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Pick The Right Dialect For Perfect Chinese Language Translation

Posted by Ethan N. on April 25, 2023.

With more than 1.3 billion native speakers, Chinese is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Although there are Chinese-speaking populations all over the world, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Singapore are just a few of the Asian nations and territories where Chinese is an official language.  

Chinese language translation may be challenging since there are more than two Chinese dialect to translate into for your target audience. Let’s talk about the many dialects, when and where they are used, and how to choose the best one when translating this language.

1. The Numer Of Chinese Dialects

You should have known that Chinese speakers who don’t speak the same Chinese dialect may frequently be utterly unable to comprehend each other, unlike other languages with diverse dialects like American and British English or Latin American and Castilian Spanish. In China and other Chinese-speaking nations and territories including Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, there are several varieties of both spoken and written Chinese.  

The primary dialect spoken is Mandarin, which is sometimes known as simplified Chinese since it employs a streamlined form of classical Chinese characters. Mandarin is almost always utilized when you see written Chinese used outside of China, and also often appeared in the typical Chinese language translation.

On the other hand, Cantonese is a widely used dialect of spoken Chinese that is not written because of its traditional, more complex characters. Smaller regional dialects of Chinese language translation are also spoken all across the country, including Wu (also known as Shanghaiese), Hakka, and Min in addition to these major dialects. 

The dialect of Mandarin Chinese spoken in Singapore is the same as that used on the Chinese mainland. The majority of people in Hong Kong and Macau speak Cantonese. Mandarin is the language of Taiwan. But traditional Chinese is the writing system used in all of these nations and territories.

Written expressions differ between these locations despite the fact that they speak the same written language, much like you may envision Spanish expressions differing somewhat between Spain and Mexico.


Of course, there are many less common dialects, unique characters, and other linguistic features that vary amongst Chinese-speaking regions, so the entire picture relating to Chinese language translation is more complex than this. 


2. How To Handle Chinese Language Translation With Proper Dialects

2.1. Pick Up The Correct Dialect For Chinese Language Translation

You must choose the dialect depending on who your target market is. 

In Mainland China

The simplified dialect of Chinese that can be read and understood in Mainland China is by far the most popular dialect used for translation. This is the top choice you should select for the Chinese language translation of your website, marketing materials, product descriptions, legal translation contracts, and other assets if your business is trying to enter the Chinese market. The same holds true for translating any personal papers for usage in mainland China.

Using a rarer regional dialect for personal translations may occasionally be necessary, but for professional translations, simplified Chinese should always be your first choice.  

In Taiwan and Hong Kong

It’s preferable to use traditional Chinese if you want to conduct business in Taiwan or Hong Kong. Because traditional and simplified Chinese users effectively speak two separate languages, it’s crucial to choose the appropriate dialect for your target market and audience.

Although Cantonese is the primary language used in Hong Kong, traditional is still the best choice for the majority of Chinese language translation and localization tasks for your professional or domestic purposes. Rarely would a Cantonese translation be necessary for a job like transcribing or if you were looking for a very informal, colloquial translation for an audience you were familiar with. 

In Singapore

Although Chinese is the official language and the most common language in Singapore, most commercial transactions are conducted there in English, which is also the national language. Therefore, localizing your English material is more crucial than carrying out Chinese language translation if you just want to target the Singaporean market. 

You might want to read 5 Tips of Chinese E-commerce Translation Services That Help Your Business Grow.

2.2. Take Advantage Of Social Media and SEO Localization

About Social Media


There are some prevalent social media in China that you need to know.

WeChat, the social media platform, should be your concern if you want to build a following and draw clients in China. Chinese users have complete access to this platform, thus you should establish a presence there. 

The second-largest social media network in the nation is Weibo, which is comparable to Twitter but has no character restrictions. 

Of course, Tik Tok, also known as Douyin in China, is quite popular right now. For your Chinese audience, be sure to not only translate and localize all of your social media material but also to place it where they can see it. 

About SEO

You might have problems with Facebook, Google, YouTube, and the majority of other websites popular in the West if you’re trying to reach Chinese customers since they are mainly blocked in mainland China. However, your Chinese language translation will be significantly easier if you’re aiming for Hong Kong or Taiwan because those regions may utilize foreign websites and applications.


To ensure that your brand and messaging are understood by your Chinese-speaking audience, you must increase your SEO and rank on the Baidu SERPs. While translating your advertisements, website, and product descriptions into the appropriate dialect of Chinese, you will need to set up your Chinese advertisements on Baidu, which is the most widely used search engine in China. 

At the same time, local keyword research should be conducted carefully. It’s critical to modify your material to prevent utilizing “forbidden words” and triggering restrictions from the Chinese government.  

2.3. Examine The Prospects For Your Sector In China 

Gaming, fashion, and eCommerce are some of the sectors with the most promising in China. 

According to Asialink Business, eCommerce sales in China really account for 3.2% of the nation’s GDP as opposed to just 2.7% in the US. This eCommerce boom’s 632 million internet users mean that your company may succeed in China even with a little physical presence. 

If your company operates in one of these sectors, research the local competitors and consider using localization to expand your clientele in China. If not, check to see if your sector has a chance to enter this competitive market before moving further. 


Final thoughts

It might be challenging for a new overseas business to enter the Chinese market because your efforts must go beyond simply handling Chinese language translation

GTE Localize can surely provide you with the best Chinese translation services since we have a solid understanding of the Chinese language, culture, and market. Our native Chinese speakers are skilled in the linguistic field and industry localization to pick up the most suitable dialect for your material.

So arrange a 1:1 call with our experts to start your project now!