Chinese language

Mandarin Chinese (pŭtōnghuà, guóyŭ, huáyŭ) is the most widely spoken of all the Chinese dialects spoken as a mother tongue, in a large area in the north and southwest of mainland China. There is also a large diaspora of Mandarin speakers in Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mongolia, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the UK, the USA and Vietnam. With about 850 million speakers, Mandarin Chinese is by far the most widely spoken language in the world.

Dialects of Chinese

Mandarin is the main dialect of China both in terms of number of speakers (about 70% of the total population) and political importance. The term Mandarin is a translation of guān-huà 'official language', i.e. the dialect spoken in Beijing. The Beijing dialect has been the standard of China's official language for many centuries.

Due to geographical and political considerations, the language became known by different names: in the People's Republic of China it is called pŭtōnghuà 'common speech', in Taiwan it is called guóyŭ 'national language', and in Singapore and Malaysia it is called huáyŭ 'Chinese language'. Although pŭtōnghuà, guóyŭ and huáyŭ are based on the Beijing dialect, they differ from the dialect spoken in Beijing. They also differ from each other mainly in pronunciation and vocabulary.

Mandarin Chinese spoken in mainland China is usually divided into four main regional sub-dialects which, for the most part, are mutually intelligible.

  • Northern Mandarin (Huabei Guanhua), which includes the Beijing dialect.
  • Eastern Mandarin (Jinghuai Guanhua)
  • Northeastern Mandarin (Xibei Guanhua)
  • Southwest Mandarin (Xinan Guanhua)

Who speaks Chinese?

Mainland China and Taiwan

Standard Mandarin is the official language of mainland China and Taiwan, where it is used as a lingua franca among speakers of dialects not understood by each other. Standard Mandarin is used in all spheres of formal and informal communication. It is the working language at all educational levels, and in all media. The use of Standard Mandarin enables communication between people who speak an infinite number of dialects and languages that are not mutually intelligible. As a result, Standard Mandarin is spoken with several degrees of fluency and with differences in pronunciation by the most part of the population of mainland China and Taiwan.


Standard Mandarin is one of the four official languages of Singapore, along with English, Tamil and Malay. Although English is the main language of instruction in primary schools, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay are taught in the schools of the respective language communities. Schools in the Chinese community receive additional funding to teach Mandarin and use it as the language of instruction, since most Chinese in Singapore speak Minnan Chinese and have to learn Mandarin as a second dialect.

Translation agency for Spanish-English-Chinese

Now that you know a little more about the Chinese language, you might be interested to know that we offer professional translation services from both English to Chinese and from Chinese into English. We specialise in translation from and into Spanish.

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