If you think Mandarin is the only language spoken in China, you’d be wrong. It is the lingua franca and most widely spoken language, yes, but a wide variety of other languages are spoken across the country, usually classified as dialects of a single language called “Chinese.” However, linguists classify “Chinese” as a group of related Sinitic languages, of which Mandarin is the largest, since the languages are by no means mutually intelligible, certainly in speech but also in text. One of the bigger Chinese languages is Hokkien.
Hokkien may boast more vitality than many of its Sinitic neighbors, but the widespread use of Mandarin, coupled with the promotion of its nationwide use by the Chinese government, has led to a decline in Hokkien speakers and threatens the language’s future. One side effect of this is the lack of representation Hokkien has among translation companies, considering the dearth of translation agencies that work with Hokkien. TranslationServices.com is one of the rare ones that does—because we believe in the value of Hokkien to both its speakers and the world.
Let us know the specifications of your Hokkien translation project, and we’ll offer a free price estimate!
Diving into the details of Hokkien
Hokkien is part of the Southern Min language subfamily, which is spoken in southeast China—namely the province of Fujian. A dialect of Hokkien, known as Taiwanese Hokkien, is spoken in Taiwan and uses Traditional Chinese characters. Otherwise, Hokkien is also spoken by ethnically Chinese people living abroad in countries like Malaysia and Singapore. Vocabulary can differ significantly between Hokkien and Mandarin—sometimes the same characters can take on dramatically different meanings, and sometimes Hokkien uses entirely different characters that are not used in Mandarin.
The grammar of Hokkien can also differ from that of Mandarin. Since Hokkien places a great deal of importance on topicalization, its word order can vary, a feature found much less often in Mandarin. However, Hokkien does still share the default word order of subject-verb-object. Different pronouns are another way in which Hokkien differs from Mandarin—the first-person singular uses the same character, but all other pronouns use entirely different characters. Hokkien also uses different demonstratives and interrogative pronouns from Mandarin, and it employs a number of different negation particles that depend on the grammatical context, marking another difference from Mandarin.
It’s a given that Mandarin speakers cannot understand Hokkien speech, but contrary to popular belief, they would also have great difficulty reading Hokkien texts. That’s why our Hokkien translation team is so necessary.
Would you like translation to Hokkien or from Hokkien?
What direction would you like to take? Our Hokkien translation team is well equipped to provide translation services in either direction, so we can easily accommodate whatever needs you may have. Regarding translation from Hokkien, we can translate Hokkien literature, academic papers, personal notes, historical documents, and anything else you might have in Hokkien, allowing you to share Hokkien content with the wider world. As for translation into Hokkien, our team is happy to translate business documents, academic materials, and entertainment content ranging from books and poetry to websites and games. No matter what you need, our Hokkien translators stand at the ready.
So, why not get started with Hokkien translation services today? Reach out to discuss your project in more detail.