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Understanding Chinese Language and Culture

It is estimated that approximately 1.3 billion, or one fifth of the world`s population, speak some form of Chinese, making it the language with the most native speakers world wide. Standard Mandarin is the official language in the largest part of mainland China and Taiwan, though it is also one of the four languages spoken in Singapore and is an official idiom of the United Nations.
Most Chinese people in southern China didn`t speak Mandarin until the mid 20th Century, it is widely thought that despite the blend of officials and `commoners` speaking various dialects, Nanjing Mandarin became dominant during the Manch-speaking Qing Empire. The Empire had established Orthoepy Academies throughout the seventeenth century in an attempt to make pronunciation conform to the Beijing standard, Beijing of course being the capital of Qing, but these attempts floundered and the dialects continued to vary.
Nanjing Mandarin was finally replaced in the Imperial Court with Beijing Mandarin during the last half century of the Qing Dynasty in the late nineteenth Century; although variations of Mandarin existed at this time, there was no blanket standard. It was really only when elementary or primary school education was established that Mandarin was integrated into the Chinese `way of life`, and as a result, Mandarin is now spoken by most people in Mainland China and Taiwan. In Hong Kong and Macau, the formal speech and language of education remains Cantonese.
Cantonese has appeared in written form since the nineteenth century. It is widely spoken in the GuangDong and southern Guangsi provinces of mainland China and approximately 66 million people speak Cantonese worldwide. There are two practices of written Cantonese; a formal and colloquial version. The formal version is different from spoken Cantonese but can be largely understood by Mandarin speakers. The colloquial version however, is much closer to spoken Cantonese and by contrast is largely unrecognisable by Mandarin speakers.
Cantonese is mainly used in personal correspondence such as in diaries, newspapers and advertising, though to some extent it is also used in some literature such as poetry and comics.
The rise in China`s global economic influence has seen a definite rise in the number of non-native Chinese people learning Mandarin, and those who are predicting how their future prospects might unfold are gradually beginning to learn the language themselves. Though it is widely believed to be a very difficult language, the contrary seems to be mostly true, as long as you have an ear for pitch and tone.
Mandarin is a tonal language and therefore must be spoken at the right pitch in order to be understood. The sounds can differ greatly from those used across Europe but it is essential for intelligibility because of the vast number of characters in the language that only differ by sound. To learn more, then why not consider one of the many available Mandarin language courses?