Why choose ITC for your Chinese translation projects?

Over the years, ITC has developed a strong network of linguists whose native language is Chinese. These linguists have passed several rounds of tests and are evaluated regularly. In addition, the ITC project managers have drawn up language guides to help translators follow the specific rules that apply to Chinese.

History of the language: translation into Chinese

Chinese in its written form is one of the oldest languages still on use, if not the oldest. Egyptian, which used hieroglyphics, and Sumerian, which used cuneiform script have been extinct for a long time. The oldest vestiges found of its written form date back to 1500 BC, and were found in animal bones and turtle carapaces used as oracles. Even by them this script was considered mature. Chinese is, unless most of western languages, an ideographic language and not phonetic, in the sense that each character represents a concept instead of a sound. Over history, Chinese characters have been evolving and getting more abstract in their representation. There is not an exact figure of all existing Chinese characters, but estimations vary between 80,000 and 90,000. Of course, most of them are archaic forms no longer in use, which can be found in older manuscripts or occasionally in family names. In general there are 3,500 common characters that cover 99% of communication requirements.

Specific features of the Chinese language

We refer to “Chinese” as the standard language known as “Mandarin” in western countries, “Putonghua” in mainland China and “Guoyu” in Taiwan, but there are many regional dialects spoken by Chinese people, as well as other languages spoken by ethnic minorities. Nowadays, Chinese has two different methods of writing, simplified form (简体字) and traditional form (繁体字). Essentially the difference between both forms is cosmetic, each version of a character has the same meaning and it is pronounced in the same way. However, due to historical and geo-political reasons, each form is associated to the Chinese used in different areas, each one having its own characteristics in usage and vocabulary –much like the different variations of English that are used in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, etc.


Traditional Chinese is the natural descendant of Chinese written language. It can be easily differentiated from simplified because most of its characters look very complex and have more strokes than their simplified counterparts. Traditionally Chinese was written vertically from top to bottom and from right to left, and sometimes horizontally from right to left. It was only in recent times when the writing direction was changed to a left-right orientation due to the influence of western languages. Nowadays traditional Chinese is the official written form in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, having each of these areas their own idiomatic usages and vocabulary.


The history of Simplified Chinese is comparatively short. Although there were some scholars that proposed a simplification of the writing system in the 20´s and even earlier, it was not until 1956 when the State Council of the PRC implemented and promoted a nation-wide reform, with the purpose of improving literacy among Chinese population. Nowadays the simplified form is officially used in Mainland China and Singapore.