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John W.
汉语, 华语, 中国话?
Dear all,

I have been seeing many like to use the word "汉语" to refer to Chinese language in their sentences.
I could only associate it with 汉语拼音.
In fact, I find it really weird (奇怪) to even say "你的汉语很好" in daily conversation. Where did they learn it from?

  1. 汉人说汉语, 合情合理.
  2. 华人说华语. 合情合理.
  3. 中国人说中国话? 合情合理.

Which is your pick and why?

2020년 5월 29일 오후 3:49
Comments · 5
Hi Biance,

Thank you very much for writing to me. No worries, we are engaging in a harmonious discussion and I am really glad to see your point of view.

Firstly, the word, "汉语" is widely used in China not outside of it as mentioned.
Hence as expected you don't see it in our locally published textbooks. i.e. we don't use those words like "汉语" nor "汉人".
We see ourselves as Chinese (华人) not China people (中国人). We speak华语and write 中文. We don't speak "汉语" and are not "汉人".

Hence, when you mentioned "我说汉语", you could have unknowingly offended her because She didn't want to be recognized as a 中国人 when she could be of other nationality. Similarly, because someone is speaking English you assume they are are American when they could be from the UK.

As for the below:
"For your info, in the textbooks for Chinese learners teach us 自行车 but not 脚踏车, 一个苹果 and not 一粒苹果, 我先走 but not 我走先 etc..."
People could accept such differences such but probably not when it comes to nationality matter.

Also the teacher has a part to play in explaining to the learners to be more sensitive when it comes to use of "汉语" and "汉人".

Just my two cents worth.

2020년 5월 30일
Before getting into this topic, I think it's necessary to have at least a glimpse of basic linguistics theory on dialects in China.

Here we should divide all the dialects into seven dialect regions, which can be reduced to two groups, namely 官话区 and 非官话区 (the distinction of these two groups is so important), therein so distinctive the dialects are. Despite of the great difference, all of them have one sharing attribute: they are derivative of a single language spoken by 汉人. However, there can only be one official dialect spoken by central government; It was 西北官话 in Tang dynasty and 北京官话 now. That's why they are called 官话 the official one. And that's exactly why you may be a little bit confused with 汉语 and 北京官话 (the Mandarin).

so, even though we have Cantonese or other -ese in English, which make them look like different language, but actually all of them are 汉语.

However, we cannot call Tibetan 汉语, because it's not created and spoken by 汉人 although Tibet is a part of China for so many years.
2020년 5월 30일
Hehe, Do you know how many local languages are there in China? If I tell that we can consider about seven main locals what would you say? And many branches of them we hardly to count, Sure! and if you know that I can not understand any word of Cantonese, How will you think? As a native Chinese I even don't understand one type of Chinese language, Is that strange? Usually we say zhong-guo-hua means standard Chinese or common Chinese, because we really don't know a correct word which is suitable to describe our multilingual languages.
2020년 5월 30일
Hi jackwrh,

感谢赐教. Sorry, if I have not been clear in my statement.

My birthplace is in Indonesia. Indonesia comes in second in the world with 710 living languages. Its neighbour, Papua New Guinea has the most at 840 living languages. Comparatively, there are about 297 living languages in China. Anyway, that's beside the point.

What I am saying here is, in italki surely everyone is learning the mainstream Chinese here. So I don't get it when others said that they are learning 汉语 here or the Chinese are 汉人. To me, we are all 华人, whether you are in China, Singapore or even in Indonesia.

Just my 2 cents worth.
2020년 5월 30일
What about 中文 to indicate Chinese language, both written and spoken? I got the impression that the word 中文 is the one used most commonly, is it not?
2020년 8월 24일
John W.
Language Skills
Chinese (Other), English, Japanese
Learning Language