• Continental Interpreting

Chinese Document Translations: Simplified Chinese vs. Traditional Chinese

Updated: Aug 26

Chinese Translations: Simplified Chinese vs. Traditional Chinese

Chinese is the second most requested language  for document translation services at our company each year.  However, our clients often pose the question of whether their documents should be translated into Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese.  Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer because it depends on the demographics and location of the target audience who will be reading the document and how the document will be used.


Basic Differences between Simplified and Traditional Chinese

Simplified Chinese was a new writing system derived from Traditional Chinese characters in the early to mid-20th century.  This new system was created to promote popular literacy in China – as Simplified Chinese characters required fewer strokes and generally made it easier and more efficient to learn.


Why Audience Matters

When requesting Chinese translation services, it is important for translators to understand who will be reading the final document.  In order to provide your audience with the best possible translation, it’s essential to first identify the readers’ region or country of origin.  Then, and most importantly, the translator will consider the audience’s background to determine whether a document is best translated into Simplified or Traditional Chinese.


For example, Chinese translations are vastly different if you’re communicating with an audience in mainland China versus one in Hong Kong or Taiwan.  Simplified Chinese is the official writing system of the People’s Republic of China (commonly known as mainland China), Singapore, and Malaysia. Traditional Chinese, on the other hand, is still officially used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.


Why Expertise in Chinese Translations Matter

If you’re uncertain of which version of Chinese is best for your audience, there’s no reason to make the determination on your own.  When working with a professional language translation company, such as Continental Interpreting Services, you’ll have access to an expert in Chinese translations who will guide you through the process.  These language specialists help determine the important details regarding the use of Simplified and Traditional Chinese to ensure a properly translated document.


What About Mandarin and Cantonese Translations

Since Mandarin and Cantonese are two of the most common dialects of spoken Chinese, many assume they are different when written.  In fact, the main differences between the two dialects are mostly found in their spoken forms.  This means that Mandarin and Cantonese speakers can generally communicate through writing because of the standard Chinese writing system.


In more casual language use, there are differences that might occur between the dialects, including the diction and vocabulary that is unique to the dialect or country of origin.  However, the basic message would still be understood.  An example would be the differences between American English and British, Canadian, or Australian English.

Click here to learn more about the history and forms of Chinese.


Explore the Benefits of Professional Chinese Translations with Continental Interpreting Services

For more than 20 years, Continental Interpreting Services has provided language solutions that bridge communication gaps and transcend cultural barriers. With a worldwide network of certified and qualified interpreters and translators, CIS brings you the highest quality interpreting and translation services—quickly, efficiently and cost effectively.


Call us at (800) 201-7121 or click here to request a quote.

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