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How to Choose the Right Dialect For Chinese Translation?

Posted by Ariel Duong on June 20, 2022.

The need for Chinese translation and localization has surged, as a result of the exponential growth of the Chinese economy and the relaxing rules for travel in China after the Covid-19 epidemic. But one of the most difficult aspects of localizing in this market is the hundreds of dialects.

Today’s article would detail some specifications of Chinese dialects, written forms, and how to pick up the most suitable dialect for your Chinese localization.

1. Understand The Chinese Dialects In Chinese Translation

If you are working on a Chinese translation and localization project, you might encounter these two problems.

1.1. Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese

Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese are two Chinese dialects spoken in China and by other Chinese communities across the world.

Foreign enterprises considering the potential Chinese market of over 1.4 billion people must first acknowledge their distinctions. In general, Chinese people value their mother tongue; hence, to compete in this market, your firm must communicate in its home dialect.

Simplified Chinese is a simplified version of Traditional Chinese, made easier to read and write by reducing the number of brush strokes and combining characters. Take the Traditional Chinese 愛 (ài) for “love” as an example. The Simplified Chinese eliminates the heart 心 (xīn) in the middle part, resulting in the character 爱.

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Why was Simplified Chinese developed in the first place? The Kuomintang administration proposed character simplification in the 1930s and 1940s to increase the illiteracy rate among Chinese people, which was less than 20% in the 1940s.

Simplified Chinese was utilized to help individuals learn to read and write with the simpler writing systems, as previously described.

In 1990, the rate had risen to 87% for males and 68% for women, demonstrating the new writing system’s effectiveness in terms of increasing the number of literate individuals. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimates that 99.78% of Chinese teenagers aged 15 to 24 are literate.

1.2. Various Chinese Dialects 

Chinese is a linguistically complicated and wonderfully diverse language. Though Mandarin has the greatest number of speakers (approximately 1,119 billion), there are seven unique varieties of what is commonly referred to be Chinese in the West, each with its own set of regional subgroups.

Aside from Mandarin, there’s Yue (including Cantonese), Min, Wu, Xiang, Gan, and Hakka, all of which are distinct enough that certain dialects are incomprehensible to one another. To make matters even more complicated, different areas pair their spoken dialects with one of China’s two separate writing systems, both of which are quite dissimilar.

Taiwanese people, for example, speak their dialect of Mandarin Chinese yet write in Traditional Chinese characters. In China, where Mandarin is the official state language and Simplified Chinese is the official writing system. Cantonese, on the other hand, is the most frequently spoken Chinese dialect in Hong Kong, with Traditional Chinese as the principal writing system.

From one region to the next, the huge range of spoken dialects creates a maze of distinct vocabulary, pronunciation, and even grammatical standards. As a result, it’s critical to personalize localization to each target market so that customers feel like the content was created particularly for them.

You should consider your region when deciding whether to translate your company material into Traditional Chinese or Simplified Chinese and which dialect might be suitable for it.

Whatever option you choose, remember to account for cultural sensitivity. Because China has such a rich culture, if you are not careful with your Chinese translation and localization, you risk offending your target market and losing them.

 

2. More Tips For Chinese Translation And Localization

When solving Chinese translation, it’s critical to be aware of certain distinct regional peculiarities.

2.1. Begin With First-Tier Cities 

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The Chinese market is divided into tiers depending on characteristics such as GDP and population.

If you want to succeed in China, start with first-tier cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, then go on to other emerging cities such as Chengdu and Hangzhou. In your marketing, target these metropolitan cities, provide shipping there, or create offices or physical storefronts in their business and retail centers.

2.2. Examine Your Chances of Success in China

Gaming, fashion, and eCommerce are all industries with a lot of promise in China. With 1.02 billion internet users in China (January 2022), China’s eCommerce surge implies that your company may thrive even if it has a small physical presence.

Check out the local competition and learn how you may utilize localization to reach a new consumer base in China if your firm fits into one of these categories. If not, check to see if your industry has a chance to enter this competitive market before committing.

2.3. Notice The Politics

When localizing your material into China with Chinese translation, there are additional political considerations to consider.

Taiwan considers itself an independent country, but China considers Taiwan to be a part of China. Hong Kong and Macau are Chinese administrative areas that operate under the “One nation, two systems” principle, which allows them to maintain their own economic and administrative systems. The identical concept was proposed for Taiwan, but the Taiwanese government declined.

Communist Bandit, Taiwan Independence, Republic of China, and Regain Possession of the Lost Mainland are some of the terms to avoid.

To get more critical notes for Chinese translation and localization, download our White Paper Insightful Tips for Localization into Asian Languages.

 

Partner With Experts To Get The Best Chinese Translation

Chinese translation requires a more in-depth process when Chinese internet users can decode your original material with a click whenever they want. The complexities of Chinese languages and culture need the usage of native speakers of the target language who are also fluent in the source language.

Therefore, you should work with experienced translators if you want to reach your target audience efficiently, and GTE Localize is one of the top options.

With more than 1,200 translation experts around the world and advanced technologies, we can offer the best Chinese translation without any hidden costs.

So get a free consultation from our team immediately to enter this potential market!

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