Last week HK HSBC announced the redundancy of 3000 backend staff to take place in the next 3 years so as to stay competitive and improve on efficiency. Something that we spotted while watching the news on Hong Kong TVB has proven to be quite intriguing… want a Bank that’s Never Lost in Translation?

The feeling of being lost in translation is an unpleasant one for all. It is easy to feel vulnerable as an individual, and it’s much worse as a business when you have to protect not just the business, but its people, reputation and assets. Effective communication, like translating and interpreting messages with global counterparts is absolutely crucial.

Take the Chinese language for example. Most Chinese people are proficient in English and many would claim that they have the ability to translate. However, it is interesting to note just how many people see as a challenge, the translation of the word “well”.

In Mainland China, Chinese people love reading sentences with Chinese phrases and idioms as the country focuses on native language education, hence its people are more drawn into artistic and literary pieces. In Hong Kong however, Chinese people were mainly educated to be bilingual, especially in the 70′s to 90′s. Their Chinese is perhaps not as strong as those from the mainland as HK people tend to lead a busy and hectic lifestyle and have very limited time to read. Sentences must therefore be written in a way that allows for fast reading.

Huang Youyi, the Vice President of the International Federation of Translators, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee and vice president of the China International Publishing Group said that the quality of translation in China is far from perfect: there are simply not enough qualified translators. Chinese is not widely spoken outside China, so good translators are essential to carry the country’s messages overseas, but few of China’s international communicators have lived abroad and thus their understanding of overseas cultures and societies is limited. The country is now setting up master’s degree programs on international cultural communication and media organisations are increasingly investing in training staff abroad in order to fill this shortcoming in professionals. However there is still a long way to go. “In the 1970s, there was practically nothing about China in foreign newspapers. But now, you see several articles on the front page of New York Times every day. “Our task is to explain China to the world. We are still at an early stage, but our progress will speed up as time goes by,” Huang said.

A professional translation team will not only focus on the translation but also the cultural background and its target readers. Sadly we are seeing those grossly inaccurate literal translations for marketing material more and more, which will undoubtedly affect branding in the long run.

If you want to avoid being a victim of a second-rate service, ask SanTranslate and we’ll keep you safe from being lost in translation.