21 May 4 Intriguing Facts About The Mandarin Chinese Language
To say that the Mandarin Chinese language is an intriguing one would be an understatement. Not only is it a language with massive global influence, but it is also a language with very fascinating history and culture.
There seems to be always something new to discover about the language – whether it is learning how to speak it itself, or learning new facts about it. If learning this amazing language sounds right up your alley, you’ll be able to dive right in with an online Mandarin lesson with us!
Meanwhile, here are some interesting nuggets of information about the Mandarin language to whet your appetite!
Standard Chinese is just one variant of Mandarin
You might have heard that Mandarin Chinese is just one of the many Chinese languages that originated in China, which also include language groups like Hakka, Min, and Yue. But what if we also told you that Mandarin is not just one singular language?
Mandarin also has variations of its own, originating largely from Northwestern China. In fact, there is a language derived from Mandarin that is spoken in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan but written using the Cyrillic script. The most common form of Mandarin that we know and is taught in schools and used officially is known as Standard Chinese. It was based off the Beijing dialect of Mandarin and standardised along with the establishment of the Republic of China.
Mandarin isn’t the only language with tones!
Any new learner of Mandarin Chinese would know the struggle of having to grapple with the tones. However, did you know that tones are not unique to Mandarin Chinese? Of course, other Chinese languages also make use of tones. Other East-Asian languages that are tonal also include Thai and Vietnamese.
You might be surprised, but tonality in language is not as strange or rare as you think. In fact, tonality is not confined to East Asian languages, but also in many African languages and indigenous American varieties. So, if you master the tones in Mandarin, you might actually be giving yourself a head start to learning one of these other tonal languages!
‘Mandarin’ means ‘language of the officials’
If you’ve ever wondered where the name ‘Mandarin’ actually came from, you’re not alone! In fact, the name came from a Portuguese word which referred to the officials from the Qing and Ming dynasties. It was coined by missionaries who learnt the language while in China, and was derived by the language’s Chinese name, ‘Guānhuà’ (官话/官話), which means ‘language of the officials’.
It was only later on when the Beijing dialect was standardised as Standard Mandarin that this variant of Mandarin became known under various names like Putonghua, Guoyu, and Huayu.
Mandarin grammar is one of the easiest parts to learn
Mandarin has the notorious reputation of being one of the hardest languages to learn, especially for English speakers. Most notably, this status is attributed to the tones and logographic writing system. However, it happens that these two hardest parts of the language are widely known – but the other aspects of the language aren’t all that hard to grasp.
For one, the grammar of Mandarin is considerably simpler than many other languages. You won’t have to worry about gender markers, conjugations, articles, or tenses. So, in some sense, the difficulty of learning Mandarin Chinese is balanced out by its ‘no-frills’ grammar system!
Ready to discover more about this fascinating language? Don’t miss out on learning about this gem of a language. Plenty of Mandarin courses in Singapore are available for you to tap into the treasures of this language – plus, it is a very practical language to pick up as well!