THE CHINESE LANGUAGE - MANDARIN - DIALECTS 汉语 - 普通话 - 方言
The standard language of Chinese is Putonghua – Mandarin, which is called Guoyu - National language in Taiwan Province, and Huayu - Chinese language in Singapore and Malaysia. Mandarin has the Beijing pronunciation as its standard pronunciation, the northern dialect as its basic dialect, and the typical modern vernacular Chinese as its grammatical standard. Mandarin offers convenience for communication between people in different areas, or of different ethnic groups in China.
China has a vast territory and a large population. Even though people all use the Chinese language, they speak in different ways in different areas, which are called dialects. Generally called local languages, dialects, and branches of the Chinese language are only used in certain areas.
Used by the Han people in China, the Chinese language has a long history, having established a fairly mature written language more than 3 000 years ago.
The Chinese language has more than 1.2 billion users and can be regarded as the one spoken by the greatest number of persons. In addition to China, some people in Singapore and Malaysia also use Chinese, and millions of overseas Chinese and foreign citizens of Chinese origin distributed around the world use various Chinese dialects as a native language.
The Chinese language is the main language used by the Chinese, also one of the working languages of the United Nations.
At present, the Chinese language has seven dialects: the Northern dialect, the Wu dialect, the Xiang dialect, the Gan dialect, the Hakka, the Min dialect and the Yue or Guangdong dialect. Among them, the Northern dialect is used most widely. The Hakka, the Fujian dialect and the Guangdong dialect are also used by overseas Chinese.
The dialects of the Chinese language are very complicated. Various dialects differ from each other in three aspects: pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. And the difference in pronunciation is the most outstanding. There is a saying in the coastal areas of southeastern China: Pronunciations differ within 10-li (Chinese unit of measurement, 1 li=0.5 km) area. If all people in different areas speak in local dialects, it will lead to trouble in communications.
The Chinese people had realized very early that a common language should be used in social intercourse. Compared with dialects differing within 10-li area, Mandarin can be understood by all people. Since it is beneficial for cultural exchange and information transmission between ethnic groups and people in different places, the Chinese Government attaches great importance to popularizing Mandarin and encourages people to learn it.
1. Vernacular Chinese is the written language commonly used by modern Han people.
2. The Northern dialect, represented by the Beijing dialect, is commonly used in northeastern China, northern China, northwestern China, southwestern China and areas along the Yangtze and Huaihe rivers.
3. The Wu dialect, represented by the Shanghai dialect, is commonly used in some areas in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces of China.
4. The Xiang or Hunan dialect, represented by the Changsha dialect, is commonly used in most areas of Hunan Province.
5. The Gan dialect, represented by the Nanchang dialect, is generally used in Jiangxi Province and southeastern Hubei Province.
6. The Hakka, represented by the Meixian dialect of Guangdong Province, is mainly used in northeastern Guangdong Province, western and northern Fujian Province, and southern Jiangxi Province.
7. The Min dialect is generally used in Fujian Province, Chaoshan area of Guangdong Province, Hainan Province and Taiwan Province.
8. The Yue or Guangdong dialect, represented by the Guangzhou dialect, is generally used in central and southwestern Guangdong Province, eastern and southern Guangxi Province, Hong Kong and Macao.