7 Different Chinese Dialects and Where They Come from ...


If you've ever wondered why so many Chinese speak differently, it's because there's over 250 different Chinese dialects in existence.

I can personally speak 4 different Chinese dialects (which doesn't seem like much compared to the total out there) including the one I use to speak with my dad, and a separate one to speak with my mom.

We speak in 2 different dialects when the whole family's together, plus a little bit of English.2

1. Hakka


Of all the different Chinese dialects out there, this is the most popular one back in my hometown.

Even people who aren't of Hakka descent would understand and be able to speak in this dialect because it's so commonly used.

This dialect came from Guangdong where my paternal grandparents grew up.

That's why I'm Hakka Chinese and I speak Hakka with my dad.

2. Mandarin


This is a dialect that most, if not all Chinese speakers can communicate with.

It originated in Beijing and is the official language of many places in Asia including Singapore, Taiwan and of course, China.

You may find that it sounds different when spoken by people of different nationalities.

That's because they speak in different accents that's influenced by the places they live in.

3. Cantonese


This dialect is internationally popular due to its extensive usage in Hong Kong which is Asia's leading financial centre.

You can even take your oral exam for A level (a UK qualification) Chinese in Cantonese instead of Mandarin.

Like Hakka, this dialect came from Guangdong which used to be known as Canton;

hence, Cantonese.

4. Hokkien


This is also a rather popular dialect because it is widely used throughout Taiwan.2

Some may know it as Taiwanese, but it's actually Hokkien.

It originated from the Fujian province of China.

5. Taishanese


Unlike the others previously mentioned, this isn't a really popular dialect but it's the one that I use to speak with my mom.2

It used to be popular, but due to its huge similarity with Cantonese, younger generations including my cousins, speak Cantonese instead because it's more mainstream.

That's also why I tend to get confused and speak Cantonese out of tune.

It originated from Siyi which means four counties in English.

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