Putonghua in the context of multilingual China and the world

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


China is home to many languages and dialects. Chinese is very diverse and is
usually divided into seven dialect groups: Mandarin, Wu, Xiang, Yue, Kejia, Gan
and Min. Each of these consists of sub- groups, vernaculars and accents. The
differences both within and across dialect groups are significant. Within the
Mandarin group, for example, there are four sub- groups which vary as much as
British and American English. The differences between the dialect groups, which
are mainly in phonology, lexicon and, to a lesser degree grammar, are akin to the
differences between Romance languages and often make them mutually unintelligible (DeFrancis, 1984; Norman, 1988). There are also over 130 languages spoken by the ethnic minorities, covering the Sino- Tibetan, Altaic, Austronesian, Austro- Asiatic and Indo- European language families (Zhou, 2019). Among this linguistic diversity, one kind of Mandarin, called Putonghua (普通话), is in the unique position of being the national standard language.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMultilingual China
Subtitle of host publicationNational, Minority and Foreign Languages
EditorsBob Adamson, Anwei Feng
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780429286056
ISBN (Print)9780367251031, 9781032151410
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Multilingual Asia Series


  • China
  • Putonghua
  • Standard language
  • Language policy and planning
  • Chinese language


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