Ever since we started our translation office in Hong Kong in 2006, Chinese has been among our top languages.
Orange Translations provides professional Chinese translation services to companies of all sizes in industries such as consumer electronics, industrial engineering, finance, marketing and market research. Among the documents we routinely translate are technical manuals, marketing materials, website content, financial and legal documents, corporate communications and market research questionnaires.
All of our Chinese translators go through an in-house accreditation process. In addition, we have a stringent quality assurance process in place to continuously ensure that our Chinese translation work meets the highest professional standards. If you need your texts translated with a specific target country in mind, for example, Mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan and Singapore we will assign translators from those specific locations. These in-country translators know the local dialect and can craft Chinese translations that work perfectly for that location, taking into account any country-specific linguistic or cultural nuances.
Our pool of translators covers both major Chinese dialects, Cantonese and Mandarin, as well as the Simplified Chinese characters set used in Mainland China and the Traditional Chinese character set used in Hong Kong and Taiwan. To help you navigate these differences we have provided some guidelines below.
How to select the right type of Chinese translation
The way the Chinese language works is fundamentally different from English and other Latin-Root languages.
In English, each letter has a sound, but no meaning. You only get meaning by combining several letters into a word, but a letter by itself has no meaning. To read or write the language you need to know all 26 letters of the alphabet and know how to combine them into words.
By contrast, Chinese uses characters, not letters. Each character conveys a meaning. There are thousands of characters and you need to know at least several hundred to be able to read a newspaper or a book. If you know the meaning of a character, you can, in fact, understand it, even if you do not know how to pronounce it. This is also the reason why in Chinese, people can share a common written language, even if they use different spoken languages. The written languages are called character sets. The spoken languages are called dialects.
Character sets: Traditional or Simplified
In written Chinese, there are two characters sets - Traditional and Simplified.
The Traditional character set is used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau and by some Chinese speakers in other countries. The Simplified character set was developed in the mid-20th century in Mainland China (the Peoples Republic of China) with the goal of simplifying the written language and increasing literacy. Today Simplified is the standard in Mainland China.
Dialects: Cantonese or Mandarin
There are hundreds of different dialects in Chinese.
Mandarin and Cantonese are the best known, but there are also many more, making Chinese translation tricky.
Even though they share the same character set, a Cantonese speaker will use different expressions a different writing style than a Mandarin speaker. These differences are noticeable to the reader and can potentially create confusion. Our rule of thumb:
Chinese translation from English:
- If you are targeting primarily Hong Kong / Macau / Taiwan, use Traditional
- If you are targeting primarily Mainland China, use Simplified
- If you are targeting a global audience, use Simplified (because it is the larger group of people)
When choosing which dialect to use:
- If you are targeting primarily Hong Kong / Macau, work with a Cantonese translator
- If you are targeting primarily Taiwan, work with a Mandarin translator from Taiwan
- If you are targeting Mainland China, or a broader global audience, work with a Mandarin translator from Mainland China