How to get in-depth access to translation industry in China?

Chinese Translation Industry Analysis - Part 1
In China, there are tens of thousands translation companies, teams and freelancers sharing the huge cake (expected revenue of 20 Billion CNY) of this unique translation industry. I am trying to share my comprehension and experience of the current market situation in China.

Well, let¡¯s start from a leave of the giant tree ¨C the classification of translation providers in China

- State-owned Translation Organizations

The translation activities in these organizations are relevant for government propaganda, literature and culture exchange areas like books publishing, radio broadcasting, etc. In marketing point of view, they could be potential customers for translation technology providers.

- University-sponsored Translation Providers

Entity 1: The university-sponsored translation companies usually highlight in their advertisement that 1 or several famous professors are involved or leading the translation team. But in my opinion, it is still a doubt whether those professors could actually have time to function as advertised.

Entity 2: The freelancer team led by English majored professors and their Master students. They have very good linguistic skills in translation of commercial and media materials. But they have very limited experience of translation tools, industry specific knowledge, etc.

- Small/SOHO translation companies
When your internet search engine displays a long list of translation companies with incredible low quote but ability of translating as jack of all trades, it may not be a very good news to your selection. In China, a small company usually comprises 2 full-time staffs (general manager and receptionist) and 1 part time staff (editor) and tens to hundreds of freelancer contacts. Some of them don't even know English or their service details much. In a sense, they are translation brokers, not typical provider in the field. If you does care the value of your money, choose another type of small translation agencies with expertise in very specialized language and industries. However, the prerequisite is that your project volume is small enough to enable them to keep quality service.

- Freelancers
Not much to say, 80% non-English majored translators are not 100% qualified in Grammar, 80% English majored are not 100% qualified in Technology. Unless you have a stable network of real professionals through years of translation, you can hardly meet real experts to for very high quality expectation.

- Large Localization companies
They concentrate more in IT related translation services. They have advantages of technologies and project management experience. But the size of in-house translation team in such companies is shrinking. Instead, they will set up a good network of bundled subcontractors to undertake customer projects. And they manage the progress and quality on top of that. They are translation brokers in another sense.

- Media-sized Localization and translation companies
These companies usually put great focus in professional team building and quality assurance process. Their translation quote is lower than the large companies, but higher than small/soho/freelancers as the medium level. And their service scope is specialized than the big ones but broader than the small ones.

Please feel free to add more information.

To be continued¡­ -
Chinese Translation Industry Analysis - Part 1
Author: Roy Zhang
English to Chinese translator 
By Roy Zhang
Published on 02/4/2005
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