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The Challenges of Chinese Transcription

Approximately 1.2 billion people speak Chinese as their first language—that’s about 16% of the world’s population. As China sees increased economic growth and assumes a larger role in the global economy, the demand for Chinese transcription and translation services continues to grow.

But why are so few transcription services up to the task? The answer is simple: handling the many challenges of Chinese transcription requires experience, skill, and training. Contact to learn how our trained professionals navigate these challenges to deliver top-quality Chinese transcripts.

What are the most common challenges that Chinese transcriptionists handle?

Mandarin vs. Cantonese

Mandarin is the official language and lingua franca of China, where it is used in the media, schools, and businesses. However, Cantonese is more widely spoken than Mandarin in certain areas, such as in Hong Kong and Macau.

While both Chinese dialects share the same basic set of characters, they are vastly different when spoken. Knowing which dialect to expect depends on which region the speaker is from, though the lines between who speaks which dialect are blurring.

When transcriptionists are also translating the Chinese content into English, they must consider how best to interpret the dialect to create an accurate English transcript that preserves the intended meaning of the audio.

Simplified vs. traditional characters

Chinese transcription services must also consider whether they should transcribe into the simplified or traditional forms of Chinese. Some speakers use the traditional characters, which are more complex, while others use simplified characters, which have simpler strokes.

Knowing which to use during transcription can be a difficult decision and, again, is region-dependent. However, simplified characters are often a more prudent option since their use is becoming more widespread and they can be understood by anyone who can read traditional characters.

Types of transcription

Depending on your needs, a transcription service can translate your audio or video file directly into English, or they can provide you with a Chinese transcript. Transcribing first and then translating an audio or video file is challenging because the transcriptionist must be fluent in both the Chinese dialect and English.

Our specialized transcriptionists and translators can help you navigate these challenges. Contact today for all your Chinese transcription needs.


Explore transcription services

Flat-rate professional transcription with a social mission

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