Chinese is the mostly spoken language in the world, used by 20% of world population and it has 10 popular dialects, all different from each other. Its origins come from Sinitic group of Chinese-Tibetan Linguistic family and it dates back to 3000 years ago. It is known that many languages in Asian continent are affected by Chinese. A significant amount of alphabets and sound structures of languages such as Korean and Japanese are derived from Chinese.
One of the most important features that make Chinese distinct is that it consists of symbols instead of letters. In Chinese, each symbol has a meaning and someone who wishes to learn Chinese also has to learn the symbols and their meanings. In 1958, Chinese government has announced an order named Pinyin Table in order to help foreigners learn Chinese by using the proper sounds. By doing this, a standard was tried to be established about reading the Chinese sounds with Latin alphabet.
Some of the countries where Chinese is mostly spoken are:
- People’s Republic of China
- Hong Kong
- United States of America
Spoken in a vast region, Chinese is separated into 10 popular dialects, each spoken by millions of Chinese. Mandarin is the most widely used dialect of Chinese and it is spoken by 70, 9 % of the country; which is 847, 8 million people. Therefore, we can say that Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world.
Second mostly spoken Chinese dialect is Wu with 6, 5% population and it is spoken by 77, 2 million people. The third one is followed by Min with 6% population spoken by 71,8 million people. Other dialects and the number of Chinese speakers are those: Yue (60 million), Jin (45 million), Xiang (36 million), Hakka (30,1 million), Gan (20.6 million) , Huizhou (4.6 million) and Pinghua (2 million).
The most important aspect about the sounds in Pinyin Table are the tones. A Chinese word which is read in the same way with Latin alphabet might have different meanings due to different tones. There are 4 different toning types while reading the Chinese symbols according to Pinyin table. These are lowering tone, low/high tone, high tone and straight tone. If you make a mistake during the intonation of a sound, you might give a different meaning to the word.