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汉语; 漢語 or 中文
Hànyǔ or Zhōngwén
|Native to||China, Taiwan, Singapore|
|(1.2 billion cited 1984–2001)|
Official language in
|Regulated by||National Commission on Language and Script Work (China)
National Languages Committee (Taiwan)
Civil Service Bureau (Hong Kong)
Promote Mandarin Council (Singapore)
Chinese Language Standardisation Council (Malaysia)
cdo – Min Dong
cjy – Jinyu
cmn – Mandarin
cpx – Pu Xian
czh – Huizhou
czo – Min Zhong
gan – Gan
hak – Hakka
hsn – Xiang
mnp – Min Bei
nan – Min Nan
wuu – Wu
yue – Yue
och – Old Chinese
ltc – Late Middle Chinese
lzh – Classical Chinese
Map of the Sinophone world
|Chinese languages (Spoken)|
|Literal meaning||Han language|
|Chinese language (Written)|
|Literal meaning||Chinese text|
|Yale Romanization||hon yúh|
|Canton Romanization||hon3 yü5|
|Hokkien POJ||Hàn-gí, Hàn-gú|
|Yale Romanization||Jūng mán|
|Canton Romanization||Zung1 men4*2|
Chinese (汉语/漢語; Hànyǔ or 中文; Zhōngwén) is a group of related, but in many cases mutually unintelligible, language varieties, forming a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many other ethnic groups in China. Nearly 1.2 billion people (around 16% of the world's population) speak some form of Chinese as their first language.
The varieties of Chinese are usually described by native speakers as dialects of a single Chinese language, but linguists note that they are as diverse as a language family. The internal diversity of Chinese has been likened to that of the Romance languages, but may be even more varied. There are between 7 and 13 main regional groups of Chinese (depending on classification scheme), of which the most spoken by far is Mandarin (about 960 million), followed by Wu (80 million), Yue (60 million) and Min (70 million). Most of these groups are mutually unintelligible, although some, like Xiang and certain Southwest Mandarin dialects, may share common terms and some degree of intelligibility. All varieties of Chinese are tonal and analytic.
Standard Chinese (Putonghua/Guoyu/Huayu) is a standardized form of spoken Chinese based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. It is the official language of China and Taiwan, as well as one of four official languages of Singapore. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. The written form of the standard language (中文; Zhōngwén), based on the logograms known as Chinese characters (汉字/漢字; Hànzì), is shared by literate speakers of otherwise unintelligible dialects.
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