How Many Languages in China? ( Exploring Chinese Languages )

How Many Languages in China

China is the largest country in Asia and one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world. China is home to 56 ethnic groups, all of whom have played a critical role in the development of the various languages spoken in China. Mandarin is the most-spoken language in the world, with over 1.5 billion speakers. Although many Chinese dialects exist, but mostly the written language is a common form of communication. Even though when people are not able to verbally communicate in different provinces, they still can understand each other in writing. There are two writing forms of the Chinese Language namely:

Simplified Chinese: Primarily Chinese in China uses simplified characters. It is taught in Mandarin-Chinese classes internationally as well. These characters are simpler, have less pen-strokes, than traditional Chinese characters. Simplified characters have existed for hundreds of years but only became officially acceptable in formal writing after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in an attempt to improve literacy among Chinese in China. Simplified Chinese is officially used in mainland China, Singapore, and often used by the Chinese community in Malaysia. Simplified Chinese characters appear to be clear and straightforward. It is the standard way of writing in mainland China.

Traditional Chinese: Traditional Chinese is also known as Classical Chinese characters which are taught and used by Chinese in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, and elsewhere. It is the pre-reform system of Chinese writing. Traditional characters are typically more complicated and have more strokes.

Major Chinese Dialects spoken: The differences in dialect are due to the different pronunciation and vocabulary. The official dialect of China is Mandarin, also call “Putonghua”. More than 70% of the Chinese population speaks Mandarin, but there are also several other major dialects in use in China: Yue (Cantonese), Xiang (Hunanese), Min dialect, Gan dialect, Wu dialect, and Kejia or Hakka dialect.

Mandarin: Also known as Putonghua or common tongue, Mandarin has been the official language of China since 1913. Mandarin or Putonghua is the most common dialect used in China and has been adopted as a second language by those who speak other Chinese dialects. The official language of China, Mandarin is the dialect taught in Chinese schools. It is the universal language used throughout the northern, central, and southwestern provinces of China.

Yue (Cantonese): Yue also known as Cantonese or Guangdonghua is spoken in Hong Kong, most of Guangdong, and the southern Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. There are large groups of Cantonese-speaking immigrants located in the Northwest area. It comes second after Mandarin in terms of use. Outside of China, Cantonese is spoken in Australia, Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Macao, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Suriname, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Xiang (Hunanese): It is also known as Hunanese and is spoken primarily in the Hunan Province, located in southern China. It is intelligible with Mandarin knowledge, among the languages in the main groups; Xiang is the most similar to Mandarin. The language is divided into New Xiang and Old Xiang.

Min: Min is spoken in the Fujian province. It is also spoken in many parts of Taiwan, Hainan, Zhejiang, and Guangdong. It is also spoken in many parts of Taiwan, Hainan, Zhejiang, and Guangdong.

Gan: Gan is spoken in a variety of provinces, including Jiangxi and Fujian. It is also known as Kan. Gan has several similarities to Hakka and its dialects.

Wu: It is spoken by a majority of the people living in Zhijiang and the southern areas of Jiangsu and Anhui. Wu is also known as Wúyuèyǔ, Goetia, and Changzhou.

Kejia or Hakka: Hakka is spoken mainly in isolated regions; Hakka has six tones similar to Cantonese and has similarities with Gan and the language. Hakka has been borrowed extensively from Cantonese.

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