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Simplified Chinese vs. Traditional Chinese

Since I find myself in this situation quite often, I believe it deserves a brief explanation from my part. When asking a client with a translation request from English to Chinese if the dialect is or , I usually get the same answer: “I’m not sure.” This article is basically a comparison between Simplified Chinese and the Traditional Chinese in the context of English to Chinese . For those in need of a Chinese translation, but do not know much about the differences of the two flavors, this article is for you.

Simplified Chinese:

Chinese simplified is the written text that is used in mainland China and among people of Chinese origin  in Singapore nowadays. This written form mainly evolved and was adopted after the end of civil war and the establishment of today’s P.R. China in 1949, may also be called the “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. This traditional version 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 Hong Kong and Taiwan continued to use the “old” traditional text due to the political separation.

Differences:

At the beginning, they had no difference except for the writing method of the . While Traditional Chinese has some 4,500 characters, simplicity was the main benefit of the new flavor, with just some 1,500 characters to use.

Simplified Chinese characters also have fewer strokes and are easier to write than Traditional Chinese ones. However, the rapidly changing world have brought out more and more new words (such as the “Internet”, “Software”) into daily life, and naturally, these new words may have different local versions in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. To use proper terms is the main concern when a specific version is specified as the target translation language.  Secondly, the political isolation between P.R. China and HK/Taiwan for several decades also created some slight variation in the style and wording of the language, which is naturally reflected in their written forms.