Mandarin (; ) is a group of related varieties of Chinese spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. Because most Mandarin dialects are found in the north, the group is also referred to as the "northern dialect(s)". When the Mandarin group is taken as one language, as is often done in academic literature, it has more native speakers (nearly a billion) than any other language.
A northeastern-dialect speaker and a southwestern-dialect speaker may have difficulty communicating, except through the standard language. Nonetheless, there is much less variation across the huge Mandarin area than between the non-Mandarin varieties of southeast China. This is attributed to the greater ease of travel and communication in the North China Plain compared to the more mountainous south, combined with the relatively recent spread of Mandarin to frontier areas.
The capital has been within the Mandarin area for most of the last millennium, making these dialects very influential. Some form of Mandarin has served as a national lingua franca since the 14th century. In the early 20th century, a standard form based on the Beijing dialect, with elements from other Mandarin dialects, was adopted as the national language. Standard Chinese, which is also referred to as "Mandarin", is the official language of the People's Republic of China and Taiwan (Republic of China) and one of the four official languages of Singapore. It is also one of the most frequently used varieties of Chinese among Chinese diaspora communities internationally.
== Name ==
The English word "mandarin" (from Portuguese ''mandarim'', from Malay ''menteri'', from Sanskrit ''mantrin'', meaning "minister or counsellor") originally meant an official of the Ming and Qing empires.〔''China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Mathew Ricci''.〕〔"mandarin", 〕
Since their native varieties were often mutually unintelligible, these officials communicated using a Koiné language based on various northern varieties. When Jesuit missionaries learned this standard language in the 16th century, they called it "Mandarin", from its Chinese name ''Guānhuà'' (), or "language of the officials".
In everyday English, "Mandarin" refers to Standard Chinese, which is often called simply "Chinese". Standard Chinese is based on the particular Mandarin dialect spoken in Beijing, with some lexical and syntactic influence from other Mandarin dialects. It is the official spoken language of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the official language of the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan), and one of the four official languages of the Republic of Singapore. It also functions as the language of instruction in the PRC and in Taiwan. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, under the name "Chinese". Chinese speakers refer to the modern standard language as
* ''Pǔtōnghuà'' (, literally "common speech") in China,
* ''Guóyǔ'' (, literally "national language") in Taiwan, or
* ''Huáyǔ'' () in Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines,
but not as ''Guānhuà''.
Linguists use the term "Mandarin" to refer to the diverse group of dialects spoken in northern and southwestern China, which Chinese linguists call ''Guānhuà''. The alternative term ''Běifānghuà'' (), or "Northern dialect(s)", is used less and less among Chinese linguists. By extension, the term "Old Mandarin" or "Early Mandarin" is used by linguists to refer to the northern dialects recorded in materials from the Yuan dynasty.
Native speakers who are not academic linguists may not recognize that the variants they speak are classified in linguistics as members of "Mandarin" (or so-called "Northern dialects") in a broader sense. Within Chinese social or cultural discourse, there is not a common "Mandarin" identity based on language; rather, there are strong regional identities centred on individual dialects because of the wide geographical distribution and cultural diversity of their speakers. Speakers of forms of Mandarin other than the standard typically refer to the variety they speak by a geographic name—for example Sichuan dialect, Hebei dialect or Northeastern dialect, all being regarded as distinct from the standard language.
抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』