Chinese is the most used language in the world. It is spoken in numerous Asian regions, in addition to several more regions containing Chinese communities. The Chinese dialect is broad in variety, and complex in term and vocabulary formulation. In addition to its dialect, Chinese writing is just as complex stylistically. Being so complex, the Chinese language lends itself to several unique difficulties for Chinese translators and interpreters. Contributing factors that complicate the translating and interpreting process are geographic and demographic.
First, let us take a look at the basics of written and spoken Chinese.
- Writing: The Chinese language does not have a set alphabet. If you pick up a Chinese newspaper, what you would see are pages full of Chinese “characters” in print. Each character is a syllable, a single concept. Several Chinese characters are put together to form a single phrase or word. Characters vary in the number of strokes- the number of lines that make up each character- from just one to over thirty.
There are two versions of written Chinese: Simplified & Traditional.
- Traditional Chinese is the older, original form of the written language.
- Simplified Chinese is derived from reducing the number of strokes per character from Traditional Chinese to make reading and writing simpler.
Most Chinese people are able to understand the majority of both traditional & simplified Chinese. They are, however, likely to be more comfortable with one version over the other.
- Spoken: The Chinese language is made up of hundreds of different dialects, including:
- Mandarin (Guanhua)
- Cantonese (Yue)
- Wu (Shanghaiese)
- Xiang (Hunanese)
Mandarin is the most widely used dialect, and is considered the “common language”. Many Chinese speak Mandarin, in addition to their local dialect. During vacation in Taipei, I noticed several citizens were fluent in Hokkien (Taiwanese language) and very familiar with- if not absolutely fluent in speaking Mandarin.
There are a few elements that a translator must be aware of while working with the Chinese Language:
- Having the same Chinese dialect does not indicate same type of character usage. As aforementioned, there are two versions of written Chinese. Regions or groups that use the same dialect may not necessarily use the same version of Chinese writing. For example: The primary dialect of Hong Kong and Guangdong (of Mainland China) is Cantonese. However, each region uses different characters- Traditional for Hong Kong, Simplified for Guangdong.
Chinese dialects do share the same written characters. However, these characters do not always carry the same meaning for all dialects. For example, the Chinese character for “house” in Mandarin is 房. In Cantonese, 房 means “room”. In addition, the use of Chinese characters differs across dialects. The common form of saying “thank you” in Mandarin is “xie xie”, written as 謝謝. The common way of saying “thank you” in Cantonese for a gift, is “do jeh”, written as 多謝. Concluding a thank you note to someone fluent only in Mandarin with “多謝” will read as “duo xie”- which will seem oddly amusing to the receiver’s ear, and inaccurate.
- Forms of expression differ by region, even though two regions speak the same dialect. In other words, it is inaccurate to assume that all speakers of a single dialect say everything the same exact way. For instance, the translation for “You’re welcome” from English to Mandarin will differ for the Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese- both primary speakers of Mandarin. Saying “you’re welcome” in Taiwanese Mandarin, is “bu ke qi”. In Beijing of Mainland China, “you’re welcome” is “mei sher”. Saying “mei sher” in response to a “thank you” in Taiwan, will more than likely earn you a puzzled look.
By recognizing the issues discussed above, translators using Chinese language will not be overwhelmed when beginning their work. There are helpful, important steps a translator can take to ensure the final document/service appropriate for the client. The first crucial step for a translator is to work closely with his/her client to determine the target market or audience he/she is translating for. Afterwards, the translator is to accurately identify the proper written form to use in a written/printed document. For interpreters, they will need to determine the proper dialect to use.
JR Language had the opportunity and privilege to be present and have an exhibition table at the US Arab Summit last week in New York City. The event was held at the Union League Club and the results and turnaround were excellent and impressive.
Through enlightening presentations, we learned that there is a wealth of growing business opportunities in the Arab region, which boasts a population of 400 million. This high population number means there are a multitude of consumer needs waiting to be met. It is crucial, however, to be aware of cultural differences (highlighted on many occasions) and the importance of having a local partner in the region to help in facilitating successful business transactions. One of the speakers spoke eloquently regarding the importance of cultural awareness that many business people tend to forget while conducting business on a global scale: “Sensitivity and awareness are important in establishing good relationships; shortcuts create problems and leave doubts forever”. The most important advice was, understand and respect differences as a key factor to building business relationships in the region.
There are already several European countries working with the Arab region to make good use of business opportunities. Another country participating in the mix is China. For example, in the food industry, China has identified the market potential of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region and has made a lot of progress in procuring Halal food for that market. Halal foods are foods and drinks that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines. Before, companies in China would not pass certification for Halal food. Now, there are many companies certified in the last 2 years since they worked and adjusted to reach the 400 million consumers.
The U.S Arab Summit gave us great insight on creating opportunities to improve the US- Arab relationship thru commerce and business, with an important ingredient of social responsibility to help the region. A way to help is to educate their people and create jobs. The MENA region is not only the fastest growing region in the world but its official language is also the fastest growing language on the internet, Arabic. The impact of the internet in this region has been incredible and can be seen in the political impact of social media. Of the 400 million people living in the MENA region today, 60% are under the age of 25, 120 million are Internet users, which represents a growth over 1000% during the last decade. Internet has given the young people a podium for their voices and new resources for information and products from far away.
JR Language networking at the C3 Summit 2013.
Partner, Carter, DeLuca, Farrell, Schmidt Panel: Why Developing, Protecting and Defending Intellectual Property Can Help Increase Global Valuation
JR Language is excited to be a part of the American Translators Association annual conference, which will take place this year in the lively city of San Antonio, Texas! Yuisa Gonzalez will be representing the Company this year. She will have an opportunity to share JR Language’s experience in utilizing machine translation with fellow translators and interpreters from around the world.
As a whole, the ATA Conference is a spectacular networking and educational event for translators and interpreters of all types and experience levels. Each year has provided valuable, informative lessons and interactive, hands-on learning opportunities in a wide variety of topics. We anticipate this year to be as beneficial as ever.
The 54th ATA Conference will be an event spanning four days beginning on November 6th and ending on the 9th. The event schedule is organized by topics, beginning with a series of preconference seminars, that “provide in-depth and insightful training” by experts in their field of translation. This year, the seminars will focus on specialized areas including the medical and legal fields. The nature of the medical field will always demand translation and interpretation services. This year, the Conference offers intensive workshops focused on sensitive topics of medical interpreting including trauma and medical terminology. Legal translation is also very important and complex, as are the needs and qualifications for legal interpreters and translators. Hands on training will be offered in popular topics of law such as contract law, and civil procedure.
In addition to seminars, sessions will be held throughout the 4 day event, focused on developing the skills and knowledge of interpreters and translators. Attendees will be able to choose from a total of 175 sessions, featuring a wide variety of languages, specializations and skill levels. Important topics covered in these sessions include financial and technical translations in addition to those mentioned previously.
JR Language is a proud corporate member of the American Translation Association. Through our representative Yuisa, JR Language is looking forward to creating new business connections, and acquiring new skills to integrate into our company. We continue to build upon our knowledge, adding to the quality of our translation and interpretation services.
The Chinese language is unique and fascinating in the world of human languages and linguistics. It holds the title of being the most widely used language in the world, with one fifth of the population speaking Chinese as their native tongue. It is spoken in numerous Asian regions, in addition to several more regions of the world containing Chinese communities. This figure is forecasted to grow in the years to come.
In contrast with other languages, Chinese has a level of complexity that comes from the fact that there are several dialects in the spoken form and two sets of alphabets for the Chinese written form of the language.
Unlike most written languages, written Chinese is not based on an alphabetical system. If you open a Chinese newspaper or book, you will see a wide array of intricate and decorative looking symbols. Each symbol tells its own story, by conveying a single concept and sound. When put together on a page, the symbols are like notes on a sheet of music: in different combinations, the symbols create a variety of different meanings and moods. These symbols are known as the characters of the written Chinese system, of which there are approximately over 80,000.
The written system can be further broken down into two forms: Traditional and Simplified. Traditional Chinese is the original form of the written language. Simplified Chinese is the modern form of the written system and is characterized as having less pen strokes per character than a Traditional Chinese character, which makes Simplified Chinese exactly what it sounds like it is- simpler to read and write. Both forms are used in varying degrees of regularity in different Chinese speaking regions. Simplified Chinese was adopted in Singapore schools in 1969, and in Mainland China in 1956.
There are numerous Chinese dialects, and several regions of speakers for each dialect. The most popular dialects of the Chinese language include: Mandarin, Cantonese, Xiang (Hunanese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Min (Fujian, Hokkien, Taiwanese), Hakka and Gan. Mandarin is the most widely used dialect, and is considered the “common language”. Many Chinese speak Mandarin, in addition to their local dialect. During vacation in Taipei, I noticed several citizens were fluent in Hokkien (Taiwanese language) and very familiar with- if not absolutely fluent in speaking Mandarin.
Chinese is also a tonal language, the meaning of a word changes according to the tone used.
The first crucial step to provide Chinese translation is to work closely with the client to determine his target market, after that you can identify the proper written form to use in a written/printed document. On the other hand for interpretation services, you need to determine the proper dialect to use to communicate effectively with your Chinese audience.
The UN celebrates English Language Day annually on the 23rd of April. This date was chosen in commemoration of the birth date of the influential English playwright and poet, William Shakespeare. To celebrate the English language, all United Nations staff takes the opportunity to attend a series of events and activities that entertain, inform and enlighten. Book signings and readings are held at the UN bookstore, featuring American authors. Poetry exchanges take place, also in honor of “National Poetry month” established by the Academy of American Poets.
English is often referred to as the “lingua franca” or the common language- of the modern times because it is so widely spoken. Among the top three most spoken languages in the world, English is spoken by over 300 million people as a first language, and by another 300 million or so as a second language. English has status as an official language in approximately seventy five countries. In populations of the world where English is not often spoken, demand for competency in the language is on the rise.
JR Language Translations joins the United Nations in celebrating English Language Day. With the English language increasing in demand for a wide variety of translating needs, high quality translation and interpretation work is a necessity for our clients. We take this opportunity to acknowledge and extend our heartfelt thanks to our translators and interpreters for their hard work and quality services.
The Spanish language is celebrated on International Spanish Language Day, which takes place annually on April 23rd. The day was chosen to pay homage to the great Spanish novelist, poet and playwright Don Miguel Cervantes Saavedra, who passed away on April 23rd, 1616. In Spanish speaking regions throughout the world, events and activities are held in celebration of the Spanish language and culture. Readings of one of Saavedra’s most acclaimed novels, Don Quixote, are a common staple of honoring classic Spanish literature on this date.
With approximately 400 million speakers to date, the Spanish language is among the top three of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It is an official language in up to twenty countries. As one of the most phonetic languages, Spanish is one of the more accessible languages to learn due to the fact that much of Spanish vocabulary is pronounced the way it ‘looks’ or is spelled. This has contributed to the steady 8% annual growth in Spanish speakers/learners, especially among younger people.
JR Language is delighted to join Spanish speakers worldwide in celebration of the Spanish language. With the steadily growing popularity of Spanish language, the need for high quality Spanish translation/interpretation services grows as well. We are thankful to our Spanish translators and interpreters for their hard work and consistent delivery of high quality services to our clients.
Every year on April 20th, the UN celebrates Chinese Language day. The event was established by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010 to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six of its official working languages throughout the organization. As mentioned in this translation blog before, the other five official UN languages are: Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian and English.
This date was chosen as the date for the Chinese language to pay tribute to Cangjie, which corresponds to Guyu in the Chinese calendar. According to a legend when Cangjie invented Chinese characters, the deities and ghosts cried and it rained millet; the word Guyu literally means “rain of millet”.
JR Language joins the celebration and takes this week of April to acknowledge the amazing job that our Chinese translatorsand interpreters carry out for us every day. Thank you for your loyalty and work ethic. Without your effort and knowledge we will not be able to provide high quality Chinese translation for our clients.
To Celebrate Chinese day we offer 15% discount for Chinese Translation this week.
Happy Chinese Day!
Pan American Day and Pan American Week in the United States is observed by Presidential proclamation on April 14 and the week thereof. This observance commemorates the First International Conference of American States in 1889-90, which created the International Union of American Republics. Pan American Day and Week also commemorates the diplomatic ties and relations of the United States with the other countries of the Western Hemisphere, including Latin America.
Each year Pan American Day and Pan American Week set the moment when Americans of all ages and nationalities can strengthen the bonds of friendship. Americans from one end of the continent to the other, come to know each other better through special observances, classroom projects, club programs, plays and pageants, parades and social events.
As part of both, Latin America and the United States, JR Language Translations joins the Pan American Day and Week celebrations. We proudly and diligently provide, day after day, high-quality translation, localization and interpretation services to hundreds of clients along the Americas in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and many other languages, allowing effective communication that enables business, social, and diplomatic relations.
Let’s celebrate the cultural richness of the Americas and sing together the Pan American hymn!
Back in August, we wrote a post about Legal and Medical interpretation. Regarding medical interpretation, specifically, we presented an article about a program at the University of Rochester Medical Center were interpreters are hired to help lower admissions and readmission rates due to language barriers non-native English speakers may have. This practice was a success but, what happens if those non-native English speakers don’t have the language resources to even access medical care in the first place?
This is the problem the health insurance industry is facing now. As if choosing a health insurance wasn’t difficult enough, for those whose English or Spanish is not their native language, this process becomes exponentially more dreadful. Starting October 1, the Affordable Care Act will come into effect allowing people to compare multiple health care plans in one place. Until know the applications have been traditionally translated into Spanish, due to the ever-increasing amount of Spanish speakers in the United States but, it completely leaves out the 4 million Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the U.S. who speak other language than English.
The solution? Translating the application forms into the main foreign languages spoken in the United States among them Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, French, Russian, Korean, and Farsi. Translation is the only way in which people who speak different languages can accurately communicate and get the right message across. We all know how important health care is so, the translation of these forms is not something insurance companies can “think about” or “do later on”, it is a vital necessity that should be addressed and solved immediately for the benefit of their potential insured people.
Let’s work together so everyone can have access to the same information, and therefore, access to the same benefits. We must push for better legislation and more comprehensive and affordable health care option that are accessible for everyone alike. Health care should not be an option, a luxury only those who can pay for it have, it is a right and we need to do whatever it is in our hands to make sure everyone enjoys it.
Every year in March, French people all over the world, as well as people who study French, celebrate French Language Week (“La Semaine de la Franchophonie” or “La Semaine de la Langue Française”). During this celebration, French institutes, universities, theaters and cinemas hold French film and play festivals, food and wine tastings, and French language workshops.
Following traditions and customs different countries start their week on different days, some do on Monday other on Sunday, due to that variance the festivity starts on March 8 and ends on March 24. Additionally, the International French Day is celebrated on March 20th. Furthermore, UNESCO also set this day as the UN French Language Day because it coincided, in 2010, with the 40th anniversary of the International Organization of La Francophonie.
JR Language team joins the celebration with a special recognition to our French translators from France, Canada, Africa, and from all over the world. We thank them for their hard work, professionalism, and expertise, which allow us to deliver high-quality French translations to our clients every day of the year! Their wide range of subject matter expertise make us the first translation option for business clients and individuals for their legal, marketing, and technical translation needs.
Let’s celebrate together with the 200 million French speakers worldwide. Let’s promote the francophone culture and the beautiful language of Camus, Voltaire, Hugo, Dumas and many others great writers, artists and, of course our outstanding, professional French Translators!
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