From Chinese to English: What You Should Keep in Mind

25th Mar 2020

Translation refers to the act of converting written text that exists in one language to a completely different language. Naturally, the process of translation is complicated and requires a great deal of skill. However, not all translation jobs are equal. Translating between certain language sets is more difficult than others. A prime example of this is translation between Chinese and English. You should consider the difficulties involved if you are looking for Chinese to English translation services.

Difficulties in Chinese to English Translation Services

Many difficulties arise when you try to translate text from Mandarin (Chinese) to English. The major reason for these difficulties is that the two languages do not share an alphabet system. In fact, there is not even a traditional alphabet system in Mandarin. Instead, it uses different pictorial characters to indicate certain words or ideas. Where English only uses 26 different alphabets to construct words, Mandarin characters number over 50,000!

Although not all of the 50,000 characters are in circulation, around 20,000 are in common use in modern times. An average educated person will know around 8,000 of these at least, and if you know any less than 2,000 or 3,000 characters, you would not be even able to read a Chinese newspaper!

With the different and numerous characters that exist in Mandarin, it is no surprise that translation between the two is a difficult process. However, the process is worsened by the fact that the way English speakers process text is different from the way Chinese speakers do. The context and familiarity with the language is extremely important in this case. Allow us to explain.

Chinese words often comprise of multiple characters, where each character represents a different idea. For example, the Chinese term “电话” literally translates to electric speech, which English speakers may be able to guess refers to the telephone.

However, there are more complicated words such as “电影” that literally translate to electric shadow. Even if you are able to read these characters and understand what each of them stands for, you would have no idea what the whole phrase refers to. After all, the term “electric shadow” is extremely vague and does not make sense to a non-native speaker. You would need a little bit of cultural context and language familiarity to understand that the phrase refers to a movie or film.

Do You Need Chinese to English Translation Services?

Keeping these reasons in mind, it is important to realize that using any bilingual speaker for translation between English and Chinese is not a good idea. If you require Chinese to English translation services, it is best to hire a certified and professional translator.

A professional translator possesses deep knowledge and understanding of both the languages he translates between. A Chinese to English translator would be fluent in both the English and Chinese languages. In addition to the language, the translator would be familiar with the different cultural nuances and context associated with the two languages. Where an English person who just learned to read Mandarin characters would be boggled by what an electric shadow means, the translator would immediately translate it as a movie.

However, the knowledge of cultural context is not the only thing that sets a translator apart from just another bilingual person. Certified translators have the training and hands-on experience to offer their services in certain fields.

If you are looking for reliable and accurate Chinese to English Translation services, consider hiring Waterstone Translations.