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STANDARD CHINESE, also known as MODERN STANDARD MANDARIN, STANDARD MANDARIN, or simply MANDARIN, is a standard variety of Chinese that is the sole official language of both China
China
and Taiwan
Taiwan
, and also one of the four official languages of Singapore
Singapore
. Its pronunciation is based on the Beijing dialect , its vocabulary on the Mandarin dialects , and its grammar is based on written vernacular Chinese .

Like other varieties of Chinese, Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
is a tonal language with topic-prominent organization and subject–verb–object word order. It has more initial consonants but fewer vowels, final consonants and tones than southern varieties. Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
is an analytic language , though with many compound words .

There exist two standardised forms of the language, namely PUTONGHUA in Mainland China
China
and GUOYU in Taiwan. Aside from a number of differences in pronunciation and vocabulary, Putonghua is written using simplified Chinese characters
Chinese characters
(plus Hanyu Pinyin romanization for teaching), while Guoyu is written using traditional Chinese characters (plus Bopomofo for teaching). There are many characters that are identical between the two systems.

CONTENTS

* 1 Names

* 1.1 Putonghua and Guoyu * 1.2 Huayu * 1.3 Mandarin

* 2 History

* 2.1 Late empire * 2.2 Modern China
China

* 3 Current role

* 3.1 Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
and the educational system

* 4 Phonology

* 4.1 Regional accents

* 5 Vocabulary * 6 Syntax * 7 Writing system
Writing system
* 8 Common phrases * 9 See also

* 10 References

* 10.1 Works cited

* 11 Further reading * 12 External links

NAMES

In Chinese, the standard variety is known as:

* _Pǔtōnghuà_ (普通话; 普通話; "common speech") in the People\'s Republic of China
China
, as well as Hong Kong
Hong Kong
and Macau
Macau
; * _Guóyǔ_ (國語; "national language") in Taiwan
Taiwan
; * _Huáyǔ_ (华语; 華語; "Chinese language") in Singapore
Singapore
, Malaysia
Malaysia
, Indonesia
Indonesia
, the Philippines
Philippines
and the rest of Southeast Asia ; and * _Hànyǔ_ (汉语; 漢語; "language of the Han tribe ") in the United States
United States
and elsewhere in the Chinese diaspora .

PUTONGHUA AND GUOYU

In English, the governments of China
China
and Hong Kong
Hong Kong
use PUTONGHUA, PUTONGHUA CHINESE, MANDARIN CHINESE, and MANDARIN, while those of Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia, use MANDARIN.

The term _Guoyu_ had previously been used by non-Han rulers of China to refer to their languages, but in 1909 the Qing education ministry officially applied it to Mandarin , a lingua franca based on northern Chinese varieties , proclaiming it as the new "national language".

The name _Putonghua_ also has a long, albeit unofficial, history. It was used as early as 1906 in writings by Zhu Wenxiong to differentiate a modern, standard Chinese from classical Chinese and other varieties of Chinese .

For some linguists of the early 20th century, the _Putonghua_, or "common tongue/speech", was conceptually different from the _Guoyu_, or "national language". The former was a national prestige variety, while the latter was the _legal_ standard.

Based on common understandings of the time, the two were, in fact, different. _Guoyu_ was understood as formal vernacular Chinese, which is close to classical Chinese . By contrast, _Putonghua_ was called "the common speech of the modern man", which is the spoken language adopted as a national lingua franca by conventional usage.

The use of the term _Putonghua_ by left-leaning intellectuals such as Qu Qiubai and Lu Xun
Lu Xun
influenced the People's Republic of China government to adopt that term to describe Mandarin in 1956. Prior to this, the government used both terms interchangeably.

In Taiwan
Taiwan
, _Guoyu_ (national language) continues to be the official term for Standard Chinese. The term _Guoyu_ however, is less used in the PRC, because declaring a Beijing dialect -based standard to be the national language would be deemed unfair to speakers of other varieties and to the ethnic minorities . The term _Putonghua_ (common speech), on the contrary, implies nothing more than the notion of a lingua franca .

During the government of a pro- Taiwan
Taiwan
independence coalition (2000–2008), Taiwan
Taiwan
officials promoted a different reading of _Guoyu_ as all of the "national languages", meaning Hokkien
Hokkien
, Hakka and Formosan as well as Standard Chinese.

HUAYU

_Huayu_, or "language of the Chinese nation ", originally simply meant " Chinese language ", and was used in overseas communities to contrast Chinese with foreign languages. Over time, the desire to standardise the variety of Chinese spoken in these communities led to the adoption of the name "Huayu" to refer to Mandarin.

This name also avoids choosing a side between the alternative names of _Putonghua_ and _Guoyu_, which came to have political significance after their usages diverged along political lines between the PRC and the ROC . It also incorporates the notion that Mandarin is usually not the national or common language of the areas in which overseas Chinese live.

MANDARIN

The term "Mandarin" is a translation of _Guānhuà_ (官话/官話, literally "official's speech"), which referred to the lingua franca of the late Chinese empire . The Chinese term is obsolete as a name for the standard language, but is used by linguists to refer to the major group of Mandarin dialects spoken natively across most of northern and southwestern China.

In English, "Mandarin" may refer to the standard language, the dialect group as a whole, or to historic forms such as the late Imperial lingua franca. The name "Modern Standard Mandarin" is sometimes used by linguists who wish to distinguish the current state of the shared language from other northern and historic dialects.

HISTORY

Main article: History of Mandarin

The Chinese have different languages in different provinces, to such an extent that they cannot understand each other.... also have another language which is like a universal and common language; this is the official language of the mandarins and of the court; it is among them like Latin
Latin
among ourselves.... Two of our fathers have been learning this mandarin language... —  Alessandro Valignano , _Historia del Principio y Progresso de la Compañia de Jesus en las Indias Orientales (1542–1564)_

Chinese has long had considerable dialectal variation, hence prestige dialects have always existed, and linguae francae have always been needed. Confucius
Confucius
, for example, used _yǎyán_ (雅言; "elegant speech") rather than colloquial regional dialects; text during the Han Dynasty also referred to _tōngyǔ_ (通语; "common language"). Rime books , which were written since the Northern and Southern dynasties , may also have reflected one or more systems of standard pronunciation 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 , was a written standard, not a spoken one.

LATE EMPIRE

Main article: Mandarin (late imperial lingua franca) _ Zhongguo Guanhua_ (中国官话/中國官話), or _Medii Regni Communis Loquela_ ("Middle Kingdom's Common Speech"), used on the frontispiece of an early Chinese grammar published by Étienne Fourmont (with Arcadio Huang ) in 1742

The Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
(1368–1644) and the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
(1644–1912) began to use the term _guānhuà_ (官话/官話), or "official speech", to refer to the speech used at the courts . The term "Mandarin" is borrowed directly from Portuguese . The Portuguese word _mandarim_, derived from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
word _mantrin _ "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 Academies (正音书院/正音書院 _Zhèngyīn Shūyuàn_) 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 , but later the Beijing dialect became increasingly influential, despite the mix of officials and commoners speaking various dialects in the capital, Beijing
Beijing
. By some accounts, as late as the early 20th century, the position of Nanjing
Nanjing
Mandarin was considered to be higher than that of Beijing
Beijing
by some and the postal romanization standards set in 1906 included spellings with elements of Nanjing
Nanjing
pronunciation. Nevertheless, by 1909, the dying Qing dynasty had established the Beijing dialect as _guóyǔ_ (国语/國語), or the "national language".

As the island of Taiwan
Taiwan
had fallen under Japanese rule per the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki , the term _kokugo_ (Japanese : 國語, "national language") referred to the Japanese language
Japanese language
until the handover to the ROC in 1945.

MODERN CHINA

After the Republic of China
China
was established in 1912, there was more success in promoting a common national language. A Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation was convened with delegates from the entire country. A _Dictionary of National Pronunciation_ (国音字典/國音字典) 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 continued to develop apace.

Gradually, the members of the National Language Commission came to settle upon the Beijing
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_ (国音常用字汇/國音常用字彙), 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
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
Chinese Civil War
, the People's Republic of China continued the effort, and in 1955, officially renamed _guóyǔ_ as _pǔtōnghuà_ (普通话/普通話), 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, was left with a territory consisting only of Taiwan
Taiwan
and some smaller islands. Since then, the standards used in the PRC and Taiwan
Taiwan
have diverged somewhat, especially in newer vocabulary terms, and a little in pronunciation.

In 1956, the standard language of the People's Republic of China
China
was officially defined as: "_Pǔtōnghuà_ is the standard form of Modern Chinese with the Beijing
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." By the official definition, Standard Chinese uses:

* _The phonology or sound system of Beijing
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
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 of Mandarin dialects in general_. This means that all slang and other elements deemed "regionalisms" are excluded. On the one hand, the vocabulary of all Chinese varieties, especially in more technical fields like science , law , and government , are very similar. (This is similar to the profusion of Latin
Latin
and Greek words in European languages.) This means that much of the vocabulary of Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
is shared with all varieties of Chinese. On the other hand, much of the colloquial vocabulary of the Beijing dialect is not included in Standard Chinese, and may not be understood by people outside Beijing. * _The grammar and idiom of exemplary modern Chinese literature
Chinese literature
_, such as the work of Lu Xun
Lu Xun
, collectively known as "vernacular " (_baihua_). Modern written vernacular Chinese is in turn based loosely upon a mixture of northern (predominant), southern, and classical grammar and usage. This gives formal Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
structure a slightly different feel from that of street Beijing
Beijing
dialect.

In the early 1950s, this standard language was understood by 41% of the population of the country, including 54% of speakers of Mandarin dialects, but only 11% of people in the rest of the country. In 1984, the proportion understanding the standard language nationally rose to 90% and the proportion understanding the standard language among the speakers of Mandarin dialects rose to 91%. A survey conducted by the Chinese Ministry of Education in 2007 indicated that 53.06% of the population were able to effectively communicate orally in Standard Chinese.

CURRENT ROLE

Map of eastern China
China
and Taiwan
Taiwan
, showing the historic distribution of all the varieties of Mandarin Chinese in light brown. Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
is based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin.

From an official point of view, Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
serves the purpose of a lingua franca —a way for speakers of the several mutually unintelligible varieties of Chinese, as well as the Chinese minorities , to communicate with each other. The very name _Putonghua,_ or "common speech," reinforces this idea. In practice, however, due to Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
being a "public" lingua franca, other Chinese varieties and even non-Sinitic languages, have shown signs of losing ground to the standard.

In both China
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 fluently, though often with some regional or personal variation from the standard in terms of pronunciation or lexicon, by most people in mainland China
China
and Taiwan. In 2014, the Ministry of Education estimated that about 70% of the population of China
China
spoke Standard Mandarin to some degree, but only one tenth of those could speak it "fluently and articulately". However, there is a 20% difference in penetration between eastern and western parts of China
China
and a 50% difference between urban and rural areas. In addition, there are still 400 million Chinese who are only able to listen and understand Mandarin and not able to speak it. Therefore, in China's 13th Five Year Plan, the general goal is to raise the penetration rate to over 80% by 2020.

Both mainland China
China
and Taiwan
Taiwan
use Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
in the official context and the governments are keen to promote its use as a national lingua franca . The PRC in particular 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
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 measures to control the public use of regional spoken varieties and traditional characters in writing . 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. Further information: Promotion of Putonghua

In the predominantly Han areas in mainland China, while the use of Standard Chinese
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
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 Chinese
Standard Chinese
and other varieties, particularly Taiwanese Hokkien , has been more politically heated. During the martial law period under the Kuomintang (KMT) between 1949 and 1987, the KMT government revived the Mandarin Promotion Council and discouraged or, in some cases, forbade the use of Hokkien
Hokkien
and other non-standard varieties. This produced a political backlash in the 1990s. Under the administration of Chen Shui-Bian , other Taiwanese varieties were taught in schools. The former President, Chen Shui-Bian, often spoke in Hokkien
Hokkien
during speeches, while after the late 1990s, former President Lee Teng-hui , also speaks Hokkien
Hokkien
openly.

In Hong Kong
Hong Kong
and Macau
Macau
, which are now special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China, Cantonese
Cantonese
is the primary language spoken by the majority of the population. Cantonese
Cantonese
remains the official government language of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
and Macau. After Hong Kong\'s handover from the United Kingdom and Macau\'s handover from Portugal , Putonghua is the language used by the governments of the two territories to communicate with the Central People\'s Government of the PRC. There have been widespread efforts to promote usage of Putonghua in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
since the handover, with specific efforts to train police and teachers.

In Singapore, the government has heavily promoted a "Speak Mandarin Campaign " since the late 1970s, with the use of other Chinese varieties in 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
, 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
and Southeast Asia as well. In New York City , the use of Cantonese
Cantonese
that dominated the Manhattan Chinatown for decades is being rapidly swept aside by Mandarin, the lingua franca of most of the latest Chinese immigrants .

STANDARD CHINESE AND THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

_ A poster outside a high school in Yangzhou
Yangzhou
urges people to "speak Putonghua_, welcome guests from all parts" and "use civilised language".

In both the PRC and Taiwan, Standard Chinese
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
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.

With the fast development of the country and the massive internal migration in China
China
, the standard Putonghua Proficiency Test has quickly become popular. Many university graduates in mainland China and Hong Kong
Hong Kong
take this exam before looking for a job. Employers often require varying proficiency in Standard Chinese
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
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
Standard Chinese
is widely understood to some degree.

The China
China
National Language And Character Working Committee was founded in 1985. One of its important responsibilities is to promote Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
proficiency for Chinese native speakers.

PHONOLOGY

Main article: Standard Chinese phonology

The phoneme inventory of Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
consists of about two dozen consonants, of which only /n/ , /ŋ/ , and under certain circumstances the retroflex approximant /ɻ / can occur in the syllable coda , about half a dozen vowels, some of which form diphthongs , and four tones , one of which is marked with creaky voice . Statistically, vowels and tones are of similar importance in the language.

REGIONAL ACCENTS

It is common for Standard Chinese
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 areas , as social changes, migrations, and urbanization take place.

Due to evolution and standardization, Mandarin, although based on the Beijing dialect , 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 the use of erhua , a final "er" (/ɻ /) sound, often as a diminutive , in vocabulary items that are left unadorned in descriptions of the standard such as the _ Xiandai Hanyu Cidian _, as well as more neutral tones. An example of standard versus Beijing dialect would be the standard _men_ (door) and Beijing
Beijing
_menr_.

Most Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
as spoken on Taiwan
Taiwan
differs mostly in the tones of some words as well as some vocabulary. Minimal use of the neutral tone and erhua (final "er"; /ɻ/), and technical vocabulary constitute the greatest divergences between the two forms.

The stereotypical "southern Chinese" accent does not distinguish between retroflex and alveolar consonants , pronouncing pinyin _zh_ , _ch_ , and _sh_ in the same way as _z_ , _c_ , and _s_ respectively. Southern-accented Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
may also interchange _l_ and _n_, final _n_ and _ng_, and vowels _i_ and _ü_ . Attitudes towards southern accents, particularly the Cantonese
Cantonese
accent, range from disdain to admiration.

VOCABULARY

Many formal, polite and humble words that were in use in imperial China
China
have not been used in daily conversation in modern-day Mandarin, such as _jiàn_ (贱/賤 "my humble") and _guì_ (贵/貴 "your honorable").

Although Chinese speakers make a clear distinction between Standard Chinese and the Beijing
Beijing
dialect, there are aspects of Beijing
Beijing
dialect that have made it into the official standard. Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
has a T–V distinction between the polite and informal "you" that comes from the Beijing
Beijing
dialect, although its use is quite diminished in daily speech. In addition, 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
Beijing
area.

The following samples are some phrases from the Beijing dialect which are not yet accepted into Standard Chinese:

* 倍儿 _bèir_ means 'very much'; 拌蒜 _bànsuàn_ means 'stagger'; 不吝 _bù lìn_ means 'do not worry about'; 撮 _cuō_ means 'eat'; 出溜 _chūliū_ means 'slip'; (大)老爷儿们儿 _dà lǎoyermenr_ means 'man, male'.

The following samples are some phrases from Beijing dialect which have become accepted as Standard Chinese:

* 二把刀 _èr bǎ dāo_ means 'not very skillful'; 哥们儿 _gēménr means_ 'good male friend(s)', 'buddy(ies)'; 抠门儿 _kōu ménr_ means 'frugal' or 'stingy'.

SYNTAX

Main article: Chinese grammar

Chinese is a very analytic or isolating language , having almost no inflectional morphemes . It follows a similar sentence structure to English, frequently forming sentences in the order subject-predicate. The predicate can be an intransitive verb, a transitive verb followed by a direct object, a linking verb followed by a predicate nominative, etc.

Chinese differs from English in distinguishing between names of things, which can stand as predicate nominatives, and names of characteristics. Names of characteristics (e.g., green) cannot follow linking verbs. There is not an equivalent to the English predicate adjective. Instead, abstract characterizations such as "green", "angry", "hot", etc., stand as complete predicates in their own right . For example, 我不累。_Wǒ bú lèi_. A word-for-word version in English might be "I not tired." Another common phrase, 你好 (nǐ hăo), demonstrates this feature. While it gets translated into English as "hello", the transliteration is "You good".

Chinese additionally differs from English in that it forms another kind of sentence by 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 instance, one might say, "As for the money that Mom gave us, I have already bought candy with it." Note that the comment in this case is itself a complete sentence with subject, verb, and object. The Chinese version is simply, 妈妈给我们的钱,我已经买了糖果。'Māma gěi wǒmen de qián, wǒ yǐjīng mǎile tángguǒ(r)_. This might be directly translated as "The money Mom gave us, I already bought candy," lacking a preface as in English._

Chinese does not inflect verbs for tense like English and other European languages. Instead it uses a combination of aspect markers for aspect and modality. In other words, it employs single syllables that indicate such things as (1) an action being expected or anticipated, (2) that the subject of the sentence has gone through some experience within a stated or implicit time period, (3) that a statement that was formerly not the case has now become true, i.e., that there has been a change of status, (4) that there still has not been a change in a condition previously noted, etc.

The time when something happens can be given by an explicit term such as "yesterday," by relative terms such as "formerly," etc.

Another major difference between the syntax of Chinese and languages like English lies in the stacking order of modifying clauses . 昨天发脾气的外交警察取消了沒有交钱的那些人的入境证。_Zuótiān fāpíqì DE wàijiāo jǐngchá qǔxiāole méiyǒu jiāoqián DE nàxiē rén DE rùjìngzhèng_. Using the Chinese order in English, that sentence would be: " → foreign affairs policeman canceled → 's visas."

In more ordinary English order, that would be: "The foreign affairs policeman who got angry yesterday canceled the visas of those people who did not pay."

There are a few other features of Chinese that would be unfamiliar to speakers of English, but the features mentioned above are generally the most noticeable.

WRITING SYSTEM

Main article: Chinese characters
Chinese characters

Standard Chinese
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 to write cognate morphemes of late Old Chinese
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 此 _cǐ_ and 彼 _bǐ_ respectively. Hence the character 這 (later simplified as 这) for _zhè_ "to meet" was borrowed to write _zhè_ "this", and the character 那 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 趕, composed of the signific 走 _zǒu_ "run" and the phonetic 旱 _hàn_ "drought". This method was used to represent many elements in the periodic table .

The government of the PRC (as well as some other governments and institutions) has promulgated a set of simplified forms . Under this system, the forms of the words _zhèlǐ_ ("here") and _nàlǐ_ ("there") changed from 這裏/這裡 and 那裏/那裡 to 这里 and 那里.

Chinese characters
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.

COMMON PHRASES

ENGLISH TRADITIONAL CHARACTERS SIMPLIFIED CHARACTERS PINYIN

Hello! 你好! 你好! Nǐ hǎo!

What is your name? 你叫什麼名字? 你叫什么名字? Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?

My name is... 我叫... 我叫... Wǒ jiào ...

How are you? 你好嗎?/ 你怎麼樣? 你好吗?/ 你怎么样? Nǐ hǎo ma? / Nǐ zěnmeyàng?

I am fine, how about you? 我很好,你呢? 我很好,你呢? Wǒ hěn hǎo, nǐ ne?

I don't want it / I don't want to 我不要。 我不要。 Wǒ bú yào.

Thank you! 謝謝! 谢谢! Xièxie

Welcome! / You're welcome! (Literally: No need to thank me!) / Don't mention it! (Literally: Don't be so polite!) 歡迎!/ 不用謝!/ 不客氣! 欢迎!/ 不用谢!/ 不客气! Huānyíng! / Búyòng xiè! / Bú kèqì!

Yes. / Correct. 是。 / 對。/ 嗯。 是。 / 对。/ 嗯。 Shì. / Duì. / M.

No. / Incorrect. 不是。/ 不對。/ 不。 不是。/ 不对。/ 不。 Búshì. / Bú duì. / Bù.

When? 什麼時候? 什么时候? Shénme shíhou?

How much money? 多少錢? 多少钱? Duōshǎo qián?

Can you speak a little slower? 您能說得再慢些嗎? 您能说得再慢些吗? Nín néng shuō de zài mànxiē ma?

Good morning! / Good morning! 早上好! / 早安! 早上好! / 早安! Zǎoshang hǎo! / Zǎo'ān!

Goodbye! 再見! 再见! Zàijiàn!

How do you get to the airport? 去機場怎麼走? 去机场怎么走? Qù jīchǎng zěnme zǒu?

I want to fly to London on the eighteenth 我想18號坐飛機到倫敦。 我想18号坐飞机到伦敦。 Wǒ xiǎng shíbā hào zuò fēijī dào Lúndūn.

How much will it cost to get to Munich? 到慕尼黑要多少錢? 到慕尼黑要多少钱? Dào Mùníhēi yào duōshǎo qián?

I don't speak Chinese very well. 我的漢語說得不太好。 我的汉语说得不太好。 Wǒ de Hànyǔ shuō de bú tài hǎo.

Do you speak English? 你會說英語嗎? 你会说英语吗? Nǐ huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma?

I have no money. 我沒有錢。 我没有钱。 Wǒ méiyǒu qián.

SEE ALSO

* Chinese speech synthesis * Comparison of national standards of Chinese * Philippine Mandarin * Malaysian Mandarin * Singaporean Mandarin * Taiwanese Mandarin * Comparison of Cantonese and Standard Chinese

REFERENCES

* ^ Norman (1988) , pp. 251. * ^ Liang (2014) , p. 45. * ^ _A_ _B_ Luo, Chris (22 September 2014). "One-third of Chinese do not speak Putonghua, says Education Ministry". _South China
China
Morning Post_. * ^ Only 7% of people in China
China
speak proper Putonghua: PRC MOE, _Language Log_, 2014 Sept. 24 * ^ 台灣手語簡介 (Taiwan) (2009) * ^ http://www.china-language.gov.cn/ (Chinese) * ^ Kane, Daniel (2006). _The Chinese Language: Its History and Current Usage_. Tuttle Publishing. pp. 22–23, 93. ISBN 978-0-8048-3853-5 . * ^ Chinese Central Government
Government
Official Web Portal. "Constitution". 2012. Accessed 6 November 2013. * ^ "About Hong Kong". Government
Government
of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
. April 2007. Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2013. * ^ Chinese Central Government
Government
Official Web Portal. "Spoken and Written Languages". 2012. Accessed 6 November 2013. * ^ Chinese Central Government
Government
Official Web Portal. "State Councilor urges more efforts to popularize Chinese language". 21 January 2011. Accessed 6 November 2013. * ^ Chinese Central Government
Government
Official Web Portal. "Languages". 8 November 2012. Accessed 6 November 2013. * ^ Chinese Central Government
Government
Official Web Portal. "China-US relations pioneer praised in Beijing
Beijing
meeting". 30 August 2012. Accessed 6 November 2013. * ^ Taiwanese Government
Government
Entry Point. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Languages". 24 May 2013. Accessed 6 November 2013. * ^ Taiwan
Taiwan
Culture Portal. Ministry of Culture. "About Taiwan". 2012. Accessed 6 November 2013. * ^ Ministry of Defense Singapore. PACC PAMS Singapore. "About Singapore". 28 July 2011. Accessed 6 November 2013. * ^ Singapore
Singapore
Tourism Board. " Singapore
Singapore
Culture, Language, and People". 2013. Accessed 6 November 2013. * ^ Official Portal
Portal
of the Government
Government
of Malaysia. "About Malaysia: Language". Accessed 6 November 2013. * ^ Norman (1988) , pp. 133–134. * ^ Yuan, Zhongrui. (2008) "国语、普通话、华语 (Guoyu, Putonghua, Huayu)". _ China
China
Language_ National Language Committee, People's Republic of China * ^ Fell, Dafydd; Klöter, Henning; Chang, Bi-yu (2006). _What Has Changed?: Taiwan
Taiwan
Before and After the Change in Ruling Parties_. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. p. 213. ISBN 9783447053792 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Norman (1988) , p. 136. * ^ _A_ _B_ Coblin (2000) , p. 537. * ^ Translation quoted in Coblin (2000) , p. 539. * ^ Liberlibri SARL. "FOURMONT, Etienne. Linguae Sinarum Mandarinicae hieroglyphicae grammatica duplex, latinè, & cum characteribus Sinensium. Item Sinicorum Regiae Bibliothecae librorum catalogus" (in French). Liberlibri.com. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2010. * ^ Coblin (2000) , pp. 549–550. * ^ _L. Richard\'s comprehensive geography of the Chinese empire and dependencies_ translated into English, revised and enlarged by M. Kennelly, S.J. Shanghai: T'usewei Press, 1908. p. iv. (Translation of Louis Richard, _Géographie de l'empire de Chine_, Shanghai, 1905.) * ^ Chen (1999) , pp. 16–17. * ^ Norman (1988) , p. 134. * ^ Chen (1999) , p. 18. * ^ Ramsey (1987) , p. 10. * ^ Ramsey (1987) , p. 15. * ^ Bradley (1992) , pp. 313–314. * ^ Chen (1999) , p. 24. * ^ " Law
Law
of the People\'s Republic of China
China
on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language (Order of the President No.37)". Gov.cn. 31 October 2000. Retrieved 27 April 2010. For purposes of this Law, the standard spoken and written Chinese language means Putonghua (a common speech with pronunciation based on the Beijing
Beijing
dialect) and the standardized Chinese characters. Original text in Chinese: "普通话就是现代汉民族共同语,是全国各民族通用的语言。普通话以北京语音为标准音,以北方话为基础方言,以典范的现代白话文著作语法规范" * ^ Chen (1999) , pp. 37–38. * ^ Chen (1999) , pp. 27–28. * ^ "More than half of Chinese can speak mandarin". Xinhua . 7 March 2007. Retrieved 11 April 2016. * ^ "17th National Putonghua Week" (Press release) (in Chinese). Ministry of Education. 15 September 2014. * ^ "中国仍有约4亿人不能用普通话进行交流-新华网". _news.xinhuanet.com_. Retrieved 2017-07-26. * ^ 白宛松. "教育部、国家语委:力争“十三五”期间使所有教师的普通话水平达标_滚动新闻_中国政府网". _www.gov.cn_. Retrieved 2017-07-26. * ^ Standing Committee on Language Education & Research (25 March 2006). "Putonghua promotion stepped up". Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Government. Retrieved 12 February 2011. * ^ Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Police. "Online training to boost Chinese skills". Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Government. Retrieved 12 February 2011. * ^ Hong Kong
Hong Kong
LegCo (19 April 1999). "Panel on Education working reports". Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Government. Retrieved 12 February 2011. * ^ New Hokkien
Hokkien
drama aimed at seniors to be launched on Sep 9, Channel News Asia , 1 Sep 2016 * ^ Lee Kuan Yew, _From Third World to First: The Singapore
Singapore
Story: 1965–2000_, HarperCollins, 2000. ISBN 0-06-019776-5 . * ^ Semple, Kirk (21 October 2009). "In Chinatown, Sound of the Future Is Mandarin". _The New York Times_. Retrieved 18 July 2011. * ^ "Greater numbers speak Mandarin". _ China
China
Daily_. December 26, 2004. * ^ Duanmu (2007) , pp. 41–45, 236. * ^ Surendran, Dinoj and Levow, Gina-Anne (2004), "The functional load of tone in Mandarin is as high as that of vowels", _Proceedings of the International Conference on Speech Prosody 2004_, Nara, Japan, pp. 99–102. * ^ Chen (1999) , pp. 39–40. * ^ Norman (1988) , p. 140. * ^ Blum, Susan D. (2002). "Ethnic and Linguistic Diversity in Kunming". In Blum, Susan Debra; Jensen, Lionel M. _ China
China
Off Center: Mapping the Margins of the Middle Kingdom_. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 160–161. ISBN 978-0-8248-2577-5 . * ^ Li & Thompson (1981) , pp. 15–16. * ^ Li & Thompson (1981) , pp. 12–13. * ^ Norman (1988) , p. 74. * ^ Norman (1988) , pp. 74–75. * ^ Norman (1988) , p. 76.

WORKS CITED

* Bradley, David (1992), "Chinese as a pluricentric language", in Clyne, Michael G., _Pluricentric Languages: Differing Norms in Different Nations_, Walter de Gruyter, pp. 305–324, ISBN 978-3-11-012855-0 . * Chen, Ping (1999), _Modern Chinese: History and sociolinguistics_, New York: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-64572-0 . * Coblin, W. South (2000), "A brief history of Mandarin", _Journal of the American Oriental Society_, 120 (4): 537–552, JSTOR 606615 , doi :10.2307/606615 . * Duanmu, San (2007), _The phonology of standard Chinese_ (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-921579-9 . * Li, Charles N. ; Thompson, Sandra A. (1981), _Mandarin Chinese: A functional reference grammar_, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-06610-6 . * Liang, Sihua (2014), _Language Attitudes and Identities in Multilingual China: A Linguistic Ethnography_, Springer International, ISBN 978-3-319-12618-0 . * Norman, Jerry (1988), _Chinese_, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-29653-3 . * Ramsey, S. Robert (1987), _The languages of China_, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-01468-5 .

FURTHER READING

* Chao, Yuen Ren (1968). _A Grammar
Grammar
of Spoken Chinese_ (2nd ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-00219-7 . * Hsia, T., _China's Language Reforms_, Far Eastern Publications, Yale University, (New Haven), 1956. * Ladefoged, Peter; ISBN 0-631-19815-6 (pbk). * Ladefoged, Peter; Wu, Zhongji (1984). "Places of articulation: An investigation of Pekingese fricatives and affricates". _Journal of Phonetics_. 12: 267–278. * Lehmann, W. P. (ed.), _Language ;background:none transparent;border:none;-moz-box-shadow:none;-webkit-box-shadow:none;box-shadow:none;">v

* t * e

Chinese language(s)

Major subdivisions

MANDARIN

* Northeastern

* Harbin * Shenyang

* Beijing
Beijing

* Beijing
Beijing
* Karamay

* Ji–Lu

* Tianjin * Jinan

* Jiao–Liao

* Dalian * Qingdao * Weihai

* Central Plains

* Gangou * Guanzhong * Luoyang * Xuzhou * Dungan * Dongping

* Lan–Yin

* Southwestern

* Sichuanese * Kunming * Minjiang * Wuhan

* Lower Yangtze

* Nanjing
Nanjing

WU

* Taihu

* Shanghainese * Suzhou * Wuxi * Changzhou * Hangzhou * Shaoxing * Ningbo * Jinxiang * Jiangyin * Shadi

* Taizhou Wu

* Taizhou

* Oujiang

* Wenzhou

* Wuzhou

* Jinhua

* Chu–Qu

* Quzhou * Jiangshan * Qingtian

* Xuanzhou

GAN

* Chang–Du * Yi–Liu * Ying–Yi * Da–Tong

XIANG

* New

* Changsha

* Old

* Shuangfeng

* Ji–Xu

* Yong–Quan

* Qiyang

MIN

EASTERN

* Fuzhou * Fuqing * Fu\'an * Manjiang

SOUTHERN

* Hokkien
Hokkien

* Quanzhou * Zhangzhou * Amoy * Taiwanese * Philippine Hokkien
Hokkien
* Medan Hokkien
Hokkien
* Penang Hokkien
Hokkien
* Singaporean Hokkien
Hokkien
* Southern Peninsular Malaysian Hokkien
Hokkien

* Zhenan * Longyan

* Teochew

* Shantou * Haifeng

* Zhongshan

* Nanlang * Sanxiang

OTHER

* Northern

* Jian\'ou * Jianyang

* Central * Pu–Xian * Shao–Jiang

* Leizhou

* Zhanjiang

* Hainan

HAKKA

* Meixian * Wuhua

* Tingzhou

* Changting

* Taiwanese Hakka

* Sixian dialect
Sixian dialect
* Raoping dialect

YUE

* Yuehai

* Cantonese
Cantonese
* Xiguan * Jiujiang * Shiqi * Weitou * Dapeng

* Gao–Yang

* Siyi

* Taishan

* Goulou * Wu–Hua * Yong–Xun * Luo–Guang * Qin–Lian

PROPOSED

* Huizhou

* Jin

* Hohhot

* Pinghua

UNCLASSIFIED

* Danzhou * Mai * Shaozhou Tuhua * Waxiang

DESCRIPTION OF MANDARIN CHINESE

* Chinese grammar * Chinese classifier * Chinese Idiom

STANDARDIZED FORMS

* Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
(Mandarin)

* Sichuanese * Taiwanese * Philippine * Malaysian * Singaporean

* Cantonese
Cantonese
* Taiwanese Hokkien

PHONOLOGY

* Historical

* Old

* Old National * Cantonese
Cantonese
* Mandarin * Literary and colloquial readings

HISTORY

* Old Chinese
Old Chinese
* Eastern Han * Middle Chinese
Middle Chinese
* Old Mandarin * Middle Mandarin * Proto-Min * Ba–Shu * Gan

LITERARY FORMS

OFFICIAL

* Classical

* Adoption * in Vietnam

* Vernacular

OTHER VARIETIES

* Written Cantonese
Cantonese
* Written Dungan * Written Hokkien
Hokkien
* Written Sichuanese

SCRIPTS

STANDARD

* Simplified * Traditional

HISTORICAL

* Oracle bone * Bronze * Seal * Clerical * Semi-cursive * Cursive

BRAILLE

* Cantonese
Cantonese
Braille * Mainland Chinese Braille * Taiwanese Braille * Two-Cell Chinese Braille

OTHER

* Romanization

* Pinyin * Wade–Giles

* Bopomofo * Xiao\'erjing * Nüshu * Chinese punctuation * Taiwanese kana * Dungan Cyrillic

List of varieties of Chinese

* v * t * e

Languages of China
China

OFFICIAL

* Standard Mandarin

REGIONAL

PROVINCES / SARS

* Cantonese
Cantonese
HK /MC * English HK * Mongolian NM * Portuguese MC * Tibetan XZ * Uyghur XJ * Zhuang GX

PREFECTURE

* Hmong * Dong * Bouyei * Tujia * Korean * Qiang * Yi * Kyrgyz * Kazakh * Tai Nüa * Tai Lü * Zaiwa * Lisu * Bai * Hani * Zhuang

COUNTIES /BANNERS numerous

INDIGENOUS

SINO-TIBETAN LANGUAGES

Lolo- Burmese

MONDZISH

* Kathu * Maang * Manga * Mango * Maza * Mondzi * Muangphe

BURMISH

* Achang * Xiandao * Pela * Lashi * Chashan * Lhao Vo * Zaiwa

LOLOISH

HANOISH

* Akeu * Akha * Amu * Angluo * Asuo * Baihong * Bisu * Budu * Bukong * Cosao * Duoni * Duota * Enu * Habei * Hani * Honi * Jino * Kabie * Kaduo * Lami * Laomian * Laopin * Mpi * Muda * Nuobi * Nuomei * Phana’ * Piyo * Qidi * Sadu * Sangkong * Suobi * Tsukong * Woni * Yiche

LISOISH

* Eka * Hlersu * Kua-nsi * Kuamasi * Laizisi * Lalo * Lamu * Lavu * Lawu * Limi * Lipo * Lisu * Lolopo * Mangdi * Micha * Mili * Sonaga * Toloza * Xuzhang * Yangliu * Zibusi

NISOISH

* Alingpo * Alugu * Aluo * Axi * Azha * Azhe * Bokha * Gepo * Khlula * Lope * Moji * Muji * Muzi * Nasu * Nisu * Nuosu * Phala * Phola * Phowa * Phukha * Phuma * Phupa * Phupha * Phuza * Samei * Sani * Thopho * Zokhuo

OTHER

* Gokhy * Katso * Kucong * Lahu * Naluo * Namuyi * Naxi * Nusu * Samu * Sanie * Zauzou

QIANGIC

* Baima * Choyo * Ersu * Guiqiong * Horpa * Japhug * Khroskyabs * Laze * Lizu * Na * Muya * Namuyi * Naxi * Pumi * Northern Qiang * Southern Qiang * Shixing * Situ * Tshobdun * Zbu * Zhaba

TIBETIC

* Amdo * Baima * Basum * Central * Choni * Dao * Dongwang * Drugchu * Groma * Gserpa * Khalong * Khams * Ladakhi * Tseku * Zhongu * Zitsadegu

OTHER

* Bai * Derung * Jingpho * Nung * Sak * Tujia * Waxianghua

OTHER LANGUAGES

AUSTROASIATIC

* Bit * Blang * Bolyu * Bugan * Bumang * Hu * Kuan * Mang * Man Met * Muak Sa-aak * Palaung * Riang * U * Va * Wa

HMONG-MIEN

HMONGIC

* A-Hmao * Bu-Nao * Gejia * Guiyang * Hm Nai * Hmong * Hmu * Huishui * Kiong Nai * Luobohe * Mashan * Pa-Hng * Pa Na * Pingtang * Qo Xiong * Raojia * She * Small Flowery * Xixiu * Younuo

MIENIC

* Biao Min * Dzao Min * Iu Mien * Kim Mun

MONGOLIC

* Bonan * Buryat * Daur * Eastern Yugur * Kangjia * Khamnigan * Monguor * Oirat * Ordos * Santa * Torgut

TAI-KADAI

ZHUANG

* Bouyei * Dai * Min * Ningming * Nong * Tai Dam * Tai Dón * Tai Hongjin * Tai Lü * Tai Nüa * Tai Ya * Yang * Yei

OTHER

* Ai-Cham * Biao * Buyang * Cao Miao * Chadong * Cun * Gelao * Hlai * Jiamao * Kam * Lakkja * Mak * Maonan * Mulam * Naxi Yao * Ong Be * Paha * Qabiao * Sui * Then

TUNGUSIC

* Evenki * Manchu * Nanai * Oroqen * Xibe

TURKIC

* Äynu * Fuyu Kyrgyz * Ili Turki * Lop * Salar * Western Yugur

OTHER

* Sarikoli (Indo-European) * Tsat (Austronesian) * Languages with Taiwan
Taiwan
Origin (Austronesian)

MINORITY

* Kazakh * Korean * Kyrgyz * Russian * Tatar * Tuvan * Uzbek * Wakhi

Varieties of Chinese

* Gan * Hakka * Huizhou * Jin

* Min

* varieties

* Pinghua * Wu * Xiang * Yue

CREOLE/MIXED

* E * Gin(Việt) * Hezhou * Lingling * Macanese * Maojia * Qoqmončaq * Tangwang * Wutun

EXTINCT

* Ba-Shu * Khitan * Saka * Tangut * Tocharian * Xianbei * Zhang-Zhung

SIGN

* Chinese Sign

* Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Sign HK/MC

* Tibetan Sign XZ

* GX = Guangxi * HK = Hong Kong * MC = Macau * NM = Inner Mongolia * XJ = Xinjiang * XZ = Tibet

* v * t * e

Languages of Singapore
Singapore

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

* English * Malay * Mandarin * Tamil

CREOLE LANGUAGES

* Baba Malay * Chitty Malay * Kristang * Singlish * Singdarin

IMMIGRANT LANGUAGES

CHINESE

* Cantonese
Cantonese
* Hakka * Hokkien
Hokkien
* Teochew

INDIAN

* Gujarati * Hindi
Hindi
* Malayalam
Malayalam
* Punjabi * Telugu * Urdu
Urdu

INDONESIAN

* Banjarese * Buginese * Javanese * Madurese * Minangkabau

OTHER

* Sinhalese

INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES

* Orang Seletar

SIGN LANGUAGES

* Singaporean Sign Language

* v * t * e

Languages of Taiwan