Chinese Language Translation Services
An Accent on Accuracy
The highest quality translations, brisk turnaround schedules, competitive rates, and sharing of our knowledge, are all requisites for ALT‘s success. The complete and accurate translation of your company’s communications is vital to your success. That’s why ALT is obsessed with providing the best translators for YOUR project. High-quality translations are the product of a highly talented and experienced translation team with expertise in your industry. ALT puts all the pieces together to make it happen.
Why choose us for English to Chinese or Chinese to English Translation?
Advanced Language Translation’s Professional Chinese translation services utilize only native speakers to ensure quality and precision translations for your target audience. With Chinese in particular, a deep understanding of Chinese culture, as well as the language, is needed for translation to be successful. Careful attention must be paid the Chinese culture; a successful translation does not just translate the words, but adapts the content to fit the culture of the Chinese people. When doing business in Chinese, professional, human translation is a must. Do not expect to close a business deal or impress your clients with spotty software translation. Only through human translation, edited and customized to your target audience, can your meaning be honestly conveyed and not offend your audience.
With Chinese typesetting and desktop publishing in particular, not only are specific software tools and high quality fonts required to properly lay out Chinese text, but professional knowledge and expertise is needed to produce professional looking results.
We are proud of our excellent reputation for reliable and high quality Chinese to English and English to Chinese translation and desktop publishing services. We have assembled teams of translators from around the world, with an array of skills and specialties and can custom fit the knowledge and strengths of our teams to your specific projects. To demonstrate our commitment to quality and our dedication to our clients, we offer free consultations and provide an industry leading 180-day warranty on translation!
We provide quick and easy custom quotes for your Chinese translation and localization needs.
Need to get the “gist” of Chinese?
Although professional translation is highly recommended for any business, legal or sincere correspondence in Chinese, sometimes it may be ok to use machine translation (via software or the internet) to get the gist of an e-mail or web page. By no means is machine translation an acceptable substitute for professional translation—the technology is not there yet. But it is great for quickly getting the general idea of an article, e-mail, or web site.
Interesting Facts about the Chinese Language
Chinese is a member of the Sino-Tibetan language family (including Burmese and Tibetan) and despite popular belief, is not closely related to Korean, Japanese, Thai or Vietnamese. Although Chinese influence is evident in Japanese writing systems and in some adopted Vietnamese words, the history of each spoken language is quite separate.
A common misconception is that Chinese is a single language, when in fact it is the name given to a vast group of languages spoken in the region of China. Like the Romance Languages, Chinese is the name of a group of closely related languages of which speakers of one cannot necessarily understand speakers of another. The name for this group of languages is called the Sinitic languages. The close history of the dialects allow for speakers of one language to learn another quite easily, as is the case of an English speaker learning another romance language, such as Spanish or French. It is not uncommon for speakers of Chinese to be able to speak several variants of the language.
Mandarin, the official spoken language in the People’s Republic of China, is the most widely spoken form of Chinese with Cantonese, Gan, Hakka, Min, Wu and Xiang being other popular Sinitic languages. Each language can then be subdivided into regional dialects totaling more than 1500.
Different varieties of Chinese are used in different situations, depending on the need, education and location of the speaker or writer. For example, a Hong Kong native may use a mix of local Cantonese and Mandarin depending on the situation. The mixed use of Sinitic languages is complex and yet forms a national unity of the language, and thus the common name: Chinese.
Chinese is a very tonal language. Mandarin Chinese consists of 4 tones (flat, falling, rising and rising/falling). Some dialects can have up to 9 tonal variations. Tone is extremely important to the understanding of spoken Chinese. For example “ma,” the Chinese word for “mother” has a flat tone. While “mâ,” or “horse” has a rising/falling tone. Using a rising tone when saying “ma” will change the meaning to “hemp.” Depending on how the tone is applied to “ma,” the meaning can vary drastically. It’s easy to then conclude that “ma” has potentially 4 meanings based on tone, but it is far more complicated than that. Depending on context (specifically the words surrounding “ma”) the meaning can change drastically. Making it safe to conclude: with Chinese, Context is Everything.
Chinese does not have a grammatical distinction between singular and plural nor does it have verbs that indicate tense. These are indicated by syntax. Tense is implied by the addition of adverbs of time (yesterday, tomorrow) and singular/plural is sometimes implied by the addition of numbers (and modifiers to pronouns), but in most cases words are not modified. Questions share the same grammar as do other sentences, but have the addition of the particle “ma” on the end, making it a question.
The Chinese language is known for being indirect or to understate meaning. It is attributed to a cultural trait, older than the language itself. Double negatives, euphemisms and ambiguity are not uncommon in the Chinese language. For example, while we are not reserved in spouting off “Perfect!” for a job well job well done, the Chinese equivalent may be toned down more as to say “The errors are few.” Contracts and laws written in Chinese often carry the same characteristics, making it difficult for European and American companies to do business in China, while for the Chinese, the gaps are filled by cultural understanding. The indirectness and allusion of the Chinese culture and language is not a shortcoming, but an expression of culture and character that should be appreciated for its difference.
History of the Chinese Language
Archaic Chinese is considered the first evidence of written language of Chinese, dating back to the Shang and Zhou Dynasty (12-7th centuries BC) and the Chinese Bronze Age. Bronze inscriptions show a written language full of pictograms and simple grammar. Although the pronunciations of the archaic language have long been lost (since pictograms contain no pronunciation information), there has been progress to learn how to pronounce Archaic Chinese by studying poetry.
Ancient or Middle Chinese dates back to the Sui, Tang and Song dynasties (5-10th centuries AD). This incarnation of the Chinese language was more streamlined and simplified than Archaic Chinese. The writing system was less pictorial and more stylistic. Progress reconstructing the pronunciation of Middle Chinese has gone far due to Middle Chinese rhyming tables and the phonetic translations of foreign names.
The history of the many variations and dialects of the Chinese language is complex and mostly unknown. Through most of Chinese history dynastic rule was the primary sense of linguistic unity. As China entered the Modern political world, a language revolution took place as Mandarin Chinese was taught in schools and finally adopted as the official language.
Archaic Chinese was written as pictograms, representing actual objects or actions. Later on, characters were added to the writing system based on the sounds of the word rather than illustrating the object. As time went on Chinese characters became less pictographic and more stylistic and phonetic. The example to the left shows a group of Archaic Chinese pictograms, representing different animals.
Modern Chinese is far from pictographic and one cannot simply decipher the language by looking for meaning in the characters. During the 3rd century BC, the Chinese writing system was fairly standardized, as the pictographs were modified over time to increase efficiency, effectiveness and allow for more words. In many cases elements from one character were incorporated into another to hint at pronunciation, while the other hints at subject or meaning. The example to the left shows a group of Modern Chinese characters for different animals.
Although one written character represents one syllable of spoken Chinese, it does not mean that the Chinese language is monosyllabic as the majority of Chinese words are composed of many syllables and written with combinations of characters.
The most important fact about the written language is that despite the numerous Sinitic languages, there is only one common writing system. Which means that speakers of different Chinese variations, may not be able to understand each other, but if literate, can write to each other with excellent understanding. This is solely due to the fact that the various Chinese languages share common grammar and syntax, but have different pronunciations.
The writing system is further divided into 2 subgroups: Simplified and Traditional. The standard Chinese writing system is referred to as Traditional. When the People’s Republic of China took power, a massive campaign to increase literacy was launched to promote the use of Mandarin and to simplify the writing system. Complex characters were written using less strokes and some were replaced altogether. Simplified Chinese is the official writing system on mainland China (despite the continued popularity of Traditional Chinese in Hong Kong), while Taiwan and Singapore continue to use Traditional. Recently there has been a surge in the use of Traditional Chinese, due to growing complaints about the over-simplification and resulting similarities of some characters. Originally written from right to left, in vertical columns, the writing system was also changed to match European languages: left to right in rows. Vertical text can still be found on some banners and publications throughout Taiwan, where a mix of the two is used.
Pinyin was also adopted as the official Romanization of the Chinese language.
Chinese Language Statistics
- The writing system contains roughly 40,000 characters.
- One fifth of the world speaks Chinese as their native language.
- The Chinese language population on the Internet is one of the fast growing.
- The majority of Chinese in the US speak Cantonese and prefer the Traditional Chinese writing system.
- Literate Chinese need to be able to understand a minimum of 2,000 characters.
- The P.R.C. has a literacy rate of 85%
Translation / Localization Issues with Chinese
Advanced Language Translation Inc has extensive experience with the in and outs of the Chinese Language and we have a long and flawless record of success with complicated Chinese translation projects. Here are some of the common issues with English to Chinese translation and desktop publishing that we have learned:
- Chinese translation typically shrinks 10% in size from English.
- Not all applications support Chinese text and great care must be taken when using
Chinese in complex layouts. Some applications such as Quark Xpress and Adobe
PageMaker, require the use of native Chinese versions in order to typeset Chinese.
Unfortunately, to view and print documents created in these versions, you have to have
the Chinese software.
- Chinese is a double-byte language, meaning each character takes up twice as much
memory to display than European languages. Typesetting Chinese is resource
intensive and saved files can take up more disc space than their European
- Although Chinese does not have specific hyphenation rules, text should be width
justified and care must be taken to break certain words appropriately.
- Great care must be taken when applying Bold and Underline styles to Chinese fonts.
Some styles may make the characters unrecognizable.
- Chinese fonts are difficult to make and thus not as common as European and Cyrillic
fonts. Sometime shortcuts are taken when creating a Chinese font and many of the
40,000 characters are left out. Usually the rarely used characters are omitted.
- It’s good practice to typeset Chinese at a larger font size than the corresponding
English. Since Chinese characters are more dense than roman letters, expanding the
size makes it more legible.
- For voice work, it is extremely important to know the dialect of the target audience.
Chinese Language Vital Information
Speaking Population: 91 Million
Where Spoken: People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Canada and the United States.
Writing Systems: Chinese (Traditional and Simplified)
10001 MAC – Traditional Chinese Big5
10008 MAC – Simplified Chinese GB 2312
20000 CNS – Taiwan
20001 TCA – Taiwan
20002 Eten – Taiwan
20003 IBM5550 – Taiwan
20004 TeleText – Taiwan
20005 Wang – Taiwan
20936 Simplified Chinese GB2312
50227 ISO-2022 Simplified Chinese
50229 ISO-2022 Traditional Chinese
52936 HZ-GB2312 Simplified Chinese
54936 HZ-GB18030 Simplified Chinese
Unicode Supported: Yes
Chinese: (guó yû)
Thank you: (xiè-xiè)