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Chinese, Mandarin

A language of China

ISO 639-3cmn

Population  840,000,000 in China (2000 census), increasing. 70% of Chinese language users speak a Mandarin dialect as their mother tongue, including 9,816,805 Hui (2000 census) and 10,682,262 Manchu. 1,182,950,000 Han in China (2005 census). Population total all countries: 845,456,760.
Region  Widespread north of Changjiang River, a belt south of the Changjiang from Qiujiang (Jiangxi) to Zhenjiang (Jiangsu), Hubei, except southeast corner, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, northwest part of Guangxi, and northwest corner of Hunan. Also in Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Indonesia (Java and Bali), Laos, Libya, Malaysia (Peninsular), Mauritius, Mongolia, Mozambique, Philippines, Russian Federation (Asia), Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Viet Nam, Zambia.
Language map  China
Alternate names   Beifang Fangyan, Guanhua, Guoyu, Hanyu, Mandarin, Northern Chinese, Putonghua, Standard Chinese
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 heavily influenced by other varieties of Northern Mandarin. Putonghua is the official form taught in schools and is inherently intelligible with 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 unintelligible to Putonghua speakers. Taibei Mandarin and Beijing Mandarin are fully mutually inherently intelligible. Nearly all L1 speakers in Taiwan speak with Min-influenced grammar and various degrees of Min-influenced pronunciation. Many educated strive to cultivate standard pronunciation. Grammatical differences of the Taiwan variety often appear in writing.
Classification  Sino-Tibetan, Chinese
A member of macrolanguage Chinese [zho] (China).
Language use  National language. Vigorous. 178,000,000 L2 speakers. All domains. All ages. Many also use some English.
Language development  Literacy rate in L2: 91%. Official language taught in all schools in mainland China and Taiwan. Fully developed. Bible: 1874–1983.
Writing system  Bopomofo script. Han script, Simplified variant. Han script, Traditional variant.
Comments  SVO, SOV. Traditional Chinese religion, Confucianist, Daoist, Buddhist, Muslim (Hui), Jewish, Christian, secular.

Also spoken in:


Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population  10,600 in Brunei (2006).

Indonesia (Java and Bali)

Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population  460,000 in Indonesia (1982).
Region  Scattered throughout Indonesia.
Language use  Most also use Indonesian [ind] or other Chinese languages.

Malaysia (Peninsular)

Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Region  Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak.
Language use  Positive attitude.
Language development  Taught in primary and secondary schools.
Comments  Primarily urban, in commerce.


Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population  35,000 in Mongolia (Johnstone 1993). 2,000 Qotong.
Region  Northwestern Mongolia, Uvs Aimag.
Alternate names  Hoton, Hui, Hui-Zu, Hytad, Mandarin, Northern Chinese, Qotong, Xui
Language use  Also use Halh Mongolian [khk].
Language development  Literacy rate in L2: High literacy rate in Halh, or Mandarin.
Comments  Traditional religion, Maoist, Confucianist, Muslim.


Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population  550 in Philippines. All ethnic Chinese are 53,273 (1990 census).


Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population  201,000 in Singapore (1985).
Alternate names  Guoyu, Huayu
Language use  Official language. Increasing use. 880,000 L2 users. Some also use other Chinese varieties or English.
Language development  Literacy rate in L1: 65% (2001 census). Taught in primary and secondary schools.
Comments  2,505,209 ethnic Chinese (2000 census).


Language name   Chinese, Mandarin
Population  4,320,000 in Taiwan (1993).
Region  Mainly Taipei and 5 provincial cities.
Language map  Taiwan
Alternate names  Guoyu, Kuoyu, Mandarin, Putonghua
Dialects  Taibei Mandarin.
Language use  Official language. 15,000,000 L2 speakers. Many 30- to 50-year-olds also use Taiwan Min [nan].
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.