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Are there more than one forms of chinese language?


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I mean in english you can say:

He did not respond


He made no answer


is the same thing possible in chinese or is it useless?

What i mean exactly is:

look at this link:


english side looks like old language, if i would speak it nowadays it would be not normal.

And chinese side - how is it? (i dont have enough skills yet) - is it written in normal modern way or also in some old way?

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Yes, there are several versions of the Mandarin Chinese language.

There is at least a classical language with mostly 1-syllable words, and a modern language with mostly 2 syllable words.

(and probably many many steps in between that I am not aware of, but other people on the forum know all about those.)


As far as I can tell the Chinese text in your link is a modern Chinese translation, but of course a lot of the words in a modern translation of an older western novel will have no relevance to modern Chinese life.


And by the way, Mandarin dialects and other non-Mandarin Chinese languages are also written using Chinese characters so there are many more variants than just the Mandarin ones...

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That particular translation looks like very ordinary, current-day Chinese to me. You could ask whether old books should be translated in an old version of the target language, but to my knowledge this usually doesn't happen, because first, the translator is usually not fluent in the language as spoken 200 years ago, and second, even if s/he was, the readers would often find the result stuffy.

Chinese has been around for several thousands of years and it has of course continued to change during that time. A book from the Qing dynasty uses somewhat different language from modern-day books, although well-educated people can still read it without too much trouble.

Chinese has a number of dialects: you mostly hear and read Mandarin, but there's also Cantonese, Hakka, Wu, Minnanese, etc etc etc. These languages can often be written, with some effort and specialised knowledge, but rarely are.

And lastly Chinese can be written in traditional (Taiwan, Hong Kong) or simplified (China, Singapore) characters; and then there's classical Chinese, the traditional writing language which goes back centuries or more and is rather different from modern Chinese.

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Yes, there are several versions of the Mandarin Chinese language.

There is at least a classical language

FYI, Classical Chinese is not Mandarin. Mandarin is modern Chinese, even Cao Xueqin stuff. Yes, it's different from contemporary language. It isn't useless, but not something usually used by translators. Shakespeare is modern English, and I wouldn't want to read a translation in it.

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This is a very broad question with many possible answers.

Chinese consists of many spoken languages: Mandarin, Wu, Cantonese, Hokkien, etc. which are not mutually intelligible. It's a bit like French and Spanish -- they are similar, but still quite different.

Within each of these, there are several registers separating formal speech from informal speech, depending on the occasion and the speaker -- are you giving a speech, or chatting with friends in a pub?

While some dialects are occasionally written, most writing today (vernacular Chinese) is based on Mandarin vocabulary and grammar. Within this written language, there are also differences in register -- poetic, archaic, technical, colloquial, so there are many ways to express the same thing. Is it a magazine story about a pop star or an epic about the Ming Dynasty? Or is it a maual for a nuclear reactor?

Occasionally, formal written language borrows a lot from Classical Chinese, which is a much older, and much more condensed form of writing, commonly used before the 20th century.

Beyond this, there are of course many way to express the same context, just like in any other language.

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