Guan (官) or Mandarin is a group of Chinese varieties spoken in northern and
southwestern China. This group includes Standard Mandarin or Standard
Chinese, as well as regional varieties of Mandarin, and Dungan. As most varieties
of Mandarin are found in northern China, they are also known as
北方话 [北方話] (běifānghuà)
or "northern speech".
There are differences between the varieties of Mandarin from northern and
southern China, particularly in the tones, and mutually intelligiblity between
them is relatively low, however the differences are not as great as those
between other varieties of Chinese.
Standard Mandarin developed from the language used by Chinese officials,
most of whom came from Beijing. As a result, Standard Mandarin is based
mainly on northern varieties of Mandarin, especially Beijing varieties. The
officials called their language 官话 [官話] (guānyŭ) or
"official language". The word Mandarin comes from Portuguese mandarim,
from Malay menteri (minister), from Hindi मंत्री
(mantrī - secretary), from Sanskrit मन्त्रिन्
(mantrin - counselor, minster), and originally meant an official of the Chinese empire.