Chinese is one of our main translated languages. Did you know that Chinese is the most spoken first language in the world? It is well ahead of English as a first language. As China is an important market, many of our retail customers need the services of our Chinese translators.

Two character sets – Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese, which do you need?

We are currently working on a translation project into Simplified Chinese for a regular client. Like many UK clients, they were unsure about which type of Chinese to use. There are two forms of the written Chinese language. Traditional Chinese is predominant in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Peoples Republic of China introduced Simplified Chinese. It has become their official character set.

As the name suggests, the simplified characters have a simpler form than Traditional Chinese. There are also less characters. Around 4500 commonly used characters in Simplified Chinese, compared with 6500 in Traditional.

Further complication arises because the spoken language is referred to as Mandarin. The character sets are a written language, rather than a spoken form. Mandarin can be written with either character set. Cantonese is spoken predominantly in Hong Kong and neighbouring regions. Like all languages there are accent differences between different parts of China.

Geographic targeting

Let us help you determine which form of the language you need. We normally start by asking the geographical area you want to target. Our Chinese translators work into both written forms of the language.

Chinese artwork and DTP

We can also typeset Chinese in any major design programme. Both written forms of Chinese are an art workers dream to work with, providing they have the necessary fonts. Each symbol is a word in itself. Therefore, you can normally wrap text between any two symbols. Chinese is also shorter than an English equivalent text. Again, this is because in English we are writing individual letters, whilst each Chinese symbol is a word. Sometimes clients are nervous about whether the characters will display correctly, but this is usually straightforward with the correct fonts. Larger artwork or design houses are likely to have the necessary fonts for Chinese. However,  but they can be expensive to buy for a smaller company. Talk to us if you just need a one off brochure or set of pack copy. We are more cost effective for typesetting and DTP than having to buy fonts.

Choosing Chinese translators

We are very selective in using Chinese translators, as with all languages. The translator’s skill depends on their expert knowledge of both source and target languages. This is additional to any specialist technical knowledge. Many translators in China don’t much exposure to English. This is not only a language issue, but also one of culture. This situation is of course changing. However, many of the best Chinese translators live in English speaking western nations.

Chinese competitors

One of our clients recently compared our work with a Chinese competitor. The feedback we received was that our Simplified Chinese was better! Speak to your Chinese translators. Contact us by email or call us on +44 (0)115 9788980 for advice and support.