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Should I study Chinese or Japanese? I cannot make up my mind.
Thread poster: vieleFragen
vieleFragen
Local time: 10:56
English
Mar 4, 2005

Hello. I'm looking to become a translator for either chinese or japanese (I know these languages are really hard to learn).I'm still making up my mind and will go to both China and Japan before I make my decision.

Anyways, I was wondering how high the demand for chinese->german / c->e was. Is it possible to work fulltime, translating from chinese to german only or would I have to work from chinese to english, too? Is the ratio of supply and demand for chinese-> english higher/lower than for japanese-> english or approximately the same?

I always thought I might have a hard time or at least might risk having difficulty in 20 or 30 years if I choose the language pair japanese-> german, but that I shouldn't have this problem with chinese->german, as the trade volume between germany and china is relatively high and China's economy is still growing at enormous rates.

Hopefully somebody can help me! Thank you!


[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2005-03-08 22:10]


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 16:56
English to Chinese
+ ...
Davon kann ich ein Lied singen! Mar 5, 2005

Die Nachfrage DE>ZH und DE>JP ist ziemlich gro

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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 16:56
English to Chinese
+ ...
Noch etwas dazu Mar 5, 2005

Meiner Erfahrung als Mitarbeiter in Agenturen nach, Handbücher, die ins Deutsche übersetzt werden sollen, werden zunächst ins Englische übersetzt. Erst dann werden EN>DE-Übersetzer engagiert. Das ist normal Praxis bei den taiwanesischen oder chinesischen Agenturen. Ich vermute, daß es bei den japanischen auch nicht viel anders. Der Grund ist offensichtlich: Es gibt mehr EN>DE-Übersetzer als ZH/JP>DE-Übersetzer und die Kosten sind für diese vermutlich höher als jene. Außerdem, die Handbücher müssen ja sowieso ins Englische übersetzt werden, wenn die chinesischen/taiwanesischen/japanischen Hersteller ihre Produkte in dem Weltmarkt verkaufen wollen.

Auf Grund dessen würde ich mich als Deutschmuttersprachler eher Fähigkeit an EN>DE-Übersetzung aneignen, als ZH/JP>DE. Chinesisch- und Japanisch-Lernen kann man ja immer als Hobby betreiben.


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Mark Xiang
Local time: 16:56
English to Chinese
+ ...
You are absolutely right Mar 6, 2005

vieleFragen wrote:

I always thought I might have a hard time or at least might risk having difficulty in 20 or 30 years if I choose the language pair japanese-> german, but that I shouldn't have this problem with chinese->german, as the trade volume between germany and china is relatively high and China's economy is still growing at enormous rates.

Hopefully somebody can help me! Thank you!


I am not sure with chinese->german translation. But CN->EN jobs are on the running-up and will increase for some elegant time. Maybe you had better do some research before making your professional decision.

With my best wishes in your professional endeavor!

Mark


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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:56
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I would definitely take Chinese as the priority. Mar 6, 2005

Hi, Everyone,

As we know the Chinese economy is increasing rapidly and the trade with the world is incredible, if I were a starting translator, I would definitely take Chinese as the priority. That means this language will land you with more jobs, let along the fact that the costs are much lower to live and learn Chinese in China. Another thing you might already know, that is, Japanese borrowed 10-20 percent of the Chinese characters, and named as kanji in Japanese. If you know Chinese already, it definitely helps to learn Japanese. Perhaps the best example to explain this is sort of like an English person reads French, although does not have the whole picture of an article, he can still get an idea about what it is all about.

Kevin


[Edited at 2005-03-06 18:53]


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vieleFragen
Local time: 10:56
English
TOPIC STARTER
french, english: cant understand one by knowing the other Mar 7, 2005

Hi. Thank you so much for all the answers!

@Kevin: I know the approximately 2000 (or 6000...but the 2000 are those that are used in every day life) Kanji were taken from chinese and "adapted" a little. I don't know about reading hanzi and kanji and this is kinda off-topic, but I speak english and french and actually I have to say that if I only spoke one of the two languages and read a text in the other I'd be lucky if I noticed 2 or 3 words per page lol..no offense or anything though, I just think it's a little misconception that people aren't really aware of. I've also heard that if one knew how to read french they could kind of read and understand spanish texts...and I really don't understand a spanish phrase other than "no hablo(s?) espanol"

(thanks for your input though!)

Kevin Yang wrote:

Hi, Everyone,

As we know the Chinese economy is increasing rapidly and the trade with the world is incredible, if I were a starting translator, I would definitely take Chinese as the priority. That means this language will land you with more jobs, let along the fact that the costs are much lower to live and learn Chinese in China. Another thing you might already know, that is, Japanese borrowed 10-20 percent of the Chinese characters, and named as kanji in Japanese. If you know Chinese already, it definitely helps to learn Japanese. Perhaps the best example to explain this is sort of like an English person reads French, although does not have the whole picture of an article, he can still get an idea about what it is all about.

Kevin


[Edited at 2005-03-06 18:53]


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vieleFragen
Local time: 10:56
English
TOPIC STARTER
one more thing Mar 7, 2005

You spelled chinese and japanese in capitals. Don't you have to use small letters for that (or for any other language for that matter...)? (just asking)

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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:56
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Interesting point! Mar 7, 2005

vieleFragen wrote:

I don't know about reading hanzi and kanji and this is kinda off-topic, but I speak english and french and actually I have to say that if I only spoke one of the two languages and read a text in the other I'd be lucky if I noticed 2 or 3 words per page lol..no offense or anything though, I just think it's a little misconception that people aren't really aware of.



Interesting point. I guess you have some knowledge about Chinese and Japanese already. That's a good start! I read English, but not French, I would certainly be able to figure out more than 2-3 French words per page.


Kevin

[Edited at 2005-03-07 06:10]


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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:56
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Interesting question! Mar 7, 2005

vieleFragen wrote:

You spelled chinese and japanese in capitals. Don't you have to use small letters for that (or for any other language for that matter...)? (just asking)



Interesting question! I think we must have had a different English teacher.

Kevin

[Edited at 2005-03-07 06:07]


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 16:56
English to Chinese
+ ...
About Translation Quality Mar 7, 2005

Actually, any one of us translators does make mistakes in writing in any languages. For instance, I do make a lot of mistakes when I write or talk in Germany, Spanish, Russian or English - even in Chinese. It doesn't matter in our daily life at all, but it does matter when we are doing translation jobs. People are sometimes picky at that. That is why we need some picky proofreader/reviewer/editor to do the finishing job for us. And that is probably also the reason why we usually translate from foreign (second/third/fourth and so forth) languages into our mother tongue, for it's saver to do translation this way. Or else, we need a native translator to help us revising our translation the other way round.

That is the least quality the customers usually ask for. As translators, we must know that. However, it doesn't matter to make mistakes when we are just doing practices and opinion exchanges with people, open-minded people.

By the way, I do read French and Italian, somehow, just because I read Spanish, because these languages belong to the same origin - they are Romanistic Languages. They ought to have similar vocabulary and syntax. However, it is not always safe to believe that one really understand texts in these languages fully, just because one is able to make some educated guessing. The same applies to Chinese, Japanese and Korean - especially when the latter two languages belong to Altaic Languages which do have a very different syntax than Chinese. Though they have borrowed some Kanji/Hanzi, it doesn't mean the borrowed ones have the same meaning in those three languages. Just for example, "actually" vs. "aktuell" or "eventually" vs. "eventuell" in English and Germany - we know they mean totally different and call them "falsche Freunde (false friends)". Those kind of similarities in words, phrases and syntax are pitfalls for translators. Watch out!


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Shaun Yeo  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:56
English to Chinese
+ ...
How humourous... Mar 7, 2005

vieleFragen wrote:

You spelled chinese and japanese in capitals. Don't you have to use small letters for that (or for any other language for that matter...)? (just asking)

I'm sure you were just pulling our leg when you "asked" the above question. Thanks for the stab at humour.

Shaun@now I'm not sure if I've missed something...


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Shaun Yeo  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:56
English to Chinese
+ ...
A small test to show the difference between JPN and CHN Mar 7, 2005

Just for the fun of it. If you do not know anything about the Japanese language but think your proficency in Chinese would give you some hints as to what the following "everyday" Japanese means, you are invited to post your reply here (unless this is not allowed by the moderator here. Kelvin, if this is not the sort of thing to do here, please remove it and accept my apologies.)
I can provide the answers later. Of course, this "test" would be rendered meaningless if you resort to consulting the many online and offline references.
Again, let me emphaize: (1)These are not rarely used Japanese but EVERYDAY vocabs; (2)More importantly, this is just for fun.

大变
勉强
风邪
手纸
顽张
御驰走
邪魔
无邪气
割引
新闻
受付

Have fun@and lots of kanji...er...hanzi


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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:56
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Are we going to an extreme? Mar 7, 2005

Hi, Guys,

I think this discussion is going to an extreme. The asker was initially asking if we can help him to make up his mind whether he should learn Chinese or Japanese. It is interesting that we did not got much feedback if he made up his mind after all.

I would like to clarify a couple things in this discussion here. “To get an idea” does not mean to get a precise idea at the same understanding level of an experienced translator.

Secondly, it is true that some Japanese kanji characters are no longer carrying the same meanings as they are in Chinese. But, those are in a small percentage, and quite a number of them still have the similar meanings as the Chinese characters. Just pick a few tricky Japanese terms (By the way, Shaun, you wrote them in Hanzi, not in Japanese kanji.) without any context is an extreme. Here come my answers to your test. I hope I have passed your test.

1. 大变 = big event,
2. 勉强 = study
3. 风邪 = cold
4. 手纸 = letter
5. 顽张 = (make) effort
6. 御驰走 = delicious food
7. 邪魔 = disturbance
8. 无邪气 = innocent; naïve
9. 割引 = discount
10. 新闻 = news
11. 受付 = acceptance

I looked at one Japanese article just for fun of it, and found these terms (in Japanese kanji codes). Tell me how far they are from the Chinese:


1.程度
2.正直
3.入門
4.練習
5.困惑
6.項目
7.虚構
8.標題
9.日記
10.文學
11.階層

Kevin




[Edited at 2005-03-07 21:07]


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vieleFragen
Local time: 10:56
English
TOPIC STARTER
didn't mean to offend anyone Mar 7, 2005

Hey..

First of all: I wasn't kidding when I asked the question about the spelling of English/english or German/german and I didn't mean to be a wiseguy, I was really just asking. Actually, I had thought you spelled it completely in small letters in English, but I see I was obviously wrong when I said that. But as I'm not a translator and English isn't my first language, I think this isn't too bad of a mistake. I guess I confused it with French, because in French you have to use small letters (otherwise you're not talking about the language, but a person from France). Interesting, that I was never aware of this, though.

Second of all: You haven't gotten any feedback, because I'm still making up my mind (and didn't really think you're interested too much in miy choice..my bad). I think I'm going to go with japanese, though. I think I'll do this (though I'm not completely sure, yet), because I'm a business management student and think I'll carry on my studies in that field and thus I'll pretty much do it as a hobby(though it might look good in an application...). I know how crazily the chinese economy is booming, but I've asked plenty of people who are familiar with conducting business in Asia and all of them pretty much told me, that English is pretty much the only language used (though sometimes other languages seem to serve you well, too) and even if an employee can speak chinese (or japanese for that matter) fluently this particular skill is hardly rewarded (if at all), unless you plan to go to China as an expatriate for around 3-5 years...and I can't really see myself doing that in the future. If I'm honest I think I couldn't imagine myself moving to any other country for a couple of years to work there (I like travelling a lot, but not for extended periods of time). I could imagine moving to Australia, California, South France or New Zealand however, because I really like places where the sun shines more often than in germany (if I planned to move there for good)

Maybe I'll have the possibility to work as a translator later in life, but who knows...It's not really my first choice anymore and thus I guess the best thing I can do is go for the language that I'd personally prefer to learn.

Anyways thanks for your help guys and I hope I didn't offend anyone.

P.S.: Chinese (the language), Chinese (a person from China), but if it's an adjective it's spelled completely in small letters, right? (e.g.: the chinese language)

Kevin Yang wrote:

Hi, Guys,

I think this discussion is going to an extreme. The asker was initially asking if we can help him to make up his mind whether he should learn Chinese or Japanese. It is interesting that we did not got much feedback if he made up his mind after all.

I would like to clarify a couple things in this discussion here. “To get an idea” does not mean to get a precise idea at the same understanding level of an experienced translator.

Secondly, it is true that some Japanese kanji characters are no longer carrying the same meanings as they are in Chinese. But, those are in a small percentage, and quite a number of them still have the similar meanings as the Chinese characters. Just pick a few tricky Japanese terms (By the way, Shaun, you wrote them in Hanzi, not in Japanese kanji.) without any context is an extreme. Here come my answers to your test. I hope I have passed your test.

1. 大变 = big event,
2. 勉强 = study
3. 风邪 = cold
4. 手纸 = letter
5. 顽张 = (make) effort
6. 御驰走 = delicious food
7. 邪魔 = disturbance
8. 无邪气 = innocent; naïve
9. 割引 = discount
10. 新闻 = news
11. 受付 = acceptance

I looked at one Japanese article just for fun of it, and found these terms (in Japanese kanji codes). Tell me how far they are from the Chinese:


1.程度
2.正直
3.入門
4.練習
5.困惑
6.項目
7.虚構
8.標題
9.日記
10.文學
11.階層

Kevin




[Edited at 2005-03-07 21:07]


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Shaun Yeo  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:56
English to Chinese
+ ...
Interesting observation of Kelvin Mar 8, 2005

>Kelvin wrote:
>I think this discussion is going to an extreme.
As I mentioned, my post was meant to be a fun thing.

>I would like to clarify a couple things in this discussion
> here. “To get an idea” does not mean to get a precise idea
> at the same understanding level of an experienced translator.
Seriously, I think if we are talking about a term list, like the list Kelvin has provided, it may be relatively easy to guess the meaning. But if you are talking about a passage, with a mixture of kanji, hiragana and katakana, I think it is not easy even to get an idea. I am speaking from my experience as an advanced learner of the Japanese language for 10 over years (having passed JLPT1 some 10 years ago and the Jetro Business Japanese test 4 years ago, I think I can somehow labeled myself "advance learner").

>Secondly, it is true that some Japanese kanji characters...
I agree with Kelvin on this point.

>(By the way, Shaun, you wrote them in Hanzi, not in Japanese kanji.)
I did it on purpose. If I had written them in Japanese, I guess most of our friends here may not be able to display them on their PCs.

>without any context is an extreme.
Come on Kelvin, the 11 terms given practically need no context

>Here come my answers to your test. I hope I have passed your test.
Seriously though, my "test" was meant for those without any knowledge in Japanese, as I have indicated in my previous post. You answers gave you away. I'm not sure how proficient you are but you must have "at least" some knowledge of the language. Otherwise, the better you are with the Chinese language, the easier it is for you to get it wrong. For example. ask any Chinese language expert about 御驰走 or 勉强, he will not have the slightest hint of what these terms mean in Japanese.

>10. 新闻 = news
I found 1 likely mistake here. 新闻usually means newspaper only. News on TV is referred to as nyu-su (transliteration of news).

FWIW


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