What is Chinese? A Case Study of the Chinese Translations of Government Guidance and Regulations in Relation to COVID-19 in the UK

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This paper is a report of my mixed-methods study of the government guidance and regulations in relation to COVID-19 published by the UK Health Security Agency. The aims are to address a series of questions regarding Chinese translations in the medical context of the United Kingdom and to assess the quality of the Chinese translated materials. There were three major findings. First, Chinese translations of the guiding materials for the public were provided only on a selective basis. Second, Traditional Chinese as a writing script has been misinterpreted as the written form of Cantonese. Third, quantitative analysis showed that the translators of the documents in question were likely to be aware of the meaning-based feature of the Chinese language, suggesting their attempt to keep sentences concise. Nevertheless, a textual study of the translation of ‘you’ and ‘your’ in the excerpts demonstrated that more of them should be taken out in the target text so as to better conform to the norm of the Chinese language. In addition to the above discoveries, it has also been pointed out that results from Chinese corpora may not be indicative of how Chinese translation should be done. Cheung’s (2021) seven defining characteristics of the Chinese language may offer an outline of the norms of Chinese. Finally, much as a fit-for-purpose translation may be acceptable for one reason or another, it is argued that a translation demonstrating a high quality of writing in the target language does not only ensure effective communication but also shows respect for the ethnic minorities in a multicultural country in this unprecedented pandemic!
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranslation and Interpreting in the Age of COVID-19
EditorsKanglong Liu, Andrew K.F. Cheung
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9789811966804
ISBN (Print)9789811966798, 9789811966828
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

Publication series

NameCorpora and Intercultural Studies
ISSN (Print)2510-4802
ISSN (Electronic)2510-4810


  • COVID-19
  • Quality assessment
  • Traditional Chinese
  • Simplified Chinese
  • Chinese translation


Dive into the research topics of 'What is Chinese? A Case Study of the Chinese Translations of Government Guidance and Regulations in Relation to COVID-19 in the UK'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this