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4 Essential Tips for English to Chinese Translators

Posted by Ethan N. on May 31, 2023.

Perfectly translated and localized material should be the top priority of an English to Chinese translator, especially when it comes to meeting the expectations of your customers or colleagues. Today’s blog post will point out the most necessary advice when handling Mandarin and English to provide flawless Chinese translation services.

Tip 1: Understand The Differences Between Various Forms of Chinese

Simply said, Mandarin is the spoken form of Chinese and is used in China, Singapore, and Taiwan. Simplified Chinese is the official written form of Chinese and is most frequently used in Mainland China and Singapore. Cantonese is the spoken form of Chinese (with the exception of Taiwan), whereas Traditional Chinese is the written version used in places like Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Malaysia. Any English to Chinese translator should know their notable contrast in these aspects.


The Characters

Mandarin and Cantonese both utilize characters that have their origins in ancient China, although Mandarin uses simplified characters while Cantonese uses traditional characters. Those who can read conventional characters can decipher simplified characters, while those who are accustomed to the simplified writing system will find it difficult to comprehend traditional characters.

Vocabulary and Grammar

Although the syntax of the two languages is almost identical, Mandarin frequently modifies sentence form depending on the emotional meaning and sentence subject. On the other hand, Cantonese has a more logical structure. Cantonese can be challenging since it uses more colloquial terms, which calls for a higher degree of linguistic proficiency.

The Dialects Variation

As the “standardized” variety of Chinese, Mandarin has essentially taken over the whole country of China. It is also extensively spoken in Singapore and Taiwan. However, Cantonese is mostly spoken in Hong Kong, Macau, and the province of Guangdong, which includes the significant industrial metropolis of Guangzhou.

You might want to know more about how to pick the right dialect for perfect Chinese language translation.

Tip 2: Get Familiar With Culture and Customs

Here are some typical notes that every English to Chinese translator must know.

Social Customs and Etiquette

There are numerous distinct methods to write names, addresses, dates, etc. in Chinese. If the English to Chinese translator is not aware of these variances, misunderstandings may occur. 

Chinese addresses are written the opposite way around from English addresses, which begin with the office number, building name, street number, city, province, and country name.

Names are yet another instance that occurs frequently. The order of names in the English language is always first name, followed by middle name, if any, and last name (family name). When speaking Chinese, the order is always family name + given name. 


Understand The Cultural Context Behind Chinese Idioms and Expressions 

A big part of what makes Chinese so intriguing is the use of idioms and proverbs. These sayings often serve as a condensed version of a lengthy narrative. As a result, people recalls the background information and the lesson it imparts by saying the four characters.

And interestingly, numerous idioms from both languages have similar wording or perhaps the same meaning. All of this demonstrates that despite the fact that English and Chinese are quite distinct languages, there are universal ideals that we all want to communicate.

For example, The Chinese idiom 一石二鸟 yì shí èr niăo, literately meaning “One rock two birds”, can barely be similar to the English proverb “Kill two birds with one stone”. 

Overall, An English to Chinese translator must know at least some idioms. However, a speaker stands out as being eloquent and knowledgeable when they are well-versed in a variety of topics and can effectively apply them.

Counting Number

The Chinese write their words using characters, and the numbers follow suit. For instance, the Chinese character 万 wan (which signifies ten thousand) is regarded as a numeral unit in Chinese, much like the number one thousand. One million is equal to 100 x 10,000, or 100 万 wan in Chinese.

In order to avoid misunderstandings and maintain the correctness of Chinese translation, it is important for English to Chinese translators to take into account not only character variances but also sentence patterns and cultural differences.

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Tip 3: Use Translation Tools To Your Advantage 

It can be hard for a non-native speaker to construct Chinese sentences appropriately using line breaks. This also holds true for situations where bold, underlining, or any other font effect is required. So using a technical method like Crowdin or Trados might save a lot of time for any Chinese translation projects.

In general, when using any language tools to complete the translations, ensure that English to Chinese translators have native skills to complete the Chinese desktop publishing or check the designed layout if the designers do not speak Chinese fluently.

Tip 4: Pay Attention To Tone And Style

Why Does Voice Tone Matter In Chinese Translation Services?

When translating text, it’s crucial to maintain and modify the tone of voice for two reasons:

  • Customer’s chances of being adopted in the local market will increase if English to Chinese translators transfer the material with the local culture in mind.
  • You can avoid unintentionally expressing yourself incorrectly because of varied cultural expectations by changing your tone of voice.

When a brand expands into a new market, especially Chinese, it’s typical to assess the regional economy and customer expectations to gauge how well-received they will be. These variations highlight the significance of voice inflection in cross-cultural communication. 


Without taking Chinese translation services into account, you have to carefully consider losing your tone of voice completely or maintaining it at the expense of your customer’s brand.

What Is A Translation Style Guide?

In a broad sense, a style guide is a list of requirements for content writing that must be followed. In order to establish a unified brand voice, this might include elements like phrase structure and grammar, spelling regulations, capitalization guidelines, abbreviations, acronyms, and the tone of voice mentioned above.

Some tips to create the best translation style guide for English to Chinese translators are:

  • Keep things short and straightforward. Since a style guide is intended to be a reference, it should be thorough without being overbearing.
  • Keep it updated. Your style guide should develop and change along with your business. Check on it frequently to ensure sure it still reflects the requirements of the company.
  • Adapt the corporate style manual you already have. The majority of businesses have a corporate style manual that includes sections on brand voice, vocabulary, and layout. An extension of it should be your translation style guide.
  • Give yourself ample time to make the guide. Plan appropriately. Depending on the size of your business, the complexity of your goods and services, and other considerations, creating a solid style guide can take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours.

Final Thoughts

As China continues to attract more global trade, it is clear that the need for professional English to Chinese translators has increased. To provide you with a flawless, customized translation in the dialect of your choosing, GTE Localize has collaborated with native Chinese translators with experience in a range of industries.

Our experts guarantee that you will obtain a flawless translation at affordable prices that cover multiple ranges, including websites, academic papers, online courses, etc. So drop us a line to get more information and start your project immediately!