Translation is the art and practice of taking written documents in one language and recreating them in another language, reflecting the intent of the original writing not merely the literal words. Unlike the Chinese interpreter who deals with multiple spoken Chinese dialects, the Chinese translator works with two main written forms—simplified and traditional Chinese. Translators possess a high degree of writing expertise in the target language. The Chinese translator can be found in many fields. Literary, legal, technical, commercial, and medical fields all offer productive avenues for the skill of the Chinese translator.
A typical college educated Chinese individual will recognize 4,000 to 5,000 characters and about 40,000 to 60,000 words. Due to the boom in the Chinese economy there is a high demand for Chinese translators. Simplified Chinese was developed to make writing faster and the characters easier to memorize. It is standard to the People’s Republic of China, Singapore, and Malaysia. Traditional Chinese is standard to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and overseas Chinese communities. There is significant overlap between traditional and simplified since some traditional words are only minimally simplified.
Translators must be very familiar with the cultural context and references of the target audience. Since they work with the written word they have the opportunity to carefully craft their documents to accurately reflect written nuances. Literary translators work with books, novels, textbooks, and more. They are in high demand with publishing houses and universities. Their expertise translates the heart and knowledge of one culture to another whether it’s into Chinese or from Chinese into another language.
Chinese legal translators are found in both government and private sector positions. The increasingly global nature of business interactions requires legal documents to be accurately translated to and from Chinese. Both parties need a document to read and sign that is in their own language.
Medical translation requires extreme accuracy. Chinese translation services are highly valued by hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, researchers, and more. Medical textbooks and research documents can be translated, broadening the scope of medical knowledge.
Technical translation is a niche for those familiar with computers, the aeronautic industry, engineering and more. The technical Chinese translator may be dealing with the translation of websites, manuals, or other field-specific documents. These jobs can be found in both the public and the private sector. Often a translator will work as a freelancer and take jobs without being an employee of a company or government
The best preparation for a Chinese translator is a broad education and specialized knowledge. A translation agency will look for someone who has a general understanding of the topic in both languages. Fields that have specialized vocabulary that makes it challenging to understand in the original language will require a translator to have a grasp of the specialized vocabulary in both languages. With a solid grasp of written Chinese, a good education and writing skills a Chinese translator will be able to find many productive avenues for his skills.