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 Simplified Chinese vs. Traditional Chinese



You may have heard about Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese, and "Mandarin" and "Cantonese" as well. What are the differences of these terms? It's indeed quite confusing for non-Chinese speakers. 


Let's explain it this way: Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese are two different writing formats for the Chinese characters, while Cantonese and Mandarin are two oral "dialects" spoken by Chinese people in different regions. 


Simplified Chinese

Simplified Chinese is a writing format mainly used in mainland China. This writing format was introduced after the end of civil war and the establishment of P. R. China in 1949, so it is a relatively "new" or “modern" style of Chinese text. The purpose for the Chinese government to develop this simplified writing system was believed to be “simplifying the writing method, easing the effort in writing, and encouraging more people to learn how to read and write.

Traditional Chinese

This Chinese written format is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan and among many Chinese people living in Western countries. As its name tells, this is a traditional version of Chinese characters format that had been used by Chinese people for thousands of years. Although people in mainland China began to use the Simplified text after 1949, people in Taiwan and Hong Kong continued to use this “old” traditional text due to the political separation.

Mandarin and Cantonese

Mandarin and Cantonese are two spoken dialects of Chinese language. Mandarin is widely used in Mainland China as the official spoken dialect and named "Pu Tong Hua" in Chinese. It's also the official dialect in Taiwan and named "Guo Yu". Cantonese is spoken by people in Hong Kong and one province in Mainland China which is close to Hong Kong. For more details about this topic please read our other article "Mandarin vs. Cantonese".

To conclude

People in Mainland China: write in Simplified Chinese, speak Mandarin.

People in Taiwan: write in Traditional Chinese, speak Mandarin.

People in Hong Kong: write in Traditional Chinese, speak Cantonese.





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