What is "standard mandarin" that some people describe themselves as having? Is Mandarin different between cities and regions of China?
"Standard Chinese Mandarin" has been defined as "taking the northern dialect as standard, with beijing pronunciation as the standard pronunciation".
But Almost no one speaks standard Mandarin in daily life,every city and region has their own accent or dialect.So people in different places,they speak different Mandarin with local accent.By region,northerners speak Mandarin better than southerners.The most standard Mandarin is what you heard on the news.
This is a very interesting question. Actually there are many local languages in China and usually the local people just speak local language in their region, but they don't speak Chinese mandarin well. When the people from different places need to communicate , they have to speak mandarin, then we can hear standard mandarin and weird mandarin.
Yes, of course it's different between cities and regions.
No one actually speak 100 percent "standard mandarin" in daily life.
When someone mentions about "standard mandarin",
it normally refers to what we use in the common education system.
It's a little bit (just a tiny little bit!) like the English of Oxford English Dictionary and Received Pronunciation in English speaking world.
So, even the conception of "standard mandarin" could also be a little different among Mainland China, Taiwan and Singapore. : )
Usually when we say Chinese,we mean Putonghua/Mandarin,which is regarded as the standard Chinese.Atually I don't think Mandarin is a correct defination of Putonghua,but since Mandarin has been called all those years,we just accept it.
Most people in China can speak Mandarin now,especially for the younger generation.Though almost everyone can speak one or more kind of dialect,they speak Mandarin.
In fact,even if two Chinese just speak their own dialect,which can have a real difference in pronunciation,they could understand each other's words well.
So when you're learning Chinese,it's not necessary to worry about dialects,just learn Putonghua/Mandarin.
As for Cantonese,they are only used in Hongkong, Fujian Province,Makao and regions near by.Und people there can also speak Putonghua.