Various dialects used across Northern and Southwestern China are collectively called the Mandarin Chinese language. Mandarin dialects are also called Northern dialects. The language that is called the standard Mandarin Chinese language is based on Mandarin dialects spoken exclusively in places like Beijing. It claims the position as the official language of People’s Republic of China.
Features of Standard Mandarin Chinese
The phonology of the language is closely related to the Beijing accent with the exception of Potinghua which takes its elements from other language sources. Simplified characters are applied in many regions including Mainland China.
As far as dialects are concerned, Northeastern dialects bare close resemblances to Beijing Mandarin. It was in the 20th century that the classification of dialects became relevant. As per the Language Atlas of China, Mandarin dialects are divided into eight Subgroups.
The Northeastern dialect is spoken in the North-East region of China excludin Liaodong Peninsula. It is closely related to Standard Chinese. It is marked with a few tonal changes.
Beijing dialect – It is widely used in the regions of Chengde Hebei. It forms the basis for the Standard Chinese.
Ji-lu dialect – It possesses entirely different tones. Its vocalubary is comparitivelty difficult to imbibe. It has apparent differences with the standard Mandarin dialect.
Jia-Lao dialect- It is used by the natives of Shandong Peninsula and Jiaodong Peninsula. It also has unique tonal qualities and is fairly different from Ji-Lu Mandarin.
Zhongijvan – People in Henan Province, the central parts of Shaanxi and Southern Xinjiang make use of this dialect. It has remarkable phonological differences. It shows some negligible similarity with the Beijing dialect. Dungan language also belongs to this group.
Lan-Tin – This dialect is found in the places like Gansu Province, Ningxia, Xinjiang and other such places.
Jiang- Huai – It is also known as Xia-Jiang. It is seen to be used in the places like Jiangsu and Anhui. It clearly has phonological and Lexical changes. It is highly affected by Wu Chinese.
South-Western – This dialect is spoken in regions including Hubei, Guizhou and the like.
When you deal with the phonology of the Mandarin Chinese, you will find that it is characterised by many unique features. Here are some of them: When velars and alveolar sibilants are placed before palatal glides, then they get palatalized as well. The absence of final plosives and the presence of retroflex consonants are the other remarkable features.
The sentence strucure has the well-accepted order of subject-verb-object. When it comes to the Northern dialects the indirect object precedes the direct order. Nevertheless, Southern dialects have exactly the opposite order. To indicate that the sentence is in a perfective order, the particle –‘le’ is used whereas –‘zhe’ is used to denote the progressive nature. Mandarin dialects are made unique by applying the subordinate particle -‘de.’ When you come to the conversational Chinese, final particles have the capability to alter the meaning of the given sentence.
Mandarin Chinese is blessed with more polysyllabic words than the other Chinese languages. It is owed to the fact that Mandarin has gone through severe sounds changes when compared to the other languages. In order to add a new word to its credit, it makes use of affixes such as –‘lao’, -‘tou’ etc. Mandarin Chinese has secured its place as one of the languages used by a large number of people.
Living and working as consultant polyglot in Cambridge USA, Tyler Joyner loves to share her experience with foreign languages like French, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. Also, she loves to spend the rest of her free time out with family or at Yoga classes.