Tag: China

SDL Tados 2021

Chinese Project Promotes Local Dialects, but in What Capacity?


Surveying a wide swath of regions, Chinese officials aim to preserve and promote local dialects. The country’s human rights record, however, stands at odds with the recent measures.

Home to hundreds of dialects and ethnic minority languages, China has begun a project to preserve language resources and protect the record of the region’s rich linguistic history. The Chinese Ministry of Education and the State Language Commission began conducting surveys in 2015 to determine the state of local dialects around China. The survey has found that at least 100 local dialects are endangered, prompting the National People’s Congress (NPC) deputy to put forth proposals to protect endangered languages and promote inheritance of dialects.

The project stands to become the largest language preservation project in the world. As of this month, the project has collected more than 10 million entries for 123 Chinese dialects and ethnic minority languages after surveying the language resources of over 1,700 locations. Along with the language surveys, the NPC has made a call to promote local dialects in schools, though apparently in the form of

In terms of the spoken languages, much of the world associates Chinese language with either Mandarin — often referred to as “Putonghua,” or common tongue, in Mainland China — or possibly Cantonese, the predominant language spoken in the southern Guangdong province. The Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and the rise of television and film media prompted the Chinese Government to enact policies that would make Mandarin the predominant language for mass broadcasts, most mainstream media, and most educational disciplines. Mandarin is often a second language, and an increasingly necessary language to learn. 

However, while Mandarin is the official language of the country, the linguistic diversity of China is immensely diverse. Besides Mandarin and Cantonese, both distinct from one another, 14 million people speak a dialect commonly referred to as Shanghainese, and Shanghai is made up of even more languages. Language is not tethered to region, either. Hakka is a cultural language of the Hakka people, who live among several provinces. 

In statements for a 2005 New York Times article, one linguist from the Fujian province in China said, “We have an expression, that if you drive five miles in Fujian the culture changes, and if you drive 10 miles, the language does.”

Similarly, a professor of linguistics said in the same article, “No one can clearly answer the question how many dialects there are in China. The degree of difference among dialects is much higher than the degree of difference among European languages. In Europe they call them languages, but in China we share a culture, so the central government would like to consider that one language is shared by many different peoples. It is simply a different definition.”

Needless to say, the project of collecting records of all these languages will be a massive undertaking, not to mention pressing. Many of the measures to promote Mandarin since the Cultural Revolution have resulted in a sharp decreases in opportunities for speakers of local languages to maintain their own dialects, especially with laws requiring Mandarin instruction in many K-12 educational disciplines. In fact, just in August this year, ethnic Mongolian communities in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region (IMAR) — located in China’s north border with Mongolia — staged mass school boycotts in response to a new curriculum that would scale back education in the local Mongolian language.

Likewise, in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), many of the local dialects are in danger due to similar educational policies as those in IMAR. In its report on China’s “Bilingual Education” in TAR earlier this year, the Human Rights Watch suggested that “TAR authorities are using a strategy of cultivated ambiguity in their public statements while using indirect pressure to push primary schools, where an increasing number of ethnic Chinese teachers are teaching, to adopt Chinese-medium instruction at the expense of Tibetan, such as allocating increasing numbers of ethnic Chinese teachers who do not speak Tibetan to positions in Tibetan schools.”

Considering the threat many of these languages face due to Chinese language policies, one might see the creation of a language preservation project as an attempt to make up for human rights abuses that necessitated such preservation measures in the first place. Furthermore, the cultural erasure occurring in many of the autonomous regions begs the question of whether these recent measures are meant to protect people, or rather simply to preserve language as artifact while the cultures themselves go extinct.

While the project to survey, protect, and promote local dialects in China is still new and will likely evolve in upcoming years, human rights advocates stress that such measures must be complemented with active cultural preservation as well. In her Atlantic story on Chinese repression of the Uighur people in Xinjiang, Yasmeen Serhan writes, “Safeguarding a culture requires more than simply maintaining a historical record of its existence. Cultures, after all, can’t be placed behind glass like museum artifacts; much like the people who inhabit them, cultures are meant to grow, adapt, and evolve.”

Preserving and promoting local dialects and ethnic minority languages will thus require not merely the collection of documents, but an even more more massive undertaking: promoting the cultures themselves. The project has so far resulted in a rich collection of language data and resources, and likely a better understanding of China’s broad swath of cultures and languages. How this information will translate to policy, or reform, still remains a question.

Tags:, ,
Journalist at MultiLingual Magazine | + posts

Jonathan Pyner is a poet, freelance writer, and translator. He has worked as an educator for nearly a decade in the US and Taiwan, and he recently completed a master’s of fine arts in creative writing.


Related News:


Global Growth at DiDi


Yan Carolla, head of localization at DiDi, is positioning her team as a global growth driver.

If you haven’t heard of DiDi, then you definitely haven’t been to China in the last few years. If you have been to China, then you most likely would have used the app at some point to book a car or taxi. DiDi, headquartered in Beijing, has created one of the leading mobility and convenience platforms in China.

The recently-released September/October issue of MultiLingual features an article on DiDi’s localization journey written by globalization project manager Jasmine Bao — because the company is now expanding internationally. DiDi began to focus on international expansion in 2017, and is currently operating in 12 countries with six available languages. Yan Carolla joined the DiDi team as head of localization in February of 2020. Here, she discusses the challenges facing DiDi’s localization team and what it’s like working at one of the largest Chinese Unicorns with serious international ambitions.

Yan Carolla

Yan Carolla, head of localization at DiDi.

Carolla’s journey in the localization industry began in 1994 when she was hired as the first project manager by Lionbridge China. Since then, she has worked on both the client and vendor sides in various roles for businesses like SDL, TransPerfect, Autodesk, and Roxio. She has built and managed globalization, software internationalization and localization teams. Before joining DiDi, she was senior director of Strategic Accounts at TransPerfect. She is based in San Jose, California.

What’s been unique about working at a Chinese company like DiDi?

When Chinese companies go abroad, a lot of them have a specific department that focuses on managing the international business. At DiDi, it is called the International Business and Technology (IBT) team. We have our own R&D, product design, and product management teams in IBT. This team then works with the local teams on developing new products for their local markets.

In Western companies, depending on how mature their localization models are, they often have a centralized localization team that sits either within the marketing team or shared engineering team. Sometimes they are not very visible within the organization.

In DiDi, IBT is highly visible and strategic. Localization is part of the essential function of IBT. Localization doesn’t have to justify our existence, but we do have to make sure that we are understood enough so that we can best deliver our language products.

You inherited a team that was established only two years ago, and your role as head of the localization team was newly created. Did you feel you had a lot on your plate when you started?

I was pleasantly surprised with what the team had set up in less than two years and I was pretty happy with what Jasmine Bao, our localization project manager, did to get from zero to one. We have an operations team with project managers in Beijing and language specialists in local markets. The team had a commercial TMS setup which was integrated with their home-grown CMS. They also had qualified and onboarded an experienced language service vendor. My role is to pull the team together globally and to provide leadership.

What were your top priorities when starting at DiDi?

My priorities are firstly to integrate the global localization team, and then to have a strategy on managing DiDi’s style, tone, and voice in local markets. Thirdly, it’s to provide guidance on new market entry from a localization point of view.

While the localization team in Beijing was centralized, language specialists in each country operated in silos. So my first priority is to pull the global team together to serve as center of excellence globally for anything related to language for DiDi’s products and content. That’s what we need to put in place. When working in unison, we can add more value and solve more problems.

Could you share an example?

For example, if one language faces a truncation problem in the UI, we don’t have enough power to change the design or talk to the development team. But if you have several languages all having the same issue, then you can present that it’s better to redesign instead of working on redoing the translation.

The second priority you mentioned was managing style guides for each language and market and getting everyone to adhere to them. What makes that challenging?

Part of the challenge is that the source is in Chinese. Chinese is a very logical language, so the style of the app is more focused on the features. But in order to connect well with the global users, we need to focus on the benefits of using the product or service, not the feature itself. Our priority is to make sure we maintain DiDi’s global branding but also communicate with our global users as if they are using locally developed products.

How are you dealing with the style, tone, and voice of legacy translations?

In parallel, we ran a big localization quality assurance review of our legacy content to fix historical issues, and then we set up style guides for each language. The language specialists are the owners of the style guides. They are created and maintained with inputs from the marketing, PR and design teams. It is one of the important language guidelines, besides translation memories and glossaries, for the vendor linguists to follow.

Additionally, we also created writing guidelines for source Chinese content. We built a checklist into our content management system for Chinese content creators. When they submit translation requests, the system will remind them to run the style guide checklist. This achieves quality control at the source.

How has the pandemic influenced your work?

Because of this pandemic I can’t travel. I was hoping for closer collaborations with the local leadership teams. I am able to build close communications remotely with China and local operation teams. However, I’d like to communicate more with other local functional teams like legal and marketing to ensure we align well for feature approvals and language approvals.

What do you think is important in order to be a successful manager for a localization team at a company like DiDi?

I’m very impressed with the young people on my team; they are very capable and very smart. Completely capable to do things. All you really have to do is to give them directions, really foster them to grow and mature professionally. They are looking for opportunities to learn and learning at work really motivates them.

One of the things we do in the team is to assign someone to do research on a certain topic — for example, one localization project manager had the topic of localizability. Then she did lots of research and presented to the team. During this process, she expanded her own knowledge on the topic. After presenting to our team, she also presented to the R&D team to help them understand internationalization. As a result, each individual learned more about the industry and the team broadened their overall capabilities.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Tags:, ,

Morgan Gallup Zhu is a consultant at Nimdzi Insights. She has spent 14 years in China and speaks Mandarin. She is passionate about bridging Asia and the West, and as the APAC director of operations at RWS Moravia she ensured that RWS Moravia's teams in the region were able to meet the demands of clients who were scaling up operations in Asia.

Related News:

Friday Roundup | Aug 29, 2020

Friday Roundup, Language Industry News and Events

News you may have missed from the last week

Akorbi Ranked as Largest Woman-Owned LSP in the US

Akorbi, a US-based group of companies specializing in language, technology, and global workforce solutions, has earned rankings that make the company the largest privately owned, woman-owned language service provider (LSP) in the United States. The company is ranked #29 and #35 in the world by CSA Research and Nimdzi Insights, respectively. Akorbi has ranked #11 on CSA Research’s North American list. As a top-ranked member of the multibillion-dollar global language services industry, Akorbi is one of only a few women-owned LSPs operating successfully in the global market.

Polyglotte releases new free app

Polyglotte Inc. has released a new free app for iPad, which first launched in 2016. The Polyglotte app involves a patented multilingual keyboard that makes it easy for users to type in several languages with the same keyboard layout. The app got an update and a makeover just in time for the pandemic — bored children can type upside-down. Others can enjoy multilingual typing, legal, math and finance symbols. An earlier version, polyKB One, supported the iPhone as well, but has been discontinued. Supporting the iPhone in the future will require some bug fixes and a UX redesign. The Polyglotte app for iPad works exactly like Polyglotte ES, and serves as a great demo for those interested in clacking away on multilingual mechanical keyboards.

Straker publishes annual meeting results

The annual meeting results outline resolutions from the Straker meeting, including the election of Director Amanda Cribb and the re-election of Director Paul Wilson, along with several amendments to company terms and an alteration of the company constitution.

Appen releases AI Readiness Assessment tool

Designed to level-set companies pursuing AI, Appen’s assessment aims to provide practical guidance on how to effectively leverage AI. The announcement follows the 2020 State of AI and Machine Learning report, in which 82% of respondents reported utilizing AI in their business.

Keywords Studios PLC announces the acquisition of Maverick Media Limited

Keywords Studios, the international technical and creative services provider to the global video games industry, announced the acquisition of Maverick, a video games creative marketing agency, for £3.6m. The acquisition progresses the group’s goal to become the premier technical and creative services platform for the global video games industry.

Microsoft Translator adds two Kurdish dialects for text translation

Northern and Central Kurdish dialects will now be available on the Microsoft Translator app, Office, and Translator for Bing. Users can also use Azure Cognitive Services Speech to add Northern and Central Kurdish to more than 70 other languages. Northern Kurdish, also known as Kurmanji, is spoken in Turkey, Syria, northern Iraq, and northwest and northeast Iran by 15-17 million Kurds. Central Kurdish, known as Sorani, is spoken in Iraqi Kurdistan and western Iran by 9-12 million Kurds. The two languages make up about 75% of all Kurdish speakers.

Google Translate now lets users save transcripts of real-time speech transcriptions

The Google Translate App acquired a new feature in March that allowed users to transcribe and translate speech in near real-time. Google is now rolling out an update to the feature that will allow users to save transcriptions for later reference. Google Translate’s transcription feature currently supports nine languages: English, French, German, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, and Italian.

China sees 210,000 new AI-related enterprises

Growing by over 45% this year, the number of AI-related enterprises has skyrocketed as entrepreneurs flock to the industry, according to Xinhua News Agency. Nearly 950,000 companies in China have developed in the areas of AI, data processing, cloud computing, voice and image recognition, and natural language processing.

Tags:, , , ,
+ posts

MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

Related News:

Stamp Released to Honor Communist Manifesto Translation


Part of an effort by President Xi Jinping to revitalize Marxist theories, China has released a commemorative stamp in honor of the first person to translate The Communist Manifesto into Chinese, Chen Wangdao.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first Chinese translation of The Communist Manifesto, China released a commemorative stamp last weekend in Shanghai and Yiwu marking the anniversary.

In Shanghai, the ceremony was held at the former residence of Chen Wangdao, the first person to translate the complete Communist Manifesto into Chinese, originally written by Karl Marx in 1848. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Chen served as president of the university from 1949-1977. Fudan University Shanghai renovated the residence of Chen into a museum in 2018 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birthday.

Created by Chinese stamp designer Li Chen, the 50x30mm stamp has a face value of 1.2 Chinese Yuan, or about 17 cents USD, and will be issued in a total of 7.5 million copies. The stamp contains a portrait of Chen writing with his right hand and holding with his left a zongzi — a traditional glutinous rice dumpling — soaked in ink.

The story of this stamp tracks a parable that surrounds Chen’s original impetus for writing. As Chen sat consumed in his translation work of The Communist Manifesto, the story goes, Chen’s mother placed a zongzi with a bowl of brown sugar on his desk. When she asked him if he had enough sugar, he answered it was sweet enough. However, when she returned to the room, she saw Chen’s lips covered in ink. It is said that the sweetness came from Chen’s pleasure in translating such a revolutionary work.

The stamp also includes covers of two editions of the Chinese version of The Communist Manifesto, and a photograph of Chen’s former residence in Shanghai on Guofu Road.

The release of the stamp follows news last month of an original first edition copy of Chen’s translation of The Communist Manifesto found at the Library of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Only one of 1,000 copies released, library curators noted the signature red cover with a photo of Karl Marx, as well as a miswrite of the title translation. The original publishing house went on to print 17 more editions of the translation.

Tags:, ,
+ posts

MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

Related News:

Chinese-Language Curriculum Designated As Diplomatic Mission

Language in the News

In a rebuke from American officials, a Chinese-language education group will now be designated as a diplomatic mission. The new measures follow years of controversy surrounding the group.

When it comes to learning a new language, vocabulary memorization and grammar rules make up part of the learning process. Depending on the instructor, textbook, and even political environment, language instruction can have ulterior motives. At least, that is what many academic institutions and the current administration believe of the Confucius Institutes.

In recent years, the Chinese language education group operating in the US has drawn criticism over its curriculum, which has led dozens of universities to close institutes hosted on campus. The accusations center around the organization ties to the Chinese Communist Government and suspicions that the language program is responsible for spreading Chinese Communist propaganda.

Pressure against Confucius Institutes has ramped up recently with the US announcing that it now designates the group a diplomatic mission, according to a report by the New York Times.

“The goal of these actions is simple: to ensure that American educators and school administrators can make informed choices about whether these CCP-backed programs should be allowed to continue, and if so, in what fashion,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a press statement last week. “The United States wants to ensure that students on U.S. campuses have access to Chinese language and cultural offerings free from the manipulation of the Chinese Communist Party and its proxies.”

Though the move will change the status of the Confucius Institutes, the new designation does not mean that academic institutions still hosting the programs will need to close them. However, the organization will now be required to give the State Department lists of employees and property holdings, along with information on all its institutes and centers.

Still, the Chinese Communist Party responded to the move, accusing the administration of further aggravating tensions between the two countries. In a daily briefing, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian claimed the accusations had no basis. “The relevant US approach is to demonize and stigmatize the normal operation of China-U.S. cooperation projects. We strongly deplore and oppose it,” Zhao said at a daily briefing. He said China would “reserve the right to make further responses to this matter.”

Currently, the Confucius Institutes operate in about 500 K-12 classrooms and 65 US university campuses, though those numbers are shrinking due to concerns over propaganda and the interference in academic independence over issues like Hong Kong and Tibet. China considers the institutes in the same class as related organizations in the west, like the British Institute, the Alliance Françaises, and Germany’s Goethe Institutes. A notable difference, critics contend, is that those entities are not housed in universities.

Tags:, , ,
Journalist at MultiLingual Magazine | + posts

Jonathan Pyner is a poet, freelance writer, and translator. He has worked as an educator for nearly a decade in the US and Taiwan, and he recently completed a master’s of fine arts in creative writing.

Related News:

Five tips for running a localization business in China through COVID-19

Localization Culture

Going through a financial crisis while your country is on lockdown is an experience we will most likely never forget. But even in this time of uncertainty, it could be an experience that will make your team stronger — perhaps by stimulating your business to embrace the available technology and practice crisis consciousness. Our company survived the COVID-19 crisis in China, and we took steps to ensure the business has not suffered any financial losses.

We run a small-size localization agency in Shanghai, China. We have 15 full-time employees and the company is three years old. As a service provider, we were expecting that the lockdown, which started at the beginning of February and lasted till mid-March, to have a tremendous effect on the business, and we were ready for the worst. However, it turns out our expectations were overly pessimistic. By the end of the lockdown, we managed to survive. And we would like to share how we did it, for the companies who are currently going through the same situation.

China’s winter business schedule is always planned around the Chinese New Year, which means many businesses like ours typically have very low business activity for at least two weeks during this period. This year the holidays started on January 24, but the lockdown happened immediately after that, so all activities and office work had already been suspended. Therefore, during this period, we lost all our event interpreting business, and the translation activity of clients that were not operating at all, representing the largest chunk of our business.

However, this did not mean that the crisis had pushed us into a corner. We simply had to become more creative and adaptable in order to survive the weeks that followed. Here are the five most important lessons I have learned from this unusual situation.

1. Assure the safety of your employees

Expectation: the team will lose touch and become distant and difficult to manage
Reality: the team became more connected

Making sure your team is safe is priority number one. Any business should always center around its people. We suspended all employee travel until the city returned back to normal, and in fact, some employees are still working from home to this day, even though most companies have been back to business for a while now.

I could not imagine for a second what could have happened to our business if one of my teammates became infected. This would not have only affected our office, but the entire building.

It was also a good opportunity for our team managers to implement their soft skills and show what kind of leaders they are. Showing people that the company is not only a place of work, but also a team that cares about one another, and supports its families is crucial during this time.

As a result, our employees developed a stronger bond with one another, and team spirit actually increased.

2. Business continuity and home office

Expectation: the team will become disorganized and distracted.
Reality: the team became more efficient and productive.

For managers, it is always worrisome to implement something very new to the team that requires new working habits to be formed. So we were skeptical when we introduced home working for all members of the team. But this was not a time for hesitation — assuring business continuity is essential for any company, as if there is no production, there is simply no company. It didn’t take much time to set up this new way of working, but ensuring that everyone stuck to it was a little more challenging. Of course this meant more (online) meetings, more calls, more time spent talking with each employee and so on, but when all the mini-trainings and setup was done, we realized that working from home has a lot to offer. No time wasted in traffic, limited social interaction and in turn fewer distractions meant that tasks were completed more quickly while maintaining the same level of attention.

Of course, for families with children, it was a more challenging time, but we noticed that some members with limited free time dealt with tasks faster and more efficiently.  Also, keeping one’s mind busy can save people from being overwhelmed by mass hysteria and panic.

Home office tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom were implemented with great success, and in addition to project management tools such as Asana that had long been in place. But in general, we believe that home working could play an important role in the future for many types of companies, especially in the digital and service industry.

3. New ways of business development

Expectation: the company will be stuck with one appropriate product or service.
Reality: there are many ways to develop new business.

The third lesson that we learned is how to think outside the box when it comes to new ways of finding business. For us it meant concentrating on social media communication (at a time when others were heavily using social media) to our advantage.

I have also realized that many people were in need of urgent legal document translation and medical related translation. We had shortlisted a few services that could be useful to people at this time and concentrated on those. Attending webinars and spending time in online group discussions have also brought us business prospects. Even sponsoring online events in the ways we can (providing video subtitling or remote interpreting) benefited both the local community and our business.

Some of our clients used the manufacturing slowdown to prepare for the upcoming seasons by taking care of their documentation, marketing materials and website translations, which also brought us business.

We have observed even more creative new business approaches from our community: live fitness classes, online education of children, webinars on all types of topics, delivery-only or take-out-only restaurants, adaptation of traditional businesses to e-commerce. Companies spent time in building relationships with influencers for upcoming seasons, with an emphasis on digital marketing in general.

It is important to remember that the lockdown will not last forever. Here in Shanghai, and for most cities in China, it lasted 6-7 weeks. During lockdown, I strongly recommend using all resources available to them to turn this challenging situation into an opportunity, whether it be learning a new way of presenting information or testing different ways of operating.

4. Self-education and online connection with the community

Expectation: I could end up wasting time.
Reality: I ended up learning more about new ways of how businesses can operate, how the current crisis situation has developed, and government incentives.

Attending these endless webinars and niche lectures might seem like being exposed to neverending sales pitches, which is partly true, as every organizer of a webinar or education session has their own goal in mind. But we found there was much more to these events.

Having access to online communities where one can share experiences, new information and ideas is a great tool to use. One learns that many people are experiencing the same issues, which can be reassuring. And keeping up and learning from niche professionals is never a waste of time. We ended up joining webinars on legal topics, crisis entrepreneurship, social media marketing, financial investments and many more interesting topics we always wanted to learn about, but thought we were too busy for.

Learning new skills is always a great investment in oneself, as one never knows when these skills might come in useful. For me personally, I found out that anyone can make time for self-education once the workflow is set in an efficient manner,

5. Handling finances

Expectation: the company will not survive if we do not lay off most of the staff
Reality: the company might break even and pay full salaries if you prioritize your expenses

We were mostly stressed about not being able to make it through the crisis, as well as not being able to keep the entire team on the payroll.

We believe that every SME needs a small “security fund” to ensure that the company can continue for at least two months of non-operation. But even if that’s not possible, cash flow management essentials will play a great role in times like these.

Limiting non-essential expenses will mean taking more work and responsibility in-house. Pay your people first, even if it means not paying yourself, and lead by example. For larger companies this could mean negotiating and dealing with employees by creating new ways of incentives, and temporarily postponing bonuses.

Some companies were forced to ask people to take this time as annual leave, take a pay cut, or implement more drastic measures, which thankfully we were not forced to do.

Making financial priorities is important at this time, even hard ones such as postponing vendor pay-outs, as well as being ready to receive late payments from your clients.

For us, the information on government incentives came two weeks before the lockdown was over, and it meant significant relief on social security payments as well as two months of free rent for offices that occupied government owed property. So, it is normal for government to take time and decide on how it can support businesses. We hope every government will provide maximum support to businesses and assure the economy pushes though this hard time.

Looking ahead

Staying calm is essential in times of crisis. It brings confidence to those people around you and allows them to focus on the things that can be done. Remember, whatever stage of lockdown your country is in, it will not last forever, and for many businesses this time can and should be spent intelligently. It is therefore in your best interests to concentrate on the things you can do to improve the situation, instead of spending all your time idly worrying about the things you cannot control at this time.

Tags:, ,

Ekaterina Chernavina is marketing director of HI-COM Translation, and a China-specific marketing specialist and advisor.

Related News:

“Top” advertisements generate top dollar for companies — in fines

Localization, Marketing

China’s state news agency, Xinhua, released two updated style guides on the tail of China’s 2015 advertising law overhaul. Faced with these new regulations, foreign companies have experienced increased difficulties in the last few years when promoting products in the PRC. The guides and the laws are imposing stricter rules on the content of advertisements, such as a broadened definition of “false advertising” and the prohibition of certain superlatives. China has a wealth of consumers to be sure, but any advertising mistakes made in the country will have harsh penalties for a company.

The new Suzhou IKEA may incur fines for advertising a product as “top” level, so phrases such as “Reassuring Quality” are used instead.

Recent examples of companies that have run afoul of the revised advertising laws include IKEA and Marriott Hotels. An IKEA in Suzhou, China, may incur a fine of 20,000 to 1,000,000 RMB for its use of the word “top.” This superlative was used to describe the comfort level of mattresses in the IKEA, but under the advertising law’s Article 9, such phrases are banned.

Marriott Hotels was censored in early 2018 for violating Xinhua News Agency’s style guides, which include 102 articles in total. 51 articles contained rules about Chinese sovereignty. In a promotional email, Marriott listed Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Tibet as countries. Following the email, the Shanghai Information Networking Office ordered Marriott to close its Chinese website and official Chinese APP for a week. China’s burgeoning hotel market generates a revenue of $64.8 billion a year, so it’s easy to imagine what monetary losses Marriott suffered for this email. In short, China welcomes foreign advertisers, but companies are expected to follow Chinese laws and national views on sovereignty.

And Marriott isn’t the only company to be penalized for straying from the Chinese government’s opinion on foreign affairs. Companies such as Delta, Zara, Burberry and more have experienced similar consequences. Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube have been famously banned from operating in China.

As the struggles of IKEA, Marriott Hotels and myriad other companies exemplify, the new revisions have created additional difficulties for foreign companies. The revised laws add to the longstanding problem of cultural dichotomy between western countries and China, and their penalties make even a single mistaken word extremely expensive.

Tags:, , ,

Betsy Lin is part of the editorial department at Linguitronics. She has had a lifelong interest in words and their applications.

Related News:

Localization and mobile in Asia


It’s happened: the most populous country in the world has almost reached peak smartphone saturation among internet users. “According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) which is a branch of the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information, 788 million people are mobile users, a whopping 98 percent of the country’s total user base,” Statista notes. This “illustrates just how efficient China has proven at rolling out network coverage as well as how mobile technology has become an indispensable facet of everyday life in the country.”

localization mobile asiaChina is not the only country in Asia with significant mobile internet use. Business Insider reported that 2018 was set to be a huge year for Southeast Asia in that regard, and that “consumers in Southeast Asia spend more time on the mobile internet than any other market.” Thailand leads with consumers spending 4.2 hours per day on average on the mobile internet; the United States, by comparison, averages two hours per day per consumer.

What this points to is a need for companies expanding into Asia to consider how all-important the mobile internet is to consumers there. In Thailand, screens are far more ubiquitous than businessmen in Western high-rise offices might assume. Screens play ads in the subway. At the dentist, patrons watch Thai television while simultaneously attending to their phones. Attention spans, as a result, may be short. Companies have less time than ever to make an initial impression. So the first impression had better be well-researched, and well-localized.

In our issue on Asia, hot off the press and making its way to various locales around the globe, companies can find some tips on how to succeed when they’re localizing for Asia. If you’re not a subscriber, try browsing our Insights articles on the topic or browse through our free magazine articles — recognizing the big-picture challenge is just the first step.

recognizing the big-picture challenge is just the first step #l10n #mobile #china #techdev #mobile Click To Tweet
Tags:, , , ,
+ posts

Katie Botkin, Editor-in-Chief at MultiLingual, has a background in linguistics and journalism. She began publishing "multilingual" newsletters at the age of 15, and went on to invest her college and post-graduate career in language learning, teaching and writing. She has extensive experience with niche American microcultures across the political spectrum.

Related News: