A number of linguists have maintained that there is more than one common language which is spoken across the most populous nation in the world; however, the general consensus is that people in China simply speak in different dialects of the Chinese language. Speaking in numbers, more than one billion people in China and elsewhere speak this language.
The Chinese language
The Chinese language is the official language of China, Taiwan, and Singapore, and is also amongst the six languages deemed official by the UN (United Nations). It usage can also be found in other Asian nations like Malaysia and Philippines.
The Spoken Word:
Depending on which classification system you refer to, you will find that there are in between 7 – 13 regionally classified dialects, of which the most commonly spoken is Mandarin. Others on this list include Cantonese, Wu, Min, Gan, Xiang, and Hakka. While most of these dialects have little in common in the spoken form, such is not always the case as you would find certain similarities in some south-western Mandarin dialects and Xiang.
The Written Word:
The different dialects of the Chinese language largely stick to symbols used in Mandarin when it comes to the written form. This language does without the use of alphabets and relies on characters instead (with there being over 100,000 such characters). These characters don’t just represent sound, but meaning as well.
Learning the Chinese Language:
Learning Chinese is not something you can expect to do in an expedited manner. Getting the tones right is quite a challenge; and the same can also be said about remembering and mastering all the characters. With regular practise, though, many people manage to do fairly well in learning Chinese as a foreign language.
With more and more Westerners looking at China for trade or tourism, the number of people hoping to learn the Chinese language continues to grow; and a good thing is that the Internet presents them with some rather good learning alternatives.