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Chinese, Mandarin | Ethnologue

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Chinese, Mandarin

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A language of China

ISO 639-3 cmn Alternate Names Beifang Fangyan, Guanhua, Guoyu, Hanyu, Huayu, Mandarin, Northern Chinese, Putonghua, Standard Chinese, Zhongguohua, Zhongwen Population

889,000,000 in China (2013), increasing. 70% of Chinese language users speak a Mandarin dialect as L1. L2 users: 178,000,000 in China. Total users in all countries: 1,090,951,810 (as L1: 897,071,810; as L2: 193,880,000).


Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region: northwest; Guizhou province; Hubei province: except southeast corner; Hunan province: northwest; Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Widespread north of Changjiang river, from Qiujiang (Jiangxi) to Zhenjiang (Jiangsu).

Language Maps China Central Myanmar Northern Myanmar Taiwan Language Status

1 (National). De facto national language.

Classification Sino-Tibetan, Chinese Dialects

Huabei Guanhua (Northern Mandarin), Xibei Guanhua (Northwestern Mandarin), Xinan Guanhua (Southwestern Mandarin), Jinghuai Guanhua (Eastern Mandarin, Jiangxia Guanhua, Lower Yangze Mandarin). Speakers of Kokang variety in Myanmar are reportedly most similar to the dialect spoken in Yunnan Province, China. A member of macrolanguage Chinese [zho].


SVO; prepositions; noun head final; 6 full (concrete meaning) word classes; no articles; passives; 24 consonants, 8 vowels, 6 diphthongs; tonal (4 phonemic tones).

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Also use English [eng], French [fra], Japanese [jpn], Korean [kor], Russian [rus], Vietnamese [vie].

Language Development Literacy rate in L2: 91% (2000 census, Han nationality). Official language taught in all schools in mainland China and Taiwan. Taught in secondary schools. Fully developed. Bible: 1874–1983. Language Resources OLAC resources in and about Chinese, Mandarin Writing

Bopomofo script [Bopo], used since 1913, revised in 1920 and 1932, mainly used in Taiwan. Braille script [Brai]. Han script, Simplified variant [Hans], used since 1956, official in Mainland China (1956) and Singapore (1969), also used elsewhere. Han script, Traditional variant [Hant], used since mid-19th century, official in Taiwan, also used elsewhere. Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

There are Mandarin speakers in all 56 official nationalities of China, but the majority in China are classified under Han, Manchu and Hui nationalities. Traditional religion, Buddhist, Christian, Confucianist, Daoist, Jewish, Muslim.

Also spoken in:

AustraliaLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population336,000 in Australia (2012 UNSD). Status5 (Dispersed). Language UseAlso use English [eng]. Other CommentsNon-indigenous. Many Chinese people migrated to Australia during the 1850s gold rushes. View other languages of Australia BruneiLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population13,200 in Brunei (2004 J. Leclerc). Status3 (Wider communication). Other CommentsNon-indigenous. View other languages of Brunei CambodiaLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Status3 (Wider communication). Other CommentsNon-indigenous. Confucianist, Daoist. View other languages of Cambodia China–Hong KongLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population94,400 in China–Hong Kong (2013 UNSD). Status1 (National). Other CommentsNon-indigenous. View other languages of China–Hong Kong China–MacaoLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population27,100 in China–Macao (2012 UNSD). Status1 (National). Statutory provincial language in Macao Special Administrative Region (1999, Article 9, Basic Law). Other CommentsNon-indigenous. View other languages of China–Macao China–TaiwanLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population4,320,000 in China–Taiwan (1993). L2 users: 15,000,000 in China–Taiwan. LocationMainly Taipei and 5 provincial cities. Alternate NamesGuoyu, Kuoyu, Mandarin, Putonghua DialectsTaibei Mandarin. Status1 (National). De facto national language. Language UseMany also use Min Nan Chinese [nan], especially 30–50-year-olds. Language DevelopmentKuoyu taught in all schools. Other CommentsNon-indigenous. Traditional religion, Buddhist, Christian. View other languages of China–Taiwan IndonesiaLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population460,000 in Indonesia (1982), increasing. LocationScattered throughout Indonesia. Status3 (Wider communication). Language UseAlso use Indonesian [ind]. Other CommentsNon-indigenous. Mandarin is sometimes taught in ‘National Plus’ schools with English and Indonesian. View other languages of Indonesia MalaysiaLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin PopulationRecent census figures do not detail the number of Mandarin speakers. LocationPeninsular and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak states) especially in urban areas; scattered. Status1 (National). Statutory national working language (1996, Education Act, No. 550, Articles 2 and 18). Language UsePositive attitudes. All also use Hakka Chinese [hak]. Language DevelopmentTaught in primary and secondary schools. Other CommentsNon-indigenous. Primarily urban, in commerce. View other languages of Malaysia MongoliaLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population35,000 in Mongolia (Johnstone 1993). 11,300 ethnic Khoton speak a form of Mandarin Chinese [cmn]. LocationNorthwest, Uvs Province, Ulaangom and Tarialan sums. Alternate NamesHoton, Hui, Hui-Zu, Hytad, Khoton, Mandarin, Northern Chinese, Qotong, Xui Status5 (Dispersed). Language UseAlso use Halh Mongolian [khk]. Language DevelopmentLiteracy rate in L2: High literacy rate in Halh, or Mandarin. Other CommentsNon-indigenous. Traditional religion. View other languages of Mongolia MyanmarLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population500,000 in Myanmar (1994). LocationShan State: large area on China border, Kokang Self-Administered Zone (Laukkai and Konkyan townships) and Muse township. Alternate NamesTayok DialectsKokang (Kokant). Status5 (Dispersed). Language UseVigorous. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. Also use Burmese [mya]. Used as L2 by Burmese [mya], Drung [duu], Parauk Wa [prk], Rumai Palaung [rbb], Tai Loi [tlq], Tai Nüa [tdd]. Other CommentsNon-indigenous. The Kokang have been given a Self-Administered Zone. The Kokang dialect in Myanmar is most similar to the dialect spoken in Yunnan Province, China. Buddhist, Daoist. View other languages of Myanmar PhilippinesLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population500 in Philippines. Ethnic population: All ethnic Chinese are 53,300 (1990 census). Status3 (Wider communication). Language UseUsed as L2 by Ibatan [ivb]. Other CommentsNon-indigenous. View other languages of Philippines SingaporeLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population1,210,000 in Singapore (2010 census). L2 users: 880,000 in Singapore. Alternate NamesGuoyu, Huayu Status4 (Educational). Recognized language (1963, Constitution (amended), Article 153A(1)). Language UseUse is increasing. Some also use English [eng]. Some also use Chinese [zho], various varieties and other local minority languages. Used as L2 by Baba Malay [mbf], Min Nan Chinese [nan]. Language DevelopmentLiteracy rate in L1: 65% (2001 census). Taught in primary and secondary schools. Other CommentsNon-indigenous. 2,505,209 ethnic Chinese (2000 census). View other languages of Singapore ThailandLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population5,880 in Thailand (1984). LocationKrung Thep province: dispersed through provincial towns and south in Kra peninsula. DialectsHo (Cin Haw, Haw, Hui, Hui-Tze, Hwei, Panghse, Pantha, Panthe, Pathee, Western Mandarin, Yunnanese). Status5 (Dispersed). Other CommentsNon-indigenous. Traditional religion, Muslim. View other languages of Thailand
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