Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese

In Chinese linguistics, Mandarin (simplified Chinese: 官话; traditional Chinese: 官話; pinyin: Guānhuà; literally "speech of officials") is a group of related varieties or dialects spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. Because most Mandarin dialects are found in the north, the group is also referred to, particularly among Chinese speakers, as the "northern dialect(s)" (simplified Chinese: 北方话; traditional Chinese: 北方 話; pinyin: Běifānghuà). When the Mandarin group is taken as one language, as is often done in academic literature, it has more native speakers (nearly a billion) than any other language.

A northeastern-dialect speaker and a southwestern-dialect speaker can hardly communicate except through the standard language, mainly because of the differences in tone. Nonetheless, the variation within Mandarin is less significant than the much greater variation found within several other varieties of Chinese; this is thought to be due to a relatively recent spread of Mandarin across China, combined with a greater ease of travel and communication compared to the more mountainous south of China.

For most of Chinese history, the capital has been within the Mandarin area, making these dialects very influential. Since the 14th century, some form of Mandarin has served as a national lingua franca. In the early 20th century, a standard form based on the Beijing dialect, with elements from other Mandarin dialects, was adopted as the national language. Standard Chinese, which is also referred to as "Mandarin", Pǔtōnghuà (simplified Chinese: 普通话; traditional Chinese: 普通話; literally "common speech") or Guóyǔ (Chinese: 國語; literally "national language"), is the official language of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China, and one of the four official languages of Singapore. It is also one of the most frequently used varieties of Chinese among Chinese diaspora communities internationally.

Read more about Mandarin Chinese:  Name, History, Geographic Distribution and Dialects, Phonology, Grammar, Vocabulary

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