July 21, 2009

Mandarin Chinese

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 7:33 pm

Mandarin Chinese Speakers in Mainland China

Mandarin-Speaking World

Mandarin (traditional Chinese: 官話; simplified Chinese: 官话; pinyin: Guānhuà; literally “speech of officials”), or Beifanghua (simplified Chinese: 北方话; traditional Chinese: 北方話; pinyin: Běifānghuà; literally “Northern Dialect(s)”), is a category of related Chinese dialects spoken across most of northern and south-western China. When taken as a separate language, as is often done in academic literature, the Mandarin dialects have more speakers than any other language.

In English, Mandarin can refer to either of two distinct concepts:

  • to Standard Chinese or Standard Mandarin (Putonghua/Guoyu/Huayu/Hanyu), which is based on the particular Mandarin dialect spoken in Beijing. Standard Mandarin functions as the official spoken language of the People’s Republic of China, the official language of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and one of the four official languages of Singapore. ‘Chinese’ — in practice Standard Mandarin — is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
  • to all of the Mandarin dialects spoken in northern and south-western China.

In everyday use, Mandarin refers usually to just Standard Mandarin (Putonghua/Guoyu). In its broader sense, Mandarin is a diverse group of related dialects, some less mutually intelligible than others. It is a grouping defined and used mainly by linguists, and is not commonly used outside of academic circles as a self-description. Instead, when asked to describe the spoken form they are using, Chinese speaking a form of non-Standard Mandarin will describe the variant that they are speaking, for example Sichuan dialect or Northeast China dialect, and consider it distinct from ‘Standard Mandarin’ (putonghua); they may not recognize that it is in fact classified by linguists as a form of ‘Mandarin’ in a broader sense. Nor is there a common ‘Mandarin’ identity based on language; rather, there are strong regional identities centred on individual dialects, because of the wide geographical distribution and cultural diversity of its speakers. Moreover, it is of note that despite its wide use in the Occident, most native Mandarin speakers are reluctant to recognize the term ‘Mandarin’, since the word does not reflect any Chinese origin. Instead, they would rather call the language simply ‘standard Chinese’.

Continue reading about Mandarin Chinese in Wikipedia.

Mandarin Chinese Learning Resources

Podcasts for Mandarin Chinese Learners

Apple iPodTouch Image from

Podcasts are a great way to learn languages. You can use Free Language to check the vitality of available Chinese language-learning podcasts by viewing their feed page. Click on any podcast below to view general info followed by the latest items from it’s feed. You can tell if the feed has been updated lately, and it’ll save you some time in choosing which podcasts to subscribe to.

News in Mandarin Chinese

News feeds from around the Chinese-speaking world provide language exposure and practice joined with current events, culture, politics, science, sports and more. At Free Language, you can view summaries of these feeds and jump to view full articles when you interest is piqued.

Mandarin Chinese Internet TV

Miro Multimedia RSS Internet TV Player for Linux, Mac and Windows

Watching people speak Mandarin Chinese is a good way to gain exposure to the language in a non-study environment. This is great for folks who aren’t living where the language is spoken and especially those already proficient in listening comprehension. If you don’t understand anything, it’s cool to “vegg out” for a while, but it’s not the most productive thing you can do to learn. Try to find something with subtitles, and you’re on the way. 😉

If you do get into Internet TV, I highly recommend Miro , a free and open source media player with multimedia RSS capability that supports Linux, Mac and Windows. Hey, “because open media matters.”

At any rate, below you’ll find resources with literally thousands of Internet TV stations in a wide variety of languages. Amongst them you’ll find plenty in Mandarin Chinese. Enjoy!

Helpful Resources and Tools for Mandarin Chinese Survival Phrases in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French, Swedish, Arabic, Spanish and Vietnamese Instructional Videos on Learning Foreign Languages
Foreign Language Translation Extensions/Tools/Plugins/Add-Ons for the Firefox Web Browser Multi-Lingual Conversational Phrase Database Resource Free International Multilingual Language Exchange Partner Classifieds
FoxLingo Free Firefox Browser Extension Software for Translating Web Pages
Online Flashcard Exchange Community

Make Friends Learning Mandarin Chinese

VoxSwap Cartoon

Social language learning has become incredibly popular on the web as it has transcended language barriers in previously impossible ways. Right now someone in China or Taiwan could be interested in teaching you Mandarin in exchange for your English skills. If you speak other languages, the odds are even better that you’ll find someone interested in a language exchange.

Note that not all networks below support Mandarin Chinese. Collectively, though, they support pretty much every language.


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