Mandarin (language)

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官 话 - Guānhuà
North Chinese
北方 话 - Běifānghuà

Spoken in

China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China , Taiwan , Malaysia , Singapore , and worldwide in diaspora communities with larger minorities in: Australia , Brunei , Indonesia , Mongolia , United States
TaiwanRepublic of China (Taiwan) 

United StatesUnited States 
speaker 898 million native speakers
Language codes
ISO 639 -1

zh (Chinese languages)

ISO 639 -2 ( B ) chi (Chinese languages) ( T ) zho (Chinese languages)
ISO 639-3

cmn , zho (macro language, Chinese languages)

Mandarin is the most speakers of the Chinese languages ​​or dialect groups . It is the mother tongue of around 70% of the Han Chinese . With around 898 million speakers, it is the language with the most native speakers in the world .

The Chinese name is Guānhuà ( Chinese  官 話  /  官 话 ), which can be translated as "official language". The word "Mandarin" is not of Chinese but of Malay-Portuguese origin and is a western name for the high officials in the Chinese Empire during the Ming and Qing dynasties . Alternatively, Běifānghuà ( 北方 話  /  北方 话  - “language of the north”, listen to ? / I ) is spoken, which can be translated as “ North Chinese ”, although the distribution area extends far beyond northern China. It is a generic term for the dialects with North Chinese origin and can be linguistically divided into eight subordinate dialect groups. Audio file / audio sample

Mandarin is widespread as a native language in China north of the Yangtze and in a belt south of the river from Qiujiang ( Jiangxi ) to Zhenjiang ( Jiangsu ), in Hubei Province with the exception of the southeastern tip, Sichuan , Yunnan , Guizhou , the northwest of Guangxi and the Northwest of Hunan .

The Beijing dialect of Mandarin is the basis for the standardized Mandarin , which is usually in the People's Republic of China with Putonghua ( 普通話  /  普通话 , pǔtōnghuà  - "common language") and in Taiwan with Guoyu ( 國語  /  国语 , guóyǔ  - "national language" ), technically referred to as Modern Standard Chinese ( 現代 標準漢語  /  现代 标准 汉语 , xiàndài biāozhǔn hànyǔ ). Misunderstandably, “Mandarin” is also used to denote standard Chinese in general German usage. There is a linguistic difference between the terms Mandarin ( Guanhua ) and Standard Chinese ( Putonghua ).

Main dialects

Dialects of Mandarin and Jin in China.

The Chinese Linguistic Atlas divides the Mandarin large group into eight subordinate dialect groups, which in turn consist of several subgroups and clusters, according to the classification developed largely by the linguist and dialect researcher Li Rong (1920–2002):

  • Northeastern dialect , also called Dongbei dialect ( 東北 方言  /  东北 方言 , Dōngběi Fāngyán , also 東北 話  /  东北 话 , Dōngběihuà ) - spoken in Manchuria , in the provinces of Heilongjiang , Jilin , large parts of Liaoning province , eastern Inner Mongolia
  • Beijing dialect , also called Beijing dialect ( 北京 方言  /  北京 方言 , Běijīng Fāngyán , also 北京 話  /  北京 话 , Běijīnghuà ) - spoken in Peking (Beijing), parts of Tianjin , eastern part of Hebei Province, west of Liaoning, small part of eastern Inner Mongolia and northern Xinjiang . Modern Standard Chinese is based on the pronunciation of this dialect, but the dialect's grammar does not correspond to the high-level language.
  • Ji-Lu dialect , also Hebei-Shandong dialect ( 冀魯 方言  /  冀鲁 方言 , Jìlǔ Fāngyán , also 冀魯 話  /  冀鲁 话 , Jìlǔhuà ) - spoken in Hebei (" Ji ", 冀) and Shandong (" Lu ”, 鲁) as well as most of Tianjin
  • Jiao-Liao dialect , also Jiaozhou-Liaoning dialect ( 膠 遼 方言  /  辽 辽 方言 , Jiāo Liáo Fāngyán , also 膠 遼 話  /  胶 辽 话 , Jiāoliáohuà ) - spoken on the Shandong and Liaodong peninsula., Derived from Jiao peninsula zhou and Liao ning
  • Dialect of the Central Chinese Plain or Zhongyuan dialect ( 中原 方言  /  中原 方言 , Zhōngyuán Fāngyán , also 中原 話  /  中原 话 , Zhōngyuánhuà ) - spoken in the provinces of Henan and Shaanxi , in the south of Shandong province, on the western tip of Jiangsu , in the west from Anhui , south of Shanxi , south of Ningxia , at the easternmost part of Qinghai , a small area in western Gansu , in the central and southern parts of Xinjiang, derived from the geographical term Zhongyuan , a region of China
  • Lan-Yin dialect , also Lanzhou-Yinchuan dialect ( 蘭 銀 方言  /  兰 银 方言 , Lányín Fāngyán , also 蘭 銀 話  /  兰 银 话 , Lányínhuà ) - spoken around Lan zhou and Yin chuan , i.e. in large parts of the Ningxia Autonomous Region and Gansu Province, central and eastern parts of Xinjiang
  • Southwestern dialect , also called Xinan dialect ( 西南 方言  /  西南 方言 , Xīnán Fāngyán , also 西南 話  /  西南 话 , Xīnánhuà ) - spoken in the southwestern provinces of China, i.e. in Guizhou , Yunnan , large parts of Hubei , in the west of Sichuan , Northwest of Hunan , northwest of Guangxi and in small parts in southern Shaanxi - with approx. 260 million speakers - the largest Mandarin dialect group
  • Jiang-Huai dialect , also Jangtse-Huaihe dialect, dialect of the Yangtze-Huaihe river region ( 江淮 方言  /  江淮 方言 , Jiānghuái Fāngyán , also 江淮 話  /  江淮 话 , Jiānghuáihuà ) - spoken specifically on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River (" Jiang ",江) and Huai He (" Huai ", 淮), common in parts of Hubei, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces
  • Some minor Mandarin dialects cannot be assigned to any of these eight groups.

If you add standard Chinese to the northern dialects, the area of ​​distribution increases even further, as the standard language is taught in schools throughout the Chinese region and serves as the lingua franca. Long-established overseas Chinese communities speak mostly southern Chinese dialects, while recent emigrants from the People's Republic use the northern dialects more often.


  • Jerry Norman: Chinese. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1988. Section 8.6 The Mandarin dialects , pp. 190-197.

Individual evidence

  1. a b Ethnologue : Summary by language size. Table 3 on Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  2. Chaofen Sun: Chinese. A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 6.
  3. ^ Susanne Günthner: Discourse Strategies in Intercultural Communication. Analysis of German-Chinese conversations. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1993, p. 58.
  4. Maria Kurpaska: Chinese Language (s). A Look Through the Prism of The Great Dictionary of The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects. De Gruyter Mouton, Berlin / New York 2010, pp. 64–68.