Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Absurdly popular catch-phrases?

Recently, at our main website (The Research Cooperative NZ), three recent postings have been attracting unusually large number of visitors.

Is this an absurdity, some kind of scam, or simply the result of using good catch-phrases?

Our Co-op member has used phrases that clearly identify the services offered, as follows:

1. English-Chinese translation (464 visits in one month)
2. English editing (302 visits in one month)
3. English proofreading (192 visits in one month)

As a rough test of why these offers have attracted attention, I present results (hit numbers) for the following exact search phrases, using Google:

First set
English-Chinese translation - 52,600
English-Chinese - 2,160,000
English to Chinese translation - 138,000
English to Chinese - 1,900,000
Chinese-English translation -- 66,300
Chinese-English - 2,700,000
English-Mandarin - 228,000
English-Cantonese - 158,000
English-German translation - 1,250,000
English-German - 10,500,000
English-Spanish translation - 194,000
English-Spanish - 12,700,000

Maybe more people (especially English readers) are seeking translation from Chinese into English than from English into Chinese - and maybe it is better for translators and writers to avoid being very specific about which Chinese language they are working with, when designing a catch phrase, unless they are working with Cantonese (which I guess has a smaller speech community than Mandarin).

Also, there is more English-language communication about translation between European languages, than between English and Chinese, which is not surprising. It would be of interest to have comparable figures for Chinese-language areas of the Internet.

Second set
English editing - 55,200
Chinese editing - 809

i.e. Not many English readers seek to write in Chinese.

Third set
English proofreading - 25,100
Chinese proofreading - 305

i.e. Not many English readers seek editors of Chinese.

Comments? Please tell us - what do you think these numbers mean?

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