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Occupational Hazards: Translating Chinese Manufacturing Content


3 min read

Written by


Argos Multilingual

Published on

03 Mar 2020

Manufacturing-related content needs to be well-written, understandable, and in strict compliance with industry standards. Chinese dialects present a unique set of dilemmas that can make achieving these goals a real challenge.

Every manufacturer knows the pain of receiving expensive, top-quality equipment from a Chinese supplier that’s accompanied by badly translated and unreadable documentation. The reasons behind this are multifold, but most are either related to business practices or linguistic complexity.

Business factors

  • Chinese factories tend to prioritize their margins above all else, and the value placed on translation varies according to the product, the company’s size, and even the industry. A small or medium-size manufacturer is less likely to treat a user manual as an essential part of the product.
  • Many Chinese factories work as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), developing parts or products to sell to another company for distribution. It’s simply too expensive for a typical OEM to invest in professional translation services for each of their products. In a competitive market, manufacturers see no point in spending money on translation or proofreading.

Linguistic factors

  • There are different forms of the Chinese language. Translators need to know the difference between Mandarin, Cantonese, and Simplified/Traditional Chinese. (In a nutshell, Simplified/Traditional Chinese is used for writing, while Mandarin and Cantonese are different forms of spoken Chinese.)
  • Chinese symbols often indicate thoughts, meaning they can be written multiple ways – translators may be presented with characters that read right to left, left to right, or up and down.
  • Chinese grammar is notoriously complicated. There is no singular or plural form, and no verb conjugation to indicate tenses, which means that statements can be understood only in context.
  • Two types of sentences exist in Chinese – simple and complex. Simple sentences are made up of subjects, predicates, and objects. Complex sentences are composed of combinations of simple ones. A good Chinese translator needs to have a solid command of sentence patterns in order to produce translations that make any sense.

The Argos Approach to Manufacturing

As critical as translation services are, many companies overlook or underestimate their importance. Clear and accurate translations are one of the most cost-effective ways of improving customer service and production quality. At Argos Multilingual, we choose our translation and localization professionals based on their qualifications, experience, and knowledge of the terminology related to a given project, so that your message meets regional expectations while communicating the same message everywhere around the world. To find out more, get in touch with us.

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