Marketing in China? What you should know before sending your materials to translation

August 6th, 2009

Many marketers contact us asking for Chinese translations for their collaterals, brochures etc. When we ask them questions like:

  1. Which Chinese dialect?
  2. What type of characters?
  3. Where exactly your recipients live in China?

they are a bit surprised, and don't know the answers. A few (interesting) tips that can help:

  1. The Chinese translator must be a native speaker of the specific Chinese dialect you're interested in. For instance, Mandarin and Cantonese as different as French and German. Although many Mandarin translators are also familiar with Cantonese, they cannot be good translators in both. Mandarin is the official Chinese dialect, so it's used in formal communications, and about 70% of China's population uses this dialect.
  2. In some cases, the Chinese translator should also be a resident of the area in which the dialect is used. This is especially true for Shanghai, where Shanghainese is used. Local resident will immediately notice if the translator actually lives in Shanghai.

If you're interested in traditional characters for your translations, you should check that the translator is familiar with them. However, simplified characters are more commonly used for everyday written communication.

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