The birth of every language is deeply ingrained in the history of the place. For one to become fluent in a foreign language, it is a good idea to pay attention to the culture along with the history of that language. Chinese Mandarin is one language that has strong roots in the history of China.
In fact, the language is one of the most spoken dialects, not only in China, but also in Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong and other Asian countries, despite the fact that these places have their own different dialects. Over 70% of Chinese people speak Mandarin fluently.
No Official Language
Surprisingly, despite the fact that Mandarin is now the most widely spoken language in South East Asia, and is counted the official language of the People’s Republic of China and Republic of China, this wasn’t always the case. China became a nation in 221 BC and there was no official language for communication. Even when the last of China’s Imperial Dynasty was declining in 1912, there was no official language of the state.
Instead, people learnt different dialects and languages that were used as and when needed. Scholars and students had an uphill task as they had to be fluent in all of them. Someone who could read and write was revered as truly wise.
This also set up a lot of restrictions in providing general education to the public. In the early 20th Century, it was agreed upon that a common language was required as the barriers to communication and the illiteracy rate were becoming increasingly high.
Development of Mandarin
Once it was agreed that a common language was needed, there was too much difficulty in trying to select a language from the ones available. Looking to resolve any issues and not give offence to anyone, the Republic of China met at Beijing and assembled a council known as the “Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation.”
Consisting of educators and linguistics from Mongolia, Chinese communities, Tibet as well as different provinces of China, the Commission developed a new language focusing on ensuring that it was easy to learn, simple and had a strong phonetic system. While the Roman alphabets were considered, the Commission eventually settled on making use of the Zhuyin alphabets. By 1918, Mandarin had been successfully developed.
Modern Day Mandarin
In 1932, Mandarin was the official language of the Republic of China. In 1982, when the People’s Republic of China was formed, they also adopted Mandarin, stating that it was the official language for mainland China.
Also referred to as Putonghua, Guoyu and Huayu, the use of Mandarin quickly became widespread. At the time of introduction, China had a lofty goal to ensure that all Chinese people would be able to speak in Mandarin within a century.
Modern day Mandarin does not differ from the original at all. It still makes use of the alphabets as stated by the commission and is also relatively easy to learn. This is one reason why people, to this day, do not face much difficulty in learning Mandarin.