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Facts about Chinese Language

Chinese comprises of seven main dialects, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Wu, Min, Xiang and Gan. The variety of Mandarin based on the speech in the capital Beijing is the official language and is termed Pŭtōnghuà. The common language in Hong Kong is Cantonese.

Han Chinese represents about 92 percent of the total Chinese population. About two-thirds of the Han population speaks a variant of Mandarin as their native tongue.

Mandarin is the most common language in the world. These Chinese languages are often classified as dialects, but are mutually unintelligible; so on that basis could be designated as languages. On the other hand, they share a common writing system and have a common cultural background. A Cantonese speaker and a Mandarin speaker could communicate through writing; the two languages are pronounced completely differently and are mutually unintelligible in speech.

Mandarin is commonly referred to as "Chinese", but in fact it is just one Chinese language of many.

Published: 14 March 2014

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