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SIMPLIFIED CHINESE vs. TRADITIONAL CHINESE

Chinese

 

CHS: Chinese Simplified

CHT: Chinese Traditional

 

You may be wondering what is the difference between Traditional Chinese & Simplified Language? We have the simple answers:

 

Simplified Chinese is the WRITTEN text (of Chinese) that is used in Mainland China and among Chinese people in Singapore. This written form evolved and was adopted after the end of civil war and establishment of P.R.China in 1949.

 

Traditional Chinese is the WRITTEN text (of Chinese) that is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan nowadays. As its name tells, this is a traditional version that had been written by Chinese people for thousands of years.

 

 

This article is basically a Comparison between Simplified Chinese and the Traditional Chinese. For better understanding of this subject, it's recommended to also read our article "Mandarin vs. Cantonese".

 

Simplified Chinese:

 

The WRITTEN text (of Chinese) that is used in mainland China and among Chinese people in Singapore nowadays. This written form mainly evolved and was adopted after the end of civil war and establishment of P.R.China in 1949, so you may also call it as a relatively “modern form” of Chinese text. The reason and purpose for the Chinese government to develop this simplified writing system is believed to be “simplifying the writing method, easing the effort in writing, and encouraging more people to become literate.”

 

Traditional Chinese:

 

The WRITTEN text (of Chinese) that is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan nowadays. As its name tells, this is a traditional version that had been written by Chinese people for thousands of years. Although people in mainland China and Singapore began to adopt the Simplified text after 1949, people in HK and Taiwan CONTINUED to use the “old” traditional text due to the political separation. Is there any difference between the TC in Hong Kong and TC in Taiwan? Read this!


Mandarin and Cantonese:

 

They are two SPOKEN styles/dialects of Chinese language. As an official spoken “dialect”, Mandarin is widely used in Mainland China, Taiwan area and Singapore. Cantonese is specifically targeted to HK audience only. (This article is mainly about a Comparison between Simplified Chinese and the Traditional Chinese. For better understanding of this subject, it's recommended to also read our article "Mandarin vs. Cantonese".)


The Difference:

 

Theoretically and at the beginning, they had NO DIFFERENCE except for the writing method of the Chinese characters!

Simplified Chinese (SC) characters have fewer strokes than Traditional Chinese (TC), that is why it’s called “Simplified” and is the ONLY difference when the SC writing system was first developed. However, the rapidly changing world have brought out more and more new words (such as the “Internet”, “Software”) into our daily life, and naturally, these new words may have different local versions in mainland China, HK and Taiwan. To use proper terms is the first concern when a specific version (either SC or TC) is specified as the target translation language; Secondly, the political isolation between P.R.China and HK, Taiwan for three decades (until China’s open-up in 1979) also created some slight variation in the style and wording of language, which are naturally reflected in their written forms (to understand the second situation, you may associate it with the difference between the written styles of USA English and UK English).

For SC translators who wish to translate into TC, or for TC translators who wish to translate into SC, they need to get familiar with style and wording of the target language, and make sure to use proper version for those new terms. Doubt whether they can perform perfectly in this aspect? You may compare by asking whether a well-educated American guy can write good UK English – of course he can if he carefully studies it. For us, a team of native SC writers, writing in TC is another piece of cake!


To conclude:

 

The above information may sound a little complicated to non-Chinese speaking people. To make things simple, let’s put it this way:

 

For mainland readers, use Simplified Chinese text, mandarin style
For HK readers, use Traditional Chinese text, Cantonese style
For Taiwanese readers, use Traditional Chinese text, mandarin style
For Singapore readers, same as for mainland readers.

 

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