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Well, I decided to tattoo myself a sentence in kanji. However, the good ol' google translator shows two slightly different things in the results, and I'd like to know why and which version to choose:

traditional: 更強的每重生

simplified: 更强的每重生

(and if this is wrong, I know it's against the rules, but what is the correct translation of "Stronger with every rebirth" ? :) )

Thank you

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    I am not good at translating your sentence, but please don't use the one from the google translator, it's a complete fail. May be something like "愈挫愈勇" means "the harder I get beat, the stronger that I become". – Bolu Jul 1 '16 at 14:53
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    If you're set on a tattoo, may I suggest getting it in grass script rather than something that looks like printed letters? Google "grass script tattoo" and you can see what I mean. Also 愈挫愈勇 looks great. – sazarando Jul 1 '16 at 22:24
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    Many many "Chinese" tattoos end up totally screwed up. Check the 'gallery'. If you don't speak Chinese (or Japanese), you'll end up like these guys: hanzismatter.blogspot.com (a blog about fake tattoos). – Drunken Master Jul 2 '16 at 8:04
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    You're gonna be a case for hanzismatter.blogspot.com – user4452 Jul 5 '16 at 19:51
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    as a native speaker, i think i should point out that 更強的每重生 is not understandable. please reconsider if u use it as tattoo. – wilson Jul 7 '16 at 1:55
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Kanji is the Japanese word for 漢字 (Chinese character). It is "hanzi" in Chinese. And only hanzi has tranditional and simplified forms. Kanji is also simplified, but kanji has only one official form in Japan.

Chinese Simplified is the official writing system in mainland China, Chinese Traditional is the official writing system in Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan. Mainland China also use Chinese Traditional in some special situation, for example, in calligraphy, in trademarks.

Not all traditional Chinese characters are simplified, so some simplified Chinese characters are identical to their traditional counterparts, for example, 更(simplified) and 更 (traditional). Some are slightly different, for example, 强(simplified) and 強(traditional). Some are very different, for example, 龙(simplified) and 龍(traditional).

As I just said, traditional Chinese characters are still used in mainland China for calligraphy. That's because many traditional Chinese characters look more balanced in structure than their simplified form. Here is some example:

Simplified    Traditional
汉            漢
龙            龍
华            華
灵            靈
广            廣
书            書

So if you want to use Chinese characters for tattoo, I would suggest traditional Chinese characters, because they are more balanced in structure and more good-looking.

Coincidentally, the simplified version of the "愈挫愈勇" suggested by @bfrguci is identical to their traditional counterparts.

@sazarando suggests grass script for tattoo. I'd like to remind you that Chinese characters written in grass script is hard to recognize even for native speakers of Chinese language, so I personally don't think it a good choice. I suggest you choose from clerical script, regular script, semi-cursive script. All these three scripts are widely used for handwritten Chinese characters, both simplified and traditional, in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. But just as @sazarando said, avoid fonts for print if you could.

@greglow give a an article comparing traditional and simplified Chinese. I skimmed through this article and found some of its arguments very controversial and misleading. I'll explain what I mean in detail.

1, "The traditional Chinese, most of them are hieroglyphic. It conveys more significant than simplified Chinese." This is incorrect. You can refer to Chinese character classification in Wikipedia. Chinese characters are roughly classified into six categories based on the rules they are formed, that is, pictographs, simple ideograph, compound ideographs, phono-semantic compounds, rebus, transformed cognates. There is no accurate number, but it's estimated that about 90% of Chinese characters, traditional or simplified, are phono-semantic compounds. Pictographs, or hieroglyphic, comprise only 4% of all Chinese characters. That's because pictograph is only suitable for concrete things, for example, sun (日), moon (月), eye (目), mountain (山), rain (雨), elephant (象) and so on. It's hard to depict abstract concepts using only pictographs, in which case the other five formation rules come into play.

2, The article gave some examples to demonstrate that "traditional Chinese character conveys more significant than simplified Chinese". But the examples it used are not very persuasive. It claimed 愛 (traditional) is better than 爱(simplified, means love) because 愛 (traditional) has a 心(heart) as its component so it conveys the meaning that we love with heart. But I can also argue that 爱(simplified) is better because it has a 友 (friend) in the mid of the word, so it convey a broader feeling of love than 愛 (traditional). I can even give some other examples in favor of simplified Chinese. I argue that 党 (simplified, means party as in Democratic Party) is better than 黨 (traditional), because 党 contains a 兄(brother) while 黨 a 黑 (black), so 党 conveys that our Party love its members as brothers and no dirty(black) politics. It's obvious that this kind of arguments is too far-fetched, and it just remind me of something like astrology.

3, "After characters simplified, lots of Chinese people cannot read the ancient classical literature." This is incorrect. In fact, an average literate people in mainland China can read both simplified and traditional Chinese characters without any difficulty, because traditional Chinese characters are still very common in everyday lives. In mainland China, traditional Chinese characters are not banned. Instead, they are allowed to be used for some special situations. According to 《中华人民共和国国家通用语言文字法(Law of the People's Republic of China on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language)》, Chinese government, educational organizations, public service organizations, public TV and broadcasting should use standard(simplified) Chinese characters. And according to Article 17, there are six situations in which traditional Chinese characters can be used publicly and lawfully:

第十七条 本章有关规定中,有下列情形的,可以保留或使用繁体字、异体字:
Article 17: traditional Chinese characters and other variant Chinese characters can be preserved or used in the following situations:
(一)文物古迹;
(1) cultural relics and historical sites
(二)姓氏中的异体字;
(2) in family name
(三)书法、篆刻等艺术作品;
(3) art works, such as calligraphy and seal carving
(四)题词和招牌的手书字;
(4) handwritten characters used in dedication and signboard
(五)出版、教学、研究中需要使用的;
(5) if there is necessity to use traditional Chinese characters for publishing, teaching, researching. 
(六)经国务院有关部门批准的特殊情况。
(6) some other special situations approved by relevant department of State Council of the People's Republic of China.

At the same time, almost all official dictionary of Chinese characters give both simplified and traditional form of a character. Usually the the traditional form of a character is placed in a pair of parentheses immediately after the simplified form. Here is an example from 《新华字典,第11版 (Xinhua Dictionary, 11th Edition (Chinese Edition)》 , the best-selling and most widely used Chinese dictionary in China. an excerpt from Xinhua Dictionary

You can see that both 爱(simplified) and 愛 (traditional) are given out, and the traditional form 愛 is placed in parentheses immediately after the simplified form 爱.

Some examples: inscription at Mount Tai

An inscription in traditional Chinese at Mount Tai. 五嶽獨尊 (simplified version: 五岳独尊) and 昂頭天外 (simplified version: 昂头天外). An average literate person in mainland China can read it without any difficulty.

Lantingji Xu

Maybe the most famous calligraphy work in China, Lantingji Xu(simplified Chinese: 兰亭集序; traditional Chinese: 蘭亭集序). It's written in semi-cursive script. Again, an average literate person in mainland China can read it without any difficulty.

an excerpt of Xinhua Daily

The four red characters in the upper-left corner is the name of Xinhua Daily written in traditional Chinese characters. 新華日報(simplified version: 新华日报)

a grandpa exercising calligraphy at some park in mainland China A grandpa exercising his calligraphy at some park in mainland China. This is a kind of outdoor recreation popular among the elderly (thought mainly male) in mainland China. He is writing traditional Chinese characters.

  • -1, Unfortunately, there's too many attempts that try to demonstrate that Simplified Chinese conveys as much information as Traditional Chinese in this answer, which is entirely opinion-based and not supported by evidence at all. Many, if not most simplified Chinese characters simply do not have integrity of structure or composition. – droooze Oct 11 '18 at 15:03
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  1. Traditional Chinese refers to Chinese characters that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. But Simplified Chinese refers to standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Xiandai Hanyu Tongyong Zibiao 现代汉语通用字表 (List of Commonly Used Characters in Modern Chinese) for use in mainland China.
  2. In your sentences, only "qiang"(强) has tranditional and simplified form. traditional: 更強的每重生 simplified: 更强的每重生
  3. Your translation of "Stronger with every rebirth" is wrong, if we explain in great details, we can say “每一次重生都能让你变得更强”, but it is very long sentence, Chinese people like use short idiom to explain long sentence, so you also can say “越挫越勇”,“坚持不懈”,”浴火重生“,”破茧成蝶“,focus on "stronger" and "rebirth".
  4. If you don't know simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese, which is better to learn, you can see this article and find your answer http://www.hanbridgemandarin.com/article/chinese-characters-learning-tips/traditional-chinese-vs-simplified-chinese/
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I like Bolu's translation in your comment. "愈挫愈勇" sounds like a good Chinese expression. It is good that you asked here before you get the tatoo :-)

As for your question, CHT (Chinese Traditional) and CHS (Chinese Simplified) are just different writing systems, the actual phrasing/expression depends on locale. For example, the same thing might be expressed in different ways in Mainland/Hongkong/Taiwan, etc. Therefore, if you use Google Translate, it is likely their results are phrased the same way, especially in your case where none of them makes any sense.

Also, for a character, it is possible it was pretty simple from the beginning of time so it didn't get simplified - which means its shape in CHS can be the same with that in CHT. In your case, all characters but "强" are in this situation.


In addition to the Gel Boy's explanation, CHS is the official writing system in China Mainland (P.R.C excluding Hongkong and Macau) and Singapore. CHT is official in Hongkong, Macau, and Taiwan. In countries where Chinese is not an official language but widely used by immigrants, CHS and CHT may both appear and be accepted.

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Stronger with every rebirth makes me think of the phoenix that is reborn from Nirvara once and once again. There is an idiom for this scenario, 浴火重生 or 涅槃重生, which have the same form in both simplified and traditional Chinese.

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