As the country of China becomes more and more crucial in the global economy, so its official language of Chinese becomes increasingly important in our everyday lives, as does Chinese translation. With a rich heritage, multiple dialects and a speaking population of over a billion, Chinese is more than worthy of being named Romo Translation’s language of the month.
History of Chinese
Chinese has a rich history that dates all the way back to 1122 BCE, before the Common Era. The evolution of the language has been widely debated amongst linguistic professionals, though most agree with Swedish linguist Bernhard Karlgren, who separates its history into three: Old Chinese, Middle Chinese and Modern Chinese. Old Chinese originated as a part of the Proto-Sino-Tibetan language family. It started out as a very basic language with limited phonetics.
From there it evolved into what is known as Middle Chinese. The language became far more complex, taking the form of different dialects as the speaking population spread across the continent. As it continued to grow throughout the centuries, more and more dialects were formed, leading to a need for a ‘Standard Mandarin’. This is what is taught in most schools today.
Now, Chinese, including all its many dialects, is the most popular spoken language in the world.
Types of Chinese
Because Chinese has such a massive speaking population, many dialects of the language have formed over the years. There are between 7and 13 regional groups of Chinese. The most widely spoken are Mandarin followed by Wu. Some linguists like to refer to these dialects as separate languages, though most locals see them as variations of a single Chinese language.
Mandarin is mostly spoken in northern and south western China and makes up the largest Chinese speaking population by a landslide, with over 950 million speakers. Standard Chinese falls into the mandarin group and it has been named the official spoken language of the People’s Republic of China.
Wu is used in the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and the municipality of Shanghai. It also includes the more commonly known Shanghainese. The ‘language’ is spoken by around 80 million people around the world and has hundreds of sub-dialects of its own.
Because Chinese is so complex and phonetically different from most languages, it is often difficult to translate or interpret accurately.
Of all the differences between English and Chinese, their scripts may be the biggest. Standard Chinese doesn’t make use of the general Latin alphabet that most Western languages use. Instead it takes the form of pictures that have transformed over hundreds of years.
Each picture generally contains a radical, which gives you a clue to the meaning of the symbol, and a phonetic component, which shows you how to pronounce it.
Unlike English, Chinese script is written horizontally or vertically rather than from left to right because they consist mainly of disconnected syllabic units, each in a square block of space.
Chinese people make a strong distinction between written and spoken language, which is not generally made in English. For us both are classified as Chinese, while for local speakers they are seen as two completely different forms.
Chinese in the Modern World
China is quickly becoming one of the most important players in global economy and business, meaning that its relevancy in the modern world is becoming more and more prominent. According to Bloomberg News, Chinese is now the most useful business language in the world, after English. This news has encouraged thousands of students to start learning the language in the hopes of it furthering their marketability.
More and more international business dealings are being conducted in Chinese, meaning that translations agencies that can translate and interpret the language are more vital than ever. Because the country is becoming a force to be reckoned with, many Chinese businessmen are no longer seeing the need to conform to communicating in English in meetings. For those who are not fluent in Chinese, this creates a need for an agency that can bridge the gap.
At Romo Translations, we supply certified translations in Mandarin Chinese as well as other forms of Chinese translation and interpretation for business and trade, ensuring that your business relationships stay strong across international lines. We offer word, text and writing services, so feel free to contact Romo Translations for a free quote.