Chinese, Mandarin


A language of China

Alternate Names
Beifang Fangyan, Guanhua, Guoyu, Hanyu, Huayu, Mandarin, Northern Chinese, Putonghua, Standard Chinese, Zhongguohua, Zhongwen

840,000,000 in China (2000 census), increasing. 70% of Chinese language users speak a Mandarin dialect as L1. Population total all countries: 847,808,270. L2 users: 178,000,000 in China.


Widespread north of Changjiang river, a belt south of the Changjiang from Qiujiang (Jiangxi) to Zhenjiang (Jiangsu), Hubei Province, except southeast corner, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou provinces, northwest Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and northwest corner of Hunan Province.

Language Status

1 (National). De facto national language.


Huabei Guanhua (Northern Mandarin), Jinghuai Guanhua (Eastern Mandarin, Jiangxia Guanhua, Lower Yangze Mandarin), Xibei Guanhua (Northwestern Mandarin), Xinan Guanhua (Southwestern Mandarin). Speakers of Kokang variety in Myanmar are reportedly most similar to the dialect spoken in Yunnan Province, China. A member of macrolanguage Chinese [zho].


SVO; analytic; aspect; 6 full (concrete meaning) word classes; tonal.

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Also use Korean [kor] in predominantly Korean-speaking provinces of China. Also use English [eng], French [fra], Japanese [jpn], Russian [rus], Vietnamese [vie].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: 91% (2000 census, Han nationality). Official language taught in all schools in mainland China and Taiwan. Taught in secondary schools. Fully developed. Bible: 1874–1983.

Bopomofo script [Bopo], used since 1913, mainly used in Taiwan. Braille script [Brai]. Han script, Simplified variant [Hans], used since 1956, official in Mainland China (1956) and Singapore (1969), also used elsewhere. Han script, Traditional variant [Hant], used since mid-19th century, official in Taiwan, also used elsewhere. Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

There are Mandarin speakers in all 56 official nationalities of China, but the majority in China are classified under Han, Manchu and Hui nationalities. Traditional religion, Buddhist, Christian, Confucianist, Daoist, Jewish, Muslim (Hui).

Also spoken in:

Expand All Collapse All