Where did today's Mandarin come from?

May 13, 2010 | Posted by Chris

Mandarin derives its name from the government officials in Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) China that spoke it in court, the Mandarins. Because of this, Mandarin was in its beginning called "speech of the officials" (guānhuà or 官话).

Based on the dialect that is native to northern China, since the early 20th century Mandarin has been promoted as the standard language throughout the country. Nowadays, Mandarin is the main language in which people from different regions communicate in China, and worldwide it has more than 800 million speakers.

In mainland China, Mandarin is referred to as "common speak" (pǔtōnɡhuà or 普通话), and in overseas Chinese communities it is often referred to as "national language" (guóyǔ or 国语).

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