The 2nd Most Powerful Language in the World: Mandarin
Mandarin opens doors in China.
Closing in on one billion native speakers, Mandarin is #2 on the list of the world’s 10 most powerful languages.
Taking into account China’s giant economy, the sheer number of native speakers, and the country’s importance on the world stage, it’s no surprise that Mandarin has such a high ranking on the World Economic Forum (WEF) Power Language Index.
On the Index, language usefulness is measured by many indicators, including the number of countries a language is spoken in; the land area where a language is predominantly used; various GDP totals; and contributions to culture, international affairs, tourism, and academia.
Mandarin’s ranking is largely driven by economic, communication, and knowledge and media factors. Global business success often depends on speaking and understanding languages different from your own. In China, while that task can be several degrees more difficult for a Westerner who speaks English, having even a basic understanding can power up your first impression.
It’s estimated that an educated Chinese speaker knows around 8,000 characters—and over 2,000 are needed to read a newspaper. Learning such a treasury of characters requires dedication; Mandarin grammar meanwhile is straightforward, without the genders, plurals, cases, and tenses that increase the difficulty of learning European languages.
Overcoming obstacles, including language, is what successful businesses do best. Learning key Mandarin phrases and business protocol tips is useful preparation to conduct business in China.
- Handshakes in China can last as long as 10 seconds, but only with good friends.
- Do not interpret the lack of smiling as a lack of friendliness. Concealing emotions is common in China.
- “Here is my card” in Mandarin sounds like Zhè shì wŏ de míngpià and is written 这是我的名片。
- Carry a sufficient supply of business cards with you at all times in China. You will give cards to nearly everyone you meet in business interactions and running out is considered impolite.
- “It is nice to meet you” sounds like Jiàn dào nĭ hěn gāoxìng and is written 见到你很高兴。
Our language countdown journey is nearly complete. Join us next week when we review the most powerful language in the world.