China is home to the 56 ethnic groups, all of which have played a key role in the development of the various languages spoken in China. Linguists believe there are 297 languages living in China today. These languages are geographically defined and are found in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet. Mandarin Chinese is the most popular language in China, with over 955 million speakers from the total population of 1.21 billion people in China.
National language of China: standard Chinese
Standard Chinese is the official language in mainland China, as well as in Taiwan, and is also known as standard mandarin or modern standard mandarin. The language is a standardized dialect of Mandarin, but has aspects of other dialects in its use, including vernacular Chinese written in the grammar of the language, the Mandarins dialects in its vocabulary and the Beijing dialect in the pronunciation of its words. In mainland China, standard Chinese is also known as Putonghua (translating freely into “common language”), while in Taiwan the language is called Guoyu, which translates vaguely into “national language”.
The use of standard Chinese in mainland China is regulated by the national linguistic regulation committee,lingua francain China and is used as a means of communication, allowing speakers of incomprehensible varieties of Chinese languages. Mainland China has a law entitled “Common Language and Writing Law”, the provisions of which require the Chinese government’s mandatory promotion of standard Chinese. Records from the Chinese Ministry of Education show that about 70% of the population in mainland China can speak standard Chinese, but only 10% can speak the language fluently.
Standard Chinese is incorporated into the curriculum of education in both mainland China and Taiwan, with the government aiming to ensure that the language reaches a penetration of at least 80% across the country by 2020. In its written format, standard Chinese uses both simplified Chinese characters (mainly used in Putonghua), and traditional Chinese characters (mainly used in Guoyu). For the braille system, the language uses Taiwanese braille, continental Chinese braille and two-cell Chinese braille.
Official languages of China
Another language that has official status in China is Cantonese. The origin of the language can be traced back to the port city of Guangzhou, from where its use spread throughout the Pearl River delta. Guangzhou is also known as Canton, and it is from this city that the language took its name. Cantonese is used as an official language in Hong Kong, as required by the Basic Law of Hong Kong, and is used in all government communications, including court proceedings and courts. Cantonese is also the official language of Macao, along with Portuguese.
The use of Cantonese in Hong Kong is regulated by the Division of the official language of the Civil Service Office, a government institution. In Macao, the use of the language is regulated by the public administration and by the civil service office. According to linguists, Cantonese is defined as a variant of the Chinese language or as a prestige variant of Yue, a subdivision of the Chinese. When classified with other closely related Yuehai dialogues, Cantonese has around 80 million speakers throughout the country.
In the province of Guangzhou, Cantonese is used as thelingua franca as well as in the neighboring region of Guangxi. Cantonese can be divided into three main dialects: the Guangzhou dialect, the Hong Kong dialect and the Macao dialect. All these dialects are geographically defined. Written Cantonese uses traditional Chinese characters, as well as written vernacular Chinese characters. Cantonese Czechs use the Cantonese braille system.
Regional languages of China
Wu Chinese is a predominantly spoken Chinese dialect in the eastern region of China. The language exists in six main subgroups, which are defined geographically. These subgroups include Taihu, Taizhou, Oujiang, Wuzhou, Chu-Qu and Xuanzhou. The language can also be divided into varieties 14, which include the Shanghainese dialects, Huzhou, Wuxi, Ningbo, Suzhou, Changzhou, Jiaxing, Hangzhou, Shaoxing, Xuanzhou, Chuqu, Taizhou, Wuzhou and Oujiang. Wu’s total number of speakers in China is estimated at around 80 million people. Fuzhou is a dialect of the Chinese sub-group Houguan and a prestigious variety of the eastern branch of Min in the Chinese language. The dialect is classified as one of the main regional languages in China and has speakers mainly located in the province of Fujian. The dialect is centered in the city of Fuzhou, from which the dialect takes its name. The total number of Fuzhou loudspeakers is estimated at over 10 million throughout the country.
The Hokkien dialect is another important regional language in China. The language is a dialect of the southern Min linguistic group. The dialect came from the Fujian province and spread to several regions of southeastern China. Today, the total number of Hokkien dialectal speakers is estimated at around 37 million people. In Taiwan, Hokkien is one of the official languages used for signage in public transport. The Hokkien dialect is divided into ten dialects, including Medan, Penang, Taiwanese, Zhangzhou, Quanzhou, Xiamen and Singaporean. Other regional languages include Hakka, Xiang, Foochow and Gan.
Foreign languages spoken in China
English is one of the most critical foreign languages in China, with around 10 million speakers throughout the country. Most English speakers are located in the urban centers of the country. In Hong Kong, English is established as an official language and is used in both printed and electronic media. English is also used as a lingua franca in China during international commitments. Another important international language in China is Portuguese, which is used as an official language in Macau.
Sign language in China
The Chinese sign language is the main sign language used among the deaf population in mainland China and Taiwan and is used by a significant percentage of the estimate of millions of deaf people in China. Tibetan sign language is used by deaf residents of Tibet, particularly in the Lhasa region. The Tibetan sign language exists as a standardized language, which was formulated between 2001 and 2004. In the past, the use of sign language in China was discouraged and in some cases completely banned, as people believed that it would further inhibit abilities hearing of a child.
Overview of the languages spoken in China
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|1||Standard Chinese (Mandarin)|