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Mandarin vs. Southern Dialects

If we compare the southern Chinese languages, they have a lot of features that make them much more similar—greater numbers of tones, more complex syllables, etc., while Mandarin has fewer in every area; in fact, Mandarin is not only simpler, but it’s also different from other Chinese languages! Kejia, or Hakka, is the language of Hakka people who are spread out across pockets in Taiwan, Guangdong, Jiangxi, Guizhou, & beyond. Min is spoken in PRC's southern coastal province—Fujian. It is the most diverse dialect, meaning within the dialect group there are still a lot of different variations on word pronunciation.

Around the Yangtze delta & Shanghai, the Wu dialect can be heard. In fact, Wu is also referred to as Shanghainese. 

With the status that Mandarin now has as an official language, other Chinese languages are often disparaged by Mandarin speakers as being rough, uncivilized, etc. In Guangzhou, children are taught (wénmíng rén shuō Pǔtōnghuà) “civilized people speak Putonghua [Mandarin]”, implying that Cantonese speakers are not civilized, which of course is not true.PRC is home to a lot of other widely spoken dialects. The Gan dialect is spoken by an estimated 22 million people & is mostly common in Jiangxi province. Along with Xiang, Yue & Min, larger sections of PRC are full of a variety of different dialects spoken in certain geographical areas & by specific ethic groups.

The Min-speaking part of China is Fujian Province & the northeastern tip of Guangdong. The best-known dialects in the area are those of Fuzhou, Amoy, & Swatow. While written forms of Mandarin maintain a rigid standard across the country, the dialects of PRC vary widely in their pronunciation patterns. Of the other varieties of Chinese spoken by the a lot of ethnic groups of PRC, the most widely used & well known are Cantonese, Hakka, Shanghainese, & Sichuanese.

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