Chinese is one of the most difficult languages for us in the UK to learn but also one of the most interesting!
Mandarin has been the official language of China since 1917 and is the language spoken by around two thirds of the Chinese population. Around a thousand million people across the world speak it, making it one of the world’s most widely spoken languages!
Mandarin was originally based on the speech of Beijing (Peking), but also has bits and pieces from other areas of China.
Cantonese has its origins in the Chinese provinces of Canton, Kwangtung, Kwangsi and is also the official language in Hong Kong. Cantonese is spoken by about 64 million people worldwide, including 46 million in China and about 6 million in Hong Kong.
Cantonese, like other non-Mandarin Chinese languages, tends to be spoken rather than written, as Mandarin is used in the majority of writing.
Their words and letters are completely different from European languages and use a series of symbols instead.
Chinese words that have become part of the English language include tea, tycoon, shaman and cash!
Did you know?
Research has also shown that speaking Chinese, specifically Mandarin, actually takes more brain-power as speakers need both sides of the brain to interpret intonation!
It is a famously hard language to learn because the speaker has to use intonation and tone in their voice as well as saying the right words. So the same word in English can mean lots of words in mandarin, only separated by the intonation.
Try speaking Mandarin! But remember that because mandarin uses a completely different set of letters these are just approximations of what the Chinese words would sound like using English!
Hello - Ni Hao
My name… - Wo-duh ming-d'zih
Yes - shi
No - bu shi
Thank You - xie xie
Please - qing
One - yi
Two - er
Three - san
If you would like to learn more Mandarin then have a look at the BBC Languages website.