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3 Important Points for a Successful Recording of Chinese Voice-Over

Recording of Chinese Voice-Over – Did you know that how you say things in Chinese can significantly affect how they’re understood? Just like in English, the pronunciation and intonation of words in Chinese can change their meaning entirely. If you run a business, you may have already begun to dip your toes in the water of China’s large and growing market, but are you aware of the specific challenges and opportunities that await companies looking to promote their products and services? It’s no secret that China is a huge and lucrative market for companies worldwide. Since there are 1.197 billion native speakers, it’s important to understand the Chinese market and culture if you’re looking to promote your products or services in China and beyond. This article will cover three crucial points you need to know to record a Chinese voice-over successfully. Let’s begin.

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1. The Chinese Language is Macrolanguage

The Chinese language is a macrolanguage, which includes multiple smaller languages. There are dozens of distinct dialects throughout China, each with unique characteristics. Some of these dialects are mutually intelligible, while others are not, but they share a common source. The Chinese government has worked to standardize the language by promoting the use of Mandarin, the most commonly spoken dialect. However, many people in China still prefer to use their local dialects. As a result, the Chinese language is one of the world’s most diverse and complicated languages, with over 300 official languages, according to the government. To accurately communicate with Chinese audiences, professional translators and voice actors must deeply understand the various dialects and regional variations.

2. Distinct Languages and Variants Exists (And You Should Be Aware of Them)

Five distinct languages are spoken in China: Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese Mandarin, Taiwanese Hokkien, and Shanghainese. Each of these languages has its own unique variants that you should be aware of when recording Chinese voiceover.
  • Mandarin is the official language of China and is spoken by most of the population, including the Chinese diaspora in the United States.
  • Cantonese is another major Chinese language spoken in southern China, particularly in Guangdong. Cantonese has its own unique grammar and vocabulary that differs from Mandarin. For instance, Cantonese has 9 tones compared to Mandarin’s 4 tones. This can make Cantonese difficult for speakers of Mandarin to understand.
  • Taiwanese Mandarin is spoken in Taiwan and is similar to mainland Mandarin with minor differences in vocabulary and pronunciation.
  • Taiwanese Hokkien, also known as Taiwanese Minnan, is a branch of the Minnan group of varieties of Chinese spoken natively by about 70% of the population of Taiwan. It is based on Fujianese varieties brought to the island of Taiwan by early migrants from southern Fujian during the Qing Dynasty.
  • Shanghainese, also known as the Shanghai dialect, is a variety of Wu Chinese spoken in the city of Shanghai and its surrounding areas. Shanghainese is characteristically mellow and soft, with a fairly large number of loanwords from other languages. It’s also one of the most diverse varieties of Chinese, with a wide range of local sub-dialects.
As you can see, many different languages and dialects are spoken in China. When recording Chinese voiceover, it’s important to be aware of these differences to choose the right dialect for your project.

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3. Know the Two Scripts Simplified and Traditional Chinese

The Chinese writing system is not based on an alphabet like English. Rather, it is what’s called a logographic writing system, in which symbols (called “characters”) represent words or morphemes (meaningful units of language). This can make Chinese seem daunting to learn at first, but there are some definite advantages to a logographic writing system. For one thing, each character conveys a lot of information. In addition, the same character can often be used to represent different words, depending on the context. Two main varieties of written Chinese are Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. As its name suggests, Simplified Chinese uses fewer strokes per character than Traditional Chinese. This was originally done as part of a government initiative to increase literacy rates in China. However, Simplified Chinese is used primarily in Mainland China, while Traditional Chinese is used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. There are also a few differences in vocabulary between the two varieties of Chinese. If you’re planning on recording a voice-over in Chinese, you must know which type of written Chinese your target audience will use. For example, if you’re targeting Mainland China, you’ll want to use Simplified Chinese characters in your script. On the other hand, if you’re targeting Taiwan or Hong Kong, you’ll need to use Traditional Chinese characters. Fortunately, most professional translation and localization services can help you with this task.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a Chinese voice-over, it’s important to understand the language and how it works. China has a macrolanguage where many distinct languages and variants exist. There are two main scripts used in written Chinese: Simplified and Traditional. Knowing these differences will help ensure that your voice-over is done accurately and effectively. Let us know if you need help finding the right translator or localizer for your project – LIMPID can provide professional quality services at competitive prices.  Interested in multilingual voice-over services? Click here. 
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