Still, it also refers to many languages and dialects spoken throughout China and the world. Sinitic is another name of Chinese languages and it is a sub-family of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is not a single language but rather several related dialect groups united by a common written language, a standard writing system. All Chinese languages are tonal, meaning the tone you use defines what you are saying.
Around 4000 BCE, the Sinitic languages or the Chinese languages that existed developed from Proto-Sino-Tibetan. From around 1250 BCE belonged the first written examples of Chinese. People often refer to the standard language as mandarin as it is based on the Mandarin dialect of Beijing. Still, to be precise, the word Mandarin refers to a range of northern dialects. Mandarin, or the standard Chinese, now fulfills the role that classical Chinese used as the official written language used by speakers of all varieties of Chinese for most purposes. The order of the characters might be separate to define different syntax.
Countries with most Chinese speakers:
More than 1.3 billion native speakers of Chinese are present if we include all its varieties. Mandarin, also called standard Chinese, is the official language of the Republic of China and some other countries. It is also one of the four official languages of Singapore. Many diaspora communities throughout Asia, like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, and different communities worldwide also speak in the Chinese language.
Macau: Chinese Cantonese and Portuguese are the official languages in Macau.
Singapore: Singaporean Mandarin is common in the country. The government does not recommend the use of the Chinese language.
Taiwan: Taiwanese Mandarin, or the standard Mandarin, is the official language of Taiwan. However, China views Taiwan as part of China while Taiwan does not. They may disagree on government and political issues, but they still use the same language of communication as Mandarin.
China: Mandarin or Standard Mandarin is the official language of the country. There are almost 300 languages or dialects used in China. These languages have diverse origins.
How to learn the Chinese language outside China?
However, most international students can still not cross into mainland China (see updates here). What alternatives exist for studying Chinese outside of China’s core?
Due to the long history of Chinese populations there, a rich fusion of Chinese and Southeast Asian culture has developed in nations like Malaysia and Singapore.
As you can see, Chinese is a large and diverse group of languages and not a single language. Many Chinese populations abroad still speak their native tongues alongside Mandarin, such as Hokkien or Cantonese. Therefore, if you decide to study here, you may have more opportunities to pick up non-Mandarin Chinese languages.
You could notice that the local accents and learning approaches are different from those in China. You might learn authentic Chinese characters rather than simplified ones!
The Chinese diaspora and the Chinese-speaking community worldwide have worked hard to develop possibilities for students to study Chinese outside of Asia, even as far away as the US!
Outside of China, there are numerous locations where learning Chinese is feasible and a fantastic opportunity! You can immerse yourself in the Chinese language and culture in Taiwan or Singapore. Or learn Mandarin in Malaysia’s or the US’s broad cultural melting pot. Even though students cannot cross the border into mainland China, learning in one of these places can be an excellent investment.
Outside of mainland China, you may have a better chance of learning the Chinese language other than Mandarin. Today, the most common dialect of Chinese is Putonghua, a dialect of Mandarin Chinese. You will study Mandarin Chinese written in the Simplified script in the PRC. There may be more options to learn Traditional Chinese or a non-Mandarin language, such as Cantonese, Taiwanese, Hokkien, or Hakka, outside of China.
It will undoubtedly be simpler to integrate if you study in a nation where many people speak Chinese as their first language. But if you work hard at your studies, you can learn Chinese at a high level from anywhere in the world. Chinese is a popular language and the most spoken language worldwide. Regardless of being one of the oldest languages, there are still many speakers and learners of the language.