Language Spoken in China in Percentage

Languages spoken in china

Language Spoken in China in Percentage

(Last Updated On: November 8, 2021)

Have you ever been to China? And do you have any knowledge about the languages people speak there? When it comes to the world’s most spoken languages, you’ll always find Chinese, English, Spanish, and Arabic. But do you know that even the Chinese language has several different forms?

China is home to 56 ethnic minority groups, and all of them played a critical role in the development of the various languages spoken in China. There are many forms of Chinese. Linguists believe that there are 297 lingoes in China today and each of them has a geographical region. All the different forms of Chinese are found in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet. Among all, the most dominant one is Mandarin but there are many similar Chinese languages, communally identified as Hanyu, used by a large population.

China’s language is the world’s oldest written language and has a history going back more than 6,000 years. China covers a large area of land with dozens of national minorities. Although it is not possible to give details of every language here DutchTrans will give you an idea about the most spoken Chinese languages and their percentages. So, let’s start!

How many languages do people speak in China?

China is unique for the number of languages spoken in the country. As of the latest data from Ethnologue, there are 302 individual living languages in China that fall under 9 language families but this number can vary based on your definition of ‘language’ and ‘dialect’. The number of speakers of many of China’s minority languages and dialects is reducing with time and some of them are now considered endangered.

That said, however, China remains a land of impressive linguistic diversity. Check out this post to know About endangered language Inapang?

languages spoken in china in percentage
top languages spoken in china

Because there are huge variations in these dialects or languages, some may be as subtle as different accents or dialect words in certain regions such as the difference between UK and US English but some of them are very distinct languages. Overall, there are around 1.3 billion native speakers of Chinese. Broadly, Chinese lingoes are of two different categories i.e. Mandarin and other variants.

Official Language in China

Mandarin Chinese is the official language of China and it’s based on the dialect of the Han ethnic group from the North. The predominant language is Hanyu and the study of this language is an academic discipline. The Han language has further seven primary language groups or varieties that are so different they aren’t mutually intelligible much like German and English. The languages most frequently supported and studied include Chinese Mongolian and Tibetan Uyghur Zhuang.

The official language i.e. Mandarin belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family. It is a group of Sinitic languages that people natively speak across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonology of Standard Chinese. Most Mandarin varieties have four tones. The Chinese capital has been within the Mandarin-speaking area for most of the last millennium, making these dialects very influential.

The population with Cantonese or Mandarin as its mother tongue is an underestimation because there are large numbers of people who report simply ‘Chinese’ to the mother tongue question, without other specifications.

Standard Chinese

Standard Chinese (Putonghua) is a type of Mandarin Chinese and it is the official language of mainland China. The native speakers of this country should understand this common language. China’s language laws do not apply to Macau or Hong Kong which have other official languages like Portuguese, English, or Cantonese. Standard Chinese is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca among the speakers of various Mandarin and other varieties of Chinese (Hokkien, Cantonese, and beyond).

Standard Mandarin is one of the major languages people speak in the United Nations, mainland China, Singapore, and Taiwan. An Indo-European language family is a large group that includes European languages like English, French, Urdu, and Persian. Standard Mandarin is a tonal language with topic-prominent organization and subject-verb-object word order.

It has more initial consonants but fewer vowels, final consonants, and tones than southern varieties. Standard Mandarin is an analytic language, though with many compound words.

Languages spoken in china in percentage

Because of the Chinese variants and complex dialects, it has been assumed that all forms of Chinese languages are very difficult to learn. Overall, there are 1.3 billion Chinese speakers of this lingo. Following are the percentages of the languages people speak in China:

  • Mandarin Chinese dialects are spoken by 71.5 percent of the Chinese population
  • Next, about 8.5 percent population speaks Wu
  • Yue also called Cantonese; 5 percent
  • The Xiang language is spoken by around 4.8 percent of people in Southern China’s Hunan province

Rest of the lingoes, Min is 4.1 percent, Hakka is 3.7 percent and Gan is 2.4 percent

china languages
chine official language

Chinese Variants

In addition to Mandarin that the largest population speaks, some languages are the variants of Chinese such as Cantonese. They are mutually intelligible but people also call them dialects. Officially, there are ten different varieties of Chinese, but some resources only list eight variants because less than 1% population speaks the other two. These variants are written using Chinese characters and do not have their own written form.

Immigrant languages that immigrate from the ten Chinese dialect groups belonging to the major language families along with the native speakers are:

  1. Mandarin – 920 million people worldwide
  2. Yue – 84 million worldwide
  3. Wu – 77 million
  4. Min – 60 million
  5. Jin – 45 million
  6. Xiang – 36 million
  7. Hakka – 34 million
  8. Gan – 31 million
  9. Hui – 3.2 million
  10. Ping – 2 million

Minority Languages

People belonging to China’s ethnic minority groups speak minority languages. All of these lingoes belong to different families. The case of the Bai language and many of the languages of Tibet belong to a different branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Many of these languages have their own written form that is not based upon Chinese characters.

Kazakh, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, Zhuang, and Yi are among the sixteen indigenous minority languages in which CCTV has broadcast since May 22, 1950. The national radio has broadcast in more than 20 minority languages, compared with local radio broadcasting encompassing 30-plus languages. English is also one of the most critical foreign languages in China with about 10 million speakers all over the country.

Since English is an international language, people from all around the world speak it. But overall, most Chinese people speak these languages as a second language than as a native language.

Learning Chinese Languages

With Asian origin, the everyday language spoken in different parts of Europe diverged from its original written form, becoming a collection of regional dialects. In public schools, teachers teach Standard Mandarin on regular basis. The standard writing system sometimes makes it difficult for Chinese citizens to learn it well. Information about the entirety of the Chinese language family remains relevant. The language behavior varies from time to time. If you have the aim to learn Chinese languages, you should make sure to get an understanding of the difference between traditional and simplified Chinese.

To easily learn Chinese languages, we hope that Dutch Translations have provided you with the best guide. There are even institutes where proper education of Chinese languages in the mainland is taught. You can search for them online. We hope that this guide is helpful for you!

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