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How to recognise Chinese, Japanese and Korean when reading it

To someone who is not used to reading or writing Chinese, Japanese and Korean, there is a chance that these three languages can become confused. However, they are different from each other and this means that you have to speak them or use them during translation, then you are going to need to know more about them.

So, to help you on the way, we have put together the things that you need to know when it comes to learning more about recognising Chinese, Japanese and Korean.


The oldest of the languages in the line-up. Chinese has been around for over 3,000 years, which actually makes it the oldest spoken language in the world. Whilst there may be several spoken languages in China and hundreds of different dialects, there is only one written system and this was created in 1913. Something that surprises many people when you consider just how long people had been speaking it up until that point. When written, the Chinese language is made up of characters, unlike English which is made up of letters, all of which carry an individual meaning.

Note: Contact Axis Translations today for professional Chinese translation.


Before the 4th Century AD, Japan did not have a writing system of its own, which meant that it started off by using the Chinese script. Over time, the Chines characters became mixed with the Japanese style, which then create a language all of their own. Japanese then evolved even further by creating two other scripts of their own, Katakana and Hiragana.

Note: We can assist you with professional Japanese translation.


Considering where it is located, it probably comes as no surprise that Korean is also influenced by Chinese too. The Koreans adopted the Chinese characters, although here some characters were chosen for their sound values, whilst others were or their meaning. This is where Korean became confusing, as there was a Korean spoken language, but not a Korean writing system. In the 15th Century, it was decided that Korea needed to adopt its very own writing system so that the civilians could be literate and they could differentiate from their neighbours.

Note: For professional Korean translation services you should contact Axis Translations.

How to spot the difference

When you learn the backgrounds and beginnings for all these languages, it comes as no surprise that it can be hard to tell the difference between them. However, there are subtle differences that can help you to ascertain which language you are working with.

Chinese is incredibly complex, however, if you look at the characters used in their writing system, then you will notice that the characters are denser and that thy are square in their lines. In stark comparison, Japanese has curvy and rounded characters and they are much more spaced out.

It can be hard to pick up on Korean as it is similar in style to Japanese, however, it has something that neither Chinese nor Japanese has. This is the main circular shapes which often form part of sentences and phrases in the language.

As you can see, whilst they may be similar, there are things that you can do to tell the difference in these three languages. A professional and experienced translation service will be able to know which is which and then work with it to create a fully translated document.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019 at 10:03 am and is filed under Language Translation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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