Challenges facing the Chinese Market when it comes to Localization

When taking your business to the Chinese market, localization services couldn’t be more important. Not only is it vital to ensure that your target audience can understand the products and services that you are offering, but also that there are no possible misunderstandings or unwelcome cultural mistakes. It isn’t just a matter of Chinese translation services – localization also needs to take on board the cultural setting and ensure that no nuances are missed and no possible linguistic complications are overlooked.

Unique Challenges Facing Chinese Translation Services

Localization services are vital regardless of the marketplace, however when working in the Chinese market, there are a number of challenges that are especially unique

Although Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, it is highly complex with both traditional and simplified versions which only add to the complexity of the localization service provider’s job.

The Chinese writing system is around 3000 years old, and Traditional characters are the oldest form, being used in Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan and many overseas Chinese communities. However, in the mainland China and Singapore, simplified characters are now in mainstream use. Not only that, but there are many regional variations of the Chinese language. There are around 7-10 classifications of the Chinese spoken language including Mandarin, Min, Pinghua, Yue, Hakka, Gan, Xiang, Hui, Wu and Hin, however, within these groups, there are also more sub-groups. Therefore, when localizing services for Chinese speakers, it is important to determine the variety of Chinese required and also the turns of phrase and vocabulary which would be familiar to each social group.

A further complication occurs in terms of subject matter. Not only is Chinese itself a complex language but when it comes to translating difficult content relating to science or technology, for example, it becomes even harder to determine the correct terminology to use.

Localization And Chinese Translation Services

The localization approach in China is very different to that taken by localization services in other countries. In the Chinese market, many overseas companies actively work to reinvent themselves to appear authentically Chinese in order to capture the market more effectively and encourage more sales. For example, AirBnB in China changed its name to Aibiying in order to appear authentically Chinese.

Another approach was used by the cosmetics brand Clinique. Here, there wasn’t any renaming, but Chinese characters were used as a substitute for the letters in English. The result was something which neither sounds nor means the same as the original name. In Chinese, Clinique sounds like “Quian Bi”- a term which means “pretty”.

There is another alternative, which was used by the Amazon brand. Its name in Chinese sounded like “Ya Ma Xun” – a transliteration of the word Amazon in English. Since Amazon is a brand that is already world famous, it worked in its case, even when the meaning of the phrase or word wasn’t relating to its branding at all.

Meaning adaptation is another option, i.e. the name of the company translated to the local Chinese language. In China, for example, General Motors is known as Tong Yong Qi Che.

The final option is a dual adaptation approach. Here, a combination of pronunciation and meaning is used, such as in the case of Hershey’s Chocolate, which is China is called “Hao Shi” which not only sounds like the original brand name but also means “good time”.

Choosing The Right Chinese Localization Service Provider

When it comes to finding the right localization services provider to bring your product or service to the Chinese market, SEAtongue is your number one choice in Asia. With over a decade of experience, SEAtongue offers outstanding performance, native and highly skilled translators who have the complex understanding necessary to capture all the nuances and correctly represent the cultural elements of your content. We offer a host of impressive Chinese localization and translation services for everything from mobile apps to technical content. Having provided many high-profile clients like Nokia, Expedia and Microsoft with our localization services, you can be confident that your content is in very safe hands.

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