In recent years, Chinese translations have been the flagship for many translation and interpreting agencies. Since China opened up economically abroad about fifty years ago, the West has seen this phenomenon as an opportunity for growth and new collaborations.

A world and culture with a new and exotic flavour, equally curious and interesting. It’s not just a saying, it’s really like that.

Linguistic and intercultural mediation figures were necessary from the beginning in order to find a way to dialogue and communicate. Then, following economic globalization, more and more business deals and agreements were drawn up and made between the Western counterpart and the Eastern world power. Even today, there are many professionals who are experts in the Chinese language and are requested by companies in order to act as an “intermediary” and bridge between the parties.

The frequency with which interpreting and translation services are provided in Chinese is precisely due to the fact that the oriental language does not have the same range of diffusion and mastery as other European or international languages, such as English or French. Especially in the business field, when negotiating with Chinese customers or partners, it is impossible not to provide translation or interpreting in Chinese. Also because the English language itself in China is strictly known by the latest generations and concentrated in the large metropolises.

If you were to have business relations with the Chinese global giant, know that your counterparty would feel flattered and respected if you were the one providing Italian Chinese translation and interpreting services. By doing so, you would be able to win over your interlocutors and lay the foundations for a long-lasting and solid business relationship.

As far as translations are concerned, business or marketing materials must naturally be localized linguistically and culturally. Saying that the Chinese language is “completely different” is not a cliché. The structure, the logic behind the syntax and the semantic construction are completely new aspects for a native European speaker. An expert translator knows the Chinese culture and language so thoroughly that certain passages in the Italian Chinese translation or vice versa will be so “automatic” and natural to the point that the translation will no longer even seem like a translation.

Using an automatic translator or turning to a beginner, especially for exotic languages ​​like Chinese, means overlooking the linguistic and cultural nuances inherent in that same culture, philosophy, tradition and history of the country.

According to Yan Fu (严复, 1853–1921) there are three challenges in translating a text: first of all, being able to maintain fidelity 信 (xìn) to the original text, expressing oneself clearly 达 (dá) and rendering the text with elegance 雅(yǎ).

Following in the wake of this theory (譯事三難 Yì shì sān nán), we can identify the five most common errors that can be traced in the Chinese Italian and Italian Chinese translations.

1) Declensions and conjugations in Chinese translations

A pro and con of Chinese grammar is that it does not have conjugations and declensions in the syntax. While this on the one hand can greatly simplify the Italian Chinese translation, on the other it can be a bit limiting in the Chinese Italian translation. Therefore, when translating from Chinese to Italian, you need to pay attention to any specific particles or time complements because the Italian language does not accept ambiguity.

2) Punctuation in Chinese translations

During the transition process, it may happen that the Chinese translations have fewer punctuation marks than the original Italian text. This is above all due to a “passion” of the Italian language for long and bombastic syntax, broken up by various punctuation signs.

3) The search for a suitable and suitable register in the Chinese Italian translation (or vice versa)

The first phase of translation sees the translator engaged in an overall reading of the original text, in order to understand the general meaning and nature of the text in question. Is this an official document? An article? An essay? An informal letter? A web content? This quick look at the text will then suggest to the translator which register to use. Each text has its own nature, and its own style and register. It must obviously be respected and adapted depending on the recipient.

4) The translation of proper names

Especially when translating proper names (of people or brands) into the Chinese language, great attention must be paid to the semantic meaning of the chosen characters. Choosing the ideograms suggested by the automatic translator could mean “patching” completely in terms of meaning in Chinese.

5) The reinvention of the text

The last phase of translation consists in re-invention or re-interpretation (more or less free) by the translator. This is where you recognize whether a translation was purely literal or a paraphrase that was localized and suited to the target audience. This is where you discover the difference between scholastic translation and professional translation. If it is true that in the translation process, the translator is called upon to faithfully follow and respect the structure of the sentence or text, it is also true that sometimes changing the initial structure is necessary in order to make the final translation smooth and more natural. Change to improve the result, without distorting it. It is up to the expert translator to decide whether to alter the syntactic value of a word, or transform a sentence from passive to active, or a verb into an adjective.

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