Spotlight on China: Tips on language translation planning

Is China on your list of countries to target for language translation? Good reasons abound for planting your company’s flag in this fertile ground.

Just one reason is that, according to Business Insider, China leads the world in mobile Internet usage, up to 80 percent of total Internet users.

If expansion into China aligns with your company’s goals, it can be a great market to explore.

Of course, China is a vast country with more than 1.35 billion residents, all with varying tastes. That’s why it’s important to never stereotype. Still, we can paint a picture with broad strokes to help inform your language translation strategy for China.

Visual design tips

  • Don’t be afraid to use bright and bold colors, as these will resonate strongly with most Chinese audiences. Be aware, however, of color meanings. In China, white is considered to be a color of mourning.
  • Consider weaving old style calligraphy into your designs, as history is very important to the Chinese.
  • Use visuals that emphasize groups and relationships. The Chinese culture values collaboration and unity as opposed to individuality.

Notice in this Pizza Hut website design the emphasis on groups and the use of red, which is traditionally associated with Chinese culture.

Written communication tips

  • Many younger Chinese people use new and popular “Internet words,” which can be a solid tactic if this is part of your target demographic.
  • Style and communication forums are also very important. In China, many people use WeChat, which is like an all-in-one hybrid of email, calling, messaging and various social networks. A WeChat public account could be a good idea for promoting your company and engaging with your audiences.
  • Other popular social media sites to consider establishing a presence on include Renren and Weibo.

More cultural facts about this market

  • China includes about 56 ethnic minority groups. The largest group is the Han Chinese, with about 900 million people. Other groups include the Tibetans, the Mongols, the Manchus, the Naxi and the Hezhen.
  • The Chinese language has seven major dialect groups, and each has its own variations. Mandarin dialects are spoken by 71.5 percent of the population.
  • About one-fifth of the world speaks a form of Chinese as their native language, which makes Chinese the most common natively spoken language in the world.
  • The largest festival in China is called the Spring Festival. It marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year and occurs between mid-January and mid-February. During this time, the Chinese honor ancestors.
  • Because the number four sounds like the word for dead, lots of buildings don’t have a fourth floor and airlines don’t have a fourth row. Also, lots of times discounts are listed as not 40 percent off, but are rather promoted as “you pay only 60 percent.”

China’s booming industry

As far as industries to watch out for in this market, alternative energy reigns supreme. According to IBISWorld:

“Development of alternative energy sources—such as wind, hydroelectric and solar—is at the top of the Chinese government’s agenda due to escalating domestic electricity demand, a heavy reliance on imported oil and gas resources and growing environmental pollution concerns.”

Companies in environmental protection industries can perhaps gain a foothold in China more than any other sector.

Would you like more guidance?

At YBD Translations we’ve assisted many global companies with their efforts toward expanding into China. Contact us today to learn more about how this market fits into your language translation strategy.