Taking a Chinese course in China is a huge commitment. Here we have some answers to questions you might face when beginning your journey! One of them is: what type of characters you have to choose to learn? Traditional vs Simplified Chinese characters? Let’s have a look the difference between them.
What is the difference between traditional and simplified Chinese?
First of all, simplified Chinese characters can usually be seen in Mainland China and Singapore. As for traditional ones, people commonly use them in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Therefore, whether you should choose to study in China simplified Chinese or traditional Chinese really depends on where you are going to stay.
How They Look!
The Chinese written language can be represented using either simplified Chinese characters or traditional Chinese characters.
How They Sound!
The pronunciation of both simplified and traditional characters is exactly the same if we are talking about standard Chinese (putonghua). So the difference is rather based on different geographic locations.
Good To Know
The simplified form and the traditional form of a Chinese character still look similar to each other. Therefore, if you know how to write a certain character in its simplified form, it won’t be difficult for you to recognize its traditional form when you see it.
Which type of Chinese to learn? Mainland Mandarin vs Taiwanese Mandarin
Some foreigners choose to go to study Chinese abroad in Taiwan to pursue their career. Which is also a good choice. Although people in both Mainland China and Taiwan speak the standard Chinese (putonghua), there are still a couple of differences between “Mainland Chinese” and “Taiwanese Chinese”.
Firstly, as we’ve already mentioned, people in mainland China use simplified Chinese characters to represent the written language. At the same time, traditional Chinese characters can be seen everywhere across Taiwan.
Accents & Intonation
Second, you may notice that people from mainland China and people from Taiwan speak differently. It’s mainly about accents and intonation. Some people think that “Mainlanders” speak Chinese more emotionally. When it comes to Taiwan, “unaccustomed gentleness” can be perceived in their spoken Chinese.
Third, people from mainland China and Taiwanese sometimes use different words to describe the same object. For example, the word “pineapple” in Mainland China is expressed as 菠萝 (bōluó), whilst in Taiwan it’s expressed as 凤梨 (fènglí). Another example can be “kiwi fruit”, people in mainland China tend to call it 猕猴桃 (míhóutáo), whereas in Taiwan it’s called 奇异果 (qíyìguǒ).