SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

Languages of China & Inner Asia at SOAS: Mandarin Chinese

The lingua franca of China is known to English speakers as Mandarin, which corresponds to the old term Guanhua, “language of officials”. In the Republican period (1912-49) it was called Guoyu, “national language”, a term still in use in Taiwan and some Chinese communities outside the mainland. In the People’s Republic of China it is called Putonghua, “common language”, and it is spoken by over a billion people, either as a first or second language. It is based on the speech of Beijing and incorporates elements from Northern Chinese dialects that have been accepted into the national modern language. Mandarin is a tonal language with a complex writing system. Besides studying the spoken language, students also do close reading of a variety of texts in the original, selected from the rich literature of over two thousand years.

If you would like to learn Mandarin Chinese and the Chinese script, contact Dr Lianyi Song ( Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia.

Degree Programmes

Degree Course Options

Language Centre

Other Resources

Please Note: Not all courses and programmes are available every year