The Mandarin Language: Its History, Influence and Description

With Mandarin(普通 话) being the most spoken dialect in China, the Mandarin Language is a very popular topic.

Mandarin language basics has its roots in Old Mandarin and was standardized during the early 20th century with influences from other languages such as Mongolian, Manchu, Korean, and Standard Chinese.

Mandarin is a type of Chinese language. It is one of the many dialects besides Shanghainese, Cantonese, and several more.

Mandarin Chinese is the national language of Mainland China and Taiwan, and it's one of the United Nations and Singapore's official languages. It is the most broadly spoken language in the world.

There are many forms of Chinese spoken throughout China, classified as dialects. Still, Mandarin is also referred to as a language that makes it one of the top 5 most popular languages globally.

What Is Mandarin Language?

Mandarin (普通 话) is the most extensively spoken of all Chinese dialects. One interesting Mandarin language facts, also known as Standard Mandarin or Modern Standard Mandarin and Putonghua (普通 话), is that it is a standardized form of the Mandarin group of speech varieties, tonal languages within the Sino-Tibetan language family.

The Mandarin Language basic words for its modern pronunciation is based on Beijing Mandarin. It has been described as "the common speech" that serves as an alternative to Yue (Cantonese) and Wu (Shanghainese).

Mandarin most spoken language, has two spoken variants, one which is formal and the other informal. The language is used in Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mongolia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom, Taiwan, The United States of America, and Vietnam.

Mandarin Chinese is by far the world's most populous language, with close to 850 million speakers.

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What Type of Language is Mandarin?

Mandarin Chinese is classified as a language belonging to the Mandarin sub-branch of the Sino-Tibetan family. Mandarin has many different dialects, but Mandarin can be further divided into two main versions: Standard Mandarin and Cantonese.

What Type of Language is Mandarin?

Standard Mandarin

Mandarin Chinese is formally known as Standard Mandarin. Mandarin was adopted officially in the People's Republic of China during its establishment and has since spread to many different parts of East Asia due to government regulations. Mandarin is used in Mainland China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Mandarin Chinese was chosen as their official language for economic reasons because it has the most speakers across many parts of Asia.

Mainland China And Taiwan

The official language of China and Taiwan is Mandarin, which is spoken to understand mutually unintelligible dialects as a lingua franca. Standard Mandarin is the usual form of speech in all informal and formal situations. It's used at every level of education, as well as in all media. Moreover, Standard Mandarin has helped to bring people from diverse mutually unintelligible dialects and languages together. Consequently, most individuals in mainland China and Taiwan speak Standard Mandarin with varying degrees of fluency and with slight variations in pronunciation.

Singapore

Mandarin(普通 话) is the official language of Singapore, which also includes English, Tamil, and Malay. Although English is the primary medium of instruction in primary schools, Chinese, Tamil, and Malay are taught in schools catering to those communities' languages. Schools catering to Chinese pupils receive enhanced funding for Mandarin training and as a medium of instruction because most ethnic Chinese Singaporeans who speak Min Nan Chinese must learn Mandarin as a second dialect.

Cantonese

Chinese Mandarin also has Cantonese, which is an important dialect that originated from Guangdong Province. We can trace the history of Mandarin vs. Cantonese back to Ancient times of Southern China when Old Mandarin and Middle Mandarin was a standard language with a rich literary tradition during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) and Qing Dynasty(1644-1911). There are very limited similarities between Standard Mandarin and Cantonese speakers as these Chinese languages have different pronunciation systems, grammar, vocabulary, or sentence structures.

Hong Kong

Cantonese remains dominant, with 96 percent of the population of Hong Kong are Cantonese speakers, and is used in daily interactions within private homes. Mandarin Chinese was not taught as a standard language until 1952 but has since become more popular. Mandarin Chinese speakers are migrating to Hong Kong, making it an emerging market for Mandarin language learners.

Is Mandarin A Language Or A Dialect?

Mandarin is one of the official dialects spoken throughout China. It is the common language to 70% of the population, and it has great political significance.

The term Mandarin is a translation of guān-huà, which means 'official language' and is the spoken dialect in Beijing. For many centuries, the Beijing dialect has been used as the official language of China.

Because of geographical and political factors, the people gave the language various names: 

  • The People's Republic Of China, identified as pŭtōnghuà "national speech," 
  • In Taiwan, it was known as guóyŭ "national language," and 
  • In Singapore and Malaysia as huáyŭ.

Pútōnghuà, Guóyŭ, and Huáyŭ, which are all formally based on the Beijing dialect. However, they differ from the Beijing dialect in many respects. In terms of pronunciation and vocabulary, they vary considerably.

The majority of mainland Chinese people speak a variant of Mandarin, divided into four major regional dialects that are usually mutually understandable.

  • The Beijing dialect is spoken in Northern Mandarin (Huabei Guanhua).
  • Eastern Mandarin (Jinghuai Guanhua) is a form of Standard Chinese.
  • Northwest Mandarin (Xibei Guanhua) and Southwestern Mandarin are two other varieties.

See More : How Many Languages Are Spoken In Australia?

Mandarin Chinese Language History

The early history of Mandarin can be traced back to the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC), when China was ruled by many warring states, each with their languages and cultures.

The establishment of unified imperial rule under the Chinese empire marked a critical turning point in linguistic development within both spoken and written Mandarin forms used amongst bureaucrats who could now communicate across boundaries, previously dividing them into self-contained regional dialects.

Mandarin was officially adopted as the national language to bridge differences between regions and promote political stability. Mandarin only became widely used in China after being taught at school from 1931 when political power shifted into Japanese hands following Japan's occupation of Manchuria during World War II.

Mandarin Chinese use increased exponentially throughout mainland China due to a necessity for citizens who were not fluent with Japanese to communicate until Mandarin Chinese could be accessed again.

It is believed that since then, Mandarin has been growing increasingly dominant over other dialects such as Cantonese or Taiwanese. In certain areas where there are large numbers of speakers, e.g., Beijing, this dominance is even more pronounced, evidenced by the fact that some people have considered Mandarin as the only Chinese dialect in existence.

What Language Do Mandarins Speak?

Mandarin is the widely spoken of all Chinese dialects, so Mandarin is the official state language of China. It is also known as 普通话 pǔ tōng huà or 华语 Huá Yǔ in Mandarin, is a group of varieties of Chinese spoken across most of northern and southwestern China.

Mandarin belongs to the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family within which it forms part of its subgroup called "Mandarin" (Simplified Chinese: 首都北京市; Traditional Chinese:首都北京市).

The Mandarin Language helps us learn about Mandarin history along with how many people speak this language and Mandarin's influence today.

Where Is Mandarin Language Spoken?

Mandarin is spoken in northern and southwestern mainland China, as well as in Taiwan. Mandarin Chinese is also said to be the most widely spoken "dialect" or language globally, with over one billion speakers worldwide.

It has an estimated 70-100 million speakers, mostly found living in areas of Northern China, where it originated about 200 years ago. Mandarin Chinese was not always so popular as during its early history, and Mandarin faced many political challenges that led to it being silenced for a long time.

Until recent times when people began embracing Mandarin again, it was due to various reasons, including economic prosperity brought by industrialization and modernization efforts implemented throughout Mainland China from the 1950s onwards.

Mandarin Chinese is currently the official language of China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Mandarin has also become one of the four most widely-spoken languages after English, Spanish, and Hindi/Urdu.

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What Countries Speak Mandarin As Their Official Language?

Mandarin is spoken as an official language in the following countries:

The People's Republic of China

Mandarin was made the official national language by law, with its speakers representing about 70 percent of China's population. Mandarin is also considered one of six fundamental languages or "New High Yield" languages essential for Chinese children to learn through compulsory education within Mainland China. It is also listed among the world's topmost spoken languages, with over 960 million native speakers worldwide.

What Countries Speak Mandarin As Their Official Language?

Singapore

Mandarin became one of four official languages in Singapore after gaining independence from Malaysia during the 1965–1970 period. Since then, it has become a global city where English acts as the main medium between different cultures even though Mandarin remains dominant with all ethnic groups identifying themselves with Mandarin.

Taiwan

Mandarin was designated as a major Chinese language to be used in the Republic of China after WWII and is currently the official national language of both Mainland China and Taiwan. Mandarin is also spoken widely among all ethnic groups residing within the Taiwanese countryside due to its vast spread over most parts of the island influenced by locals from mainland China who migrated into the southern part during the early 1900s for farming purposes.

Mandarin As A Second Language

In countries where Mandarin speakers are not dominant locally, it's considered important as an international language and one that can provide opportunities for economic growth, such as China and Taiwan.

Mandarin is also used as a lingua franca among overseas Chinese communities in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines, where ethnic Malaysians mainly speak their national language of Bahasa Malaysian while the rest use Mandarin at home or work to communicate with one another.

Mandarin As A Second Language

Brunei

Mandarin has been classified as a second official language since 2009 after English was made an official language back in September 2014. It is because of the British colonizers who occupied Brunei for 100 years from the 18th century until it gained independence in January 1984. All colonial laws were repealed during this time, completely replacing them with newly enacted local legislation without any traces left behind based on Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) principles.

Cambodia

Mandarin is one of the official languages in Cambodia, and it's used as a lingua franca among people who don't speak Cambodian locally, with Mandarin having been introduced to locals by Chinese immigrants who migrated into the northern part during the 1970s.

Malaysia

Mandarin was designated as an official language in Peninsular Malaysia when Singapore separated from the Malaysian federation in August 1965.

However, Mandarin continued to be widely spoken throughout Asian communities within major cities such as Kuala Lumpur, where ethnic Malaysians mainly use their national language of Bahasa Malay. In contrast, others continue using Mandarin at home or work due to its influence over nearby countries, including China and Taiwan.

But there has been a recent decline in Mandarin speakers since English became the primary medium for international business transactions within the country even though Mandarin is still widely used at home and work.

Thailand

Mandarin is, similarly, one of the official languages in Thailand, following its influence by Chinese immigrants who settled down in various parts of the northern part during the early 1900s. After being invited to come from China, Mandarin became a common language between different ethnic groups residing within-country even though they mainly speak their national Thai language among themselves.

Why Learn Mandarin Chinese Language?

Why Learn Mandarin Chinese Language?

Chinese Mandarin language is one of the most common languages in Mandarin-speaking areas, estimated at approximately 960 million people, or 70 percent of China's population, and half a billion people living outside mainland China where Mandarin has been spread to be taught as a foreign language.

In addition, Chinese Mandarin is spoken by 300 million non-native speakers worldwide, making it the fifth-largest number of native speakers after Mandarin itself, followed by English, then Spanish, then Hindi above French only if dialects like Cantonese and Hokkien are included.

You should learn Mandarin Chinese Language as it is one of the world's major languages ​​ due to its widespread use among Chinese speakers.

Moreover, this Chinese language is a diverse and dynamic language described as an important window into culture, art, education, and society. Mandarin Chinese Language can help you communicate with people from different parts of the world in many ways, such as business conferences or social gatherings by sharing common interests all over China & Asia!

Is Mandarin Hard To Learn?

Mandarin can be a difficult spoken language to learn if you were not exposed to it from birth. However, Mandarin is also one of the easiest languages for English speakers to gain basic fluency since many words are directly translated from English. It is also one of the best language to learn in Australia. 

The similar sounds between Mandarin and English make learning Mandarin much easier than other foreign languages such as French or Japanese, which do not have direct translation similarities with any common European or Asian tongue.

How To Speak Chinese Mandarin Language?

Mandarin has several interesting features that make it well-suited for both poetry and prose writing due to its concise nature in terms of actual word count required compared with English or other European languages.

If you are looking to learn basic Mandarin Language, it has four tones that can completely change the meaning of words depending on how they are pronounced—this makes speaking Mandarin much harder than reading because even if you know what something says, you might say it incorrectly without realizing it!

The Tone Structure

These Chinese words have several distinct sounds that make them different from English, and Mandarin will seem utterly foreign to an English speaker.

Mandarin is a tonal language, meaning the pitch or tone at which you say something changes its meaning—this makes Mandarin much harder than languages like Spanish or French, where changing your intonation doesn't change what words mean!

Mandarin tones are broken up into four main categories:

  • High level (55),
  • Rising (35),
  • Falling-rising (214) and
  • Falling (51).

Combining these tones can produce eight other specific tones though they tend to be used less often in Mandarin Chinese.

Mandarin also has a neutral tone used in certain cases, which means the pitch of your voice does not change when you speak Mandarin.

Mandarin uses consonants and vowels to form words, but it only contains about 400 sounds, while English has more than twice as many (about 900).

Mandarin Chinese was standardized using Peking Mandarin as its basis—it's still widely spoken today despite huge changes since then! free

The Syllable Structure

The dialect uses some syllables made by consonants and vowels just like English, but Mandarin also has some syllables that don't contain any components at all!

Mandarin is made up of monosyllabic words (words with one vowel sound) and disyllabic words (two-syllable words). Mandarin does not use the same structure for verbs and nouns; however—the verb comes first in Mandarin Chinese.

The syllable structure of Mandarin consists of an optional initial consonant + vowel (with or without tone) + optional final consonant (n or ng).

Its Vowels

Mandarin has a very simple vowel system. The language only contains seven pure vowels (a, e, I, o, u, and two diphthongs) compared to nine in English. Mandarin also lacks the long "e" sound—it can be replaced with any of the other three sounds depending on the context!

Its Vowels

Source:mustgo

The Consonants

Mandarin has a very simple consonant system that only consists of 22 phonemes.

Mandarin doesn't have many syllables containing consonants, unlike English, but Mandarin does use more varieties of the same sound.

The Consonants

Source: www.mustgo.com

  • In Mandarin Chinese, there is no contrast between voiceless and voiced stops and affricates such as between /p – b/,/ or /ts – dz/, etc. Instead, there's a difference between voiceless unaspirated and voiceless aspirated consonants, for example, p - p', ts - ts.' Even though in Pīnyīn, voiceless unaspirated /p/, /t/, /k/ are written as b, d, g, aspirated consonants are created with a strong puff of air. They're indicated by a raised 'h' in the table above.
  • Nasal consonants /n/ and //ŋ/ may only occur at the end of syllables.
  • The tongue is curled to make retroflex consonants /ʂ/, /tʂ/, and /tš/. The underside of the tongue comes into contact with the roof of the mouth for these sounds.
  • The following letter is often confused with the h in hue: ɕ. It has the same sound as h but is broader, thicker, and weaker.
  • The sound written as /tɕ/ is comparable to the "ch" in cheese.
  • /ŋ/ is compared to "ng" in song.
  • Similarly, /ɻ/ is compared to "r" in red.

Grammar

Like all other Chinese languages, Mandarin is primarily an isolating or analytic language, which means that words are generally only one grammatical structure. Grammatical roles are conveyed using word order, particles, prepositions, and discourses rather than suffixes attached to nouns or verbs, such as in Indo-European languages. In comparison with Indo-European languages, Chinese grammar may appear relatively basic due to the absence of inflections.

Nouns

Nouns in Chinese do not have a grammatical number, gender, or case. Nouns in Chinese do not have a grammatical number, gender, or case.

Mandarin Chinese uses measure words to indicate the size of a noun when it's used in counting. Mandarin also has classifiers, which are modifiers that indicate the general category of an object being counted.

  1. Classifiers.
  2. Locative Markers.
  3. Progressive Markers.

Mandarin does not have articles but instead uses demonstratives at a near distance (this/these) and a far distance (that/those).

Verbs

Mandarin has a large number of Mandarin verbs. Mandarin uses classifiers with countable nouns to indicate the type of action being done. For example, to drink is 喝 hē for "classifier + beverage" and 食物 shíwù for "food."

Mandarin does not have specific tenses or conjugations but instead expresses different time frames by using aspect markers such as "le" (一), which indicates an event happened in the past but still affects the present situation, or "zhe" (在), which means something is currently happening.

Mandarin also uses reduplication to indicate an extreme condition similar to how English says something is really good when using words like totally and very.

Sentence Markers

Mandarin uses particles to denote the structure of a sentence. Mandarin has no equivalent for auxiliary verbs. It can be inferred from context and situation rather than indicating grammatical role with conjugations or inflections.

Basic Mandarin Sentence Structure: 

Subject - Predicate Argument(s) - Adjective/Adverbial Clause .

Word Order

Mandarin is a topic-prominent language, meaning Mandarin sentences focus on the information being talked about rather than who said it or when. Mandarin uses Subject - Verb - Object word order with an optional additional element before the verb, such as a prepositional phrase that specifies time and location.

Vocabulary

Mandarin has borrowed many words from other Chinese dialects. To express ideas and concepts, bilingual individuals create new compound words by combining existing terms with the meaning of each. If you are looking to learn Chinese characters, maybe to become a Chinese NAATI Translator,  transliterating borrowed names does not work well because Chinese characters are not well-suited to represent foreign sounds, and pronunciation varies among dialects.

In English, morphemes are the smallest units that can be combined to form words. The grammatical categories number, person, gender, case, tense, and aspect are not conveyed through inflections in Mandarin. The following is a list of popular Mandarin word-building methods.

  • Compounding.
  • Reduplication.
  • Prefixation.
  • Suffixation.
  • Borrowing.

Who uses Traditional Chinese Language?

The vast majority of Chinese people (about 1 billion) speak simplified Chinese as their first language, and many more speak variants such as Mandarin or Cantonese. Traditional Chinese languages are used exclusively by Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, and certain overseas communities (including Americans living in China). They are also utilized on the mainland of China for artistic, academic, and commercial reasons.

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Difference Between Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese characters?

Simplified Chinese is a term used to describe the written form of modern standard Mandarin simplified into easy-to-read scripts using fewer strokes than Traditional Chinese characters (Traditional Characters are also known as Hanzi).

Such Simplified characters also reduce the number of characters in total. Simplified characters frequently utilize a single character to stand for words with multiple meanings yet the same pronunciation, unlike traditional Chinese characters. Its unique character represents each word.

Hopefully, this article has given you a certain premise about the Mandarin Language, its origin and how it can influence other languages. 

However, if you are interested in other articles, such as Top 5 Facts To Know About The Official Language of Australia, Mandarin Chinese translator for a basic Mandarin Language Translation, Mandarin Written Language, or Mandarin Sign language just head down to our website and see what we have in store for you. 

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