Published January 30, 2020
This video was recorded by Teddy Nee in Taiwan. Standard Mandarin is modeled predominantly on the Beijing dialect, however the term Mandarin often encompasses a great diversity of northern varieties that are not mutually intelligible and have largely remained under the same moniker (particularly by outsiders) due to a political perception of homogeneity. That said, the geography of the north has played a part in some consolidation when compared with the mountainous southern regions, and has resulted in a linguistically related grouping of Mandarin languages (albeit with seven recognized sub-groups). It should be noted that there is not a common linguistic identity associated with the term 'Mandarin' possessed by the speakers themselves, who typically identify with their regional endonyms. Mandarin dialects have served as a lingua franca of the north since the 1300s. Standard Chinese, described here, arose in the early 1930s as the National Language Unification Commission searched for a dialect upon which to base a new national standard, and settled on the Beijing variety. They called it pǔtōnghuà, or 普通話, "the common speech." It is the official language of the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and one of the four official languages of Singapore, but not in Hong Kong where Cantonese is prominent. All varieties of Mandarin are tonal and contain similar tonal distribution, yet no two regional varieties have the same set of tone values. Standard Mandarin Chinese is spoken by around 840 million people and is increasing, with some estimates as high as over 900 million. Mandarin Chinese is a Sinitic language within the Sino-Tibetan language family.