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Chinese is a group of related language varieties, several of which are not mutually intelligible, and is variously described as a language or language family. Originally the indigenous speech of the Han majority in China, Chinese forms one of the branches of the Sino-Tibetan language family. About one-fifth of the world's population, or over one billion people, speaks some form of Chinese as their native language. Varieties of Chinese are usually perceived by native speakers as dialects of a single Chinese language, rather than separate languages, although this identification is considered inappropriate by some linguists and sinologists. The internal diversity of Chinese has been likened to that of the Romance languages, although all varieties of Chinese are tonal and analytic. There are between 7 and 13 main regional groups of Chinese, of which the most spoken, by far, is Mandarin, followed by Wu, Yue and Min. Most of these groups are mutually unintelligible, although some, like Xiang and the Southwest Mandarin dialects, may share common terms and some degree of intelligibility. (via Freebase)