Nov
16

How different is Simplified Chinese from Traditional Chinese?

Posted by Florence Kircher
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Chinese translations

Ever needed your texts to be translated into Chinese but don’t quite know the difference between Chinese and Mandarin? Not sure if Chinese Simplified or Traditional Chinese is right for you? duomedia will help you find some answers.

The Chinese language is spoken by over a billion people, living for the most part in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Standard Mandarin is the official language of China and Taiwan, and it also serves as the lingua franca amongst the speakers of the different Chinese dialects at home and in the community living abroad. Mandarin is a spoken form of Chinese, and it is written with either simplified or traditional characters.

Chinese writing is the oldest writing system in the world and it has hardly changed over the past 4,000 years; however, as part of a campaign to increase literacy, a movement to simplify the characters started in nineteenth century China and became official policy in the 1950s. As a result, two distinct scripts came into being and are currently in use - Traditional and Simplified Chinese.

Simplified Chinese is essentially a version of Traditional Chinese that uses simplified characters. It involves a reduction in the number of strokes per character, and a reduction in the number of characters commonly in use (two different characters are now written with the same character). Simplified Chinese is the standard writing form used in mainland China while the traditional form is used mostly in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Is it possible to convert a simplified script to a traditional one, or vice versa? The short answer is no. There is no one-to-one relationship between the systems, and a simplified character may have several corresponding traditional characters, all with different meanings. Also, new technologies have brought new terminology that might have different local versions, and geographic isolation between the countries has led to variations in style and wording – just think of the difference between UK and US English.

What does this mean for your translations? Should you opt for Traditional or for Simplified Chinese? Your decision will be based on geography. If you are looking to develop your business in China (PRC) or in Singapore, then you need Simplified Chinese. If you are targeting Hong Kong or Taiwan, you should choose Traditional Chinese.

Are you still unclear about variants of Chinese, or do you need more information? duomedia is happy to help you further.

Florence Kircher
Project Manager
florence.k@duomedia.com

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