Facts about reading and writing Chinese language

Posted by John on September 17th, 2017

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases mutually unintelligible, language varieties, forming a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many other ethnic groups in China. Nearly 1.2 billion people (around 16% of the world's population) speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

The varieties of Chinese are usually described by native speakers as dialects of a single Chinese language, but linguists note that they are as diverse as a language family. The internal diversity of Chinese has been likened to that of the Romance languages, but may be even more varied. There are between 7 and 13 main regional groups of Chinese (depending on classification scheme), of which the most spoken by far is Mandarin (about 960 million), followed by Wu (80 million), Min (70 million), and Yue (60 million). Most of these groups are mutually unintelligible, although some, for example like Xiang and certain Southwest Mandarin dialects, may share common terms and some degree of intelligibility. All varieties of Chinese are tonal and analytic.

Standard Chinese is a standardized form of spoken Chinese based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. It is the official language of China and Taiwan, as well as one of the four official languages of Singapore. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. The written form of the standard language based on the logograms known as Chinese characters (Hànzì), is shared by literate speakers of otherwise unintelligible dialects.

Mandarin is the most speak chinese language, which has six dialect groups, also known as the Northern language. Standardized Mandarin is understood and spoken by virtually the whole young Chinese population nowadays, because of its official status in education and media. Dialects of Wu, for example Shanghainese, are prominently spoken in the Yangtze River Delta region of eastern China. Min is the most diversified language group. Its eight languages are not mutually intelligible. Southern Min, originated from southern Fujian, has notable dialect variants spoken in Fujian, neighboring region to the islands of Taiwan, Hainan and also Southeast Asia, including Taiwanese, Hokkien and Teochew. Yue is the primary language of Guangdong province and a large part of Guangxi. As the prestige variety of Yue, Cantonese is also the principal and official spoken language in Hong Kong and Macau, making it the only other variety of Chinese used in administration purposes, besides Standard Mandarin. Taishanese, another dialect of Yue, is widely spoken among Chinese communities in North America. Hakka is mainly spoken in South Central China, and also has a sizeable diaspora in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

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