THE PRODUCTION BRIEF:
( A series of commentaries on day-to-day issues)
IF IN CHINA, …. WELL, IT DEPENDS….
A client asked for Chinese translation and said that they wanted to publish the document in China as well as in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
I gave the client an estimate for Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional. I got the response: “We want Mandarin. What is this about?”
Chinese Simplified and Mandarin are like limes and lemons or more appropriately, like kumquats and loquats. It seems like we are talking about the same thing, right? Not exactly….
Chinese Simplified is the written form while Mandarin is the SPOKEN form.
There are two main written forms, Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional.
Chinese Simplified is used in mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia while Chinese Traditional is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Similarly, Mandarin is spoken by many parts of the Chinese world while Cantonese is preferred in other parts.
If we are discussing food, it gets even more complicated. Then you have provinces of different varieties: Sichuan, Cantonese, Hunan, Guangdong. I’ll tackle this in another brief!!!
So I told my client about what happened in Hong Kong recently. A high end restaurant opened in a Hong Kong mall with mainland -Chinese Simplified menus. In a matter of days, the company got overwhelmed by angry comments in its website from locals who did not like having Chinese simplified menus. Needless to say, the restaurant had to replace the Simplified menus with Chinese traditional as quickly as possible.
In summary: If you want to appear and appeal to locals in Hong Kong, have your content in Chinese Traditional.