11.1 Introduction This chapter describes the initial stages of development of a Pan-Mandarin ToBI system. We will review the salient prosodic characteristics of Mandarin, with particular attention to the range of variability within a common structural core, and then propose an initial codification of conventions for marking prosodic structure in two standard varieties and one regional variety of the language. Before we begin, however, we must at least pose two important prior questions. First, is a Pan-Mandarin ToBI feasible? Second, if feasible, is it desirable? The first question arises because of the sheer size of the language. Mandarin is spoken as a first or second language by well over a billion people. Furthermore, it has had a long history of being spoken over large geographical areas as a standard language or as a local language. As a result, Mandarin encompasses many different varieties, including three national standards (Guoyu in Taiwan, Putonghua in Mainland China, and Huayu in Singapore) as well as many regional varieties, such as Rugaohua, discussed in section 11.2.5. Furthermore, a large population of Mandarin speakers speaks more than one variety of Mandarin. Many others speak a variety of Mandarin and some non-Mandarin Chinese or other language variety. Code-switching often occurs, at many different levels, including prosody. The enormous geographical range and the interaction with different substrate languages at the edges of its range lead to variability in syntax, in lexicon, and especially in phonology, including the phonology of tone, stress, and prosodic grouping. The short answer to the first question, therefore, is that we cannot know until we try.