Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin (/ˈmændərɪn/ (listen); simplified Chinese: 官话; traditional Chinese: 官話; pinyin: Guānhuà; lit. 'officials' speech') is a group of Chinese (Sinitic) dialects that are natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonology of Standard Chinese, the official language of China. Because Mandarin originated in North China and most Mandarin dialects are found in the north, the group is sometimes referred to as Northern Chinese (simplified Chinese: 北方话; traditional Chinese: 北方話; pinyin: Běifānghuà; lit. 'northern speech'). Many varieties of Mandarin, such as those of the Southwest (including Sichuanese) and the Lower Yangtze, are not mutually intelligible with the standard language (or are only partially intelligible). Nevertheless, Mandarin as a group is often placed first in lists of languages by number of native speakers (with nearly one billion).

Mandarin
官話 / 官话
Guānhuà
Guānhuà ('Mandarin')
written in Chinese characters
(simplified left, traditional right)
Regionmost of Northern and Southwestern China (see also Standard Chinese)
Native speakers
920 million (2017)[1]
L2 speakers: 200 million (no date)[1]
Early forms
Standard forms
Dialects
Wenfa Shouyu[2]
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3cmn
Glottologmand1415
Linguasphere79-AAA-b
Mandarin area in China as of 1987, including Sichuanese, Lower Yangtze and (in light green) Jin, which are arguably separate languages
Countries where Mandarin is spoken as L1 or L2
  Majority native language
  Statutory or de facto national working language
  More than 1,000,000 speakers
  More than 500,000 speakers
  More than 100,000 speakers
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Mandarin Chinese is not listed in the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. It is classified as being safe from endangerment.
Mandarin Chinese
Simplified Chinese官话
Traditional Chinese官話
Literal meaningOfficials' speech
Northern Chinese
Simplified Chinese北方话
Traditional Chinese北方話
Literal meaningNorthern speech
A speaker from Tanghe (Central Plains Mandarin)

Mandarin is by far the largest of the seven or ten Chinese dialect groups; it is spoken by 70 percent of all Chinese speakers over a large geographical area that stretches from Yunnan in the southwest to Xinjiang in the northwest and Heilongjiang in the northeast. This is generally attributed to the greater ease of travel and communication in the North China Plain compared to the more mountainous south, combined with the relatively recent spread of Mandarin to frontier areas. The second most spoken is Yue ("Cantonese" because it includes the Cantonese variety).

Most Mandarin varieties have four tones. The final stops of Middle Chinese have disappeared in most of these varieties, but some have merged them as a final glottal stop. Many Mandarin varieties, including the Beijing dialect, retain retroflex initial consonants, which have been lost in southern varieties of Chinese.

The Chinese capital has been within the Mandarin-speaking area for most of the last millennium, making these dialects very influential. Some form of Mandarin has served as a lingua franca for government officials and the courts since the 14th century.[3] By 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 Mandarin Chinese is the official language of the People's Republic of China[4] and Taiwan,[5] as well as one of the four official languages of Singapore. It is also used as one of the official languages of the United Nations.[6] Recent increased migration from Mandarin-speaking regions of China and Taiwan has now resulted in the language being one of the more frequently used varieties of Chinese among Chinese diaspora communities. It is also the most commonly taught Chinese variety.


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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Mandarin Chinese, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.