Chinese translation services – Simplified (Mandarin) & Traditional (Cantonese)

Chinese interpreting services – Mandarin, Cantonese & more

Simplified (Mandarin) Chinese for PRC & Singapore

Traditional (Cantonese) Chinese for elsewhere

We’ve been providing quality-assured Chinese to English and English-Chinese translation to UK business and industry since 1990. Whether Simplified or Traditional, our Chinese translation services and expert Chinese typesetting assists dozens of UK exporters across sectors including technical/engineering, logistics, insurance, legal, food & beverage, and financial.

We also offer professional mother-tongue Chinese interpreting services for meetings and training and a full range of multimedia services. These include Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese voiceover or subtitling, and Mandarin or Cantonese transcription.

All are underpinned by ISO 18841 and ISO 17100 accreditation.

There’s a lot of information on the web about the Chinese languages, but if – like us – you’re really into language, and not just into selling Chinese translation services, then this page provides a great overview. Enjoy!

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Chinese translation & Chinese typesetting
Lifeline's Chinese interpreting in action

Chinese interpreting (Cantonese and Mandarin, and more)

We provide Cantonese and Mandarin interpreting services for liaison, conference, court and medical interpreting UK-wide and beyond. However, Cantonese and Mandarin are not the only languages Chinese interpreting may require. Others include Wu, Min, Yue and several more, including the “official” PRC spoken form of Mandarin called Putonghua. We offer several of these main languages.

Our biggest interpreting gig to date was actually Chinese, where we arranged for no less than 79 Chinese interpreters to interpret for a DIT/Bank of China business matchmaking event in Manchester – pictured above.

Chinese translation services – Simplified and Traditional

It’s complicated… but written Chinese translation has two main forms; which you need depends on where it’s for. Traditional Chinese – contrary to its name – isn’t (officially) used in China! The written form used in the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) as well as in Singapore and much of Malaysia has since the 1950s been Simplified Chinese, the spoken form there being Mandarin (called “Putonghua” in the PRC itself). If you’re exporting to PRC you need Mandarin, written in Simplified Chinese.

Chinese communities outside the Revolution – including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau and other diaspora – still use Traditional Chinese with the spoken form generally being Cantonese. We handle extensive Traditional Chinese translation for the public sector to support these communities.

To mix things up, Taiwan speaks Mandarin but writes in Traditional Chinese. Like I said, it’s complicated…

The (main) difference between Simplified and Traditional Chinese translation is the character set; as the name suggests, Simplified uses simpler (and fewer) characters than does Traditional Chinese. Getting the right one is critical – so if you’re not sure which you need, we’re happy to help.

Chinese typesetting services

Our expert Chinese typesetting services are available in Quark, InDesign, Illustrator and more and of course include full proofreading by our mother-tongue linguists. In addition to the (critical!) correct choice of font (simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese use different font sets that are not interchangeable), Chinese typesetting has several tricky wrinkles which really do affect credibility of the product.

As well as strict presentation rules, other factors to consider include the correct handling of Western text such as tradenames. It’s worth noting that in most Chinese typesetting fonts, Western characters are rather “spindly” and unattractive, so professional Chinese typesetting will often use compound fonts which combine the presentation features of the Chinese face and a Western font such as Helvetica. However, these are tricky and can prevent the live typeset document from working correctly on other systems.

Unfortunately, opening and re-saving Chinese typesetting on incompatible systems will frequently break it, making the document unusable. We’d always recommend we finalise for you, delivering as press-ready PDF.

Chinese voiceover & Chinese subtitling

There’s more info – including a downloadable guide on getting the best Chinese voiceover – on our voiceovers page.

Remember that – unusually among language voiceover providers – we’re primarily a translation company. That’s important because it means that unlike many commercial voiceover studios, our Chinese voiceover scripts are mother-tongue professionally translated and 100% reviewed.

We also offer Chinese subtitling, a popular alternative to voiceover..

TIP: watch script length – checking translated voiceover script length for “fit” is generally by wordcount. However, the glyph “alphabet” means Chinese doesn’t work like that – so while the translation may look far shorter than the English source, it can take far longer to read!

Using experienced Chinese voiceover translation is really important if your video isn’t to sound like Minnie Mouse…

Chinese transcription services

Popular for research and conferences, Chinese transcription can be mono- or bilingual (with a Chinese to English translation).

Spoken Chinese is mainly Mandarin or Cantonese, although a number of other dialects exist which can considerably complicate Chinese transcription!

For legal use we also offer certified Chinese transcription – there’s more on our Transcription page.

Full Corporate Member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, we’re also an accredited Member of the Association of Translation Companies, and are ISO 17100 and ISO 18841 accredited. You’re in safe hands.

So for a better language solution for your needs, drop us a few details (in total confidence of course) and we’ll get straight back to you.
Or, just give our helpful team a call on UK Freefone 0800 783 4678 (Intnl 0044 1772 558858)