Chinese vs Mandarin
Chinese and Mandarin are commonly misunderstood as one and the same, and are usually interchanged when referred to. There’s obviously a relation between Chinese and Mandarin, however, the distinction between Chinese and Mandarin is quite clear. Chinese or Mandarin, they are widely spoken in China and Taiwan. But do we know how to distinguish one from the other?
It is common among non-Chinese people to refer to the language spoken in China and Taiwan as “Chinese”. They do not understand the language and so they collectively call it that. Chinese refers to the standard language largely spoken in those countries in a much broader sense. It is part of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. Under it, are its subdivision of languages or dialects of regional varieties which popularly includes Mandarin, Wu, Cantonese (Yue) and Min. Each dialect is spoken specifically on certain regions in China with its own characteristics, spoken or written.
As mentioned, Mandarin is one dialect of Chinese language. The name “Mandarin” is imitative of the language of the imperial court of Beijing. Also known as Standard Chinese or Modern Standard Chinese, Mandarin is the official language of mainland China and Taiwan and is spoken in the northern, central and south western regions of China. It is used far and wide that it is the adopted language in government, entertainment industry and education.
Difference between Chinese and Mandarin
There really is not much of a distinction between Chinese and Mandarin other than one is only a subdivision of the other. Chinese is the general term of the language used while Mandarin falls under it. They basically differ depending on how well people know about the language and use it in communicating. For example: When a person says “They speak Chinese.” he is generally referring to the language as a whole being spoken by Chinese people notwithstanding regional varieties since he has no knowledge about it. On the other hand, when someone comments, “They’re speaking Mandarin.” he is being more specific, so he understood and is not ignorant about the Chinese language at all.
• Chinese is a broad language term that encompasses more than just a single dialect, branching from Sino-Tibetan family of languages.
• Chinese language is a family of languages under which is Mandarin, also known as Standard Chinese, that’s been used by majority of the population in China and Taiwan.
• Regardless of the number of dialects under the Chinese language, most non-Chinese normally refers to them only as “Chinese”.