Simplified Chinese
The written text (of Chinese) that is used in mainland China and among Chinese people in Singapore nowadays. This written form mainly evolved and was adopted after the end of civil war and establishment of P.R.China in 1949, so you may also call it as a relatively “modern form” of Chinese text. The reason and purpose for the Chinese government to develop this simplified writing system is believed to be “simplifying the writing method, easing the effort in writing, and encouraging more people to become literate.”

Traditional Chinese
The written text (of Chinese) that is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan nowadays. As its name tells, this is a traditional version that had been written by Chinese people for thousands of years. Although people in mainland China and Singapore began to adopt the Simplified text after 1949, people in HK and Taiwan continued to use the “old” traditional text due to the political separation.

The Difference
Simplified Chinese (SC) characters have fewer strokes than Traditional Chinese (TC), that is why it’s called “Simplified” and is the ONLY difference when the SC writing system was first developed. However, the rapidly changing world have brought out more and more new words (such as the “Internet”, “Software”) into our daily life, and naturally, these new words may have different local versions in mainland China, HK and Taiwan. To use proper terms is the first concern when a specific version (either SC or TC) is specified as the target translation language; Secondly, the political isolation between P.R.China and HK, Taiwan for three decades (until China’s open-up in 1979) also created some slight variation in the style and wording of language, which are naturally reflected in their written forms (to understand the second situation, you may associate it with the difference between the written styles of USA English and UK English).

For SC translators who wish to translate into TC, or for TC translators who wish to translate into SC, they need to get familiar with style and wording of the target language, and make sure to use proper version for those new terms. Doubt whether they can perform perfectly in this aspect? You may compare by asking whether a well-educated American guy can write good UK English – of course he can if he carefully studies it. CCJK, a team of native elite translators, offers professional Chinese language translation services.


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