As a translator communicates concepts as well as just words, it is always essential to respect and adapt to any cultural differences between the languages.
To use the example of website translation services, it is vital that the effect on the target market is the one desired by the client.
When looking to promote their company, one of the first things that a client will think is “how can I reach the largest amount of people?”.
The choice of target language(s) is central to this, as website translation can, if done effectively, provide a significant rise in interest, and sales, overseas. But what are the most important elements to consider?
A language like Mandarin Chinese has an exceptionally large number of native speakers (over 1 billion!) and, although many Chinese speakers are proficient in English, the point still remains that we are far more likely to respond positively to information in our native language.
If a company decides to use website translation services into Chinese, their message has the potential to reach an economy with a consistent economic growth rate of 10% over the last 30 years. This represents a great business opportunity for a company venturing into the Eastern markets.
However, it is always important to recognise any potential stumbling blocks, especially as far as website translation services are concerned, and there are a number of both positive and negative meanings attributed to certain words, numbers and other concepts in Chinese culture.
Relatively well-known examples are the number 8 and the colour red, which are perceived to be lucky, but other colours have distinctly different meanings to those in the West such as black, which signifies celebration in China.
Also, did you know that Chinese consumers prefer more content on a web page than what we would consider to be the norm? What we think is a ‘cluttered’ page would be seen as user-friendly by a Chinese customer. So, having a red logo, lots of 8s in your phone number and lots of copy on your translated website will be enough to get a huge Chinese client base, right?
Wrong. Website translation services must adapt your message to different cultural values. This is arguably the most important aspect to consider when translating website content into a language in a totally different part of the world. While many European countries have a lot of values in common, there are marked differences in the way Chinese people perceive the world in comparison to the British public and the West as a whole.
Coca Cola is a great example of a company which has localised their website to great effect for the Chinese market by making red a main theme throughout and making tradition, family and friends key elements in the images, as Chinese culture is much more collectivist than other, Western countries.
In summary, in order to produce a quality website translation which will have the desired effect on the target audience, the cultural considerations of each and every target language must be taken into account, which may mean that the translations read like completely new copy.
Are there any other cultural considerations with regard to Chinese translation and other translations that you can share with us? If you are interested in this service, or would like information and advice, please visit our website translation services page or get in contact with us!