Mandarin (simplified Chinese: 官话; traditional Chinese: 官話; pinyin: Guānhuà; literally "speech of officials"), is a category of related Chinese dialects spoken across most of northern and south-western China. Because Mandarin mainly includes the northern dialects, the term "northern dialect(s)" (simplified Chinese: 北方话; traditional Chinese: 北方 話; pinyin: Běifānghuà) is also referred to Mandarin Chinese informally. When the Mandarin group is taken as one language, as is often done in academic literature, the Mandarin language has more native speakers than any other language. The "standard" in Standard Mandarin refers to the official standardized language of China based on the Beijing dialect.
In English, Mandarin can refer to either of two distinct concepts:
* In everyday use "Mandarin" refers to Standard Chinese or Standard Mandarin (Pǔtōnghuà / Guóyǔ / Huáyǔ), which is based on the particular Mandarin dialect spoken in Beijing. Standard Mandarin functions as the official spoken language of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the official language of the Republic of China (ROC/Taiwan), and one of the four official languages of Singapore. "Chinese"—in practice Standard Mandarin—is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
* In its broader sense, Mandarin is a diverse group of Mandarin dialects spoken in northern and southwestern China (Guānhuà / Běifānghuà).