The Growing Demand for Chinese Translation and Interpretation Services
United States and China: a relationship under extreme duress
Earlier this year, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published an article called “A relationship Under Extreme Duress: U.S.-China Relations at a Crossroads.” This alarming statement is indicative of why companies, NGOs, political organizations and international firms must seek Chinese interpreters and translators who are native speakers of the relevant Chinese dialect (Mandarin, Cantonese, and Taiwanese), and who have expert versatility in both the traditional and simple forms of the written language.
There is no room for errors or inaccuracies in word use, grammar, or tone. This is a time for Chinese language services diplomacy at its finest.
The rising Chinese economy requires impeccable interpreting and translation
It’s easy to refer to China as a “rising economy,” when it is a risen economy, a fact many Americans find difficult to swallow after so many decades as global industry and market leaders. When you combine the current trade/tariff war and the fact that the U.S.’s view of Taiwan as “strategically valuable” is a violation of the U.S.’s “One China” policy, the phrase “extreme duress” is more understatement than hyperbole.
The aforementioned article continues:
Current trends portend steadily worsening relations over the long term, with increasingly adverse consequences for all actors involved. Specifically, Beijing and Washington are transitioning from a sometimes contentious yet mutually beneficial relationship to an increasingly antagonistic, mutually destructive set of interactions. The often positive and optimistic forces, interests, and beliefs that sustained bilateral ties for decades are giving way to undue pessimism, hostility, and a zero-sum mindset in almost every area of engagement.
The best interpreters facilitate diplomacy between host and target language speakers – something crucial when it comes to starting, continuing, or even bowing out of business negotiations between U.S. and China-based businesses.
Beijing and Shanghai
China is a vast nation and, as in the U.S., most people are deeply connected to their geographic roots. Knowing a bit about – and being respectful towards – where your prospects and colleagues hail from, or the cities you’ll be visiting for China-based events, provides a respectful foundation for international business relationships.
Beijing and Shanghai are both extremely dynamic cities, but they each have their own culture and essence. Although it’s always best not to generalize, we would offer that Beijing is a city where people have a deep connection and appreciation for the past and their history, as well as great pride in the fact that they live in the seat and center of China’s power. Shanghai, on the other hand, is very modern and the people celebrate their ride on current trend waves. They’re quite proud of their city’s transformation from a fishing village to a globally-recognized, modern city. Similarly, Shanghai is all about change and is considered China’s “hot bed” of radical ideas and social (r)evolution
Familiarizing yourself with a location, its people, their culture and stories goes a long way when forming a diplomatic bridge, regardless of what conflicts or tensions arise during meetings or events.
So, is your language services provider up to the task?
Interpreters must have exceptional credentials and a respectable history of working conference experience to combine diplomatic wisdom with accurate and nuanced interpretations and translations.
What to know before organizing an event
There are layers of considerations to sort through as you organize an event requiring Chinese interpretation:
Interpreters must have fluid, cell-deep familiarity with Mandarin, Cantonese and Taiwanese
Mandarin and Cantonese are the two most common dialects spoken within the family of languages that comprise “Chinese.” Mandarin is most prominent in northern and western China, and it’s also the official language of Taiwan. Cantonese is spoken throughout Hong Kong, Macau, and province of Guangdong, including Guangzhou (previously Canton in English). It is also one of the most prominent dialects spoken by many immigrants in the U.S. and Canada, so any dealings with Chinese immigrants or 2nd– and even 3rd generation Chinese-American or Chinese-Canadian prospects and clients may also require Cantonese interpreters.
While Mandarin Chinese is considered the star of Chinese business languages, odds are any dealings with Chinese business professionals requires the use of both Cantonese and Taiwanese as well. Your language services firm must be able to accommodate all three dialects or there is no guarantee your message will be accurately conveyed.
Taiwanese is a regional dialect of Taiwan. Having emerged predominantly from Mandarin, it is also referred to as Taiwanese Mandarin. Taiwanese Hokkien is another official language of Taiwan, regulated by the Ministry of Education. As a matter of fact, just like many other countries, the Chinese government also tries to protect its language by removing foreign words from dictionaries.
What interpreting equipment will you need?
Then, there are the basic logistics to contend with such as what interpreting equipment is needed for your conference, forums, summit, tours, demos or training sessions. Relying on a venue’s interpreting equipment is risky as you have no control over quantity and quality, not to mention ensuring everyone has what they need to clearly hear and be heard. It’s wise to contract with a language services provider ahead of time, guaranteeing that you have the right, well-maintained equipment at your disposal along with the technical assistance and support to back it up.
Simplified vs. traditional Chinese
As mentioned above, non-linguists often absorb the idea that Mandarin is a simplified version of the Chinese language. The reality is not that simple. Rather, the Chinese written language has two forms – simplified and traditional. The traditional characters number into the thousands and are extremely complex – requiring multiple pen (formerly brush), and keyboard strokes per character.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Chinese government promoted national literacy and encouraged a simplified version of the traditional written language, whereby fewer characters were used in the common language, and more complicated characters were distilled to require fewer strokes. Simplified Chinese is now officially used in Mainland China and Singapore. For political reasons, however, the traditional written form is still the official written language of Taiwan.
Your language solutions team – be they interpreters and/or professional translators – should have a sound working knowledge of both forms so they can utilize any document that may come their way during the event.
The linguists at Chang-Castillo and Associates have developed a reputation for being the best Chinese interpreters and translators in the industry. Our team excels at diplomatic and business meetings, and we work carefully with our clients to facilitate successful negotiations and positive outcomes. Contact us online or call us at +1 (877) 708-0005 to learn more about what we do and to obtain a competitive quote.