Hindi, Mandarin: populous nations and its rich potentials

Unlocking global opportunities exploring the power of these languages in Translation Services
Thalita Lima
9 min
Table of Contents

Are Hindi and Mandarin your top choices as a translator? If not, you might be missing out on numerous communication opportunities in the global market.

In April 2023, India surpassed China as the most populous country in the world, with over 1.428 billion inhabitants. Both nations have a significant population of economically active adults aged between 25 and 60.

For the translation industry, the official languages of these countries present interesting opportunities. Both countries have a substantial digitally engaged population, demanding translation services in technology manuals, websites, e-learning materials, and other educational products.

Hindi and Mandarin: Language Landscape 

Mandarin Chinese and Hindi are currently the most spoken languages globally, after English. However, they differ in distribution – Mandarin and Hindi are concentrated, while English is widespread.

In terms of native speakers, Mandarin leads with 940 million, while Hindi ranks fourth with 345 million native speakers. Of course these numbers are closely tied to the population sizes of their respective countries.

Mandarin Chinese: A Linguistic Odyssey

Mandarin is considered the largest among the Chinese macrolanguages, a group of languages all deemed "Chinese" due to a shared writing system and literature. They originate from the Sino-Tibetan language family.

There are hundreds of varieties of the Chinese language, classified into some dialect groups. Some of these main subgroups include Mandarin, Wu, Gan, Xiang, Min, Hakka, Yue, and more recently, the Jin, Huizhou, Pinghua groups, among other unclassified variants.

chart by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Chinese, therefore, is a group of languages, not a language itself. This might seem surprising because we are accustomed to hearing "Chinese" as if it were a singular entity. The United Nations designates Chinese as one of its six official languages, but in reality, it is referring to Mandarin. 

Being the most spoken variant in China, it is also called Standard Chinese or Standard Mandarin and is commonly taught in language schools for those planning to travel or move to the country.

Check the map below to see how this language coexists with other Chinese varieties.

Map: Varieties of Chinese by Wikiwand

Mandarin Chinese Writing System

Chinese employs a system of ideogrammatic characters, 汉字 (hànzì) in Chinese. With this system, each character represents one syllable, and each syllable has its own meaning and pronunciation. There are at least 80,000 Chinese characters in total, though nobody knows them all. 

How many characters does a translator have to know? Knowing Chinese characters is essential for mastering the language, but the amount depends on your goals and availability to study.

In terms of linguistic magnitude, a university-educated Chinese speaker typically commands around 8,000 characters. To establish conversation proficiency, 1,000 characters suffice, while 3,000 are adequate for newspaper reading. 

In Augmented Translation, with the support of Language Models (LLMs), this massive translation task becomes much more efficient. After all, machine translation has the capacity to store data for translating 80,000 characters or more, which would be impossible for the human mind.

But as we have emphasized many times in our content on this blog, the final judgment of a project will always be in the hands of the translator and their expertise. 

It is necessary not only to know the characters and their meanings to translate Mandarin as a source or target language but also to understand the richness and cultural peculiarities of this civilization with more than 5,000 years of history.

Close-up view of the Chinese ink concept. Image by

Hindi: Language Insights

Hindi comes from the Persian word "Hindi," meaning the land of the Indus River. Currently, this language is spoken by 44% of India's natives. Alongside English, which is also official, it holds the highest prestige within Indian society.

While the majority of the Indian population doesn't have Hindi as their mother tongue, a significant portion is proficient in it as a second language.

First Language Map of India, by Geeks for Geeks

The language is strongly associated with the Hindu religion, as it originates from Vedic Sanskrit. Hence, it is written in the Devanagari alphabet, the same script used for Sanskrit, which is now a living language only in the religious context.

Hindi belongs to the Indo-European language family, just like English. Many English words are borrowed from Hindi, such as “jungle”, “khaki”, “loot”, “mantra”, “punch”, “sorbet”, “shampoo”, “typhoon”, and “bungalow”.

Grammar Specifics of Hindi

Similar to Latin and Persian, the sentence order in Hindi typically follows a subject-object-verb structure. For example, to say "the boys are jumping," one would say "larke kud-rahe-hen," where "larke" refers to the boys, and "rahe" is the masculine plural suffix, literally translating to boys jumping(they) are jumping.

Hindi words are pronounced as they are written down, which can be a plus point for language learners. 

Hindi, Urdu, and Bollywood

Image by PixaHive

Both Urdu and Hindi are considered registers of Hindustani, which means they are two versions of the same language. Much like British and American English, they are mutually understandable.

Bollywood – the largest Indian film industry – has been striving to bring Indian languages to the rest of the world. With their unique blend of Hindi (often including Urdu phrases), Bollywood movies are especially popular in India and Pakistan, influencing the speech of the younger generation.

Furthermore, the coexistence of English with Hindi in India keeps younger generations more tuned into the international tendencies.

To include Hindi or Mandarin in language services, there is no shortage of cultural resources to immerse yourself in these rich languages, with its ancient literary tradition and a dynamic and promising future.

Thalita Lima
Passionate about languages and the power of localization to connect minds. Journalist, writer, photographer, and ecology student
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