English to Chinese

English has been the fastest growing language of the world for a decade now. But the Chinese language is catching up fast. Everyone knows that China is a huge market. It has a seemingly insatiable appetite for goods and services. Is it a wonder that US and European companies are falling over each other to set up shop in China? Folks, it is boom time in China even in the aftermath of world recession.

The Companies in North America are slowly finding out that while there is a huge opportunity in China, communication remains one of the biggest impediments in setting up shop in China. Not only do their managers –both marketing and operational – need to start learning the local language, all their marketing collaterals and other documents have to be translated from English to Chinese. Translation isn’t such a big deal these days; can be done easily through available software and free translation sites like Google and BabelFish. So what is the problem?

The problem is about idiomatic English often used in marketing collaterals in North America. All the marketing collaterals have to be rendered into plain vanilla. Translation through translation engines and software of idiomatic English into Chinese will lead to utter confusion: at best it will fall short of conveying the message of the collaterals and at worst it will turn out be gibberish. The English used, therefore, will have to be shorn of all turn of phrases and idioms. Clearly, to divest the documents and marketing collaterals of all nuances peculiar to the English language, one has to first recognize all nuances of the language. This is easier said than done. For example, while a North American will not find anything special in the phrase ‘to be on the same page’ and find it ordinary, an English to Chinese translation of this phrase will not convey the intended meaning. A native English speaker of US will find the phrase so ordinary that she will let it remain in its phrasal form even while translating.

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