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Chinese by the numbers

1 Written language — Chinese characters — mutually intelligible by speakers of 13 mutually unintelligible Chinese languages, as distinct as French, Romanian and Portuguese.

2 Sides of the brain used in aural comprehension of Mandarin; non-tonal English utilizes only the left side for aural comprehension.

3 Mandarin’s ranking in the top 10 most commonly spoken languages in U.S. households, according to Census 2000. Only English and Spanish have more speakers.

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