Chinese is one of the languages with the most native speakers in the world (1.2 billion people).  It is spoken in China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
Chinese can either be considered a language or a language family.  In the latter case, it makes up one of the two branches of the .  Chinese is a macrolanguage with thirteen sublanguages.  There are between six and twelve regional groupings of the language (depending on the classification used), of which the largest are (850 million speakers), (77 million), Min (70 million), and (55 million).  Many of these groupings are mutually unintelligible.
Chinese is the insular language par excellence: all of its words are monosyllabic; it is tonally distinctive.
Chinese words are invariable: nouns and adjectives may refer to the singular or the plural.  Verbs are not conjugated.
The invariable order of words in a Chinese sentence is: subject – verb – object.
One of the most important distinctive traits of Chinese culture is its writing system, with logographic origins, similar to the Mayan and Egyptian systems.  Chinese writing is composed of thousands of symbols, called , which have been used for at least three thousand years.  The Chinese writing system was adopted by other Asian languages, particularly Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.  The latter two languages almost completely abandoned the use of during the second half of the 20th century, while Japan continues using .

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