|官话; 官話; Guānhuà|
(simplified Chinese on the left, traditional Chinese on the right)
|Region||Most of Northern and Southwestern China (see also |
|910 million (2015)|
200 million L2 (no date)
Mandarin area in mainland China and Taiwan, with Jin (sometimes treated as a separate group) in light green
|Literal meaning||officials' speech|
|Literal meaning||Northern speech|
Mandarin is by far the largest of the seven or ten Chinese dialect groups, spoken by 70 percent of all Chinese speakers over a large geographical area, stretching from
Most Mandarin varieties have four
The English word "mandarin" (from
In everyday English, "Mandarin" refers to
but not as Guānhuà.
Linguists use the term "Mandarin" to refer to the diverse group of dialects spoken in northern and southwestern China, which Chinese linguists call Guānhuà. The alternative term Běifānghuà (北方话/北方話), or "Northern dialects", is used less and less among Chinese linguists. By extension, the term "Old Mandarin" or "Early Mandarin" is used by linguists to refer to the northern dialects recorded in materials from the Yuan dynasty.
Native speakers who are not academic linguists may not recognize that the variants they speak are classified in linguistics as members of "Mandarin" (or so-called "Northern dialects") in a broader sense. Within Chinese social or cultural discourse, there is not a common "Mandarin" identity based on language; rather, there are strong regional identities centred on individual dialects because of the wide geographical distribution and cultural diversity of their speakers. Speakers of forms of Mandarin other than the standard typically refer to the variety they speak by a geographic name—for example