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Mandarin and Chinese Dialects

Mandarin and Chinese Dialects

“Which language or dialect should i learn?” We received this question almost everyday. So, here is our answer to you guys.

On 31st October 2000, the Law of Universal Language and Character of the People’s Republic of China came into force, which stipulates Mandarin as China’s universal national language.

While Mandarin is spoken in distinctive dialects throughout China, standard Mandarin is mostly influenced by the Northern Beijing dialect.

This is similar to how standard American English is influenced by the West Coast dialect. Beijing being the center of government in China accounts for its influence, while the actresses and actors of Hollywood set the American standard.

The official language in China is called Putonghua (普通话), literally translated as ‘common speech’, which is known in English as Mandarin Chinese, or Standard Chinese.

It is the most widely used language in China and the world at large, and one of the 6 official languages of the United Nations.


In Malaysia, all the government, private and international schools are teaching Mandarin Chinese. It is called as “Bahasa Cina” in Malay language.

Up to now, we still could not find school or centre that is teaching Chinese Dialects such as Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka in Malaysia. If you know any, please inform us as we’d like to know.

While written forms of Mandarin maintain a rigid standard across the country, the dialects of China vary widely in their pronunciation patterns.

Of the other varieties of Chinese spoken by the many ethnic groups of China, the most widely used and well known are Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Fuchow, Shanghainese, and Sichuanese.

Mandarin Chinese belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family, and is the shared language of most Chinese people. Chinese people who speak other languages, often also speak or use Mandarin as their second language.

If you intend to learn Chinese, it is most useful to learn Mandarin Chinese.

Do you have any questions? Please write your comment below.

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