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Chinese, Mandarin

A language of China

ISO 639-3: cmn

Population 867,200,000 in mainland China (1999). 70% of the population, including 8,602,978 Hui (1990 census). Other estimates for Hui are 20,000,000 or more. 1,042,482,187 all Han in China (1990 census). Population total all countries: 873,014,298.
Region Covers all of mainland China north of the Changjiang River, a belt south of the Changjiang from Qiujiang (Jiangxi) to Zhenjiang (Jiangsu), Hubei except the southeastern corner, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, the northwestern part of Guangxi, and the northwestern corner of Hunan. Also spoken in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia (Java and Bali), Laos, Malaysia (Peninsular), Mauritius, Mongolia, Philippines, Russia (Asia), Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, USA, Viet Nam.
Alternate names   Mandarin, Guanhua, Beifang Fangyan, Northern Chinese, Guoyu, Standard Chinese, Putonghua, Hanyu
Dialects Huabei Guanhua (Northern Mandarin), Xibei Guanhua (Northwestern Mandarin), Xinan Guanhua (Southwestern Mandarin), Jinghuai Guanhua (Jiangxia Guanhua, Lower Yangze Mandarin). Wenli is a literary form. Written Chinese is based on the Beijing dialect, but has been heavily influenced by other varieties of Northern Mandarin. Putonghua is the official form taught in schools. Hezhouhoua is spoken in the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture and Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of southern Gansu Province, and in neighboring areas in Qinghai Province. The grammar is basically Altaic or Tibetan, while the vocabulary and phonology is basically Northwestern Mandarin, or a relexified variety of Tibetan. Putonghua is inherently intelligible with the Beijing dialect, and other Mandarin varieties in the northeast. Mandarin varieties in the Lower Plateau in Shaanxi are not readily intelligible with Putonghua. Mandarin varieties of Guilin and Kunming are inherently unintelligible to speakers of Putonghua. Taibei Mandarin and Beijing Mandarin are fully inherently intelligible to each other's speakers. Nearly all first-language speakers in Taiwan speak with Min-influenced grammar and various degrees of Min-influenced pronunciation. Many of the educated strive to cultivate standard pronunciation. Grammatical differences of the Taiwan variety often appear in writing.
Classification Sino-Tibetan, Chinese
Language use National language. Vigorous. Many speakers of other languages use it as second language. 178,000,000 second-language speakers. All domains. All ages. Most speakers live in monolingual areas, so are not conscious of other languages. They do recognize the difference between standard Mandarin (Putonghua), and approve its use, especially in northern areas. Few speakers are bilingual.
Language development If literate, they read Chinese. A few read Arabic. Official language taught in all schools in Han China and Taiwan. Chinese script. Magazines. Newspapers. Radio programs. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1874–1983.
Comments SVO, SOV. Mountain slope, plateau, plains, hills. Agriculturalists (rural); traders (urban); businessmen; industry; herders; fishermen; construction; transport; telecommunications; teachers; government workers. Traditional Chinese religion, Confucianist, Daoist, Buddhist, Muslim (Hui), Jewish, Christian, secular.

Also spoken in:


Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population 9,848 in Brunei (2000 WCD).

Indonesia (Java and Bali)

Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population 460,000 in Indonesia (1982).
Region Scattered throughout Indonesia.
Language use Of the five to six million ethnic Chinese in Indonesia (5,500,000 in 1976, or 4% of total population according to United Nations), 65% (3,500,000 to 4,000,000) speak Indonesian in the home, 35% (2,000,000) speak 5 Chinese languages in the home.

Malaysia (Peninsular)

Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population 417,070 in Malaysia (1970 census).
Region Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak.
Comments Speakers are primarily urban, in commerce.


Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population 35,000 in Mongolia (1993 Johnstone). Population includes 2,000 Qotong.
Region Northwestern Mongolia, Uvs Aimag.
Alternate names   Hoton, Qotong, Hui-Zu, Hui, Xui, Northern Chinese, Mandarin, Hytad
Language use Speakers also use Halh or Mongolian.
Language development Literacy rate in second language: high in Halh, or Mandarin.
Comments Traditional religion, Maoist, Confucianist, Muslim.


Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population 500 to 600 in the Philippines. All ethnic Chinese are 53,273 (1990 census).


Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population 201,000 in Singapore (1985).
Alternate names   Huayu, Guoyu
Language use Official language. Increasing use. 880,000 second-language users. 44% also use other Chinese varieties at home; 12% use English at home.
Language development Literacy rate in first language: 64.7% (2001 census). Taught in schools.
Comments 2,505,209 ethnic Chinese (2000 census).


Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population 4,323,000 in Taiwan (1993).
Region Mainly in Taipei and 5 provincial cities.
Alternate names   Kuoyu, Mandarin, Putonghua, Guoyu
Dialects Taibei Mandarin.
Language use Official language. 15,000,000 second-language speakers. Many of the 30- to 50-year-old generation in Taiwan are also fluent in Taiwan Min.
Language development Kuoyu taught in all schools.
Comments Traditional Chinese, Buddhist, Christian, Secular.


Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population 5,880 in Thailand (1984).
Region Bangkok, provincial towns, and Kra Peninsula in the south.
Dialects Ho (Haw, Cin Haw, Yunnanese, Western Mandarin, Hui, Hui-Tze, Hwei, Panghse, Pantha, Panthe, Pathee).
Comments Chinese folk religion; Hui: Muslim.