For Languages Of The ASEAN Countries
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations consists of 10 countries, which are home to approximately 660 million people. The region is culturally and linguistically extremely diverse. While the linguistic diversity is truly fascinating to observers and visitors, it makes Southeast Asia a region in which communication can be challenging. Today we will introduce major languages of the ASEAN countries and see why there is such a strong demand for professional translations from and to Southeast Asian languages.
Linguistic Sketch Of The ASEAN Countries
ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Each of these countries is home to more than one language (in Indonesia alone, for example, over 700 languages are spoken). Let’s look into the main languages of the region:
– Burmese is the most widely spoken language in Myanmar. It belongs to the Sino-Tibetan languages, is tonal and written in Burmese script. One of the challenging features of Burmese is diglossia, which means that there are very significant differences between written and spoken Burmese.
– Filipino is the national language of the Philippines. It is written in Roman script and belongs to the Austroasiatic languages, like Indonesian and Malay. Filipino is the native language of nearly 30 million people and the second language for about 45 million.
– Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) enables communication across all Indonesia. Over 40 million people speak Bahasa Indonesia as a native language and more than 150 million Indonesians who normally communicate in Javanese, Balinese, etc. speak Bahasa Indonesia as a second language. This makes it one of the most widely spoken languages of the world. Indonesian is similar to Malay, and both of these languages are written in Roman script.
– Khmer is spoken in Cambodia. Though Khmer and Vietnamese both belong to the Mon-Khmer languages, the two languages are very different from each other. Khmer has its own script and a unique rhythmic sound, which can – to some extent – be explained by its very rich register of consonants. About 16 million people speak Khmer as a native language. The demand for Khmer translation services is constantly rising.
– Lao is spoken in Laos and Northeast Thailand. It is similar to Thai, belongs to the Tai-Kadai languages and is tonal. Lao uses its own script and has various dialects.
– Malaysian (Bahasa Malaysia) is used all over Malaysia. It is also one of the four official languages of Singapore (the three others being English, Chinese and Tamil) and is promoted as the official language of Brunei, too.
– Thai is the official language of Thailand. It is a tonal language with 5 tones and has its own script. There are various dialects in Thailand, but almost everybody in Thailand understands standard Thai, which is based on the dialect spoken in and around Bangkok. As Thailand has a population of nearly 70 million people, Thai translation services are in strong demand.
– Vietnamese, the official language of Vietnam, is a tonal language with 6 tones. It is written in a script that is based on Latin letters and complemented by diacritic symbols to accommodate the complex and rich sound spectrum of the language. Vietnamese has several regional dialects with significant differences in pronunciation and vocabulary. There are about 95 million Vietnamese native speakers, which explain the high demand for Vietnamese translation services.
Quality In Translations From And To Languages Of Southeast Asia
As you will have realised, each Southeast Asian language comes with its own difficulties, such as tones, unique scripts, etc. That is why you should be careful when you have any types of documents translated. Southeast Asian languages are a challenge – don’t put quality at risk. Use a quality translation provider!
Typical Translation Service Needs For Southeast Asian Languages
You might be wondering if there are any types of texts, which are particularly often translated from or into languages of the ASEAN countries, or which translation areas (such as IT-related translation, legal translation, engineering-related translation, etc.) are particularly demanded. There are certainly some noticeable aspects, so let’s have a look at a few of them:
– Strong international business ties: The economies of the ASEAN countries are strongly connected with other nations, for example nations in East Asia, Europe, North America, etc. ASEAN enters more free trade agreements and the ASEAN countries welcome foreign direct investment, so this trend is set to grow further. As everything that has to do with import/export, outsourcing, setting up branch offices, etc. requires translations of all sorts of paperwork, clients who do business with ASEAN countries constantly need to have documents translated. To see some examples, please browse through our blogs on legal translation for FDI, international contract translation, financial translations, global expansion tips, etc.
– Tourism: Southeast Asia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The diversity of the region, its cultural and historic sights, charming people, beautiful beaches, fascinating landscapes and exciting cities attract visitors from all over the world. However, Southeast Asia is not only a destination – Southeast Asians also travel a lot. Tourism and hospitality related translations from and to the languages of Southeast Asia are therefore in huge demand.
– International relocation: Southeast Asians have gone to study, work and live in all continents. And Southeast Asia has become the home of countless professionals, retirees and investors from all over the world. These cross-border relocations require translations of all sorts of personal documents: Birth certificates and invitation letters for visa applications, school certificates, rental contracts, employment contracts, driving licenses, etc. – translations are required all the time.
– Translations for consumers in ASEAN countries: Some Southeast Asian countries, such as Singapore, have been popular consumer markets for B2C companies for decades. Other countries, for example Myanmar and Indonesia, did not have sufficient purchasing power to attract international B2C firms. As this is changing rapidly, companies are now rushing to secure their spots in those countries. To succeed in Asian markets, they need quality translations of product descriptions, usage instructions, food ingredients lists, sales contracts, website content and much more.
elionetwork excels in over 55 languages. However, one group of languages that we are particularly closely connected with, are languages of Southeast Asia. We have offices in three ASEAN countries (Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia) and offer animpressive range of language combinations, such as translations between English (or any other European language) and Southeast Asian languages, or Chinese translations to and from languages of the ASEAN countries. Contact us now to discuss your needs!