Demystifying Chinese languages in the app world

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Countries and territories where they speak and read Chinese represent a significant opportunity for your apps and games. However, it’s not always easy to figure out the right combination of written and spoken Chinese to use.

In this article, we explain the types of Chinese used in various markets and share best practices for publishing in Chinese languages.

Chinese languages in different regions​


There are multiple spoken and written versions of Chinese. These versions of Chinese are used in different combinations in the countries and regions that use Chinese as their official language.

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From Android 8.0, qualifiers for Traditional Chinese (zh-Hant) and Simplified Chinese (zh-Hans) are supported. Traditional Chinese locales (zh-HK, zh-TW, and zh-MO) have zh-Hant as fallback, and don’t fallback to zh.

Using Traditional Chinese​


If you publish apps or games in Hong Kong (HK), Taiwan (TW), or Macau (MO), you should publish in Traditional Chinese.

To set your app or game up to use Traditional Chinese, put your app or game resources into the res folder with the qualifiers for zh-HK, zh-TW, zh-MO, and zh-Hant to cover all Android versions. Remember to include the r prefix for the regional qualifiers, for example, values-zh-rHK and drawable-zh-rHK.

For Hong Kong and Macau, if you support older Android versions, include zh-TW as well.

Using Simplified Chinese​


There is a considerable population of Chinese speakers around the world. Below shows examples of setting up Simplified Chinese in Japan, the US and Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan.

To set your app or game up to use Simplified Chinese, put your app or game resources into the res folder with zh as the qualifier. For example, values-zh and drawable-zh.

When you’re publishing for overseas Chinese globally:

  • in Japan with Japanese and Simplified Chinese, put files using zh and ja qualifiers in the res folder.
  • in the US with English and Simplified Chinese , put files using zh and en qualifiers in the res folder.
  • in Hong Kong, Macao, or Taiwan with Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese, put files using zh, zh-HK, zh-TW, zh-MO, and zh-Hant qualifiers in the res folder, to cover all Android versions. Note that zh represents Simplified Chinese here.

Some words may have different translations across regions. For example, taxi is 出租车 in Mainland China, 計程車 in Taiwan and 的士 in Hong Kong. To best support your users, consider localizing your resources further. When you do, put the localized resources into the res folder for that region, such as zh-CN and zh-HK.

Setting up Chinese in Play Console​


After getting the right version of the Chinese language in your app or game, you’ll want to have a Play Store page in the same languages. To do this, in Google Play Console, in the Main store listing page open Manage translations. Now check Chinese (Simplified) — zh-CN, Chinese (Traditional) zh-TW, or Chinese (Hong Kong) zh-HK as appropriate. This creates pages to which you add your translated content. These pages then show in the Play Store based on the chosen language of the user’s device or browser.

Even though Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan write in Traditional Chinese, they speak different languages. When you have resources, such as voice overs in videos, you’ll need to localize for these language variations.

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Also, in release details, add localized release note with the appropriate language tag, such as zh-CN, zh-TW, or zh-HK.

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For more information on setting up your app or game resources, see App resources overview. For information about translating your app or game’s content and setting up your store listing, see Translate and localize your app.

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Demystifying Chinese languages in the app world was originally published in Google Play Apps & Games on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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