The first thing that any Chinese localization specialist will ask you when you request a quote for a ‘Chinese’ project will be, ‘which form of Chinese would you like – Simplified or Traditional’.
- In basic terms, this refers to the character set which is used, and applies to Chinese in written form only. Simplified Chinese characters, as the name suggests are simplified characters which were adapted from the more traditional form of Chinese, and are used if your target audience is located in Mainland China and Singapore, whereas Traditional Chinese characters are used predominantly when targeting Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. However, despite sharing the same character set, there are slight differences between Traditional Chinese for Hong Kong and Traditional Chinese for Taiwan, so wherever possible and if budget permits it is recommended to create a version for each market.
- Regarding spoken forms of Chinese for Mainland China, Taiwan, Macao and Hong Kong, the dialects are Mandarin and Cantonese. Mandarin is spoken in Mainland China and in Taiwan (Taiwanese Mandarin), though again, they each have their own unique flavor and accent, so you will need to be specific to the needs of your target audience. Cantonese is the official spoken dialect of Hong Kong and Macao and bears no similarity whatsoever with Mandarin, and should be treated as such.
- Once you have your target market identified, Chinese is not a complicated language to master. Translators should be chosen based on three criteria: native dialect, native writing system, and subject matter expertise. Chinese is well supported in design, publishing and multimedia packages and can even be localized by non-Chinese staff. Nonetheless, language quality assurance should always be conducted by Chinese native localization professionals. With regard to Chinese voiceover recording, the voice talent should be a native speaker of the prestige register of the required dialect.