Standard Chinese, also known as Modern Standard Mandarin, Standard
Mandarin, or simply Mandarin, is a standard variety of Chinese that is
the sole official language of both
Taiwan (de facto), and
also one of the four official languages of Singapore. Its
pronunciation is based on the
Beijing dialect, its vocabulary on the
Mandarin dialects, and its grammar is based on written vernacular
Like other varieties of Chinese,
Standard Chinese is a tonal language
with topic-prominent organization and subject–verb–object word
order. It has more initial consonants but fewer vowels, final
consonants and tones than southern varieties.
Standard Chinese is an
analytic language, though with many compound words.
There exist two standardised forms of the language, namely Putonghua
China and Guoyu in Taiwan. Aside from a number of
differences in pronunciation and vocabulary, Putonghua is written
Chinese characters (plus
Hanyu Pinyin romanization
for teaching), while Guoyu is written using traditional Chinese
Zhuyin for teaching). There are many characters that
are identical between the two systems.
1.1 Putonghua and Guoyu
2.1 Late empire
2.2 Modern China
3 Current role
Standard Chinese and the educational system
4.1 Regional accents
7 Writing system
9 See also
10.1 Works cited
11 Further reading
12 External links
In Chinese, the standard variety is known as:
Pǔtōnghuà (普通话; 普通話; "common speech") in the People's
Republic of China, as well as
Hong Kong and Macau;
Guóyǔ (國語; "national language") in Taiwan;
Huáyǔ (华语; 華語; "Chinese language") in Singapore, Malaysia,
Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia; and
Hànyǔ (汉语; 漢語; "language of the Han tribe") in the United
States and elsewhere in the Chinese diaspora.
Standard Chinese is also commonly referred to by generic names for
"Chinese", notably 中文; Zhōngwén; "Chinese writing" (compare
英文; Yīngwén; "English writing" for English) and 中国话;
中國話; Zhōngguóhuà; "
China (country) language".
Putonghua and Guoyu
The term Guoyu had previously been used by non-Han rulers of
refer to their languages, but in 1909 the Qing education ministry
officially applied it to Mandarin, a lingua franca based on northern
Chinese varieties, proclaiming it as the new "national language".
The name Putonghua also has a long, albeit unofficial, history. It was
used as early as 1906 in writings by
Zhu Wenxiong to differentiate a
modern, standard Chinese from classical Chinese and other varieties of
For some linguists of the early 20th century, the Putonghua, or
"common tongue/speech", was conceptually different from the Guoyu, or
"national language". The former was a national prestige variety, while
the latter was the legal standard.[clarification needed]
Based on common understandings of the time, the two were, in fact,
different. Guoyu was understood as formal vernacular Chinese, which is
close to classical Chinese. By contrast, Putonghua was called "the
common speech of the modern man", which is the spoken language adopted
as a national lingua franca by conventional usage.
The use of the term Putonghua by left-leaning intellectuals such as Qu
Lu Xun influenced the People's Republic of
to adopt that term to describe Mandarin in 1956. Prior to this, the
government used both terms interchangeably.
In Taiwan, Guoyu (national language) continues to be the official term
for Standard Chinese. The term Guoyu however, is less used in the PRC,
because declaring a
Beijing dialect-based standard to be the national
language would be deemed unfair to speakers of other varieties and to
the ethnic minorities. The term Putonghua (common
speech), on the contrary, implies nothing more than the notion of a
lingua franca.
During the government of a pro-
Taiwan independence coalition
Taiwan officials promoted a different reading of Guoyu
as all of the "national languages", meaning Hokkien, Hakka and
Formosan as well as Standard Chinese.
Huayu, or "language of the Chinese nation", originally simply meant
"Chinese language", and was used in overseas communities to contrast
Chinese with foreign languages. Over time, the desire to standardise
the variety of Chinese spoken in these communities led to the adoption
of the name "Huayu" to refer to Mandarin.
This name also avoids choosing a side between the alternative names of
Putonghua and Guoyu, which came to have political significance after
their usages diverged along political lines between the PRC and the
ROC. It also incorporates the notion that Mandarin is usually not the
national or common language of the areas in which overseas Chinese
The term "Mandarin" is a translation of Guānhuà (官话/官話,
literally "official's speech"), which referred to the lingua franca of
the late Chinese empire. The Chinese term is obsolete as a name for
the standard language, but is used by linguists to refer to the major
Mandarin dialects spoken natively across most of northern and
In English, "Mandarin" may refer to the standard language, the dialect
group as a whole, or to historic forms such as the late Imperial
lingua franca. The name "Modern Standard Mandarin" is sometimes
used by linguists who wish to distinguish the current state of the
shared language from other northern and historic dialects.
Main article: History of Mandarin
The Chinese have different languages in different provinces, to such
an extent that they cannot understand each other.... [They] also have
another language which is like a universal and common language; this
is the official language of the mandarins and of the court; it is
among them like
Latin among ourselves.... Two of our fathers [Michele
Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci] have been learning this mandarin
— Alessandro Valignano, Historia del Principio y Progresso de la
Compañia de Jesus en las Indias Orientales (1542–1564)
Chinese has long had considerable dialectal variation, hence prestige
dialects have always existed, and linguae francae have always been
needed. Confucius, for example, used yǎyán (雅言; "elegant
speech") rather than colloquial regional dialects; text during the Han
dynasty also referred to tōngyǔ (通语; "common language"). Rime
books, which were written since the Northern and Southern dynasties,
may also have reflected one or more systems of standard pronunciation
during those times. However, all of these standard dialects were
probably unknown outside the educated elite; even among the elite,
pronunciations may have been very different, as the unifying factor of
all Chinese dialects, Classical Chinese, was a written standard, not a
Main article: Mandarin (late imperial lingua franca)
Zhongguo Guanhua (中国官话/中國官話), or Medii Regni Communis
Loquela ("Middle Kingdom's Common Speech"), used on the frontispiece
of an early
Chinese grammar published by
Étienne Fourmont (with
Arcadio Huang) in 1742
Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and the
Qing dynasty (1644–1912)
began to use the term guānhuà (官话/官話), or "official speech",
to refer to the speech used at the courts. The term "Mandarin" is
borrowed directly from Portuguese. The Portuguese word mandarim,
derived from the
Sanskrit word mantrin "counselor or minister", was
first used to refer to the Chinese bureaucratic officials. The
Portuguese then translated guānhuà as "the language of the
mandarins" or "the mandarin language".
In the 17th century, the Empire had set up
(正音书院/正音書院 Zhèngyīn Shūyuàn) in an attempt to make
pronunciation conform to the standard. But these attempts had little
success, since as late as the 19th century the emperor had difficulty
understanding some of his own ministers in court, who did not always
try to follow any standard pronunciation.
Before the 19th century, the standard was based on the Nanjing
dialect, but later the
Beijing dialect became increasingly
influential, despite the mix of officials and commoners speaking
various dialects in the capital, Beijing. By some accounts, as
late as the early 20th century, the position of
Nanjing Mandarin was
considered to be higher than that of
Beijing by some and the postal
romanization standards set in 1906 included spellings with elements of
Nanjing pronunciation. Nevertheless, by 1909, the dying Qing
dynasty had established the
Beijing dialect as guóyǔ
(国语/國語), or the "national language".
As the island of
Taiwan had fallen under Japanese rule per the 1895
Treaty of Shimonoseki, the term kokugo (Japanese: 國語, "national
language") referred to the
Japanese language until the handover to the
ROC in 1945.
After the Republic of
China was established in 1912, there was more
success in promoting a common national language. A Commission on the
Pronunciation was convened with delegates from the
entire country. A Dictionary of National Pronunciation
(国音字典/國音字典) was published in 1919, defining a hybrid
pronunciation that did not match any existing speech.
Meanwhile, despite the lack of a workable standardized pronunciation,
colloquial literature in written vernacular Chinese continued to
Gradually, the members of the National Language Commission came to
settle upon the
Beijing dialect, which became the major source of
standard national pronunciation due to its prestigious status. In
1932, the commission published the
Vocabulary of National
Pronunciation for Everyday Use
(国音常用字汇/國音常用字彙), with little fanfare or
official announcement. This dictionary was similar to the previous
published one except that it normalized the pronunciations for all
characters into the pronunciation of the
Beijing dialect. Elements
from other dialects continue to exist in the standard language, but as
exceptions rather than the rule.
After the Chinese Civil War, the People's Republic of
the effort, and in 1955, officially renamed guóyǔ as pǔtōnghuà
(普通话/普通話), or "common speech". By contrast, the name
guóyǔ continued to be used by the Republic of
China which, after its
1949 loss in the Chinese Civil War, was left with a territory
consisting only of
Taiwan and some smaller islands. Since then, the
standards used in the PRC and
Taiwan have diverged somewhat,
especially in newer vocabulary terms, and a little in
In 1956, the standard language of the People's Republic of
officially defined as: "Pǔtōnghuà is the standard form of Modern
Chinese with the
Beijing phonological system as its norm of
pronunciation, and Northern dialects as its base dialect, and looking
to exemplary modern works in báihuà 'vernacular literary language'
for its grammatical norms." By the official definition,
Standard Chinese uses:
The phonology or sound system of Beijing. A distinction should be made
between the sound system of a variety and the actual pronunciation of
words in it. The pronunciations of words chosen for the standardized
language do not necessarily reproduce all of those of the Beijing
dialect. The pronunciation of words is a standardization choice and
occasional standardization differences (not accents) do exist, between
Putonghua and Guoyu, for example.
The vocabulary of
Mandarin dialects in general. This means that all
slang and other elements deemed "regionalisms" are excluded. On the
one hand, the vocabulary of all Chinese varieties, especially in more
technical fields like science, law, and government, are very similar.
(This is similar to the profusion of
Latin and Greek words in European
languages.) This means that much of the vocabulary of Standard Chinese
is shared with all varieties of Chinese. On the other hand, much of
the colloquial vocabulary of the
Beijing dialect is not included in
Standard Chinese, and may not be understood by people outside
The grammar and idiom of exemplary modern Chinese literature, such as
the work of Lu Xun, collectively known as "vernacular" (baihua).
Modern written vernacular Chinese is in turn based loosely upon a
mixture of northern (predominant), southern, and classical grammar and
usage. This gives formal
Standard Chinese structure a slightly
different feel from that of street
In the early 1950s, this standard language was understood by 41% of
the population of the country, including 54% of speakers of Mandarin
dialects, but only 11% of people in the rest of the country. In 1984,
the proportion understanding the standard language nationally rose to
90% and the proportion understanding the standard language among the
Mandarin dialects rose to 91%. A survey conducted by
the China's Education Ministry in 2007 indicated that 53.06% of the
population were able to effectively communicate orally in Standard
Map of eastern
China and Taiwan, showing the historic distribution of
all the varieties of
Mandarin Chinese in light brown. Standard Chinese
is based on the
Beijing dialect of Mandarin.
From an official point of view,
Standard Chinese serves the purpose of
a lingua franca—a way for speakers of the several mutually
unintelligible varieties of Chinese, as well as the Chinese
minorities, to communicate with each other. The very name Putonghua,
or "common speech," reinforces this idea. In practice, however, due to
Standard Chinese being a "public" lingua franca, other Chinese
varieties and even non-Sinitic languages, have shown signs of losing
ground to the standard.
China's Education Ministry published research on September, 2014, that
only 70% percent of people of the PRC had good understanding and
speaking skill of Putonghua despite People's Republic of China
Government was promoting Putonghua on TV, radio and public services
like buses and like that to develop Putonghua as PRC official language
to ease communication between all people of the PRC, because many
ethnic groups had their own dialects, so it was problem to understand
each other. To develop the Putonghua as the official common language
of the PRC is difficult sometimes because some ethnic groups that are
using other dialects don't like using the Putonghua because they think
they are losing their own native dialect and cultural identity, for
example, when in the summer of 2010 appeared some reports of
increasing the using of the Putonghua on a local TV broadcasting in
Cantonese dialect in the province of Guangdong, then thousands of
Cantonese-speaking citizens were protesting on the demonstration
against the plan.
China and Taiwan, the use of Mandarin as the medium of
instruction in the educational system and in the media has contributed
to the spread of Mandarin. As a result, Mandarin is now spoken
fluently, though often with some regional or personal variation from
the standard in terms of pronunciation or lexicon, by most people in
China and Taiwan. In 2014, the Ministry of Education
estimated that about 70% of the population of
China spoke Standard
Mandarin to some degree, but only one tenth of those could speak it
"fluently and articulately". However, there is a 20% difference
in penetration between eastern and western parts of
China and a 50%
difference between urban and rural areas. In addition, there are still
400 million Chinese who are only able to listen and understand
Mandarin and not able to speak it. Therefore, in China's 13th Five
Year Plan, the general goal is to raise the penetration rate to over
80% by 2020.
Standard Chinese in the official
context and the governments are keen to promote its use as a national
lingua franca. The PRC in particular has enacted a law (the National
Common Language and Writing Law) which states that the government must
"promote" Standard Mandarin. There is no explicit official intent to
Standard Chinese replace the regional varieties, but local
governments have enacted regulations (such as the
Language Regulations) which "implement" the national law by way of
coercive measures to control the public use of regional spoken
varieties and traditional characters in writing. In practice, some
elderly or rural Chinese-language speakers do not speak Standard
Chinese fluently, if at all, though most are able to understand it.
But urban residents and the younger generations, who received their
education with Standard Mandarin as the primary medium of education,
are almost all fluent in a version of Standard Chinese, some to the
extent of being unable to speak their local dialect.
Further information: Promotion of Putonghua
In the predominantly Han areas in mainland China, while the use of
Standard Chinese is encouraged as the common working language, the PRC
has been somewhat sensitive to the status of minority languages and,
outside the education context, has generally not discouraged their
Standard Chinese is commonly used for practical reasons,
as, in many parts of southern China, the linguistic diversity is so
large that neighboring city dwellers may have difficulties
communicating with each other without a lingua franca.
In Taiwan, the relationship between
Standard Chinese and other
varieties, particularly Taiwanese Hokkien, has been more politically
heated. During the martial law period under the
between 1949 and 1987, the KMT government revived the Mandarin
Promotion Council and discouraged or, in some cases, forbade the use
Hokkien and other non-standard varieties. This produced a political
backlash in the 1990s. Under the administration of Chen Shui-Bian,
other Taiwanese varieties were taught in schools. The former
President, Chen Shui-Bian, often spoke in
Hokkien during speeches,
while after the late 1990s, former President Lee Teng-hui, also speaks
Hong Kong and Macau, which are now special administrative regions
of the People's Republic of China,
Cantonese is the primary language
spoken by the majority of the population.
Cantonese remains the
official government language of
Hong Kong and Macau. After Hong Kong's
handover from the United Kingdom and Macau's handover from Portugal,
Putonghua is the language used by the governments of the two
territories to communicate with the Central People's
Government of the
PRC. There have been widespread efforts to promote usage of Putonghua
Hong Kong since the handover, with specific efforts to train
police and teachers.
In Singapore, the government has heavily promoted a "Speak Mandarin
Campaign" since the late 1970s, with the use of other Chinese
varieties in broadcast media being prohibited and their use in any
context officially discouraged until recently. This has led to
some resentment amongst the older generations, as Singapore's migrant
Chinese community is made up almost entirely of people of south
Chinese descent. Lee Kuan Yew, the initiator of the campaign, admitted
that to most Chinese Singaporeans, Mandarin was a "stepmother tongue"
rather than a true mother language. Nevertheless, he saw the need for
a unified language among the Chinese community not biased in favor of
any existing group.
Mandarin is now spreading overseas beyond
East Asia and Southeast Asia
as well. In New York City, the use of
Cantonese that dominated the
Manhattan Chinatown for decades is being rapidly swept aside by
Mandarin, the lingua franca of most of the latest Chinese
Standard Chinese and the educational system
A poster outside a high school in
Yangzhou urges people to "speak
Putonghua, welcome guests from all parts" and "use civilised
In both the PRC and Taiwan,
Standard Chinese is taught by immersion
starting in elementary school. After the second grade, the entire
educational system is in Standard Chinese, except for local language
classes that have been taught for a few hours each week in Taiwan
starting in the mid-1990s.
In December 2004, the first survey of language use in the People's
China revealed that only 53% of its population, about 700
million people, could communicate in Standard Chinese. This 53% is
defined as a passing grade above 3-B (a score above 60%) of the
With the fast development of the country and the massive internal
migration in China, the standard
Putonghua Proficiency Test has
quickly become popular. Many university graduates in mainland China
Hong Kong take this exam before looking for a job. Employers often
require varying proficiency in
Standard Chinese from applicants
depending on the nature of the positions. Applicants of some
positions, e.g. telephone operators, may be required to obtain a
certificate. People raised in
Beijing are sometimes considered
inherently 1-A (A score of at least 97%) and exempted from this
requirement. As for the rest, the score of 1-A is
rare. According to the official definition of proficiency levels,
people who get 1-B (A score of at least 92%) are considered qualified
to work as television correspondents or in broadcasting
stations. 2-A (A score of at least 87%) can work as
Chinese Literature Course teachers in public schools.
Other levels include: 2-B (A score of at least 80%), 3-A (A score of
at least 70%) and 3-B (A score of at least 60%). In China, a
proficiency of level 3-B usually cannot be achieved unless special
training is received. Even though many Chinese do not speak with
standard pronunciation, spoken
Standard Chinese is widely understood
to some degree.
China National Language And Character Working Committee was
founded in 1985. One of its important responsibilities is to promote
Standard Chinese proficiency for Chinese native speakers.
Standard Chinese phonology
The usual unit of analysis is the syllable, consisting of an optional
initial consonant, an optional medial glide, a main vowel and an
optional coda, and further distinguished by a tone.
Initial consonants, with pinyin spellings
The palatal initials [tɕ], [tɕʰ] and [ɕ] pose a classic problem of
phonemic analysis. Since they occur only before high front vowels,
they are in complementary distribution with three other series, the
dental sibilants, retroflexes and velars, which never occur in this
Syllable finals, with pinyin spellings
The [ɹ̩] final, which occurs only after dental sibilant and
retroflex initials, is a syllabic approximant, prolonging the
Relative pitch contours of the four full tones
The rhotacized vowel [ɚ] forms a complete syllable. A reduced
form of this syllable occurs as a sub-syllabic suffix, spelled -r in
pinyin and often with a diminutive connotation. The suffix modifies
the coda of the base syllable in a rhotacizing process called
Each full syllable is pronounced with a phonemically distinctive pitch
contour. There are four tonal categories, marked in pinyin with iconic
diacritic symbols, as in the words mā (妈/媽 "mother"), má (麻
"hemp"), mǎ (马/馬 "horse") and mà (骂/罵 "curse"). The
tonal categories also have secondary characteristics. For example, the
third tone is long and murmured, whereas the fourth tone is relatively
short. Statistically, vowels and tones are of similar
importance in the language.
There are also weak syllables, including grammatical particles such as
the interrogative ma (吗/嗎) and certain syllables in polysyllabic
words. These syllables are short, with their pitch determined by the
It is common for
Standard Chinese to be spoken with the speaker's
regional accent, depending on factors such as age, level of education,
and the need and frequency to speak in official or formal situations.
This appears to be changing, though, in large urban areas, as social
changes, migrations, and urbanization take place.
Due to evolution and standardization, Mandarin, although based on the
Beijing dialect, is no longer synonymous with it. Part of this was due
to the standardization to reflect a greater vocabulary scheme and a
more archaic and "proper-sounding" pronunciation and vocabulary.
Distinctive features of the
Beijing dialect are more extensive use of
erhua in vocabulary items that are left unadorned in descriptions of
the standard such as the Xiandai Hanyu Cidian, as well as more neutral
tones. An example of standard versus
Beijing dialect would be the
standard mén (door) and
Standard Chinese as spoken on
Taiwan differs mostly in the tones
of some words as well as some vocabulary. Minimal use of the neutral
tone and erhua, and technical vocabulary constitute the greatest
divergences between the two forms.
The stereotypical "southern Chinese" accent does not distinguish
between retroflex and alveolar consonants, pronouncing pinyin zh
[tʂ], ch [tʂʰ], and sh [ʂ] in the same way as z [ts], c [tsʰ],
and s [s] respectively. Southern-accented
Standard Chinese may
also interchange l and n, final n and ng, and vowels i and ü [y].
Attitudes towards southern accents, particularly the
range from disdain to admiration.
Main article: Chinese grammar
Chinese is a very analytic or isolating language, having almost no
inflectional morphemes. It follows a similar sentence structure to
English, frequently forming sentences in the order subject-predicate.
The predicate can be an intransitive verb, a transitive verb followed
by a direct object, a linking verb followed by a predicate nominative,
Chinese differs from English in distinguishing between names of
things, which can stand as predicate nominatives, and names of
characteristics. Names of characteristics (e.g., green) cannot follow
linking verbs. There is not an equivalent to the English predicate
adjective. Instead, abstract characterizations such as "green",
"angry", "hot", etc., stand as complete predicates in their own right.
For example, 我不累。Wǒ bú lèi. A word-for-word version in
English might be "I not tired." Another common phrase, 你好 (nǐ
hăo), demonstrates this feature; while it translates into English as
"hello", the literal translation is "You good".
Chinese additionally differs from English in that it forms another
kind of sentence by stating a topic and following it by a comment.
To do this in English, speakers generally flag the topic of a sentence
by prefacing it with "as for." For instance, one might say, "As for
the money that Mom gave us, I have already bought candy with it." Note
that the comment in this case is itself a complete sentence with
subject, verb, and object. The Chinese version is simply,
妈妈给我们的钱,我已经买了糖果。Māma gěi wǒmen de
qián, wǒ yǐjīng mǎile tángguǒ(r). This might be directly
translated as "The money Mom gave us, I already bought candy," lacking
a preface as in English.
Chinese does not inflect verbs for tense like English and other
European languages. Instead it uses a combination of aspect markers
for aspect and modality. In other words, it employs single syllables
that indicate such things as (1) an action being expected or
anticipated, (2) that the subject of the sentence has gone through
some experience within a stated or implicit time period, (3) that a
statement that was formerly not the case has now become true, i.e.,
that there has been a change of status, (4) that there still has not
been a change in a condition previously noted, etc.
The time when something happens can be given by an explicit term such
as "yesterday," by relative terms such as "formerly," etc.
Another major difference between the syntax of Chinese and languages
like English lies in the stacking order of modifying clauses.
fāpíqì de wàijiāo jǐngchá qǔxiāole méiyǒu jiāoqián de
nàxiē rén de rùjìngzhèng. Using the Chinese order in English,
that sentence would be:
"[Yesterday got angry] → foreign affairs policeman canceled [did not
pay] → [those people]'s visas."
In more ordinary English order, that would be:
"The foreign affairs policeman who got angry yesterday canceled the
visas of those people who did not pay."
There are a few other features of Chinese that would be unfamiliar to
speakers of English, but the features mentioned above are generally
the most noticeable.
Many formal, polite and humble words that were in use in imperial
China have not been used in daily conversation in modern-day Mandarin,
such as jiàn (贱/賤 "my humble") and guì (贵/貴 "your
Although Chinese speakers make a clear distinction between Standard
Chinese and the
Beijing dialect, there are aspects of
that have made it into the official standard.
Standard Chinese has a
T–V distinction between the polite and informal "you" that comes
Beijing dialect, although its use is quite diminished in
daily speech. In addition, it also distinguishes between "zánmen" (we
including the listener) and "wǒmen" (we not including the listener).
In practice, neither distinction is commonly used by most Chinese, at
least outside the
The following samples are some phrases from the
Beijing dialect which
are not yet accepted into Standard Chinese:
倍儿 bèir means 'very much'; 拌蒜 bànsuàn means 'stagger';
不吝 bù lìn means 'do not worry about'; 撮 cuō means 'eat';
出溜 chūliū means 'slip'; (大)老爷儿们儿 dà lǎoyermenr
means 'man, male'.
The following samples are some phrases from
Beijing dialect which have
become accepted as Standard Chinese:
二把刀 èr bǎ dāo means 'not very skillful'; 哥们儿 gēménr
means 'good male friend(s)', 'buddy(ies)'; 抠门儿 kōu ménr means
'frugal' or 'stingy'.
Main article: Chinese characters
Standard Chinese is written with characters corresponding to syllables
of the language, most of which represent a morpheme. In most cases,
these characters come from those used in
Classical Chinese to write
cognate morphemes of late Old Chinese, though their pronunciation, and
often meaning, has shifted dramatically over two millennia.
However, there are several words, many of them heavily used, which
have no classical counterpart or whose etymology is obscure. Two
strategies have been used to write such words:
An unrelated character with the same or similar pronunciation might be
used, especially if its original sense was no longer common. For
example, the demonstrative pronouns zhè "this" and nà "that" have no
counterparts in Classical Chinese, which used 此 cǐ and 彼 bǐ
respectively. Hence the character 這 (later simplified as 这) for
zhè "to meet" was borrowed to write zhè "this", and the character
那 for nà, the name of a country and later a rare surname, was
borrowed to write nà "that".
A new character, usually a phono-semantic or semantic compound, might
be created. For example, gǎn "pursue, overtake", is written with a
new character 趕, composed of the signific 走 zǒu "run" and the
phonetic 旱 hàn "drought". This method was used to represent
many elements in the periodic table.
The government of the PRC (as well as some other governments and
institutions) has promulgated a set of simplified forms. Under this
system, the forms of the words zhèlǐ ("here") and nàlǐ ("there")
changed from 這裏/這裡 and 那裏/那裡 to 这里 and 那里.
Chinese characters were traditionally read from top to bottom, right
to left, but in modern usage it is more common to read from left to
What is your name?
Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?
My name is...
Wǒ jiào ...
How are you?
Nǐ hǎo ma? / Nǐ zěnmeyàng?
I am fine, how about you?
Wǒ hěn hǎo, nǐ ne?
I don't want it / I don't want to
Wǒ bú yào.
Welcome! / You're welcome! (Literally: No need to thank me!) / Don't
mention it! (Literally: Don't be so polite!)
歡迎！/ 不用謝！/ 不客氣！
欢迎！/ 不用谢！/ 不客气！
Huānyíng! / Búyòng xiè! / Bú kèqì!
Yes. / Correct.
是。 / 對。/ 嗯。
是。 / 对。/ 嗯。
Shì. / Duì. / M.
No. / Incorrect.
不是。/ 不對。/ 不。
不是。/ 不对。/ 不。
Búshì. / Bú duì. / Bù.
How much money?
Can you speak a little slower?
Nín néng shuō de zài mànxiē ma?
Good morning! / Good morning!
早上好！ / 早安！
早上好！ / 早安！
Zǎoshang hǎo! / Zǎo'ān!
How do you get to the airport?
Qù jīchǎng zěnme zǒu?
I want to fly to London on the eighteenth
Wǒ xiǎng shíbā hào zuò fēijī dào Lúndūn.
How much will it cost to get to Munich?
Dào Mùníhēi yào duōshǎo qián?
I don't speak Chinese very well.
Wǒ de Hànyǔ shuō de bú tài hǎo.
Do you speak English?
Nǐ huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma?
I have no money.
Wǒ méiyǒu qián.
Chinese speech synthesis
Comparison of national standards of Chinese
Cantonese and Standard Chinese
^ Norman (1988), pp. 251.
^ Liang (2014), p. 45.
^ a b Luo, Chris (22 September 2014). "One-third of Chinese do not
speak Putonghua, says Education Ministry". South
^ Only 7% of people in
China speak proper Putonghua: PRC MOE, Language
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^ 台灣手語簡介 (Taiwan) (2009)
^ http://www.china-language.gov.cn/ (Chinese)
^ Kane, Daniel (2006). The Chinese Language: Its History and Current
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^ Norman (1988), pp. 133–134.
^ Yuan, Zhongrui. (2008) "国语、普通话、华语 Archived 26
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Language National Language Committee, People's Republic of China
^ Fell, Dafydd; Klöter, Henning; Chang, Bi-yu (2006). What Has
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^ a b Norman (1988), p. 136.
^ a b Coblin (2000), p. 537.
^ Translation quoted in Coblin (2000), p. 539.
^ Liberlibri SARL. "FOURMONT, Etienne. Linguae Sinarum Mandarinicae
hieroglyphicae grammatica duplex, latinè, & cum characteribus
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French). Liberlibri.com. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011.
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^ Coblin (2000), pp. 549–550.
^ L. Richard's comprehensive geography of the Chinese empire and
dependencies translated into English, revised and enlarged by M.
Kennelly, S.J. Shanghai: T'usewei Press, 1908. p. iv. (Translation of
Louis Richard, Géographie de l'empire de Chine, Shanghai, 1905.)
^ Chen (1999), pp. 16–17.
^ Norman (1988), p. 134.
^ Chen (1999), p. 18.
^ Ramsey (1987), p. 10.
^ Ramsey (1987), p. 15.
^ Bradley (1992), pp. 313–314.
^ Chen (1999), p. 24.
Law of the People's Republic of
China on the Standard Spoken and
Written Chinese Language (Order of the President No.37)". Gov.cn. 31
October 2000. Retrieved 27 April 2010. For purposes of this Law, the
standard spoken and written
Chinese language means Putonghua (a common
speech with pronunciation based on the
Beijing dialect) and the
standardized Chinese characters. Original text in Chinese:
^ Chen (1999), pp. 37–38.
^ Chen (1999), pp. 27–28.
^ "More than half of Chinese can speak Mandarin". Xinhua. 7 March
2007. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
^ Luo, Chris (2014-09-23). "One-third of Chinese do not speak
Putonghua, says Education Ministry". South
China Morning Post. Hon
Kong. Retrieved 2017-09-18.
^ "17th National Putonghua Week" (Press release) (in Chinese).
Ministry of Education. 15 September 2014.
news.xinhuanet.com. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
www.gov.cn. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
^ Standing Committee on Language Education & Research (25 March
2006). "Putonghua promotion stepped up".
Hong Kong Government.
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Hong Kong Police. "Online training to boost Chinese skills". Hong
Kong Government. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
Hong Kong LegCo (19 April 1999). "Panel on Education working
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Hokkien drama aimed at seniors to be launched on Sep 9, Channel
News Asia, 1 Sep 2016
^ Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The
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^ Semple, Kirk (21 October 2009). "In Chinatown, Sound of the Future
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^ "Greater numbers speak Mandarin".
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^ Norman (1988), pp. 138–139.
^ Norman (1988), p. 139.
^ Norman (1988), pp. 140–141.
^ Lee & Zee (2003), p. 110.
^ Norman (1988), p. 142.
^ Lee & Zee (2003), p. 111.
^ Norman (1988), pp. 143–144.
^ Norman (1988), pp. 144–145.
^ Duanmu (2007), p. 225.
^ Norman (1988), p. 147.
^ Duanmu (2007), p. 236.
^ Surendran, Dinoj; Levow, Gina-Anne (2004), "The functional load of
tone in Mandarin is as high as that of vowels" (PDF), in Bel, Bernard;
Marlien, Isabelle, Proceedings of the International Conference on
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^ Chen (1999), pp. 39–40.
^ Norman (1988), p. 140.
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Chinese (Mandarin) at Wikibooks
Standard Chinese travel guide from Wikivoyage
Southern Peninsular Malaysian Hokkien
Standard Chinese (Mandarin)
Literary and colloquial readings
Mainland Chinese Braille
Two-Cell Chinese Braille
List of varieties of Chinese
Languages of China
Provinces / SARs
Hong Kong SignHK/MC
GX = Guangxi
HK = Hong Kong
MC = Macau
NM = Inner Mongolia
XJ = Xinjiang
XZ = Tibet
Languages of Singapore
Singaporean Sign Language
Languages of Taiwan
Taiwanese Sign Language
Languages of Malaysia
English (comparison with British English)
Southern Peninsular Malaysian Hokkien
Other Malay trade and creole languages
Negeri Sembilan Malay
Klias River Kadazan
Kota Marudu Talantang
Mixed & Others
comparison with Malaysian
Malaysian Sign Language (Manually Coded Malay)
Penang Sign Language
Selangor Sign Language
1 Extinct languages. 2 Nearly