How mutually intelligible are Chinese languages?

There is zero intelligibility between the two languages. In fact, even within the huge collection of speech forms that fall under the umbrella of “Mandarin,” there are many varieties that are more or less mutually unintelligible.

Can different Chinese languages understand each other?

China has many unique characteristics, linguistics without a doubt being one of them. … However, several language groups are spoken in China, and they are so different that speakers of the different language groups cannot understand each other.

What languages are mutually intelligible with Mandarin?

No. Mandarin is part of the Sino-Tibetan language family, whereas Japanese, Mongolian, and Korean are not. Even within the Sino-Tibetan family, most langauges are mutually unintelligble. Even worse, within the Chinese family, most regiolects and topolects are mutually unintelligble.

How closely related are Chinese languages?

To summarize, Chinese languages are very loosely related like Romance, for example Mandarin and Cantonese are like Italian and French, and even within Mandarin/Italian there are large differences between varieties (like Hebei vs Sichuan and Tuscan (standard) vs Sicilian).

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Why are Chinese dialects mutually intelligible?

They are somewhat mutually intelligible when written, using the same writing system, although there are some local characters that are less known in other areas. As for spoken language, they may be largely unintelligible (depending a bit on previous exposure to the other dialects).

Can Mandarin speakers understand Hakka?

Our language, Hakka, is (generally) not mutually intelligible with Mandarin. This is because the languages of China have developed ‘unevenly’ from ancient times.

Are Mandarin and Cantonese mutually intelligible?

They are both tonal languages, though the tones are different and they are not mutually intelligible. As such, they cannot really be referred to as dialects because a Cantonese speaker cannot understand a Mandarin speaker and vice versa. In fact, this is the case with many of China’s “dialects”.

Are Korean and Japanese mutually intelligible?

They are remarkably similar in some ways, but in another way, their also very different and they are certainly not mutually intelligible. That’s why there are fewer chances that they can understand each other’s languages.

Is Vietnamese mutually intelligible with Chinese?

Vietnamese is a member of the Austroasiatic language family, completely unrelated to Sino-Tibetan. It is not remotely mutually intelligible with either Cantonese or Mandarin, except perhaps for a few borrowed words and that they used to share a writing system up until a about a hundred years ago.

Is Japanese mutually intelligible with any language?

There are many languages under the family of Chinese languages. Teochew may have close intelligibility with Hokkien for example, and Toisan with Cantonese, but Mandarin not so much with all of the above. Japanese and Korean share almost identical components but are not mutually intelligible at all.

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Are dialects always mutually intelligible?

Dialect. Traditionally, dialects differ from languages in that dialects are regional variations of one main language. Usually, they’re at least partially mutually intelligible with the main language they stem from.

What is the most common Chinese dialect?

However, the two languages are distinct when spoken. Mandarin speakers typically cannot understand Cantonese speakers, and vice versa.

Are Wu and Mandarin mutually intelligible?

Shanghainese, like other Wu dialects, is largely not mutually intelligible with other Chinese varieties such as Mandarin. The term “Shanghainese” in English sometimes refers to all Wu Chinese dialects, though it is only partially intelligible with some other subbranches of the Wu language group.

Are Chinese and Tibetan mutually intelligible?

Chinese, also known as Sinitic, is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family consisting of hundreds of local varieties, many of which are not mutually intelligible. … Chinese varieties differ most in their phonology, and to a lesser extent in vocabulary and syntax.

What is the hardest language to learn?


As mentioned before, Mandarin is unanimously considered the toughest language to master in the world! Spoken by over a billion people in the world, the language can be extremely difficult for people whose native languages use the Latin writing system.