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Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
among the speakers of various Mandarin and other
varieties of Chinese Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, w ...
(
Hokkien Hokkien () is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucr ...
,
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research un ...

Cantonese
and beyond). Standard Mandarin is designated as one of the major languages in the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for har ...

United Nations
,
mainland China Mainland China, also known as the Chinese mainland, China mainland, or the Mainland Area of the Republic of China is the geopolitics, geopolitical area under the direct jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since Proclamation of ...

mainland China
, Singapore, and Taiwan. Like other
Sinitic languages The Sinitic languages, often synonymous with "Chinese languages", constitute the major branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family Sino-Tibetan, also known as Trans-Himalayan in a few sources, is a family In human society, family (from ...
, Standard Mandarin is a
tonal language Tone is the use of pitch Pitch may refer to: Acoustic frequency * Pitch (music), the perceived frequency of sound including "definite pitch" and "indefinite pitch" ** Absolute pitch or "perfect pitch" ** Pitch class, a set of all pitches tha ...
with topic-prominent organization and
subject–verb–object In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
word order. It has more initial consonants but fewer vowels, final consonants and tones than southern varieties. Standard Mandarin is an
analytic language In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
, though with many
compound word In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
s.


Naming


In English

Among linguists, it is known as Standard Northern Mandarin or Standard Beijing Mandarin. Colloquially, it is imprecisely referred simply as Mandarin, though "Mandarin" may refer to the standard dialect, the Mandarin dialect group as a whole, or its historic standard such as Imperial Mandarin. The name "''Modern'' Standard Mandarin" is used to distinguish its historic standard. The term "Mandarin" is a translation of ''Guānhuà'' (, literally "bureaucrats' speech"), which referred to Imperial Mandarin.


In Chinese


Guoyu and Putonghua

The term ''Guóyǔ'' (; ) or the "national language", had previously been used by the
Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in N ...

Manchu
-ruled
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperial China, imperial history of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, w ...
of China to refer to the Manchurian language. As early as 1655, in the ''
Memoir of Qing Dynasty A memoir (; from French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located i ...
, Volume: Emperor
Nurhaci Nurhaci (1559 – 30 September 1626) was a Jurchen people, Jurchen chieftain who rose to prominence in the late 16th century in Manchuria. He was a member of the House of Aisin-Gioro, and reigned as the founding Khan (title), khan of the Later J ...

Nurhaci
'' (), it writes: "(In 1631) as
Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in N ...

Manchu
ministers do not comprehend the Han language, each ministry shall create a new position to be filled up by
Han Han may refer to: Ethnic groups * Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on ...
official who can comprehend the national language." In 1909, the Qing education ministry officially proclaimed Imperial Mandarin to be the new "national language". The term ''Pǔtōnghuà'' (; ) or the "common tongue", is dated back to 1906 in writings by to differentiate Modern Standard Mandarin from
classical Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak"; modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text"), is the language of the classic literature from the end ...
and other
varieties of Chinese Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, w ...
. Conceptually, the ''national language'' contrasts with the ''common tongue'' by emphasizing the aspect of legal authority.


Usage concern in a multi-ethnic nation

"The Countrywide Spoken and Written Language" () has been increasingly used by the PRC government since the 2010s, mostly targeting students of
ethnic minorities A minority group, by its original definition, refers to a group of people whose practices, race, religion, ethnicity, or other characteristics are lesser in numbers than the main groups of those classifications. However, in present-day sociology, ...
. The term has a strong connotation of being a "legal requirement" as it derives its name from the title of a law passed in 2000. The 2000 law defines ''Pǔtōnghuà'' as the one and only "Countrywide Spoken and Written Language". Usage of the term ''Pǔtōnghuà'' (common tongue) deliberately avoided calling the language "the national language," in order to mitigate the impression of forcing ethnic minorities to adopt the language of the dominant ethnic group. Such concerns were first raised by
Qu Qiubai Qu Qiubai (; 29 January 1899 – 18 June 1935) was a leader of the Communist Party of China in the late 1920s. He was born in Changzhou, Jiangsu, China. Early life Qu was born in Changzhou, Jiangsu. His family lived in Tianxiang Lou () locate ...
in 1931, an early Chinese communist revolutionary leader. His concern echoed within the Communist Party, which adopted the name Putonghua in 1955. Since 1949, usage of the word ''Guóyǔ'' was phased out in the PRC, only surviving in established compound nouns, e.g. ''Guóyǔ liúxíng yīnyuè'' (, colloquially
Mandarin pop Mandopop or Mandapop refers to Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a burea ...
), ''Guóyǔ piān'' or ''Guóyǔ diànyǐng'' (/, colloquially Mandarin cinema). In Taiwan, ''Guóyǔ'' (the national language) has been the colloquial term for Standard Northern Mandarin. In 2017 and 2018, the Taiwanese government introduced two laws to explicitly recognize indigenous
Formosan languages The Formosan languages are the languages of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, all of which are Austronesian. The Taiwanese indigenous peoples recognized by the government are about 2.3% of the island's population. However, only 35% speak their ...

Formosan languages
and
Hakka The Hakka (), sometimes also referred to as Hakka Han, or Hakka Chinese, are a Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The fou ...
to be the "Languages of the nation" (, note the
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...

plural
form) along with Standard Northern Mandarin. Since then, there have been efforts to reclaim the term "national language" (''Guóyǔ'') to encompass all "languages of the nation" rather than exclusively referring to Standard Northern Mandarin.


Hanyu and Zhongwen

Among Chinese people, ''Hànyǔ'' (; ) or the "
Sinitic languages The Sinitic languages, often synonymous with "Chinese languages", constitute the major branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family Sino-Tibetan, also known as Trans-Himalayan in a few sources, is a family In human society, family (from ...
" refer to all language varieties of the
Han people The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four ...
. ''Zhōngwén'' () or the "Chinese written language", refers to all written languages of Chinese (Sinitic). However, gradually these two terms have been
reappropriated Linguistic reappropriation, reclamation, or resignification is the culture, cultural process by which a group reclaims words or artifacts that were previously used in a way disparaging of that group. It is a specific form of a semantic change (ch ...
to exclusively refer to one particular Sinitic language, the Standard Northern Mandarin, a.k.a. Standard Chinese. This imprecise usage would lead to situations in areas such as Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore as follows: *(1) A Standard Northern Mandarin speaker approaches speakers of other
varieties of Chinese Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, w ...
and asks, "Do you speak ''Zhōngwén''?" This would be deemed disrespectful. *(2) A native speaker of certain
varieties of Chinese Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, w ...
admits that his/her spoken ''Zhōngwén'' is poor. On the other hand, among foreigners, the term ''Hànyǔ'' is most commonly used in textbooks and standardized testing of Standard Chinese for foreigners, e.g.
Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi The ''Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi'' (HSK; ), translated as the Chinese Proficiency Test, is the standardized test of Standard Chinese Standard Chinese, in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Manda ...
.


Huayu

''Huáyǔ'' (; ), or "language among the
Chinese nation ''Zhonghua minzu'' (; "Chinese nation") is a key political term in modern Chinese nationalism related to the concepts of nation-building, ethnic group, ethnicity, and race (human categorization), race in the Chinese nationality. ''Zhonghua ...
", up until the mid 1960s, refers to all language varieties among the
Chinese nation ''Zhonghua minzu'' (; "Chinese nation") is a key political term in modern Chinese nationalism related to the concepts of nation-building, ethnic group, ethnicity, and race (human categorization), race in the Chinese nationality. ''Zhonghua ...
. For example, Cantonese films, Hokkien films () and
Mandarin films Mandarin Films Distribution Co. Ltd or Mandarin Cinema (), formerly known as Mandarin Films Ltd. (), was a Hong Kong Hong Kong (, ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) (), is a ...
produced in Hong Kong that got imported into Malaysia were collectively known as ''Huáyǔ'' cinema up until the mid-1960s. However, gradually it has been
reappropriated Linguistic reappropriation, reclamation, or resignification is the culture, cultural process by which a group reclaims words or artifacts that were previously used in a way disparaging of that group. It is a specific form of a semantic change (ch ...
to exclusively refer to one particular language among the
Chinese nation ''Zhonghua minzu'' (; "Chinese nation") is a key political term in modern Chinese nationalism related to the concepts of nation-building, ethnic group, ethnicity, and race (human categorization), race in the Chinese nationality. ''Zhonghua ...
, Standard Northern Mandarin, a.k.a. Standard Chinese. This term is mostly used in
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...

Singapore
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Malaysia
,
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
, and the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
.


History

Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
has long had considerable dialectal variation, hence
prestige dialect In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and society's effect on language. ...
s have always existed, and linguae francae have always been needed.
Confucius } Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; ) was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), ...

Confucius
, for example, used ''yǎyán'' () rather than colloquial regional dialects; text during the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
also referred to ''tōngyǔ'' (). Rime books, which were written since the
Northern and Southern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding ...
, may also have reflected one or more systems of standard
pronunciation Pronunciation is the way in which a word or a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful d ...
during those times. However, all of these standard dialects were probably unknown outside the educated elite; even among the elite, pronunciations may have been very different, as the unifying factor of all Chinese dialects,
Classical Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak"; Written vernacular Chinese, modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text"), is the language of the cla ...
, was a written standard, not a spoken one.


Late empire

The
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming dynasty
(1368–1644) and the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperial China, imperial history of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, w ...
(1644–1912) began to use the term '' guānhuà'' (), or "official speech", to refer to the speech used at the
courts A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''St ...
. The term "Mandarin" is borrowed directly from
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
. The Portuguese word ''mandarim'', derived from the
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
word ''
mantriMantri is a word of Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European langua ...
n'' "counselor or minister", was first used to refer to the Chinese bureaucratic officials. The Portuguese then translated ''guānhuà'' as "the language of the mandarins" or "the mandarin language". In the 17th century, the Empire had set up
Orthoepy Orthoepy is the study of pronunciation Pronunciation is the way in which a word or a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") ...
Academies () in an attempt to make pronunciation conform to the standard. But these attempts had little success, since as late as the 19th century the emperor had difficulty understanding some of his own ministers in court, who did not always try to follow any standard pronunciation. Before the 19th century, the standard was based on the
Nanjing dialect The Nanjing dialect, also known as Nankinese, or Nanjing Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin Chinese spoken in Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; Posta ...
, but later the
Beijing dialect The Beijing dialect (), also known as Pekingese, is the prestige dialect of Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin spoken in the urban area of Beijing, China. It is the phonological basis of Standard Chinese, the official language in the China, People's Repub ...
became increasingly influential, despite the mix of officials and commoners speaking various dialects in the capital,
Beijing Beijing ( ), as Peking ( ), is the of the . It is the world's , with over 21 million residents within an of 16,410.5 km2 (6336 sq. mi.). It is located in , and is governed as a under the direct administration of the with .Figures ...

Beijing
. By some accounts, as late as the early 20th century, the position of
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
Mandarin was considered to be higher than that of Beijing by some and the
postal romanization Postal romanization was a system of transliterating developed by postal authorities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For many cities, the corresponding postal romanization was the most common English-language form of the city's name ...
standards set in 1906 included spellings with elements of Nanjing pronunciation. Nevertheless, by 1909, the dying
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperial China, imperial history of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, w ...
had established the Beijing dialect as (; ), or the "national language". As the
island of Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The m ...
had fallen under
Japanese rule Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan, an island country in East Asia * Japanese language, spoken mainly in Japan * Japanese people, the ethnic group that identifies with Japan through culture or ancestry ** Japanese diaspora ...
per the 1895
Treaty of Shimonoseki #REDIRECT Treaty of Shimonoseki #REDIRECT Treaty of Shimonoseki#REDIRECT Treaty of Shimonoseki The , also known as Treaty of Maguan () in China and in the period before and during WWII in Japan, was a treaty signed at the , Shimonoseki, Japa ...

Treaty of Shimonoseki
, the term referred to the Japanese language until the
handover In cellular telecommunications Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire, radio, Optical system, optical, or other Electromagnetism, electromagnetic systems. It has its origin in t ...
to the
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...
in 1945.


Modern China

After the
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...
was established in 1912, there was more success in promoting a common national language. A
Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation The Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation () was the organization established by the Beiyang government The Beiyang government (), officially the Republic of China (), also sometimes spelled Peiyang Government or the First Republic ...
was convened with delegates from the entire country. A ''Dictionary of National Pronunciation'' () was published in 1919, defining a hybrid pronunciation that did not match any existing speech. Meanwhile, despite the lack of a workable standardized pronunciation, colloquial literature in
written vernacular Chinese Written vernacular Chinese (), also known as Baihua, is the forms of written Chinese Written Chinese () comprises Chinese characters used to represent the Chinese language. Chinese characters do not constitute an alphabet or a compact syllabar ...
continued to develop apace. Gradually, the members of the National Language Commission came to settle upon the Beijing dialect, which became the major source of standard national pronunciation due to its prestigious status. In 1932, the commission published the ''Vocabulary of National Pronunciation for Everyday Use'' (), with little fanfare or official announcement. This dictionary was similar to the previous published one except that it normalized the pronunciations for all characters into the pronunciation of the Beijing dialect. Elements from other dialects continue to exist in the standard language, but as exceptions rather than the rule. After the
Chinese Civil War The Chinese Civil War was a civil war in China fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led Nationalist government, government of the Republic of China (1912–1949), Republic of China (ROC) and forces of the Communist Party of China (CPC) lastin ...
, the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
continued the effort, and in 1955, officially renamed ''guóyǔ'' as ''pǔtōnghuà'' (), or "common speech". By contrast, the name ''guóyǔ'' continued to be used by the Republic of China which, after its 1949 loss in the
Chinese Civil War The Chinese Civil War was a civil war in China fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led Nationalist government, government of the Republic of China (1912–1949), Republic of China (ROC) and forces of the Communist Party of China (CPC) lastin ...
, was left with consisting only of
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
and some smaller islands in its retreat to Taiwan. Since then, the standards used in the PRC and Taiwan have diverged somewhat, especially in newer
vocabulary A vocabulary is a set of familiar words In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed la ...
terms, and a little in pronunciation. In 1956, the standard language of the People's Republic of China was officially defined as: "''Pǔtōnghuà'' is the standard form of Modern Chinese with the Beijing phonological system as its norm of pronunciation, and Northern dialects as its base dialect, and looking to exemplary modern works in '' báihuà'' 'vernacular literary language' for its grammatical norms." Original text in Chinese: "" By the official definition, Standard Chinese uses: * ''The
phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of lan ...

phonology
or sound system of
Beijing Beijing ( ), as Peking ( ), is the of the . It is the world's , with over 21 million residents within an of 16,410.5 km2 (6336 sq. mi.). It is located in , and is governed as a under the direct administration of the with .Figures ...

Beijing
.'' A distinction should be made between the sound system of a variety and the actual pronunciation of words in it. The pronunciations of words chosen for the standardized language do not necessarily reproduce all of those of the Beijing dialect. The pronunciation of words is a standardization choice and occasional standardization differences (not accents) do exist, between Putonghua and Guoyu, for example. * ''The
vocabulary A vocabulary is a set of familiar words In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed la ...
of
Mandarin dialects Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic (Chinese) languages spoken across most of northern and southwestern China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies ...
in general''. This means that all
slang Slang is vocabulary (words, phrases, and usage (language), linguistic usages) of an informal register, common in spoken conversation but avoided in formal writing. It also sometimes refers to the language generally exclusive to the members of p ...
and other elements deemed "regionalisms" are excluded. On the one hand, the vocabulary of all Chinese varieties, especially in more technical fields like
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

science
,
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
, and
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...

government
, are very similar. (This is similar to the profusion of
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
words in European languages.) This means that much of the vocabulary of Standard Chinese is shared with all varieties of Chinese. On the other hand, much of the
colloquial Colloquialism or colloquial language is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom normally employed in conversation and other informal conte ...
vocabulary of the Beijing dialect is not included in Standard Chinese, and may not be understood by people outside Beijing. * ''The
grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the ...
and idiom of exemplary modern
Chinese literature The history of Chinese literature extends thousands of years, from the earliest recorded dynastic court archive An archive is an accumulation of historical records – in any media – or the physical facility in which they are located. A ...
'', such as the work of
Lu Xun Zhou Shuren (25 September 1881 – 19 October 1936), better known by his pen name Lu Xun (or Lu Sun, Wade–Giles: Lu Hsün), was a Chinese writer, essayist, poet, and literary critic. He was a leading figure of modern Chinese literature. Writ ...
, collectively known as "
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, normally Spoken language, spoken informally rath ...
" (''báihuà''). Modern written vernacular Chinese is in turn based loosely upon a mixture of northern (predominant), southern, and
classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical antiquity, a period of history from roughly the 7th or 8th century B.C.E. to the 5th century C.E. centered on the Mediterranean Sea *Classical architecture, architecture derived from Greek and ...
grammar and usage. This gives formal Standard Chinese structure a slightly different feel from that of the street Beijing dialect. At first, proficiency in the new standard was limited, even among speakers of Mandarin dialects, but this improved over the following decades. A survey conducted by the China's Education Ministry in 2007 indicated that 53.06% of the population were able to effectively communicate orally in Standard Chinese. This rose to over 80% by 2020, with the Chinese government announcing a goal to have 85% of the country speak Standard Chinese by 2025 and virtually the entire country by 2035.


Current role

From an official point of view, Standard Chinese serves the purpose of a
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
—a way for speakers of the several mutually unintelligible varieties of Chinese, as well as the
ethnic minorities in China Ethnic minorities in China are the non-Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved ...
, to communicate with each other. The very name ''Pǔtōnghuà,'' or "common speech," reinforces this idea. In practice, however, due to Standard Chinese being a "public" lingua franca, other Chinese varieties and even non-Sinitic languages have shown signs of losing ground to the standard. While the Chinese government has been actively promoting ''Pǔtōnghuà'' on , radio and public services like buses to ease communication barriers in the country, developing ''Pǔtōnghuà'' as the official common language of the country has been challenging due to the presence of various ethnic groups which fear for the loss of their cultural identity and native dialect. In the summer of 2010, reports of increasing the use of the ''Pǔtōnghuà'' in local TV broadcasting in
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admin ...

Guangdong
led to thousands of
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research un ...

Cantonese
-speaking citizens in demonstration on the street. In both mainland China and Taiwan, the use of Mandarin as the medium of instruction in the educational system and in the media has contributed to the spread of Mandarin. As a result, Mandarin is now spoken by most people in mainland China and Taiwan, though often with some regional or personal variation from the standard in terms of pronunciation or lexicon. In 2020 it was estimated that about 80% of the population of China could speak Standard Mandarin. The Chinese government's general goal is to raise the penetration rate to 85% by 2025, and to virtually 100% by 2035. Mainland China and Taiwan use Standard Mandarin in most official contexts. The PRC in particular is keen to promote its use as a national
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
and has enacted a law (the ''National Common Language and Writing Law'') which states that the government must "promote" Standard Mandarin. There is no explicit official intent to have Standard Chinese replace the regional varieties, but local governments have enacted regulations (such as the '' Guangdong National Language Regulations'') which "implement" the national law by way of
coercive Coercion () is compelling a party to act in an involuntary manner by use of threat A threat is a ''communicated'' intent to inflict harm or loss on another person. Intimidation is widely observed in animal behavior (particularly in a rituali ...
measures to control the public use of regional spoken varieties and . In practice, some elderly or rural Chinese-language speakers do not speak Standard Chinese fluently, if at all, though most are able to understand it. But urban residents and the younger generations, who received their education with Standard Mandarin as the primary medium of education, are almost all fluent in a version of Standard Chinese, some to the extent of being unable to speak their local dialect. In the predominantly
Han Han may refer to: Ethnic groups * Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on ...
areas in mainland China, while the use of Standard Chinese is encouraged as the common working language, the PRC has been somewhat sensitive to the status of minority languages and, outside the education context, has generally not discouraged their social use. Standard Chinese is commonly used for practical reasons, as, in many parts of southern China, the linguistic diversity is so large that neighboring city dwellers may have difficulties communicating with each other without a ''lingua franca''. In Taiwan, the relationship between Standard Mandarin and other varieties, particularly
Taiwanese Hokkien Taiwanese, also known as Taigi, Taiwanese Hokkien (), Taiwanese Minnan, Hoklo and Holo, is a variety of the Hokkien Hokkien () is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bure ...
, has been more politically heated. During the
martial law Martial law is the temporary imposition of direct military control of normal civil functions or suspension of civil law by a government, especially in response to a temporary emergency where civil forces are overwhelmed, or in an military occ ...
period under the
Kuomintang The Kuomintang (KMT), also referred to as the Guomindang (GMD) or the Chinese Nationalist Party, is a political party in the Taiwan, Republic of China, initially Republic of China (1912–1949), on the Mainland China, Chinese mainland and ...
(KMT) between 1949 and 1987, the KMT government revived the Mandarin Promotion Council and discouraged or, in some cases, forbade the use of Hokkien and other non-standard varieties. This produced a political backlash in the 1990s. Under the administration of
Chen Shui-Bian Chen Shui-bian (; born 12 October 1950) is a retired Taiwanese politician and lawyer who served as the fifth president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 2000 to 2008. Chen is the first president from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ...
, other Taiwanese varieties were taught in schools. The former president, Chen Shui-Bian, often spoke in Hokkien during speeches, while after the late 1990s, former President
Lee Teng-hui Lee Teng-hui (; 15 January 192330 July 2020) was a Taiwanese statesman and economist who served as president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) under Constitution of the Republic of China, the 1947 C ...
, also speaks Hokkien openly. In an amendment to Article 14 of the Enforcement Rules of the Passport Act () passed on 9 August 2019, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs In many countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the government department responsible for the state's diplomacy Diplomacy is the practice of influencing the decisions and conduct of foreign governments or organizations through dialogue, neg ...
(Taiwan) announced that Taiwanese can use the romanized spellings of their names in
Hoklo The Hoklo people are Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on 2013-04-26.
,
Hakka The Hakka (), sometimes also referred to as Hakka Han, or Hakka Chinese, are a Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The fou ...
and for their passports. Previously, only Mandarin Chinese names could be romanized. In
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pe ...

Hong Kong
and
Macau Macau or Macao (; ; ; ), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (MSAR), (RAEM) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. Lond ...

Macau
, which are now special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China,
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, Brit ...
is the primary language spoken by the majority of the population and used by government and in their respective legislatures. After Hong Kong's handover from the United Kingdom and Macau's handover from Portugal, their governments use Putonghua to communicate with the
Central People's Government The State Council, constitutionally synonymous with the Central People's Government since 1954 (particularly in relation to local governments), is the chief administrative authority of the People's Republic of China China, officia ...
of the PRC. There have been widespread efforts to promote usage of Putonghua in Hong Kong since the handover, with specific efforts to train police and teachers. In Singapore, the government has heavily promoted a "
Speak Mandarin Campaign The Speak Mandarin Campaign (SMC; ) is an initiative by the government of Singapore The Government of the Republic of Singapore is defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore to mean the Executive branch of government, which ...
" since the late 1970s, with the use of other
Chinese varieties Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China * Chinese people, people of Chinese nationality, citizenship, or ethnicity **''Zhonghua minzu'', the supra-ethnic Chinese nationality ** Han Chinese, the majority ethnic group in Mainland China, ...
in
broadcast Broadcasting is the distributionDistribution may refer to: Mathematics *Distribution (mathematics) Distributions, also known as Schwartz distributions or generalized functions, are objects that generalize the classical notion of functi ...

broadcast
media being prohibited and their use in any context officially discouraged until recently. This has led to some resentment amongst the older generations, as Singapore's migrant Chinese community is made up almost entirely of people of south Chinese descent.
Lee Kuan Yew Lee Kuan Yew (16 September 1923 – 23 March 2015), born Harry Lee Kuan Yew, often referred to by his initials LKY and sometimes known in his earlier years as Harry Lee, was a Singaporean statesman and lawyer who served as Prime Minister of S ...

Lee Kuan Yew
, the initiator of the campaign, admitted that to most Chinese Singaporeans, Mandarin was a "stepmother tongue" rather than a true mother language. Nevertheless, he saw the need for a unified language among the Chinese community not biased in favor of any existing group. Mandarin is now spreading overseas beyond
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
and
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
as well. In
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...
, the use of Cantonese that dominated the for decades is being rapidly swept aside by Mandarin, the
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
of most of the latest
Chinese immigrants Overseas Chinese () are people of ethnic Han Chinese, Chinese birth who reside outside the territories of the China, People's Republic of China (PRC), its special administrative regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the Taiwan, Republ ...
.


Standard Chinese and the educational system

In both the PRC and Taiwan, Standard Chinese is taught by immersion starting in elementary school. After the second grade, the entire educational system is in Standard Chinese, except for local language classes that have been taught for a few hours each week in Taiwan starting in the mid-1990s. In December 2004, the first survey of language use in the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
revealed that only 53% of its population, about 700 million people, could communicate in Standard Chinese. This 53% is defined as a passing grade above 3-B (a score above 60%) of the Evaluation Exam. This number increased to over 80% by 2020. With the fast development of the country and the massive internal
migration in China Internal migration in the People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a popul ...
, the standard Putonghua Proficiency Test has quickly become popular. Many university graduates in mainland China take this exam before looking for a job. Employers often require varying proficiency in Standard Chinese from applicants depending on the nature of the positions. Applicants of some positions, e.g. telephone operators, may be required to obtain a certificate. People raised in Beijing are sometimes considered inherently 1-A (A score of at least 97%) and exempted from this requirement. As for the rest, the score of 1-A is rare. According to the official definition of proficiency levels, people who get 1-B (A score of at least 92%) are considered qualified to work as television correspondents or in broadcasting stations. 2-A (A score of at least 87%) can work as Chinese Literature Course teachers in public schools. Other levels include: 2-B (A score of at least 80%), 3-A (A score of at least 70%) and 3-B (A score of at least 60%). In China, a proficiency of level 3-B usually cannot be achieved unless special training is received. Even though many Chinese do not speak with standard pronunciation, spoken Standard Chinese is widely understood to some degree. The China National Language And Character Working Committee was founded in 1985. One of its important responsibilities is to promote Standard Chinese proficiency for Chinese native speakers.


Phonology

The usual unit of analysis is the syllable, consisting of an optional initial
consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...
, an optional medial
glide Glide may refer to: * Gliding flight, to fly without thrust Computing *Glide API, a 3D graphics interface *Glide OS, a web desktop *Glide (software), an instant video messenger *Glide, a molecular docking software by Schrödinger (company), Schrö ...
, a main vowel and an optional coda, and further distinguished by a
tone Tone may refer to: Color-related * Tone, mix of tint and shade, in painting and color theory * Tone, the lightness Lightness is a visual perception of the luminance (L) of an object. It is often judged relative to a similarly lit object. ...
. The palatal initials , and pose a classic problem of
phonemic In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any partic ...
analysis. Since they occur only before high front vowels, they are in
complementary distribution In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
with three other series, the dental sibilants, retroflexes and velars, which never occur in this position. The final, which occurs only after dental sibilant and retroflex initials, is a syllabic
approximant Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough nor with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives Fricatives are conso ...
, prolonging the initial. The rhotacized vowel forms a complete syllable. A reduced form of this syllable occurs as a sub-syllabic suffix, spelled ''-r'' in pinyin and often with a
diminutive A diminutive is a root word A root (or root word) is the core of a word that is irreducible into more meaningful elements. In morphology, a root is a morphologically simple unit which can be left bare or to which a prefix A prefix is an aff ...
connotation. The suffix modifies the coda of the base syllable in a rhotacizing process called ''
erhua Erhua ( ); also called erization or rhotacization of syllable finals) refers to a phonological process that adds r-coloring or the "er" (注音:, common words: 、、) sound (transcribed in IPA as ) to syllables in spoken Mandarin Chinese M ...
''. Each full syllable is pronounced with a phonemically distinctive pitch contour. There are four tonal categories, marked in pinyin with iconic diacritic symbols, as in the words ''mā'' (; "mother"), ''má'' (; "hemp"), ''mǎ'' (; "horse") and ''mà'' (; "curse"). The tonal categories also have secondary characteristics. For example, the third tone is long and
murmured Breathy voice (also called murmured voice, whispery voice, soughing and susurration) is a phonation in which the vocal folds vibrate, as they do in normal (modal) voicing, but are adjusted to let more air escape which produces a sighing-like s ...
, whereas the fourth tone is relatively short. Statistically, vowels and tones are of similar importance in the language. There are also weak syllables, including grammatical particles such as the interrogative ''ma'' () and certain syllables in polysyllabic words. These syllables are short, with their pitch determined by the preceding syllable.Such syllables are commonly described as being in the neutral tone.


Regional accents

It is common for Standard Chinese to be spoken with the speaker's regional accent, depending on factors such as age, level of education, and the need and frequency to speak in official or formal situations. This appears to be changing, though, in large
urban area An urban area, or built-up area, is a human settlement with a high population density and infrastructure of built environment. Urban areas are created through urbanization and are categorized by urban morphology as city, cities, towns, conurbat ...
s, as social changes, migrations, and
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural File:Rural landscape in Finland.jpg, A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000. In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographi ...
take place. Due to evolution and standardization, Mandarin, although based on the
Beijing dialect The Beijing dialect (), also known as Pekingese, is the prestige dialect of Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin spoken in the urban area of Beijing, China. It is the phonological basis of Standard Chinese, the official language in the China, People's Repub ...
, is no longer synonymous with it. Part of this was due to the standardization to reflect a greater vocabulary scheme and a more archaic and "proper-sounding" pronunciation and vocabulary. Distinctive features of the Beijing dialect are more extensive use of ''erhua'' in vocabulary items that are left unadorned in descriptions of the standard such as the ''
Xiandai Hanyu Cidian ''Xiandai Hanyu Cidian'' (), also known as ''A Dictionary of Current Chinese'' or ''Contemporary Chinese Dictionary'' is an important one-volume dictionary of Standard Mandarin, Standard Mandarin Chinese published by the Commercial Press, now into ...
'', as well as more neutral tones. An example of standard versus Beijing dialect would be the standard ''mén'' (door) and Beijing ''ménr''. differs mostly in the tones of some words as well as some vocabulary. Minimal use of the neutral tone and ''erhua'', and technical vocabulary constitute the greatest divergences between the two forms. The stereotypical "southern Chinese" accent does not distinguish between
retroflex A retroflex, apico-domal, or cacuminal () consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral c ...
and
alveolar consonant Alveolar consonants are place of articulation, articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the Dental alveolus, alveoli (the sockets) of the upper teeth. Alveolar consona ...

alveolar consonant
s, pronouncing pinyin ''zh'' ʂ ''ch'' [tʂʰ], and ''sh'' [ʂ] in the same way as ''z'' [ts], ''c'' [tsʰ], and ''s'' [s] respectively. Southern-accented Standard Chinese may also interchange ''l'' and ''n'', final ''n'' and ''ng'', and vowels ''i'' and ''ü'' [y]. Attitudes towards southern accents, particularly the Cantonese accent, range from disdain to admiration.


Romanization and script

While there is a standard dialect among different
varieties of Chinese Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, w ...
, there is no "standard script". In mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia, standard Chinese is rendered in simplified Chinese characters; while in Taiwan it is rendered in traditional Chinese characters, traditional. As for the Romanization of Chinese, romanization of standard Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin is the most dominant system globally, while Taiwan stick to the older Bopomofo system.


Grammar

Chinese is a strongly
analytic language In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
, having almost no inflectional morphemes, and relying on word order and grammatical particle, particles to express relationships between the parts of a sentence. Nouns are not marked for grammatical case, case and rarely marked for grammatical number, number. Verbs are not marked for agreement (linguistics), agreement or grammatical tense, but grammatical aspect, aspect is marked using post-verbal particles. The basic word order is
subject–verb–object In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
(SVO), as in English. Nouns are generally preceded by any modifiers (adjectives, possessives and relative clauses), and verbs also generally follow any modifiers (adverbs, auxiliary verbs and prepositional phrases). The predicate can be an intransitive verb, a transitive verb followed by a direct object, a copula (linguistics), copula (linking verb) ''shì'' () followed by a noun phrase, etc. In predicative use, Chinese adjectives function as stative verbs, forming complete predicates in their own right without a copula. For example, Another example is the common greeting ''nǐ hăo'' (), literally "you good". Chinese additionally differs from English in that it forms another kind of sentence by Topic-prominent language, stating a topic and following it by a comment. To do this in English, speakers generally flag the topic of a sentence by prefacing it with "as for". For example: The time when something happens can be given by an explicit term such as "yesterday," by relative terms such as "formerly," etc. As in many east Asian languages, Chinese classifier, classifiers or measure words are required when using numeral (linguistics), numerals, demonstratives and similar quantifiers. There are many different classifiers in the language, and each noun generally has a particular classifier associated with it. The general classifier ''ge'' (/) is gradually replacing specific classifiers.


Vocabulary

Many Chinese honorifics, honorifics that were in use in imperial China have not been used in daily conversation in modern-day Mandarin, such as ''jiàn'' (; ; "my humble") and ''guì'' (; ; "your honorable"). Although Chinese speakers make a clear distinction between Standard Chinese and the Beijing dialect, there are aspects of Beijing dialect that have made it into the official standard. Standard Chinese has a T–V distinction between the polite and informal "you" that comes from the Beijing dialect, although its use is quite diminished in daily speech. It also distinguishes between "''zánmen''" (''we'' including the listener) and "''wǒmen''" (''we'' not including the listener). In practice, neither distinction is commonly used by most Chinese, at least outside the Beijing area. The following samples are some phrases from the Beijing dialect which are not yet accepted into Standard Chinese: * ''bèir'' means 'very much'; ''bànsuàn'' means 'stagger'; ''bù lìn'' means 'do not worry about'; ''cuō'' means 'eat'; ''chūliū'' means 'slip'; ''dà lǎoyermenr'' means 'man, male'. The following samples are some phrases from Beijing dialect which have become accepted as Standard Chinese: * ''èr bǎ dāo'' means 'not very skillful'; ''gēménr means'' 'good male friend(s)', 'buddy(ies)'; ''kōu ménr'' means 'frugal' or 'stingy'.


Writing system

Standard Chinese is written with characters corresponding to syllables of the language, most of which represent a morpheme. In most cases, these characters come from those used in
Classical Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak"; Written vernacular Chinese, modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text"), is the language of the cla ...
to write cognate morphemes of late Old Chinese, though their pronunciation, and often meaning, has shifted dramatically over two millennia. However, there are several words, many of them heavily used, which have no classical counterpart or whose etymology is obscure. Two strategies have been used to write such words: * An unrelated character with the same or similar pronunciation might be used, especially if its original sense was no longer common. For example, the demonstrative pronouns ''zhè'' "this" and ''nà'' "that" have no counterparts in Classical Chinese, which used ''cǐ'' and ''bǐ'' respectively. Hence the character (later simplified as ) for ''zhè'' "to meet" was borrowed to write ''zhè'' "this", and the character for ''nà'', the name of a country and later a rare surname, was borrowed to write ''nà'' "that". * A new character, usually a phono-semantic or semantic compound, might be created. For example, ''gǎn'' "pursue, overtake", is written with a new character , composed of the signific ''zǒu'' "run" and the phonetic ''hàn'' "drought". This method was used to represent many Chemical elements in East Asian languages#Chinese, elements in the periodic table. The government of the PRC (as well as some other governments and institutions) has promulgated a set of Simplified Chinese, simplified forms. Under this system, the forms of the words ''zhèlǐ'' ("here") and ''nàlǐ'' ("there") changed from and to and , among many other changes. Chinese characters were traditionally read from top to bottom, right to left, but in modern usage it is more common to read from left to right.


Examples


See also

* Chinese speech synthesis * Comparison of national standards of Chinese * Philippine Mandarin * Malaysian Mandarin * Singaporean Mandarin * Taiwanese Mandarin * Protection of the Varieties of Chinese


Notes


References


Citations


Works cited

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * Hsia, T., ''China's Language Reforms'', Far Eastern Publications, Yale University, (New Haven), 1956. * Ladefoged, Peter; & Maddieson, Ian (1996). ''The sounds of the world's languages''. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. (hbk); (pbk). * * Lehmann, W. P. (ed.), ''Language & Linguistics in the People's Republic of China'', University of Texas Press, (Austin), 1975. * Lin, Y., ''Lin Yutang's Chinese-English Dictionary of Modern Usage'', The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1972. * Milsky, C., "New Developments in Language Reform", ''The China Quarterly'', No. 53, (January–March 1973), pp. 98–133. * Seybolt, P. J. and Chiang, G. K. (eds.), ''Language Reform in China: Documents and Commentary'', M. E. Sharpe (White Plains), 1979. . * Simon, W., ''A Beginners' Chinese-English Dictionary of the National Language (Gwoyeu): Fourth Revised Edition'', Lund Humphries (London), 1975.


External links

* * * Video - Talk by David Moser {{Languages of Malaysia Standard Chinese, Languages of China Languages of Taiwan Chinese languages in Singapore Standard languages, Chinese