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source: China Daily  2018-11-02 12:01

The Origins of Writing in China

It is widely believed that the written word first appeared in China during the second half of the second millennium BC. To date, there has been no evidence suggesting that writing was introduced to China from another culture. The earliest examples of written Chinese dates back to 1,500 to 900 BC, during the period of the Shang Dynasty. This form of writing is known as jiaguwen, which means "shell bone writing", because they were carved onto turtle shells and ox bones. It is referred to collectively as "oracle bones" due to their use as divination tools, the details of the divinations then were inscribed upon the artifacts.

Putonghua (Mandarin)

It is possibly the most common spoken language in world, with over one billion speakers. It is the official language of China and is used almost exclusively in government, education and the media. It is also one of the four official languages of Singapore.

Yue (Cantonese)

Cantonese is the second most common form of Chinese language and has an estimated 65 million speakers worldwide. The language is often heard in the Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, as well as Hainan and Hong Kong. It is also common in other countries including Singapore and Malaysia.

Minnan (Southern Min)

This dialect is mainly spoken in southern Fujian, Guangdong, and southern Hainan Island and in the south of Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces. It is also common in other countries such as Singapore.

Xiang (Hunanese)

This dialect is spoken by approximately 25 million people in China. Although mainly in Hunan province, it can also be heard in parts of the Sichuan, Guangxi and Guangdong provinces.

Editor: zfw05