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The history of Chinese Language

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The Han people of China have their own spoken and written language. Chinese belongs to the Han-Tibetan language family. Mandarin Chinese, often referred to as simply “Chinese”, is the most commonly used language in China, and one of the most commonly used languages in the world.

Written Chinese emerged in its early and most primitive form with carved symbols approximately 6,000 years ago in China. The Chinese characters used today evolved gradually from those used in bone and tortoise shell inscriptions more than 3,000 years ago and the bronze inscriptions produced soon after.

Drawn figures were gradually reduced to patterned strokes, pictographs were reduced to symbols, and the complicated graphs became simpler. Early pictographs and ideographs were joined by pictophonetic characters.

Currently, there are six categories of Chinese characters: pictographs, self-explanatory characters, associative compounds, pictophonetic characters, phonetic loan characters and mutually explanatory characters.

Chinese words are monosyllabic. A large proportion of Chinese characters are composed of an ideogrammatic element combined with a phonetic element.

There are approximately 56,000 characters, of which only about 3,000 are in common use today. In addition to their functional value as symbols for records and communication, Chinese characters have an aesthetic value (e.g., calligraphy).

All of China’s 55 minority groups have their own spoken languages, except for the Hui and Manchu, who use Mandarin Chinese; 23 of these dialects have a unique written form. Nowadays, classes in schools in predominantly national minority areas are taught in the local language, using local language textbooks.

Mandarin is a category of Chinese dialects spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The term “Mandarin” can also refer to Standard Mandarin, which is based on the Mandarin dialect spoken in Beijing. It is considered to be the standard for the People’s Republic of China.

Why do most non-Chinese speakers choose to learn standard Mandarin Chinese?

Mandarin is understood by most Chinese people. As mentioned above, it is China’s national language and spoken widely in areas outside of China. Whether you are interested in basic communication, scholarly research, or pursuing a career in China, standard Mandarin is a necessary tool for communication.

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