Chinese – 中文

Meet Lu, one of our Chinese Translators. Born in China, Lu now lives in Melbourne, Australia and holds degrees in medicine and Chinese literature. He’s worked for over two decades as a translator and specialises in medical translation. Lu is a visiting professor of medical informatics in Japan, and has for the last nine years edited a medical journal published in New Zealand. He’s our go-to translator for any pharmaceutical clients requiring Chinese.

Chinese Around The World

Almost one in five people in the world speak some form of Chinese. Whilst total speakers of all forms of Chinese total almost 1.2 billion people, Mandarin is the most recognised, with 960 million speakers. By contrast, English is spoken by around 400 million people. Depending on classification, there are between 7 and 13 main regional varieties of Chinese, derived from the 56 main ethnic groups recognised in China.

Standard Chinese, a standardised form of Chinese based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin, is the official language of China and Taiwan, as well as one of the four official languages of Singapore, and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Amongst the other varieties of Chinese, Cantonese is the most widely used, as the official language of Hong Kong and Macau, which makes it the only other variety of Chinese used for official administrative purposes.

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Translation: One of our longstanding manufacturing clients regularly requires certain pieces of marketing collateral translated into Chinese, and most recently we translated their HTML email newsletter into Chinese, complete with formatting to match the original document. We also regularly handle translation of Chinese documents for UK courts, the NHS, law firms and more.

Interpreting: We recently provided interpreters for a two-day event in London with a visiting delegation of Chinese businessmen. We arranged for three pairs of native-speaking interpreters to work in shifts to cover the conference, and also provided the necessary equipment to facilitate effective participation between all attendees. We also regularly provide Chinese interpreters to the NHS, the Department for Work and Pensions and more.

Prestige Network is an award-winning Language Service Provider (LSP) founded in 1991. From our headquarters in Berkshire, we service clients across the UK including City institutions, legal firms, sports teams, the NHS and the Department for Work and Pensions.

We cover translation, localisation, complex DTP, face-to-face simultaneous interpreting as well as telephone and video interpreting, transcription, voiceovers and non-spoken languages including BSL and Braille.

We manage a large pool of experienced, qualified linguists, enabling us to provide a top-quality service to clients, often within demanding timescales. All of our project management team are linguists with a real passion for language.

Our aim is that our clients recognise us as the best in the market, both in terms of quality, accuracy and value but also for our friendly, professional and customer-centric service.

We are externally audited every year and most recently passed the ISO 9001:2015 certification with flying colours.

All areas of the business were independently audited, with procedures assessed and compliance verified.

Selected highlights from the report are below:

Customer Satisfaction Rate: 97%
Fulfilment rate across all clients Interpreting : 93- 97 %
Fulfilment rate across all clients Translation: 97.83 %
On time delivery of translation projects: 98.89%

ISO:9001 certification means that commercial clients and public sector clients alike can rest assured that our quality management systems are best-in-class.

Chinese Translation & Interpreting

History of the Chinese Language

Chinese is usually described by native speakers as dialects of a single Chinese language, but academics note that they are as diverse as a distinct language family. The internal diversity of Chinese has been likened to that of the Romance languages, but in truth they may be even more varied. Most varieties of Chinese are mutually unintelligible, although some, such as Xiang and certain Southwestern Mandarin dialects, may share some common terms and a degree of intelligibility. All varieties of Chinese are tonal and analytic.

Most academics classify all varieties of Chinese as part of the Sino-Tibetan language family, together with Burmese, Tibetan and many other languages spoken across the Himalayas and the Southeast Asian Massif.

Earliest examples of Chinese date back to inscriptions found on bronze artefacts from around 1250 BC – or the late Shang dynasty. Old Chinese was commonly used in written form until around the sixth century AD, from which point Middle Chinese became dominant, owing to publication of literature that became popular across the country. The first dictionary codifying the language was published in 1324 AD, and it describes many of the features characteristic of modern Mandarin dialects.

Up until the early 20th century, most Chinese spoke only their local variety of the language. As a practical measure, officials conducted the administration of the Ming and Qing dynasties using a common language based on Mandarin, known as 官话/官話 – or the language of officials. For most of this period, the language was a koiné based on dialects spoken around Nanjing, the former capital, although not identical to any single dialect. By the middle of the 19th century, however, the Beijing dialect had become dominant and was essential for the conduct of business with the imperial court.

The 1930s saw the adoption of a standard national language, or 国语/國語. After much dispute, principally between proponents of northern and southern dialects, the National Language Unification Commission finally settled on the Beijing dialect in 1932. The People’s Republic, founded 17 years later in 1949, retained this standard, calling it common speech – or 普通话/普通話.

In mainland China and Taiwan, diglossia has been a common feature: it is common for a person to be able to speak two or even three varieties of Chinese together with Standard Chinese.[citation needed] For example, in addition to Standard Chinese, a resident of Shanghai might speak Shanghainese; and, if he or she grew up elsewhere, then he or she is also likely to be fluent in the particular dialect of that local area. A native of Guangzhou may speak both Cantonese and Standard Chinese. In addition to Mandarin, most Taiwanese also speak Minnan, Hakka, or an Austronesian language. A Taiwanese may commonly mix pronunciations, phrases, and words from Mandarin and other Taiwanese languages, and this mixture is considered normal in daily or informal speech.

Chinese Translation & Interpreting

More About Translation


Meet Dawn, our Head of Translation

Dawn has a degree in French & German with an MA in Translation Studies. She and her team take care of over 1,700 complex projects each year for clients ranging from City banks, law firms, film studios, sports teams, universities and more.

What Goes Into High-Quality Chinese Translation?


We have a crack team of experts who will assess your documents on style, content, technical specialisms, etc. Your document is then loaded into project management software and sent to native-speaker translators selected specifically for your project.
Armed with tools including style guides, glossaries, high-tech translation memories and yes, old-fashioned dictionaries, our translators will get to work on your document, with an emphasis on accuracy and stylistic fit with the source document.
Once the final draft is submitted, your dedicated project manager begins the document review. As soon as this is signed off, the Client Services Delivery Manager prepares the documents for delivery in chosen format, including any design work necessary.

More About Interpreting


Meet Waheeda, our Head of Interpreting

Waheeda is our Interpreting Manager and heads up an amazing team fulfilling thousands of bookings a month. She is currently studying for an MSc in Social & Community Development and has a wealth of experience working in the Public & Third Sector.

The Interpreting Process


Get in touch with one of our sales advisors and talk us through your event. We’ll discuss different interpreting approaches and help you decide which is most appropriate to your event, and also provide any specialist equipment required.
Your Chinese interpreter will have spent time studying any preparatory material you’ve provided and arrive at the venue in good time to liaise with your speaker(s).
Our language professionals will interpret accurately and efficiently, enabling effective communication between all parties. Please make sure to give us feedback afterwards as to how it went – we’d love to hear back from you.
Meet Huw, one of our native Chinese interpreters

Huw moved to the UK from Nanjing almost 15 years ago. He has worked with Prestige for almost 10 years, and completes assignments for us in industries as varied as healthcare, law, banking and more. He holds a current DBS check and a basic security clearance for court interpreting.

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Find out how our friendly, professional team can help you with your language needs. We'll find you the best solution that fits your timescales and budget.

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Our Favourite Chinese Idioms


1. Chinese people aren’t just in a class all their own. They’re “a crane among a flock of chickens.” (鹤立鸡群, hèlìjīqún)

2. In Chinese, you’re not better late than never. You “mend the flock after the sheep have been lost.” (亡羊补牢, wángyángbǔláo)

3. A Chinese person won’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. But he might “drain the pond to catch all the fish.” (竭泽而渔, jiézé’éryú)

4. The Chinese don’t gild the lily. They “paint a snake with feet” (画蛇添足, huàshétiānzú)

5. In Chinese, she’s not just drop-dead gorgeous. She could be “dazzling enough to make the fish drown and the geese fall from the sky.” (沉鱼落雁, chényúluòyànyan)

6. The Chinese don’t dream of Eden. They imagine “the stream in the peach orchard that leads to paradise.” (世外桃源, shìwàitáoyuán)

7. In Chinese, you’re not easily spooked. You “startle at the sound of the wind and cry of the stork.” (风声鹤唳, fēngshēng-hèlì)

8. A Chinese person won’t talk of a lost cause. He might say it’s like “climbing a tree to catch fish.” (缘木求鱼, yuánmùqiúyú)

9. In Chinese, you’re not a fall guy. You “carry the black bowl.” (背黑锅, bēihēiguō)

10. The Chinese don’t split hairs. They “sort chicken feathers and garlic skins.” (鸡毛蒜皮, jīmáosuànpí)

11. A Chinese person won’t toot his horn. He’ll “blow bullskins.” (吹牛皮, chuīniúpí)

12. The Chinese don’t kiss butt. They “beat a horse’s behind.” (拍马屁, pāimǎpì)

13. Chinese people aren’t slapdash about their work. They could “mop mud and carry water” while on the job. (拖泥带水, tuōnídàishuǐ)

14. The Chinese won’t ask for trouble. They “beg for bitterness to eat.” (自讨苦吃zìtǎokǔchī)

15. A Chinese guy won’t get green-eyed with jealousy over your new boyfriend. He might “eat vinegar.” (吃醋, chīcù)

16. In Chinese, you’re never in dire straits. You’re “a fish trapped in a dry wheel track.” (涸辙之鲋hézhézhīfù)

17. Chinese people don’t stretch the truth. They talk “as if the heavens were raining flowers.” (天花乱坠, tiānhuāluànzhuì)

18. A Chinese person doesn’t add the crowning touch. He “paints a dragon and, at last, dots the eyes.” (画龙点睛, huàlóngdiǎnjīng)