Mandarin Chinese

In the Mandarin Chinese language, how do you say "Hello?"

And the answer: Ni hao.    

"Ni hao" is often the first phrase you're taught as you learn Mandarin Chinese. The first part means "you" while the second part means "good." Translating as hello, it's an everyday greeting and can be used on almost any occasion.

Photo credit: Oktay Ortakcioglu / Getty Images. 

Mandarin is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world. Globally, there are around 955 million speakers – more native speakers than any other language in the world. It is the official language of Taiwan and People’s Republic of China, but there are many other prominent Chinese dialects as well. While over 70% of the Chinese population speaks Mandarin, Yue (Cantonese), Xiang (Hunanese), Min dialect, Gan dialect, Wu dialect, and Kejia or Hakka dialect are also widely spoken.

Chinese dialects are among some of the oldest in the world. With at least 6,000 years of history, Chinese character inscriptions have been found in turtle shells dating back to the Shang dynasty (1766-1123 BCE). This indicates that the Chinese written language is over 3,000 years old!

While written Chinese began to take shape 3,000 years ago, Mandarin started to develop in the 10th and 11th centuries in northern China. This "Old Mandarin" came from local dialects in the North China Plain. The new dialect actually spurred a new genre of common literature. Across the vast expanse of China, one Chinese character set could be used to write, making it so anyone from any region could read and understand the same book.

Learn more about Mandarin Chinese here.

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