It’s been quite a decade. From geographies coming together, to trade blocs being the new continents, to the Brexit U-turn; the world has witnessed implications of globalization in many forms. Many countries started hesitantly and then turned the tack to join the new wave. Many countries travelled vice versa. But the net outcome is that markets have undergone a new shift altogether and that includes even very-well-cemented walled gardens like China and Russia.
Chinese consumers, in particular, have thrown open a new bag of opportunities enveloped with peculiar challenges. This is a market that does not easily encourage players across the Great walls of the indigenous business. But this is also a market teeming with demand and appetite for new culture icons from the far West and for brands that have made a universal impact. The young population here has demonstrated with its new-found taste and choices that it is bustling with the need for new brands, new products, and new lifestyle leaps. The need for language translators, thus, need not be overemphasized.
It presents a never-before chance to set a good foothold in this vast, ever-vibrant, billions-of- people market. But this foothold can get equally slippery. China still remains deeply-rooted and passionate about its legacy, social lineage, and way of absorbing other cultures. It has to be navigated with due respect and caution when it comes to the many finer details of language, lifestyle, customs, culture and habits here.
There is no way that a standard global script or strategy for translation can work in a unique and challenging market like this. The broad strategy for translating English to Chinese and vice versa as well as the tactical execution would have to be fitted closely in the special grooves that this market rolls in. The translation work is a huge opportunity to reach out and expand one’s impact but done with neglect or casual strokes, this very step can bounce into a tremendous disadvantage. An agency with average language translators with no experience on what can go wrong is as good as using a run-of-the-mill computer tool to do the task.
The floors are icy and greasy here, more so given the fact that even a slight misstep in translation can transform into a gross blunder. Many brands have hurt their reputation due to wrong translation. The language is different and has many tricky intricacies that have to be mastered with a long-standing passion and rigorous practice. There is ample room for misinterpretation and wrong connotations during the translation process and many brands, including the most loved ones globally, had to pay the price of translation errors in this market.
The way forward for the Chinese market
It is better to undertake a native approach for a market as crucial and ambivalent as this. A good and firm grip on the cultural sub-text as well as huge respect for the differences between Chinese and Western lifestyles would be paramount to start with. It is no use applying machine translation or proxy software or vanilla translators here. Language translators would need to have more than technical expertise in each language to avoid twisted pitfalls and risk mistranslation.
The market is bursting with new segments and demand curves but the process would be half-accomplished unless the brand speaks to this market in a language and a tone that they are conversant with. This means everything – from marketing messages, billboards, advertisements, website content, software code, app information, manuals, documents, compliance work, etc., to be taken under a fine lens of translation.
Translate English to Chinese but make sure that no unintended meanings crawl inside the process. If they do, the opportunity lost is huge. Hire only the best language service provider to ensure you sail smoothly in the land of the dragon.