What's the difference between Chinese and Mandarin? | TutorMandarin

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Understanding the Chinese Language
Chinese is the umbrella term for the whole language. It refers to multiple types of Chinese (dialects!), accents and even writing systems.

Written Chinese comes in two varieties, traditional and simplified. Traditional was the old way for all Chinese speaking countries to write, but later on, Mainland China switched to Simplified Chinese where Taiwan, Hong Kong, and others retained using Traditional Chinese.

Spoken Chinese comes in a lot of varieties which may or may not be interchangeably understood. Some people from Shanghai will speak a variety of Chinese (a dialect) known as Shanghainese. Nearby, Ningbo people might speak Ningbonese. Because of their shared history and geographic proximity, these two dialects might even be intelligible to each other. However, a northern dialect to southern dialect might be completely unintelligible to each other.

This is where Mandarin comes in.

Understanding “What is Mandarin?”
Mandarin is a standardized form of northern Chinese dialects and serves as the national language that is taught and understood by everyone in China.

Mandarin is based on a Beijing dialect, and the Beijing accent is considered the standard Mandarin accent (as any Beijinger will be quick to tell you!). The Beijing accent is identifiable by 儿话音 (èr huà yīn), which is where certain words have the “儿 (ér)” sound at the end. For example, “baby” in Chinese: 宝贝 (bǎobèi) VS. 宝贝儿 (bǎobèir).

But there are many dialects of Chinese. People in Shanghai can often speak Shanghainese. People in Sichuan often speak Sichuanese. These dialects are not mutually understood, though! Mandarin is the government’s solution to finding common ground between all these forms of Chinese.

The Difference between Mandarin and Chinese
People instantly assume when you say “Chinese” you mean “Mandarin” because it is the standard language and the most common to learn right now. If someone were to refer to a specific dialect, it is likely they would say the name of that dialect instead of “Chinese.” For example, another Chinese dialect is Cantonese. This is perhaps the second most spoken Chinese dialect and it is spoken in areas of southern China, with many Cantonese speakers living abroad. Cantonese is a completely different spoken language than Mandarin, and uses 9 tones instead of just 4 as in Mandarin!

Everyone in China learns Mandarin in school and will use it as the common tongue for most official purposes. Fun fact: Chinese TV often has subtitles automatically on for lots of shows so that people from all over the country can follow along!


💬 Comments
Author

actually mandarin is officially called:

普通话Putonghua in Mainland China,
国语Guo Yu in Taiwan,
华语Hua Yu in Singapore and Malaysia.

There are 3 standards of standard Mandarin. Guoyu, Huayu and Putonghua has some differences in pronunciation and vocabulary.
法国 is fa4 guo2 in Guoyu, but fa3 guo2 in Putonghua,
书记 means secretary in Putonghua, but means clerk in Huayu.

Author — Zhibin Zhou

Author

I think your characterization of the difference is fair.

I would only substitute "language" for "dialect." Dialect implies that speakers of different dialects can understand each other without additional learning (like American English vs. British English), but that is not the case with Chinese languages. There is as much separation between Chinese "dialects" as there are between Romance languages like French and Italian. It is therefore more accurate to say that there are multiple Chinese _languages_, of which Mandarin, as you rightly point out, is the most commonly used and is official in China.

Author — Justin Wong

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now i know what dialect to learn thank you

Author — Oussama Gharbi

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I have one question for you, this is before I watch the video:

I am orginally a person with a complete lack of any Mandarin knowledge or ability!

However, for a good year or so I was obsessed with watching Mandarin drama.《wuxia, xianxia, and even the odd modern drama here or there♡》

As a result of constant exposure to the spoken language in Chinese dramas, I was able to acquire a decent bit of knowledge of the language!

In fact I was actually a subtitle contributor over @ Viki.com, and I was also able to watch, and comprehend a few dramas without any subtitles at all, just spoken Mandarin. 《With a range of about 80-92% comprehension》《this was a few years ago, at least 8 and since then I fell right off, and had stopped watching such drama for years. So I am just now starting to pick ut back up. I am on my first drama in years, bring : Legend of the Condor Heroes 2017! I do plan to get back into watching the drama again, and I eagerly await: The New Return of the Condor Heroes 2019{No way will I watch that cheap looking 2014 version with the chubby Xiao Long Nu!}

Damn I got really sidetracked there, but I will leave it!

My question is this:

Why was my comprehension of the Mandarin spoken on tv so high, when my comprehension of spoken Chinese was way, WAY down in the dumps?¿? I am talking an abysmal comprehension of like 1 in 10+ words! I am not sure of it was a dialect, but I had like 4-5 Chinese buddies and they all could understand each other well, but like I said my comprehension was shameful, and you may say 'A big loss of face'!

P.s even though I just started watching subbed Chinese drama again, and am very rusty, I have found that I can do better then some of the subtitles out there at least some of the time, if not all of the time!

Author — Ching chong Johnny sins pp long

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People hate on me for saying this to them they are just like IT IS THE SAME THING

Author — Aslen ;-;

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Great video. Is "simplified" Chinese also different from Mandarin? I was told that inland China used simplified. However, Google Translate was giving me different results; compared to Pimsleur 's Mandarin Level 1. Is there a better Translater app for Mandarin?

Author — Brian Sousa

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i like your style to explain, ,very good, love u

Author — Agambir Cool

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thank you so much. you tried to explain it but it's really clear. I got it

Author — ndefe KOFFI

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Korean
English
Cantonese
Chinese
That’s all I can speak/hear

Author — Colin

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chinese is takeout fast food, mandarin is a variety of orange.

Author — Francisco Catalan