Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, as current estimates indicate that approximately 1.1 billion people speak Chinese. Mandarin, based on the Peking dialect, is the official language taught in schools and considered “Putong” or standard. However, Chinese has many dialects, among them Cantonese, which is spoken in southern provinces, Hong Kong and by many of the Chinese living in the United States. There are several other major dialects, such as the Wu dialect spoken by tens of millions of people in the Shanghai area and in Chekiang Province. Similiar to the Wu dialect, some dialects of Chinese have more speakers than some other languages of the world!
Chinese is a tonal language meaning that the tone or intonation change change the meaning of a word. In Chinese there are four tones:
- the first tone - a flat high level tone;
- the second tone - a high rising;
- the third tone a falling-rising tone;
- the fourth tone - high falling to low.
Chinese is spoken in the following countries:
Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Macao (Portuguese),
Malaysia, Mauritius, Paracel Islands, Singapore, Taiwan,
Thailand, United States of America, Vietnam.
Spoken by a significant amount of people in several countries abroad and by more than 125 million people in Japan, Japanese ranks among the top ten languages of the world. Japanese is the language spoken by the second largest in the world after the US economy. Japan has many multinational companies throughout the world, and Japanese companies have offices throughout the world. In the fields of high-tech machinery, robots, and production line management, among others, Japan is at the forefront. There are many excellent resources available to one who can read and understand Japanese.
Japanese has a pitch-accent system, which means that after an accented syllable, the pitch falls. However, the amount of sounds in Japanese is quite limited, and makes pronounciation comparitely easier than other languages. Japanese consists of 3 different types of script: kanji, Chinese characters, and two syllabic scripts, hiragana and katakana.
Japanese is spoken in the following countries:
Brazil, Japan, Peru, Taiwan, United States of America.
Korean, the offical language of the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea and Republic of Korea, is spoken by around 65 million people in these countries and another 15 million people in around the world. While the origins of the Korean language are not known, its grammatical structure is similar to Japanese. Korean language was heavily influenced by neighboring Chinese, the Korean alphabet is its own and dates back to the years 1443-46. The consanants and vowels of the twenty-five letter alphabet are grouped together into clusters to form words.
Korean is spoken in the following countries:
China, Japan, Korea (North), Korea (South), United States of America.
Vietnamese is spoken in Vietnam by over 85% of the populous or some 70 million people. In addition, it is spoken by a significant number of people in Cambodia, France, Australia, Laos and the United States.
The writing system used in Vietnam is the Vietnamese alphabet “quốc ngữ” or “national script.” The system is based on the Latin alphabet, resulting from European influence on Vietnam.
The phonology of Vietnamese is comparitely difficult to other languages, as Vietnamese is a tonal language. There are six tones in Vietnamese:
- first tone - high level tone
- second tone - low falling tone
- third tone - high rising tone
- fourth tone - falling-rising tone
- fifth tone - breaking-rising tone
- sixth - constricted tone
Vietnamese is spoken in the following countries:
Vietnam, USA, Cambodia, France, Australia, Laos