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Although the relationship was first proposed in the early 19th century and is now broadly accepted, reconstruction of Sino-Tibetan is much less developed than that of families such as Indo-European or Austroasiatic.Difficulties have included the great diversity of the languages, the lack of inflection in many of them, and the effects of language contact.Linguists have identified these sounds by comparing the categories with pronunciations in modern varieties of Chinese, borrowed Chinese words in Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean, and transcription evidence.The resulting system is very complex, with a large number of consonants and vowels, but they are probably not all distinguished in any single dialect.As the language evolved over this period, the various local varieties became mutually unintelligible.In reaction, central governments have repeatedly sought to promulgate a unified standard.Shanghainese and other Wu varieties are prominent in the lower Yangtze region of eastern China.
Classical Chinese literature began in the Spring and Autumn period.
For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help: IPA.; literally: "Chinese writing") is a group of related, but in many cases mutually unintelligible, language varieties, forming a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family.
Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many other ethnic groups in China.
The internal diversity of Chinese has been likened to that of the Romance languages, but may be even more varied.
There are between 7 and 13 main regional groups of Chinese (depending on classification scheme), of which the most spoken by far is Mandarin (about 960 million), followed by Wu (80 million), Min (70 million), and Yue (60 million).