual content translated, contact us now.