China is a huge country, there are many regional dialects. Many times people from different regions cannot communicate as if they spoke different languages. The most known spoken languages are Cantonese and Mandarin. Cantonese is the dialect used majorly in the South, in Cantonese Province. Because a lot of Chinese living aboard were from that province, Cantonese is often found in Chinatowns abroad.
Mandarin Chinese (普通话 pǔ tōng huà ), used to be the a group of dialects used in the Northern and Southwestern China. It is based on Beijing dialect and the official spoken language in China. It is also one of the four official languages in Singapore.
According to Wikipedia, Standard Mandarin is officially known
- in the People’s Republic of China as Pǔtōnghuà (traditional Chinese: 普通話; simplified Chinese: 普通话, literally “common dialect”)
- in the Republic of China (Taiwan) as Guóyǔ (traditional Chinese: 國語; simplified Chinese: 国语, literally “national language”)
- in Singapore as Huáyǔ (traditional Chinese: 華語; simplified Chinese: 华语, literally “Chinese (in a cultural sense) language”).
Thanks to the usage of Mandarin, Chinese people can communicate with each other without any difficulties. However, it is still a task for Chinese people to master languages, especially in the areas where the dialects are totally different. It is why in some schools, the teachers still give lessons in the local dialect, and the students learn Mandarin Chinese as if it were a foreign language.
When we learn Chinese, we should learn the standard Mandarin.