Mandarin Chinese – Traditional and Simplified Chinese Characters
- June 16, 2020
- Leonie McKeon
Chinese languages are written using Chinese characters. Each Chinese character represents one Chinese word. There are 50,000 characters in the Chinese language. An educated Chinese person generally knows approximately 8,000 Chinese characters.
In the mid-1950s the People’s Republic of China introduced a standardised character set, known as ‘simplified Chinese characters’. The objective of this was to increase the literacy levels in China. 2,200 of the most used Chinese characters were simplified. Simplified Chinese characters have fewer strokes and are therefore less complex to learn or to read and write. Traditional characters are typically more complicated to learn, and read and write.
Here is an example of a simplified and traditional Chinese character:
The simplified Chinese character for study is 学
The traditional Chinese character for study is 學
Today, simplified Chinese characters are officially used in mainland China and Singapore, and are often used by the Chinese communities in Malaysia. Traditional Chinese characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
It is important for non-Chinese businesses to understand that there are simplified and traditional Chinese characters so they can ensure that their marketing and branding material is written using the most culturally appropriate Chinese characters. For example, if you are selling to consumers in Taiwan it is important to use traditional Chinese characters. Whereas when selling into mainland China you must use simplified Chinese characters.