Originally Posted by melgross
French is down the list further. I believe Portuguese is after Spanish. Is Mandarin the largest language grouping in China, or might that be Cantonese?
I think we can just lump all English together, as the differences are really minor.
Have you done your normal exemplary work on this, or are you dropping you standards to what the rest of us are working at?
I just did the smart thing, and checked. Sigh! To think that it would have to come to this.
Mandarin is the largest group, as you said.
But, it's a bunch of "related" dilects. Some of them are barely understandable by others. So, what does that mean for the actual numbers?Being that it is China, the country with more dialects than most of the rest of the world, that' not surprising. According to the article in Wiki, there are more Mandarin speakers than those who speak English, but I'm suspicious of that. I don't believe it to be true.
China is actually yeah, a very wide geographic area with many dialects and ethnicities. Cantonese originates from the region of "Canton". In Malaysia for example, immigrants from China say 10-150 years ago come from different regions, speaking Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien, Khek and others.
My understanding is that a "Unified China" has been a big thing for many hundreds of years. Some of the emperors are responsible for sorting out the written Chinese word - initially they are actually pictographs, eg, a horse character used to kind of look like a scratchy-quick pictograph of a horse. Since I've dropped to your standards, I don't know if I'm talking about a pictograph or hieroglyphic. But anyway the written Chinese word, traditional or simplified, is "unified" and different dialects pronounce the words differently. For example "Magic Five Seasons Restaurant" will have the same traditional or simplified characters on the signboard regardless if it is spoken out in Hokkien, Cantonese or Mandarin. Of course dialects will have slightly different ways of saying stuff, particularly if you're talking about slang and cracking wise about somebody's momma.
The "Unified China" takes on a bold new step under communism and the current socialist-communist government. Also to streamline economic communication within and without China, Mandarin is strongly "enforced" in some way as the "Standard Unified" language in China - traditional or simplified characters in writing... Not sure why everyone just uses simplified characters, but definitely Mandarin is the standard China is going for. Singapore is a microcosm of this, Mandarin is the official Chinese language for the majority Chinese-ethnic population - despite there being Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, speakers. Hong Kong movies, last time I was there, are in Cantonese but in Singapore it is re-dubbed into Mandarin.
Hong Kong is interesting because the people are mainly from Cantonese-speaking regions so that's why that's the main language there. Taiwan though is definitely predominantly Mandarin.
It is possible that there are more Mandarin-speakers than English speakers. This is because if you speak a Chinese dialect you mostly know some Mandarin because that's how you communicate with people of other dialects. So Mandarin-speakers is a superset of dialect speakers by "design" of the Chinese government.... and perhaps for convenience of trade, commerce, communication within and without China. Definitely Beijing and Shanghai are dominantly Mandarin-speaking.
A lot of ethnic-Chinese around the world speak Mandarin in addition to English, as well as their dialect if one of their Chinese parents is of a non-Mandarin dialect background.
In communist and socialist states forcing everyone to standardise to one language is well, "easy".
What high standards? It's definitely dropping, I gotta reserve energy for real-world activities, can't friggin' devote all my brilliance to these forums.......