Chinese language

Chinese
汉语/漢語, 华语/華語 or 中文
Hànyǔ, Huáyǔ, or Zhōngwén
Hanyu trad simp.svg
Hànyǔ (Chinese) written in Hanzi
Native toPeople's Republic of China (PRC, commonly known as China), Republic of China (ROC, commonly known as Taiwan), Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mauritius, Peru, and other places with Chinese communities
Native speakers
(1.2 billion cited 1984–2000)[1]
Sino-Tibetan
  • Sinitic
    • Chinese
Standard forms
Dialects
  • Mandarin
  • Jin
  • Huizhou
  • Wu (including Shanghainese)
  • Hunanese
  • Jiangxinese
  • Hakka
  • Yue (including Cantonese-Taishanese)
  • Pinghua
  • Shaojiang
  • Northern Min
  • Eastern Min (including Fuchow)
  • Central Min
  • Pu Xian
  • Southern Min (including Amoy, Taiwanese)
  • Teochew (including Swatow, Chaozhou, Jieyang, parts of Shanwei/Meizhou)
Chinese characters, zhuyin fuhao, pinyin, Xiao'erjing
Official status
Official language in
 United Nations

 People's Republic of China

 Republic of China (Taiwan)
 Singapore (one of four official languages)
Wa State (alongside the Wa language)

 Brunei
Recognised minority
language in
 United States (minority and auxiliary)
 Malaysia (minority and auxiliary)
 Philippines (minority and auxiliary)
Regulated byIn the PRC: National Commission on Language and Script Work[2]
In the ROC: National Languages Committee
In Singapore: Promote Mandarin Council/Speak Mandarin Campaign[3]
Language codes
zh
zho (T)
ISO 639-3zho – cdo – cjy – cmn – cpx – czh – czo – gan – hak – hsn – mnp – nan – wuu – yue – och – ltc – lzh – Classical Chinese
Linguasphere79-AAA
New-Map-Sinophone World.PNG
Map of the Sinophone world.

Information:     Countries identified Chinese as a primary, administrative, or native language     Countries with more than 5,000,000 Chinese speakers     Countries with more than 1,000,000 Chinese speakers     Countries with more than 500,000 Chinese speakers     Countries with more than 100,000 Chinese speakers

     Major Chinese speaking settlements
Chinese languages (Spoken)
Traditional Chinese漢語
Simplified Chinese汉语
Literal meaningHan language
Chinese language (Written)
Chinese中文
Literal meaningChinese text

The Chinese language is the group of languages used by Chinese people in China and elsewhere. It forms part of a language family called the Sino-Tibetan family of languages.

Chinese includes many regional language varieties, the main ones being Mandarin, Wu, Yue, and Min. These are not mutually intelligible,[4] and many of the regional varieties are themselves a number of non-mutually-intelligible subvarieties.[5] As a result, many linguists refer to these varieties as separate languages.[6]

'Chinese' can refer to the written or the spoken languages. Although there are many spoken Chinese languages, they use the same writing system.[7] Differences in speaking are reflected in differences in writing. Official China adopts a similar policy to the one in the Soviet Union, using one standard language. In English we call the standard Chinese language Mandarin. In mainland China they call it "Pǔtōnghuà" or "common to everybody speech." In Taiwan they call it "Guóyǔ" or "language of the whole country". All official documents are written in Mandarin, and Mandarin is taught all over China. It is also a standard for language teaching in some other countries. A standard language lets people in the same country understand each other.

Chinese is used by the Han people in China and other ethnic groups in China who are declared Chinese by the Chinese government. Chinese is almost always written in Chinese characters. They are symbols that have meaning, called logograms. They also give some indication of pronunciation, but the same character can get very different pronunciations among the different kinds of Chinese. Since Chinese characters have been around for at least 3500 years, people in places far from each other say them differently, just as "1, 2, 3" can be read differently in different languages.

Chinese people needed to write down pronunciations in dictionaries. Chinese does not have an alphabet, so how to write down sounds was a big problem in the beginning. Nowadays the Mandarin language uses Hanyu pinyin to represent the sounds in Roman letters.

All the Chinese languages (or dialects) use tones. This means that they use high and low pitches to help make differences in meaning clear.

Different languages or dialects of Chinese

The Chinese language is like a big tree. The base of the tree started thousands of years ago. It now has several main limbs. Some people call "just a branch" what other people call a main limb, so you can say there are six or seven main limbs. Each of these main limbs splits off into branches about the way there are branches of English spoken in Great Britain, the United States, Australia, India, and so forth. Just as the Romance languages all come from the area around Rome and are based on Latin, the Chinese languages all have some common source, so they keep many common things among them.

Branches in modern times are only shown for "Guan" (Language of the officials. Mandarin).

Here are the main seven main groups of languages/dialects of Chinese by size:

  • Guan ("Northern" or Mandarin) 北方話/北方话 or 官話/官话, (about 850 million speakers),
  • Wu 吳/吴, which includes Shanghainese, (about 90 million speakers),
  • Yue (Cantonese) 粵/粤, (about 80 million speakers),
  • Min (Hokkien, which includes Taiwanese) 閩/闽, (about 50 million speakers),
  • Xiang 湘, (about 35 million speakers),
  • Hakka 客家 or 客, or "guest family" speech (about 35 million speakers),
  • Gan 贛/赣, (about 20 million speakers)
Other Languages
Acèh: Bahsa Cina
Адыгэбзэ: Хъутеибзэ
Afrikaans: Chinees
አማርኛ: ቻይንኛ
العربية: لغة صينية
aragonés: Idioma chinés
asturianu: Idioma chinu
Avañe'ẽ: Chinañe'ẽ
azərbaycanca: Çin dili
تۆرکجه: چین دیلی
বাংলা: চীনা ভাষা
Bân-lâm-gú: Hàn-gí
башҡортса: Ҡытай теле
беларуская: Кітайская мова
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Кітайская мова
भोजपुरी: चीनी भाषा
Bikol Central: Tataramon na Intsik
български: Китайски език
Boarisch: Kinäsisch
བོད་ཡིག: རྒྱ་སྐད།
bosanski: Kineski jezik
brezhoneg: Yezhoù sinaek
буряад: Хитад хэлэн
Чӑвашла: Китай чĕлхи
Cebuano: Inintsik
čeština: Čínština
Cymraeg: Tsieineeg
davvisámegiella: Kiinnágiella
ދިވެހިބަސް: ސީނީ
dolnoserbski: Chinšćina
eesti: Hiina keel
español: Idioma chino
Esperanto: Ĉina lingvaro
estremeñu: Luenga china
euskara: Txinera
Fiji Hindi: Chinese bhasa
føroyskt: Kinesiskt mál
Frysk: Sineesk
Gaeilge: An tSínis
Gàidhlig: Sìonais
贛語: 漢語
ગુજરાતી: ચાઇનીઝ ભાષા
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Hon-ngî
хальмг: Китдин келн
한국어: 중국어
Hausa: Sinanci
հայերեն: Չինարեն
हिन्दी: चीनी भाषा
hornjoserbsce: Chinšćina
hrvatski: Kineski jezik
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Tionghoa
isiZulu: IsiShayina
íslenska: Kínverska
italiano: Lingua cinese
Basa Jawa: Basa Cina
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಚೀನಿ ಭಾಷೆ
ქართული: ჩინური ენა
қазақша: Қытай тілі
kernowek: Chinek
Kiswahili: Kichina
Kongo: Kisinwá
Кыргызча: Кытай тили
لۊری شومالی: زۊن چینی
лезги: Китай чIал
lietuvių: Kinų kalba
Limburgs: Chinees
lingála: Lisinwa
Lingua Franca Nova: Xines
la .lojban.: jugbau
lumbaart: Lengua cinesa
magyar: Kínai nyelv
मैथिली: चीनी भाषा
македонски: Кинески јазик
Malagasy: Fiteny sinoa
മലയാളം: ചൈനീസ് ഭാഷ
मराठी: चिनी भाषा
მარგალური: ჩინური ნინა
مصرى: لغه صينى
مازِرونی: چینی زوونون
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa Cina
Baso Minangkabau: Bahaso Cino
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Háng-ngṳ̄
Mirandés: Lhéngua chinesa
монгол: Хятад хэл
မြန်မာဘာသာ: တရုတ်ဘာသာစကား
Dorerin Naoero: Dorerit Tsiene
Nederlands: Chinese talen
नेपाल भाषा: चिनिया भाषा
日本語: 中国語
нохчийн: Цийн мотт
norsk: Kinesisk
norsk nynorsk: Kinesisk
Novial: Chinum
occitan: Chinés
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Xitoy tili
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਚੀਨੀ ਭਾਸ਼ਾ
پنجابی: چینی
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ភាសាចិន
Picard: Kinos
Plattdüütsch: Chineesche Spraak
português: Língua chinesa
Qaraqalpaqsha: Qıtay tili
qırımtatarca: Çin tili
reo tahiti: Reo Tinitō
română: Limba chineză
Runa Simi: Chun simi
русиньскый: Кітайскый язык
саха тыла: Кытай тыла
Gagana Samoa: Fa'asaina
संस्कृतम्: चीनी भाषा
Sesotho: Se-china
sicilianu: Lingua cinisa
slovenčina: Čínština
slovenščina: Kitajščina
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Срѣдиньскъ ѩꙁꙑкъ
ślůnski: Chińskŏ gŏdka
српски / srpski: Кинески језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kineski jezik
svenska: Kinesiska
Tagalog: Wikang Tsino
தமிழ்: சீன மொழி
татарча/tatarça: Кытай теле
తెలుగు: చైనీస్ భాష
тоҷикӣ: Забони чинӣ
Türkçe: Çince
Türkmençe: Hytaý dili
Twi: Chinese
українська: Китайська мова
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: خەنزۇ تىلى
Vahcuengh: Vahgun
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Trung Quốc
Volapük: Tsyinänapük
Võro: Hiina kiil
文言: 漢語
吴语: 漢語
ייִדיש: כינעזיש
粵語: 唐文
žemaitėška: Kėnu kalba
中文: 汉语