Chinese (also called the Sinitic languages) can be considered a language or language family. About one-fifth of the world's population (over 1 billion people) speak some form of Chinese as their native language. The distinction between different forms of Chinese as "languages" or "dialects" is controversial among authorities.
All spoken varieties of Chinese are tonal and analytic. The most common regional variety is Mandarin (850 million), followed by Wu (90 million), Min (70 million) and Cantonese (70 million). Most of these groups are mutually unintelligible, though some may share common terms and some degree of intelligibility.
The standardized form of spoken Chinese is Standard Mandarin, based on the Beijing dialect.It is the official language of the People's Republic of China and Taiwan, one of four official languages of Singapore, and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Standard Cantonese is one of the official languages of Hong Kong (together with English) and Macau (together with Portuguese). Other forms are influential throughout Southeast Asia.
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