Tuesday 16 April 2024

Africa’s Trade Partners

China, with 1.4 million people, has 302 languages in active use. Mandarin is the main administrative language.

They call mother mama. They have about 4 other words for mother. Many Chinese words are tonal, just like many Niger-Congo languages.

The main languages spoken are Mandarin, Standard Chinese (which is a dialect of Mandarin), Cantonese, Wu, Gan, Hakka, Min and Xiang. Only about 80% of Chinese people speak “Standard Chinese”. This level of penetration was only just achieved in 2020.

There are 1.1 billion speakers of Standard Chinese, 70 million Cantonese speakers, 80 million Wu speakers, 23 million Gan speakers, 36.8 million Hakka speakers, 50 million Min speakers, and 38 million Xiang speakers.

Since the late 19th century the official language of China has been Standard Chinese, otherwise known as “common speech.” Standard Chinese is just one of Mandarin’s many dialects, but probably the most important given it’s also the official language of Taiwan, one of four in Singapore, and one of the six in the United Nations.

Cantonese, or Yue, is another well-known variant of Chinese. The Wu, or Shanghainese, languages are a variety of dialects predominantly spoken in the eastern region of China, around Shanghai (as you would expect) in addition to the southeastern Jiangsu province and the Zhejiang province. The Xiang, or Hunanese, languages come from the Hunan province and are divided into New Xiang (heavily influenced by Mandarin) and Old Xiang, bearing a closer resemblance to the Wu languages.

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