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Introduction:
The official language of the PRC is the dialect spoken in Beijing. It is usually referred to in the west as "Mandarin", but the Chinese call it Putonghua - common speech. Putonghua is variously referred to as the Han language. the national language or simply Chinese. Discounting its ethnic minority languages, China has eight mayor dialect groupsú║Putonghua (Mandarin), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan and Hakka.

chinese language
 
These dialects also divide into many more sub-dialects. With the expection of the western and southernmost provinces, most of the population speaks Mandarin, although regional accents can make comprehension difficult.
 
Chinese is often referred to as a language of pictographs. Many of the basic Chinese characters are in fact highly stylised pictures of what they represent, but most (around 90%) are compunds of a meaning element and a sound element. So just how many Chinese characters are there? It's possible to verify the existence of some 56,000 characters, but the cast majority of these are archaic. It is commonly felt that a well-educated, contemporary Chinese person might know and use between 6000 and 8000 characters.
 
Chinese characters

To read a Chinese newspaper you will need to know 2000 to 3000 characters, but 1200 to 1500 would be enough to get the gist. Writing system usually alter people's perception of a language, and this is certainly true of Chinese. Each Chinese character represents a spoken syllable, leading many people to declare that Chinese is a monosyllabic language. Actually, it is more a case of having a monosyllabic weiting system.

 
While the building block of the Chinese language is indeed the monosyllabic Chinese character, Chinese words are usually a combination of two or more characters. You could think of Chinese words as being compounds. The Chinese word for "east" is composed of a single character, but must be combined with the character for "west" to form the word for "thing". English has many compound words too, examples being "whitewash" and "backslide". Theoretically, all Chinese dialects share the same written system. In practice, Cantonese adds about 300 specialised characters of its own and many of the dialects don't have a written form at all.
 
In the interests of promoting universal literacy, the Committee for Reforming the Chinese Language was set up by the Beijing government in 1954. Around 2200 Chinese characters were simplified. Chinese communities outside China, however, continue to use the traditional, full-form characters. Over the past few years - probably as a result of large -scale investment by overseas Chinese and tourism - full-form or complex characters have returned to China.
Chinese Language Picture
 
These are mainly seen in advertising and on restaurant, hotel and shop signs.Chinese grammar is much simpler than that of European languages. There are no articles (a/the), no plurals. The basic point to bear in mind is that, like English, Chinese word order is subject-verb-object. In other words, abasic English sentence like 'I(subject) love(verb) you(object)' is constructed in exactly the same way in Chinese. The catch is mastering the tones.
 

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