Q: What languages are there in China?
A: There’s a massive amount of them — and the problem is linguistically, the Chinese define some mutually unintelligible dialects as the same language, Mandarin.
For over 1 billion people in China, the online resource Ethnologue lists
- The number of individual languages listed for China is 299. Of these, 298 are living and 1 is extinct. Of the living languages, 14 are institutional, 23 are developing, 111 are vigorous, 122 are in trouble, and 28 are dying.
[See more detailed information and breakdowns here]
That’s nearly 300 listed languages in one country. The Zhongyu (languages of China) cover several major language families, Sino-Tibetan, Tai-Kaidai, Hmong-Mien, Austroasiatic, Altaic, Indo-European, and Austronesian.
You’ll notice for example, Mandarin is broken into three major regions, and in many cases the divisions even within the lingua franca are by town, village, city, and so on. Standardized (Northern) Beijing dialect is considered the country’s official national spoken language. The language laws of China do not apply within autonomous regions - Hong Kong uses Cantonese, Macau Cantonese, Tibet uses Tibetan, Mongolia uses Mongolian, etc.
The wiki-page is here, and there are additional immigrant or Colonial languages (English or Japanese).