China travel guide


China Travel Guide

Chinese Language

Chinese Language The majority of China’s population speaks the Chinese language, formed by a diversity of Han native dialects. Nearly 1.2 billion speakers are part of the Chinese family language distributed in all regions with its own tonal and analytic variants.

Most Chinese speak Mandarin (c. 885 million speakers), outnumbering any other language in the world. It is followed by Wu (c. 90 million), Cantonese (c. 71 million) and Min (c. 70 million). The different tones and syntax of the dialects convert them into languages mutually unintelligible.

Standard Mandarin (Putonghua), which is based on a Mandarin dialect of Beijing, is China’s official language spoken by 70 percent of the people, principally in northern and central China. Standard Mandarin is also an official language in Taiwan, Singapure and the United Nations.

Aside from Mandarin dialects, there are six other Chinese dialect groups, spoken principally in southern and southeastern China such as the Wu dialects, spoken in the Shanghai-Jiangsu-Zhejiang area; the Yue dialects (also known as Cantonese), spoken in Guangzhou, Hong Kong (together with English) and Macau (together with Portuguese); and the Min Nan dialects, spoken in southern Fujian, Taiwan, Southeast Asia and by many Chinese descent around the world.

Although the Han dialects are inarticulate in their spoken forms, they have shared a common written method for more than three millennia. Ancient literature and history has helped to keep together the inhabitants of northern, central, and southern China. The problem of the Chinese written language is that it is based on individual symbols called characters (80,000 words), each of which represents an idea or thing without any alphabet.

The Communist government has developed a Romanization system using the Latin alphabet, called Pinyin (a representation of the spoken sounds of Putonghua) since the 1950s, and it is now in general use by people, which are urged to learn in the schools throughout the country.

There are many Chinese language minorities which still speak his own dialect, like Mongolian, Tibetan, Miao (Hmong), Yi, Uygur, and Kazakh. These languages traditionally didn't have a written form but today the government has encouraged the improvement of written scripts for these native dialects, using pinyin.

Main Chinese dialects Where spoken
Guan (Mandarin) In the northern, central and western regions. Includes Bejing, Tianjin, Hebei Province, Henan Province, Shandong Province, Shaanxi Province, Jilin Province and Inner Mongolia among others. North Mandarin, as found in Beijing, is the basis of the modern standard language (c. 885 million).
Wu In the east-central region at Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province and parts of Anhui Province. It includes Shanghainese (c. 90 million).
Yue (Cantonese) In the south at Guangdong Province including Hong Kong and Macau, and parts of Guangxi Province (c. 71 million).
Min In the south-east at Fujian Province, Hainan Province and parts of Zhejiang Province and Guangdong Province. It includes Taiwanese (c. 70 million).
Xiang In the south-central region at Hunan Province and parts of Guangxi Province (c. 36 million).
Hakka Widespread, especially between Fujian Province and Guangxi Province (c. 34 million).
Gan In the north at Shanxi Province and parts of Hebei Province (c. 31 million).

Foreign languages

Teacher English have become a supplementary course at schools and is required for receive a university degrees. Currently most of youth Chinese people can speak Basic English, as well as the staff of service trades in hotels, airlines, restaurants, banks and post offices.

In largest cities and main tourist places there are more people who are able to participate in an English conversation than smaller cities and towns.

In the largest cities people also can learn a second foreign language such as French, German, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish at private institutes. Conversely, in rural or remote regions of China, hardly anybody can speak English or other foreign languages.

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