Thailand – A Business Launching Pad

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The floods in 2011 devastated Thailand’s economy and left many business investors scurrying around for solutions. According to the World Bank, Thailand lost a total of approximately 1,425 billion baht (US$45.7 billion) in terms of economic damages and losses. Many in the manufacturing industries were adversely affected – seven major industrial estates were consumed by the floodwaters which measured close to three meters. The manufacturing supply chains failed to support the automobile production and this led to a global shortage of hard disk drives which continued throughout 2012.

Let us take a closer look at Thailand’s economic outlook in 2013. Based on Bloomberg’s article dated last month, Thailand’s economy is slated to slow down as it embarks on its first recession since the global financial crisis. Gross domestic income continues to wane, judging from the sudden decrease of 0.3 percent from the first quarter to June. This is worrying since it has already shrunk 1.7 percent during the first quarter. Government spending plans have been disrupted while China’s stagnation has tamed demands for exports from Southeast Asia. With rising household debt and sluggish domestic demand, the government needs to find a way to reinvent its economy and attract investors.

Just as everything appears bleak for Thailand’s economy, a recent business report dated just a couple of days ago mentioned that Thailand might just be a perfect launching pad for investors who are interested in Southeast Asia. This is especially heartening when Thailand’s neighbor – Myanmar, begins to open up its economy. Thailand is portrayed as a cordial spot for Australian enterprises since industries involved in food and agricultural processing, logistics, alternative resources and service are particularly appealing to Australian investors.  Armed with a competent workforce in Southeast Asia, Thailand would have to make an effort to convince investors how efficient and developed its economy has become and how it would serve their interests. According to last year’s statistics, Australia’s merchandise trade with Thailand was valued at A$15 billion while services and both exports and imports amounted to A$3.35 billion.

The Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce (AustCham Thailand) aims to build and strengthen business connections and opportunities in Thailand. In addition, AustCham would also zero in on developing Thailand as a launching pad into Myanmar. The ultimate rationale is to actualize an Australia-Myanmar-Thailand interest group. AustCham has reasons to believe that the proposed interest group will come to fruition. Myanmar opposition leader Aung Sang Su Kyi participated in last year’s World Economic Forum on East Asia during her first foreign trip in two decades. This is a significant move for Myanmar as it becomes more receptive towards political and economic reforms. Unlike its Southeast Asian counterparts, foreign businesses would have to chart their investment agenda in Myanmar very carefully so that local firms would not be disadvantaged. In other words, investors would need to ensure that their business ventures do not hurt the local enterprises, but promote healthy competition amongst businesses instead.

Opportunities often present themselves in an uncanny manner. With a huge workforce, natural resources and a resilient economy, foreign investors are beginning to focus on Thailand as a gateway to Myanmar. It might be premature to predict the extent of economic collaboration between Thailand and Myanmar; however these neighbors are in fact promoting “social responsibility” (mutual interests and caring for society) between them, which would help bolster long-term partnership. In other words, there is huge potential in the Thai and Myanmar markets. It is also essential to keep in mind their attention on “social responsibility” when marketing your services and products. If you intend to penetrate the Thai market prior to the Myanmar market, please feel free to contact Scribers for enquiries related to Thai translation and localization services. If you are also interested in the Myanmar market, we do provide Burmese translation and localization services as well. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

3 Most Asked Questions About Transcription

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Transcription can be understood in two ways – in a linguistics or business sense. In linguistics, transcription is a representation of speech in written form. This is especially important in methodologies involving research on phonetics, conversation analysis, sociolinguistics etc. Transcription can also capture speech nuances by following the phonetic transcription systems which are based on the International Phonetic Alphabets (IPA).

However, in a business sense, transcription focuses less on this aspect since the importance lies in converting speech into a written document. This differs from representing speech in a scientific manner for research purposes (transcription in linguistics).

The next question that you might ask would be the people who request for transcription service.  Our clients typically hail from the legal sector since transcribed materials are frequently produced as court evidence. Apart from transcribing legal materials, we also cover audio recordings for conferences or high profile events. Our transcription assignments are not limited to English, there are times when we need to transcribe a foreign language audio clip into English or vice versa.

Due to the importance of our transcription assignments, we ensure that speech is accurately presented in a written format – our transcribers make an effort to listen out for unclear words or expressions against background noise in the audio recordings. We even go the extra mile of ensuring that punctuation and text organization are consistent, neat and comprehensive for our clients. Do refer to our previous blog posts on “The Power of Punctuation (I)”, “The Power of Punctuation (II)” and “10 Tips Guide You How to Write in Style”  to get a better idea of how we structure our transcription deliverables. Log on to scribers.com.sg to explore our transcription service!

Do words need a break?

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Word segmentation is informally known as “word breaks”. When translating from English to Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai, the absence of a salient word segmentation process may worry clients.  Segmentation basically refers to dividing a string of utterance. For instance, word segmentation would imply dividing a string of words. In English, word segmentation is easily observed from spaces between words. However, this is not the case for languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai.

When translating from English to any one of the aforementioned languages, clients might have difficulty typesetting the translation; fitting the expressions into the design layout since they are unaware of the word segmentations. For instance, the translated noun might not make sense without a case marker (ga, de, ni etc.) in Japanese or the translated verb might not make sense without a sentence final particle (le, ma, guo etc.) in Chinese. Hence, it is very critical to know where the word boundaries are, in order to match the meaning of the target text to the source text.

Fret not with Scribers! We resolve this mind boggling issue by ensuring that word breaks are addressed in a comprehensive manner for our clients. Our clients would be able to recognize word breaks and seek clarification with our translators if required. Apart from this, we also provide typesetting service that weaves in the translated expressions seamlessly, giving our clients an ease of mind when they engage our holistic translation and localization service. Log on to scribers.com.sg to begin your stress-free journey with us!

0 to 10, How Much Do You Understand “Interpretation” ?

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We hope our previous post on translation has given readers new insights on the importance of considering cultural and linguistic elements during the translation process. Today, we are going to discuss another important topic – interpretation.

There are generally two types of interpretation – consecutive interpretation (CI) and simultaneous interpretation (SI). The terms might have given you some clues about the distinction between CI and SI. For CI, it allows some time lag for the interpreter to make notes or jot down crucial points before transferring the meaning and gist into speech. However, for SI, it is definitely a lot more demanding and exhausting because it only allows an extremely short length of time lag – less than five seconds or half a sentence.

Many of you might overlook the high stress level involved in an SI assignment. Unlike CI interpreters, SI interpreters have to work in pairs or even in groups of 3 or more, depending on the nature of the conference or event. SI interpreters have to be spot on in terms of timing themselves as well as conveying the meaning of the source language. In other words, CI interpreters are given the opportunity to re-interpret when they wish to further refine the interpretation. On the contrary, SI interpreter do not have this advantage even if they wish to polish their interpretation. We also have to keep in mind that both CI and SI interpreters are not interpreting word for word; they have to keep in mind two different sentence structures and vocabularies. This further elevates the challenge of delivering a perfect interpretation for SI interpreters.

At Scribers, you can rest assured that our pool of CI and SI interpreters is well-trained with vast work experience. Some of them are not only bilingual but trilingual, or even multilingual. Being well versed in more than two languages gives the interpreter a winning edge in perceiving nuances across languages in a more sensitive light. Feel free to log on to scribers.com.sg for more details on our interpretation service!

What is Linguistic Untranslatability?

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What is the difference between translation and interpretation? The difference is very straightforward. Translation is written while interpretation is oral. Our blog topic today touches on the former and its importance in the globalized world that we live in right now. When translating, translators represent the conduit of passing information back and forth, from language source to language source. This involves understanding cultural and linguistic elements of both languages. This understanding is critical because untranslatability can happen due to different reasons.

For linguistic translatability to occur, languages must share common linguistic expression so that the same meaning is retained. For instance, Mandarin speakers tend to greet people by saying, “你吃飽了嗎?” which literally means “Have you eaten?”. Even though the Mandarin greeting can be easily translated into English – “Have you eaten?”, the same meaning (of greeting people) is not evoked in English. To English speakers, this might sound odd because they would probably perceive as an invitation to have a meal. However, when translated into Cantonese, the oddity would not be reflected since Cantonese speakers also adopt the same manner of greeting people by saying, “你食咗飯未啊?”. Hence, linguistic untranslatability occurs in English but not in Cantonese. Apart from greetings, linguistic untranslatability can also happen in metaphors and jokes.

Cultural untranslatability occurs when languages do not share a common cultural understanding. This is especially conspicuous when it comes to food culture and onomatopoeia. As mentioned in our previous blog post, onomatopoeia differs across languages – some meaning might be lost during translation because languages such as Japanese places more emphasis on onomatopoeic expressions, as opposed to Swedish or Spanish. Another stark example of cultural untranslatability would be translating the Indian food item, “thosai”. In English, this food item can be simply put across as “Indian pancake”. However, the cultural representation of this “Indian pancake” to English speakers differs from “thosai” since “pancake” is inferred as something “that is soft and tastes like flour”. According to Indians, “thosai” is however, not soft and tastes slightly sour due to fermentation. Hence, cultural untranslatability can occur because of the absence of a specific cultural representation in the target language.

In conclusion, as much as translators strive to retain the meaning and evoke the same reaction in their target readers, it is not surprisingly that the translated word is not a 100 percent representative of the source word. In academic terms, there is no 100 percent transfer of meaning, only high equivalence is possible – retaining as much as meaning as possible. This skill is thus, delegated to the translators. Expertise and experience are two very important prerequisites of producing good pieces of translated work. At Scribers, our translators are not only fluent and competent in two or more languages, but also take linguistic nuances very seriously. As a quality service provider of translation, we ensure that we keep up with the latest trends in linguistic and cultural expressions across languages and industries. We strive to maximize our customer satisfaction and take pride in our flawless track record.

Golden Rule of Naming your Brand Helps to Hit a Home Run!

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Golden rule: Give a cultural and visual connection to your name or brand.

What does it mean by cultural exactly? Giving your brand a cultural connection means going the extra mile to understand your target audience in terms of striking a balance of being “global” yet “localized”. In other words, you need a name that is universal yet strikes a chord with the local context. Understand the local context by understanding the linguistic environment. For example, when venturing into the Asian market, avoid the digit four as it bodes misfortune since it sounds like “die” to Chinese speakers. For example, in Latin America, while nova refers to “star” however, in the other Spanish speaking communities, this can be inferred as “it won’t go”. Obviously, the car sales of a certain company did not go too well eventually.

Giving your brand a visual connection would mean using visuals to evoke the desired emotions and reactions from your target audience. Visuals could come in the form of colors. For instance, selecting red for your company logo represents resilience and vibrancy (Chinese perceive red to be a very auspicious color, symbolizing festivity and good fortune) while blue represents stability and tranquility. To many Japanese, they perceive dark colors to be royal colors (black, dark blue, royal purple) however this could go the opposite way for many Chinese. Dark colors tend to be treated as solemn colors by a majority from the Chinese community.

At Scribers, we ensure that all efforts are focused on executing and taking your branding to a higher level. We are not only a quality service provider of translation (44 languages) but we also support clients in their localization efforts. In today’s globalized business setting, it is no longer sufficient enough to make your selection nonchalantly from a sea of foreign words. The name that represents your company has to be catchy, trendy, sophisticated and representative of your brand that suits your target audience’s preference. Your branding efforts need to address this preference by ensuring that the underlying message is conveyed efficiently without having to go through the nitty-gritty information about your products and services. To enquire more about our translation and localization services, log on to scribers.com.sg!

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