The Chinese language belongs to Sino-Tibetan language system and generally consists of phonetic unit and character unit, of which the phonetic unit serves as a syllable that’s composed of an initial, a final and a tone. The Chinese character unit has ideographic function as well as phonetic function sometimes.
The Chinese language contains both oral Chinese and written Chinese. The ancient written Chinese language is known as classical Chinese, while the modern Chinese written language is also called standard mandarin. The modern Chinese includes many dialects, which are different from one region to another, but the mandarin is relatively stable as time goes by.
The Chinese language is mainly spoken in China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), Singapore, Mongolia, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Burma, Laos, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, West America and Hawaii, whose speaker has reached over 1.6 billion by the end of 2012 according to statistics from the UNESCO, ranking the 2nd place in the world (second to English). The Chinese language is among the six official languages of the United Nations along with English, French, Arabic, Russian and Spanish.
A branch of the Chinese language, the mandarin is based on the principal dialect spoken in and around Beijing, so it’s defined as taking the northern dialect as standard with Beijing pronunciation as the standard pronunciation, which is a little different from Beijing dialect. Mandarin is known as the National Language in Hong Kong Macau and Taiwan and Hua Language in Malaysia and Singapore.
The ancient Chinese language has an important influence on Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese, and it’s not very hard for you to find some Sino-Vietnamese words (Từ Hán Việt) in Vietnamese nowadays.