"Don't you speak Mandarin?"
Map of Chinese Dialects
Creative Commons AttributionMap of Chinese Dialects - Credit: Language Atlas of China

There are over forty dialects of the Chinese language. Words are pronounced quite differently, and are subject to different grammar structures. Thus, knowing one dialect of Chinese does not guarantee understanding of another.

The official dialect is Mandarin, or Putonghua, chosen for its more pleasant intonation. Other popular dialects include, Cantonese (Hong Kong) Taiwanese (Taiwan) and Shanghainese (Shanghai).