Say It Right Series

Say Chinese in Chinese.

Posted by dan78cj5 September 16, 2007 in the Group General Discussion.

Has anyone else noted the difference in the way people say “Chinese” in Chinese.  

I am referring to the language here, though similar question could be asked about the differences in saying "Chinese" meaning ethnicity or nationality or citizenship.  But here I mean language, and mean much more than the simple difference between official terms like 普通话Putonghua in the mainland and国语 guoyu in Taiwan. 

 When traveling through Asia I felt every place had its own way to say "Chinese," and by the way 中文 zhongwen was almost never used in basic conversation, except by educators. 汉语 – common in most of the mainlan普通话 – used less common, for clarity with foreigners, or to distinguish from fangyan 方言

汉族话 – ran into this mostly in Xinjiang, but other places as well

华人话 – in a Tailand ‘Chinatown’ community

华语 – in Singapore

国语 – in South China (mainland) a good bit, and all over Taiwan or SF (旧金山)

中国话 - occasionally heard, can't remember where, but still more likely than zhongwen.

中文 – by academics/educators everywhere. And its safe to say that in the mainland, especially if it is a 汉族 speaker any of these are likely to be preceded by the phrase 我们的 “women-de”– 比如:你会讲我们的汉语吗! 

Just an observation, I wonder what your experience has been.


In America we still say we speak English, though in China more and more I am hearing 美语.  What do you think? 

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