Before starting any translation project, try to know your language sets
This may seem simple, but before starting any translation or interpretation project, you can save time, money, and headaches by knowing in advance (if possible) the country or regional version of your translation or interpretation language. If you need assistance, we are here to help!
For example, at Attorney Translation Services, we are often asked if we can translate legal documents from English to Portuguese. The answer is yes, but we need to know which version do you need, either European Portuguese used in Portugal or Brazil? While rather similar in the written forms, there are important differences we can explain in more detail particularly for legal documents.
The same is true for Spanish as there are also two primary versions of the language.
There is what is most commonly referred to as "European Spanish" spoken in Spain (also referred to as Castilian), and what is known as "Latin American Spanish: used throughout all of Latin America. (While there are very minor written language differences among Latin American countries the differences are more noticeable in spoken forms for dialects among countries or regions.)
French is another language that deserves extra attention. There are some 28 different known accents or dialects around the world. For most translation projects, it is important to know if you need something translated to, or from, "Canadian French" or what is commonly called "European French" closest to what is also known as "Parisian French." Legal document translation requires special attention because of the differences between the Canadian English-based common law system and the French civil law system.
Chinese language differences are often the most difficult to understand for non-speakers. A few tips. All Chinese dialects use one written language but there are two writing systems for the Chinese characters.
The easiest way to understand this is that “Simplified Chinese” (简化字) is used in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). “Traditional” Chinese (漢語) is used in Taiwan, the Republic of China (ROC), and to a declining extent today in Hong Kong where today a blend of Simplified and Traditional are increasingly both used depending on the intended setting (court, schools, business, etc.)
Chinese dialects such as Mandarin, Cantonese or Fukienese are not written languages but only spoken dialects. The Mandarin dialect (普通话) also called “Standard Chinese” is the official language of China (PRC) and also Taiwan.
So to recap, if you can identify proper language sets or “directions” as we in the business often refer to, this knowledge can help you get off to a faster, smoother project start.