Standard language, Chinese

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A standard language (also standard dialect or standardized dialect) is a language variety used by a group of people in their public discourse. Alternatively, varieties become standard by undergoing a process of standardization, during which it is organized for description in grammars and dictionaries and encoded in such reference works. Typically, varieties that become standardized are the local dialects spoken in the centers of commerce and government, where a need arises for a variety that will serve more than local needs. A standard language can be either pluricentric (e.g. English, German, [[Pluricentr


The Chinese language (漢語) comprises a wide variety of spoken forms, which are known as fangyan (方言, “regional speech”). The major spoken variants are (i) Mandarin, (ii) Wu, (iii) Yue, and (iv) Min. These spoken variants are not mutually intelligible, so referring to them by the English term “dialect” is inaccurate, since this generally denotes mutual intelligibility. Standard Chinese is based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin, and is the official language of the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Republic of Singapore. It is called Putonghua (, “common speech”) in the PRC, Guoyu (, “national language”) in Taiwan, and Huayu (, “Chinese language”) in Singapore.

The Chinese language also enjoys official status in Hong Kong (together with English) and in Macau (together with Portuguese). However, Standard Mandarin is not widely spoken in these territories. The majority of the population speaks, and often writes, Cantonese.

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