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Barriers to language translation

Daryl Guppy
Daryl Guppy7/24/2017 08:00 AM GMT+08  • 6 min read
Barriers to language translation
(July 24): Your business survival in China usually depends on somebody else — your translator. The level of dependency will vary from total to almost total unless you are fortunate enough to be fully fluent in Chinese.
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(July 24): Your business survival in China usually depends on somebody else — your translator. The level of dependency will vary from total to almost total unless you are fortunate enough to be fully fluent in Chinese.

Better translation relationships start with the understanding that what is simple for you may be complicated for others in ways you are not aware of. This may include the way the question is formulated. What you say may have an impact on wider background issues you are not aware of, including cultural sensitivity, political sensitivity and bureaucratic or administrative barriers. In short, you cannot speak as freely or as unthinkingly as you do in your home country because people you are working with do not have your common background of language habits.

There are two key translation decisions. The first is to decide whether the translation will be literal and formal, or interpretative. In formal translation, the sentence “The traveller will have problems adjusting to the local time after arriving on an intercontinental flight” becomes much more complicated. It may read: “The traveller will find their body will not coordinate with local time when they arrive after an intercontinental flight that has passed through several time zones.” These confabulations appear more frequently in written translations, but they are never far from spoken translations.

An interpreter’s translation may read: “International travellers may suffer jet lag.” It captures the meaning of the sentence without necessarily using the exact words, or the literal translation. An interpreter will give you the translation, the meaning and the intent of the speaker. An excellent interpreter will also give you the speaker’s implied meaning.

Our preference lies with interpretative translation unless there are exceptional reasons for using direct or literal translation.

The second key decision for public speakers is to know whether the translation will be consecutive, or simultaneous. Consecutive is when you talk, then the translator talks. For consecutive translation, allow 30% more time. For simultaneous translation, allow 10% more time. You must work with the translator prior to the meeting, but in the formal meeting, the translator is ignored. Pre-arrange cues with your translator to cover a variety of situations. These include when you are speaking for too long or when you have said something offensive or inappropriate. Speak slowly and in small bites. Avoid using slang or colloquialisms. Use precise language when you talk. Avoid imprecision because this may be translated in a way that implies precision.

Do not assume others at the table or in the meeting cannot understand English. They may choose not to reveal this for many reasons. A key giveaway is to watch involuntary smiles when you are speaking and before your comments have been translated. Of course, this cuts both ways. If your understanding of Chinese is okay, but you are not so good in speaking, then you may also choose not to reveal your language skill. Avoid the temptation to smile as the Chinese side is speaking and before the translation is completed. The same applies to starting the polite applause before the translator has signalled the end of the presentation.

Translation survival rests on three pillars. First, you must decide in advance exactly what you want from the translation service. Second, it is important to help your translator to help you. Third, respect their professionalism. Most times, if you are misunderstood, it is because what you said was unclear. The translator or interpreter is your voice. Without them, you are powerless, incomprehensible and stranded.

The Shanghai Index suffered several large volatility moves during the week. The first was the July 17 plunge from 3,220 to a low of 3,140 before closing at 3,176. This tested the lower edge of the long-term Guppy Multiple Moving Average indicator as a support level. The following day saw an open below the longterm GMMA, but the close was above the upper edge of the long-term GMMA. This was followed by a strong rally.

We noted last week that there was the potential for any index retreat to briefly dip below the lower edge of the long-term GMMA. This volatility is unwelcome, but it also proves the strength of the uptrend as shown by the long-term GMMA. This proved to be a solid support feature, and the long-term GMMA remains well separated, showing good investor support for a continuation of the uptrend.

The technical indicator relationships suggest that the volatility early in the week was an unusual event driven by overreaction from traders. The GMMA relationships suggest that the uptrend is intact and that the index will continue to rise towards a longer-term target near 3,265.

The lack of compression in the long-term GMMA supports this conclusion. The behaviour of the short-term GMMA also suggests this is a temporary volatility retreat. The short-term GMMA provides information about the thinking of traders. When the short-term GMMA develops compression and crossover, it suggests that a trend change may be developing. This did not develop, so this confirms the retreat was a temporary weakness and not a developing trend change.

The current focus is on the new support features of the uptrend. There are two support features. The first feature is the lower edge of the long-term GMMA near 3,170. The second feature is the support from the upper edge of the long-term GMMA. This is near 3,175. This is also the lower edge of the consolidation activity that developed when the index first tested the 3,195 resistance level. The long-term GMMA continues to develop separation and is showing good investor support for the trend.

The long-term GMMA has turned upwards and is developing separation of around 11 index points, up from seven index points last week. In the future, investors watch for an expansion of the long-term GMMA group of averages because this confirms strong investor confidence in the new uptrend.

There are two GMMA uptrend confirmation signals. The first signal is when the value of the upper edge of the short-term GMMA moves above 3,195. The second confirmation signal is when the lower edge of the short-term GMMA moves above the 3,195 level. This development has happened despite the volatility retreat during the week.

Daryl Guppy is an international financial technical analysis expert and special consultant to AxiCorp. He has provided weekly Shanghai Index analysis for mainland Chinese media for more than a decade. Guppy appears regularly on CNBC Asia and is known as ‘The Chart Man’. He is a national board member of the Australia China Business Council.

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