Translation is all about one thing and one thing only, and that's communication. Since people of different nationalities first came into contact with each other, the need to make themselves understood was at the top of their agenda. And through translation, the world's cultures have been spread, innovative thoughts shared, and mutual understanding promoted. We could not have progressed as a civilization without translation, and it remains as important today as it ever was.
Thanks to the great strides made in translation skills, China has benefited profusely from its communication with the outside world, both during ancient times and in the modern era. Over the past 30 years since the reform and opening up were adopted, China has witnessed record-high growth in its translation industry, boasting thousands of translation services and tens of thousands of translation professionals. According to one source, the domestic translation industry was valued at almost 30 billion yuan ($4.3 billion) last year.
The robust development of the translation industry may well be attributed to China's reform and opening-up program, which spurs faster economic and social progress, and more importantly, integrates China into the global community. As global contacts and exchanges increase daily, so does a growing market demand for translation services. On the other hand, the booming industry also complements China's opening-up process because it allows two-way understanding between the Chinese people and the international community. In this respect, Chinese translation professionals are entrusted with furthering mutual communication and overcoming not only language and cultural barriers, but also misunderstandings, doubts or even prejudices that may arise.
But despite the progress, China's translation industry faces a series of challenges, ranging from a severe shortage of qualified professionals to inadequate industry standards and lack of market regulations. This has given rise to poorly translated works found both in academia and public areas, sometimes resulting in amusement and embarrassment at the same time.
The good news is that this summer may bring a big boom in the industry in China, as the country is hosting two important international events that will help invigorate the business to a great extent. These two events are the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the World Congress of the International Federation of Translators in Shanghai.