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Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese?

Posted 4 Jun 2018

At Ways with Words, we translate a lot of material into Chinese. This ranges from legal documentation such as contracts and tenders to packaging copy and compliance materials for all sorts of products.

One of the most important questions we ask clients early on is whether they need translations into Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese. The answer will be determined by the target audience – the people who will be reading the translation. As a basic rule of thumb, the two languages are used as follows:

Mainland China and Singapore – Simplified Chinese 

Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan – Traditional Chinese 

An important thing to remember is that these are two different languages with two different histories which we won’t go into here and of course, there are also differences within the local dialects. To assume that all Chinese speakers can understand both languages would be a mistake, potentially a costly one, which is why we always ensure that our clients are using the appropriate variant for their intended audience.