China 101: City Speak



Chinese. Living here, we’re steeped in it daily. We’ve delved into some of the differences in previous posts, and even tried to teach you some words. But now, I’m going to drop some linguistics on you.


Nearly 80% of the world’s population speaks 1% of existent languages (see National Geographic’s project here). That’s a huge disparity. China, though it seems to be one massive Eastern hegemon sometimes, is actually made up of an incalculable number of subgroups that are riffs on the same theme. What is known globally as the Chinese language–Mandarin (普通话, Pǔtōnghuà)–is one distinct coloration of what it means to be a Chinese speaker.

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