Chinese Language

 The country of China is one of the most populous countries in all over the world. You will be surprised to know that, China's population is more than the combined population of four regions like the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe excluding Russia. China is native to fifty six ethnic groups which played vital role in the development of various languages spoken in the country of China.

How many languages are spoken in China?

What Languages are spoken in China?

In main China People speak multiple languages in different geographical locations and countries like Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong.  In China Mandarin Chinese is the most popular language. And this language is native to 955 million people out of the whopping population of 1.21 billion people.

China is a Linguistic Diverse Country

In the world China is one of the linguistically diverse country. According to the Ethnologue survey, in China there are 302 living languages.  Out of these 276 languages are native. To celebrate and recognize cultural diversity, the USA observes 20 April as Chinese language day to promote the 6 official languages of the country.

When the historical background is seen by us, 20th april is also a day on which Chinese people honor Cangiie. Legends of China consider this figure because they think that they have invented the Chinese characters.

According to the old Chinese text Huai-nan-zi, Chinese writing was invented when millet which is a type of grain rained from spirits cried and heaven at night. Due to political reasons, the people of China have categorized their languages on the based-on dialects.

The language of China is from the family of Sino-Tibetan languages. And from around the world It is the largest group of language families. From around the globe chinese language is native to 1.3 billion people. Mandarin is one of the most famous dialects of the Chinese language

Therefore, people speak it widely. The other famous dialect of the Chinese language is Cantonese. People who speak Mandarin cannot understand it. Each dialect that people speak in China is unique. However, despite the uniqueness of various dialects, Mandarin Chinese or Putonghua has been the official language of China since the 1930s.

National Language of China

Official language of China is Standard Chinese. People also called it Standard Mandarin and modern standard Mandarin. This language contains characteristics of other dialects. And this language is a dialect of Mandarin language. In its written form iIt contains the aspects of Chinese grammar.

Moreover, Beijing dialects are used by people for the proper pronunciation of words. Standard Chinese is called Putonghua in the centre of China whereas it is called Guoyu in Taiwan which means national language. In 1949, the government of China decided to have one official language. Therefore, in 1955 they passed different rules and laws to implement the national language.

In mainland China the use of Standard Chinese is controlled by the national language regulating committee whereas the language that is spoken in Taiwan is controlled by the national language committee. Chinese is the national language of the country is made by the national language regulating committee. Therefore, with other varieties of the Chinese language people use the national language to communicate.

China's national policy has given autonomy to different regions to use their dialect of the language. Moreover, they must speak and understand the national language Mandarin. When the Mandarin language is selected as a national language then in the same year, the law is passed to teach the language in all the educational institutions of the country. This made all the people use this language in all the fields of life. This law also made changes in Chinese characters.

The government of China has also declared a law which is the National Common language and writing the law which states the requirements for the promotion of standard Chinese within the country. It was announced by the China's ministry of education after conducting a survey that shows 70 percent of the population in mainland China can speak standard Chinese language.

Moreover, out of this number, there are only 10 percent can eloquently speak the language. This language is used in education system by the people of China and Taiwan and the government aims to integrate the language up to 80 percent in the country. As far as the written style of the Chinese language is concerned, it is using the traditional language characters called Guoyu and simplified Chinese characters called Putonghua.

What is the official language of China?

Official Language of China

China Official language

Cantonese is the other official language people speak in China. Cantonese language came into existence in the port of Guangzhous and from the port, Cantonese language is spread in Peral River Delta. The language of Cantonese has got a name from Guangzhous which is also called Canton. This language is also an official language of Hong Kong. According to the law of Hong Kong, all government and law agencies in Hong Kong use this language.

Cantonese language is also the official language of Macau. And It is an important variant of the Chinese language. Moreover, this language is the part of the dialect called Yue. In China the language of Cantonese is native to 80 million people. It is also the official language in the state of Guangxi.

Cantonese language has 3 dialects: Hong Kong dialect, Guangzhou dialec, and Macua dialect. The name of all these dialects is geographically based. It is written with vernacular and traditional Chinese characters.

What are the dialects of Chinese language?

Chinese language Dialects

There are a lot of Chinese dialects. Sometimes for one it is pretty hard to identify different dialects. However, according to the linguists, there are 7 main dialects of the Chinese language. Mandarin is one of the famous and main dialects. And other dialects are further divided into the sub-dialects.

One important thing to keep in notice is that these dialects are not mutually intelligible. This is because the regions of China are far away from each other. Therefore, they are not in a close contact with each other. So they can only understand the dialects that are spoken in their own regions respectively. However, millions of people speak these dialects.

It is a very hard and complex task to understand the diversity and complexity of Chinese languages. Due to different accents used in the country, the pronunciation of different characters is very different from each other.

Let’s have a look at different Chinese dialects.


Mandarin is by two-third of the population of China. Therefore, Mandarin is the top-most spoken language in the country of China. The other name of Mandarin is Standard Chinese, Beifang Fangyan, Zhongguohua, and Beijinghua. Approximately 1.082 billion people speak Chinese language as a 1st and 2nd language. Moreover, 1.116 billion people from all over the world speak this language. Let's have a look at 4 sub-divisions of Mandarin Chinese.

These are the 4 Subdivisions of Mandarin Chinese

Southwestern Mandarin: People who are living in the province of Southwest China,Sichuan, Yunnan, Chongqing, and Guizhou speak Southern Mandarin.

Southern Mandarin: People who are living in the province of Nanjing, Guangdong, and Hainan, speak southern mandarin.

North-western Mandarin: People who are living in Baoji and people who are living in the northwest provinces like Qinghai, Gansu, Shaanxi, Ningxia, and Xinjiang speak North-western mandarin.

Northern Mandarin:  People who are living in the Northeast provinces, Beijing and Northern China speak northern mandarin.Mandarin dialect has 4 tones that are level, rising, high-rising, and falling. These tones help in identifying the words that have the same vowels and consonants but there meaning are different meanings. It is important to keep in notice that there are very few words in Mandarin that end with a consonant. It uses monosyllabic words. Moreover, it contains fixed word order because there are no parts of speech that show inflection.


Yue dialect is from a group of same kind of Sinitic languages. People who are living in Southern China like Guangxi and Gudong speak this language. Cantonese is the other name of this dialect. It represents the entire group however this name is used by the linguists for the dialects that people speak in the areas of Wuzhou, Macau, and Guangzhou.

In terms of its speakers it comes after Mandarin. Around 62 million people in the country of China and 73.5 million people from all over the world speak this language. People who are living in Guangdong speak this dialect because of the immigrants who came to reside there. The majority of immigrants in the 20th century used to speak Cantonese or Yue.

It has ten sub dialects and Guangzhou is the standard dialect. Yue is like old Chinese especially in the use of consonants. It possesses 6 tones. Moreover, its syllables and initial consonants are different from each other.


Wu is the dialect of China. People who are living in the coastal area in Shanghai speak Wu language. Moreover, people who are living in Zhejiang province, Fujian, Anhui, Jiangxi, and Jiangsu also speak this dialect. Major Wu dialects include Changzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou, Jinhua, Yongkang, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Shoaxing, Hangzhos, Ningbo, and Shanhai .

Wu is the 2nd most variant of the Chinese language. Approximately, 77 million people speak this dialect. In the 5th century, this dialect got much popularity from the cultural center called Suzhou. Moreover, this dialect gained more recognition in the era of the Ming Dynasty.

Wu uses 7 or 8 tones to identify the different words with the same vowels and consonants. The Wu speakers, who use Chiang Kai-shek, Xun, and Cai Yuanpei, hold a great position in Chinese Culture and politics.


Min is the Chinese dialect. People who are living on the southern coast of China, Fujian speak this language. Min is the most diverse dialect because the pronunciation of words is different. The Min name is derived from the River of Min that is in the Fujian. The sub dialects in Min are not mutually intelligible. The Min has 5 variants.

Min Nan: Min Nan dialect is native to the 50.5 million speakers. These speakers are present in Taiwan and South eastern China. The other sub dialects of Min Nan include Amoy and Xiamen. And these sub dialects are used by people in trade dealings.

Min Bei: People who are living in Singapore and China and use this dialect widely.

Min Dong: Around 10.3 million people speak this dialect.

Min Zhong: Central Min is another name of this dialect. In the province of Fujian People from different communities like Sanming and Yong speak this dialect.

Pu-Xian: Approximately 2.6 million people speak this dialect. People who are living in Singapore and Malaysia speak this dialect.

With the help of diverse linguistic history the grammar and vocabulary of Min came into existence. Although there are a lot of speakers of Min, the history of its development has made it very difficult to identify the Chinese characters.

This is because of the reason that Chinese characters are mainly designed for the language of Mandarin. Therefore, when Mandarin characters are not available then written Min uses Roman characters. Tang Min is the name of the pronunciation system of Min.


Hakka is a Chinese dialect. People who are living in isolated areas speak this dialect. Due to this reason, it has thirteen sub dialects that are different from each other. It is native to 43.5 million Chinese people. And the people who are living in north-eastern and in eastern parts of Guangdong province like Hainan, Hunan, Guangxi, and south Jiangxi speak this language.

Moreover, people who are living in southwestern and in western parts of Sichuan provinces also speak this language. The speakers of Hakka are present in French, Taiwan, Guiana, Hongkong, Cambodia, and Brunei. Moreover, in other countries like Thailand, Singapore, Suriname, Indonesia, and Panama, people speak the Hakka language widely. The Hakka has 6 tones and it borrowed many words from Cantonese dialect. Furthermore, Hakka is similar to Gan.


The Xiang is the Chinese dialect. People who are living in Southern province of China, Hunan speak this dialect. Mandarin speaking people are present around this area. Therefore, Hakka dialect has a great impact on the language of Mandarin. Moreover, it is very similar to Mandarin dialect.

This language is further categorized into 2 parts that are new and old Xiang. The people who are living in Hunan's capital Changsha speak a new dialect whereas, the people who are living in Shuangfeng and Hunan speak old dialects whereas. Old Xiang dialect has a lot of similarities with the Wu dialect. Xiang has 5 tones and contains different consonants.


Gan is a Chinese dialect that is similar to Hakka. It is native to 22 million people. These people live in the provinces of Jiangxi, Hubei, Fujian, and Hunan. People who are living in Hubei speak a Gan dialect called Xi ,Jiangxinese, Kan. It contains an ancient vocabulary that is no longer applicable in Mandarin language. Due to its similarity with Hakka dialect, people who speak Hakka can understand Gan easily.

Wrapping Up

By now you are aware of the different languages spoken that are spoken in China. If you want to know more about Chinese culture click here CULTURES OF CHINA. Keep visiting our website for more interesting World Cultures thanks J

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