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Multilingual Translation Services
Networking is an important element in business, but for Stephen Yiu, general manager of Multilingual Translation Services, a translation specialist firm in Central, establishing contacts has been the main ingredient in the success of his business.

"We have secured a global pool of around 1,500 qualified translators and editors, enabling us to serve our clients in 30 languages," he said.

Mr Yiu has co-ordinated the translation of the "Lun Yu" for a Confucius enthusiast for more than 10 years. It has been translated from Chinese into 10 other languages, and more are on the way.

Many of those contacts were made while working at an international translation house capable of translating in 50 languages. Then, in 1993, Mr Yiu decided to set up his own translation business after the company merged with a technology firm to focus on developing translation software.

He continues to expand his business network by co-operating with affiliates overseas, and by sourcing talent at renowned translation institutes and translation competitions through the Internet. Broadening his network is vital to allow him to meet clients?diverse language needs effectively and efficiently.

"Our clients require multilingual translations to help them penetrate their target markets worldwide," he said. "To some extent, our business also serves as a market indicator. The amount and variety of language needs of our clients usually reflects their commercial intentions and the market situation as well."

Translation of English documents into Chinese accounts for 50 per cent of the company's work, while the other half are in other languages, dominantly German, French, Spain, Italian and Dutch. Documents' contents vary as widely as the languages they are translated into, ranging from legal, financial documents, technical manuals to brochures of cosmetics and mobile phones.

Like all sectors, translation firms face growing competition from both domestic and overseas companies. The economic slowdown after 1997 also dealt a heavy blow to the company, and Mr Yiu admits that translation charges have continued to fall since the company began operations seven years ago.

"Nonetheless, we always uphold the principle of translating by native speakers," Mr Yiu said. "We only employ qualified and experienced professionals to translate into their mother tongue. It is a distinctive feature of the company and I am sure this is fundamental in retaining old clients and attracting new ones."

He deems quality assurance and professionalism as essential elements for maintaining a strong presence in the sector, and by striving for excellence, he has won a host of clients over the years, with the majority being legal firms.

Building for the future
To fully utilise technology, the company is looking to further computerise its operations to increase productivity and efficiency. It has started negotiations on designing a custom-made translation database with China International Intellectech Corporation, the Chamber? partner in providing Mainland IT outsourcing services for members. The system is expected to be an intelligent translator able to store and retrieve translated works at high speed.

But there is only so much technology can do in the translation field, as a translator's ability to keep abreast of the latest trends and ability to think is vital.

"Translators will never be replaced by computers," he said. "Moreover, to survive, translators need to continually gain new knowledge, and someday in the future, people will come to realise they possess far more sophisticated skills than machines."
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