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The People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau represent an enormous potential market in East Asia.
These countries constitute 19% of the world’s population, according to data from 2018.

Several languages are spoken in each of these countries, along with numerous dialectal variants.
To do business there, however, people use the following written languages:

  • Simplified Chinese in the People’s Republic of China, Singapore and the Chinese community of Malaysia.
  • Traditional Chinese in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
    When you hear people refer to Mandarin Chinese or Cantonese Chinese, they are talking about different oral dialects of Chinese.
    In South China, Cantonese is spoken but people write simplified Chinese. In Taiwan, Mandarin is spoken, but people write traditional Chinese.


    The Chinese writing system is one of the oldest in the world.
    The written characters used in both types of Chinese originate from traditional Chinese. In the 1950s and 1960s, the government of the People’s Republic of China invented almost all of the characters used in today’s simplified Chinese. The idea was to create simpler characters that would be easier to learn.


    The graphic symbols used in simplified Chinese are more basic than those of traditional Chinese.
    Simplified Chinese uses fewer characters, and some of them have more than one meaning. In traditional Chinese, every word has its own symbol.

    Have a look at the image below and try to guess which column contains simplified Chinese and which is traditional Chinese.

    The differences are easy to spot, aren’t they?
    Simplified and traditional Chinese are among the top fifteen languages into which people request translations.
    If the translations are for electronic devices it’s essential to know what sort of coding they use to ensure the characters are displayed correctly, among other things.
    If you want to increase your international reach and enter the Chinese market, we can help you get there with excellent translation.

    Header image by Cherry Lin- Unsplash

    Written by LocalizationLab