Monday, 10 May 2010

Xingneng - Performance of a Computer / Properties of a chemical

One word which I often find mistranslated in Chinese to English technical translations is the Chinese word "性能 (xingneng).

If you look in the Wenlin dictionary for example. The definition is:

性能 xìngnéng n. natural capacity; function (of machine/etc.); property | Zhè ¹tái diànnǎo ∼ bùcuò. This computer has a good capacity.
33.2 average occurrences per million characters of text

So in a sentence like "the phone's xingneng are good" a lot of translators would tend to use something like "the phone's properties are good". However, when refering to technology xingneng usually means something like performance. As in "a high performance computer". So "the phone has good performance" would be the best translation.

In other instances it can refer to properties as in "chemical properties". Usually properties is used for biological terms or physical things, whereas performance is used for computers, phones, and other electronic devices.

Unfortuntaly a lot of dictionaries haven't caught up to this usage.