[quote=“um”]English or Japanese. Many other languages, too, from what I am told, but I’ll only vouch for those two.
I should note that Chinese in Taiwan is pretty good for standardization. In China (since the summary Cranky gave us talks about geography) it’s anyone’s guess. I have frequently seen Chinese not understand other Chinese in China; it is not an urban legend (and neither are Chinese fire drills or Chinese whispers).[/quote]
But presumably this is because they weren’t speaking Mandarin. They’re all supposed to learn it in school, but given the state of the school system and the wide variety of languages/dialects spoken in China, don’t be too surprised if they can’t speak Mandarin well.
Japanese isn’t standardized either, for that matter. A foreigner can get by with standard Japanese, but that doesn’t mean that is what the people are speaking amongst themselves outside of Tokyo.