English to Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese – How to Get Both at Lower Costs
Maria Krisette Capati, Author
17 January 2020
Do you need both Simplified and Traditional Chinese for your websites and documents?
What if there’s a better way to get both at a lower cost without compromising the quality?
The Simplified and Traditional Chinese are the standard sets of written languages. One of the differences you’ll notice between the two is the number of strokes of characters.
Traditional Chinese characters have more strokes than the Simplified version. Grammar and sentence structure are also a huge consideration when translating texts from English.
The demographics of your audience matter. Language is the most essential part of the customer’s journey to consuming content. Knowing the right languages will help you communicate your message across your channels.
So, let’s explore both written languages below and their use.
Are Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese Mutually Intelligible and Understandable?
Some may recognize characters in Traditional Chinese because of the radicals and strokes. It’s not a big deal. Both are mutually intelligible and understandable.
For example, some people from the Mainland will not find it a nuisance to read some road signs, menus, and magazines in Traditional Chinese if they visit Hong Kong. Meanwhile, people living in Taiwan wouldn’t mind browsing content on forums in Mainland that are in Simplified Chinese.
But each written language is being used in a specific region. It’s appropriate to choose the right one for the audience.
China has a massive influence globally. When people want to learn the language, they choose Simplified Chinese and Mandarin. This is the lingua franca in Mainland China and commonly used.
Except that some terms in Traditional Chinese may differ. For the big majority, Chinese readers can understand both.
- They can relate better with content in their own native language.
- Traditional Chinese is used in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and worldwide.
- Simplified Chinese is used in China, Singapore, and worldwide.
When to use Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese?
Always pay attention to your target audience and their geographical location.
If they are in Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan, use Traditional Chinese. If they are in China or Singapore, use Simplified.
Keep in mind that Hong Kong and Taiwan Traditional Chinese are slightly different from each other. So if you decide to go after speakers of Traditional Chinese, you need to refine your scope by choosing Traditional Chinese for Hong Kong or for Taiwan, or both ideally.
Can I translate English to Cantonese?
No. Cantonese is a spoken language. Thus, you can’t translate from English to Cantonese. What you can translate is the written form, which is Traditional Chinese.
Can I translate English into Mandarin?
No, Mandarin is a spoken language as well. Usually, by saying Mandarin Chinese, it refers to Simplified Chinese. It’s a spoken language in China, Singapore, Taiwan (Yes, they speak Mandarin but write in Traditional Chinese), part of Macau, part of Hong Kong.
What do local vendors do when translating both?
Now you know the differences between the two written forms. Let’s find out how vendors get the most of Chinese translation projects from clients.
These solutions will help you decide and plan on your budget and priorities.
More budget, more options
If you got deep pockets, you should treat locales as a unique language when ordering, for instance:
- zh-CN: simplified Chinese
- zh-TW: traditional Chinese, for Taiwan
- zh-HK: traditional Chinese, for Hong Kong.
Only native translators in that country or region should translate each language locale. That’s three times (3X) budget of a single language locale.
Many companies will do this because they want to make sure they won’t offend the target audience. Some expressions are sensitive or inappropriate to use in some regions.
Limited budget, more concerns
If you have a limited budget to cover all locales, then there’s a higher chance you’ll encounter this scene.
Some translation agencies would claim that they can do both Simplified and Traditional Chinese. They use and hit this magic button on Windows called “character conversion between simplified and traditional.”
Some won’t charge you a dime for that because it’s actually free.
But Most WILL charge you for that…
This “translation hack” may fool a novice buyer of Chinese translation services. But the final output will never escape the eyes of your audience. The difference between Simplified and Traditional Chinese is more than character conversions.
It involves a much deeper level, such as terms, expressions, and sometimes sentence structures.
You will definitely need a native speaker to help with these types of projects.
And there’s the third option, and we think this is the most convenient and optimal one.
Traditional or Simplified: Translation + adaptation
Adaption means there’s an editor who perfectly understands both language locales. He or she will render the content to his or her own native language. He or she will pay particular attention to wordings and nuances that might sound weird to native speakers of his or her language.
This requires trained and dedicated editing skills. They are rare gems translators who have long working experience in both Hong Kong/Taiwan and mainland China.
This is our solution to our customers who wish to cover all Chinese speaking audiences. If you’re looking for quality and natural style in writing without spending 3X budget, this is for you.
You will get half the price of translation service for adaptation if you work with the AZ-Loc team.
How can you get both translations at lower costs?
Join 200+ customers who are happy with our solution of getting both simplified and traditional Chinese translations without paying too much. You can save more cost and allot the remaining budget for other tasks.
Grab your 20% discount today!
Fill in the form below and we will get back to you with a quote on your project.
As we are constrained by resources, we will only serve those deserve our attention and time. We will only focus on clients who are already decided which projects to prioritize and understand the importance of translation and localization efforts.
Maria Krisette Capati
Krisette or "Sette" for short is a professional writer and copywriter who loves to cover disruptive technologies, digital trends in China, and a myriad of geeky and innovative topics. She's the Content Strategist at AZ-Loc and currently manages the English website and in-charge of the social media channels. She has been writing about China markets, business, and startups since 2012. She has gained her expertise as a China internet specialist and is fascinated by its business ethics, language, and culture. She's a major of Business Management and Entrepreneurship and an advocate of faith-based non-profit organizations. When she's not writing or dabbling with Sophie and the team, she satiates her wanderlust as a digital nomad.