With an increasing number of people from the Chinese mainland moving overseas, Mandarin, or Putonghua, is challenging Cantonese as the dominant language in international Chinese communities.
Profile picture: American students write Li Bai's poem in Chinese. Mandarin is more widely spoken in the United States.
Cantonese businessman Ah Ken has been widely credited as the first Chinese who permanently immigrated to New York's Chinatown around 1859. Since then, most Chinese immigrants to North America have come from the Pearl River Delta where Cantonese is the dominant dialect.
But that changed 20 years ago when immigrants of Mandarin-speaking Chinese from the mainland began to outnumber those from Cantonese-speaking regions such as Hong Kong and Guangdong. Mandarin could soon eclipse Cantonese as the major Chinatown language.
According to the latest immigration statistics from the United States Homeland Security Department, during 2000 to 2009, the country has seen more China-born immigrants (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) than any other decade since 1978 when China implemented its reforms and opening-up policies.
(China Daily August 10, 2010)