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Chinese to English & English to Chinese Translation

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The Chinese language


With almost 1.5 billion potential customers living there, China is one of the biggest markets your business can target. Its rich cultural history and fast growing economy make it one of the most up-and-coming markets in the world. And to succeed in this market, your message needs to be understood.

A rich linguistic history

In order to successfully make your mark in the Chinese market, you’ll want to make sure that your material is translated into the correct dialect and using the correct writing system. The Chinese language is actually a group of dialects spoken by a variety of groups within the country. From Hainanese to Shanghainese and Hokkien to Wenzhounese, China boasts a linguistic richness like no other country, but from a localisation point of view the most frequently requested dialects are Mandarin and Cantonese.

While the two dialects stem from the same linguistic branch and may share similar terms, verbally they are mutually unintelligible.

Take the word “thank you” for example; in Mandarin you would say xièxiè (the characters for this are 谢谢) but in Cantonese the word is dò jeh (the characters for this are 多謝). If you compare the two written forms, you’ll see that both forms use the character 谢 but pronounce it in completely different ways.

Moreover, written Chinese also differs by region; written text uses either the Traditional Chinese writing system or the Simplified Chinese writing system.

Traditional Chinese characters were used across China until the 1950s when the communist party took over the People’s Republic of China and instilled the Simplified character system in order to boost literacy rates across the nation. The Simplified writing system does exactly what it says on the tin; Simplified characters use fewer brush strokes than their Traditional counterparts and are therefore, in theory, easier to recognise, read and write. While most of mainland China has made the transition from Traditional to Simplified characters, the Hong Kong province and the state of Taiwan have both retained the Traditional writing system.

Know your audience – which regions of China are you looking to target first?

Knowing the difference between Traditional and Simplified characters or Mandarin and Cantonese is not enough when it comes to localising your communications.

Written Chinese and spoken Chinese do not always go hand in hand. That is to say, regions that speak Mandarin do not necessarily write in Simplified characters. So while both Hong Kong and Taiwan natives write using Traditional characters, they do not speak the same dialect. Having this knowledge is imperative when it comes to localising written and audiovisual materials as in some cases you may require translations using Traditional Chinese characters, but a voiceover for the same project may require either Mandarin or Cantonese translation services depending on the specific region you are trying to target.

So it is vital that you know which regions you are hoping to create content for, and that you know which variety they speak and write. To make sure that you get it right for your chosen market, take a look at the table below:

Spoken Written
Mainland China Mandarin Simplified Chinese
Hong Kong Cantonese Traditional Chinese
Singapore Mandarin Simplified Chinese
Taiwan Mandarin Traditional Chinese


We know it might be confusing, so our seasoned team is here to advise you on the best way to make a splash in the Chinese market and which dialect or writing system would be best for your communications.

Chinese translation services

Our mother-tongue Chinese translators are tested and approved by our stellar vendor management team who rigorously test them before they even make it onto our books. This ensures that we can provide the exceptional Chinese translation services that we’re known for. Every time.

See below for what our Chinese language services include.

Chinese document translation

Are you trying to crack your way into the Chinese market? Maybe you’re struggling to explain the use of your machines to suppliers or clients. This is where our document translation services exceed.

Chinese transcreation and creative translation

If you’re trying to market your brand or a new product in China, you may want to consider transcreation or creative translation. Our Chinese transcreation services go beyond standard translation in order to achieve the exact message and tone that you want to achieve by adapting the copy to suit the audience’s culture, values and expectations.

Chinese Typesetting

If you are looking to localise a printed publication into either Simplified or Traditional Chinese you should consider having the translated design files typeset by a native Chinese speaker. Our multilingual designers, artworkers and typesetters cover all languages and scripts and will be able to ensure that the finished publication adheres to each language’s typesetting rules while looking as crisp and clean as your original.

Chinese voiceovers and subtitling

Audiovisual materials can be some of the most important assets for any communication, so localising your content can increase your global reach immensely. Our talented Mandarin and Cantonese voiceover artists can help you speak to your desired audience while our expert subtitling team can help you localise your subtitles into either Traditional or Simplified Chinese depending on your chosen method of communication.

Chinese technical translation

To ensure that your technical documents are crystal clear in Chinese, we entrust them to our qualified technical translators. Their solid in-industry experience gives them the tools to ensure that your technical manuals are not only translated correctly, but that each measurement is precise and that each term is consistent with your business’ internal terminology.

Chinese legal translation

Legal translations need to be exact and free from uncertainty and only a qualified legal specialist can make sure that your contract or terms and conditions are just that. Our whole team of legal translators are trained in both UK and international law so you can be sure that any Chinese translation you receive from us will be infused with accurate legal knowledge.

Why Brightlines?

With 20 years’ experience in the translation sector, Brightlines provides a tailored end to end translation service specifically for you and your business. Our brilliant project managers are experts when it comes to exceptional customer service and will always put your satisfaction first. We’re also an ISO 9001:2015 certified agency which means that quality management is our top priority, our tried and tested translators are all native speakers with actual working experience in your industry.

When it comes to Chinese translation, Brightlines is the way to go. We regularly translate a variety of communications into Chinese for our clients. Some of our most common projects are website and marketing translations. With a burgeoning middle class, the Chinese have huge spending power, and an attraction to Western goods meaning that more and more companies are looking to crack their way into this market.

Thus, while trade between Chinese and British companies continues to grow, the need for technical and legal into Chinese is also growing, and that’s something we can help with. We’ve been providing technical and legal translations into Chinese for some of the world’s best known companies.

Some big names that use our Chinese translation services include Gola, Rotork and Visit England. With a pool of native speakers, we are well placed to produce translations that will help you bridge the language gap, no matter what the subject is.

If you’d like to know more about our Chinese translation services, get in touch with us at [email protected]

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Our translation services - FAQ

Do you use native translators?

Yes, always. All our translators are native speakers and most are still resident in their native country. We pride ourselves on ensuring that all Brightlines’ translators are native. We do not accept applications from non-native candidates or allow them to register on our online recruitment database. All our translators are rigorously tested.

How long will the translations take?

The turnaround for the translation will depend on the word count. As a rough guide, assume that the translators can comfortably process about 2500 words of non-specialised text per day. Proofreading can effectively be completed on a basis of 4000-6000 words a day. Our minimum turnaround time is usually about three days, although it is possible to shorten this if you are in a rush for the final files and we will always be happy to discuss this with you.

What is the variation in your translators’ experience and qualifications? Are they native speakers? Will the cost increase if we use a more experienced translator?

All our translators have to go through a series of tests to make sure they are as good as they say they are, and only if they pass are they allowed to work for Brightlines. There is quite a range of experience and qualifications, but all translators have a minimum of five years’ experience. All translators translate into their mother-tongue without exception and are generally based in-country so they are up-to-date with the local language. We match translators with projects/clients depending on the subject matter, and most of our translators have industry experience in their speciality – there is no better experience than being immersed professionally in the industry they specialise in. Our costs are based on translator experience, speciality (i.e. medical, creative, scientific) and the language choice.

Which languages can you translate into?

We have an extensive database with hundreds of trusted and tested translators covering all commercial languages. If you cannot see the language or dialect you need please ask.

I don’t know the word count; can you base the quote on the number of pages?

Our pricing structure is based on a rate-per-word, but we can estimate from a page count. If we can’t see the source document then we would usually estimate between 300 – 500 words a page depending on the density of the text and the presence of photos and images.

Does the translation need to be proofread?

Brightlines is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company. This means that quality is safeguarded. We adhere to the “four-eyes principle” and translations are always checked by a second professional proofreader (who is not the translator). If the translation is for internal use and reference purposes only (i.e. not to be published, distributed or used in a court of law), or you simply don’t wish to have proofreading, we can remove the proofreading stage.

Get in touch

If you need Chinese translations, get in touch with our team, or get a quick quote.