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Slow Chinese 8
The meaning of Mandarin
The official Chinese language is called Mandarin. But did you know that each region of China not only has its own dialect, but also different languages. If a Shanghai native speaks in their dialect, a Beijing native basically won’t be able to understand them. If a Tibetan speaks in the Tibetan language, a person from Xinjiang won’t be able to understand.
Mandarin is alternatively called the national language and the Chinese language. China’s only official language is also one of Singapore’s official languages. Mandarin is in widespread use in China, while large numbers of people in south-east Asia can also understand it.
Mandarin comes from the Beijing dialect. Most northern Chinese will speak it, but they do have an accent. In the southern part of China, especially in the south-eastern coastal regions, there are many dialects. People from Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang speak the ‘Wu’ dialects. People from Fujian and Taiwan speak the ‘Min’ dialects. People from Guangdong and Hong Kong speak Cantonese. There are also the Gan, Hunanese, and Hakka dialects. People who don’t share these dialects have a hard time understanding one another; they must write out Chinese language characters or use Mandarin. In China, in addition to the Han, there are a lot of other ethnic groups with their own languages. For example, Korean, Tibetan, Uighur, and Mongol etc. These are not dialects of Chinese; they are completely different languages. They are spoken differently to Chinese and written even more differently. So the meaning of Mandarin is clear: it enables people from the regions to communicate, to peacefully and amicably live alongside each other.
Neil Armstrong (firstname.lastname@example.org)