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There are several hundred languages in China. The predominant language is
Standard Chinese Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bri ...
, which is based on central
Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
, but there are hundreds of related
Chinese language Chinese ( or also , especially for the written language) is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic lan ...
s, collectively known as ''Hanyu'' (, 'Han language'), that are spoken by 92% of the population. The Chinese (or 'Sinitic') languages are typically divided into seven major language groups, and their study is a distinct academic discipline. They differ as much from each other morphologically and
phonetic Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) an ...
ally as do English, German and Danish, but meanwhile share the same writing system (
Hanzi Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, ...

Hanzi
) and are mutually intelligible in written form. There are in addition approximately 300
minority languages A minority language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed of ...
spoken by the remaining 8% of the population of China. The ones with greatest state support are
Mongolian Mongolian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Mongolia, a country in Asia * Mongolian people, or Mongols * Mongolia (1911–24), the government of Mongolia, 1911–1919 and 1921–1924 * Mongolian language * Mongolian alphabet * Mongo ...

Mongolian
,
Tibetan Tibetan may mean: * of, from, or related to Tibet * Tibetan people, an ethnic group * Tibetan language: ** Classical Tibetan, the classical language used also as a contemporary written standard ** Standard Tibetan, the most widely used spoken dialec ...
,
UyghurUyghur may refer to: * Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia * Uyghur language, a Turkic language spoken primarily by the Uyghurs ** Uyghur alphabets, any of four systems used to write the language * Uyghur Khaganate, a T ...

Uyghur
and
ZhuangZhuang may refer to: *Zhuang people (or Bouxcuengh people), ethnic group in China *Zhuang languages *Zhuang logogram *Zhuang Zhou, ancient Chinese philosopher *Zhuang (surname) (庄/莊), a Chinese surname {{disambiguation Language and nationality ...
. According to the 2010 edition of ''
Nationalencyklopedin ''Nationalencyklopedin'' (; "The National Encyclopedia" in English), abbreviated NE, is a comprehensive contemporary Swedish-language Swedish (Swedish: ) is a North Germanic languages, North Germanic language spoken First language, natively by ...

Nationalencyklopedin
'', 955 million out of China's then-population of 1.34 billion spoke some variety of
Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic languages, Sinitic (Chinese) languages natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonology of Standard Chinese. Because Mandarin ...
as their first language, accounting for 71% of the country's population. According to the 2019 edition of ''
Ethnologue ''Ethnologue: Languages of the World'' (stylized as Ethnoloɠue) is an annual reference publication in print and online that provides statistics and other information on the living language A language is a structured system of communicatio ...
'', 904,000,000 people in China spoke some variety of Mandarin as their first language in 2017.
Standard Chinese Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bri ...
, known in China as ''Putonghua'', based on the Mandarin dialect of Beijing, is the official national spoken language for the mainland and serves as a
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
within the Mandarin-speaking regions (and, to a lesser extent, across the other regions of
mainland China The term "mainland China" refers to the area directly governed by the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies ...

mainland China
). Several other
autonomous regions An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country sub ...
have additional official languages. For example,
Tibetan Tibetan may mean: * of, from, or related to Tibet * Tibetan people, an ethnic group * Tibetan language: ** Classical Tibetan, the classical language used also as a contemporary written standard ** Standard Tibetan, the most widely used spoken dialec ...
has official status within the
Tibet Autonomous Region The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) or Xizang Autonomous Region, often shortened to Tibet or Xizang, is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , count ...
and
Mongolian Mongolian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Mongolia, a country in Asia * Mongolian people, or Mongols * Mongolia (1911–24), the government of Mongolia, 1911–1919 and 1921–1924 * Mongolian language * Mongolian alphabet * Mongo ...

Mongolian
has official status within
Inner Mongolia Inner Mongolia, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnati ...

Inner Mongolia
. Language laws of China do not apply to either
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pe ...

Hong Kong
or
Macau Macau or Macao (; ; ; ), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (MSAR), (RAEM) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. Lond ...

Macau
, which have different official languages (
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, Brit ...

Cantonese
,
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
and
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
) from the mainland.


Spoken languages

The spoken languages of nationalities that are a part of the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
belong to at least nine families: * The
Sino-Tibetan family
Sino-Tibetan family
: 19 official ethnicities (including the Han and Tibetans) * The Tai–Kadai family: several languages spoken by the
ZhuangZhuang may refer to: *Zhuang people (or Bouxcuengh people), ethnic group in China *Zhuang languages *Zhuang logogram *Zhuang Zhou, ancient Chinese philosopher *Zhuang (surname) (庄/莊), a Chinese surname {{disambiguation Language and nationality ...
, the
Bouyei Bouyei can refer to: *Bouyei language *Bouyei people {{disambig Language and nationality disambiguation pages ...
, the Dai, the
Dong Dong or DONG may refer to: Places * Dong Lake, or East Lake, a lake in China * Dong, Arunachal Pradesh, a village in India * Dong (administrative division) Dong or DONG may refer to: Places * Dong Lake, or East Lake, a lake in China * Dong, ...
, and the Hlai (Li people). 9 official ethnicities. * The Hmong–Mien family: 3 official ethnicities * The Austroasiatic family: 4 official ethnicities (the De'ang, Blang, Gin (Vietnamese), and Wa) * The
Turkic family
Turkic family
:
Uyghurs The Uyghurs ( or ; ; ; zh, s=, t=, p=Wéiwú'ěr, IPA: ), alternatively spelled Uighurs, Uyghers, Uygurs or Uigurs, are a Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central Asi ...
,
Kazakhs The Kazakhs (also spelled Qazaqs; Kazakh language, Kazakh: , , , , , ; the English language, English name is transliteration, transliterated from Russian language, Russian; russian: Казахи) are a Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic group who ...
, Salars, etc. 7 official ethnicities.
Western Yugur Western Yugur (Western Yugur: (Yugur speech) or (Yugur word)) is the Turkic languages, Turkic language spoken by the Yugur people. It is contrasted with Eastern Yugur language, Eastern Yugur, the Mongolic languages, Mongolic language spoken withi ...
is a Turkic language, whereas Eastern Yugur is a Mongolic language.
* The
Mongolic family
Mongolic family
:
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group indigenous peoples, native to the Inner Mongolia, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, Mongolia an ...
, Dongxiang, and related groups. 6 official ethnicities. * The Tungusic family:
Manchus The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in N ...
(formerly),
Hezhe The Nanai people are a Tungusic peoples, Tungusic people of East Asia and the Russian Far East, who have traditionally lived along Heilong Jiang, Heilongjiang (Amur), Songhua River, Songhuajiang (Sunggari) and Wusuli River on the Middle Amur Draina ...
, etc. 5 official ethnicities. * The Koreanic family:
Korean language Korean ( , ''hangugeo''; , ''chosŏnmal'') is an East Asian language spoken by about 80 million people, mainly Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans, ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula * Korean cuisine * K ...
* The
Indo-European family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
: 2 official ethnicities (the
Russians , native_name_lang = ru , image = , caption = Wedding ceremony in the national Russian tradition. , population = 134 million , popplace = 117,319,000 , region1 = , pop1 = 7,170,00 ...
and
Tajiks Tajiks ( fa, تاجيک، تاجک, ''Tājīk, Tājek''; tg, Тоҷик) are a Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethni ...
(actually
Pamiri people The Pamiris ( fa, پامیری; tg, помирӣ; russian: Пами́рцы; zh, c=帕米尔人, p=Pàmǐ'ěrrén) are an Iranian ethnic group who are native to the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Eastern Tajikistan, the Badakhshan Pr ...
). There is also a heavily Persian-influenced
Äynu language Äynu is a Turkic cryptolect A cant is the jargon or language of a group, often employed to exclude or mislead people outside the group.McArthur, T. (ed.) ''The Oxford Companion to the English Language'' (1992) Oxford University Press It may al ...
spoken by the Äynu people in southwestern Xinjiang who are officially considered Uyghurs. * The
Austronesian family The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family, widely spoken throughout Maritime Southeast Asia, Madagascar, the islands of the Pacific Ocean and Taiwan (by Taiwanese aborigines). There are also a number of speakers in Asia, continent ...
: 1 official ethnicity (the Gaoshan, who speak many languages of the branch), 1 unofficial (the
Utsul The Utsuls ([]; ) or Hainan Hui people, Hui (), are a Chamic languages, Chamic-speaking East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group which lives on the island of Hainan and are considered one of the People's Republic of China's unrecognized ethnic g ...
s, who speak the
Tsat language Tsat, also known as Utsat, Utset, Hainan Cham, or Huíhuī (), is a tonal Tonal may refer to: * Tonal (mythology), a concept in the belief systems and traditions of Mesoamerican cultures, involving a spiritual link between a person and an animal ...
but are considered
Hui The Hui people ( zh, c=, p=Huízú, w=Hui2-tsu2, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original script" referring to the origina ...
.) Below are lists of ethnic groups in China by linguistic classification. Ethnicities not on the official PRC list of 56 ethnic groups are italicized. Respective Pinyin transliterations and Chinese characters (both simplified and traditional) are also given.


Sino-Tibetan Sino-Tibetan, also known as Trans-Himalayan in a few sources, is a family of more than 400 languages, second only to Indo-European in number of native speakers. The vast majority of these are the 1.3 billion native speakers of Chinese languages ...

Sino-Tibetan

* Sinitic **
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
, 汉语, 漢語 ***
Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic languages, Sinitic (Chinese) languages natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonology of Standard Chinese. Because Mandarin ...
, 官话, 官話 **** Beijing Mandarin, 北京官话, 北京官話 *****
Standard Chinese Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bri ...
, 普通话, 普通話 ****
Taiwanese Mandarin Taiwanese Mandarin or ''Guoyu'' ( zh, s=国语, t=國語, p=Guóyǔ, l=National Language, first=t) refers to any of the varieties of Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic languages, Sinitic (Chinese) languages natively spoken ...

Taiwanese Mandarin
, 台湾华语, 臺灣華語 ***** Taipei Mandarin, 台北腔/国语, 臺北腔/國語 *****
Singaporean Mandarin Singaporean Mandarin () is a variety of Mandarin Chinese widely spoken in Singapore. It is one of the four official languages of Singapore along with English language, English, Malay language, Malay and Tamil language, Tamil. Singaporean Mandari ...
, 新加坡华语, 新加坡華語 *****
Malaysian Mandarin Malaysian Mandarin () is a variety of Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic (Chinese) languages spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonology of St ...
, 马来西亚华语, 馬來西亞華語 ****
Northeastern Mandarin Northeastern Mandarin ( or / ''Dōngběiguānhuà'' "Northeast Mandarin") is the subgroup of Mandarin varieties spoken in Northeast China with the exception of the Liaodong Peninsula. The classification of Northeastern Mandarin as a separate dial ...
, 东北官话, 東北官話 ****
Jilu Mandarin Jilu or Ji–Lu Mandarin , formerly known as Beifang Mandarin "Northern Mandarin", is a dialect of Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic (Chinese) languages spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group i ...
, 冀鲁官话, 冀魯官話 ****
Jiaoliao Mandarin Jiaoliao or Jiao–Liao Mandarin () is a primary dialect of Mandarin Chinese, spoken on the Jiaodong Peninsula, from Yantai to Qingdao, Ganyu District in northeastern Jiangsu and the Liaodong Peninsula, Liaodong Peninsula, from Dalian to Dandon ...
, 胶辽官话, 膠遼官話 ****
Zhongyuan Mandarin Central Plains Mandarin, or ''Zhongyuan'' Mandarin (), is a variety of Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic (Chinese) languages natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China China (), officially the ...
, 中原官话, 中原官話 ****
Lanyin Mandarin Lan–Yin Mandarin (Lanyin) () is a branch of Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic (Chinese) languages spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonolo ...
, 兰银官话, 蘭銀官話 ****
Lower Yangtze Mandarin Lower Yangtze Mandarin () is one of the most divergent and least mutually-intelligible of the Mandarin languages, as it neighbours the Wu, Hui, and Gan groups of Sinitic languages. It is also known as Jiang–Huai Mandarin (), named after th ...
, 江淮官话, 江淮官話 ****
Southwestern Mandarin Southwestern Mandarin (), also known as Upper Yangtze Mandarin (), is a Mandarin Chinese language spoken in much of Southwest China, including in Sichuan, Yunnan Yunnan () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the ...
, 西南官话, 西南官話 ***
Jin Chinese Jin (; ) is a proposed group of varieties of Chinese Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dep ...
, 晋语, 晉語 ***
Wu Chinese Wu (Chinese character: , , Mandarin: ) is a group of linguistically similar and historically related Sinitic languages spoken primarily in Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four ...
, 吴语, 吳語 ****
Shanghainese Shanghainese, also known as the Shanghai language, Shanghai dialect, or Hu language, is a Wu Chinese Wu (Chinese character: , , Mandarin: ) is a group of linguistically similar and historically related Sinitic languages spoken primarily ...
, 上海话, 上海話 ***
Huizhou Chinese Huizhou Chinese () or Hui dialect (), is a group of closely related Sinitic languages spoken over a small area in and around the historical region of Huizhou (for which it is named), in about ten or so mountainous counties in southern Anhui ...
, 徽语, 徽語 ***
Yue Chinese Yue () is a group of similar Sinitic languages The Sinitic languages, often synonymous with "Chinese languages", constitute the major branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages, Sino-Tibetan language family. It is frequently proposed that the ...
, 粤语, 粤語 ****
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, Brit ...

Cantonese
, 广东话, 廣東話 ***
Ping Chinese Pinghua (; Yale Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research universities in the Northeastern United St ...
, 平话, 平話 ***
Gan Chinese Gan, Gann or Kan is a group of Sinitic languages The Sinitic languages, often synonymous with "Chinese languages", constitute the major branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages, Sino-Tibetan language family. It is frequently proposed that th ...
, 赣语, 贛語 ***
Xiang Chinese Xiang or Hsiang (; ); Changsha Changsha (; ; ; Changshanese pronunciation: (), Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese, in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a Mandarin Chi ...
, 湘语, 湘語 ***
Hakka language Hakka is a language group of varieties of Chinese, spoken natively by the Hakka people The Hakka (), sometimes Hakka Han, are a Han Chinese subgroup whose ancestral homes are chiefly in the Hakka-speaking provincial areas of Guangdong, ...
, 客家话, 客家話 ***
Min Chinese Min (; Bàng-uâ-cê, BUC: Mìng ngṳ̄) is a broad group of Sinitic languages spoken by about 30 million people in Fujian Provinces of China, province as well as by the descendants of Min speaking colonists on Leizhou peninsula and Hainan, or as ...
, 闽语, 閩語 ****
Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucrac ...
, 闽南语, 閩南語 *****
Hokkien Hokkien () is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureau ...
, 泉漳话, 泉漳話 *****
Teochew dialect Teochew (, , , Chaozhou dialect: , Shantou dialect: ) is a dialect of Chaoshan Min, a Southern Min language, that is spoken by the Teochew people in the Chaoshan region of eastern Guangdong and by their diaspora around the world. It is sometim ...
, 潮州话, 潮州話 ****
Eastern Min Eastern Min or Min Dong (, Foochow Romanized: Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄), is a branch of the Min Chinese, Min group of Sinitic languages of China. The prestige form and most-cited representative form is the Fuzhou dialect, the speech of the capital ...
, 闽东语, 閩東語 ****
Pu-Xian Min Puxian (Hinghwa Romanized Hinghwa Romanized, also known as Hing-hua̍ báⁿ-uā-ci̍ (興化平話字) or Báⁿ-uā-ci̍ (平話字), is a Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally use ...
, 莆仙话, 莆仙話 ****
Leizhou Min Leizhou or ''Luichew'' Min (, ) is a branch of Min Chinese Min (; Bàng-uâ-cê, BUC: Mìng ngṳ̄) is a broad group of Sinitic languages spoken by about 30 million people in Fujian Provinces of China, province as well as by the descendants of ...
, 雷州话, 雷州話 ****
Hainanese Hainanese ( Hainan Romanised: ', ), also known as Qióngwén () or Qióngyǔ (), is a group of Min Chinese Variety (linguistics), varieties spoken in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan. In the classification of Yuan Jiahua, it was i ...
, 海南话, 海南話 ****
Northern Min Northern Min (), is a group of mutually intelligible Min varieties spoken in Nanping prefecture of northwestern Fujian. Classification and distribution Early classifications of varieties of Chinese, such as those of Li Fang-Kuei in 1937 a ...
, 闽北语, 閩北語 ****
Central Min Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...
, 闽中语, 閩中語 ****
Shao-Jiang Min Shao–Jiang or Shaojiang Min () is a Min Chinese language centered on Western Nanping in Northwest Fujian, specifically in the Nanping counties of Guangze County, Guangze, Shaowu, and Western Shunchang County, Shunchang and the Northern Sanming co ...
, 邵将语, 邵將語 * Bai, 白語 ** Dali language, 大理語 *** Dali dialect( Bai: Darl lit) *** Xiangyun dialect ** Yitdut language/Jianchuan language, 剑川语, 劍川語 *** Yitdut dialect( Bai: Yit dut) *** Heqing dialect( Bai: hhop kait) ** Bijiang language *** Bijiang dialect *** Lanping dialect( Bai: ket dant) *** * Tibeto-Burman languages, Tibeto-Burman ** Tujia language, Tujia ** Qiangic languages, Qiangic *** Qiangic languages, Qiang **** Northern Qiang language, Northern Qiang **** Southern Qiang language, Southern Qiang *** Pumi language, Prinmi *** Baima language, Baima *** Tangut language, Tangut ** Bodish languages, Bodish *** Tibetic languages, Tibetan **** Central Tibetan language, Central Tibetan (Standard Tibetan) **** Amdo Tibetan language, Amdo Tibetan **** Khams Tibetan language, Khams Tibetan *** Lhoba#Language, Lhoba *** Monpa people, Monpa/Monba ** Lolo–Burmese languages, Lolo–Burmese–Naxi *** Burmish languages, Burmish **** Achang language, Achang *** Loloish languages, Loloish **** Yi languages, Yi **** Lisu language, Lisu **** Lahu language, Lahu **** Hani language, Hani **** Jino language, Jino *** Nakhi/Naxi language, Naxi ** Jingpho–Nungish–Luish *** Jingpho language, Jingpho *** Derung language, Derung *** Nu **** Nusu language, Nusu **** Zauzou language, Rouruo


Kra–Dai languages, Kra–Dai

(''Possibly the ancient Baiyue, Bǎiyuè 百越'') * Be language, Be * Kra languages, Kra ** Gelao language, Gelao * Kam–Sui languages, Kam–Sui ** Kam language (China), Dong ** Sui language, Sui ** Maonan language, Maonan ** Mulao/Mulam language, Mulam * Hlai languages, Hlai/Li * Tai languages, Tai ** Zhuang languages, Zhuang (Vahcuengh) *** Standard Zhuang, Northern Zhuang *** Zhuang languages, Southern Zhuang ** Bouyei language, Bouyei ** Dai *** Tai Lü language *** Tai Nüa language *** Tai Dam language *** Tai Ya language *** Tai Hongjin language


Turkic languages, Turkic

* Karluk languages, Karluk ** Ili Turki language, Ili Turki **
UyghurUyghur may refer to: * Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia * Uyghur language, a Turkic language spoken primarily by the Uyghurs ** Uyghur alphabets, any of four systems used to write the language * Uyghur Khaganate, a T ...

Uyghur
** Uzbek language, Uzbek * Kipchak languages, Kipchak ** Kazakh language, Kazakh ** Kyrgyz language, Kyrgyz ** Tatar language, Tatar * Oghuz languages, Oghuz ** Salar language, Salar * Siberian Turkic languages, Siberian ** Äynu language, Äynu ** Fuyu Kyrgyz language, Fuyu Kyrgyz **
Western Yugur Western Yugur (Western Yugur: (Yugur speech) or (Yugur word)) is the Turkic languages, Turkic language spoken by the Yugur people. It is contrasted with Eastern Yugur language, Eastern Yugur, the Mongolic languages, Mongolic language spoken withi ...
** Tuvan language, Tuvan ** ''Old Uyghur language, Old Uyghur (extinct)'' * ''Old Turkic language, Old Turkic (extinct)''


Mongolic languages, Mongolic

*
Mongolian Mongolian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Mongolia, a country in Asia * Mongolian people, or Mongols * Mongolia (1911–24), the government of Mongolia, 1911–1919 and 1921–1924 * Mongolian language * Mongolian alphabet * Mongo ...

Mongolian
* Oirat language, Oirat ** Torgut Oirat * Buryat language, Buryat * Daur language, Daur * Southeastern ** Monguor language, Monguor *** Eastern Yugur ** Dongxiang language, Dongxiang ** Bonan language, Bonan ** Kangjia language, Kangjia * ''Tuoba language, Tuoba (extinct)'' ;Para-Mongolic * ''Khitan language, Khitan (extinct)'' * ''Tuyuhun language, Tuyuhun (extinct)''


Tungusic languages, Tungusic

* Southern ** Manchu language, Manchu *** Jurchen language, Jurchen ** Xibe language, Xibe ** Nanai language, Nanai/Hezhen * Northern ** Evenki language, Evenki ** Oroqen language, Oroqen


Korean language, Korean

*Korean language in China, Korean


Hmong–Mien languages, Hmong–Mien

(''Possibly the ancient Nanman, Nánmán 南蛮, 南蠻'') * Hmong language, Hmong * Iu Mien language, Mien * She language, She


Austroasiatic languages, Austroasiatic

* Palaung-Wa ** Palaung/Blang language, Blang ** Palaung language, De'ang ** Wa language, Wa/Va * Vietnamese language, Vietnamese/Kinh


Austronesian languages, Austronesian

* Formosan languages * Tsat language, Tsat


Indo-European languages, Indo-European

* Russians in China, Russian * ''Tocharian languages, Tocharian (extinct)'' * ''Saka language, Saka (extinct)'' * Pamiri languages, Pamiri, (mislabelled as "Tajik") ** Sarikoli language, Sarikoli ** Wakhi language, Wakhi *
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
(spoken in Macau) *
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
(spoken in Hong Kong)


Yeniseian languages, Yeniseian

* ''Jie people, Jie (Kjet) (extinct)'' (?)


Unclassified languages, Unclassified

* ''Ruan-ruan language, Ruan-ruan (Rouran) (extinct)''


Mixed language, Mixed

* ''Wutun language, Wutun (Mongolian-Tibetan mixed language)'' * ''Macanese language, Macanese (Portuguese creole)''


Written languages

The following languages traditionally had written forms that do not involve Chinese characters (''hanzi''): * The Dai – Tai Lü language or Tai Nüa language – New Tai Lue alphabet, Tai Lü alphabet or Tai Le alphabet, Tai Nüa alphabet * The Kazakhs – Kazakh language – Kazakh Arabic script, Arabic alphabet * The Koreans – Korean language – Hangul, Chosŏn'gŭl alphabet * The Kyrgyz people, Kyrgyz – Kyrgyz language – Kyrgyz Arabic script, Arabic alphabet *The Lisu people - Lisu language - Lisu script * The
Manchus The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in N ...
– Manchu language – Manchu alphabet * The Mongols – Mongolian language – Mongolian alphabet * The Naxi people, Naxi – Naxi language – Dongba script, Dongba characters * The Sui people, Sui – Sui language – Sui script * The Tibetans – Tibetic languages, Tibetan language – Tibetan alphabet * The Uyghurs – Uyghur language – Uyghur Arabic alphabet * The Xibe language, Xibe – Xibe language – Manchu alphabet * The Yi people, Yi – Yi language – Yi script, Yi syllabary Many modern forms of spoken Chinese languages have their own distinct writing system using Chinese characters that contain colloquial variants. These typically are used as sound characters to help determine the pronunciation of the sentence within that language: * Written Cantonese * Chữ nôm – Vietnamese * Written Hokkien *
Shanghainese Shanghainese, also known as the Shanghai language, Shanghai dialect, or Hu language, is a Wu Chinese Wu (Chinese character: , , Mandarin: ) is a group of linguistically similar and historically related Sinitic languages spoken primarily ...
Some non-Sinitic peoples have historically used Chinese characters: * The Koreans – Korean language – Hanja * The
ZhuangZhuang may refer to: *Zhuang people (or Bouxcuengh people), ethnic group in China *Zhuang languages *Zhuang logogram *Zhuang Zhou, ancient Chinese philosopher *Zhuang (surname) (庄/莊), a Chinese surname {{disambiguation Language and nationality ...
(Tai people) – Zhuang languages – Sawndip *The Bai people - Bai language - Bai writing(僰文) *The Dong people - Dong language (China) - Dong writing(方塊侗字) *The Bouyei people - Bouyei language - Bouyei writing(方塊布依字) Other languages, all now extinct, used separate logographic scripts influenced by, but not directly derived from, Chinese characters: * The Jurchens (Manchu ancestors) – Jurchen language – Jurchen script * The Khitans (Mongolic people) – Khitan language – Khitan Khitan large script, large and Khitan small script, small scripts * The Tanguts (Sino-Tibetan people) – Tangut language – Tangut script During Qing dynasty, palaces, temples, and coins have sometimes been inscribed in five scripts: * Chinese characters, Chinese * Manchu alphabet, Manchu * Mongolian alphabet, Mongol * Tibetan script, Tibetan * Uyghur Arabic alphabet, Chagatai During the Mongol Yuan dynasty, the official writing system was: * 'Phags-pa script Chinese banknotes contain several scripts in addition to Chinese script. These are: * Mongolian alphabet, Mongol * Tibetan script, Tibetan * Uyghur language#Writing system, Arabic (for Uyghur) * Standard Zhuang#Writing systems, Latin (for Zhuang) Other writing system for Chinese languages in China include: * Nüshu script Ten nationalities who never had a written system have, under the People's Republic of China, PRC's encouragement, developed Spelling alphabet, phonetic alphabets. According t
a government white paper
published in early 2005, "by the end of 2003, 22 ethnic minorities in China used 28 written languages."


Language policy

One decade before the demise of the Qing dynasty in 1912, Mandarin was promoted in the planning for China's first Public school system, public school system. Mandarin has been promoted as the commonly spoken language for the country since 1956, based Phonology, phonologically on the dialect of Beijing. The North China, North Chinese Language family, language group is set up as the standard Grammar, grammatically and lexicon, lexically. Meanwhile, Mao Tse-Tung and Lu Xun, Lu-Hsün writings are used as the basis of the Stylistics, stylistic standard. Pronunciation is taught with the use of the romanized phonetic system known as ''pinyin''. Pinyin has been criticized for fear of an eventual replacement of the traditional character orthography. The Chinese language policy in
mainland China The term "mainland China" refers to the area directly governed by the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies ...

mainland China
is heavily influenced by the Soviet nationalities policy and officially encourages the development of standard spoken and written languages for each of the nationalities of China. Language is one of the features used for ethnic identification. In September 1951, the ''All-China Minorities Education Conference'' established that all minorities should be taught in their language at the primary and secondary levels when they count with a writing language. Those without a writing language or with an "imperfect" writing language should be helped to develop and reform their writing languages. However, in this schema, Han Chinese are considered a single nationality and the official policy of the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
(PRC) treats the different varieties of Chinese differently from the different national languages, even though their differences are as significant, if not more so, as those between the various Romance languages of Europe. While official policies in
mainland China The term "mainland China" refers to the area directly governed by the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies ...

mainland China
encourage the development and use of different orthographies for the national languages and their use in educational and academic settings, realistically speaking it would seem that, as elsewhere in the world, the outlook for minority languages perceived as inferior is grim. The Tibetan Government-in-Exile argue that social pressures and political efforts result in a policy of sinicization and feels that Beijing should promote the Standard Tibetan, Tibetan language more. Because many languages exist in China, they also have problems regarding diglossia. Recently, in terms of Fishman's typology of the relationships between bilingualism and diglossia and his Taxonomy (general), taxonomy of diglossia (Fishman 1978, 1980) in China: more and more minority communities have been evolving from "diglossia without bilingualism" to "bilingualism without diglossia." This could be an implication of mainland China's power expanding. In 2010, 2010 Tibetan language protest, Tibetan students protested against changes in the Language Policy on the schools that promoted the use of Mandarin Chinese instead of Tibetan. They argued that the measure would erode their culture. In 2013, China's Education Ministry said that about 400 million people were unable to speak the national language Mandarin. In that year, the government pushed linguistic unity in China, focusing on the countryside and areas with ethnic minorities. Mandarin Chinese is the prestige language in practice, and failure to protect ethnic languages does occur. In summer 2020, the Inner Mongolian government announced an education policy change to phase out Mongolian as the language of instructions for humanities in elementary and middle schools, adopting the national instruction material instead. Thousands of ethnic Mongolians in northern China gathered to protested the policy. The Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, Ministry of Education describes the move as a natural extension of the ''Law of the People's Republic of China on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language'' () of 2000.


Study of foreign languages

English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
has been the most widely-taught foreign language in China, as it is a required subject for students attending university. Other languages that have gained some degree of prevalence or interest are Japanese language, Japanese, Korean language, Korean, Spanish language, Spanish,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
, and Russian language, Russian. During the 1950s and 1960s, Russian language, Russian had some social status among elites in mainland China as the international language of socialism. In the late 1960s, English replaced the position of Russian to become the most studied foreign language in China. After the Reform and Opening-up policy in 1988, English was taught in public schools starting in the third year of primary school. Russian, French language, French, and German language, German language classes have been made widely available in universities and colleges. In Northeast China, there are many bilingual schools (Mandarin-Japanese; Mandarin-Korean; Mandarin-Russian), in these schools, students learn languages other than English. ''The Economist'' reported in 2006 that up to one fifth of the population was learning English. Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister, estimated that the total English-speaking population in China would outnumber the native speakers in the rest of the world in two decades. There have been a growing number of students studying Modern Standard Arabic, Arabic, due to reasons of cultural interest and belief in better job opportunities. The language is also widely studied amongst the Hui people. In the past, literary Arabic education was promoted in Islamic schools by the Kuomintang when it ruled mainland China. There have also been a growing number of students choosing to learn Urdu, due to interest in Pakistani culture, close ties between the respective nations, and job opportunities provided by the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, CPEC. Interest in
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
and Spanish language, Spanish have increased greatly, due in part to Chinese investment in Latin America as well as in African nations such as Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde. Portuguese is also one of the official languages in
Macau Macau or Macao (; ; ; ), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (MSAR), (RAEM) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. Lond ...

Macau
, although its use had stagnated since the nation's transfer from Portugal to the China, PRC. It was estimated in 2016 that 2.3% of Macau's locals spoke the language, although with government backing since then, interest in it has increased.


Use of English

In China, English is used as a
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
in several fields, especially for business settings, and in schools to teach Standard Mandarin to people who are not Chinese citizens. English is also one of the official languages in
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pe ...

Hong Kong
.


See also

* ''Language Atlas of China'' * ''Linguistic Atlas of Chinese Dialects'' * Varieties of Chinese * List of varieties of Chinese * Han Chinese subgroups * Demographics of China * Racism in China * Hong Kong English * Languages of Hong Kong * Culture of Macau * Macanese Portuguese * List of ethnic groups in China * Classification of Southeast Asian languages *
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, Brit ...

Cantonese
*
Standard Chinese Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bri ...
* Chinglish


References

* *


Further reading

* * * * *


External links


Minzu Yuwen (民族语文): ''Minority Languages of China'' journal


on Muturzikin.com
Audio Bible recordings in various minority languages of China
{{DEFAULTSORT:Languages Of China Languages of China, Separatism in China