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Chinese Language

The Chinese official language is Mandarin, but there are more than 80 different local languages and dialects existing in China.

As one of the six official languages used in the United Nations, the Chinese Language is made up of more than 80 different local languages and uses about 30 kinds of different characters.

Chinese language is the common language of the Han nationality which makes up about 91.59% of the total population of China. This also makes it the common language of the whole Chinese Nation. Among the remaining 55 minority ethnic groups, the Hui and Zhuang nationalities have already turned to solely using the Chinese language, while more and more people from the remaining 53 groups have also turned to use Chinese language or use their own language and Chinese language dually.

The languages used by the 56 ethnic groups of China belong to five language families: the Sino-Tibetan language family, the Altaic language family, the Austronesian language family, the Austro - Asiatic language family and the Indo-European language family.

 The Sino-Tibetan language family: Chinese, Tibeto-Beruman (like the language of the Yi, Naxi and Tujia nationalities), Miao-Yao (like the language of the Miao nationality), and Zhuang - Dong (like the language of the Zhuang, Buyi, Li and Shui nationalities) languages;

 The Altaic language family: Mongolian (like the language of the Mongol, Daur and Tu nationalities), Turkic (like the language of the Uygur, Kazak and Uzbek nationalities) and Manchu-Tungusic (like the language of the Man, Hezhe and Ewenki nationalities) languages;

 The Austronesian language family: the language of the Gaoshan nationality and the Huihui language of the Hui nationality;

 The Austro - Asiatic language family: the language of the Va and Bulang nationalities;

 The Indo-European language family: Russian of the Slavic group and Tajik language of the Iranian language.

Some uncertainty exists surrounding the language families of the Korean and Beijing dialect.

The standard speech of Chinese language is named mandarin in the mainland of China, mother tongue in Taiwan and Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia. However, Chinese language is differentiated into mandarin and a number of dialects Mandarin is based on the northern dialects with the Beijing dialect being considered standard. Mandarin is widely used to the north of the Yangtze River, the riverside areas between Jiujiang of Jiangxi Province and Zhenjiang of Jiangsu Province, and Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Hubei Provinces. Mandarin is subdivided into northern and southwestern mandarin as well as Jianghuai Mandarin (the mandarin used along the Yangtze and Huaihe Rivers).This covers three quarters of the territory of the country, in which two thirds of the total population live.

Large differences exist between dialects. Dialects include Wu, Kan, Hsiang, Guangzhou (Cantonese), Min, and Hakka.

 Wu Dialects: in the south of Jiangsu Province and the majority of Zhejiang Province;

 Kan Dialects: mainly in Jiangxi Province;

 Hsiang Dialects: in the majority of Hunan Province and north of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region;

 Guangzhou Dialects (Cantonese): in the major part of Guangdong Province and southeast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region;

 Min Dialects: in Fujian, Taiwan and Hainan Provinces as well as Chaozhou and Shantou Cities of Guangdong Province;

 Hakka Dialects: in Taiwan, east and north of Guangdong Province, west of Fujian Province as well as south of Jiangxi Province.

Although China has such a variety of dialects, the language barrier is currently not a problem at all for foreign visitors coming to China. Since English has great popularity now in China, many Chinese people can speak basic English, especially the educated young people. However, should you like, it will be very practical for you to learn some basic Chinese expressions for daily use.