ĦĦĦĦAmong the 55 ethnic minorities of China, only the Hui and Manchu use the Han language (Chinese). The others speak their own languages; 29 have languages in the Chinese-Tibetan language family. These groups live in central, south and southwest China. Seventeen groups have languages of the Altaic language family. These are found in northeast and northwest China. Three have languages in the language family of South Asia, and two speak Indo-European languages. In the Indonesian language family are the Gaoshan people of Taiwan, and there is one group whose language type has not yet been traced. Many times various ethnic minority groups speak each other's languages. The Tajik, Ozbek and Tatar speak Uygur, for instance.

ĦĦĦĦBefore the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 there were 21 ethnic minority groups (including Hui, Manchu and She using the written script of the Hans) that had their own written languages. Some of these written languages are pictographic or ideographic scripts; others have alphabets or syllabic systems, such as Tibetan, Korean, Uygur, Dai and Arabic. There were also some people that used several written scripts concurrently. The Dai, for example, had four, while the Mongolians had two.