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Mandarin brings together 56 ethnic groups in China

Putonghua, or Mandarin as it is known in the West, now not only serves as the common language for the Han Nationality, which account for nearly 94 percent of China's population, but also for people from the 55 ethnic minority groups in the country.

Wu Sashimi, vice director of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, said on Friday that many of the minority ethnic populations can now communicate in Mandarin.

"Mandarin has become the de-facto lingua franca for all Chinese regardless of their ethnic groups," Wu said.

The central government set Mandarin as China's standard speaking common speech in 1956, and committed itself to popularizing the speech nationwide.

According to the constitution and relevant laws, ethnic minorities are free to choose to learn either their own languages or Mandarin, or both.

"At present, more than half of the ethnic group population still use their own languages," Wu noted.

Fifty-three of the 55 ethnic groups in China each have their own languages. And 22 of them have altogether 28 written forms of their respective spoken languages, according to Wu.

Statistics from the Chinese language work commission under the Ministry of Education show 63.94 million people from ethnic minority groups learnt ethnic languages first, taking up nearly 60 percent of the total ethnic minority population, and 61.4 million people communicate in their own speech at home.

State Councilor Chen Zhili said on Friday at a symposium marking the 50th anniversary of the central government's decision to popularize Mandarin that China's 50-year campaign has made a "great contribution" to China's economic, educational and cultural development, as well as to the "national cohesion" and enhanced international exchanges.


 Source :   Editor: WuLin
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