Free Mandarin: Linguistic Exposé Essay Example
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Mandarin is author's native dialect of Chinese language. The dominant dialect in northern and southwestern China, including capital Beijing, Mandarin is an influential language and is considered nationally and internationally as an official dialect understood by millions of Chinese across different geographical boundaries. Often, Mandarin and standard Chinese are used interchangeably and are used to refer to a common "language" spoken in mainland China and internationally. Cantonese remains, however, a major, influential, linguistic rival to Mandarin, spoken mainly in former colonies of Hong Kong and Macau. Mandarin has distinguishable linguistic features which makes her an interesting, influential dialect amounting to a national and international language. This exposé aims, hence, to present on major linguistic features of Mandarin as is practiced currently by speakers in China and abroad.
As mentioned, Mandarin has been – due to lack of linguistic barriers in northern and southwest China – an adopted common dialect in many areas beyond central Beijing and northern China. According to The Language Atlas of China, Mandarin is made up of eight dialect groups based on tone distribution: Northeastern, Beijing, Ji–Lu, Jiao–Liao, Zhongyuan, Lan–Yin, Jiang–Huai and Southwestern. Tonal distribution is an effective linguistic marker since, geographically, Mandarin sub-dialects are distinguished by tone but only Mandarin-speaking areas share very similar tonal distribution.
Phonologically, Mandarin dialects share common features including, but are not limited to: palatalization of velars and alveolar sibilants; presence of retroflex consonants; presence of retroflex consonants; and disappearance of final plosives. Mandarin initials are marked from standard Chinese, moreover, by a limited set of plosive (/p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, k/ and /g/), nasal (/m/, /n/ and /ŋ/), affricate (/ts/ and /z/), fricative (/f/ and / s/) and sonorant (/w/ and /l/) sounds. Mandarin dialects are, generally, marked by medial glides: /j/, /w/ and /ɥ/.
Lexically, Mandarin is marked by polysyllabic words than different Chinese dialects. New words are, further, formed by adding affixes or by compounding such as lao- (老). Interestingly, single and plural Mandarin pronouns are distinguished by including or dropping listener who, as well, is registered based on gender, i.e. man or woman, in compound noun by further additions. Predictably, most variations in Mandarin occur in vernacular, non-official forms as opposed to official forms.
Grammatically, Mandarin follows standard Chinese grammatical rule of an analytical language. That is, Mandarin – like all Chinese dialects – is an analytical dialect in which word order far exceeds in significance inflection or affixes for grammatical inputs such as person, number and case, for example. Sentences are commonly ordered according to a subject-verb-object order.
Predictably, given Mandarin's dominance and status, author has hardly experienced particular difficulty communicating with both native and non-native speakers, particularly internationally. Notably, Mandarin is most distinctively distinguished from local dialects in southeast China and is hence most noted as author speaks, conversationally, in a northern Mandarin dialect.
Given a choice of dialect change, author would not opt for dialect change. Because, obviously, Mandarin is a widely spoken and understood dialect both in mainland China, regionally and internationally.
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