Talk:Mandarin Chinese/Archive 3

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Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4

Teachers teaching foreign student tend to tell their student that Mandarin don't have subdialect, to avoid having to explain all that

Thus they end up with Children that thought Standard Mandarin is the only kind of Mandarin, if they are avoiding having to explain the complexness of Mandarin Subdialects, imagine what they told their student about all those non-Mandarin Chinese dialects. -- They don't even tell them these dialects exist at all.

All these resulting in a lot of non-Chinese are educated to thought Hakka, Min, Wu, Gan, Yue and Xiang dialects are just subdialect of Mandarin. Which is completely wrong, and can cause them to have difficulty understanding Chinese culture's building blocks.

To enable them to learn about this topic, we at least have to let them know what is Mandarin, and what dialects do Mandarin have, only when they know this first step, then they can start to understand what are non-Mandarin dialects, if they were to stumble upon it in the future.

Thus, I think a separate topic with "Mandarin DialectS" as title need to be kept alive, so that we can guided those who are confused to this page, if you guide them to "Mandarin Chinese" page, it only reinforce what they teacher taught them, because it is unlikely they would be able to find the information they need about Mandarin dialects from so many things written there.

The title "Mandarin dialects" (note: plural here) itself should be kept, and the information in there are plus. (talk) 04:59, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

splitting the section out again would likely make a redundant content fork of this one. There is conceptual difference between Mandarin Chinese and Mandarin dialects but it is unlikely to result in really distinct articles. Mandarin Chinese in theory describes the common elements that define the Mandarin dialects, while "Mandarin dialects" one might expect to describe the variation and geographic distribution of the each of the different dialects. That sounds pretty distinct but in reality you'll end up with two different pages covering the same topic in arbitrarily different ways. As it is this article handles of those subtopics (similarities and differences) without any difficulty. The lead does a pretty good job of educating all those ignorant Southeast Asians you are worried about in just a couple of sentences. I recommend you look at WP:SPLIT if you want to find out more about how splitting articles is usually handled. But even more I recommend you consider letting the recent merge operation settle. It was conducted by consensus and nothing has really changed since then. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 07:02, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

The current structure is
It's not perfect, but it's reasonably consistent.
I was going to suggest that your concern could be addressed by an appropriate explanation in the introduction of this article, but as Metal.lunchbox says it already does a pretty good job there. What do you think is unclear about this article? Kanguole 08:05, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

:I feel that there might be some scope to apply summary style (WP:SS) to expand the "Mandarin Dialects" section into a separate page, with a concise summary on the main Mandarin Chinese page. But I agree that we shouldn't simply revert the previous merge, and we need to be careful to avoid wholescale duplication of material. Bluap (talk) 02:09, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

On second thought, I've realised that this is the page for the Mandarin Dialects, and that there is a separate page for the "Standard Mandarin" Bluap (talk) 02:24, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
As I've said before, it would far clearer for this page to be called Mandarin Dialects or North Sinitic Dialect Area or something. For "language" to mean not a concrete standard language but a dialect area of myriad dialects with alleged mutual intelligibility is counterintuitive for anyone who is not already steeped in the jargon of descriptive linguistics. This use of "language" is contrary to the Wikipedia policy to use commonly used English terms. --JWB (talk) 06:12, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
If this page were to be renamed "Mandarin dialects", the other dialect groups should be renamed to match. But the word "language" isn't part of the title of this article. Kanguole 08:54, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I have no idea what the problem is that this discussion proposes to address. I've heard a lot of talk about the word "dialect" as though it had some single universally acceptable definition, it does not. Linguists often avoid the term altogether. Mandarin Chinese is the most common name for the topic in English and it is not inaccurate. the complexities of the term are explained clearly in the lead. "North Sinitic Dialect" is not a term people usually use to refer to this subject and it is not more clear. If someone wants to complain about the title I recommend you make an argument for why "Mandarin Chinese" is not the best name and what exactly would be a better one and why. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 17:33, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I believe that the original poster's point is that many people (particularly those teaching the language) use "Mandarin Chinese" to refer to Standard Chinese, and do not mention the existence of geographical variants. From your comments, it sounds as if Linguists use the term "Mandarin Chinese" to refer to the whole set of related "northern dialects", and use some other term to refer to the official standard language. I think that everyone agrees that we need two articles - one for the standard language, and one for the dialects group. The question, to me, is how to name these two separate articles. Personally, I think that that the current solution is acceptable. Bluap (talk) 03:42, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
What Bluap says is correct. Anyone desiring to rename these articles probably should be required to read through all of the archived discussions. The last time (?) this issue was hashed out, I went to the Chinese language page that involves the things that we in English call "languages" and "dialects" of China, and even their naming was not consistent across all of the varieties of Chinese that were covered. Nevertheless, the Chinese language discussions have the advantage that they discuss the whole phenomenon in terms of a tree and its branches, or make it clear that there is a sort of family tree structure of languages. The discussions I refer to are those conducted among people who understand the phenomenon of speciation in languages. Ordinary people are likely to be content to identify different ways of conveying meaning by vague terms such as "what they speak in Si Chuan," and "What they speak in Guang Dong," "What they speak in Fu Zhou" turns out to be five or six different thing, things probably at least as different as Cockney English and high tider English. When I went to Taiwan in the 60s I had heard of "Chinese dialects" such as Cantonese, and if I thought about it at all I would have imagined people from Guang Dong speaking the equivalent of the English spoken by Elisa Doolittle's father. How wrong I was.
There is a good bit of "language jingoism" in China, as elsewhere. Everybody seems to believe their own language is the standard for the rest of the world, and that languages such as Taiwanese (a sub-variety of the majority language family characteristic of the southern part of Fu Jian province (across the Strait of Taiwan) are "ugly."
To educate people about their subjective biases, it might be very helpful to have the "family tree structure" given prominence. It will show a pretty bushy structure for what some call Mandarin, some call "Northern language," and what some call "guan hua." It will also show a bushy structure for the language family used by the majority of people in Guang Dong province, etc., etc. It's pretty hard to regard one leaf of the "mighty chestnut tree" under which the village smithy stood as having any great significance in the grand structure of things.P0M (talk) 04:51, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

It seems like there is a consensus not to revert the move. and that the current layout is adequate. If someone doesn't think the lead on this article adequately describes how the term "Mandarin Chinese" fits into the linguistic landscape then perhaps they can suggest some specific change(s). As for the family tree. That sounds generally like a good idea. If you want to collaborate on such a thing, I'd recommend you look at the diagram on Varieties of Chinese and do something like that but zoom in on the mandarin branch. If you want to expand the "Geographic distribution and dialects" section I'd suggest you go ahead and expand it. This article is not that long. Once it is too long let's talk about splitting. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 07:14, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

The most blatant problem with the lead is that it implies the dialect area is the primary meaning of "Mandarin", when it is actually a very specialized linguistic usage. This will confuse almost everyone.
I've posted at Talk:Varieties of Chinese about the weaknesses of the tree model; please comment there. --JWB (talk) 18:38, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Trees are very tempting. Check out genealogy of sinitic scripts, there someone compiled a few sources and presented a very extensive tree. Its up for deletion because while there are plenty of linguists making claims about philogentic relationships, the relationships are not definite and the subject of some controversy. This can easily be dealt with in prose, but a diagram lacks context and so tends to present things as uncontroversial facts. One alternative is to present one prominent specific model (i.e. one from a particular linguist) and present that with a proper caption which states that its what this one person thinks.
JWB, when you talk about the problem with the lead, do you mean that it should imply instead that the primary meaning is that of a single language. If so, I agree. The lead must adress the variants but it should define the term the way it is most often used. I see alot of "Chinese is not a language anyways" on the talk pages and I think that idea has an undue influence on the wording of articles. Its an encyclopedia. The very first thing should be simple and straightforward, then further detail should follow. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 19:10, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
After looking at the web and books, and thinking about conversations I have had, I have decided that while this categorization and naming issue is very tricky there seem to be two relatively distinct concepts ecapsulated in the term "mandarin chinese". This article talks about this but in a somewhat confused fashion. The primary usage of "Mandarin Chinese" is to refer the Standard Chinese that is discussed in the article Standard Chinese. Secondly, the term is used by linguists to discuss a group of closely related dialects which I believe can best be titled Varieties of Mandarin Chinese. I think Mandarin Chinese should redirect to Standard Chinese and This page should be moved to Varieties of Mandarin Chinese, with a DABlink pointing people back to Standard Chinese at the top of the page, just like it already has. This page should then emphasize the varieties, similarities and differences a little bit more unambiguously. Perhaps most importantly, "This article uses the term "Mandarin" in a sense used by linguists, referring to the diverse group of Mandarin dialects spoken in northern and southwestern China, which Chinese linguists call Guānhuà." should be in the lead. Am I saying anything unique here? Metal.lunchbox (talk) 20:15, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
I mostly agree with you. I can think of one reason why Varieties of Mandarin Chinese is a more problematic name than Varieties of Chinese. There is little question about whether a given speech variety is Chinese (Sinitic) or not, while there is more variation in which speech varieties are counted in the Mandarin dialect group and more of a continuum of varieties with differing amounts of Northern or Mandarin features. --JWB (talk) 20:30, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Agree, this name -- Varieties of Mandarin Chinese will not solve the problem, because if South East Asian Chinese see that title, they will immediately think that it is about the variation between the Mainland's Standard Mandarin and the Standard Mandarin in Taiwan. Lets say all of us who are discussing here quit coming to wikipedia for 1 year, I can assure you by then, 90% of what discuss inside Varieties of Mandarin Chinese would be about the mainland standard chinese VS the taiwan standard chinese. And introduction to all other variants of Mandarin dialects, like Shanxi's Mandarin, Szechuannese and Yunnan Mandarin will be push to the end of the page, if they were to be mention at all. If, the mandarin dialects page come back, i will have something to contribute, I have notice that during this past 5 years, pure entertainment TV programs/movies made in Northern China tend to have more and more local dialects contents, sometimes even push out standard Mandarin all together. I have list of movies and TV programs listed down last years, here are they: the fist one is the latest movies:

everyone in this movies speak different mandarin dialects. / my own swordsman

chongqing dialect movie 【疯狂的石头】 crazy stone

揚州/蘇北 dialects: 江北好人 jiang bei hao ren

xi'an dialect movie: gaoxing 高興

tianjin dialects TV shows : 阳光的快乐生活 yang guang de kuai le sheng huo

i have also kept news article:

8.5%的人表示不喜欢电视剧中带着方言("dialects" here mean only northern mandarin dialects)


视频:(重庆,苏北,天津,陕西) (talk) 22:07, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

OK, I've taken the name clarification at the beginning of the second section, and used it to substitute for the incorrect information about the word "Mandarin" in the lead. --JWB (talk) 20:46, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
If you equate "Mandarin Chinese" with "Standard Chinese", then what would people expect "Varieties of Mandarin Chinese" to be about? Presumably the different realizations of Standard Chinese in the mainland, Taiwan, Singapore, etc.
As for the first sentence, how about "In Chinese linguistics, Mandarin (...) refers to a group of related Chinese dialects ..."? There's not much dispute about the boundaries of the Mandarin group, except for the question of whether Jin should be split off. Kanguole 20:47, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
See the discussion at Talk:Varieties of Chinese. --JWB (talk) 22:56, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't agree with having an extra definition of bolded Mandarin in the lead, which reads more like a dictionary than an encyclopedia. The lead needs to define the topic, and write about that. We have a hatnote to redirect people who are looking for the other topic with the same name. Kanguole 20:56, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
You are re-introducing the misleading definition of "Mandarin"/Guanhua as meaning the dialect area. The latter is always referred to as 官话方言 "Mandarin dialects" or 官话区 "Mandarin area". "Mandarin" by itself means the official language. --JWB (talk) 22:56, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
This isn't a dictionary setting out various meanings of words, it's an encyclopedia organized around topics. The function of the the first sentence, per WP:LEAD, is to define the topic of this article, namely "Mandarin" referring to the dialect group, and the bare word "Mandarin" is also used in that sense by linguists. Kanguole 23:04, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
This is exactly why you shouldn't introduce an incorrect definition that requires lengthy explanation to avoid confusion. The article should have a transparent, non-misleading name, that is common English usage as far as possible. And no, I haven't seen much use of the bare word to designate the dialect group, especially on title/first mention - do you have examples? --JWB (talk) 23:26, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
This sense is less common in general usage to be sure, but it is not incorrect. As for examples, I believe you have Norman (1988) to hand: he uses the term throughout Chapter 8 on dialects, and also discusses the term under Nomenclature on p136. Kanguole 23:42, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
RE: equating "Mandarin Chinese" with "Standard Chinese"- I do not actually wish to equate the two, but I want to deal with the meaning of the term in English in a practical manner. I haven't counted them but I'm sure that the vast majority of readers coming to wikipedia and tying Mandarin Chinese are looking for information about the topic discussed in Standard Chinese. It is common practice on wikipedia to acknowledge these sort of associations and to accomodate them in as straight-forward a manner possible. I think a redirect would accomplish that best. Then a disambiguation link might be appropriate for Standard Chinese to link back here, for the minority who is interested in "Mandarin" as a linguist might use the term, to refer to a group of related varieties of chinese language. That goup doesn't have to be strictly defined. controversial classifications can be discussed in prose as being controversial or tentative, something this article already does, but not well enough. "Varieties" is a neutral term that is specific and widely used in linguistic contexts, so I think it would be suitable without making the title too obscure. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 22:48, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
My point is that if typing "Mandarin Chinese" sends people straight to the article on the standard language, they might reasonably expect that "XXX of Mandarin Chinese" would be some subtopic of that. Consistent naming across articles is also helpful to readers. At least the current arrangement tries to be consistent, even if it is more with the usage of linguists than general usage. Kanguole 22:58, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Consistency is good but maybe we should accept that the topic has some inherent inconsistencies that cannot be perfectly reconciled. Looking at the discussion above there are clearly alot of different ways to slice these topics. Just look at almost any talk page for an article about Chinese and you'll see a similar discussion about naming. I think if people type "Mandarin Chinese", end up at "Standard Chinese" and the first thing they see is: "Mandarin Chinese redirects here. For the group of related northern and southwestern Chinese dialects which includes Standard Chinese, see Varieties of Mandarin Chinese." Then I think they'll have enough info in front of them to make sense of it all. Does that sound like a better solution than the current arangement? Metal.lunchbox (talk) 01:03, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
If you do that (if people type "Mandarin Chinese", end up at "Standard Chinese"), what do you need to type to come to the present page? (talk) 22:27, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

Going back to Wikipedia first principles, we have the title "Mandarin Chinese" that can refer to one of two topics, each of which have articles - "Standard Chinese" and "Variants of Mandarin Chinese" (whatever the latter is called). Wikipedia has several well-established ways of coping with this situation:

  1. If the "primary use" of the title is clearly one of the topics, and this title is also the primary title of that topic, then use the title for that topic, with a hat-note for the other topic. (I.e. either Mandarin Chinese is the page for the variants, or Mandarin Chinese is the page for the standard language.)
  2. If the "primary use" of the title is clearly one of the topics, but this title is not the primary title of that topic, then redirect the title to that topic, with a hat-note explaining the redirection, and pointing to the other topic. (I.e. neither page is called Mandarin Chinese, but Mandarin Chinese redirects to one of the pages.)
  3. If there is no clear "primary use" of the title, then use a disambiguation page. (I.e. Mandarin Chinese is a disambiguation page)

At the moment, the situation assumes that both 1) the primary use of the term "Mandarin Chinese" is for the dialect group (not for the standard language), and 2) "Mandarin Chinese" is the best title for the article describing the dialect group. My personal opinion is that while (for consistency with other Chinese language articles), "Mandarin Chinese" might be the best title for the article on the dialect group, this is not clearly the primary use in English of the phrase "Mandarin Chinese". In fact, I feel that "Mandarin Chinese" is used more widely to refer to "Standard Chinese" than it is to refer to the dialect group. Other the other side, I do feel that "Standard Chinese" is a good title for that topic. I would therefore suggest either that "Mandarin Chinese" redirect to "Standard Chinese", or that "Mandarin Chinese" be a disambiguation page. Bluap (talk) 01:45, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

I'm arguing that #2 above is how we should approach the topic. A disambiguation page, seems like the worst solution, especially since Mandarin is already a disambiguation page. Is there consensus about the primary use of the word "Mandarin Chinese"? Metal.lunchbox (talk) 02:11, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

I agree that another disambiguation page would be the worst solution. WP:PRIMARYTOPIC is about choosing the location for an article; I don't think it's applicable to displacing an article from a title to make way for a redirect. The argument that a search term should take people directly to what they're most likely after has weight, but must be balanced against finding a good name for this article, and consistency across similar articles.
I do think that any renaming should be consistent across the dialect group articles. As suggested by P0M, I reread the discussion before the last move, when these articles were moved from "XXX (linguistics)" to "XXX Chinese". The possibility of "XXX dialects" was raised, but I don't see where anyone gave a coherent argument against it. (I understand why "XXX language" and "XXX dialect" are unacceptable, but they are different.) If someone proposed a uniform move of the dialect group articles to "XXX dialects" I'd support it. The phrase is widely used in the literature, and seems perfectly accurate to me. Kanguole 08:03, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
I agree that consistency should be a part of any decision about the naming of this and related articles. I will only suggest that "Mandarin Chinese" is slightly unique in that it has two related but distinct meanings as discussed above. Wu, for instance does not have this issue. What ever we do (or decide not to do) should be compatible with other names. If consistency is really a high priority then I think a look at the other chinese related articles would indicate a clear pattern and that keeping the current arrangement for Mandarin Chinese is the only way to be truly consistent with that naming convention, which is described in WP:Naming conventions (Chinese). I'd like to point out that that naming convention is not written in stone.
The choice would seem to be between keeping consistent naming, or accommodating the unique issue of "Mandarin Chinese" having its primary meaning be "Standard Chinese" in a way that conflicts with otherwise consistent naming as little as possible. Which is more important? Metal.lunchbox (talk) 16:47, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
A third option is to propose renaming all the dialect group articles from "XXX Chinese" to "XXX dialects". Kanguole 16:56, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
True but that seems like much more trouble than it is worth. Personally I feel that XXX Chinese is a more appropriate name, but I do not have a strong argument for that. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 18:36, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

I've proposed discussion at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (Chinese)/languages and dialects before and not gotten adequate response. It would be nice to have consensus on a widespread change before proceeding, but I don't think we should hold up action on the worst case too long.

On terms for Chinese speech varieties in general: I think "XXX speech" might be an acceptable title form. I also think "XXX language" would be acceptable if each article included a disclaimer that the word "language" was being used as a mass noun, not a singular count noun. "Chinese" alone is plausible in contemporary American English where the use of the bare national adjective to refer to people of that nationality has declined, but is likely more confusing to other English readers.

In the case of this article, a name that is as specific as possible like "Mandarin dialect region" or "Mandarin group of Chinese dialects" would be least confusing. --JWB (talk) 23:40, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

I can't see "XXX language" getting far, as there is a convention of that meaning a singular noun in hundreds of similar article names. "speech" is a bit vague, and the topic here isn't the dialect region, but the dialect group. The last one is accurate, but a bit cumbersome; I'd be happy with "Mandarin dialects". Kanguole 23:59, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
Agree, thus only creating language tree (complete with color "coding") would be the best solution, would eliminate most of the confusion and prevent new confusion from arising in the future. Someone mention language tree, but it seems like there is not much respond, that's because it is too much trouble to create language tree structure? I suppose? (talk) 22:52, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't see any problem with "Mandarin dialects", If people think that's better than "Varieties of Mandarin Chinese" then it probably is. Its short, straight-forward and isn't likely to confuse anyone. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 01:57, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
"Mandarin dialects" would be OK, "Mandarin dialect group" better, "Mandarin dialect region" best. The article should include explanation that the group is named after the most prominent dialect in the group, Mandarin (Guanhua), which means "official (Chinese) language".
You risk some confusion on the part of readers if this formulation is not tightened up. Guan hua is an old, old expression. It a term like "the morning star" because it can apply to different things at different times (Venus or another bright planet that happens to shine in the hours before dawn). It's probably better to think of "guan hua" as "the language that the officials speak," or maybe even "the language you have to be able to speak to fulfill your functions as an official in dealing with the royal court." When one speaks of "guan hua qu" (officals' language region) your are talking not about "the most prominent dialect" but all the dialects that are subdivisions of this one larger language family. Then, just to make matters more complicated, there is "the national language," or "the common language," which is an artificially contrived language used as the language of instruction all across the nation (even in places that speak Cantonese, Shanghai "dialect," etc. Guoyu AKA putonghua is also the "official Chinese language" in education and beyond. (There was a long time when radio and television broadcasts in anything other than this Chinese equivalent of BBC or NPR English were forbidden.)P0M (talk) 07:33, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
The dialect group and region are equivalent, since each dialect is from a place. This is why we have two maps of the dialect region in this article. In Chinese both terms are used, 官话方言 and 官话区. Stating the region prominently would dispel the misapprehension that we are talking about a group of subdialects of the official language. --JWB (talk) 07:14, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
Kanguole, near the beginning of this section you say "Chinese language covering the language family" - isn't that contradictory to "I can't see "XXX language" getting far, as there is a convention of that meaning a singular noun" which you said just now? --JWB (talk) 07:25, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
It's true that Chinese language, along with Arabic language, is treated specially, but otherwise the naming is quite consistent. (cf Wikipedia:WikiProject Languages#Structure)
Regarding etymology, as P0M says the name of the dialect group doesn't come from the widely used name of the standard language; both derive from the name of the koiné language used by officials during the Ming and Qing dynasties both in the imperial court and in the law courts throughout the empire. Kanguole 08:26, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
Note Wikipedia:Naming conventions (languages) says "Where a common name exists in English for both a people and their language, a title based on that term, with explicit disambiguation, is preferred for both articles, as with Chinese people and Chinese language.". Although "Mandarin Chinese people" is not that common, it occurs occasionally, and more importantly it may not be clear to the uninitiated that "Mandarin Chinese" must refer only to language and not people.
Nobody said that "Mandarin" comes from the current Chinese names for the standard language. Of course "Guanhua" is an old term, as is explained in the article now, but the English "Mandarin" originated as a translation of it. However, I'm not sure what P0M means about guanhua having different meanings at different times. On the other hand, Guoyu explicitly states that 國語 was used for several non-Chinese languages of ruling groups in several dynasties. --JWB (talk) 17:19, 13 July 2011 (UTC)

Consistency across articles

At the risk of making the above discussion overly long, let me just make a few observations.

(1) The article Chinese language starts out with "Chinese or the Sinitic language(s) (汉语/漢語 Hànyǔ; 华语/華語 Huáyǔ; 中文 Zhōngwén) is a language family consisting of languages which are mostly mutually unintelligible to varying degrees." That sounds way too awkward to me, as well as confused -- how can a language be a language family, given that it's not a language isolate? Of course there is more than one Sinitic language, and equivalently, despite the assumption that might be made by some members of the general readership, there is more than one Chinese language. That article should be called either "Chinese languages" or "Chinese language family", probably the former -- anyone searching for "Chinese language" will still find it. (And there should be a redirect to it from "Sinitic languages" and/or "Sinitic language family".) And the lede should start out as "The Chinese language family (or Sinitic language family), is a language family consisting of ...."

(2)The article Standard Chinese starts out with "Standard Chinese or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin or Putonghua, is the...." Thus it defines "Mandarin" as synonymous with Standard Chinese, as does the page Standard Chinese (disambiguation). But the lede of the article Mandarin Chinese says that "Mandarin ... refers to a group of related Chinese dialects spoken across most of northern and southwestern China", and in the next sentence reinforces this by calling Mandarin a "language group"; this article's tag at the top says "This article is about the group of Northern and Southwestern Chinese dialects. For the official spoken standardized Chinese language (Putonghua/Guoyu), see Standard Chinese". This clearly distinguishes "Mandarin" and "Standard Chinese" and contradicts the article Standard Chinese.

I would propose this terminological system, which seems to me to be absolutely standard outside of Wikipedia:

  • "Chinese language family" = "Sinitic language family" = the family called that by linguists (including, for example, Cantonese) -- so Chinese language needs to be retitled as "Chinese languages" or "Chinese language family", and the article's lede modified accordngly
  • "Mandarin Chinese" = "a group of related Chinese dialects spoken across most of northern and southwestern China" (as per the current wording in the Mandarin Chinese article) -- so the tops of the articles Standard Chinese and Standard Chinese (disambiguation) need to be corrected (and the phrase "a language group" in Mandarin Chinese needs to be changed to "a dialect group" for consistency with the article's other wording)
  • "Standard Chinese" = the official language, whose phonology is based on the Mandarin Chinese dialect of Beijing

Duoduoduo (talk) 00:29, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

I can assure you, if you created Chinese languages page, nationalistic Chinese will jump out and attack the page, probably even accused you of trying to split up Han Chinese by linguistic line, if you don't mind policing the page every other day, then go ahead with it, there are so many ways they can vandalize your page, they might even do that by adding language like Uighur and Tibetan into Chinese languages, only way to solve this problem once and for all is to create language tree structure (talk) 23:13, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
Actually, we already have a Chinese languages page that redirects to Varieties of Chinese. And that page has an extensive language tree on it.Duoduoduo (talk) 00:13, 17 July 2011 (UTC) a template like this will do the job as well: (talk) 19:00, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Re (1), good luck with trying to change Chinese language; that's a bit of a minefield.
Re (2), I don't think the lead of Standard Chinese (which is echoed in Standard Chinese (disambiguation)) defines "Mandarin", but rather acknowledges that the term has more than one meaning: it names the dialect group, but it is often used for the standard language. Kanguole 00:50, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
Re (2), the lede of Standard Chinese says "Standard Chinese or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin,...". In this I see no hint that Mandarin has more than one definition; instead, it simply seems to contradict the beginning of the second paragraph. While you can parse the opening sentence as not actually being a definition, in practice all readers will interpret it as saying they are synonyms (as I did the first couple of times I read it), and will be confused about the seeming contradiction with the next paragraph. Maybe the first sentence could say "Standard Chinese or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin in the narrower meaning of the latter,..." Duoduoduo (talk) 03:09, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
What are you going on about. It says that "Standard Chinese" is also known as "Mandarin Chinese" because it is. This is in fact much of what we've been discussing above. "Mandarin Chinese" being a group of dialects is a very particular usage. Its important and deserves to have an article of ts own, but most of the time the word is used almost synonymously with "Standard Chinese". think about someone saying "He speaks Mandarin." Take this USA today article. It is overwhelmingly typical. I do not understand your complaint, Duoduoduo Metal.lunchbox (talk) 03:55, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
Relax! We're all here to help make Wikipedia as good as possible -- there's no need to say things like "What are you going on about".
You say 'think about someone saying "He speaks Mandarin."' That's exactly what my wife says about herself, although her dialect differs somewhat from the standard Beijing dialect. So this shows that the two uses of the term are both common.
The article Standard Chinese starts out with
"Standard Chinese or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin....The phonology is based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin Chinese,...."
So the phonology of Mandarin Chinese is based on its own Beijing dialect?! No, the phonology of Mandarin Chinese (in its narrower sense) is based on the phonology of the Beijing dialect of Mandarin Chinese (in its broader sense). My proposed slight rewording, ""Standard Chinese or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin in the narrower meaning of the latter,..." concisely explains that point to a reader who otherwise would be confused by the unexplained use of the term in two different ways. Duoduoduo (talk) 15:42, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
I see what you mean, but I worry that "in the narrower meaning of the latter" is not as helpful a change as you think it is. I understand that you want to help the reader parse the paragraph while navigating the two related meanings of "mandarin", explicitly stating which meaning the article is refering to when the term "mandarin" is used, but I think the wording you've come up with is actually slightly confusing. I'm guessing that by the time the reader gets to "in the narrower meaning of the latter" they won't know what that means. I agree that the two uses are common. I'm beginning to think the only way to resolve the confusion you are talking about is to change "Standard Chinese" to "Standard Mandarin Chinese", that would clearly define it as a particular kind of Mandarin language. The problem with all of this is that we've been down this road before. Renaming discussions in Chinese seem to go on forever without clear resolution, because this topic of categorization and dividing things up is inherently confusing as there are not clear dividing lines, and there's more than one way to think about the problem. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 17:27, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
First sentence can always be change, Mandarin chauvinistic person can always come in and change your first sentence, only way to prevent that is to create language tree structure. Second best is just to go back the old way: Mandarin Chinese and Mandarin dialects, less confusing for both English and Chinese readers, and definitely less political controversial as well24.90.19.27 (talk) 23:13, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
What do you propose should be the topics for those two titles? Kanguole 00:40, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
The previous state was that Mandarin Chinese was a survey article covering both the standard language and (one popular definition of) the dialect area. As usual for WP:SUMMARY it would have more condensed summary text covering both those topics and any relevant others.
Personally I think the standard language needs to be most prominent in the lead of Mandarin Chinese with brief reference to the dialect area as a derived concept, and summary coverage in a section late in the article. If you look at the non-English equivalent articles, de:Hochchinesisch and others preserve the original intent of Mandarin Chinese being primarily about the standard language, and this is what we should revert to for both compatibility and transparency.
Look at any other language - English language has most of the info on and is primarily about standard versions of English, with only a short summary section about nonstandard dialects, while Standard English is a much shorter article mainly about standardization/official status. --JWB (talk) 18:45, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

Since this strand has evolved from a discussion of a collection of articles to a discussion of one of them in particular, let's continue at Standard Chinese. I have what might be a better suggestion. Duoduoduo (talk) 17:59, 16 July 2011 (UTC) (1) Wikipedia should not take a position on how many "languages" (in the sense of partitions of a dialect area) there are by the mutual intelligibility criterion, which as I've explained before is completely unworkable in practice. Standard languages ("language" in the sense used anywhere but descriptive linguistics jargon) are discrete and countable, divisions of a dialect area are not without making assumptions and choices. Wikipedia should document major POVs on these questions, but article titles and classification should not depend on choosing one answer.

(2) The problem here is that the fallacy that "Mandarin Chinese" denotes the dialect area, which we discussed in the previous talk section. "Mandarin" is China's official language. "Mandarin dialect area" or "dialect group" is named after the leading dialect for lack of a better term. When the context is clear, "Mandarin" may be used as an abbreviated reference to the dialect group, but it is not a primary meaning that can be used on its own out of context. --JWB (talk) 20:01, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

Word. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 01:20, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
a sub dialect of Mandarin -- putonghua is China's official dialect, it does not mean all kind of Mandarin has offcial status24.90.19.27 (talk) 05:21, 17 July 2011 (UTC)


We have two topics, the standard language and the northern (and southwestern) dialect group, with one article on each, which is good. The problem is that searches and links from other articles are sending people to the article they weren't looking for. So I suggest moving this article to Mandarin dialects, allowing Mandarin Chinese to become a redirect to Standard Chinese. (pretty much as proposed by Blaup and Metal.lunchbox above) Kanguole 19:32, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

I agree but would do it slightly differently: unmerger of Mandarin dialects (moving dialect area material back there and turning it back into an article instead of a redirect) then Mandarin Chinese can become either a redirect to Standard Chinese, or a short survey article. I.e. move the text back, instead of moving the article.
I suggest we decide this question and execute this change before trying to decide other related questions like renaming of articles. --JWB (talk) 20:35, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
In my opinion the current structure, two articles for two topics, is just right, and the only thing that needs fixing is the names. Kanguole 20:49, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
I think the proposal is very sensible -- one article called Mandarin dialects and another called Standard Chinese with a redirect from Mandarin Chinese. Duoduoduo (talk) 21:00, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

OK, I've executed the switch since we seem to have consensus. --JWB (talk) 22:46, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm afraid you can't do it that way: that's a cut-and-paste move, which is not allowed (see WP:MOVE). We need to get an administrator to do it, which means going through WP:Requested moves, with the discussion, wiki-projects and all. It will be complicated, but it's the only way. Kanguole 23:18, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

JWB, can you explain a little bit why your suggestion is a better idea. I agree with Kangoule above. It seems that the most straightforward and logical action would be to move this article to "Mandarin dialects" and make a redirect from Mandarin Chinese to Standard Chinese. Then we can edit "Mandarin dialects" to the extent necessary to conform more exactly with how we have outlined the topic, ie clearly pointing material concerning Standard Mandarin back to "Standard Chinese." There doesn't seem to be chunks of content not related to the topic, just a need for some careful rewording word consistency, like the last sentence of the Names section:

"As with all other varieties of the Chinese language, there is significant dispute as to whether Mandarin is a language or a dialect. See Varieties of Chinese for more on this issue."

Thats a little confusing in the context we are discussing. There is nothing wrong with calling Mandarin a single language or dialect but in this article we're talking about the topic as a group of dialects, so we should try to use that language more or less consistently throughout. That is the only problem related to the two-topics problem we've been discussing that I can find in the article, and it would be easy to deal with. I hope I didn't just move this discussion off topic. Should we go ahead with a move? or is there a good reason to consider an unmerger? Metal.lunchbox (talk) 03:59, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

I think the move is very problematic. First we have to consider many of the widely known linguistic sources uses the term "Mandarin Chinese" when referring to this language group, not just the standard language (Standard Chinese), i.e. The Linguist List.--TheLeopard (talk) 05:39, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
if Mandarin were a dialect, it still have all kind of sub dialects, which are all quite different, but Mandarin nontheless, just like every other dialects in the world, thus Mandarin dialects is about Mandarin dialect's sub dialects; If Mandarin were not a dialect, and a language instead, all language have dialects, thus, Mandarin dialects is still about the dialects of Mandarin language. So, what is the problem here? (talk) 21:36, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Importantly, the consistency would not be there if "Mandarin Chinese" would move to "Mandarin dialects", while Yue Chinese, Wu Chinese, Min Chinese, Gan Chinese, etc. would still retain their titles.--TheLeopard (talk) 05:39, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
For comparison purposes:
English has only a very short article called Standard English. The main article, English language, is about the language in general without focusing on a specific dialect; it has, among others, a section on worldwide geographical distribution and a section on dialects. There is a List of English dialects, and there are numerous articles each devoted to a specific dialect.
Italian has an article Italian language about the language in general, and Standard Italian merely redirects to Italian language. This article has, among others, a section on geographical distribution and a section on dialects, and there is a separate article Italian dialects, along with various articles on individual dialects. So Italian is treated essentially the same way English is.
Wikipedia's treatment of Chinese differs in that it has a main article called Standard Chinese. That article strikes me as comparable to the articles English language and Italian language in that it talks about other varieties of Chinese in one section; including the word "Standard" in the title, unlike the way it's done for English and Italian, strikes me as reasonable since the standard language seems to play a more important role in the case of Mandarin. So viewing the article Standard Chinese (with a redirect from Mandarin Chinese) as parallel to English language, Italian language, Yue Chinese, and Wu Chinese and renaming Mandarin Chinese to Mandarin dialects, would seem to make the treatment of Chinese consistent with that of English and Italian, and the other languages of China. Duoduoduo (talk) 13:28, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
I think the situation is so different from English and Italian that there's little to learn from the comparison. TheLeopard is correct that moving Mandarin Chinese but not Yue Chinese, Wu Chinese etc would be inconsistent, since they're usually treated as parallel groups. On the other hand the informal use of "Mandarin Chinese" for the standard language is very widespread, and the vast majority of the incoming links to this article are actually referring to the standard language, which is very confusing to users. Kanguole 15:44, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Certainly Italian's not all that different -- there's an article on Italian language, and there's an article on Venetian language, on Sicilian language, etc. The parallel approach would be to have an article on Mandarin language (however titled), and one on Yue Chinese, one on Wu Chinese, etc. If the Chinese articles should have parallel titles, as you suggest and as is done in the Italian articles, then instead of redirecting Mandarin Chinese to Standard Chinese, we could rename the latter article Mandarin Chinese and redirect Standard Chinese to it. Advantage: that would treat the titles of Wu and Mandarin in parallel. Disadvantage: more logistical hassle in the conversion process, and we'd have to convince people who like the article Standard Chinese the way it is. Either way, I think the article currently titled Standard Chinese is sufficiently about both the narrow concept of Mandarin and the broader concept, since it does have a section called "Standard Chinese and other varieties of Chinese". Duoduoduo (talk) 16:12, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Consistency has a value but some things are less important than others. Things are complicated as I am sure you are aware. Most of the reason that Chinese is divided up differently than Italian or English is that the subject is treated differently by the people who study it and the books that talk about it. Just as Chinese should be treated differently than English contrary to the value of consistent naming conventions, Mandarin also presents unique challenges that must be addressed. Inevitably this introduces some inconsistencies in naming but that is okay. Where topics are different the names should be different. Take a look at Hakka for example: Hakka Chinese for the language and Hakka people for the people. That seems like a useful pattern and it is. That's why it is used on many similar articles but then you get to Mandarin and such a distinction would be silly, What Mandarin people?
As for Standard Chinese, that sounds like a can of worms. I agree with the proposal to have standard Chinese redirect to Mandarin Chinese, because it is clear that Mandarin is used more often to refer to the subject. but can't that be dealt with separately? It seems best that we deal with this proposal first and then start a very very long discussion over at Standard Chinese afterward. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 17:12, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Let me take a stab at iterating toward a solution that everyone might find minimally acceptable. (I hope that was cautious enough!) Maybe we could (1) rename this article more accurately as Mandarin dialects, and (2) create a, perhaps relatively short, article called Mandarin Chinese. The Mandarin Chinese article would just cover some basics, and would prominently link to both Mandarin dialects and Standard Chinese.
This way,
  • the present article would be more accurately titled;
  • everyone who clicks from some outside article to Mandarin Chinese would find himself on something that mentions the fact that "Mandarin Chinese" can refer both to the basis of the standard language and to a set of dialects;
  • just as there's an article for Wu Chinese, there would also be an article for Mandarin Chinese; and
  • we'd avoid opening a can of worms by messing with the title of Standard Chinese.
Duoduoduo (talk) 16:25, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
This is essentially the disambiguation page suggestion, an extra click for everyone before they get where they wanted to go. It would not fix the inconsistency issue highlighted by TheLeopard, since the article about the Wu dialect group would be called "Wu Chinese" and the one about the Mandarin group would be called "Mandarin dialects". So how is this better than redirecting "Mandarin Chinese" to "Standard Chinese" with a {{redirect}} hatnote on the latter? Kanguole 16:53, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
It's not a disambiguation page, since it would have enough content to satisfy some people (hence no extra click for them). It's a vast topic, so people who want more targeted information won't be surprised to have to click to get it.
As for why it might be better than redirecting Mandarin Chinese to Standard Chinese, I just answered that above: everyone who clicks from some outside article to Mandarin Chinese would find himself on something that mentions the fact that "Mandarin Chinese" can refer both to the basis of the standard language and to a set of dialects; so nobody gets misdirected.
As for parallelism with Wu Chinese and similar articles: It seems to me that there's an innate non-parallelism in terminology, in that Mandarin Chinese can refer to a dialect group or to the standard language Standard Chinese, while Wu Chinese refers specifically to the dialect group and the group standard is only called Shanghainese (which, like Standard Chinese, has its own article). So parallel to having an article Wu Chinese we would have an article Mandarin dialects -- both are unambiguously titled as dialect articles; and parallel to having an article Shanghainese we would have an article Standard Chinese. In addition, we would have an article on the term with two meanings, Mandarin Chinese; there is no counterpart word with two meanings in regard to Wu Chinese and Shanghainese. Duoduoduo (talk) 17:41, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
That is not a topic; it's two topics that happen to have the same name in English (though not in Chinese). Wikipedia has a standard way of dealing with that situation (WP:TWODABS). Kanguole 09:35, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Mandarin Template

If Mandarin dialects page has a template like this, it would make explaination much easier.

Information could be obtain from sources like this: (talk) 18:59, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

In general, Chinese Wikipedia now has more informative articles on Chinese dialects, and English Wikipedia should put more effort into translating them. How do we set this in motion? --JWB (talk) 23:25, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I might be misunderstanding your request but Wikiproject:China has a translation department, which I believe works on exactly the matter you bring up. You can join the team or make a specific request for translations on their page linked above. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 23:52, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia Chinese (vernacular Chinese/中文) has more information on Wu Chinese may be, see this: , but this is not the case with Mandarin Chinese, especially when page "Mandarin dialects" come back, the plural term "dialects" alone provide tons of information for those who thought the term "Mandarin Chinese" mean Standard Mandarin (yes, one term make all the difference), Chinese language lacks such a term. if the term "mandarin dialects" forcefully translate into Chinese, it will be something like "官话诸方言" or "官话子方言", it would really looks wierd in Chinese. This aside, English Mandarin Chinese page is simply more informative for English reading person (compare with mandarin's "官话" page, please visit ok,the mandarin subdialect pages like 西南官话/southwestern mandarin dialects has more information and English Wikipedia lacks 重庆话 (chong qing dialect) page. but those are not the main page. (talk) 04:37, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
English wikipedia also don't have this Szhechuanese template: (talk) 04:37, 24 July 2011 (UTC)

Move mechanics

"I'm afraid you can't do it that way: that's a cut-and-paste move, which is not allowed" - no, the dialect area content was at Mandarin dialects until a recent merger, and it should go back to Mandarin dialects which has the proper wiki and interwiki links, not have Mandarin Chinese which was originally on the standard language moved to the dialects article, screwing up wiki and interwiki links. If you want to complain about cut-and-paste moves, complain about the move of the dialect content to Mandarin Chinese in the merger. This is just undoing that error.

The other considerations are secondary and shouldn't hold up the above action. We agree Mandarin Chinese should devote most attention to the standard language; whether the dialect area gets a short summary section or merely a "For the dialect area see Mandarin dialects" makes little difference. The consistency arguments are also weak as Chinese is a special case in the world, Mandarin is a special case in Chinese, and consistency in conventions is valuable mainly when it can give you the right idea without having to think more, which is not possible with the Mandarin/Chinese case which does not follow the regular patterns. We could well later rename Wu Chinese to Wu dialects or something, which I think would be a slight improvement, but that should be discussed at that page or at a project, not hold up remedial action on Mandarin. --JWB (talk) 08:02, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

You're mistaken about the history. The topic of this article has been the group of northern and southwestern dialects since the article on the standard language was split off as a separate article in 2004.[1] The article formerly at Mandarin dialects dealt with differences between Mandarin dialects, rather than common features of the dialect group. It was created before the article on the standard language; after the split it was treated as a sub-article of this article on the dialect group. Your edit was rather more than a reversal of the merge of that article into this one, as is clear from the sizes in the history.[2]
Moreover the move is contentious (TheLeopard for one has objected), so it needs to go through the move procedure. Kanguole 09:05, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
Is it acceptable to proceed with a move request then? Metal.lunchbox (talk) 21:39, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

How about unmerging Mandarin dialects, then merging Mandarin Chinese and Standard Chinese? --JWB (talk) 23:20, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I'll need someone more familiar with how those article were before the merge to back me up but from what I can see the current division of topics and content is appropriate, only the names and some of the wording should change. I would also like to note that unmerging has become complicated by the fact that this article has continued to develop since the merge and those changes should probably be preserved. The number of edits since the merger is not trivial. Looking at both pages before the merge, I'd say the merge was justified and should not be undone, especially since that would violate consensus. I'm willing to be convinced that your unmerging plan is the best, but I'm not there yet. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 00:10, 24 July 2011 (UTC)

I have made a formal move request below. Please participate in that discussion by indicating whether or not your Support or Oppose the proposal along with a brief rationale. Because of the way these move requests work, you'll need to participate in the poll below even if you have already discussed your opinion on this matter at length above. Have fun. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 19:07, 26 July 2011 (UTC)

Requested move 1

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: page not moved per discussion below. If anyone has got any questions about this request, please do let me know. - GTBacchus(talk) 17:00, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

Mandarin ChineseMandarin dialects

Following a recent merger of Mandarin Chinese and Mandarin dialects there was a discussion about further improving the organization of the topic by renaming the page. The proposal presented here is what emerged after a lengthy discussion:

  • Mandarin Chinese should be moved to Mandarin dialects
  • Mandarin Chinese would then redirect to Standard Chinese

The problem is that we have to accommodate two common and important ways of thinking about "Mandarin Chinese" and related terms. The first, which is by far more common, uses the term "Mandarin Chinese" or some variation to refer to the topic covered by the article titled "Standard Chinese." This is clear from common utterances like, "He studies Mandarin." and "Mandarin Chinese is the official language." The other very closely related topic covered by the term "Mandarin Chinese" is the group of related Chinese dialects spoken mostly in Northern and Southwest China. Standard Chinese is a member of this group. This topic is important but mostly constrained to linguistics contexts. This second linguisticy topic is covered by the article now at "Mandarin Chinese". The problem the above presents is two-fold. It is extremely likely that readers will enter the term "Mandarin Chinese" looking for the topic Standard Chinese and end up at an article about the dialect group. In addition, the name of the article does not define the topic with enough precision to be clear to the reader. The lead does a lot to rectify this but readers are still a little unsure of what they are looking at. "Mandarin dialects" makes the distinction much more explicit without making the title overly precise. It is common English, it clearly indicates the topic of the article, and it helps the reader differentiate between two closely related topics.

Some of our conversation was a continuation of discussion at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (Chinese). There was concern that the above proposal would not be consistent with other naming patterns, but I for one was not moved by this because the current naming patterns at Chinese-related articles is not actually all the consistent to begin with and because the way the topics are treated in English language sources would not support such a consistent pattern. The issues with "Mandarin Chinese" as discussed above are unique to Mandarin. Furthermore, other issues which influence the naming of related articles do not affect Mandarin. For instance "Hakka" may refer to the people or the language. For Mandarin this is certainly not the case. Furthermore the proposed names, while not perfectly consistent with others is not incompatible with other article titles. There is nothing exact about these distinctions but I believe that the proposal outlined above is the best way of dealing with such a complex topic.

Before you chime in on this proposal please be sure that you are familiar with the discussions above and Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (Chinese)/languages and dialects, as well as the content of the articles Standard Chinese and Mandarin Chinese.Metal.lunchbox (talk) 18:59, 26 July 2011 (UTC)

  • Support The term "Mandarin Chinese" is ambiguous: it is in general use to refer to Modern Standard Chinese (pǔtōnghuà/guóyǔ), and also used by linguists to refer to a major branch of the Chinese language family (guānhuà). While the unambiguous term Standard Chinese is an appropriate name for the first (so it should not be renamed), most users searching for "Mandarin Chinese" will be looking for that article (so the phrase should redirect to there). The vast majority of the incoming links to this page are intended for the standard language. The phrase "Mandarin dialects" is another established name for the dialect group, but avoids the ambiguity.
This will mean that the Mandarin dialect group is named differently from its sibling dialect groups, but I believe that this disadvantage is outweighed by the common use of "Mandarin Chinese". I would support a similar renaming of the other dialect groups, though. Kanguole 21:45, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support, for the reasons given by Kanguole. Duoduoduo (talk) 23:34, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:COMMONNAME. Also, we do not call other standard languages "X language". English language is not just RP or GA, German language is not standard German, Japanese language is not Hyōjungo, etc. The language article covers the language, including dialects and pre-standardization history, and the standard article covers the standard. This reflects actual usage in English, both for those other languages and for Mandarin/Chinese. If I say someone speaks Mandarin, there is no implication they speak the standard. Of course, most illustrations of the language will use the standard because, well, it's the standard, what grammars and literature are based on, and similarly, a Mandarin course will teach standard just as any other language course. A reader may want Standard when they type it "Mandarin", but then they may also want Standard when they type in "English", "German", or "Japanese". — kwami (talk) 07:15, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
I've not seen the local varieties spoken from Yunnan to Heilongjiang collectively referred to as a Mandarin language (beyond the narrow purpose of comparing numbers of speakers). Where is this common? Kanguole 09:53, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
And how is this the COMMONNAME? The usual terms used for this topic are Mandarin, Mandarin dialects, Mandarin dialect group, Northern dialects and Northern dialect group. Just about every book with "Mandarin Chinese" in the title is about the standard language, as are the vast majority of wikilinks to this term. Kanguole 22:41, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support, I support anything that change the status quo, the situation now is, if a person who is not sure whether the term "mandarin" mean standard Chinese, or a language/dialect with lots of sub dialects, to find out the answer, he type in "mandarin dialects", and was redirected to "Mandarin Chinese" page instead, he might stop his quest right there, unless he read the whole page, he will end up thinking the term Mandarin only mean Standard Chinese, which is what most people are taught to think nowadays. This will only reinforce their misunderstanding of Mandarin language. (talk) 02:24, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose, however, probably the only way the move would work is as per Kanguole suggested above, also rename other group articles. The name Mandarin Chinese is consistent with other articles such as Wu Chinese, Yue Chinese, etc. I also concur with the above IP user that renaming and moving the page to Mandarin dialects (and redirecting Mandarin Chinese to Standard Chinese) will in some ways, make people think that the term Mandarin largely refers to Standard Chinese.--TheLeopard (talk) 06:58, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
On the second point, Mandarin is already a disambiguation page, and under this proposal Standard Chinese would carry a hatnote like
and it already mentions the ambiguity in the lead. Wouldn't that deal with that misconception? Kanguole 13:30, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

Alternative proposal

Two observations: (1) Kwami points out that a Wikipedia language article typically covers the history. In the present case, the history is covered extensively in the Standard Chinese article. This makes it especially hard to conform the Chinese articles to the Wikipedia convention. (2) Earlier, I proposed what I intended as a compromise that would satisfy everyone's principles (including I think Kwami's), but it went nowhere. The proposal was:
Maybe we could (1) rename this article more accurately as Mandarin dialects, and (2) create a, perhaps relatively short, article called Mandarin Chinese. The Mandarin Chinese article would just cover some basics, and would prominently link to both Mandarin dialects and Standard Chinese. This way,
  • the present article would be more accurately titled;
  • everyone who clicks from some outside article to Mandarin Chinese would find himself on something that mentions the fact that "Mandarin Chinese" can refer both to the basis of the standard language and to a set of dialects;
  • just as there's an article for Wu Chinese, there would also be an article for Mandarin Chinese; and
  • we'd avoid opening a can of worms by messing with the title of Standard Chinese.
I still think this is better than the current proposal, but I said I support the current proposal only because mine was basically ignored. Kwami, would you find mine acceptable (maybe subject to the change that the Mandarin Chinese article need not be short)? Duoduoduo (talk) 14:03, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
This is a very good suggestion, the best one, and it definitly once and for all solve almost all the potential confusions, for both Chinese speaking English Wikipedia users and non-Chinese speaking English Wikipedia users. (talk) 17:23, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
Doudoudou, your suggestion sounds good, but I guess I would have to see it in front of me to be convinced. I think disambiguation pages are not as exciting as they sound, but as you suggest, it does have some advantages. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 17:58, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
Not a disambiguation page. Having looked through the article again, I see that some highest-level sections are primarily about dialects, and some are not. I suggest that the present article can be nicely broken up into two articles as follows:
  • Mandarin Chinese would contain the second paragraph of the present lede, preceded by a short paragraph that would be easy to write ("Mandarin Chinese refers to the standard language of China, or more broadly to a range of ...."), and would also contain the present History section.
  • Mandarin Chinese dialects would contain the rest of the content: the first paragraph of the present lede, and all of the content of Geographic distribution, Phonology, Grammar, and Vocabulary (all of which are focused on cross-dialect comparison).
If we wanted to, we could also write very brief sections for the Mandarin article, titled Geographic distribution, Phonology, Grammar, and Vocabulary, just giving the basics and giving main-article links to the appropriate sections of both Standard Chinese and Mandarin dialects. Duoduoduo (talk) 21:32, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
In Wikipedia we have articles about topics, not phrases (see WP:DICTIONARY). Having a single precise topic provides the framework for a coherent and focussed article. The proposed third article would not be about a third topic; it would be about two loosely related topics that happen to have the same name in English (but not in Chinese – the fact that has no such article should be a clue). Kanguole 06:55, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

English language is a topic with its own article, despite there being an article on the sub-topic Standard English and various sub-topic articles on English dialects. Likewise, Mandarin Chinese is a topic and thus a legitimate article, despite there being an article on the sub-topic Standard Chinese and (under each proposal) a sub-topic article on dialects. The reality is that Standard Chinese and Mandarin dialects are versions of the same language -- that language, Mandarin Chinese, is the topic. Duoduoduo (talk) 14:26, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

As I asked kwami above, which sources treat the Mandarin dialects collectively as a Mandarin language? Kanguole 21:59, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
All of this article is focussed on the Mandarin dialect group. You are proposing to split it purely to address a concern about naming, a split that is not reflected in how our sources treat these topics. Kanguole 23:24, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
You said to Kwami "I've not seen the local varieties spoken from Yunnan to Heilongjiang collectively referred to as a Mandarin language (beyond the narrow purpose of comparing numbers of speakers)." How is that a narrow purpose? Instead, it identifies what is referred to as Mandarin, and it refutes your claim that it's not treated as a single language. Every statement of the number of Mandarin speakers that I have ever seen anywhere treats the whole thing as the Mandarin language (including List of languages by number of native speakers and its source). The webpage [3] says "Mandarin can be divided into seven main dialect areas: Central Plateau (Zhongyuan), Beijing, Southwestern, Northeastern, Jiaoliao, Jilu, and Lanyin", and also "Mandarin: 7 dialects, 42 subdialects". Pretty typical of what I've seen. Anyway, "Mandarin dialects" means "dialects of the Mandarin language", just as "English dialects" means "dialects of the English language". A dialect is one version of a broader language. Duoduoduo (talk) 00:17, 30 July 2011 (UTC)
One can't write an article just about the number of speakers. The analogical reasoning about English doesn't help; the same reasoning proves that Chinese is a language. But this is a side-issue in the context of the 3-article proposal (which is why I reconsidered raising it again): whether you call it a language or dialect group, it's still just one topic, in addition to the topic of the standard language. You are proposing to split this topic just because of the name issue, something our sources do not do. Kanguole 07:08, 30 July 2011 (UTC)
I gotta say i agree with Kanguole here. I was intruiged by you proposal but I don't think it follows the actual division of the topics we see in the sources. I'm not sure though, do we find sources that refer to a single mandarin language, that aren't simply talking about standard mandarin? If they do are they talking about something that is in anyway actually different from either Standard Chinese or the topic of this article? I might not be as familiar with the sources as you. obviously if such a distinct topic exists in quality sources then it should get an article, Metal.lunchbox (talk) 08:01, 30 July 2011 (UTC)
@Metal.lunchbox: you ask "do we find sources that refer to a single mandarin language, that aren't simply talking about standard mandarin?" But I just answered that when I wrote "The webpage [4] says "Mandarin can be divided into seven main dialect areas: Central Plateau (Zhongyuan), Beijing, Southwestern, Northeastern, Jiaoliao, Jilu, and Lanyin", and also "Mandarin: 7 dialects, 42 subdialects". Pretty typical of what I've seen."
@Kanguole: You say "One can't write an article just about the number of speakers." No one in this discussion has suggested otherwise, so that is a straw man comment. More substantively, you say "whether you call it a language or dialect group, it's still just one topic, in addition to the topic of the standard language." I'm still not convinced of that -- if it's just one topic, then that topic is Mandarin Chinese, the title that currently exists. It seems to me that Mandarin dialects is such a big sub-topic that it warrants its own article, but obviously I've not convinced you and won't.
So I think that the best thing to do is just keep the status quo. Better to call it Mandarin Chinese than to call it by its sub-topic name Mandarin dialects. And better have people who click on Mandarin Chinese come to an article on the whole language rather than to an article on the sub-topic of the standard language. Duoduoduo (talk) 14:52, 30 July 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, I think I understand what you are saying. I had actually already looked at that source you linked and I thought it fit pretty neatly into the topic that we already have at the title "Mandarin Chinese". I don't see how that author's treatment of the topic conflicts with calling the article "Mandarin dialects" or why it demands a seperate article. Metal.lunchbox (talk) 16:33, 30 July 2011 (UTC)

Closing this move request

Hi. This request has entered the backlog over at Requested moves, and I'd like to close it out, but it's not 100% clear from the above discussion whether there's a consensus for any particular course of action. I wonder if people would mind summarizing whatever degree of agreement among the editors here? Thanks in advance. -GTBacchus(talk) 07:12, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

Oppose, for the reasons I gave above. Duoduoduo (talk) 15:25, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

Let me put it this way: Would I be right to say there's no consensus, either for the original proposal nor for the alternative one? That's what I think I'm reading here. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:42, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

I'd say that's a correct characterization. Duoduoduo (talk) 15:52, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Removed outdated references

There has been much change in how this subject is understood even in the last twenty years, so I removed references which were more than a century old. These items might be valuable for an article on the history of the study of Mandarin, but not for this article. ch (talk) 06:14, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

Those dictionaries were just lists of vocabulary, not elaborate grammar explanations or anything controversial. I checked them myself, they are right as far as I can see, its just that the romanization is the old Wade Giles system, not Pinyin, otherwise, those dictionaries are perfectly functional.DÜNGÁNÈ (talk) 00:54, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
And those were not references, no content in the article was derived from them, they were further reading, many articles have that section.DÜNGÁNÈ (talk) 01:33, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

I'm sorry to disagree. The purpose of "Further Reading" is not to list as many books as possible, but to select the most important items. I do not see a reason for selecting these particular dictionaries when many recent dictionaries are not included, some of which are very powerful tools available on line. As you say, "these dictionaries were just lists..." In any case, this article isn't the place for listing dictionaries. Hope this makes sense! ch (talk) 06:02, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

I added a "See Also" section, with the first link to Chinese dictionary. Would this article be a better place to put the items which were cut? ch (talk) 06:10, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

If they were just lists of vocab, the chinese dictionary]] would be a good place for them.P0PP4B34R732 (talk) 00:01, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Spoken in "northern and southwestern China"?

Before my bold edit, the article stated that Mandarin was spoken in "northern and southwestern China". This is in glaring contradiction with the map attached to the article, which shows that Mandarin is spoken basically in northern and southEASTern China, admittedly excluding the "southeasternmost" part, but definitely excluding southwestern China. Rulatir (talk) 21:11, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

The usual usage of "southwestern China", for example in the sources used in the article, is to refer to the area of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, which is exactly what is meant here. No-one calls those places "Southeastern China", a term that is uniformly used for the non-Mandarin area. Kanguole 21:27, 17 October 2012 (UTC)


Name in English is from Portuguese mandarim, from Malay [ˈməntəri] menteri, from Sanskrit mantrin, meaning "minister or counsellor", originally meant an official of the Chinese empire. Use hovercraft to discover "official" links to mandarin (bureaucrat.) --Pawyilee (talk) 12:57, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

(This relates to whether this article should have a hatnote pointing to mandarin (bureaucrat).) This quote from the Names section says that the officials are called "mandarins", but they are not called "Mandarin Chinese". The purpose of a hatnote is to direct readers who've arrived at the wrong article by mistake to the article they were after. Someone looking for the officials may well search for "mandarin", but not for "Mandarin Chinese", so there is no need for a hatnote from here pointing to the bureaucrats, or the citrus fruit, etc. Kanguole 14:48, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

Guanhua in the info box and lead?

Using guanhua in the info box seems neither scholarly nor popular usage. The references for the article either do not use it or explicitly object. Is there any source for "guanhua" in post 1911 usage? If not, we should remove it from the box.

The only explicit discussion is Jerry Norman, Chinese. He says:

guanhua. This term, now virtually obsolete, refers primarily to the common superdialectical lingua franca employed in imperial China.... The English term "Mandarin" as a designation of the standard language, as a term for the large dialect group to which the standard language belongs, is obviously merely a translation of guanhua. p. 136
He recognizes that there is a problem with using "Mandarin" instead:
In view of the fact that the Chinese now avoid this term in referring to the standard language, it is clearly inappropriate to retain the word "Mandarin" in English in this sense: one should rather use "Chinese" as the ordinary correct designation of the modern standard language; in contexts where this might be ambiguous, "Standard Chinese" should employed. However, for lack of a better term, "Mandarin" may be retained as the name of the large dialect group. p. 136. [5][6]
  • Maria Kurpaska uses Guanhua as the translation into Chinese for "Mandarin supergroup," but does not appear to use it in English or for what Norman calls "Chinese," [7]
  • Robert Ramsey uses guanhua only in discussions of the 1920s and 30s. [8]
  • John de Francis, Chinese Language Fact and Fantasy, only mentions Guanhua once, in passing [9]

ch (talk) 05:41, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

Well, this article is about the group of dialects (though perhaps that would be clearer if it were called "Mandarin dialects" or "Mandarin dialect group"). The article on the modern standard language is called Standard Chinese, as Norman recommends. The use of Guānhuà in the infobox asserts that it is the usual Chinese name for the dialect group, and that appears to be true. Although Norman (p181) mentions that Yuan Jiahua (1961) used Běifānghuà, that appears to be less common – see e.g. Kurpaska or the Language Atlas of China. Kanguole 08:09, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

With tremendous respect for the work and knowledge you contribute to this and other pages, I don't see any references to Reliable Sources for saying Guanhua is "the usual name for the dialect group [Mandarin]." In fact, Norman says explicitly Guanhua is "virtually obsolete."
Here are a few more references where a search found no reference to guanhua:
  • Charles N. Li and Sandra A. Thompson. Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981). ISBN 0520042867. The word "Mandarin"... is an established linguistic term in the West... 1955 "national language" known as Putonghua Taiwan "guoyu": "Our term Mandarin is meant to include both putonghua and guoyu" p. 1 [10]
  • No mention of guanhua in Claudia Ross and Jing-Heng Sheng Ma. Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide. (London; New York: Routledge, Routledge Modern Grammars, 2006). ISBN 0415700094 [11]
  • Paul Kratchovil in Cambridge Encyclopedia of China (1991) p. 329 says Guoyu was backed by what he calls "right wing" groups, and the disruption of the Sino-Japanese War meant that it didn't catch on; putonghua then became the term except in Taiwan. Nothing on guanhua.
  • Perhaps most authoritative is Endymion Wilkinson's Chinese History: A Manual (2012), There is an extensive section on Guanhua in the pre-1911 period, followed by a discussion of how it was left behind first by guoyu, the putonghua. Then he says (p, 26) the "standard term" for the today's language is Xiandai Hanyu. BTW, he does not list the Linguistic Atlas of China, which WOrldCat lists as being in only six libraries, and only one of these in North America.
I grant in advance that English/Chinese dictionaries will translate Guanhua as Mandarin, but this doesn't mean that they endorse it as the most common term.
The conclusion is that guoyu is Taiwan usage, putonghua PRC, and Huayu Singapore, and that several other terms are common, including Hanyu. I suggest that the lead and the info box simply state that this is the case, with footnote to one or more of the above Reliable Sources.
All the best ch (talk) 17:51, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
The English term "Mandarin" is ambiguous. In a linguistic context, it can mean one of three different things:
  1. The lingua franca of the late empire – Chinese: Guānhuà
  2. The modern standard language – Chinese: Pǔtōnghuà or Guóyǔ
  3. The group of dialects stretching from Manchuria to Yunnan – Chinese: Guānhuà or Běifānghuà
Norman is talking about the first meaning, while the other references cited above are all about the second meaning, which is the topic of the Standard Chinese article. The topic of this article (Mandarin Chinese) is the third meaning. Pǔtōnghuà and Guóyǔ are indeed very common, but they are names for something else, namely Standard Chinese (so they appear in the infobox of that article). No-one uses Pǔtōnghuà or Guóyǔ for the dialect group that is the subject of this article. That is called Guānhuà, or less commonly Běifānghuà. I've already pointed to Kurpaska and the Language Atlas of China. I could add Bauer & Benedict (1997), p. xxxvi. You will also find this usage on p29 of Wilkinson. (He discusses the Language Atlas of China in the bibliography on p30; the more recent Linguistic Atlas of Chinese Dialects is more concerned with mapping features than dialects.) Kanguole 23:37, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
Coming back to this Talk Page, I am embarrassed that I did not thank Kanguole for his patient and detailed explanation, which I hereby do. ch (talk) 20:54, 2 October 2013 (UTC)