Differences Between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese

by ChineseTrans, Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 9:48 am


Simple Guide to Understand the Differences

between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese

When you want to outreach to different Chinese markets, the first thing you should figure out is what language they are using, what are the differences between simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

Differences between simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese

Differences between simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese

Different Writing Methods

Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese are two different writing methods of the Chinese characters.

  • Simplified Chinese (SC) characters have fewer strokes and are easier to write than Traditional Chinese (TC)
  • The rapidly changing world have brought out more and more new words into our daily life, and naturally, these new words may have different local versions in Mainland China, HK and Taiwan respectively.
  • The political isolation between P.R.China and HK, Taiwan for several decades created some slight variation in the style and wording of language.


Which is for Me?

Currently there are over 1.3 billion people in the world using Simplified Chinese, the majority of which are in mainland China, Malaysia, and Singagore.

In Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and in Chinese communities overseas where the combined population is approximately 30 million, Traditional Chinese remains in use.

Mainland China

  • For mainland and Singapore readers, translate into Simplified Chinese text, Mandarin style
  • Chinese speaking population: over 1.3 billion

Mainland China Simplified Chinese

a bus stop sign in Nanjing, China


  • For HK readers, translate into Traditional Chinese text, Cantonese style
  • Hongkong population: 7.24 million (2014, World Bank)


Hongkong Traditional Chinese

A road sign in Hongkong


  • For Taiwanese readers, translate into Traditional Chinese text, Mandarin style
  • Taiwan population: 23.4 million (2014)

Taiwan Traditional Chinese

Differences Between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese:Snack stands at Tamsui New Taipei City, Taiwan (Photo by Chao)

Singapore & Malaysia

  • Simplified Chinese has been introduced and widely used in Malaysia since late 1980’s, in the mean time, traditional Chinese is still widely used and existing in the media, like signs and announcements at Chinese stores, Books published in Mainland China, Hongkong and Taiwan are all in the market.
  • Around 75% of the Singaporean population (5.47 million, 2014, world bank) is of ethnic Chinese origin
  • Around 22% of the Malaysian population (30 million, 2014, world bank) is of ethnic Chinese origin

The older generation were completely educated in traditional Chinese characters, that is, they can read and write traditional Chinese characters. Chinese-educated Malaysians are those who attended Chinese schools for at least the primary school level who can at least read and write Chinese simplified characters. In Chinese schools, Mandarin Chinese is a compulsory subject for all students with Chinese primary school background. This group has the highest Chinese language proficiency of all three groups.    



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