How a Non-Native Speaker Does Business in China
In Chapter 18 of 18 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, Internet entrepreneur Anatole Faykin answers "As Non-Native Speaker, How Do You Overcome Language Barriers Working in China?" He shares how difficult it is navigating language barriers. For Faykin, translators are often unable to translate words to meaning. With a 25 person team speaking Mandarin Chinese, Faykin turns to trusted partners and a persevering attitude to get the job done. Faykin is the founder of Tuanpin.
Erik: As a non-native speaker, how do you overcome language barriers working in China? Anatole: You don’t, actually you just – you’re just kind of screwed. It’s – I apologize for using a bad word but it is of tremendous help to have at least some knowledge of the language of course anywhere but otherwise you just got to have people you trust who do speak the language, otherwise you’re just out of luck and a translator is not enough, even if they’re good it’s you know they’re just translating your words, they’re not translating your meaning, right? They don’t know what goals you’re trying to accomplish with what you’re trying to say. So a translator is almost never enough you got to have trusted partners, trusted colleagues who are actually working and know what you’re trying to achieve with you’re saying, so that’s what you must have and this is the case not just China this is everywhere. Erik: And have you learn the hard way? Anatole: It’s a comedy of errors almost everyday for me. Alright, I have more than 20 employees and besides me and another American guy that I hired everybody else pretty much speaks Chinese only and so I fight with this every day and I often get not what I’ve asked for but you know I just ask for it again. So it’s fine.