Approximately one in 6 people in the world speak Chinese, making it the most widely spoken language on earth. However, Chinese is not uniform as there are variations of the spoken and written versions of the language that are Geo-centric.
Written Chinese is split into Simplified and Traditional. Simplified Chinese is the most widespread as it is the official language of mainland China and Singapore. In addition, it is often also used by the Chinese community in Malaysia. Traditional Chinese is used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Traditional Chinese evolved over centuries and, as the name suggests, was the original version of the language and was used in all Chinese-speaking regions. There is a view that the characters were simplified in writing throughout history, likely out of convenience. Simpler forms of characters have been said to exist in documents dating back as far as the Qin dynasty. However, most of the simplified characters used today were developed in the 1950s and 1960s by the government of the People’s Republic of China. The government implemented an official system of simplified Chinese, with the hope that it would help improve China’s literacy rates.
The most obvious difference between traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese is the appearance of the different characters. Traditional characters are typically more complicated and have more strokes, while simplified characters are, as the name suggests, simpler and have fewer strokes. As mentioned, all Chinese characters were originally the same, so while some characters were changed in the simplified Chinese system, some remained the same as they were simple in form anyway, so there was no need to change them.
At Teneo Translations, we understand the regional variations that exist within the Chinese-speaking world and make sure that our linguists have the correct experience and expertise to produce consistently great results.