Chinese is the most compact language

If only we could post in Chinese! According to a recent study, the same text can be up to 70 percent shorter in Chinese than in English. That is, we could share three to four times more info within – say – a Twitter post with you. Chinese is thus ideal for micro-blogging, as these texts tend to have a maximum expanse of 140 symbols.

But don’t worry: we will not switch over to Chinese immediately, as we don’t speak this very particular language on a professional level. In Hungary, where Skawa originates from, there is even a saying “this is Chinese to me”, which means exactly the same as the English proverb “it’s Greek to me”.

Anyway, let us mention a few interesting facts here – in plain English!

The survey mentioned above lists Chinese as the most compact language in the world – a fact that can be revealing for translators, as well. It’s good to know in advance that a 10 pages long English text may be only 2 or 3 pages in Chinese (with the same character size). If you are – say – translating a website from English to Chinese, your customer should be aware of the fact that the result will be 3 or 4 times shorter than the source text.
Preview and review
Moreover, if your task is to make a perfect English website from a Chinese original, you might find it very difficult to fit in for example the textboxes that are given to explain an illustration. (This is why I find the review and preview feature of Easyling is very handy.)

Another thing to consider is the pricing of translation: it is usual that language professionals are paid according to character count. An English to Chinese or English to Spanish translation are two of the many cases where the question of taking source or target language characters into consideration has great significance.

Japanese, Korean and Arabic also seem to be apt for condensed communication. In Korean, one may omit certain syllables, while Arabic is known for not marking vowels. Many other language have established abbreviations to let longer texts become shorter and even fit into the 140 character limit of a tweet.

Though the dominance of English diminishes in the world of web, it is still very popular for short messages and website content. This is due to the array of acronyms it uses, the ubiquity of the language and the relative lack of censorship.

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