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Ziyi and Si Qi translated our manifesto into Mandarin

“Everyone in China knows Mandarin,” Si Qi tells us. “It's like the official or standard Chinese. It's also known as the dialect spoken in the capital city, Beijing. There are several different dialects, and they all use the same characters, but the pronunciation differs from dialect to dialect. The places that are far away from each other sound very different, and the places close to each other might sound similar. I think all the dialects can be separated into 10 branches but within these, there are more dialects.”

Since when has Chinese writing existed?
“From 3,500 years ago, but it was not how it is nowadays; it was different.”

If you find a really old text, can you then read it?
“No,” Ziyi answers. “In the old days in China, if they wanted to write ‘mountain’, they’d just draw a picture of a mountain, and over time, it was simplified, and then it became the Chinese character we have today. So some of the Chinese characters look like what they symbolize.”

Do very old Chinese characters look more like hieroglyphs or pictograms?

A big thank you to Ziyi and Si Qi for translating our manifesto into Mandarin and for giving us some interesting insights into (one of?) the oldest written languages still in use today.

You can see all the translations of our manifesto we have so far.

Is your language missing? We’d be thrilled to hear from you and excited if you want to help us with our Mother Language project.