Simplified and Traditional Chinese
Thread poster: zhuzhu930

zhuzhu930  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:25
Member (2012)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Jun 6, 2012

Hi, everyone, good to see you here at Proz.com. I'm a simplified Chinese translator. I have seen some outsourcers prefer to get translators from HK or TW for English into traditional Chinese translation jobs. I understand that for HK and TW translators, traditional Chinese is their native language. But I wonder what are the specific differences between simplified and traditional Chinese other than the specific writing style. We all know that by using MS word or other input software, we can easily change Simplified Chinese into Traditional Chinese, but is that enough for translation? is there a specific dialect style or special expression for some terms? or the entire syntax of traditional Chinese is totally different from that of simplified Chinese? Please help me, thanks!

[Edited at 2012-06-06 03:46 GMT]


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Robert Tucker
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:25
German to English
+ ...
Mandarin /Cantonese Jun 6, 2012

Is not the main difference between Mandarin and Cantonese?

People who can understand only either Mandarin or Cantonese can communicate with each other by writing because they use the same written characters with a few exceptions.... But the colloquial Cantonese written down in words is sometimes hard to understand for Mandarin speaking people because Cantonese use lots of different expressions in their daily oral Cantonese.

http://khuang.com/chinese/dif.htm

Although Cantonese shares much vocabulary with Mandarin Chinese, the two languages are not mutually intelligible largely because of pronunciation and grammatical differences. Sentence structure, in particular the placement of the verb, sometimes differs between the two languages. The use of vocabulary in Cantonese also tends to have more historic roots. The most notable difference between Cantonese and Mandarin is how the spoken word is written; with Mandarin the spoken word is written as such, where with Cantonese there may not be a direct written word matching what was said. This results in the situation in which a Mandarin and Cantonese text almost look the same, but both are pronounced differently.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantonese


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 10:25
Chinese to English
Are you serious? Jun 6, 2012

Sorry, just seems like a bit of a basic question...

Why not go and see for yourself?

www.appledaily.com.tw
hkm.appledaily.com

Or do the basic research first...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwanese_Mandarin
http://www.yellowbridge.com/chinese/mandarin-differences.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong_Cantonese

Not sure if you have more specific questions in mind?


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Oriana Bonan  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:25
English to Italian
+ ...
Simplified/Traditional misleading Jun 6, 2012

I have always thought that the denominations used in our industry to indicate the different variants of Mandarin are a bit misleading and simplistic at the very least, as 'traditional' and 'simplified' refer to the writing system rather than the variant (e.g., 国语, 普通话, etc.).
If it were only a matter of converting texts between 繁体字 and 简体字, as you say, there would be no problem at all.

Chinese is one of my source languages, and major differences I have noticed mainly pertain to terminology; when translating from Chinese, these are relatively easy to handle through research, and I imagine this could be true even when translating into Chinese.

In my opinion, an actual risk is posed by somewhat minor differences in style, word usage, syntax and the like, which are more difficult to determine. This is why I tend to think that translators should translate into their specific variant unless, of course, they are also very familiar with a different one.

For instance, I am an Italian native speaker born and raised in Italy, and I would not feel comfortable if I were to translate a document for a Swiss-Italian readership even though the two variants are very similar. However, I do know of Italian colleagues who master Swiss Italian either because they lived in Switzerland for many years, or are significantly exposed to this variant in other ways (which is not my case).

Mine is just a very general opinion. I am sure that Chinese native speaking colleagues will be able to answer your question about linguistic differences in greater detail.

Oriana

[Edited at 2012-06-06 10:23 GMT]


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zhuzhu930  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:25
Member (2012)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the help Jun 6, 2012

Thank you all for helping me. I know it's a very basic question and trust me, I've done my research beforehand. But translation needs a lot more than just comparing terms from the mainland/HK and TW, it's trickier than that.

Most of the part between simplified and traditional Chinese are the same. Especially when there are so many people originally from HK and TW now live in China, even a lot of different expressions from all 3 areas are mingled together. So when translating, it's really hard to decide when it comes to nuance, syntax, etc, unless we understand both very well.

Thank you so much for all the links. I really appreciate it!


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Shiya Luo  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:25
English to Chinese
+ ...
Not comparable Jun 6, 2012

Robert Tucker wrote:

Is not the main difference between Mandarin and Cantonese?

People who can understand only either Mandarin or Cantonese can communicate with each other by writing because they use the same written characters with a few exceptions.... But the colloquial Cantonese written down in words is sometimes hard to understand for Mandarin speaking people because Cantonese use lots of different expressions in their daily oral Cantonese.

http://khuang.com/chinese/dif.htm

Although Cantonese shares much vocabulary with Mandarin Chinese, the two languages are not mutually intelligible largely because of pronunciation and grammatical differences. Sentence structure, in particular the placement of the verb, sometimes differs between the two languages. The use of vocabulary in Cantonese also tends to have more historic roots. The most notable difference between Cantonese and Mandarin is how the spoken word is written; with Mandarin the spoken word is written as such, where with Cantonese there may not be a direct written word matching what was said. This results in the situation in which a Mandarin and Cantonese text almost look the same, but both are pronounced differently.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantonese


Let me put it this way:
The difference between spoken Taiwanese Mandarin and Mainland Mandarin is like the difference between British English and American English.
Cantonese and Mandarin on the other hand, would be more comparable with Singaporean English with lots of local slang terms, and American English.

Here's a video demonstration of Singaporean English (He starts to speak Singaporean Mandarin in the second half of the video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv9Q5-D01_Q


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Shiya Luo  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:25
English to Chinese
+ ...
Terminology Jun 6, 2012

The major difference come from the newer terms translated from English or other languages into Chinese, IMHO. The translators who created those terms seemed to not reference from each other whatsoever.

For example the Internet: 网络 vs. 網路

If you look up any term related to science and technology in Wikipedia, chances are the terminologies are different between Traditional and Simplified Chinese. If you had the chance to use both the Simplified and Traditional Chinese version of Microsoft products, or any other software, you will see how big the difference is.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 10:25
Chinese to English
Cantonese is really different Jun 6, 2012

I was in HK just last week, and was surprised at how little I could understand. In informal text from HK there's a lot of use of particles (like 咗) that don't exist in Mandarin, and the grammar is noticeably different.

Formal text from HK is much more understandable. The difficulty comes when you translate anything about law or politics, because those systems are totally different. So, for example, you can't assume that a 委员会 in Hong Kong is the same kind of thing as a 委员会 in the mainland.

In Taiwan, I agree with Shiya, it's like the difference between UK and US English. For a mainlander, it would be very difficult to write good Taiwanese Chinese, because you get so little exposure to it (just as it would be very difficult for an American to write good British English). The other way round is less problematic.


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