Translations from English into traditional Chinese

In order for your translation to be translated from English into traditional Chinese characters with accuracy and care, we work exclusively with native-speaking translators who possess many years of experience. They have been raised with the traditional Chinese characters and are familiar with the characteristics of the Chinese language and culture. They will always translate your documents with the correct tone.

Do you need official documents translated from traditional Chinese into English (or another language)? We specialize in these as well from birth certificates to medical licenses.

Why traditional Chinese?

As the name suggests, it’s an older writing system used to express the Chinese language. In modern-day China, they use something called simplified Chinese, which consists of simpler versions of the traditional characters based off of historical forms – like万 instead of 萬, both of which mean "ten thousand." Newly developed characters can be distinguished by shortened forms of the classifier characters or "radicals" and typical abbreviations for certain character combinations.

This simplification was necessary because the traditional Chinese characters were very complicated and difficult to learn. An example of this is the word "zhe," meaning "much too talkative." It consists of the character for "Dragon" 龍four times! Because many people were incapable of remembering such complex characters and access to education was difficult, from the 1956-1986, the simplified form was introduced with several reform waves in an effort to improve literacy in China. These reforms were then adopted in Singapore and Malaysia as well.

Why are the traditional characters still used today?

Some call the traditional characters “zhengtizi” because countries that still use them often have a political reason for doing so. That's why the traditional characters are referred to as the "correct" or "proper" script. Taiwan, in particular, is a user of the traditional characters, but Hong Kong and Macau still use them as well. Clearly, this has a lot to do with political entities wanting to differentiate themselves from the People’s Republic of China, since their government is not recognized as legitimate.

After the Second World War and a long Civil War between the Nationalists and Communists, which the latter won, the Nationalist government established itself in Taiwan.

Taiwan and its supporters see themselves as the only legitimate keepers of Chinese culture. Therefore, they insist that the traditional characters continue to be used. These politics should be in the back of one’s mind when translating, as both the Taiwanese and Cantonese (in Hong Kong) languages tend to express their local dialects with newly created characters. In simplified Chinese, this is not really possible because new characters are only introduced by the Chinese government. These dialectical characters have become a huge challenge in the computer age and for translators, as they are hardly known outside of Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Similarities between English and Chinese

In addition to these aspects, traditional characters have many variations, and the same word can be written with different radicals without changing emphasis or meaning. Chinese has a non-phonetic script. This means that the pronunciation of a character cannot be determined from the way it’s written. For this reason, many different dialects and even languages can be written with Chinese characters.

This is the first similarity to English. In England, spelling became finalized with the printing press even though the language was in the process of a sound change. Therefore, some believe that English possesses a historical orthography, as the way many words are spelled does not reflect how they’re pronounced.

Another similarity is that Chinese doesn’t have grammatical genders for the most part. There are only a few words that are used to denote gender, such as the character for the third person, which can be differentiated as man or woman by using a classifier, but this is a relatively new development.

English also avoids having to assign gender by using "the." There is no conjugation or declension in Chinese. Its grammar is quite simple as complex situations are expressed with particles, making sentence structure that much more important and more restrictive. Sentences are formed, with very few exceptions, using the subject-verb-object structure. This is also true for English, but Chinese has fewer opportunities for creative variations. Time and place in English are mostly placed at the end of the sentence, while in Chinese, they are primarily at the beginning. It can generally be said that all of the modifying information in Chinese sentences is stated before the actual object that’s being modified.

Translation pitfalls

Translating from English into Chinese is generally not a big problem. It’s just important to note that Chinese characters don’t have to be equivalent to the English translation, as many are situation-specific. The correct application is usually not in the dictionary. The translator has to learn them and gain the proper experience.

There is no definite difference between traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese translations. A difference would come about when deciding whether or not to translate into Standard Chinese or into local dialects or slang used in Taiwan or Hong Kong.

Whatever the case may be, we have the perfect translator for your project due to our huge network of professionals. Let our project managers assist you by phone or email. We would be happy to provide you with a no-obligation quote. Simply email us the text you would like to have translated. We look forward to hearing from you!


Mariana Mellor
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