|Native to||Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore|
|(has begun acquiring native speakers cited 1988, 2014) |
L2 speakers: 7% of China (2014)
| Traditional Chinese |
Mainland Chinese Braille
Two-Cell Chinese Braille
|Chinese Sign Language|
Official language in
|Regulated by|| National Language Regulating Committee (China) |
National Languages Committee (Taiwan)
Promote Mandarin Council (Singapore)
Chinese Language Standardisation Council (Malaysia)
|Common name in mainland China|
|Literal meaning||Common speech|
|Common name in Taiwan|
|Literal meaning||National language|
|Common name in Singapore and Southeast Asia|
|Literal meaning||Chinese language|
Standard Chinese, in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin , is a dialect of Mandarin emerged as the lingua franca among speakers of various Mandarin and other varieties of Chinese ( Hokkien, Cantonese and beyond). Standard Mandarin is designated as one of the major languages in the United Nations, mainland China, Singapore and Taiwan.
Like other Sinitic languages, Standard Mandarin is a tonal language with topic-prominent organization and subject–verb–object word order. It has more initial consonants but fewer vowels, final consonants and tones than southern varieties. Standard Mandarin is an analytic language, though with many compound words.
Among linguists, it is known as Standard Northern Mandarinor Standard Beijing Mandarin. Colloquially, it is imprecisely referred simply as Mandarin, though "Mandarin" may refer to the standard dialect, the Mandarin dialect group as a whole, or its historic standard such as the Imperial Mandarin. The name "Modern Standard Mandarin" is used to distinguish its historic standard.
The term "Mandarin" is a translation of Guānhuà (官话; 官話, literally "bureaucrats' speech"), which referred to the Imperial Mandarin.
Guóyǔ ( 國語 / 国语 ) or "the national language", had previously been used by Manchu-ruled Qing dynasty of China to refer to the Manchurian language. As early as 1655, in Memoir of Qing Dynasty, Volume: Emperor Nurhaci (清太祖实录), it writes "(In 1631) as Manchu ministers do not comprehend the Han language, each ministry shall create a new position to be filled up by Han official who can comprehend the national language." In 1909, the Qing education ministry officially proclaimed Imperial Mandarin to be the new "national language".
Pǔtōnghuà ( 普通话 ) or "common tongue", dated back to 1906 in writings by Zhu Wenxiong to differentiate Modern Standard Mandarin from classical Chinese and other varieties of Chinese.
Conceptually, the national language distinguishes the common tongue by emphasizing the aspect of legal authority.
"The Countrywide Spoken and Written Language" ( 國家通用語言文字 ) has been increasingly used by the PRC government since the 2010s, mostly targeting students of ethnic minorities. The term has a strong connotation of being a "legal requirement" as it derives its name from the title of a law passed in 2000. The 2000 law defines Pǔtōnghuà as the one and only one "Countrywide Spoken and Written Language".
The term Pǔtōnghuà (common tongue) deliberately shy from calling itself "the national language". This is to mitigate the impression of forcing ethnic minorities to adapt the language of the dominant ethnic group. Such concern was first raised by Qu Qiubai in 1931, an early Chinese communist revolutionary leader. His concern echoed within the Communist Party, which adopted the name Putonghua in 1955.Since 1949, the word Guóyǔ by in large phase out in PRC, only surviving its usage in established compound nouns, e.g. Guóyǔ liúxíng yīnyuè (国语流行音乐, colloquially Mandarin pop), Guóyǔ piān or Guóyǔ diànyǐng (国语片/国语电影, colloquially Mandarin cinema).
In Taiwan, Guóyǔ (the national language) has been the colloquial term for Standard Northern Mandarin. In 2017 and 2018, the Taiwanese government introduce two laws to explicitly recognize indigenous Formosan languagesand Hakka to be "Languages of the nation" (國家語言, notice the plural form) along with Standard Northern Mandarin. Since then, there has been efforts to reclaim the term "the national language" (Guóyǔ) to encompass all "languages of the nation" rather than exclusively referring Standard Northern Mandarin.
Among Chinese people, Hànyǔ (漢語/汉语) or "Sinitic languages" refer to all language varieties of the Han people. Zhōngwén (中文)or "Chinese written language", refer to all written languages of Chinese (Sinitic). However, gradually these two terms have been reappropriated to exclusively refers to one particular Sinitic language, the Standard Northern Mandarin, a.k.a. Standard Chinese. Such imprecise usage lead to odd conversation in Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore as follows:
On the other hand, among foreigners, the term Hànyǔ is most commonly used in textbooks and standardized testing of Standard Chinese for foreigners, e.g. Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi.
Huáyǔ ( 華語 / 华语 ), or "language among the Chinese nation", up until the mid 1960s, refer to all language varieties among the Chinese nation. For example, Cantonese films, Hokkien films (廈語片) and Mandarin films produced in Hong Kong that got imported into Malaysia were collectively known as Huáyǔ cinema up until the mid-1960s. However, gradually it has been reappropriated to exclusively refers to one particular language among the Chinese nation, the Standard Northern Mandarin, a.k.a. Standard Chinese. This term is mostly used in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The Chinese have different languages in different provinces, to such an extent that they cannot understand each other.... [They] also have another language which is like a universal and common language; this is the official language of the mandarins and of the court; it is among them like Latin among ourselves.... Two of our fathers [Michele Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci] have been learning this mandarin language...— Alessandro Valignano, Historia del Principio y Progresso de la Compañia de Jesus en las Indias Orientales (1542–1564)
Chinese has long had considerable dialectal variation, hence prestige dialects have always existed, and linguae francae have always been needed. Confucius, for example, used yǎyán ( 雅言 ; 'elegant speech') rather than colloquial regional dialects; text during the Han dynasty also referred to tōngyǔ ( 通 语 ; 'common language'). Rime books, which were written since the Northern and Southern dynasties, may also have reflected one or more systems of standard pronunciation during those times. However, all of these standard dialects were probably unknown outside the educated elite; even among the elite, pronunciations may have been very different, as the unifying factor of all Chinese dialects, Classical Chinese, was a written standard, not a spoken one.
The Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) began to use the term guānhuà (官话/官話), or "official speech", to refer to the speech used at the courts. The term "Mandarin" is borrowed directly from Portuguese. The Portuguese word mandarim, derived from the Sanskrit word mantrin "counselor or minister", was first used to refer to the Chinese bureaucratic officials. The Portuguese then translated guānhuà as "the language of the mandarins" or "the mandarin language".
In the 17th century, the Empire had set up Orthoepy Academies (正音書院; Zhèngyīn Shūyuàn) in an attempt to make pronunciation conform to the standard. But these attempts had little success, since as late as the 19th century the emperor had difficulty understanding some of his own ministers in court, who did not always try to follow any standard pronunciation.
Before the 19th century, the standard was based on the Nanjing dialect, but later the Beijing dialect became increasingly influential, despite the mix of officials and commoners speaking various dialects in the capital, Beijing. 国语/國語), or the "national language".By some accounts, as late as the early 20th century, the position of Nanjing Mandarin was considered to be higher than that of Beijing by some and the postal romanization standards set in 1906 included spellings with elements of Nanjing pronunciation. Nevertheless, by 1909, the dying Qing dynasty had established the Beijing dialect as guóyǔ (
As the island of Taiwan had fallen under Japanese rule per the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki, the term kokugo (Japanese: 國語 , "national language") referred to the Japanese language until the handover to the Republic of China in 1945.
After the Republic of China was established in 1912, there was more success in promoting a common national language. A Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation was convened with delegates from the entire country.A Dictionary of National Pronunciation (国音字典/國音字典) was published in 1919, defining a hybrid pronunciation that did not match any existing speech. Meanwhile, despite the lack of a workable standardized pronunciation, colloquial literature in written vernacular Chinese continued to develop apace.
Gradually, the members of the National Language Commission came to settle upon the Beijing dialect, which became the major source of standard national pronunciation due to its prestigious status. In 1932, the commission published the Vocabulary of National Pronunciation for Everyday Use (国音常用字汇/國音常用字彙), with little fanfare or official announcement. This dictionary was similar to the previous published one except that it normalized the pronunciations for all characters into the pronunciation of the Beijing dialect. Elements from other dialects continue to exist in the standard language, but as exceptions rather than the rule.
After the Chinese Civil War, the People's Republic of China continued the effort, and in 1955, officially renamed guóyǔ as pǔtōnghuà (普通话/普通話), or "common speech". By contrast, the name guóyǔ continued to be used by the Republic of China which, after its 1949 loss in the Chinese Civil War, was left with a territory consisting only of Taiwan and some smaller islands; in its retreat to Taiwan. Since then, the standards used in the PRC and Taiwan have diverged somewhat, especially in newer vocabulary terms, and a little in pronunciation.
In 1956, the standard language of the People's Republic of China was officially defined as: "Pǔtōnghuà is the standard form of Modern Chinese with the Beijing phonological system as its norm of pronunciation, and Northern dialects as its base dialect, and looking to exemplary modern works in báihuà 'vernacular literary language' for its grammatical norms."By the official definition, Standard Chinese uses:
At first, proficiency in the new standard was limited, even among speakers of Mandarin dialects, but this improved over the following decades.
|Mandarin dialect areas||54||91||54|
A survey conducted by the China's Education Ministry in 2007 indicated that 53.06% of the population were able to effectively communicate orally in Standard Chinese.
From an official point of view, Standard Chinese serves the purpose of a lingua franca—a way for speakers of the several mutually unintelligible varieties of Chinese, as well as the ethnic minorities in China, to communicate with each other. The very name Pǔtōnghuà, or "common speech," reinforces this idea. In practice, however, due to Standard Chinese being a "public" lingua franca, other Chinese varieties and even non-Sinitic languages have shown signs of losing ground to the standard.
While the Chinese government has been actively promoting Pǔtōnghuà on TV, radio and public services like buses to ease communication barriers in the country, developing Pǔtōnghuà as the official common language of the country has been challenging due to the presence of various ethnic groups which fear for the loss of their cultural identity and native dialect. In the summer of 2010, reports of increasing the use of the Pǔtōnghuà in local TV broadcasting in Guangdong led to thousands of Cantonese-speaking citizens in demonstration on the street.
In both mainland China and Taiwan, the use of Mandarin as the medium of instruction in the educational system and in the media has contributed to the spread of Mandarin. As a result, Mandarin is now spoken by most people in mainland China and Taiwan, though often with some regional or personal variation from the standard in terms of pronunciation or lexicon. However, the Ministry of Education in 2014 estimated that only about 70% of the population of China spoke Standard Mandarin to some degree, and only one tenth of those could speak it "fluently and articulately".There is also a 20% difference in penetration between eastern and western parts of China and a 50% difference between urban and rural areas. In addition, there are still 400 million Chinese who are only able to listen and understand Mandarin and not able to speak it. Therefore, in China's 13th Five Year Plan, the general goal is to raise the penetration rate to over 80% by 2020.
Mainland China and Taiwan use Standard Mandarin in most official contexts. The PRC in particular is keen to promote its use as a national lingua franca and has enacted a law (the National Common Language and Writing Law) which states that the government must "promote" Standard Mandarin. There is no explicit official intent to have Standard Chinese replace the regional varieties, but local governments have enacted regulations (such as the Guangdong National Language Regulations ) which "implement" the national law by way of coercive measures to control the public use of regional spoken varieties and traditional characters in writing. In practice, some elderly or rural Chinese-language speakers do not speak Standard Chinese fluently, if at all, though most are able to understand it. But urban residents and the younger generations, who received their education with Standard Mandarin as the primary medium of education, are almost all fluent in a version of Standard Chinese, some to the extent of being unable to speak their local dialect.
In the predominantly Han areas in mainland China, while the use of Standard Chinese is encouraged as the common working language, the PRC has been somewhat sensitive to the status of minority languages and, outside the education context, has generally not discouraged their social use. Standard Chinese is commonly used for practical reasons, as, in many parts of southern China, the linguistic diversity is so large that neighboring city dwellers may have difficulties communicating with each other without a lingua franca.
In Taiwan, the relationship between Standard Mandarin and other varieties, particularly Taiwanese Hokkien, has been more politically heated. During the martial law period under the Kuomintang (KMT) between 1949 and 1987, the KMT government revived the Mandarin Promotion Council and discouraged or, in some cases, forbade the use of Hokkien and other non-standard varieties. This produced a political backlash in the 1990s. Under the administration of Chen Shui-Bian, other Taiwanese varieties were taught in schools. The former president, Chen Shui-Bian, often spoke in Hokkien during speeches, while after the late 1990s, former President Lee Teng-hui, also speaks Hokkien openly. In an amendment to Article 14 of the Enforcement Rules of the Passport Act (護照條例施行細則) passed on 9 August 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Taiwan) announced that Taiwanese can use the romanized spellings of their names in Hoklo, Hakka and Aboriginal languages for their passports. Previously, only Mandarin Chinese names could be romanized.
In Hong Kong and Macau, which are now special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China, Cantonese is the primary language spoken by the majority of the population and used by government and in their respective legislatures. After Hong Kong's handover from the United Kingdom and Macau's handover from Portugal, their governments use Putonghua to communicate with the Central People's Government of the PRC. There have been widespread efforts to promote usage of Putonghua in Hong Kong since the handover,with specific efforts to train police and teachers.
In Singapore, the government has heavily promoted a "Speak Mandarin Campaign" since the late 1970s, with the use of other Chinese varieties in broadcast media being prohibited and their use in any context officially discouraged until recently.This has led to some resentment amongst the older generations, as Singapore's migrant Chinese community is made up almost entirely of people of south Chinese descent. Lee Kuan Yew, the initiator of the campaign, admitted that to most Chinese Singaporeans, Mandarin was a "stepmother tongue" rather than a true mother language. Nevertheless, he saw the need for a unified language among the Chinese community not biased in favor of any existing group.
Mandarin is now spreading overseas beyond East Asia and Southeast Asia as well. In New York City, the use of Cantonese that dominated the Manhattan Chinatown for decades is being rapidly swept aside by Mandarin, the lingua franca of most of the latest Chinese immigrants.
In both the PRC and Taiwan, Standard Chinese is taught by immersion starting in elementary school. After the second grade, the entire educational system is in Standard Chinese, except for local language classes that have been taught for a few hours each week in Taiwan starting in the mid-1990s.
In December 2004, the first survey of language use in the People's Republic of China revealed that only 53% of its population, about 700 million people, could communicate in Standard Chinese.This 53% is defined as a passing grade above 3-B (a score above 60%) of the Evaluation Exam.
With the fast development of the country and the massive internal migration in China, the standard Putonghua Proficiency Test has quickly become popular. Many university graduates in mainland China take this exam before looking for a job. Employers often require varying proficiency in Standard Chinese from applicants depending on the nature of the positions. Applicants of some positions, e.g. telephone operators, may be required to obtain a certificate. People raised in Beijing are sometimes considered inherently 1-A (A score of at least 97%) and exempted from this requirement.[ citation needed ] As for the rest, the score of 1-A is rare. According to the official definition of proficiency levels, people who get 1-B (A score of at least 92%) are considered qualified to work as television correspondents or in broadcasting stations.[ citation needed ] 2-A (A score of at least 87%) can work as Chinese Literature Course teachers in public schools.[ citation needed ] Other levels include: 2-B (A score of at least 80%), 3-A (A score of at least 70%) and 3-B (A score of at least 60%). In China, a proficiency of level 3-B usually cannot be achieved unless special training is received. Even though many Chinese do not speak with standard pronunciation, spoken Standard Chinese is widely understood to some degree.
The China National Language And Character Working Committee was founded in 1985. One of its important responsibilities is to promote Standard Chinese proficiency for Chinese native speakers.
The usual unit of analysis is the syllable, consisting of an optional initial consonant, an optional medial glide, a main vowel and an optional coda, and further distinguished by a tone.
The palatal initials [tɕ], [tɕʰ] and [ɕ] pose a classic problem of phonemic analysis. Since they occur only before high front vowels, they are in complementary distribution with three other series, the dental sibilants, retroflexes and velars, which never occur in this position.
The [ɹ̩] final, which occurs only after dental sibilant and retroflex initials, is a syllabic approximant, prolonging the initial.
The rhotacized vowel [ɚ] forms a complete syllable. A reduced form of this syllable occurs as a sub-syllabic suffix, spelled -r in pinyin and often with a diminutive connotation. The suffix modifies the coda of the base syllable in a rhotacizing process called erhua .
Each full syllable is pronounced with a phonemically distinctive pitch contour. There are four tonal categories, marked in pinyin with iconic diacritic symbols, as in the words mā (妈/媽 "mother"), má (麻 "hemp"), mǎ (马/馬 "horse") and mà (骂/罵 "curse").The tonal categories also have secondary characteristics. For example, the third tone is long and murmured, whereas the fourth tone is relatively short. Statistically, vowels and tones are of similar importance in the language.
There are also weak syllables, including grammatical particles such as the interrogative ma (吗/嗎) and certain syllables in polysyllabic words. These syllables are short, with their pitch determined by the preceding syllable.
It is common for Standard Chinese to be spoken with the speaker's regional accent, depending on factors such as age, level of education, and the need and frequency to speak in official or formal situations. This appears to be changing, though, in large urban areas, as social changes, migrations, and urbanization take place.
Due to evolution and standardization, Mandarin, although based on the Beijing dialect, is no longer synonymous with it. Part of this was due to the standardization to reflect a greater vocabulary scheme and a more archaic and "proper-sounding" pronunciation and vocabulary.
Distinctive features of the Beijing dialect are more extensive use of erhua in vocabulary items that are left unadorned in descriptions of the standard such as the Xiandai Hanyu Cidian , as well as more neutral tones.An example of standard versus Beijing dialect would be the standard mén (door) and Beijing ménr.
Most Standard Chinese as spoken on Taiwan differs mostly in the tones of some words as well as some vocabulary. Minimal use of the neutral tone and erhua, and technical vocabulary constitute the greatest divergences between the two forms.
The stereotypical "southern Chinese" accent does not distinguish between retroflex and alveolar consonants, pronouncing pinyin zh [tʂ], ch [tʂʰ], and sh [ʂ] in the same way as z [ts], c [tsʰ], and s [s] respectively.Southern-accented Standard Chinese may also interchange l and n, final n and ng, and vowels i and ü [y]. Attitudes towards southern accents, particularly the Cantonese accent, range from disdain to admiration.
While there is a standard dialect among different varieties of Chinese, there is no "standard script". In mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia, standard Chinese is rendered in simplified Chinese characters; while in Taiwan it is rendered in traditional. As for the romanization of standard Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin is the most dominant system globally, while Taiwan stick to the older Bopomofo system.
Chinese is a strongly analytic language, having almost no inflectional morphemes, and relying on word order and particles to express relationships between the parts of a sentence.Nouns are not marked for case and rarely marked for number. Verbs are not marked for agreement or grammatical tense, but aspect is marked using post-verbal particles.
The basic word order is subject–verb–object (SVO), as in English.Nouns are generally preceded by any modifiers (adjectives, possessives and relative clauses), and verbs also generally follow any modifiers (adverbs, auxiliary verbs and prepositional phrases).
他 为/為 他的 朋友 做了 这个/這個 工作。
Tā wèi tā-de péngyǒu zuò-le zhè-ge gōngzuò.
He for he-GEN friend do-PERF this-CL job
The predicate can be an intransitive verb, a transitive verb followed by a direct object, a copula (linking verb) shì (是) followed by a noun phrase, etc. In predicative use, Chinese adjectives function as stative verbs, forming complete predicates in their own right without a copula. For example,
我 不 累。
Wǒ bú lèi.
I not tired
'I am not tired.'
Another example is the common greeting nǐ hăo (你好), literally "you good".
Chinese additionally differs from English in that it forms another kind of sentence by stating a topic and following it by a comment.To do this in English, speakers generally flag the topic of a sentence by prefacing it with "as for". For example:
妈妈 给 我们 的 钱, 我 已经 买了 糖果。
Māma gěi wǒmen de qián, wǒ yǐjīng mǎi-le tángguǒ(r)
Mom give us REL money I already buy-PERF candy
'As for the money that Mom gave us, I have already bought candy with it.'
The time when something happens can be given by an explicit term such as "yesterday," by relative terms such as "formerly," etc.
As in many east Asian languages, classifiers or measure words are required when using numerals, demonstratives and similar quantifiers.There are many different classifiers in the language, and each noun generally has a particular classifier associated with it.
一顶 帽子, 三本 书/書, 那支 笔/筆
yī-dǐng màozi, sān-běn shū, nèi-zhī bǐ
one-top hat three-volume book that-branch pen
'a hat, three books, that pen'
The general classifier ge (个/個) is gradually replacing specific classifiers.
Many formal, polite and humble words that were in use in imperial China have not been used in daily conversation in modern-day Mandarin, such as jiàn (贱/賤 "my humble") and guì (贵/貴 "your honorable").
Although Chinese speakers make a clear distinction between Standard Chinese and the Beijing dialect, there are aspects of Beijing dialect that have made it into the official standard. Standard Chinese has a T–V distinction between the polite and informal "you" that comes from the Beijing dialect, although its use is quite diminished in daily speech. It also distinguishes between "zánmen" (we including the listener) and "wǒmen" (we not including the listener). In practice, neither distinction is commonly used by most Chinese, at least outside the Beijing area.
The following samples are some phrases from the Beijing dialect which are not yet accepted into Standard Chinese:[ citation needed ]
The following samples are some phrases from Beijing dialect which have become accepted as Standard Chinese:[ citation needed ]
Standard Chinese is written with characters corresponding to syllables of the language, most of which represent a morpheme. In most cases, these characters come from those used in Classical Chinese to write cognate morphemes of late Old Chinese, though their pronunciation, and often meaning, has shifted dramatically over two millennia.However, there are several words, many of them heavily used, which have no classical counterpart or whose etymology is obscure. Two strategies have been used to write such words:
The government of the PRC (as well as some other governments and institutions) has promulgated a set of simplified forms. Under this system, the forms of the words zhèlǐ ("here") and nàlǐ ("there") changed from 這裏/這裡 and 那裏/那裡 to 这里 and 那里.
Chinese characters were traditionally read from top to bottom, right to left, but in modern usage it is more common to read from left to right.
|English||Traditional characters||Simplified characters||Pinyin|
|What is your name?||你叫什麼名字？||你叫什么名字？||Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?|
|My name is...||我叫...||Wǒ jiào ...|
|How are you?||你好嗎？/ 你怎麼樣？||你好吗？/ 你怎么样？||Nǐ hǎo ma? / Nǐ zěnmeyàng?|
|I am fine, how about you?||我很好，你呢？||Wǒ hěn hǎo, nǐ ne?|
|I don't want it / I don't want to||我不要。||Wǒ bú yào.|
|Welcome! / You're welcome! (Literally: No need to thank me!) / Don't mention it! (Literally: Don't be so polite!)||歡迎！/ 不用謝！/ 不客氣！||欢迎！/ 不用谢！/ 不客气！||Huānyíng! / Búyòng xiè! / Bú kèqì!|
|Yes. / Correct.||是。 / 對。/ 嗯。||是。 / 对。/ 嗯。||Shì. / Duì. / M.|
|No. / Incorrect.||不是。/ 不對。/ 不。||不是。/ 不对。/ 不。||Búshì. / Bú duì. / Bù.|
|How much money?||多少錢？||多少钱？||Duōshǎo qián?|
|Can you speak a little slower?||您能說得再慢些嗎？||您能说得再慢些吗？||Nín néng shuō de zài mànxiē ma?|
|Good morning! / Good morning!||早上好！ / 早安！||Zǎoshang hǎo! / Zǎo'ān!|
|How do you get to the airport?||去機場怎麼走？||去机场怎么走？||Qù jīchǎng zěnme zǒu?|
|I want to fly to London on the eighteenth||我想18號坐飛機到倫敦。||我想18号坐飞机到伦敦。||Wǒ xiǎng shíbā hào zuò fēijī dào Lúndūn.|
|How much will it cost to get to Munich?||到慕尼黑要多少錢？||到慕尼黑要多少钱？||Dào Mùníhēi yào duōshǎo qián?|
|I don't speak Chinese very well.||我的漢語說得不太好。||我的汉语说得不太好。||Wǒ de Hànyǔ shuō de bú tài hǎo.|
|Do you speak English?||你會說英語嗎？||你会说英语吗？||Nǐ huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma?|
|I have no money.||我沒有錢。||我没有钱。||Wǒ méiyǒu qián.|
Chinese is a group of language varieties that form the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages, spoken by the ethnic Han Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in Greater China. About 1.2 billion people speak a variety of Chinese as their first language.
Mandarin is a group of Sinitic (Chinese) languages spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonology of Standard Chinese. Because Mandarin originated in North China and most Mandarin languages and dialects are found in the north, the group is sometimes referred to as Northern Chinese. Many varieties of Mandarin, such as those of the Southwest and the Lower Yangtze, are not mutually intelligible or are only partially intelligible with the standard language. Nevertheless, Mandarin is often placed first in lists of languages by number of native speakers.
Yue is a group of similar Sinitic languages spoken in Southern China, particularly the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, which are collectively known as Liangguang.
Southern Min, Minnan or Banlam, is a group of linguistically similar and historically related Sinitic languages that form a branch of Min Chinese spoken in Fujian, most of Taiwan, Eastern Guangdong, Hainan and Southern Zhejiang. The Minnan dialects are also spoken by descendants of emigrants from these areas in diaspora, most notably the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and New York City. It is the largest Min Chinese branch and the most widely distributed Min Chinese subgroup.
Chinese, also known as Sinitic, is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family consisting of hundreds of local varieties, many of which are not mutually intelligible. The differences are greater than within the Romance languages, with variation particularly strong in the more mountainous southeast of mainland China. The varieties are typically classified into several groups: Mandarin, Wu, Min, Xiang, Gan, Hakka and Yue, though some varieties remain unclassified. These groups are neither clades nor individual languages defined by mutual intelligibility, but reflect common phonological developments from Middle Chinese.
Jin is a group of Chinese dialects or languages spoken by roughly 63 million people in northern China. Its geographical distribution covers most of Shanxi province except for the lower Fen River valley, much of central Inner Mongolia and adjoining areas in Hebei, Henan, and Shaanxi provinces. The status of Jin is disputed among linguists; some prefer to classify it as a dialect of Mandarin, but others set it apart as a closely related, but separate sister-language to Mandarin.
The Santa language, also known as Dongxiang, is a Mongolic language spoken by the Dongxiang people in Northwest China.
Pinghua is a pair of Sinitic languages spoken mainly in parts of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with some speakers in Hunan province. Pinghua is a trade language in some areas of Guangxi, where it is spoken as a second language by speakers of Zhuang languages. Some speakers of Pinghua are officially classified as Zhuang, and many are genetically distinct from most other Han Chinese. The northern subgroup of Pinghua is centered on Guilin and the southern subgroup around Nanning. Southern Pinghua has several notable features such as having four distinct checked tones, and using various loanwords from the Zhuang languages, such as the final particle wei for imperative sentences.
Mandarin, officially Standard Chinese, is an official language used by the People's Republic of China. Taiwanese Mandarin is used by the Republic of China (Taiwan). Standard Singaporean Mandarin is used by Singapore.
Taiwanese Mandarin, or Guoyu, is a variety of Mandarin Chinese and a national language of Taiwan. The core of its standard form is described in the dictionary Guoyu Cidian (國語辭典) maintained by the Ministry of Education. It is based on the phonology of the Beijing dialect together with the grammar of vernacular Chinese.
Sichuanese or Szechwanese (simplified Chinese: 四川话; traditional Chinese: 四川話; Sichuanese Pinyin: Si4cuan1hua4; pinyin: Sìchuānhuà; Wade–Giles: Szŭ4-ch'uan1-hua4), also called Sichuanese/Szechwanese Mandarin (simplified Chinese: 四川官话; traditional Chinese: 四川官話; pinyin: Sìchuān Guānhuà) is a branch of Southwestern Mandarin spoken mainly in Sichuan and Chongqing, which was part of Sichuan Province until 1997, and the adjacent regions of their neighboring provinces, such as Hubei, Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan and Shaanxi. Although "Sichuanese" is often synonymous with the Chengdu-Chongqing dialect, there is still a great amount of diversity among the Sichuanese dialects, some of which are mutually unintelligible with each other. In addition, because Sichuanese is the lingua franca in Sichuan, Chongqing and part of Tibet, it is also used by many Tibetan, Yi, Qiang and other ethnic minority groups as a second language.
Malaysian Mandarin is a variety of Mandarin Chinese spoken in Malaysia by ethnic Chinese in Malaysia. Malaysian Chinese tend to perceive the Mandarin Chinese is a variation of Standard Mandarin (Putonghua); however, it is a Mandarin dialect in its own right. Its closest linguistic cousin is not Standard Mandarin, rather it is Singaporean Mandarin, the variety widely used in films like Tiger Woohoo, 大日子 (2010), Namewee's Nasi Lemak 2.0 and movies created by Singaporean movie director Jack Neo.
Leizhou Min is a branch of Min Chinese spoken in Leizhou city, Xuwen County, Mazhang District, most parts of Suixi County and also spoken inside of the linguistically diverse Xiashan District. In the classification of Yuan Jiahua, it was included in the Southern Min group, though it has low intelligibility with other Southern Min varieties. In the classification of Li Rong, used by the Language Atlas of China, it was treated as a separate Min subgroup. Hou Jingyi combined it with Hainanese in a Qiong–Lei group.
Singaporean Mandarin is a variety of Mandarin Chinese widely spoken in Singapore. It is one of the four official languages of Singapore along with English, Malay and Tamil.
The Chinese Korean language is the variety of the Korean language spoken by Ethnic Koreans in China, primarily located in Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning.
Differing literary and colloquial readings for certain Chinese characters are a common feature of many Chinese varieties, and the reading distinctions for these linguistic doublets often typify a dialect group. Literary readings are usually used in loanwords, names, literary works, and in formal settings, while colloquial/vernacular readings are usually used in everyday vernacular speech.
Nuoxi Yao, or Nuoxihua 𦰡溪话, is a Kam–Sui language of Nuoxi Township, Dongkou County, Hunan Province, China. Even though they are classified as ethnic Yao people by the Chinese government, the Nuoxi Yao speak a Kam–Sui language closely related to Dong. Shi (2015:132) considers Nuoxi Yao to have split off from Dong about 600 years.
Shehua is an unclassified Sinitic language spoken by the She people of Southeastern China. It is also called Shanha, 山哈 (San-hak) or Shanhahua, 山哈话. Shehua speakers are located mainly in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces of Southeastern China, with smaller numbers of speakers in a few locations of Jiangxi, Guangdong and Anhui provinces.
Protection of the varieties of Chinese refers to efforts to protect the continued existence of the varieties of Chinese in Mainland China and other places against pressure to abandon these languages and use Standard Chinese. The Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China has been taking active measures to protect ten varieties of Chinese. A majority of the citizens of China speak a dialect of Mandarin Chinese, a standardized form of which has been promoted by the government of China for the last sixty years. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China calls on the government to promote Putonghua as the common tongue of the nation, but this policy does not necessarily conflict with plans to preserve local varieties of Chinese. Education and media programming in varieties of Chinese other than Mandarin have been discouraged by the governments of the People's Republic of China, Singapore, and Taiwan. Teaching the varieties of Chinese to non-native speakers is discouraged by the laws of the People's Republic of China in favor of Putonghua. The Guangdong National Language Regulations are a set of laws enacted by the Guangdong provincial government in the People's Republic of China in 2012 to promote the use of Standard Mandarin Chinese in broadcast and print media at the expense of the local standard Cantonese and other related dialects. It has also been labelled a "pro-Mandarin, anti-Yue" legislation.
accurately represent and express the sounds of standard Northern Mandarin (Putonghua) [...]. Central to the promotion of Putonghua as a national language with a standard pronunciation as well as to assisting literacy in the non-phonetic writing system of Chinese characters was the development of a system of phonetic symbols with which to convey the pronunciation of spoken words and written characters in standard northern Mandarin.
We recorded a number of English sentences spoken by speakers with Mandarin Chinese (standard northern Mandarin) as their first language and by Chinese speakers with Shanghainese as their first language, [...]
As a result of the spread of standard northern Mandarin and major regional varieties of provincial capitals since 1950, many of the smaller tuyu [土語] are disappearing by being absorbed into larger regional fangyan [方言], which of course may be a sub-variety of Mandarin or something else.
Escure [Geneviève Escure, 1997] goes on to analyse second dialect texts of Putonghua (standard Beijing Mandarin Chinese) produced by speakers of other varieties of Chinese, [in] Wuhan and Suzhou.
[...] a consistent gender pattern found across all the age cohorts is that women were more concerned about their teachers' bad Mandarin pronunciation, and implied that it was an inferior form of Mandarin, which signified their aspiration to speak standard Beijing Mandarin, the good version of the language.
in common usage, 'Mandarin' or 'Mandarin Chinese' usually refers to China's standard spoken language. In fact, I would argue that this is the predominant meaning of the word
[天聪五年, 1631年] 满大臣不解汉语，故每部设启心郎一员，以通晓国语之汉员为之，职正三品，每遇议事，座在其中参预之。
Indigenous languages are national languages. To carry out historical justice, promote the preservation and development of indigenous languages, and secure indigenous language usage and heritage, this act is enacted according to... [原住民族語言為國家語言，為實現歷史正義，促進原住民族語言之保存與發展，保障原住民族語言之使用及傳承，依...]
Hakka language is one of the national languages, equal to the languages of other ethnic groups. The people shall be given guarantee on their right to study in Hakka language and use it in enjoying public services and partaking of the dissemination of resources. [客語為國家語言之一，與各族群語言平等。人民以客語作為學習語言、接近使用公共服務及傳播資源等權利，應予保障。]
For purposes of this Law, the standard spoken and written Chinese language means Putonghua (a common speech with pronunciation based on the Beijing dialect) and the standardized Chinese characters.Original text in Chinese: "普通话就是现代汉民族共同语，是全国各民族通用的语言。普通话以北京语音为标准音，以北方话为基础方言，以典范的现代白话文著作语法规范"