The international activities are really common as China becoming a big export country in the world. Translator, as a bridge, in connecting both parties in business activities is very important. Because of the wider range in business, there are more translation tasks for translators to do.

Someone, who does not have experience in foreign trade business or not have basic knowledge about foreign trade, might not translate business English effectively. Translators shall master the principles and skills in translating business English. This article, through some examples in foreign trade translation, discusses some common problems in business English translation.

Ignoring the expression habits of English is a common problem in translating foreign trade English. Translation is a process, delivering the information of one language to another one. Literal translation is a common method in translation. Translator had better use literal translation as it is simple and clear.

For example, translating“海运费”to Ocean Freight, “销售确认书”to “Sales Confirmation”, “销售合同”to “Sales Contract”, 半成品 to “semi-manufactured goods/semi-finished products”. These translations are all correct while through literal translation.

While, because the glaring discrepancy of history, culture between different countries, the differences of the expression habits between Chinese and English are big Some literal translation to Chinese from English is against the expression habits in English.

For instance, “子公司与母公司”cannot be translated to “mother company and son/daughter company, but “parent company and subsidiaries”, “上市公司”cannot be translated to “company that goes to the market”, but “listed company/company that goes to the public”, and another example, “工业生产指数”can be translated as “industrial production index (CPE), “消费价格指数”shall be translated literally to “consumer price index (CPI), while “国民生产总值的综合价格指数”shall be translated to “implicit price deflator”, literal translation not applied.

Read Also: Ambiguity in English

Another circumstance of ignoring expression habits, is that prolixity and unnecessary repetition during the translation process, which affect the effect of expression in a sentence. Translator shall save time due to the numerous information in commercial activities,and translation shall be simple and clear, not translating literally.

Take the following sentence as an example, if“这是国家指定专营抽纱及原材料、设备进出口的国家外贸公司”is translated to “We are assigned by the state to specialize in dealing in drawn works, raw and processed materials, equipments import and export.” is long-winded and unnecessary. It is better as “We are the dealer authorized by the state to specialize in import and export of drawn works raw and auxiliary materials, and equipment in the manufacture.”

If translator, in commercial business, just translate literally and do not do some research about the local usage, might deliver the incorrect information and thus affect the effect of business or even cause some unimaginable misunderstanding and economic loss

In conclusion, good translation allows the translator to learn and practice, and have the spirit of “keep learning, pursue perfection”, not only be familiar and master one or two professional knowledge, but also consult experts about unfamiliar knowledge, enrich knowledge continually and improve skills, therefore, which make yourself a talented person, who can contribute outstanding translation to society and serve for the economy development.

Take a look at how we helped our client by localizing their project for English language. Click here to read the complete case study