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HOME>>ZHHK vs. ZHTW

Languages in Hong Kong & Taiwan

 

What languages are spoken in Taiwan and Hong Kong?

People in Taiwan speak Mandarin (and Hokkien in some cases); People in Hong Kong speak Cantonese.

 

How do they write? do they write in Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese?

In Hong Kong and Taiwan, people write and read the same text – Chinese Traditional.

 

Traditional Chinese in Hong Kong and Traditional Chinese in Taiwan, are there any difference?

Yes there are some differences. Slightly different.

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Below are some further discussions on the languages spoken and writen in these two places:

 

LANGUAGES IN TAIWAN :

 

Taiwan street

Taiwan: speaking Mandarin and writting in Traditional Chinese (ZHTW)

 

 

Mandarin Chinese is the official and most widely spoken language in Taiwan today. Mandarin Chinese began its true takeover of the island in the 1940s, during the Chinese Civil War which found, for the first time, massive amounts of the Chinese elite making their way across the Taiwan Strait. Previous to this time, settlers of Taiwan were mostly those Chinese people looking to make a buck or flee politically conflicted areas (from the Mainland) - they had no linguistic pretentions of any kind.

That changed in 1945 when the ruling KMT Party set Mandarin Chinese as the official language in Taiwan, which has remained the case ever since. It’s remarkably unchanged from the Mainland variant of Mandarin that immigrants brought out, primarily in the 1940s as they escaped political and military upheaval in their homeland. Since the main flood of immigration, Mandarin has slowly penetrated everywhere. Today, nearly every Taiwanese person who is under the age of 30 or 40 has a natural command of Mandarin, without regard to their ethnic or geographical background. In Modern Taiwan you would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t speak Mandarin as at least a third language.

 

 

LANGUAGES IN HONG KONG:

 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong: speaking Mandarin and writting in Traditional Chinese (ZHHK)

Hong Kong Cantonese (Chinese: 香港粵語) is a dialect of the Cantonese language commonly spoken in Hong Kong, as well as Macau. There are slight differences between the pronunciation used in Hong Kong Cantonese and that of the Cantonese spoken in the neighbouring Chinese province of Guangdong, where Cantonese (based on the Guangzhou dialect) is a main lingua franca.

Over the years, Hong Kong Cantonese has also absorbed foreign terminology and developed a large set of Hong Kong-specific terms. These differences from the Guangzhou dialect are the result of British rule between 1841 and 1997, as well as the closure of the Hong Kong-China border immediately after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Besides the most popular and widely spoken local language - Cantonese, the English is another of the two official languages of Hong Kong, and many professionals are fluent in both. As a visitor, you'll have little (if any) trouble communicating with employees of your hotel, spa, restaurant or retail store in English — even in the markets, many local vendors can still speak some basic English to negotiate a sale. Nowadays, Mandarin is also gaining popularity in this city.

 

 

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The Differences between ZHHK & ZHTW:

 

In both Hong Kong and Taiwan, Traditional Chinese is the same script people read and write. But if you have ever visited these two places, you would have been surprised to find out that they are speaking “totally different languages”! Hong Kong people speak Cantonese, while people in Taiwan speak Mandarin (and Hokkien in some cases).

 

Write the same but speak differently? Why is it like this? Yes this is a situation quite confusing for non-Chinese speakers. Let me explain it this way: Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional are two different writing forms of Chinese text, while Cantonese and Mandarin are two oral “dialects” spoken by Chinese people. For more details, please read our writtings: Chinese Simplified vs. Chinese Traditional, and Cantonese vs. Mandarin.

 

Leaving aside their different spoken forms, is there any difference between the ZHHK (Traditional Chinese text in Hong Kong) and ZHTW (Traditional Chinese text in Taiwan)? Sure there is!

 

ZHHK and ZHTW had been evolving in their own ways in the past century, and developed a great number of terms unique to their language environment. This is especially the case in modern documents. Let's list a few examples in the table below:

ENGLISH

ZHHK

ZHTW

Picture

圖片

圖案

Screen

銀幕

螢幕

Through

通過

透過

Information

 資料

資訊

If

如果

Abandon

遺棄

捨棄

Chose

選擇

揀選

Rely

依賴

藉著

Because

因為

因著

Pay attention

注意

關顧

Justice

公正

公義

 

These two styles of writings are mutually intelligible. It’s OK for the HK people to read Taiwan-style Chinese text or for the Taiwan people to read HK-style text – they can understand the content without any problem, but that won’t make them as comfortable as reading the text in their own variety style.

 

The tone of wording is also slightly different. When we say ZHHK, we must make the text read suitable for Cantonese speakers. When we provide ZHTW documents, we need to adapt it to mandarin tongues.

 

Therefore, for those text with cultural sensitivity, for example the ads and important marketing brochures, we need to at least get them read through by the “native speakers” residing in either HK or Taiwan, thus to ensure your text delivers the right subtle feeling to the targeted audience!

Need to translate your materials for Hong Kong or Taiwan markets ? Tell us who are your target readers, then leave the other things to us at the ACE CHINESE TRANSLATION! Now -

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