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Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Yinru here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Chinese questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: What is the difference between Mandarin and Chinese?
Sometimes people say they speak “Chinese,” and sometimes they use the word “Mandarin.” The two words seem almost interchangeable.
Mandarin, also known as "standard Chinese" 普通话 (Pǔtōnghuà), is the official language of mainland China and Taiwan. It’s also one of the four official languages of Singapore. It's the national language that's taught in schools, and it's based on the standard dialect spoken in Beijing, the capital city of China.
While “Chinese” is a more general term, it refers to a group of languages spoken by the Han people, an ethnic group of East Asia. Chinese language includes a variety of regional dialects, such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese, etc. As a matter of fact, each town has its own dialect. When people from different areas talk to each other in their own dialect, chances are they won’t be able to understand each other! For example, in Shanghainese, people greet each other by saying 侬好 (Nóng hō), whereas in Cantonese, people say 你好 (nei5 hou2).
That is why a common dialect is needed for more effective communication throughout the whole country. With a standard dialect, we can all greet each other by saying 你好 (nǐhǎo), and nobody gets confused.
Since most Chinese people speak Mandarin, when people refer to the Chinese language, they often mean Mandarin.


How was it? Pretty interesting right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
我们下期再见!(Wǒmen xiàqī zàijiàn!) “See you in the next episode!” Bye-bye!