June 6

China and Hong Kong: The Importance of Communicating Through a Single Medium

Translating for China and Hong Kong

The Importance of Communicating Through a Single Medium

It is a common misconception that China and Hong Kong share exactly the same social and cultural traits. It is a mistake that is easily made, because natives of both territories are ethnically Chinese, after all; and, from an outside perspective, Hong Kong is China. Most people assume that Hong Kong is completely a part of China, but the answer (“one country, two systems”) really isn’t quite so simplistic.

Apart from the territorial confusion, the language is another common point of error. For people unaware of the situation between the two places, it would be easy to assume that there are few dialectical differences if any at all. This assumption could not be further from the truth, though. Although people from Hong Kong and those from China can communicate on a basic level, there are a variety of linguistic differences that greatly affect comprehension. It is a situation similar to the nuances between Castilian ( the official variant of Spanish), Catalan and Portuguese speakers. You can also say the same about African French and mainland French speakers. There are similarities; but, outside of a casual conversation, a proper translation is necessary.

Breaking through Barriers

Asia, generally speaking, is a hotbed of language barriers. Take the Southeast region where people speak English, Malay, Indonesian, Filipino, Cambodian, Thai, and Chinese, among many others. In many of these areas, you may think it fortunate to encounter an English-speaking person – but, for respect’s sake (in business matters for example), it is more desirable to communicate in the native language. It conveys a willingness to cooperate and an exertion of effort. You could have chosen to speak English, and your attempts to use the vernacular will speak volumes to your business associates and to others with whom you communicate.

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