Cantonese needs proper skill to translate

Since a political advisory body in Guangzhou in southern China proposed that TV stations should broadcast their prime-time shows in Mandarin instead of Cantonese in the run-up to the Asian Games there in November, protest voices have been increasingly raised, with rallies in Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Although Mandarin, also known as Putonghua, was declared China’s official language in 1982, there are around 70 million Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong, Macau and China’s southern Guangdong province, and is widely spoken in overseas Chinese communities around the world so it’s easy to see how this recommendation could be taken as an attack on a long-established, widely-spoken language.

Mandarin language lessons became compulsory in schools in Hong Kong after its return to Chinese rule in 1997 and an increasing number of professionals began to learn the dialect after the handover as Hong Kong’s business links with the mainland have grown.

Whilst it’s understandable that the Guangzhou authorities might be keen to ensure that their region benefits as fully as possible from the opportunities presented by the Asian Games by ensuring that media coverage is widely accessible, it would be a great shame if this were a step on the way to the disappearance of Cantonese.  With that, it would only be a matter of time before other dialects such as Hakka and Shanghainese which also add greatly to the richness of Chinese culture also vanished. 

In the UK we are familiar with campaigns to keep traditional languages and dialects from around the country alive and, at SanTranslate, we would like to know that Cantonese will also continue to be spoken by future generations.  It is a lovely dialect that easily allows for the expression of emotions similar to the way that body language can communicate an underlying emotional component to a conversation.  For example, simply by adding the word “ga” – which corresponds to the English “isn’t it?” or “it is!” you can convey some subtle nuances.

Whilst Cantonese can present its own challenges in interpretation – especially in formal situations such as in court – we would hate to see this powerful dialect disappear.

By | August 19th, 2010|Blog|0 Comments

Into Chinese Translation – which type of Chinese should you choose?

Many clients who are new to communicating in the Chinese language are surprised to find that there are two types of written Chinese. What is the difference and which will you need when you need Chinese translation?

In Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau, Traditional Chinese is used, and this form of the language uses a more complex character set.

Simplified Chinese is used in the People’s Republic of China, having been introduced in the 1950s to stimulate greater levels of literacy. As the name suggests, the written form of the languages uses more simple versions of the characters with fewer strokes.

Simplified Chinese is also used in Singapore and Malaysia where it is taught in schools. In these countries there may be some local differences due to early immigrants from China primarily speaking in Hakka, Hokkien & Min (Teochew) dialects. Many Malay-Chinese also read some Traditional Chinese, being familiar with the language from the Hong Kong Television Broadcast Channel.

SanTranslate will always make sure that we translate into the correct form of Chinese, checking your needs thoroughly, before we start work. Contact us to find out more.

By | August 10th, 2010|Blog|0 Comments

The Web – translation issues around the world!

When you’re doing business overseas, it’s important to remember that not every country has the same web habits as yours.  In the UK, for example, Google predominates as the search engine of choice and it’s easy to assume that the rest of the world does too.  But do our habits translate to other countries?  Not necessarily.

Did you know that in Hong Kong, Yahoo is the preferred web portal?  71% of Hong Kong web users use Yahoo! HK as their default browser homepage.  And Yahoo! And Yahoo! HK combined reach 57% of the population, far out-stripping Google’s 22% (Google and Google HK combined).  In fact, Yahoo! HK gets 54,000 page views every minute.

When you’re planning your international web strategy, these are the kinds of things it’s well worth bearing in mind, especially if you’re planning to use web advertising as part of that strategy – you need to know which web sites your customers are using.

SanTranslate can help you with all your translation and web site localisation needs and can give you guidance on where you money might be best spent.

By | June 3rd, 2010|Blog|0 Comments
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