China’s Translation Demand Curve

The Chinese blog Better Localization has an interesting story about a recent Chinese TV program that took a few multinationals to task (KLM and IKEA) for not providing Chinese-language documentation.

Here’s an excerpt (with edits for clarity):

…a company can be sued if it sells a consumer product without proper Chinese documentation. In fact KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is not the only business that was sued for this reason. In 2005, a user sued Shanghai Online, a subsidiary of China Telecom, because (among some other reasons) his service was terminated unexpectedly when he ignored the notice emails from Shanghai Online, which were in English.

If these lawsuits are not enough, CCTV2’s program on March 8th is a clear signal that Chinese consumers have changed significantly compared to the 1980s or 1990s: More and more people know the right to read in Chinese is part of the right to know, and it is backed by law. They will be more likely to take strong actions including lawsuits to protect their rights.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.