Chinese is the oldest written language in Asia. It uses a complex character-based system, and each character consists of elements called radicals.
Radicals play the same role in the lexicon of the Chinese language as does the alphabet in the West. Words and characters are not sorted alphabetically but must be looked up according to their radicals. In a good character dictionary, radicals at the front or back of the book are listed according to the number of their brush strokes.
Each radical has a meaning, and this is how a Chinese speaker determines in which semantic field a word belongs. So, words like sea, pond, or ocean are found under the radical for “water.”Instant quote
This logical structure provides foreigners with a straightforward way to search for the meaning of unfamiliar characters. But the logical connection between radicals and word meaning can also be more abstract. For example, the names of countries, all of which are located across the sea in the minds of the Chinese, also have a logical link to water.
A character is more than just a radical. For this reason, a translator should always be a native speaker of a language in order to produce an appropriate text in that language. All our translators draw on years of experience in addition to being specialized in various fields. This enables us to find the best translator for every project.Instant quote
Combinations of two or more characters are called composites. The radical occupies a fixed position so that anyone familiar with the language can immediately find it. The other parts of the character are also characters that have meanings of their own.
A language begins with nouns. These are words that have a naming function and indicate an object – a visible signifier of meaning. But since a language can only assign one character to an object and since there is a finite number of possible characters, composite words quickly emerge. Groups of two or more nouns form a single word in which each element has its own meaning that differs slightly – or significantly – from the meaning of the composite.
Composites often use content-based connections in names. Western languages have rough equivalents to this. For example, adding the word “school” or “university” to indicate a specific kind of educational institution. Chinese forms similar combinations in much the same way, where the corresponding characters are included either before or after the main character. Composites created in this way are easy to understand and also easy to translate.
Expressions naming individual scientific disciplines are much more difficult. Their composites are often complex.
A translator is always faced with the challenge of staying abreast of the many newly created words describing abstract concepts. But this is not a problem for our professional translators because they’re native speakers who live and work in the same country as your target readers. This is how we always deliver high quality translations to you.
Below, you'll find a link to an interesting article explaining the differences between Traditional and Simplified Chinese.
Translator Café Article – (161 KB)
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