Are you a webmaster that is having a website translated into Chinese? Here are the top 11 things you should know to make sure that the Chinese website translation is written in the right kind of Chinese, is polished and readable, and shows up properly for your viewers.
1) In most cases, your website should be translated into Mandarin Chinese written in simplified characters. Mandarin is by far the most widely used Chinese dialect – it is used much more than Cantonese and other regional dialects. Similarly, as simplified characters have been the standard in Mainland China for over half a century, they are also used much more than the traditional style characters. The only time you would use another Chinese dialect or use traditional characters, is if you were targeting people in a specific area such as Taiwan, Hong Kong or some Chinese communities abroad.
2) You should have your website translated by a native Mandarin Chinese speaker from mainland China. When translating any language, it is essential to use a translator that is translating into their native tongue. This is especially true for languages that are as different as Chinese and English. If you don’t use a native Chinese speaker you’ll almost certainly get an awkward (and possibly funny) translation.
3) Chinese is written left-to-right in almost all cases.
4) A Chinese translation is usually shorter than the English text. This means that some site elements may need to be repositioned such as images embedded within text and menu items.
5) Chinese characters are more complex than English letters so they should be displayed using a larger font. For most websites, this can easily be edited using CSS.
6) Use utf-8 encoding. Utf-8 is a character encoding used to implement Unicode. Unicode supports a huge variety of languages including Chinese characters. That might sound like a mouthful, but for html pages, you only need to edit one line of code to use utf-8.
7) Use images for Chinese characters that you want everybody to be able to see. If a user does not have Chinese fonts installed on their computer, the Chinese text will not show up properly. So, for example, if you would like your English readers to be able to view certain Chinese characters, you should include those characters in images.
8) There are many Chinese fonts available. If you are adding Chinese fonts to images, you should download the appropriate fonts for use in your image editor. SimSun is a basic and very commonly used font.
9) English letters are used for webpage URLs.
10) Have the translation edited by somebody other than the translator. All Chinese translation agencies worth their salt will provide their service. If you have hired an individual translator, you should also hire an additional translator to proofread the translated text.
11) Make sure the translator or translation agency is able to translate the “hidden” text on the website such as meta tags, alt tags, title tags and image names. These are not seen by most human visitors but are seen by search engines and people using text browsers.
The basic technical barriers for translating a website into Chinese are quite low. With just a few tweaks, a basic html website can be ready to be translated into Chinese. The tricky part is choosing a reputable translator or translation agency as the quality of the translation itself can vary widely based on who you choose to work with.
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