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Mandarin Dialects in China
Study on Mandarin Dialects in China
Oct, 2016



Mandarin is a diverse group of Mandarin dialects spoken in northern and southwestern China. (In everyday use, Mandarin also refers to Standard Mandarin which is the official spoken language of Mainland China, Taiwan, and one of the four official languages of Singapore).

Mandarin is mutually unintelligible with other varieties of Chinese. Most Chinese living in northern and south-western China are native speakers of a dialect of Mandarin. There are countless regional variations in Mandarin. They cover a huge area containing nearly a billion people. As a result, there are significant regional variations in pronunciation. These regional differences are bigger than the differences in the varieties of English found in England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States.

Dialects of Mandarin can be subdivided into eight categories: Beijing Mandarin, Northeastern Mandarin, Ji Lu Mandarin, Jiao Liao Mandarin, Zhongyuan Mandarin, Lan Yin Mandarin, Southwestern Mandarin, and Jianghuai Mandarin. Jin is sometimes considered the ninth category of Mandarin. (Others separate it from Mandarin altogether.)



Remember, the grouping is defined and used 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 will describe the dialect that they are speaking, for example Sichuan dialect (the dialect of Sichuan Province), Dongbei dialect (the dialect of Northeastern China), or more specifically like Chengdu dialect (the dialect of Chengdu, a city in Sichuan Province), Shenyang dialect (the dialect of Shenyang, a city in Northeastern China).

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