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Facts about the Chinese language

Mandarin Chinese is the official language of the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China and Singapore. It is spoken by 867.2 million people worldwide and ranks first as the most widely spoken language in the world.

Mandarin Chinese is a Chinese language of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. It resides in the same group as Cantonese but while many Mandarin speakers may speak Cantonese or vice versa, the two languages are not mutually intelligible.

Officially, there are two versions of Standard Mandarin, since the Beijing government refers to that on the Mainland as Putonghua, whereas the Taipei government refers to their official language as Kuo-yu (Guoyu in pinyin).

Technically, there is little difference between the two versions but both versions of Standard Mandarin Chinese are often quite different from the Mandarin Chinese dialects that are spoken in accordance with regional habits and not identical to the Beijing dialect that they are based on. In all, there are eight major groups of Mandarin dialects, which are: Beijing Mandarin, Northeastern Mandarin, Ji Lu Mandarin, Jiao Liao Mandarin, Zhongyuan Mandarin, Lan Yin Mandarin, Southwestern Mandarin, and Jianghuai Mandarin.

The Chinese written language employs Chinese characters, a system based on logograms, where each symbol represents a morpheme (a meaningful unit of language). With the language constantly evolving, the number of characters in existence is a changing figure. Latest count is estimated at approximate 49,000, yet it is only necessary to know around 3,000 to read a newspaper and around just 5,000 are taught at secondary school. As a voluminous language it has developed over the centuries and has influenced the vocabulary of Japan and Korea.

Mandarin Chinese can be written in two different forms.

1) Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are used in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and some overseas Chinese communities. In contrast, simplified characters are used in China and in some overseas Chinese communities, especially those from aforementioned countries who emigrated after the widespread adoption of simplified Chinese characters.

2) Simplified Chinese characters

Used in the People's Republic of China, Malaysia, Singapore, approximately 2,000 characters were simplified formally in 1958 in order to facilitate literacy.

These interesting facts are courtesy of:
Chinese Language Course
Communicaid is a global leader in the design and delivery of Chinese language courses
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