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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, Beijinghua, Mandarin, Northern Chinese, Standard Chinese, Zhongguohua Autonym 普通话‎ (Putonghua) Population

1,074,000,000 in China, all users. L1 users: 896,000,000 (2015), increasing. 70% of Chinese language users speak a Mandarin dialect as L1. L2 users: 178,000,000. Total users in all countries: 1,107,162,230 (as L1: 908,762,230; as L2: 198,400,000).


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 Jiujiang (Jiangxi) to Zhenjiang (Jiangsu).

Language Maps China Central Myanmar Northern Myanmar Mongolia 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 Yangtze 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], Russian [rus], Vietnamese [vie]. Also use Korean [kor], in predominantly Korean-speaking provinces.

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:

Expand All Collapse All AustraliaLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population Full336,000 (2012 UNSD). LocationWidespread. 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 Population Full13,200 (2004 J. Leclerc). LocationMajor cities. Status3 (Wider communication). Other CommentsNon-indigenous. View other languages of Brunei China–Hong KongLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population Full3,421,000 in China–Hong Kong, all users. L1 users: 131,000 (2016 census). L2 users: 3,290,000 (2016 census). Status1 (National). De facto national language. Other CommentsNon-indigenous. View other languages of China–Hong Kong China–MacaoLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population Full44,600 (2014). Status1 (National). De facto national language. Statutory provincial language in Macao Special Administrative Region (1999, Basic Law, Article 9). Other CommentsNon-indigenous. View other languages of China–Macao China–TaiwanLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population Full19,710,000 in China–Taiwan, all users. L1 users: 4,710,000 (2015). L2 users: 15,000,000. LocationMajor cities. Alternate NamesMandarin 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 Population Full466,000 (2005 J. Leclerc), increasing. LocationScattered. 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 Population Full1,230,000 in Malaysia, all users. L1 users: Recent census figures do not detail the number of Mandarin speakers. L2 users: 1,230,000 (2015). LocationPeninsular, Sabah and Sarawak: especially 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 Population Full41,900 (2015). 11,300 ethnic Khoton speak a form of Mandarin Chinese [cmn]. LocationUvs province: Tarialan and Ulaangom districts. 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 Population Full100,000 (2016 J. Leclerc). LocationShan state: large China border area, Kokang Self-Administered Zone in 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 Population Full500. Ethnic population: All ethnic Chinese are 53,300 (1990 census). LocationMajor cities. Status3 (Wider communication). Language UseUsed as L2 by Ibatan [ivb]. Other CommentsNon-indigenous. View other languages of Philippines SingaporeLanguage nameChinese, Mandarin Population Full2,890,000 in Singapore, all users. L1 users: 2,010,000 (2015 World Factbook). L2 users: 880,000. Status1 (National). Statutory national 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. 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 Population Full5,880 (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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