Mandarin (), is a category o relatit Cheenese dialects spaken athort maist o northren an sooth-wastren Cheenae. Acause Mandarin mainly includes the northren dialects, the term "northren dialect(s)" () is an aa referred tae Mandarin Cheenese informally. When the Mandarin group is taken as ane leid, as is aften done in academic literature, the Mandarin leid haes mair native speakers than ony ither leid. The "standard" in Standard Mandarin refers tae the offeecial standardized leid o Cheenae based on the Beijing dialect.
In Inglis, Mandarin can refer tae either o twa distinct concepts:
- In aaday uise "Mandarin" refers to Standard Cheenese or Staundart Mandarin (Pǔtōnghuà / Guóyǔ / Huáyǔ), which is based on the particular Mandarin dialect spoken in Beijing. Staundart Mandarin functions as the offeecial spaken leid o the Forkrepublic o Cheenae (PRC), the offeecial leid o the Republic o Cheenae (ROC/Taiwan), an ane o the fower offeecial leids o Singapore. "Chinese"—in practice Staundart Mandarin—is ane o the sax offeecial leids o the Unitit Nations.
- In its broader sense, Mandarin is a diverse group o Mandarin dialects spoken in northren an soothwastren Cheenae (Guānhuà / Běifānghuà).
The uise o Mandarin as indicatin a groupin o northren Cheenese dialects is defined an uised mainly bi linguists, an is no commonly uised ootside o academic circles. Instead, Cheenese native speakers o forms o Mandarin ither than Staundart Mandarin typically dae no describe the leid they speak as "Mandarin", but rather are maist likely tae simply state the name o the geographic variant that they speak, for example Sichuan dialect, Hebei dialect or Northeastren dialect, considered distinct frae the "Standard Mandarin" (Putonghua). Native speakers who are no academic linguists mey no recognize that the variants they speak are classified in linguistics as members o Mandarin (or so-called "Northren Dialects") in a broader sense. Athin Cheenese social or cultural discourse, there is no a common "Mandarin" identity based on leid; rather, there ar strang regional identities centred on individual dialects, because o the wide geographical distribution an cultural diversity o speakers.
As wi aw ither varieties o the Cheenese leid, there is significant dispute as tae whether Mandarin is a leid or a dialect. See Varieties o Cheenese for mair on this issue.