Frequenly Asked Questions

What is the difference between Chinese and Mandarin Chinese?

When we speak of "Chinese language" we are not really referring to any specific language, since the "Chinese language" does not exist. What is commonly called the Chinese language is actually a set of different languages spoken in and around China. This set of dialects includes, among other varieties of Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. Of all these varieties of Chinese, Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken dialect, with more than 1 billion people speaking Chinese not only in China but also in the rest of the world.

What is the difference between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese?

Although those two names can be confusing, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese are the same language. Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese are simply two writing systems of the same language. The Chinese characters that needed many strokes to be written, as well as those most used in the language, came to be replaced by simpler characters to facilitate literacy and writing, characters that previously needed 8 strokes to be written, now perhaps they need 3 or 4, which makes it easier to learn to read and write. However, this substitution was not completely carried out, so the two types of writing are currently valid, in fact, in some areas they prefer to continue using the traditional writing, such as Taiwan or Hong Kong, however, the greater part of mainland China uses simplified characters, or simplified Chinese.

What does pinyin mean?

"Pinyin" literally means "to spell sounds" or "spelling of sounds". Pinyin is basically the transliteration of the sounds of Chinese characters to Western letters, more specifically to the Latin alphabet. Pinyin is, therefore, an aid that allows people who are beginning to learn the language to have a better understanding of the pronunciation of each Chinese character.

How is the translation of a name to Chinese determined?

Many of the western names do not exist in the Chinese language, so when translating western names into Chinese characters, three different methods are used: 1- Although there is no certain name in the Chinese language, perhaps at some point it has been spoken or written about some historical figure from the West, so the translation to that name already exists and is recognized by the Chinese (for example, Jesus). 2- Many western names correspond to words, objects or concepts that exist in the world and that can be translated directly using the Chinese translation of the word, object or concept (for example Rosa). 3 - Lastly, if neither of the first two options is possible, the choice is made to transcribe the name phonetically, that is, the Chinese characters that have the sounds most similar to the pronunciation of the name in its original language are used. In this way, it is even possible to choose between several characters with similar sounds to form a Chinese name that also has a special meaning among its characters, therefore, although certain names can be obtained by methods 1 and 2, many people nevertheless they decide to transcribe their name phonetically to use characters with more meaning.

Is there only one translation for each Chinese name?

As mentioned in the previous answer, for some names it is very common for the Chinese to already know how that name is translated into Chinese. However, as no western name actually exists in Chinese characters, the same name can be translated into Chinese in many ways, even using the same sounds, a name composed for example by 4 Chinese characters, can use many combinations of different characters that they have the same sound to form the name, resulting in hundreds of possible combinations. Many times choosing a name in Chinese is based on how elegant the strokes of the characters or their meaning are, in this way people usually select the characters with the "most beautiful" strokes or the "most interesting" meanings that are phonetically similar to the name in the original language.

Why am I not hearing the pronunciation of my name in Chinese on the web?

The pronunciation of names is done by voice synthesis, not by audio files, so the device in which you are trying to listen to the pronunciation must have the voice synthesis system installed and have a Chinese voice to reproduce the characters . Most browsers have this system and several Chinese voices to reproduce the sounds, however some mobile devices may not have Chinese voices available. If you cant hear the pronunciation of a name, please try another device.