Standard Chinese was adopted in the 1930s, and is now the official language of both the People's Republic of China and Taiwan.Most linguists classify all varieties of Chinese as part of the Sino-Tibetan language family, together with Burmese, Tibetan and many other languages spoken in the Himalayas and the Southeast Asian Massif.Nearly 1.2 billion people (around 16% of the world's population) speak some form of Chinese as their first language.
After the fall of the Northern Song dynasty, and during the reign of the Jin (Jurchen) and Yuan (Mongol) dynasties in northern China, a common speech (now called Old Mandarin) developed based on the dialects of the North China Plain around the capital.
As a practical measure, officials of the Ming and Qing dynasties carried out the administration of the empire using a common language based on Mandarin varieties, known as Guānhuà (官话/官話, literally "language of officials"). After much dispute between proponents of northern and southern dialects and an abortive attempt at an artificial pronunciation, the National Language Unification Commission finally settled on the Beijing dialect in 1932.
The People's Republic founded in 1949 retained this standard, calling it pǔtōnghuà ( In Hong Kong and Macau, because of their colonial and linguistic history, the language used in education, the media, formal speech, and everyday life remains the local Cantonese, although the standard language has become very influential and is being taught in schools.
The Chinese language has spread to neighbouring countries through a variety of means.
Unless otherwise specified, Chinese texts in this article are written in (Simplified Chinese/Traditional Chinese; Pinyin) format.
In cases where Simplified and Traditional Chinese scripts are identical, the Chinese term is written once. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.The phonetic categories of Archaic Chinese can be reconstructed from the rhymes of ancient poetry.Qieyun, a rime dictionary, recorded a compromise between the pronunciations of the north and the south.For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help: IPA.; literally: "Chinese writing") is a group of related, but in many cases mutually unintelligible, language varieties, forming a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family.Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many other ethnic groups in China.Its spoken varieties have evolved at different rates, while written Chinese itself has changed much less.