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The Languages spoken in China

Putongha or Standard Mandarin is the official national spoken language in China. Autonomous regions and other special administrative provinces and regions have their separate official languages. The languages spoken by China’s various ethnic groups are collectively identified as Zhōngguó Yǔwén (中国语文). The majority of these languages are morphologically and phonetically different. Zhōngguó Yǔwén comprises of the several Han Chinese language variations with the non-Han minority languages like the Tibetan and Mongolian. The varieties of spoken languages of nationalities that comprise People’s Republic of China (PRC) belong to at least 7 groups: Sino-Tibetan; Altaic; Austroasiastic; Tai-Kadai; Indo-European; and Austronesian. There are many economic, social and useful advantages in being proficient functional in Putongha which is the lingua franca amongst various groups in mainland China.

As early as 1500 BCE, Chinese characters have already been existing; specifically during the Shang Dynasty. The Chinese characters were standardized under at some point of the Qin Dynasty in order to represent the spoken dialects and languages of the capital city Cháng'ān (now Xian). These characters have remained almost constant in the face of past changes in articulation. Thus, Chinese belonging to different to ethnic groups and autonomous regions can communicate in writing. Chinese characters do not make up a compact syllabary or alphabet. They are built up from basic parts representing objects or conceptual ideas.

The April 2006 issue of “The Economist” stated that 20% of China’s population is learning in English. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown predicted that in 20 years the number of English-speaking Chinese will outnumber the total native English speakers of the world.


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