• Regardless of the number of dialects under the Chinese language, most non-Chinese normally refers to all these dialects only as Chinese. People instantly assume when you say “Chinese” you mean “Mandarin” because it is the standard language. The Chinese language is fascinating and unique. Mandarin is often its English translation. This irked me because I wasn’t learning Chinese; I was learning Mandarin. Northern Chinese, also known as Mandarin, is the mother tongue of about 70% of Chinese speakers and is the accepted written language for all Chinese. Mandarin is now China’s official language and a key to most of Asia. However, if you want to be able to communicate regardless of where you go in China, learning Mandarin is your best bet. And, finally, what’s the best way to answer that big, burning question, “is Chinese a language?”. Instead, the Chinese language uses Chinese characters, which are called 汉字 hàn zì. However, Shanghainese Wu is the most common. Although it is a common notion among many people that the Chinese language includes only pictorial fonts, the fact is that the majority of the characters use one semantic element and one phonetic element. Also known as Hunanese, you’ll find the 湘语 xiāngyǔ group of dialects spoken in Hunan and in some parts of the Sichuan province as well. It’s used mainly in and around Shanghai, as well as the larger Yangtze river delta. In mainland C… It was 1968 and I was a young Canadian diplomat (Canada was preparing to recognize the People’s Republic of China).My routine consisted of three hours of one-on-one tutoring with a Chinese teacher, five mornings a week. They differ as much from each other You may also have heard of Hainanese and Taiwanese. Chinese characters then evolved to come to represent ideas rather than syllables. Besides opening your mind and making you smarter, learning Chinese Mandarin will allow you to have many opportunities whether it’s a job, a cultural experience, or just the possibility of having a conversation with 1.3 billion people. There are thousands of spoken languages in the world and most can be traced back in history to show how they are related to each other.For example:By finding patterns like these, different languages can be grouped together as members of a language family.There are three main language families: 1. The Chinese language, forming one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan language family, is consisted of a bouquet of mutually unintelligible language varieties. Let’s take a look at the history of China’s written language and original spoken languages. Gan is widely used in the provinces of Jiangxi, Anhui, Fujian, Hubei and Hunan. Researchers believe this language has a history of thousands of years. From China to the world: learn Mandarin Chinese and the world is yours, Where you’ll find many Chinese speakers: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam (Saigon) and Malaysia (especially Kuala Lumpur). Read on for answers to your burning questions. The remaining 30% now often learns both their regional dialects and Mandarin so they can communicate with everyone. Are they similar to each other or vastly different? Mandarin Chinese has five tones, and other Chinese languages can have more. 汉语 means the “language of the Han tribe”. With this information, you can probably understand why it used to be a pet peeve of mine when someone asked me if I was learning Chinese when I was a student. However, despite being closely related, these different languages are mutually unintelligible. FluentU is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-hardest-languages-to-learn.html The Chinese language itself is one of the oldest languages out there. Because of this, the language can be found in numerous areas, such as Jiangxi, Guizhou, Guangdong and Hong Kong, as well as in many countries in Southeast Asia. The media, officials, and the government use Mandarin as their main language. From there, hundreds of Chinese dialects evolved. These dialects stem from the 56 ethnic minorities that Chinese is home to. In Taiwan, words and syllables are pronounced differently, tones are sometimes changed and there are even a few vocabulary words that are different than in Chinese Mandarin. China has always used characters for its writing system, and nowadays, a typical full-length dictionary contains 40,000 of them. When we talk about Standard Chinese, we mean the official language spoken by most of the people in China. Chinese intonation is a help and hindrance for those learning it from another language because if Chinese was spoken atonally, it’d be very hard to differentiate between many phrases. You may not have heard of the 赣语 Gàn yǔ, Gan dialect. Watch this Chinese video lesson to know how people to add the “er” sound at the end of words to make the Chinese tone more casual and light! Did you know that there are 302 individual languages spoken in China? Join us to discover what the Chinese language really is! Old Chinese was first discovered by linguists in Shijing poetry, inscribed on bronze artifacts and in parts of the Yijing. Like Min, Wu has a substantial amount of sub-dialects. However, in the 1950s, simplified characters were declared the main writing system in China after the People’s Republic of China was founded. There’s a slight difference between Modern Standard Mandarin and Standard Mandarin. As long as you know Mandarin, you’ll be fine anywhere. • Chinese language is a family of languages under which falls Mandarin, also known as Standard Chinese, that is been used by majority of the population in China and Taiwan. Next time someone asks you, “is Chinese a language,” you’ll be well-equipped to enlighten them with all of this fascinating history and information about the languages of China. Chinese people living in the United States and abroad will also often say 汉语 to mention the national Chinese language. The arguments about how difficult Chinese is are based more on looking at the language from an academic standpoint than actual application in real life, and thus are not grounded in the reality of learning Chinese. Were there always this many Chinese dialects? Isn’t that clever? For example, there are slight differences between Taiwanese Mandarin and Standard Chinese Mandarin. One of the most used dialects in China is 五华 Wǔ huá, or Wu. Cantonese is particularly prevalent in South -East China: Guangzhou, Hong Kong and abroad. Sino-Tibetan (Includes Chinese) 3. 华语 is also used as a way to differentiate Chinese from the other languages spoken in these countries. Unlike most other languages, the Chinese language both has a written form and several spoken forms. On Ninchanese, you learn Mandarin Chinese as well. Simplified characters have existed for centuries, but weren’t widely used until they were enforced by the government in order to improve literacy rates in the country. Reading. Once you’re used to the tonal structure of Chinese, it becomes easier to speak very quickly. The Korean alphabet, on the other hand, is very easy to learn and understand. First of all, why should China using Chinese(simple)? Furthermore, all of them are classified as deriving from the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is one of the most spoken languages in the world, ranking in the top for the number of native speakers. The first major Chinese dialect is Mandarin. Since Chinese is a tonal language, pronunciation can change the meaning of a word. The group’s most well-known dialects are probably Fuzhounese and Hokkien. These two dialects even share a few words. The main spoken form, used officially in China, is called Mandarin. It’s also the official language of Taiwan and one of Singapore’s four official languages. The Chinese language is the group of languages used by Chinese people in China and elsewhere. We must think of Chinese as an all-encompassing category or group of dialects, as they’re considered in China. If you’re feeling like you’re fighting a solo battle against the Chinese … When you look at it closely, there are actually over 200 dialects of Chinese! © 2021 Enux Education Limited. Historically, traditional characters were used by everyone in China. This dialect is the most similar to Gan. In addition to China, Mandarin Chinese is an official language in several other countries in Asia. These inscriptions gave hints about the ancient language’s phonetics, such as the discovery that Old Chinese included heavy breathing for differentiating consonants. Definitions. FluentU isn’t just about watching videos, though—it’s about learning and actively practicing the language you hear in the videos with interactive subtitles, flashcards and vocabulary lists. Immigration is another factor, especially during the Gold Rush, that makes it possible for you now to hear and practice speaking Chinese in places other than China. Many ethnic groups such as the Miao and many Cantonese people have immigrated to Canada and to the US, so you can also practice speaking other Chinese languages with them. Ready for a trip from written Chinese to the different forms of Chinese spoken in China? Ancient colonization is the main reason behind the fact many Chinese speakers live in North America. Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world, with 898 million speakers. Chinese words are short and simple. that makes you want to learn Chinese characters, give Ninchanese a try. But before diving in, take a look at this fun video featuring 25 different Chinese dialects. Chinese history dates back over … Mandarin is taught in schools throughout the country. Modern Standard Mandarin uses what’s called 儿化音 (ér huà yīn) — “r” sound. All Rights Reserved. In the West, you can also hear the Chinese language referred to as Standard Chinese, also called Modern Standard Mandarin. About 5% of the Chinese living in China speak a form of Xiang. want to focus this post on two sources that I was sent to “prove” how hard Chinese is With the help of FluentU, you can learn Chinese Mandarin by watching and listening to funny YouTube videos, thrilling movie trailers, inspirational talks, catchy songs and much more. These different Chinese languages are sometimes called dialects. The Chinese wanted a harbor strategically located to control the trade with Europe and therefore conquered at one point the cities in the area that had interesting and huge harbors. You’ll hear Chinese communities in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines use this term. After Mandarin, the most well-known dialect is 粤语 Yuè yǔ, Cantonese. Chinese to rise as a global language Technology will help overcome barriers Date: May 18, 2020 Source: Flinders University Summary: With the continuing rise of … The Chinese Hanzi script was made for the Chinese language, meaning that there exists a character for each common linguistic action. The Chinese use the term 普通话 to refer their common and official language. More people speak a variety of Chinese as a Brooke Bagley is a freelance writer and a passionate language learner. 普通话 is taught in school. The main spoken form, used officially in China, is called Mandarin. In English, Mandarin is the term you’ll hear the most to refer to the official Chinese language. She’s learned Mandarin Chinese for seven years, Spanish for three and Indonesian for one. 粤 Yuè (Cantonese) for example has 9 tones. We also participate in other affiliate advertising programs for products and services we believe in. The capital of Guangdong, Guangzhou, was once named Canton, hence the name Cantonese. Many believe that Chinese is a monosyllabic language, which presumably means that every word in Chinese consists of a single syllable, like the English words but, aim, quick, work, crime, laugh, and unlike the wor… Although there are over 300 Chinese dialects, every school in China is required to teach Mandarin to students from kindergarten through high school. Many of the oral dialects are mutually unintelligible—meaning they’re so different from one another that speakers of one can’t understand speakers of another. Chinese characters have a history dating back more than two thousand years. Like any language, learning Chinese has its challenges. 普通话 literally means the “common language”. This dialect is predominately used in the Hunan Province. The vast majority of c… Mandarin is your door to all of China, Taiwan, Singapore and many countries in Asia. Indeed, people often say that the Chinese write in pictures. The Chinese language is probably the most complex language among all the East Asian languages. Written Chinese can be understood by all those who can read Chinese characters, But should it be simplified or traditional Chinese? This dialect is spoken primarily in Beijing and Northern China and differs greatly from Southern and Central Mandarin because of the accent. Only about 2.5% of the population speaks it. Different Written Chinese Languages . Mandarin Chinese Language and Culture Blog, Taiwanese Mandarin and Standard Chinese Mandarin, no objective difference between a “language” and a “dialect.”, the dialect is used by less than 80 million, How Long Does It Take to Learn Chinese? You’ll hear the Gan dialect mainly in the Jiangxi province and in some parts of the Hubei, Fujian and Hunan provinces. Chinese speakers usually use a dialect that belongs to one of these 7 groups of languages: Mandarin, Yue (Cantonese), Xiang (Hunanese), Min, Gan, Wu, and Kejia or Hakka. Is Chinese a single language? It is an official language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Overseas Chinese communities mainly use 华语 to talk about their national and official Chinese language. (Download). The Chinese don’t use this term a lot. Indo-European (Includes English) 2. Chinese, as I mentioned, is grammatically another story. Near the Fujian Province and the coastal area in the South, but also in Taiwan and in Singapore, you’ll hear lots of dialects corresponding to the 闽语 mǐn yǔ Min dialects group. Min is the perfect example of dialects that have sub-dialects. About 1.2 billion people (or approximately 16% of the world's population) speak a variety of Chinese as their first language. This term is used in China to refer the Chinese language in general. Mandarin is one of the two names given by the Westerners to talk about the official Chinese language. It’s considered that in China, there are more than 200 dialects. The writing system is one of China’s most valuable inventions. China’s main dominant spoken dialect is Mandarin. We already discussed how it’s spoken by nearly 900 million people and that it’s the official language of three countries. Afro-Asiatic (Includes Arabic)Indo-European is the la… Get started today! No, these are not the names of The Three Musketeers translated … There are many others names used to describe the Chinese language: 普通话, Standard Chinese, 国语, and more. About 4% of the Chinese speaks at least one Min dialects. About 5% of the population in China uses Cantonese. Let’s see what these names mean! Due to multiple revolutions and political changes, Chinese characters have also been altered over the years. can take anywhere. And then there are regions in China where people rarely use it, such as in Hong Kong where Cantonese is the primary dialect. I spent almost a year studying Mandarin full time in Hong Kong. Something that has been reconstructed, however, is Old Chinese. 6 Fundamental Factors That You Should Consider, The 10 Best Chinese Songs of All Time for Your Next KTV Party, 7 Video Resources for Learning Chinese the Way Natives Use It, An Easier Way to Learn Chinese: Comprehensible Input, 4 Free Online Chinese Lessons and Other Resources That’ll Make Learning a Breeze, Yes, You Can Get Chinese Video with Pinyin Subtitles: 4 Options. The language is a standardized dialect of Mandarin language, but features aspects of other dialects in its usage, including written vernacular Chinese in the language’s grammar, Mandarin dialects in its vocabulary, and the Beijing dialect in the pronunciation of its words. The Chinese language is the oldest written language in the world with at least six thousand years of history. According to Today Translations, linguists believe there was an even older language, Proto-Sino-Tibetan, that was actually the original Chinese language. The Chinese language is the world’s most widely spoken language. However, knowing between 2,000 and 3,000 characters is enough to be able to read a Chinese newspaper. This was followed by four or five hours daily devoted to reading, listening, and learning characters. to talk about their national and official Chinese language. Aside from languages, Brooke runs her freelance writing business, Writing & Thriving and specializes in B2B copywriting, content marketing and holistic health and wellness. Please check your email for further instructions. About 4% of the population can speak a dialect belonging to the Hakka group. As you’ve seen above, it’s certainly based on more organic varieties of Chinese, but ultimately, the language used in Chinese textbooks, on TV, on the radio … Today, it’s spoken by about 85 million people. People who speak dialects of the 客家话 kèjiāhuà Hakka group are scattered all over Southern China, from Sichuan to Taiwan, particularly in some parts of the Guandong and Fujian provinces. Unlike traditional characters, and as the name suggests, the simplified characters are much easier to learn and write. The languages are mutually intelligible to a varying degree, depending on how close the languages are to one another. The earliest traces of Chinese appeared almost 3000 years ago and is considered one of the oldest surviving languages. It’s sometimes used as a synonym for Mandarin, despite not quite being the same thing. In some way or the other, almost 20% of the world population uses this language. Learning Mandarin Gives You Access To Authentic Chinese Culture. The Chinese written language uses single distinctive symbols, or characters, to represent each word of the vocabulary. They are therefore closely related. You’ll hear this term mainly used in Taiwan and sometimes Hong Kong to refer to Mandarin, in the same way Mainland China uses 普通话 to refer to Mandarin. This is similar to how British English, American English and Australian English are all slightly different. 国语 Guóyǔ is another term that refers the Chinese language. Where you’ll find many Chinese speakers, speaking a form of Chinese (either Mandarin or a Chinese dialect): Canada, and the US, particularly in California and in New York. Some regions are known to speak “better Mandarin” than others. Although many of China’s dialects have numerous variants, Min has the most, including Northern Min, Southern Min, Central Min and Shaojiang Min. It’s spoken by about 37 million people, which makes it one of the most endangered dialects of the eight primary ones. The Chinese language is often considered one of the world’s most difficult languages to learn, but this sentiment is a major oversimplification. Xiang is also known as Hunanese. The early forms of Chinese characters were pictographs (graphic representations of real objects), but characters became more and more stylized over time. Mandarin is China’s official language other countries in Asia. The most commonly spoken language in China is Mandarin. The Chinese language is fascinating and unique. Chinese characters have a meaning independently of the sounds you can make to describe them. 华语 literally means “China’s language”. Originally, it was spoken by the Hakka people, but today the dialect is used by less than 80 million. You can find many Asian and Chinese communities in Northern America. It was further divided into Early Middle Chinese (Qieyun) and Late Middle Chinese (Guangyun). So, the simple answer as you now thoroughly understand is—no, Chinese is not a language, but rather a blanket term for over 300 dialects spoken in China today. Standard Chinese is the official language in mainland China, as well as in Taiwan, and is also known as Standard Mandarin or Modern Standard Mandarin. Chinese exists in a number of varieties that are popularly called dialects but that are usually classified as separate languages by scholars. Primarily spoken in Western China, the Gan dialect has about 60 million speakers, according to Omniglot. Belonging to two different language families, English and Chinese have many significant differences. Chinese is an umbrella language term that encompasses multiple dialects/languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, and more. Thanks for subscribing! About 1.3 billion people speak the Chinese language in the world. Download: Learning English becomes fun and easy when you learn with movie trailers, music videos, news and inspiring talks. Last but not least is Cantonese, also known as Yue dialect. Mandarin Chinese is the mother tongue of over 873 million people, making it the most widely spoken first language in the world. It is also now one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Kanji, Hanja, and Hanzi. The media, the government, and the officials all speak 普通话. More than 70% of the Chinese population speaks Mandarin as their first language. The predominant language is Standard Chinese, which is based on central Mandarin, but there are hundreds of related Chinese languages, collectively known as Hanyu (simplified Chinese: 汉语; traditional Chinese: 漢語; pinyin: Hànyǔ, 'Han language'), that are spoken by 92% of the population. Eventually, they came to represent ideas as well as objects. As a language learner, placing yourself in an ideal learning environment is key to learning Chinese. EthnoMed also reports that many of China’s dialects were formed between the 8th century and 3rd century BC. If you’re going to learn any Chinese dialect, this is probably the most practical one to learn. Initially, people mainly spoke Mandarin, and its regional Mandarin variants in Beijing and its surroundings, as well as in Northern China. The Chinese (or 'Sinitic') languages are typically divided into seven major language groups, and their study is a distinct academic discipline. About 8.5% of the Chinese speaks Wu, mostly in the Zhejiang province, near Shanghai and in the neighbouring coastal areas. Collectively, it’s spoken by approximately 75 million people and can be heard primarily in the Fujian Province. You can probably already imagine that a language with such a long history has changed a lot over the past centuries, decades, and as … However, linguists have yet to be able to reconstruct it. It was developed over 6,000 years ago. Check it out with a FluentU free trial! Hands-down, the best way to learn Mandarin Chinese online is Ninchanese. Since many Chinese “dialects” are in fact mutually unintelligible—meaning, two speakers of two different dialects can’t understand one another—they should be considered languages. This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you This makes learning English a serious challenge for Chinese native speakers. Besides opening your mind and making you smarter, Ninchanese, the most effective way to learn to speak Mandarin. Because of the obvious radical difference between the way that the Chinese write and the way that we write, many myths have grown up, not just around China's writing system, but around its language as a whole and around China's people. Saying Standard Chinese is artificial might seem like quite a bold statement if you’re not aware of this, but really it’s quite an accurate way to describe the language. It was the common language of China in the early and middle Zhou Dynasty (11th-7th centuries BC). For a fun way to discover written Chinese, Technically, Chinese is up there with Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Korean, and other as the hardest languages in the world. According to EthnoMed, Chinese is the world’s oldest written language. Unlike in other languages, there is no Chinese alphabet. If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos. What Chinese should you learn? While you do need to learn a lot of characters, each word consists of about two characters and rarely more. FluentU brings English to life with real-world videos. What is the Chinese language? During the Sui, Tang and Song dynasties (7th-10th centuries AD), Middle Chinese became the common language. Aside from languages, Brooke runs her freelance writing business, Writing & Thriving and specializes in B2B copywriting, content marketing and holistic health and wellness. 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