About Cantonese And Traditional-Simplified Chinese Characters.

11 posts / 0 new
Moderator Of The Asian Continent
Joined: 01.05.2014
Pending moderation

Hello everyone,

I apologize if I am posting this is the wrong section or if this is an already discussed topic but as I am trying to edit and fix the Chinese lyrics section, I have a couple of problems.

First of all I think tat Cantonese should be added. It is a bit perplexing (at least for me) to have Cantonese songs together with the Mandarin Chinese songs. If they there was a separate category for them , it would make editing far more easier.

Last but not least, since there are two types of characters (simplified and traditional) in my opinion they should be divided as well. Not everyone can read the traditional characters and usually all beginners are more familiar with the simplified.
Should one of the two be added as transliteration?

Please let me know your thoughts on these and if these categories can be added or if there is any other way that can make the Chinese language section a bit easier to navigate/edit it.

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Joined: 16.02.2011

I'm not very familiar with the Chinese languages but from what I heard I agree that adding a category of Cantonese might be best.

Since simplified vs. traditional is merely about the writing system I would suggest adding the other versions each as transliteration.
Which system is more typically used in our database? I'd suggest using that as the default and adding the other as transliteration (and only adding the other as main entry when we don't have a version in the default available).

Moderator Of The Asian Continent
Joined: 01.05.2014

Hi Sciera,

Thank you very much for your reply and opinion!
I noticed that there are quite a few Cantonese songs, so it would make sense to add now a separate category for them.

As for the simplified vs traditional, so far the majority of the songs I have edited is in traditional characters, but I think it would be better for the simplified to be set as default. The reason for this is because most people learning Chinese will learn the simplified characters first.
I am trying to think of a way that it would be effective and easy for anyone navigating the Chinese language section!

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Joined: 16.02.2011

Great. I suppose you should then ask the admins to add that category.

Moderator Of The Asian Continent
Joined: 01.05.2014

Thank you very much for your help!! I'll ask the admins then!

Senior Member
Joined: 11.12.2012

Sorry but I can't agree with this proposal.

Cantonese songs are part of Chinese songs since Chinese and Cantonese practically share the same writing system and characters, and is mutually understandable. As a native Chinese speaker, when I search this website I always try to find Chinese song translation requests, and if a Cantonese category is added, Cantonese songs may not get translation as quickly as before since they are easily ignored.

Cantonese song requests located in Chinese section will have more possibility to be satisfied.

And, simplified Chinese is not equivalent to Mandarin, as is not traditional Chinese to Cantonese. In Guangdong (main area that Cantonese is spoken) simplified Chinese is used and in other provinces traditional Chinese is also used. All the songs, either Chinese or Cantonese, either written in simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese, can switch one to another and is equally understandable. So I can't see the reason why we should have simplified and traditional Chinese as two different categories. Thank you

Moderator Of The Asian Continent
Joined: 01.05.2014

Hi ,
Thank you for your reply and opinion.
Although I do understand what you say, I still think that we should add a separate category for Cantonese.
We have enough Cantonese songs so that they can form a category of their own.
The way we use now in order to differentiate them from the songs in Mandarin or any other Chinese dialect is not practical and doesn't look very neat.
There are already different categories for Chinese Hakka and Taiwanese, so I think Cantonese do deserve their own section.

In regards to the simplified vs traditional characters, not everyone can read the traditional characters or vice versa. There are many people who learn Chinese and can read only the simplified characters, so if someone wants to read a song, why shouldn't both versions of characters be available?
I am not saying to form a different category for the characters. I am thinking that one version can be marked as a transliteration and the other as default, so everyone can read whichever version he wants/is able to read.

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Joined: 16.02.2011

@vinz0614 Thanks for your input.
As I said, I don't know much about Chinese, but according to Wikipedia, Cantonese and Mandarin are not mutually intelligible.
I suppose in written form they are, but not in spoken form?

In any case, we have also separated categories for other closely related idioms (e.g. different dialects of a language), so that wouldn't be an issue.

Super Member
Joined: 11.01.2018

On this topic, I find the division between Chinese and Taiwanese quite confusing. The term "Taiwanese" is ambiguous and can either refer to Taiwanese Mandarin or Taiwanese Hokkien. Most of the songs posted under the category "Taiwanese" are in Taiwanese Mandarin, which is almost identical to the language used on the mainland. Having Taiwanese and Standard Mandarin as separate languages is rather like having British and American English as separate languages. However, there are also many songs on this site in Taiwanese Hokkien, which is completely unintelligible with Standard Mandarin Chinese. These songs are not consistently placed under Taiwanese; many are categorized as Chinese instead.

The easiest solution to this would be to merge the Taiwanese and Chinese categories entirely and leave Cantonese songs in the same category as Chinese; users with little or no knowledge of the languages would not be able to easily distinguish between them, and even native speakers of the languages may wrongly categorize songs because the term Chinese is very broad and vague and can be used to refer to almost any Sinitic language written in Chinese characters, as both Hokkien and Mandarin, and Cantonese for that matter, generally are.

Overall, classifying and making divisions between languages can be very difficult, and much of the way that the languages on this site are classified is very messy and is in need of a complete overhaul. For example, Arabic songs. On this site, when adding an Arabic song, there are two options: Arabic and Arabic (Other Varieties). What does this mean? What does "Arabic" refer to? No matter what it refers to, and it most likely refers to Modern Standard Arabic, there are likely hundreds of songs on this site that have been "wrongly classified" based on this flawed system.

On the topic of simplified vs. traditional characters, I definitely believe that a separate category should not be added because it is only a difference in the writing systems, not in the actual languages. I would discourage the transliterating of songs from simplified to traditional or vice-versa, but if it is for some reason necessary to add such a transliteration, it should be categorized as just that: a transliteration.

Moderator sapiens sapiens
Joined: 05.04.2012


In the past, I suggested both to be added as separate entries. However, we thought it would only cause a mess as we would have to go through the whole section of Chinese content around as to check which song/translation is in which variety. For that reason, the two entries were remerged into a single one. Specially because we lacked Chinese-speaking people in our team at that time and it would put a huge load of work on the backs of few users who do speak and understand Chinese and its varieties.

In my humble opinion (not Chinese speaker): If you find Chinese-speaking users who could point which song is in which variety, then we can ask the Admins for a new language to be added. It might take some time to collect all the data, but if it helps...

Joined: 31.12.2013

My humble opinion on this subject, simply for the sake of expressing it: it's really a shame that Cantonese is categorised as Chinese simply because they use the same script. Even though Mandarin Chinese speakers can read and understand something written in Cantonese thanks to the fact that Chinese characters are shared by all Chinese languages (the same is true for Hakka, etc.), they are two different languages and aren't intercomprehensible. Mandarin speakers have to learn how to speak Cantonese and vice versa.
I suggest that language names be changed to be more specific, like that of Irish or Scottish being referred as 'Gaelic (irish Gaelic)' and 'Gaelic (Scottish Gaelic)' (which could simply be Irish and Scottish, but that's another topic).
Since it seems necessary for some people, I suggest to rename things so: Mandarin or Mandarin Chinese, or at least Chinese (Mandarin), Cantonese (when it is Cantonese...) and Taiwanese Hokkien (since Taiwanese is mistaken for Taiwanese Chinese/Mandarin or Mandarin written in traditional characters).

But I also understand what Alma Barroca says.

Add new comment