Chinese Language Translation Guide: Meet an English Chinese Translator - Part 1
Siaoning, an English Chinese translator, talks about Chinese language translation and offers her advice for translation buyers. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find links to more translation resources, including a guide to typical translator prices. (No, I was looking for a free online translator.)
Conversation about Chinese Language Translation with Siaoning Jhang, English Chinese Translator
Q: Why did you become a translator?
A: One of the most appealing aspects to me is that I get to be exposed to a lot of different fields and information that I probably wouldn't otherwise. I get to learn a lot of things through the process of translation because I also do a lot of research on the topic I'm translating.
As a translator, I also have a flexible schedule. I can work from home. I don't have to commute -- I can work from home or go to a café with my computer. I guess it comes down to freedom.
"People think that translation is just replacing words from the original text with words in the other language. Translation is almost like rewriting the text in another language. The translator has to have a very deep understanding of the language he's translating from in order to really grasp the meaning -- the spirit -- of the original." - Siaoning Jhang, English Chinese TranslatorQ: What special challenges are there in translating from English to Chinese?
A: The challenges I have encountered are universal. I think they would happen in any language pair. The challenge is how to most accurately translate the expression in one language through another language. In each language, the thought pattern is very different, and, in some cases, a specific expression in one language doesn't exist in another.
Q: You translate to Traditional Chinese for Taiwan. What do translation buyers need to know about the differences between Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese?
A: It's very simple. If your market is in China, you definitely want to hire a translator whose native language is Simplified Chinese because even though people can more or less understand each other, a lot of expressions are different. However, on the other hand, if your target readers are in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore etc., then you should hire a Traditional Chinese translator.
Q: Do you work as an interpreter as well as a translator?
A: Sometimes there are cultural events or art events going on, and the organizers invite curators or artists to Taiwan, and I do interpreting.
Q: How would you compare the process of interpreting versus translation?
A: When you're translating, you can refer to the dictionary. It's more leisurely; you can take your time.
With interpreting, you have to be focused the whole time during the process. You have to be very familiar with the topic -- you have to do research ahead of time. For me, interpreting is more energy-consuming. The information is going in one ear in one language and has to come out of your mouth in another. You have to be 100% focused the whole time.
Q: Have you noticed any common misconceptions about Chinese language translation?
A: People think that translation is just replacing words from the original text with words in the other language. Translation is almost like rewriting the text in another language. It involves more than just replacing the words. The translator has to have a very deep understanding of the language he's translating from in order to really grasp the meaning -- the spirit -- of the original, especially in the field of the arts. With a technical field, maybe it's more a matter of replacing words, but in the arts, the translator is almost like a writer himself.
Click here to go to Part 2 of our conversation about Chinese language translation with Siaoning Jhang, English Chinese Translator.
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