Mandarin in China

An article on BBC News reports that according the the Chinese Ministry of Education, some 30% of the people in China don’t speak Mandarin, of the 70% who do speak it, “many do not do it well enough”. As a result the Chinese government has apparently “launched another push for linguistic unity in China”. They will be promoting Mandarin particularly in rural areas and among ethnic minorities. A move that might not be welcomed by all.

China’s current population is 1,359,830,000 [source], so there are some 407,949,000 people in China who do not speak Mandarin, and around 951,881,000 who do – a very large number of people, though not as many as is generally believed. The idea that over a billion people speak Chinese is true if you count all varieties of Chinese, but not for Mandarin.

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This entry was posted in Chinese, Language.

2 Responses to Mandarin in China

  1. Chocolate says:

    I lived in Shenzhen, China. I remember about 10 years ago most people here speak Cantonese rather than Mandarin. At that time it’s mostly people from HK and Guandong. But by now the default language is Mandarin.

    Cantonese is still almost the default in Guangzhou and Guangdong areas.

  2. dan says:

    i haven’t been able to find any original articles in chinese regarding this topic yet, but i’m guessing the reason why many people ‘cannot speak mandarin well’ is due to their accents.

    furthermore, in china, there is a mandarin proficiency test to ascertain how well is your spoken mandarin. apparently, one has to reach varying degrees of proficiency in order to be a language/literature teacher (B grade) or a newscaster (A grade) among other occupations, and only half of those who take the test ever pass it (i.e. at least a C grade).

    but then again, it doesn’t impact communication that much on an everyday level, especially in bigger places where their inhabitants are exposed to a variety of accents, and can pick them up already.