Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

Kenny同志

General feedback on translations

Recommended Posts

Kenny同志

Hi folks, an update about myself. After translating for about ten years, I am now teaching translation at a local school. Below is the article I need to guide my students through tomorrow. Chinese to English translation is never my forte but I have to do it because this is China.

 

To be fair, the sample translation provided in the textbook is much better than some previous ones but still I find it less than satisfactory so I retranslated most of the sentences. Could you give me some general feedback on my translation and the official sample?

 

If you have time, I would be particularly grateful if you could point out the mistakes in my translation, especially those in the red parts.

 

Many thanks in advance for your time and critique. 

 

Notes: 
K indicates done by Kenny同志 and T textbook sample. 

 

 

 

如何克服当前出口低迷的局面
How to Beat the Export Slump


I.  近年来,中国出口厂商受到了亚洲金融危机的冲击。该地区许多国家的经济不景气引起消费市场萎缩,货币疲软使购买力下降。有的国家政局不定、经济不稳,贸易保护主义升级,外交磨擦抬头。这些使得对该地区的出口十分困难。我们必须采取有效措施来对付这种局面。
K1: In recent years, Chinese exporters have been feeling the impact of the financial crisis spreading in Asia where sluggish economy and weak currencies have led to shrinking consumer markets and reduced purchasing power, respectively, in many countries.  These, compounded by political and economic instability, mounting/increased protectionism, and new diplomatic friction, are making it increasingly difficult to export to the region.   This is a situation that must be addressed.


T1: In recent years, Chinese exporters have seen their efforts increasingly undercut by the impact of the spreading financial crisis in Asia. The lifeless economies of many countries in the region have caused their consumer markets to shrink. Their teetering currency rates have caused their purchasing power to be weakened.  In some cases, political instability, changing economic circumstances, mounting protectionist barriers or diplomatic rows have made it difficult for us to export to those countries. We must find ways to beat the export slump. 

 II.
我们要大力推进外贸体制改革,走集团化的道路,组建以外贸为龙头的工贸、农贸、技贸相结合的企业集团,以增强企业的竞争力。老的大中型国有企业必须进行技术改造以增强活力,对有条件的大中型企业应授予其进出口经营权。工业企业自营出口这是我国外贸体制改革的一个重大步骤。
K2: We must vigorously reform the management system of foreign trade by forming export-oriented conglomerates in manufacturing, farming, and technology so as to strengthen/boost the competitiveness of our exporters.  Outmoded state-owned enterprises (SOE) of a large or medium size must invigorate themselves through process and equipment upgrades and those large- and medium-sized companies that are better-positioned should be granted a license to import and export.  Assisting manufacturers to be exporters is a major step in China’s reform of its foreign trade regime.


T2: We must press forward with the reform in the management system of foreign trade. Conglomeration-forming allies with farming, manufacturing, or scientific research with foreign trade as the locomotive—points the way ahead to strengthened competitiveness. Outmoded state enterprises, large and medium-sized, should be revamped to become more viable. Those enterprises better positioned should be granted the license to move into exporting field. The orientation of industry towards the export market is a major step in the reform of China’s foreign trade regime. 

III.
必须优化传统的出口商品结构,靠价格和数量竞争的时代已一去不复返了。在当今激烈竞争的世界上,只有以质取胜和改善售前售后服务才能行得通。要通过精加工和深加工提高出口商品的附加值;要努力生产适销对路的名特优新产品和拳头产品打入国际市场。由于市场形势千变万化,出口产品必须不断地更新换代,做到你无我有,你有我优,胜人一筹
K3: The traditional mix of our export products also must be optimized because gone are the days when merchandise geared to price competition on mass markets had its way. In a highly competitive world today, the only way to win customers is through superior quality and excellent before- and after-sales services. It is important to add value to export commodities through fine or intricate processing, and to manufacture readily marketable products that can make inroads into the international market, such as those that are well-known, special, of superior quality, or novel, as well as so-called “knockout items”, or rather killer products, i.e. products possessing an unthreatened competitive edge in the market. As the market is ever changing, exporters must update their portfolios constantly so as to keep a competitive edge over their competitors by being able to provide what others do not have, or in cases where there are similar products on the market, better quality.    


T3: The traditional pattern of export products needs to be optimized. Gone are the days when merchandise geared to price competition on mass market had its way. Now, in the highly competitive world the concepts of "fine quality or else no export" and "good service before and after sales" should be the order of the day. Methods of fine or intricate processing should be used to increase the added value on export commodities.  And efforts must be made to turn out premium and novel products or the so-called "hard-punch" items that can edge into foreign markets. With the market changing so quickly, export companies should keep moving up-market—go where others cannot go or do whatever they have a competitive edge over their rivals. 

 IV.
要全方位地开拓国际市场,市场多元化是立于不败之地的关键。俗话说:不能在一棵树上吊死。在选择新辟市场时要权衡其风险与机会,并且要反应迅速;要随时跟踪市场变化情况,以便选择有利时机和地点抓紧出口。只有那些富有活力、洞察力和应变力的企业才能在市场景气时大显身手,而在市场萧条时也能站稳脚根。当某些市场疲软时,总还有另一些市场坚挺,所以能够做到东方不亮西方亮
K4: It is of vital importance that we expand our market globally/across the globe aggressively as geographical diversification is a  key to corporate success. In other words, “Don’t put all eggs in one basket,” as is advised by the saying. Risks and opportunities, however, must be assessed constantly and timely when we plan to target/enter a new market.  We need to monitor all markets so we can export to the right countries or regions at the right time. Only those dynamic, insightful, and adaptable companies are capable of weathering over/surviving the bad times and making a good killing in good times. When some markets slump, there will always be other ones remaining or getting strong/buoyant. Therefore it is possible for us to gain on the swing what was lost on the roundabout.  


T4: It is important to tap the market potential extensively around the world. And geographical diversification is the key to survive the unsteady world market. It is no good to "put all our eggs in one basket," as the saying goes. The selection of new markets should be done by evaluating both their risks and opportunities—simultaneously and quickly. Monitor all markets constantly so that we can export to the right countries or regions and at the right time.  Only a dynamic, forward-looking and viable export company is capable of weathering over the bad times and making a good killing in good times.  When some markets slump, there are always other markets remaining buoyant.  Therefore, we can gain on the swing what was lost on the roundabout. 

 V.
出口商品必须有一流的品质,颖式,包装和装璜,但行之有效的广告宣传和促销活动也很重要,尤其要提高用外语针对国外市场进行宣传的能力。赴国外参展,派人员出国推销,在国外建立生产或销售点等等,一定要讲求实效。最后,引进国外的技术和资金以提高我国出口商品的质量和劳动生产率,通过加强管理降低成本,通过加强培训以提高人员的素质,等等,都是不可忽视的方面。通过落实各项优惠政策,搞好基础设施建设,完善配套服务,掀起一个吸引外资的新高潮。
K5: As far as exporting is concerned, the quality, design/styling, packaging, and presentation of the product are crucial, so are effective publicity, advertising, and promotion. For this reason, it is particularly important that we develop our expertise in advertising in foreign languages targeting specific international markets. Activities such as attending international fairs, marketing locally in international markets by sending out employees, and setting up production facilities or sales outlets must be result-oriented. Last but not least, we must never forget to enhance the quality of our export products and their productivity by availing ourselves of/introducing new foreign know-how and investment, to minimise costs through strengthened management, and to help our workers grow through better training. By implementing the government’s preferential policies to the letter and providing good infrastructure and supporting services, we will certainly be able to step up a new upsurge in attracting foreign/international investment.


T5: Our export products must have first class quality, design, styling and presentation.  But effective publicity, advertising and promotion are also essential.  Development of expertise in advertising in foreign languages targeted at foreign markets is particularly important. Discovery of profitable outlets and connections is also of great significance.  Participation in trade fairs abroad, foreign travels by sales forces and the setting up of production facilities or sales outlets overseas must ensure that they are result-ended.  Finally, the injection of new know-how and new capital resulting from the attraction of foreign firms into our economy will help increase the productivity and quality of our export products.  It is also important to reduce costs through improved management, and to raise the caliber of personnel through enhanced training.  With the series of preferential policies implemented to the letter and with infrastructure services provided satisfactorily, we are surely hopeful of stepping up a new upsurge in attracting foreign direct investment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

xinoxanu

Not a linguist and I can't really judge how accurate the translation is because by Chinese sucks... but I think it's important to realise that a sentence like this might not be common or "correct" in English depending on the context:

 

55 minutes ago, Kenny同志 said:

We must vigorously reform

 

Register is something you really must be conscious of when translating something, especially if it's not your native language. A grandiloquent phrase like this, which might be a rather common form of speech in Chinese (and gives me vibes of a CCP convention or a morning scolding by your boss) and it's technically fine in English, for the most part comes off as something a character from Dickens would say... or, again, part of a boring political speech. 

 

The same goes for one of the translations the textbook is recommending you, which could be fine to use on a opinion article in the Financial Times, but not in one of their Editorials:

 

55 minutes ago, Kenny同志 said:

It is important to tap the market potential extensively around the world.

 

This is however a very blurry line and nowadays major news outlets & magazines are dropping the formalities and employing slang and a more approachable language. Nevertheless, I think that as a translator your have to learn to convey the message as your audience would want to read, hear and feel it... and to do that it's important to be aware of how "correct" the language is in a given situation, regardless of how "correct" it is in terms of grammar, vocabulary and so on.

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

There's too much there to revise or even read thoroughly, but my first impression is that both translations go overboard in complexity, and produce some awkward phrasings. Keep it simple in tone, like the original Chinese.


Let's take one example.


必须优化传统的出口商品结构,靠价格和数量竞争的时代已一去不复返了。


K3: The traditional mix of our export products also must be optimized because gone are the days when merchandise geared to price competition on mass markets had its way.


T3: The traditional pattern of export products needs to be optimized. Gone are the days when merchandise geared to price competition on mass market had its way.


Google: The traditional export commodity structure must be optimized, and the era of relying on price and quantity competition is gone.


889: We must re-gear our traditional exports strategy; the era of relying on quantity and price competition is over.

 

  • Helpful 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xinoxanu

Yeah, as @889 points out, it's clear that the textbook translations are not done by someone who is either natively or properly bilingual in English and has an academic background in that language... or they would know how off-putting both the phrasing and pacing sounds.

 

It's fascinating how you can always identify a Chinese > English translation, not because of Chinglish but due to what I already mentioned, another reminder of how unalike both languages are.

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lu
16 minutes ago, 889 said:

必须优化传统的出口商品结构,靠价格和数量竞争的时代已一去不复返了。


K3: The traditional mix of our export products also must be optimized because gone are the days when merchandise geared to price competition on mass markets had its way.


T3: The traditional pattern of export products needs to be optimized. Gone are the days when merchandise geared to price competition on mass market had its way.


Google: The traditional export commodity structure must be optimized, and the era of relying on price and quantity competition is gone.


889: We must optimize our traditional exports structure; the era of relying on quantity and price competition is over.

This may be the most difficult part to teach: when and where to depart from the source text to get the message across instead of just translating the sentence with correct words and grammar. This is even more difficult when translating out of one's first language into one's second. It's already very valuable if your students learn to do this from English to Chinese.

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

Yes indeed. You'll see that on second thought I revised my version to move away from a too literal translation.

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kenny同志
17 hours ago, xinoxanu said:
18 hours ago, Kenny同志 said:

We must vigorously reform

 

Register is something you really must be conscious of when translating something, especially if it's not your native language. A grandiloquent phrase like this, which might be a rather common form of speech in Chinese (and gives me vibes of a CCP convention or a morning scolding by your boss) and it's technically fine in English, for the most part comes off as something a character from Dickens would say... or, again, part of a boring political speech. 

 

The same goes for one of the translations the textbook is recommending you, which could be fine to use on a opinion article in the Financial Times, but not in one of their Editorials:

Quote

原文:我们要大力推进外贸体制改革

In my view, this is a problem with the Chinese, which is written in what I call the New Speak. A hallmark of this engineered language is that it tries to sound important by using a lot of adjectives, adverbs, and ridiculously complex constructions that are absolutely dispensable. To be stylistically faithful, I think it is justified to be equally grandiloquent in the target language.

 

@xinoxanu, 889, and Lu.

Many thanks folks. All your feedback is very useful. I am going to amend my translation by using simpler sentences.

 

Could you let me know whether there are any mistakes in the red parts, folks? This is what I am most concerned about.

 

Edit:
A cultured way to express the idea of '我們要大力推進外貿體制改革' should be 政府須改革外貿體制. 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

I can't help because working with the text on a mobile is too difficult. But someone else might help if you also highlighted the relevant Chinese text in red.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Demonic_Duck

Overall, I'd say the textbook translation is actually really good. For example, first two sentences:

 

近年来,中国出口厂商受到了亚洲金融危机的冲击。该地区许多国家的经济不景气引起消费市场萎缩,货币疲软使购买力下降。

In recent years, Chinese exporters have seen their efforts increasingly undercut by the impact of the spreading financial crisis in Asia. The lifeless economies of many countries in the region have caused their consumer markets to shrink. Their teetering currency rates have caused their purchasing power to be weakened.

I really like all the creative translations highlighted in green. I also really like that they split the second sentence into two, which is often necessary in zh ⇒ en translations, which tend to become more verbose in English.

 

The one criticism I have is that the figurative use of "teetering" is usually used in collocation of "on the brink of... (collapse, disaster, etc)", so its use here seems incomplete.

 

In contrast:

In recent years, Chinese exporters have been feeling the impact of the financial crisis spreading in Asia where sluggish economy and weak currencies have led to shrinking consumer markets and reduced purchasing power, respectively, in many countries.

There's lots to like here too (again highlighted in green), but as a whole it holds together less well. This is partly because you've done the opposite — combining two sentences in the original into one in the English, so it becomes somewhat difficult to parse.

 

Note also that "respectively" is more limited in usage compared to 分别, and it can't be used here. It can be used only when mapping one list of things to another. For example (taken from How to use ‘respectively’ correctly)‌:

The values of X, Y, and Z were 8.7, 9.8, and 5.6, respectively.

This means X was 8.7, Y was 9.8, and Z was 5.6. But if there's no 1-to-1 mapping, you can't use "respectively".

  • Helpful 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kenny同志

Thanks for your response 889. That's very kind of you. The relevant Chinese parts are in bold. 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kenny同志

Thanks for your detailed feedback Demonic Duck. Very useful. I am amending my translation based on all your feedback. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kenny同志

Amended version:

Paragraph I (Parts in bold are where changes have been made.)
I.  近年来,中国出口厂商受到了亚洲金融危机的冲击。该地区许多国家的经济不景气引起消费市场萎缩,货币疲软使购买力下降。有的国家政局不定、经济不稳,贸易保护主义升级,外交磨擦抬头。这些使得对该地区的出口十分困难。我们必须采取有效措施来对付这种局面。
In recent years, Chinese exporters have been feeling the impact of the financial crisis spreading in Asia where many countries are suffering from a combination of shrinking consumer markets--a result of sluggish economies, weakened purchasing power of currencies, political and economic instability, mounting/increased protectionism, and new diplomatic friction. All these are making it increasingly difficult to export to the region.  This is a situation that must be addressed.

 

Edit:
Revised by incorporating Demonic Duck's suggestions. 

In recent years, Chinese exporters have felt the impact of the financial crisis spreading in Asia, where many countries are suffering from shrinking consumer markets due to sluggish economies.  These problems are compounded by weakened purchasing power of currencies, political and economic instability, increased protectionism, and new diplomatic friction, making it difficult to export to the region.  This is a situation that must be addressed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kenny同志

 Parts in bold are where changes have been made.
II.
我们要大力推进外贸体制改革,走集团化的道路,组建以外贸为龙头的工贸、农贸、技贸相结合的企业集团,以增强企业的竞争力。老的大中型国有企业必须进行技术改造以增强活力,对有条件的大中型企业应授予其进出口经营权。工业企业自营出口这是我国外贸体制改革的一个重大步骤。
For increased competitiveness of our exporters, we must (vigorously) reform the management system of foreign trade by forming export-oriented conglomerates in manufacturing, farming, and technology.  Outmoded state-owned enterprises (SOE), both large and medium, must invigorate themselves through process and equipment upgrades. And those enterprises that are better-positioned, except small ones, should be granted a license to import and export.  Assisting manufacturers to be exporters is a major step in China’s reform of its foreign trade regime.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kenny同志

Parts in bold are where changes have been made. 
III. 必须优化传统的出口商品结构,靠价格和数量竞争的时代已一去不复返了。在当今激烈竞争的世界上,只有以质取胜和改善售前售后服务才能行得通。要通过精加工和深加工提高出口商品的附加值;要努力生产适销对路的名特优新产品和拳头产品打入国际市场。由于市场形势千变万化,出口产品必须不断地更新换代,做到你无我有,你有我优,胜人一筹。
Our exports structure must be optimized because the era of relying on quantity and price competition is over. In a highly competitive world today, the only way to win customers is through superior quality and excellent services before and after sales. It is important to add value to exports through fine or intricate processing, and to manufacture readily marketable products that can make inroads into the international market, such as those that are well-known, special, of superior quality, or novel, and so-called “knockout/hard-punch products”, i.e. products standing out in the market. As the market is ever changing, exporters must update their portfolios constantly for a long-lasting competitive edge over their competitors. This can be done by providing what others do not have, or in cases where there are similar products on the market, by delivering better quality.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Demonic_Duck

For optimal readability, it's usually best to aim for a sentence length of ~20 words, with ~30 as a maximum. Some shorter sentences are fine too, as long as not every sentence is short — you can use these shorter sentences for impact.

 

44 minutes ago, Kenny同志 said:

In recent years, Chinese exporters have been feeling the impact of the financial crisis spreading in Asia where many countries are suffering from a combination of shrinking consumer markets, which are caused by sluggish economies, weakened purchasing power of currencies, political and economic instability, mounting/increased protectionism, and new diplomatic friction.

 

This sentence now corresponds to three source sentences and has 51 words, more than double the optimal length. It's also really difficult to parse. Are the shrinking consumer markets caused by [sluggish economies], or are they caused by [sluggish economies, weakened purchasing power of currencies, political and economic instability, mounting/increased protectionism, and new diplomatic friction]?

 

Consider splitting it something like this:

In recent years, Chinese exporters have felt the impact of the financial crisis spreading in Asia, where many countries are suffering from shrinking consumer markets due to sluggish economies. These problems are compounded by weakened purchasing power of currencies, political and economic instability, increased protectionism, and new diplomatic friction.

 

44 minutes ago, Kenny同志 said:

mounting/increased protectionism

 

I slightly prefer "increased" here. I think "mounting" is also OK, but typically collocates with words like "pressure to..." or "calls for..." (as in 呼吁).

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kenny同志

魔鴨君, 承蒙賜教,不勝感謝. Your version is far better than mine. 受教了. I will amend my translation accordingly. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kenny同志

 Parts in bold are where changes have been made.
IV.
要全方位地开拓国际市场,市场多元化是立于不败之地的关键。俗话说:不能在一棵树上吊死。在选择新辟市场时要权衡其风险与机会,并且要反应迅速;要随时跟踪市场变化情况,以便选择有利时机和地点抓紧出口。只有那些富有活力、洞察力和应变力的企业才能在市场景气时大显身手,而在市场萧条时也能站稳脚根。当某些市场疲软时,总还有另一些市场坚挺,所以能够做到东方不亮西方亮
It is of vital importance that we expand our market globally as geographical diversification is a  key to corporate success. In other words, “Don’t put all eggs in one basket,” as is advised by the saying. Risks and opportunities, however, must be assessed constantly and timely when we plan to enter a new market.  We need to monitor all markets so we can export to the right countries or regions at the right time. Only those dynamic, insightful, and adaptable companies are capable of weathering/surviving the bad times and making a good killing in good times. When some markets slump, there will always be other ones remaining or becoming strong/buoyant. Therefore it is possible for us to gain on the swing what was lost on the roundabout.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kenny同志

Parts in bold are where changes have been made.

 V. 出口商品必须有一流的品质,颖式,包装和装璜,但行之有效的广告宣传和促销活动也很重要,尤其要提高用外语针对国外市场进行宣传的能力。赴国外参展,派人员出国推销,在国外建立生产或销售点等等,一定要讲求实效。最后,引进国外的技术和资金以提高我国出口商品的质量和劳动生产率,通过加强管理降低成本,通过加强培训以提高人员的素质,等等,都是不可忽视的方面。通过落实各项优惠政策,搞好基础设施建设,完善配套服务,掀起一个吸引外资的新高潮。
As far as exporting is concerned, the quality, design/styling, packaging, and presentation of the product are crucial, so are effective publicity, advertising, and promotion. For this reason, to better target specific international markets, it is particularly important that we develop our expertise in multilingual advertising. Activities, such as attending international fairs, marketing locally in international markets, and setting up production facilities or sales outlets, must be result-oriented. Last but not least, we must never forget to enhance the quality of our export commodities and their productivity by availing ourselves of/introducing new foreign know-how and investment, to minimize costs through strengthened management, and to help our workers grow through better training. By implementing the government’s preferential policies to the letter and providing good infrastructure and supporting services, we will certainly be able to bring about a new upsurge in inbound foreign investment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
anonymoose
1 hour ago, Demonic_Duck said:

Chinese exporters have been feeling the impact of the financial crisis spreading in Asia where sluggish economy and weak currencies have led to shrinking consumer markets and reduced purchasing power, respectively

 

1 hour ago, Demonic_Duck said:

Note also that "respectively" is more limited in usage compared to 分别, and it can't be used here. It can be used only when mapping one list of things to another.

 

But that's what the author has done.

 

First list:

1. sluggish economy

2. weak currencies

have led to second list:

1. shrinking consumer markets

2. reduced purchasing power

 

I only mention this because on first reading, I also thought "respectively" was used unnecessarily. In fact it could be dispensed with without significantly changing the substance of the sentence, but in terms of usage, I would argue that it is used correctly here.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...