Standard Chinese

Standard Chinese
Modern Standard Mandarin
普通话 / 普通話 Pǔtōnghuà
国语 / 國語 Guóyǔ
华语 / 華語 Huáyǔ
Native toChina, Taiwan, Singapore
Native speakers
(has begun acquiring native speakers cited 1988, 2014)[1][2]
L2 speakers: 7% of China (2014)[3][4]
Early form
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Mainland Chinese Braille
Taiwanese Braille
Two-Cell Chinese Braille
Wenfa Shouyu[5]
Official status
Official language in
Regulated byNational Language Regulating Committee (China)[6]
National Languages Committee (Taiwan)
Promote Mandarin Council (Singapore)
Chinese Language Standardisation Council (Malaysia)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6goyu (Guoyu)
huyu (Huayu)
cosc (Putonghua)
GlottologNone
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Common name in China
Traditional Chinese普通話
Simplified Chinese普通话
Literal meaningCommon speech
Common name in Taiwan
Traditional Chinese國語
Simplified Chinese国语
Literal meaningNational language
Common name in Singapore and Southeast Asia
Traditional Chinese華語
Simplified Chinese华语
Literal meaningChinese language

Standard Chinese, also known as Modern Standard Mandarin, Standard Mandarin, or simply Mandarin, is a standard variety of Chinese that is the sole official language of both China and Taiwan (de facto), and also one of the four official languages of Singapore. Its pronunciation is based on the Beijing dialect, its vocabulary on the Mandarin dialects, and its grammar is based on written vernacular Chinese.

Like other varieties of Chinese, Standard Chinese is a tonal language with topic-prominent organization and subject–verb–object word order. It has more initial consonants but fewer vowels, final consonants and tones than southern varieties. Standard Chinese is an analytic language, though with many compound words.

There exist two standardised forms of the language, namely Putonghua in Mainland China and Guoyu in Taiwan. Aside from a number of differences in pronunciation and vocabulary, Putonghua is written using simplified Chinese characters (plus Hanyu Pinyin romanization for teaching), while Guoyu is written using traditional Chinese characters (plus Zhuyin for teaching). There are many characters that are identical between the two systems.

Names

In Chinese, the standard variety is known as:[7]

Standard Chinese is also commonly referred to by generic names for "Chinese", notably 中文; Zhōngwén; "Middle [i.e. Chinese] writing" and 中国话; 中國話; Zhōngguóhuà; "Middle Kingdom [i.e. China] speech" (compare 英文; Yīngwén; "English writing" for English, and 英国; Yīngguó; "English country [i.e. England]"). In total, there have been known over 20 various names for the language.[9]

Putonghua and Guoyu

The term Guoyu had previously been used by non-Han rulers of China to refer to their languages, but in 1909 the Qing education ministry officially applied it to Mandarin, a lingua franca based on northern Chinese varieties, proclaiming it as the new "national language".[10]

The name Putonghua also has a long, albeit unofficial, history. It was used as early as 1906 in writings by Zhu Wenxiong to differentiate a modern, standard Chinese from classical Chinese and other varieties of Chinese.

For some linguists of the early 20th century, the Putonghua, or "common tongue/speech", was conceptually different from the Guoyu, or "national language". The former was a national prestige variety, while the latter was the legal standard.[clarification needed]

Based on common understandings of the time, the two were, in fact, different. Guoyu was understood as formal vernacular Chinese, which is close to classical Chinese. By contrast, Putonghua was called "the common speech of the modern man", which is the spoken language adopted as a national lingua franca by conventional usage.

The use of the term Putonghua by left-leaning intellectuals such as Qu Qiubai and Lu Xun influenced the People's Republic of China government to adopt that term to describe Mandarin in 1956. Prior to this, the government used both terms interchangeably.[11]

In Taiwan, Guoyu (national language) continues to be the official term for Standard Chinese. The term Guoyu however, is less used in the PRC, because declaring a Beijing dialect-based standard to be the national language would be deemed unfair to speakers of other varieties and to the ethnic minorities.[citation needed] The term Putonghua (common speech), on the contrary, implies nothing more than the notion of a lingua franca.[citation needed]

During the government of a pro-Taiwan independence coalition (2000–2008), Taiwan officials promoted a different reading of Guoyu as all of the "national languages", meaning Hokkien, Hakka and Formosan as well as Standard Chinese.[12]

Huayu

Huayu, or "language of the Chinese nation", originally simply meant "Chinese language", and was used in overseas communities to contrast Chinese with foreign languages. Over time, the desire to standardise the variety of Chinese spoken in these communities led to the adoption of the name "Huayu" to refer to Mandarin.

This name also avoids choosing a side between the alternative names of Putonghua and Guoyu, which came to have political significance after their usages diverged along political lines between the PRC and the ROC. It also incorporates the notion that Mandarin is usually not the national or common language of the areas in which overseas Chinese live.

Hanyu

Hanyu, or "language of the Han people", is another umbrella term used for Chinese. However, it has confusingly two different meanings:[7]

This term, as well as Hànzú (汉族; 漢族; "Han nation"), is a realatively modern concept; it came into being with the rise of Chinese nationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries.[13] A relative concept is Hànzì (汉字; 漢字; "Han characters").[14]

Mandarin

The term "Mandarin" is a translation of Guānhuà (官话; 官話, literally "official's speech"),[7] which referred to the lingua franca of the late Chinese empire.[15] The Chinese term is obsolete as a name for the standard language, but is used by linguists to refer to the major group of Mandarin dialects spoken natively across most of northern and southwestern China.[16]

In English, "Mandarin" may refer to the standard language, the dialect group as a whole, or to historic forms such as the late Imperial lingua franca.[16] The name "Modern Standard Mandarin" is sometimes used by linguists who wish to distinguish the current state of the shared language from other northern and historic dialects.[17][7]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Hochchinesisch
العربية: صينية مندرين
تۆرکجه: چین دیلی
Boarisch: Houkinäsisch
한국어: 표준 중국어
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Mandarin Baku
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa Mandarin Baku
Nederlands: Standaardmandarijn
Nedersaksies: Standaard Sjinees
Nordfriisk: Huuchsjineesk
norsk nynorsk: Standard mandarin
português: Mandarim padrão
Seeltersk: Hoochchinesisk
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Standardni mandarinski jezik
Türkçe: Standart Çince
粵語: 國語
Lingua Franca Nova: Putong