China Rising is the name of a documentary released within the last couple of years, indicating that China, in both trade and voice, is becoming a super power on the world stage, a power that will have the attention of the entire world thrust upon them as they host the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
China, while an economic power, is also a linguistic power with millions of people around the world learning how to speak Mandarin and Cantonese in order to keep up with the fast paced growth being experienced overseas and in International trade.
Mandarin is quickly becoming the language of business and any businessperson who learns how to speak it is at an advantage to be certain.
As the role of the Chinese language, spoken by billions, becomes more prominent cross the ocean and more Chinese citizens immigrate to North America, the need for Chinese language skills and Chinese voice over will increase significantly.
This week, I conversed with two Chinese voice talents based in the Peoples Republic of China, Kuang Haze and Zhenyu Tan, about what makes their language unique and the role that the Chinese language, particularly Mandarin, plays in the voice over marketplace.
When asked what makes the Chinese language different from other languages, both Kuang and Zhenyu were quick to note that the Chinese language, an Oriental language, is unique because of its structure, characters and relatively high learning curve for non-speakers to learn.
Zhenyu added that along with the development of China, Chinese has become more and more popular around the world. He speculated that Chinese could even be the second most popular language other than English. The Chinese population has spread throughout the world that also facilitates the spread and application of the language in other countries.
Zhenyu raises a pertinent point. With more and more Chinese people moving to North America, the need to provide new citizens of Chinese heritage with communications in their own language is very important.
Kuang Haze, offers, "I have lots of clients from North American, because there are so many Chinese people living in North America. Then often hire me for radio PSAs, on-hold systems, IVR, narration, translation and localization services."
Zhenyu Tan, similarly, is finding that North American clients seek his services.
He relates, "More and more Chinese moved to North American so the local companies started to provide customized products and services for Chinese customers. The marketing is growing. Another factor is that lots of headquarters of global companies are located in North America and oftentimes they produce training materials for all the branches in different countries centrally in North America. The clients in North America have good credit on payment. Most of my jobs from North America are e-learning and business presentations."
The currency of choice to invoice in for Zhenyu when working with International clients is mostly USD and acknowledges that some European clients asked for a Euro quotation. Kuang normally quotes and invoices her clients in Euros, US Dollars, and the British Pound Sterling.
Both voice talent agree that their success marketing online coupled with abilities to speak multiple languages has contributed greatly to their bottom lines.
"I enjoyed greater success marketing my voice online to my clients. I can extend my business to all over the world, I have a big market," Kuang replied. "Most of my clients are agents and producer, all of them had been satisfied with my work, most of them would hire me when they have Chinese VO order. And some of them find my website by searching engine, also I can get hired through voice over marketplaces."
Zhenyu, in agreement with Kuang, shared "The most efficient way (of finding work) is through the voiceover marketplace. Agents can also seek me from the marketplace. My own website only demonstrates the services and voice demo currently."
What I find interesting is that after hearing from so many different voice talents, only Zhenyu at this juncture, has confirmed that he has voice over agents working on his behalf in North America, several in fact, resulting in about ten jobs.
A part of this reason may be because Zhenyu speaks a neutral dialect of Mandarin.
He revealed that the Chinese government has placed an emphasis on speaking Mandarin Chinese for almost over 40 years because they believe that having too many different dialects has caused communication obstacles. Furthermore, even after all of that reinforcement, it is seldom that people can speak standard Mandarin Chinese which government certified.
It is for that reason in particular that hiring a native speaker without any dialect imprints is very important. According to Zhenyu, a business presentation with even a light accent will make people look down or cast judgment upon a company.
Kuang's answer was related to Zhenyu's. She added "There is a big difference between a native speaker of Chinese and someone who is a descendant of a native speaker living abroad. The dialect would changed a lot even someone had living abroad for a long time. Most of the descendants of a native speaker living abroad don't regard Chinese as their primary language. All of my clients need native speaker, so they find me. It is very important."
Stephanie Ciccarelli is the VP of Marketing with Voices.com, the voice over marketplace hosting more than 15,000 professional voice talents. Stephanie is also the author of The Definitive Guide To Voice-Over Success.