People often talk about Chinese as if it were a single language. In fact, it’s more like a language family, with countless “dialects” that are divergent enough to be considered distinct languages. This is particularly true in speech, but it also applies to the writing, since different Chinese languages may use different grammar, vocabulary, and characters. Wu is one of the largest subgroups of Chinese languages (the biggest, of course, being Mandarin), but like all other divergent Sinitic languages, it is threatened by the ubiquity of Mandarin, which is promoted by the state.
Given the precarious situation of Wu, it’s difficult to find translation services for the language grouping, even though it has around 80 million speakers. It has faced government repression since the 80s, with Wu languages banned on university campuses. Thus, many translation companies don’t see the point in offering translation services for Wu. But at TranslationServices.com, we appreciate linguistic diversity and want to see as many languages as possible flourish. That includes the Wu Chinese languages—which is why we’re so proud to present our Wu Chinese translation services.
Thinking about ordering Wu translation services? Send us a message today to ask about a free quote.
What differences are there between Wu and Mandarin?
The basic structure of Wu languages is the same as Mandarin—after all, they’re both closely related Sinitic languages. However, Wu differs in important ways from Mandarin. The pronunciation differences are most notable—the languages are not mutually intelligible. But there are also differences in the writing, despite both languages using the same logographic Chinese character system. For example, Wu languages have retained some archaisms from Old Chinese that are no longer used in Mandarin, and entirely different characters are used for these words. Some of these characters have different meanings in Mandarin, and some are not used in Mandarin at all.
The grammar can also differ. A notable example is the word order, which is almost always subject-verb-object in Mandarin—the same word order as in English. But in Wu languages, subject-object-verb and object-subject-verb word orders are also common, due to the strong tendency toward topicalization. Going further, in Wu, noun classifiers (i.e., words that classify nouns into groups and are used when counting, a pervasive feature of Sinitic languages) take the place of genitive particles to create possessive phrases.
The above analysis makes clear that, while conventionally classified as merely a dialect of Mandarin, Wu is, in fact, divergent enough to be considered a separate language. Our Wu translators are well versed in these differences and are prepared to translate them faithfully.
Our Wu translation services: to and from Wu Chinese
Flexibility is part of the service package that we pride ourselves on here at TranslationServices.com. Thus, you’re free to order both Wu-to-English and English-to-Wu translation offerings. Historically, Wu experienced a booming literature industry, and modern-day historians or other interested parties may like to translate these works into English and share them with the world. Language activists may also like to translate English content into Wu, whether that’s books, websites, apps, games, or other content, to help the language grouping thrive in the age of the internet.
If you want Wu Chinese translation services, just shoot us a message and tell us the details of what you’re looking for.