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Here is What You Need to Know About The Mandarin Language

If you want to lean Mandarin, you must understand the difference between the three subgroups. Within these Mandarin subgroups, linguistic differences remain mostly in deviation of tones and lexical items.

With the increasing importance of China in the global economy, more and more people are enrolling in classes to learn Mandarin. Mandarin has three subgroups: Northern Mandarin which is spoken in the Yellow River Basin and Northeast China, Southern Mandarin which is spoken in the three southern provinces of the People’s Republic of China: Jiangsu, Anhui and Jiangxi and Southwestern Mandarin which is spoken in the middle and upper Yangtze River basin, including the provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Yunnan, Hunan and Hubei. These subgroups are considered mutually intelligible as they share the same syntax structure, and a large part of their vocabulary remains identical.

If you want to learn Mandarin, you must understand the difference between the three subgroups. Within these Mandarin subgroups, linguistic differences remain mostly in deviation of tones and lexical items. However the English term Mandarin, an English translation of the Chinese word Guanhua (official language), usually refers to Northern Mandarin to which both Mainland Putonghua and Taiwan Guoyu belong. Mainland Putonghua and Taiwan Guoyu were both decreed standard Mandarin based on the vernacular spoken by people in the vicinity of Beijing. The term Guoyu meaning ‘National Language’ was first used in the 1910s when the National Language Unification Movement swept throughout China. In the 1950s, the term Putonghua was coined by the newly-established Communist government. Putonghua, meaning ‘Common Speech’, has since replaced Guoyu on the Mainland, though this politically-oriented move hardly conceals the fact that Putonghua refers to the same linguistic entity as Guoyu used to.

Linguistic maps of Southwestern Mandarin in China/Taiwan/Hainan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The most deviant Mandarin is Southwestern Mandarin, which differs from the others chiefly in lexicon and phonology. In Southwestern Mandarin, its second, third and fourth tone sound like the third (the first half), the fourth and the second tone respectively in Northern Mandarin. In Mandarin, a direct object always follows an indirect object, while Cantonese commonly has a direct object followed by an indirect object. Certain adverbs in Mandarin, resultative adverbs for example, appear to come after the verb, but most other adverbs precede the verb. You must have an interest in the language if you want to learn Mandarin.

Before you join a class to lean Mandarin, you must understand that Mandarin is only one of the many languages in China. It however has a popular language in the Chinese community in the United States. The importance of Mandarin in the United States Chinese community is a result of language policy and attitudes in the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, as well as support rendered by Chinese publications and broadcasts in the United States.

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