Chinese, Mandarin


A language of China

Alternate Names
Beifang Fangyan, Beijinghua, Mandarin, Northern Chinese, Standard Chinese, Zhongguohua
普通话‎ (Putonghua)

1,082,000,000 in China, all users. L1 users: 904,000,000 in China (2017), increasing. 70% of Chinese language users speak a Mandarin dialect as L1. L2 users: 178,000,000. Total users in all countries: 1,116,596,640 (as L1: 917,868,640; as L2: 198,728,000).


Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region: northwest; Guizhou province; Hubei province: except southeast corner; Hunan province: northwest; Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Widespread north of Changjiang river, from Jiujiang (Jiangxi) to Zhenjiang (Jiangsu).

Language Status

1 (National). De facto national language.


Huabei Guanhua (Northern Mandarin), Xibei Guanhua (Northwestern Mandarin), Xinan Guanhua (Southwestern Mandarin), Jinghuai Guanhua (Eastern Mandarin, Jiangxia Guanhua, Lower Yangtze 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; prepositions; noun head final; 6 full (concrete meaning) word classes; no articles; passives; 24 consonants, 8 vowels, 6 diphthongs; tonal (4 phonemic tones).

Language Use

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

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, revised in 1920 and 1932, 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, Muslim.

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