As one of the six official languages used by UN (United Nations), Chinese now has earned itself greater status in the World. The official language of China is the Mandarin, which is the very name of ‘Hanyu’ or ‘Putonghua’, belonging to Sino-Tibetan.
Putonghua is a parlance in mainland China. It is the common language of all modern Han nationality people. In Taiwan Province and Hong Kong, it is called ‘Guoyu’ while in Singapore and Malaysia, it is often called ‘Huayu’.
Mandarin is shaped and based on the Beijing dialect and other dialects spoken in the northern areas of China. Students are often taught mandarin as ‘Yuwen’ in their schoolbooks. It is beyond all doubt that mandarin is used as a mother tongue by the most people accounting for about one fifth of the world’s population. Chinese once had very great influence on some peripheral countries with their languages and characters, such as Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.
With a vast territory and huge population, China has many different dialects which are of great complexity. Divided into official and non-official dialects, they vary between different areas. The official dialects generally refer to the northern dialects, while the non-official dialects are often spoken in the southeast part of the country.
The Chinese character has more than 3,000 years of history. It is a kind of hieroglyphic which originated from carapace-bone-script in the Shang Dynasty (16th – 11th century BC). It then developed into different forms of calligraphic handwritings like large seal script, small seal script, official script, regular script, cursive script and running script.