Traditional Chinese Taiwan Vs Hong Kong – Are There Any Differences?

Have you ever wondered how two languages are written in the same way and yet don’t have anything similar to pronunciation? Let’s explore Traditional Chinese of Taiwan and Hong Kong to understand these languages better. In this way, it will also shed light on why you should also consider the differences in translating marketing collaterals and communicating with your business counterparts in both regions. Let’s get started.

Language in Taiwan and Hong Kong: Mandarin and Cantonese Speakers

Taiwanese people speak Taiwanese Mandarin. This is their lingua franca, and it’s spoken daily. People in different walks and levels of life use it. In 1945, the KMT Party set Mandarin Chinese as the official language of the nation. Thus it has remained this way ever since. So, whether your target audience is in their 20s or 40s, they speak and understand Mandarin.

Meanwhile, the lingua franca of Hong Kongers is Cantonese, which is also the dialect in Macau and neighboring provinces like Guangdong. Most professionals use Cantonese at work and in business, and it has six distinct tones compared to Mandarin, which only has four tones. And since Hong Kong was under British rule, English is a second language, which students and professionals also used.

Language in Taiwan and Hong Kong: Traditional Chinese Characters

While the spoken languages in Taiwan and Hong Kong are different, the written language is called Traditional Chinese, which has complex characters compared to Simplified Chinese that Mainland China is using. However, even if they use Traditional Chinese, there are still slight differences that natives will notice.

A Taiwanese native will still understand the characters in Traditional Chinese (ZHKH) in Hong Kong. Same as a Hong Konger will surely identify and understand the Traditional Chinese (ZHTW) if they are in Taiwan. That said, despite the slight differences, the Traditional Chinese in both places are mutually intelligible. But of course, it’s best that each native can read the texts in the style they are most comfortable with.

Here’s an image from Sammy Yang’s LinkedIn post showing the differences in character strokes.

All in all, the speaking languages of Taiwanese and Hong Kong natives are different. One speaks Mandarin, while the former is Cantonese. When it comes to writing style, Traditional Chinese is used. There are slight differences in the strokes, and yet these are still mutually understandable. Should you mind these things when it comes to business?

It’s a resounding yes. So, when you’re requesting translation and voice-over projects, make sure you specify your target audience. The translation agency will definitely source the right writing and speaking styles appropriate for the audience and region. In business and communication, details matter. So, let us know how we can help you with your next projects. We will gladly assist you and prepare the documents as per your requirements.

Professional Traditional Chinese Translation Services

Limpid provides professional Chinese translation services and Taiwan / Hong Kong localization services: Video voice-over in Mandarin or Cantonese, Traditional Chinese Translations done by native translators in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Software localization and website translations. Contact us for a quick price quote and get up to 20% discount as a new member.