Singapore, 7th June 2012

Back in Singapore…besides catching up on project work with the team, meeting one of my clients for a concept presentation, one of the challenges today was having to translate our documents into another language. Most of the time this means from English in Chinese. While most of my staff in Singapore is proficient in the Chinese spoken and written language, I still need to give my final approval before we sent (in these case a fee proposal) to the client. It is not only the translation but also the layout that needs and eye.

Having prepared the proposal in English as we do for all our documents, it comes with a certain corporate “house style”; the way we word and layout the proposal. Translated in Chinese, it works out differently as the sentences in either language can be longer or shorter, resulting in different page configurations. Do you translate sentence by sentence or do you translate chapter by chapter. For me it is important that it is done in close proximity so when I have to negotiate or discuss the document the subjects in original and translated language can be seen next to each other. Having two different documents does not really work for me as each document may lead another life over time, so I generally insists the translations are done in the same document and preferably on the same page.

The part that is most difficult when you translate (from English in Chinese) is the translation from a word to a meaning (symbol), as Chinese is a collection of meanings. Unfortunately for us these meanings can have different interpretations, so having someone with you understanding these meanings is pretty crucial. Cultural background also plays a role in understanding the “right” meaning. An English educated in Chinese may have different interpretations than an Chinese educated in English…

Light Watch 3-82: One of the funniest websites I know is www.engrish.com a site where they collect the most funniest signs and translations. Here are a few:

07. June 2012 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: light watch, lighting and culture, lighting design practice | Leave a comment

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