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Chinese Language: Introduction

The Chinese language is a tonal language and often regarded as a member of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. Although Chinese is often mistaken as a single language, the regional variation of Spoken Chinese can be different enough to be mutually incomprehensible.

Chinese can refer to Spoken Chinese and Written Chinese. By the Spoken Chinese, there were seven main regional groups including Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, or Hakka. Not only do they greatly differ in pronunciation, about 25% to 50% difference in their grammer and vocabulary are notable enough to raise a doubt if all Chinese dialects come from the same language family.

Learn Chinese Language: Lessons from Chinese History

However, Chinese always share a common Written form and characters, at least Since Qin Shi Huang have united all Chinese nations in BC 200s. Before 19-20th Century, the common written form was Literary Chinese (Classical Chinese) that no one spoke as mother tongue. Until 20th Century, the baihuawen movement pushed the birth of the new written form Vernacular Chinese, based on Mandarin.

How Many People Speak and learn Chinese

About one-fifth of the people in the world speak some forms of Chinese as their native language, making it the language with the most native speakers. The Chinese language, spoken in the form of Standard Mandarin, is the official language of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China on Taiwan, as well as one of four official languages of Singapore, and one of six official languages of the United Nations. Spoken in the form of Standard Cantonese, Chinese is one of the official languages of Hong Kong (together with English) and of Macau (together with Portuguese) and is a spoken language in Singapore (together with Mandarin, English, Bahasa Melayu (i.e. Malay), and Tamil).

Among Chinese diaspora, Cantonese is the common language one can hear in Chinatowns, thanks to early immigrants from the Southern China. However, the rise of Northern and Taiwanese immigrants pushed Mandarin getting more common today.

Chinese Language in writing and speech

The terms and concepts used by Chinese to separate spoken language from written language are different from those used in the West, because of differences in the political and social development of China in comparison with Europe. Whereas Europe fragmented into smaller nation-states after the fall of the Roman Empire, the identities of which were often defined by language, China was able to preserve cultural and political unity through the same period, and maintained a common written language throughout its entire history, despite the fact that its actual diversity in spoken language has always been comparable to Europe. As a result, Chinese makes a sharp distinction between "written language" (wén; 文 ) and "spoken language" (y ǔ ; 语 / 語 ). The concept of a distinct and unified combination of both written and spoken forms of language is therefore much stronger in the West than in

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chinese language ".

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