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Working with an Interpreter 101

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The Chinese Language 101

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Resources for finding, buying, and using the best translations...

I have an English document that I want translated into Chinese.  I had once used a company who corresponded through email only.  They seem very efficient.  I emailed them the English file, and they emailed me back the Chinese.  They didn't need to ask any further questions about the documents.  Should I use them again?  I wonder now because I learned that there are different types of written Chinese, and I hear that there are different methods of translations.  What information should I give to the translator before she starts work?


If you are concerned about the quality of your translations, these are important questions to ask.  Unless you read Chinese, you cannot tell if the translation is a good translation, or the best choice of words.  So you want to be able to trust your translation service provider.  Maintaining communication about the translation process can build that trust.

It is possible to translate a document from English into Chinese and vice versa without any information about the audience or purpose.  But without this information, quality cannot be assured.

There are different types of written Chinese: simplified and traditional.  There are also variations in Chinese usage for mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Bay Area in the United States. The translation service provider should make inquires regarding the nature of the audience.

The translation service provider should also ascertain the purpose of the translation.  Documents for legal purposes call for more exact translations. This is called source-oriented. Other documents, such as for marketing purposes, call for translations that convey the meaning, the intent and the flavor, but not necessarily word for word.  This is called target-oriented. 

Speed of translation can also vary.  Some translations are done very quickly.  Translations can also be very thorough, taking into account editing, proofreading, revisions after client input, and even identifying possible ambiguities in the original document.  The time spent on the translation depends on your needs.  It is important to talk to your translation service provider before trusting her with your document.

How can I determine the quality and accuracy of the translation if I don't read the language?

How do I know if I should have my document translated into simplified Chinese or traditional Chinese?

I had my document translated by a very good translator and then back-translated by another very good translator, but they were dissimiliar. Why is that?

Opposing counsel presented a translation of a Chinese language trial exhibit.  I had it re-translated, and the results were different.  Why is that?  Which version should be used in court?

Do I need a California Court Interpreter Certified translation for a legal document used in a California Court?

What is the theory of functional equivalence in translations? And how do I use that in trial of a case involving Chinese speaking witnesses?

For more information on "Using the Best Translation", please contact us.

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