Two levels of linguistic variation within Chinese are referred to as fangyan, usually translated ‘dialect’ but preferentially now following Victor Mair as ‘topolect’, ‘language of a place’. At one level, linguists identify eight—sometimes seven-historically related language groups: Mandarin, Wu, Yue, Gan, Xiang, Kejia and Northern and Southern Min (sometimes combined). Mandarin, also called Putonghua or ‘common speech’ in the PRC, is the official language and is spoken as a native language in north China. Shanghainese is said to be typical of the Wu dialects, which also include languages spoken in Suzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo and other smaller areas. Yue includes the Cantonese spoken in Canton and Hong Kong (and in many overseas Chinese Chinatowns). Southern Min is spoken in Fujian province and across the straits in Taiwan (where it is also called Taiwanese, Hokkien and Ho’lo). Hakka (Kejia) is spoken throughout southern China and Greater China. These eight fangyan are not usually mutually intelligible but may be represented by the single Chinese writing system (with some exceptions).
Within each of these fangyan groups, additional variation exists. Villages separated by mountains and rivers may speak varieties that are noticeably different, though they may be mutually intelligible.
The Mandarin fangyan are spoken as a mother tongue by approximately 70 per cent of the mainland population. Mandarin is increasingly regarded as the official language in Singapore, despite its residents being almost entirely speakers of southern dialects. Mandarin is the official language of Taiwan, though five-sixths of its population also speaks Taiwanese. Some fangyan have more speakers than well-known European languages; three—Mandarin, Wu and Yue—rank first, tenth and sixteenth in number of native speakers among all world languages. See Table 1.
Table 1 Linguistic variation
Dialect / Representative city or area / Percentage of Han in PRC (est.) / Population
Mandarin Beijing 71.5 / 858,000,000
Wu / Shanghai / 8.5 / 102,000,000
Yue / Canton (Guangzhou) / 5 / 60,000,000
Xiang / Hunan / 4.8 / 57,600,000
Kejia (Hakka) / Scattered in southern China and overseas China / 3.7 / 44,400,000
Southern Min / Amoy, Taiwan / 2.8 / 33,600,000
Gan / Jiangxi / 2.4 / 28,800,000
Northern Min / Fuzhou / 1.3 / 15,600,000
Total / 100 / 1.2 billion Han (92% of PRC population
DeFrancis, John (1984). The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.
Mair, Victor H. (1991). ‘What is a Chinese Dialect/Topolect? Reflections on Some Key Sino-English Linguistic Terms’. Sino-Platonic Papers 29 (September).
Norman, Jerry (1988). Chinese. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ramsey, S.Robert (1987). The Languages of China. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dialects —    Dialects in Italy are not just regionally distinctive pronunciations of Italian. They are the popular speech of many for whom speaking the literary language as taught in school is a terrible struggle. Yet no inferiority should be imputed.… …   Historical Dictionary of modern Italy

  • Dialects of Fars — are a group of southwestern and northwestern Iranian dialects spoken in the central Fars province. The southwestern dialects can be divided to three family of dialects according to geographical distribution and local names: Southwestern (Lori),… …   Wikipedia

  • Dialects of the Macedonian language — The dialects of Macedonian comprise the Slavic dialects spoken in the Republic of Macedonia as well as some varieties spoken in the wider geographic region of Macedonia [isp. Большaя Советская Энциклопедия, tom. 37, Moskva 1938, р 743–744)] .… …   Wikipedia

  • Dialects of Macedonian — Macedonian language On the Macedonian Matters by Krst …   Wikipedia

  • Dialects of the Polish language — Polish language Language overview · History · Dialects · Pronunciation  …   Wikipedia

  • Dialects of Rajasthani — It is a perplexing question as to ask the number of dialects of Rajasthani language. Many scholars have classified Rajasthani further into its dialects according to their understanding. After Sir George Abraham Grierson and M. L. Menariya, many… …   Wikipedia

  • Dialects of Central Iran — There are several Western Iranian dialects which are spoken in Central Iran.ListingThey include the following groups (according to Lecoq 1989): * Tafresh: Ashtiani, Amora’i, Kahaki, Vafsi, Judeo Hamadani, Judeo Borujerdi, Alviri, Vidari *… …   Wikipedia

  • Dialects, Romani Language —    At the time of the Gypsies arrival in Europe there were perhaps two main dialects of the Romani language (Romani and Sinti), but since then different clans have developed separate features that may have been present in the speech of some… …   Historical dictionary of the Gypsies

  • Dialects of Malayalam — Malayalam is a Dravidian language , spoken predominantely in the Indian state of Kerala. A well organized and highly developed language, it possesses several dialects.Regional dialectsThe regional dialects of Malayalam can be divided into… …   Wikipedia

  • dialects — ➡ General American English * * * …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”