Hanyu vs. Zhongwen



When talking about the Chinese language, is it better to use the word hanyu or zhongwen?
For example, if I want to say that I am a Chinese student, which phrase is better:
a. 我是汉语学生. (Wo shi hanyu xuesheng).
b. 我是中文学生. (Wo shi zhongwen xuesheng).


Hi Amelia,

Thank you for your interest in the language. :)

汉语 and 中文 both mean Chinese in general. And when you say you are a student learning either 汉语 or 中文, people will know that you're learning Mandarin Chinese.

To provide you with a more nuanced view, 汉 is the biggest ethnic group in China that has reigned predominantly throughout its 5,000 years of history, so 汉语 is the language (语) that the 汉 people speak (while other minority groups have their own languages.) On the other hand, 中 is the first character of The People's Republic of China (中华人民共和国), so 中文 would amount to the language or script (文) that PR China uses. Therefore, both are fine and accurate.

Hope that answers your question, and have fun learning!



I wasn't sure about that either.
Thank you!

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