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Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, with over a billion native speakers. The official language of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China, Chinese has many different dialects, many of which are not mutually intelligible. “Mandarin” refers to a group of dialects spoken mainly in northern and southwestern China, and is also the name of official Standard Chinese, which derives largely from the Beijing dialect.
Mandarin Chinese Fun Facts
The Chinese language has over 20,000 characters, but the average Chinese only learns about 5,000 of these in the lifetime. A knowledge of 3,000-4,000 is enough to read the newspaper.
Spoken Chinese grammar is relatively simple compared to Latin- and Greek-based languages. There are no verb conjugations, and verbs aren’t modified by tense. Also, nouns are not gendered – the word “they” denotes both sexes and the Chinese word “ta” indicates both “he” and “she.”
Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language. It has 4 basic tones: flat, rising, falling then rising, and falling. The meaning of a word can dramatically change depending on the tone. For example, by saying “ma” in different ways, you can ask “Did mother scold the horse?” (mā mà mă ma?)