Mandarin Chinese Language

Mandarin Chinese Language

Some scholars will argue Mandarin Chinese language is actually a dialect, however the exact distinction is not clear. Different versions of the language are spoken throughout all of China and these versions are usually considered to be different dialects. The term “Mandarin” can be used to classify all of these dialects or more commonly used to distinguish the Beijing dialect that is considered the official language of the Mainland. At the same time, other Chinese languages are also spoken throughout the Country, such as Cantonese, and in their spoken form are unintelligible to speakers of the other kinds. However, since most forms use written characters you will be able to communicate using the written word in most places.

Because of the large geographical size of the country, China has always been home to multiple tongues. The Mandarin Chinese language has been used by the ruling class since the Ming Dynasty. When the Capital of China switched to Beijing during this time, the Beijing dialect became the official language of the court, though other dialects were also spoken. It was not until 1909 that it became the official language of the Country.

Like other variants of Chinese, the Mandarin Chinese language utilizes Chinese characters for writing. The use of written characters can be traced back over two thousand years, with the characters starting out as graphic representations and evolving into the more stylized writing that is used today. Characters represent a syllable of speech as well as words, but not every character can be used on its own. This discrepancy is part of what makes studying Mandarin so difficult, as the thousands of characters have to be practised and committed to memory for true mastery. To aid in literacy efforts, in the 1950s the government simplified the written characters. The simplified versions are used in Mainland China today however Taiwan and Hong Kong still utilize the traditional forms.

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