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How many languages are spoken in China?

In China there are at least eight different linguistic groups, in addition to hundreds of dialects and variations. Most of the times they are not mutually understandable.

Standard Mandarin is usually calledHan languageHny in China, but different names like huy or Zhngwn are also used. In thePeoples Republic of China (PRC) the termptnghua (meaning common language)is frequently used, while in Taiwan it is known asguy national language.

Beside Mandarin Chinese, spoken by 850 million people, other demographically important languages are: theWu language (77 millions), theMin language (70 millions)and Cantonese (71 millions all over the world). Standard Cantonese remains one of the official languages of Honk Kong (together with English) and Macao (together with Portuguese). TheMin language (60 millions), which belongs to the southern part of the countries and the linguistic group Min, is widely spoken in southern Fujian, Taiwan and South-East Asia.

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The term Chinese normally refers to the standard language, even though the term Mandarin is often used to refer to the standard language when we want to distinguish it from the different dialects.

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The official language isMandarin Chinese, bases on the dialect of the ethnic group the Han, originally from the North. This language is based on a Mandarin variation spoken during the Manchu dinasty in Beijing. Later, this language was adopted as official langiage for the Peoples Republic of China and Taiwan, and it is one of th efour official languages in Singapore. It is also one of the six official languages at the United Nations.

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