FACTS ABOUT MANDARIN
With over a billion speakers, Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world today.
Standard Mandarin Chinese, also called PUTONGHUA is the national language of China and widely understood, but there are scores of ethnic, regional and city dialects spoken with regularity.
Chinese is considered one of the more difficult languages to learn because of its tonal nature. The same word can have four distinct meanings based on which of 4 tones is used.
There are over 80 000 Chinese characters, however, most of them are seldom used today. For basic reading and writing of Chinese, only 4000 characters are needed.
Pinyin is the official international standard system for transcribing Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet. It is highly useful for learning the phonetics of Mandarin Chinese.