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Would you consider Mandarin a "language" or a "dialect"?

Part of me says dialect because it is common to say "it's a dialect of Chinese".. but the thing is, how can "Chinese" be a language? Mandarin is very different to Cantonese. I would consider Mandarin to be language in its own right in this case because it's very different to other Chinese dialects.

For learning: Chinese (Mandarin)
Base language: English
Category: WK087

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    There are about 200 dialects in China. The dialect spoken in Beijing, known in the west as Mandarin, is one of the eight major Chinese dialects. It’s the official language of the People’s Republic of China after 1949, and one of the official languages of both Taiwan and Singapore. Mandarin is now taught in all the Chinese school, and Mandarin radio and TV programs are broadcast throughout China. And more than 70 per cent of China’s population speaks Mandarin as their first language.

    The eight major dialects are:

     Mandarin (Putong hua)

    About 1.2 billion people in China speak Mandarin. So if you can speak Mandarin, you can travel all over China.

     Cantonese (Guang tong hua)

    About 50 million people in China speak Cantonese (including some inhabitants in Hong Kong); they’re mainly from Guangton Province. It’s also the language most spoken by the people living abroad. (Before 1949, a lots of inhabitants in Guangton Province immigrated overseas for job.)

     Fujian / Taiwanese (Min nan hua)

    About 40 million people in China speak Fujian / Taiwanese, they are mainly from Fujian Province. And there are over 15 million people in Taiwan who speak Fujian /Taiwanese. (They are originally from Fujian Province)

     Shanghainese

    Mainly from Shanghai Province.

     Minbei

    Mainly from North Fujian Province.

     Xiang

    Mainly from Sichuan, Guangxi Province.

     Gan

    Mainly from Jiangxi Province.

     Kejia

    Originally from Sichuan Province, later moved to Guang ton Province.

    Linguistically speaking, most of those mentioned are non-mutually intelligible languages. However, historically Chinese have referred to those as to 方語 (area speech) and that together with the myth that they all used the same mutually intelligible writing system evoked the idea of calling them dialects.

    To sum it up, Chinese is more like a language family and these language/dialects are often called by linguists to be "topolects".

    You can also check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fangyan

    Agree with Joan.
    Janko: Chinese is language family, but Mandarin is dialect. ( stem was asking MANDARIN.)

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