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Cross-border ramblings

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Alouthgh tehre are mnay eaxpmles of tihs on the Itnenret alerday, it siltl suisrrpes me wehn I fnid taht terhe are sipmle spleling mitsaeks in soehtming I hvae raed sereval temis. Tehn aigan, sicne tihs can be raed wtih litlte plorbem, the ocaiocnsal spelnlig mitsake siplinpg thgrouh shdouln’t be a sruripse, but sholud be sonehtmig to concetnrate on avodiing.

Chinese myths 101

People tell you a lot about China: the country, the people, the politics, the language, the culture . . . But, how many of these people have come any closer to China than their local Chinese take-away restaurant? Since first visiting China in 2005 and then establishing my company in China in 2006, I have come to realize that much of the information about China is somewhere between misinformation and disinformation. Deliberate or otherwise, people are getting the wrong impression about a lot of things. While I don’t promise to give you the 100% truth about China, I’ll try and dispel some of the common knowledge that is more fiction …

When not to translate

Translation is a service provided to convey the information in a document to somebody not able to understand it in its original language. Translation of each word often leads to a mish-mash of incomprehensible text that conveys nothing at all or, even worse, gives the wrong impression. This is becoming more common as machine translation is being used increasingly, and as more and more inexperienced amateurs enter the translation profession. Translation should be of the meaning, not the words; but, that is a story for another day . . . Recently I have come across more and more places where somebody has “translated” an address into another language. For example, …

Chinese New Year’s holiday

As the New Year parties are winding down in Japan, China is getting ready for its New Year celebrations next week. China still uses the lunar calendar for many of its customs and events. The New Year according to the lunar calendar is celebrated throughout China and is a national holiday. Partly due to the expanse of the county, China is well-known for having seven days for its New Year’s holiday. A main reason for this is that it can take more than two days for somebody to travel from where they work and live to their family home in another province of the country. However, while it is often …

Receipts in China

When I was setting up my office in China back in 2006, I had to go out and buy desks, chairs, computers, a refrigerator, etc., etc. I didn’t speak any Chinese at the time, so I was always accompanied with my first member of staff who would interpret for me. While I was expecting the price haggling, what I wasn’t prepared for was the question that we were always asked before the initial price was even quoted: “Do you need a receipt?” It soon became clear that things were cheaper without a receipt or, as the Chinese always explained it to me, things cost more if you wanted a receipt. …

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