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Chinese Language vs. Dialects

 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
37 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 3 4
alfajuj
Diglot
Senior Member
Taiwan
Joined 4520 days ago

121 posts - 126 votes 
Speaks: English*, Mandarin
Studies: Taiwanese, French

 
 Message 33 of 37
07 April 2008 at 10:10pm | IP Logged 
Mandarin is still number one by a large margin, even after deducting all the other Chinese language families (such as Cantonese, Wu, Min (including Taiwanese), Xiang, Hakka, and Gan). Mandarin still has 836 to 885 million first language speakers. English has about 341 to 375 million first language speakers.
Of course, if you include the total number of speakers of English, it would be estimated to be as much as 1.8 billion speakers. That takes the cake. English certainly has the momentum to continue to be the global lingua franca.
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Erubey
Triglot
Groupie
United States
Joined 4539 days ago

82 posts - 92 votes 
Speaks: Spanish*, English, Japanese
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 34 of 37
07 April 2008 at 10:28pm | IP Logged 
Being a lingua franca is really more about the influence the language has, not numbers. French used to be the leading language before WWII, and fell out of favor due to the US's growing influence in global affairs. I'm not putting down Chinese, any dialect, but outside of China it's barely spoken by anyone, and unless there is an enormous shift, China will more likely adopt English rather than anyone learning Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu,etc.


As for the question that is the thread. I consider them separate languages. Yes, they do share the same writing system, but so do all the romance languages. They just have little differences like the number of accents or markings, and it's the same with Cantonese and Mandarin, there are characters that are barely used or almost never in Mandarin which appear in Cantonese and the other way around.
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Raincrowlee
Tetraglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5011 days ago

621 posts - 808 votes 
Speaks: English*, Mandarin, Korean, French
Studies: Indonesian, Japanese

 
 Message 35 of 37
08 April 2008 at 1:36am | IP Logged 
Erubey wrote:
Being a lingua franca is really more about the influence the language has, not numbers. French used to be the leading language before WWII, and fell out of favor due to the US's growing influence in global affairs. I'm not putting down Chinese, any dialect, but outside of China it's barely spoken by anyone, and unless there is an enormous shift, China will more likely adopt English rather than anyone learning Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu,etc.


There is a shift of Chinese becoming a regional language. There are a huge number of people from SE Asia who are learning Chinese, and I've heard that Indonesia has decided to start teaching Mandarin in their schools starting in elementary school. It might never achieve the level of English, but there's an interest in it that is growing past its borders. With its current investment schemes in Africa, who knows how far it will reach.
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Captain Haddock
Diglot
Senior Member
Japan
kanjicabinet.tumblr.
Joined 5077 days ago

2282 posts - 2814 votes 
Speaks: English*, Japanese
Studies: French, Korean, Ancient Greek

 
 Message 36 of 37
08 April 2008 at 5:16am | IP Logged 
I think I even read about some country like Panama making Chinese a required subject in schools recently.
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Sima
Diglot
Newbie
United States
Joined 4363 days ago

11 posts - 11 votes
Speaks: Mandarin, English

 
 Message 37 of 37
05 May 2008 at 7:44pm | IP Logged 
I agree that Chinese fangyan literally means local language not dialect. The relation between written Chinese vs fangyan is like what was between Latin and Roman languages. The upper class used a formal form and local people used another oral language.

It is interesting that there is only one written form for so many languages. For most time of the past two millennia, China was ruled by a single central government. There was no real needs to develop local languages into formal written forms. If some parts of China were independent nations, they would easily come up with their own languages.

In Korea and Vietnam, Chinese was used to record document and history for about a thousand years. As national conscience arose, new language was created based on local oral language in a bid to firm up national identity. Even Korean and Vietnamese are regarded as separate languages, their difference from Chinese would not necessarily larger than that of some local languages within China.

As recent as 40 years ago, before most people know Madarin, writing was essential for people from regions far apart to communicate with each other. One simply put his/her words on paper. The other one read it and wrote reply. Interestingly enough, the same writing "talk" often works between Chinese and Japanese students who speak limited English.

No doubt these fangyan are separate languages. To that end, who knows how many languages China has?



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