Tips on China’s Culture
One quarter of the population on this earth are Chinese. Just in China alone, there are 1.3 billion people. As I am writing, how many more are born? It is impossible to generalize the tactics to deal with different Chinese people. Here I am sharing with you some of my experience from working in the area and being a Chinese myself! Remember: this is my personal experience only. You need to spend time, show respect and open your mind in order to understand anybody, as it is true in all human relationships.

There are so many different aspects involved in understanding Chinese. You can take the approach of ideology, business, philosophy, religion, economy and of course the most trendy “the art of war”.

What is the language?

Mandarin is the official language in China, although people in different parts of China may speak their own dialets. For example, Cantonese is the predominant spoken language in Hong Kong and most of Guangdong province.

When it comes to written Chinese, the gramma and style are more or less the same in Mandarin and Cantonese (of course there are different colloquials). The only major difference is that people within Mainland China write in simplifeid characters and people in Hong Kong and Taiwan write in traditional Chinese characters. It is confusing, isn’t it? Yes, the dramatic history of China has produced variations in culture and languages in different parts of the country.

BTW, there is no such thing as written Cantonese. Many of the words in spoken Cantonese are simply non-existent. The sentence structure is also different from the written language. That is why it is more difficult for foreigners to learn Cantonese than Mandarin. In recent years, the media and some writers in Hong Kong try to make up words they speak into written format. I guess years later, there may be a developed system of written Cantonese!

Be careful when you first learn to speak Mandarin or Cantonese, there are 4 intonations in one Mandarin word and 9 in a Cantonese word. If your intonation is slightly off, it can mean something totally different!

To make it simple, here is a chart:

Write in
Speak
Chinese within Mainland China
Simplified Chinese characters
Mandarin
Chinese in Taiwan
Traditional Chinese characters
Mandarin
Chinese in Hong Kong
Traditional Chinese characters
Cantonese

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