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This article is about the Cantonese language of Guangdong province, Hong Kong, and Macau. For related dialects, see Yue Chinese. For other uses, see Cantonese (disambiguation).
Gwóngjàu Wah / gwong2 zau1 waa6
Gwóngjàu Wah/gwong2 zau1 waa6 (Cantonese) written in traditional Chinese (left) and simplified Chinese (right) characters
Native to Guangdong, China
Overseas Communities
Region central Liangguang, the Pearl River Delta and neighbouring areas
Native speakers
62,000,000 About World Languages  (date missing)
Written Cantonese
Cantonese Braille
Official status
Official language in
 Hong Kong
Regulated by Official Language Division[1]
Civil Service Bureau
Government of Hong Kong
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6 yyef (Yue F)
guzh (Guangzhou)
Glottolog cant1236[2]

Cantonese, or Standard Cantonese (simplified Chinese: 广州话; traditional Chinese: 廣州話), is a language that originated in the vicinity of Canton (i.e. Guangzhou) in southern China, and is spoken by approximately 62 million speakers worldwide.[3] It is often regarded as the prestige dialect of Yue. It is an official language in Hong Kong (along with English) and in Macau (along with Portuguese). It is sometimes also known as Guangfuhua (simplified Chinese: 广府话; traditional Chinese: 廣府話) a broader definition which also includes the Guangzhou dialect, Hong Kong dialect, Xiguan dialect, Wuzhou dialect, and Tanka dialect.[citation needed]

Cantonese is the prestige language of the Cantonese people. Inside mainland China, it is a lingua franca in Guangdong Province and some neighbouring areas, such as the eastern part of Guangxi Province. Outside mainland China, it is spoken by the majority population of Hong Kong and Macau in everyday life. It is also spoken by overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia (like Malaysia, Christmas Island), Canada, Brazil, Peru, Cuba, Panama, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the United States.

While the term Cantonese refers narrowly to the prestige language described in this article, it is often used in a broader sense for the entire Yue branch of Chinese, including related dialects such as Taishanese.

The Cantonese language is also viewed as part of the cultural identity for the native speakers across large swathes of southern China, Hong Kong and Macau. Although Cantonese shares much vocabulary with Mandarin Chinese, the two languages are not mutually intelligible because of pronunciation, grammatical, and also lexical differences. Sentence structure, in particular the placement of verbs, sometimes differs between the two languages. The use of vocabulary in Cantonese also tends to have more historic roots. One of the most notable differences between Cantonese and Mandarin is how the spoken word is written; with Mandarin the spoken word is written as such, whereas with Cantonese there may not be a direct written word matching what was said.[4][5] This results in the situation in which a Mandarin and Cantonese text almost look the same, but both are pronounced differently.


In English, the term "Cantonese" is ambiguous. Cantonese proper is the language native to the city of Canton, which is the traditional English name of Guangzhou, and later brought to Hong Kong and Macau;[citation needed] this narrow sense may be specified as "Canton language" or "Guangzhou language" in English.[6]

However, "Cantonese" may also refer to the primary branch of Cantonese that contains Cantonese proper as well as Taishanese and Gaoyang; this broader usage may be specified as "Yue" (s; t). In this article, "Cantonese" is used for Cantonese proper.

Customarily, speakers call their language "Guangzhou speech" (s广州话; t廣州話[7]). In Guangdong province, people also call it "provincial capital speech" (s省城话; t省城話[8]) or "plain speech" (s白话; t白話[9]).

In Hong Kong and Macau, people usually call it "Guangdong speech" (s广东话; t廣東話[10]) or simply "Chinese" (中文[11]).[12]

Due to its status as a prestige dialect among all the dialects of the Cantonese or Yue language, it is often called "Standard Cantonese" (s标准粤语; t標準粵語[13]).

Cultural role[edit]

Spoken Chinese has numerous regional and local varieties, many of which are mutually unintelligible. Most of these are rare outside their native areas, though they may be spoken outside of the country. Since the early 1900s (1909 Qing Dynasty decree), China has promoted Mandarin for use in education, the media and official communication.[14] The proclamation of Mandarin as the official national language however was not fully accepted by the Cantonese authority in the early 20th century who argued for the "regional uniqueness" of its local dialect,[15] and the use of Cantonese persisted in a few state television and radio broadcasts to this day. There were however attempts by the Chinese authority to curb the use of Cantonese in modern China; in 2010, it was proposed that Guangzhou Television station should increase its broadcast in Mandarin; this however led to the protests in Guangzhou, and the authority relented.[16]

Due to the linguistic history of Hong Kong and Macau, and the use of Cantonese in many overseas Chinese communities, international usage of Cantonese has spread far out of proportion to its relatively small number of speakers in China, even though the majority of Cantonese speakers still live in mainland China.[citation needed] Cantonese is the predominant Chinese language spoken in Hong Kong and Macau. In these areas, political discourse takes place almost exclusively in Cantonese, making it the only variety of Chinese other than Mandarin to be used as the primary language for official state functions. Because of their use by non-Mandarin-speaking Yue speakers overseas, Cantonese and Taishanese are the primary forms of Chinese that many Westerners encounter.

Along with Mandarin and Hokkien, Cantonese has its own popular music, Cantopop. In Hong Kong, Cantonese lyrics predominate within popular music, and many artists from Beijing and Taiwan have learned Cantonese to make Cantonese versions of their recordings.[17] Popular native Mandarin speaking singers, including Faye Wong, Eric Moo, and singers from Taiwan, have been trained in Cantonese to add "Hong Kong-ness" to their performances.[17]

Films were also made in Cantonese from the early days of Chinese cinema, and the first Cantonese talkie, White Gold Dragon (白金龍), was made in 1932 by the Tianyi Film Company.[18] Despite a ban on Cantonese films by the Nanjing authority in the 1930s, Cantonese film production continued in Hong Kong which was then under British colonial rule.[15][19] From the mid-1970s to the 1990s, Cantonese films made in Hong Kong were very popular among overseas Chinese communities.


Main article: Cantonese phonology

Generally speaking, Cantonese is a tonal language with nine tones.

The de facto standard pronunciation of the Cantonese language is that of Canton (Guangzhou), which is described at the Cantonese phonology article. Hong Kong Cantonese has some minor variations in phonology. These differences include the tendency of Cantonese vowels to be further back than their Mandarin analogues, such as M. /aɪ/ vs. C. /ɔːi/; M. /i/ vs. C. /ɐi/; M. /ɤ/ vs. C. /ɔː/; M. /ɑʊ/ vs. C. /ou/ etc. For consonants, some differences include M. /ɕ, tɕ, tɕʰ/ vs. C. /h, k, kʰ/; M. /ʐ/ vs. C. /j/; and a greater syllable coda diversity in Cantonese (such as syllables ending in -t, -p, or -k).

Hong Kong and Macau[edit]

Main article: Hong Kong Cantonese

The official languages of Hong Kong are English and Chinese, as defined in the Basic Law of Hong Kong.[20] The Chinese language has many different varieties, of which Cantonese is one. In Hong Kong, Cantonese is the predominantly spoken variety in everyday life. It is the de facto official spoken form of the Chinese language used in the Government. It is also used as the medium of instruction in many schools, alongside English.

A similar situation also exists in its neighbor Macau, where Cantonese is an official language along with Portuguese. In Macau, Cantonese is the predominantly spoken variety in everyday life. There is no difference in the Cantonese language between Hong Kong and Macau.

The Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong and Macau is mutually intelligible with the Cantonese spoken in the Chinese city of Canton (Guangzhou), although there exist minor differences in accent and vocabulary. The Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong and Macao is known as Hong Kong Cantonese.

In recent years, there have been concerns that the use of Cantonese in Guangzhou (in particular), is discouraged in favour of Mandarin. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong and Macau, there is growing localism among its residents against the influx of mainland tourist/immigrants. As a result, Cantonese is being given a more important status than ever before, as a common identity of the local people.

Written Cantonese[edit]

Cantonese is used primarily in Hong Kong, Macau, and other overseas Chinese communities, so it is usually written with traditional Chinese characters. Cantonese includes extra characters and characters with different meanings from Standard Written Chinese.


Cantonese romanization systems are based on the accent of Canton and Hong Kong, and have helped define the concept of Standard Cantonese. The major systems are Barnett–Chao, Meyer–Wempe, the Chinese government's Guangdong Romanization, Yale and Jyutping. While they do not differ greatly, Yale is the one most commonly seen in the west today.[citation needed] The Hong Kong linguist Sidney Lau modified the Yale system for his popular Cantonese-as-a-second-language course and is still widely in use today. The Cantonese romanization systems of Macau are slightly different from Hong Kong's, the spellings are basically influenced by the Portuguese language. However, some words under the Macau's romanization systems are same as Hong Kong's (eg. Lam 林, Chan陳). Words with the alphabet "u" under Hong Kong's romanization systems are often replaced by "o" under Macao's romanization systems (eg. Chau vs Chao 周, Leung vs Leong 梁). Both the spellings of Hong Kong and Macao Cantonese romanization systems do not look similar to the mainland China's pinying system.

Transcribing Cantonese using Mandarin pinyin, easily done by copying Chinese characters into online pinyin generators, has the disadvantage of being unable to show all the Cantonese tones or final consonants (-p, -k, -t, -m), and highlights the differences in pronunciation between Mandarin and Cantonese. Even though actual European languages (including English) do not necessarily match their sounds to their own writing systems, in this case, the final consonants would be pronounced and not represented in writing, unlike, say, final consonants in French. Cantonese can also be loosely Romanized using the Sino-Vietnamese alphabet (see Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary), but it is also inexact.

Early Western effort[edit]

Systematic efforts to develop an alphabetic representation of Cantonese began with the arrival of Protestant missionaries in China early in the nineteenth century. Romanization was considered both a tool to help new missionaries learn the dialect more easily and a quick route for the unlettered to achieve gospel literacy. Earlier Catholic missionaries, mostly Portuguese, had developed romanization schemes for the pronunciation current in the court and capital city of China but made few efforts to romanize other dialects.

Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary in China published a "Vocabulary of the Canton Dialect" (1828) with a rather unsystematic romanized pronunciation. Elijah Coleman Bridgman and Samuel Wells Williams in their "Chinese Chrestomathy in the Canton Dialect" (1841) were the progenitors of a long-lived lineage of related romanizations with minor variations embodied in the works of James Dyer Ball, Ernst Johann Eitel, and Immanuel Gottlieb Genăhr (1910). Bridgman and Williams based their system on the phonetic alphabet and diacritics proposed by Sir William Jones for South Asian languages. Their romanization system embodied the phonological system in a local dialect rhyme dictionary, the Fenyun cuoyao, which was widely used and easily available at the time and is still available today. Samuel Wells Willams' Tonic Dictionary of the Chinese Language in the Canton Dialect (Yinghua fenyun cuoyao 1856), is an alphabetic rearrangement, translation and annotation of the Fenyun. To adapt the system to the needs of users at a time when there were only local variants and no standard—although the speech of the western suburbs, xiguan, of Guangzhou was the prestige variety at the time—Williams suggested that users learn and follow their teacher's pronunciation of his chart of Cantonese syllables. It was apparently Bridgman's innovation to mark the tones with an open circles (upper register tones) or an underlined open circle (lower register tones) at the four corners of the romanized word in analogy with the traditional Chinese system of marking the tone of a character with a circle (lower left for "even," upper left for "rising," upper right for "going," and lower right for "entering" tones). John Chalmers, in his "English and Cantonese pocket-dictionary" (1859) simplified the marking of tones using the acute accent to mark "rising" tones and the grave to mark "going" tones and no diacritic for "even" tones and marking upper register tones by italics (or underlining in handwritten work). "Entering" tones could be distinguished by their consonantal ending. Nicholas Belfeld Dennys used Chalmers romanization in his primer. This method of marking tones was adopted in the Yale romanization (with low register tones marked with an 'h'). A new romanization was developed in the first decade of the twentieth century which eliminated the diacritics on vowels by distinguishing vowel quality by spelling differences (e.g. a/aa, o/oh). Diacritics were used only for marking tones. The name of Tipson is associated with this new romanization which still embodied the phonology of the Fenyun to some extent. It is the system used in Meyer-Wempe and Cowles' dictionaries and O'Melia's textbook and many other works in the first half of the twentieth century. It was the standard romanization until the Yale system supplanted it. The distinguished linguist, Y. R. Chao developed a Cantonese adaptation of his Gwoyeu romanization system which he used in his "Cantonese Primer." The front matter to this book contains a review and comparison of a number of the systems mentioned in this paragraph. The GR system was not widely used.

Cantonese romanization in Hong Kong[edit]

An influential work on Cantonese, A Chinese Syllabary Pronounced According to the Dialect of Canton, written by Wong Shik Ling, was published in 1941. He derived an IPA-based transcription system, the S. L. Wong system, used by many Chinese dictionaries later published in Hong Kong. Although Wong also derived a romanization scheme, also known as S. L. Wong system, it is not widely used as his transcription scheme. This system was preceded by the Barnett–Chao system used by the Hong Government Language School.

The romanization advocated by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong (LSHK) is called Jyutping, which attempts to solve many of the flaws and inconsistencies of the older, favored, and more familiar system of Yale Romanization, but departs from it in a number of ways unfamiliar to Yale users. The phonetic values of some consonants are closer to the approximate equivalents in Pinyin/IPA than those in Yale. Some effort has been undertaken to promote Jyutping with some official support, but the success of its proliferation within the region has yet to be examined.

Another popular scheme is Cantonese Pinyin, which is the only romanization system accepted by Hong Kong Education and Manpower Bureau and Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. Books and studies for teachers and students in primary and secondary schools usually use this scheme. But there are teachers and students who use the transcription system of S. L. Wong.

Despite the efforts to standardize Cantonese romanization, those learning the language may feel frustrated that most native Cantonese speakers, regardless of their level of education, are unfamiliar with any romanization system. Because Cantonese is primarily a spoken language and does not carry its own writing system (written Cantonese, despite having some Chinese characters unique to it, primarily follows modern standard Chinese, which is closely tied to Mandarin), it is not taught in schools. As a result, locals do not learn any of these systems. In contrast with Mandarin-speaking areas of China, Cantonese romanization systems are excluded in the education systems of both Hong Kong and the Guangdong province. In practice, Hong Kong follows a loose, unnamed romanization scheme used by the Government of Hong Kong.

Cantonese outside Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau[edit]

Historically, the majority of the overseas Chinese originated from two provinces, Fujian and Guangdong. This has resulted in the overseas Chinese having a higher proportion of Fujian and Guangdong languages/dialect speakers than Chinese speakers in China as a whole.

The largest number of Cantonese speakers outside mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao are in Canada and the United States; however, speakers of Min dialects predominate among the overseas Chinese in southeast Asia. The Cantonese spoken in Malaysia is infused by some words from English, other Chinese dialects and Malay,[21] just like how the Cantonese speakers in USA or Canada infused some words from English into their Cantonese language.


For many decades, Cantonese has continued to be the common Chinese language spoken among Chinese Canadians. According to Canada 2006 Census, there are 361,450 Canadian residents who reported Cantonese as their mother tongue including 166,655 in Greater Toronto Area and 125,940 in Greater Vancouver to lead the way. The total number of Cantonese speakers in Canada however is expected to be greater than those numbers provided by Statistics Canada considering that 456,705 people who reported a Chinese mother tongue either did not specify which Chinese language they were referring to, or specified a language outside of Cantonese, Mandarin, Teochew, Fukien, Hakka, Shanghainese, or Taiwanese. Hence among the 456,705 residents, many of them are Cantonese speakers as well.

The majority of Cantonese speakers came from Hong Kong in waves in the late 60s to mid 70s during and after the Hong Kong 1967 Leftist riots, and came in masses during the 80s to late 90s in response to the Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong back to Mainland China in 1997. Immigrants from Guangdong, Vietnam and Southeast Asia also form an integral part of the Cantonese speaker demographics in Canada.


In Malaysia, Cantonese is widely spoken among the Chinese community in Kuala Lumpur [1], the capital city, and surrounding areas in the Klang Valley such as Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya in Selangor. The dialect is also extent in Ipoh and most districts in Perak. Business travelers from Guangzhou and Hong Kong have also popularised the use of the dialect in Sandakan, Sabah, since the 1950s or earlier.

Due to the popularity of Hong Kong drama series, Cantonese is widely understood by the Chinese in all parts of Malaysia, though large part of Chinese population are non-Cantonese. Cantonese can be regarded as highly influential among Malaysian Chinese; although the Hokkien dialect group is the largest among Malaysian Chinese, the language has minimal influence on other dialect groups.

Television stations in Malaysia regularly broadcast Hong Kong television programmes in the original Cantonese soundtrack. Pay TV operator Astro offers its prime-time Hong Kong drama series via two popular Cantonese-medium channels, Astro Wah Lai Toi and Astro On Demand, in dual audios - with the original soundtrack in Cantonese and the dubbed version in Mandarin. Four Chinese radio stations in the country - My FM, One FM, 988 FM and Ai FM - broadcast with varying amounts of Cantonese programming. The first three are private-owned, which broadcast mainly in Cantonese with some Mandarin. Ai FM, which is run by government-owned Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM), broadcasts solely in Mandarin; the only Cantonese programme on Ai FM is the Cantonese news broadcast.

New Zealand[edit]

The goldminers who came to New Zealand in the 1860s were mainly from the southern counties of Guangdong province. Through chain migration between the 1860s to 1920s Cantonese became the dominant language spoken by New Zealand Chinese. Since the late 1980s there has been a large number of Mandarin-speaking Chinese coming to New Zealand either as permanent immigrants or temporary English-language students.[citation needed]


Chinese Peruvians, also known as tusán (a loanword from Chinese 土生 pinyin: tǔ shēng, jyutping: tou2 saang1 "local born"), are people of Overseas Chinese ancestry born in Peru, or who have made Peru their adopted homeland. Most Chinese Peruvians are multilingual. In addition to Spanish or Quechua, many of them speak one or more Chinese dialects that may include Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, and Minnan.

In 1957 Cantonese speakers constituted 85 per cent of the total Chinese immigrant population, the rest of whom were Hakka speakers.[22]


Chinese Filipinos who are classified as Cantonese people (廣府人) have ancestors who came from Guangdong province and speak one of the Cantonese dialects. Since the premodern era up to the end of the Spanish Colonial Period in 1898, they formed the majority of Chinese migrants to the Philippines.[citation needed] They settled down in Metro Manila, as well as in major cities of Luzon such as Angeles, Naga, and Olongapo. Many also settled in the provinces of Northern Luzon (e.g., Benguet, Cagayan, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte).

The Cantonese (Guangdongnese) people (Keńg-tang-lâng, Guǎngdōngren) form roughly 1.2% of the unmixed ethnic Chinese population of the Philippines, with large numbers of descendants originally from Taishan city, Macau, and nearby areas. Many are not as economically prosperous as the Minnan (Hokkienese). Barred from owning land during the Spanish Colonial Period, most Cantonese were into the service industry, working as artisans, barbers, herbal physicians, porters (coulis), soap makers, and tailors. They also had no qualms in intermarrying with the local Filipinos and most of their descendants are now considered Filipinos, rather than Chinese or Chinese mestizos. During the early 1800s, Chinese migration from Cantonese-speaking areas in China to the Philippines trickled to almost zero, as migrants from Hokkienese-speaking areas gradually increased, explaining the gradual decrease of the Cantonese population. Presently, they are into small-scale entrepreneurship and in education.

The rate of intermarriage between Chinese settlers and indigenous Filipinos is among the highest in Southeast Asia, exceeded only by Thailand.[citation needed]

Philippines is also known to have oldest China town established, Binondo, which consists of many Hokkien, Mandarin, and Cantonese speakers. Although not as culturally influenced, the Philippines has a larger minority of the Chinese population and people of Chinese descent compared to Vietnam. Most of the Cantonese speakers are located in Manila and Cebu, in which most of the high leveled businesses are held. Many Filipino food are a fusion between Spanish and Chinese dishes.


In Singapore the government has a Speak Mandarin Campaign(SMC)[23] which seeks to actively promote the use of Mandarin over other Chinese languages, such as Hokkien (41.1%), Teochew (21.0%), Cantonese (15.4%), Hakka (7.9%) and Hainanese (6.7%).

Population Profile of Singapore Chinese Language Groups[24]
Dialect group 1990 2000
Hokkiens 42.1% 41.1%
Teochews 21.9% 21.0%
Cantonese 15.2% 15.4%
Hakkas 7.3% 7.9%
Hainanese 7.0% 6.7%
Foochows (Min Dong) 1.7% 1.9%
Henghua (Puxian/Putian) 0.9% 0.9%
Shanghainese 0.8% 0.9%
Hockchia (Fuqing) 0.6% 0.6%
Others 2.4% 3.7%

Notably, all non-Mandarin Chinese TV and radio programs were stopped after 1979.[25] The prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, then, also stopped giving speeches in Hokkien to prevent giving conflicting signals to the people.[25]

Hong Kong (Cantonese) and Taiwanese dramas are unavailable in their original languages on TV, though Japanese and Korean drama series are available in their original languages. Cantonese drama series on non-cable TV channels are dubbed in Mandarin and broadcast without the original Cantonese soundtrack. Supporters of non-Mandarin Chinese languages who feel that dubbing causes the series to lose its natural flavor often buy original VCDs from Taiwan and Hong Kong.

An offshoot of SMC is the Pinyinisation of certain terms which originated from southern Chinese languages. For instance, dim sum is often known as dianxin in Singapore's English-language media, though this is largely a matter of style, and most Singaporeans will refer to dim sum when speaking English.


Cantonese is rarely spoken in Taiwan. Residents speak mostly Mandarin Chinese or Taiwanese.


The Chinese (including those of mixed ancestry) of Thailand are overwhelmingly descended from Chaozhou in Guangdong Province and their Teochew dialect belongs to the Min Nan language group. A minority of the Thai Chinese are of Cantonese extraction. There are around 29,400 Cantonese speakers in Thailand.

United Kingdom[edit]

The majority of Cantonese speakers in the UK have origins from the former British colony of Hong Kong and speak the Canton/Hong Kong dialect, although many are in fact from Hakka-speaking families and are bilingual in Hakka. There are also Cantonese speakers from Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, as well as from Guangdong in China itself. Today an estimated 300,000 British people have Cantonese as a mother tongue, this represents 0.5% of the total UK population and 1% of the total overseas Cantonese speakers.[26]

United States[edit]

For the past 150 years, Guangdong has been the origin of most Chinese emigrants to Western countries; one coastal county, Taishan (or Tóisàn, where the Sìyì or sei yap dialect of Yue is spoken), alone may have been the home to more than 60% of Chinese immigrants to the US before 1965. As a result, Yue dialects such as Siyi (the dialects of Taishan, Enping, Kaiping and Xinhui Districts) and Cantonese (with a heavy Hong Kong influence) have been the major Yue dialects spoken abroad, particularly in the United States.

The Zhongshan variety of Cantonese, with origins in the Pearl River Delta, is spoken by many Chinese immigrants in Hawaii, and some in San Francisco and in the Sacramento River Delta (see Locke, California); it is a Yuehai dialect much like Guangzhou Cantonese, but has "flatter" tones. Yue is the third most widely spoken non-English language in the United States.[27] Many institutes of higher education, such as Stanford, Duke, and Yale, have Cantonese programs. The currently most popular romanization for learning Cantonese in the United States is Yale Romanization.

This situation is now changing in the United States; recent Chinese emigrants originate from many different areas including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. Most recent immigrants from mainland China and Taiwan in the U.S. speak Standard Chinese (putonghua/guoyu),[28][29] with varying degrees of fluency, and their native local language, such as Min (Hokkien and other Fujian languages), Wu, Mandarin, Cantonese etc. As a result, Mandarin is increasingly becoming more common as the Chinese lingua franca among overseas Chinese.

In some metropolitan areas with large Chinese populations, separate neighborhoods and enclaves segregated by the primary language or dialect spoken have begun to arise. For example, in New York City, Cantonese still predominates in the older historic part of Chinatown in Manhattan, surrounding Canal Street and west of the Bowery, while the newer large Chinatowns in Queens and Brooklyn, as well as the expanded part of Manhattan Chinatown around East Broadway and east of the Bowery have large numbers of Mandarin and Fukienese speakers respectively, however smaller developing Chinatowns in other parts of Brooklyn are primarily Cantonese dominated due to the migration of Cantonese immigrants that have earned enough money to seek better housing conditions. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Cantonese historically predominated in Chinatown, San Francisco and Chinatown, Oakland and today in large areas of San Francisco, Daly City, and near East Oakland, while Mandarin is more spoken in Silicon Valley and Fremont, California, as well as Hercules, California.


In Vietnam, varying degrees of Cantonese are widely spoken among ethnic-Chinese (Hoa). However many have been influenced by Vietnamese, and hence speak with a Vietnamese accent.


Main article: Hong Kong Cantonese

Life in Hong Kong is characterized by the blending of Asian (mainly south Chinese) and Western influences, as well as the status of the city as a major international business center. Influences from this territory are widespread in foreign cultures. As a result, many loanwords are created and exported to China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Some of the loanwords are even more popular than their Chinese counterparts. At the same time, some new words created are vividly borrowed by other languages as well.

Many Mandarin words originally of foreign origin come from dialects which borrowed them from the original foreign language. The Mandarin word "ningmeng" (檸檬), meaning "Lemon", originated from Cantonese, in which the characters are pronounced as "lìng mung".[30][31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Official Language Division, Civil Service Bureau, Government of Hong Kong". 2008-09-19. Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Cantonese". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Cantonese: a comprehensive grammar, p.5, Stephen Matthews and Virginia Yip, Routledge, 1994
  5. ^ Cantonese as written language: the growth of a written Chinese vernacular, p. 48, Donald B. Snow, Hong Kong University Press, 2004
  6. ^ Ramsey and Ethnologue, respectively
  7. ^ Jyutping: gwong2 zau1 waa2
  8. ^ Jyutping: saang2 sing4 waa2
  9. ^ Jyutping: baak6 waa2
  10. ^ Jyutping: gwong2 dung1 waa2
  11. ^ Jyutping: zung1 man2
  12. ^ The Hong Kong Observatory is one of the examples of the Hong Kong Government officially adopting the name "廣東話": Hong Kong Observatory - Audio Web Page
  13. ^ Jyutping: biu1zeon2 jyut6jyu5; Guangdong Romanization: biu1 zên2 yud6 yu5
  14. ^ Minglang Zhou, Hongkai Sun (2004). Language Policy in the People's Republic of China: Theory and Practice Since 1949. Springer. ISBN 978-1402080388. 
  15. ^ a b Yingjin Zhang, ed. (1999). Cinema and Urban Culture in Shanghai, 1922-1943. Stanford University Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0804735728. 
  16. ^ Yiu-Wai Chu (2013). Lost in Transition: Hong Kong Culture in the Age of China. State University of New York Press. pp. 147–148. ISBN 978-1438446455. 
  17. ^ a b Donald, Stephanie; Keane, Michael; Hong, Yin (2002). Media in China: Consumption, Content and Crisis. RoutledgeCurzon. p. 113. ISBN 0-7007-1614-9. 
  18. ^ Meaghan Morris, Siu Leung Li, Stephen Ching-kiu Chan (2006). Hong Kong Connections: Transnational Imagination in Action Cinema. Duke University Press Books. p. 193. ISBN 978-1932643015. 
  19. ^ Lisa Odham Stokes (2007). Historical Dictionary of Hong Kong Cinema. Scarecrow Press. p. 427. ISBN 978-0810855205. 
  20. ^ "Basic Law, Chapter I : General Principles". 
  21. ^ Malaysian Cantonese
  22. ^ Chinese in Bridge, Volume 3
  23. ^ "Speak Mandarin Campaign". Retrieved 2010-10-07. 
  24. ^ "Edmund Lee Eu Fah, "''Profile of the Singapore Chinese Language Groups''", Social Statistic Section, Singapore Department of Statistics (2000)" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  25. ^ a b "". 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  26. ^ "Cantonese speakers in the UK". Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  27. ^ Lai, H. Mark (2004). Becoming Chinese American: A History of Communities and Institutions. AltaMira Press. ISBN 0-7591-0458-1.  need page number(s)
  28. ^ Mandarin Use Up in Chinese American Communities
  29. ^ "As Mandarin language becomes standard, Chinatown explores new identity". Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  30. ^ Lydia He Liu (1995). Translingual practice: literature, national culture, and translated modernity--China, 1900-1937 (illustrated, annotated ed.). Stanford University Press. p. 364. ISBN 0-8047-2535-7. Retrieved 8 December 2011. "last car 拉斯卡 lasi ka Shanghainese origin lemon 檸檬 ningmeng Cantonese origin: lihngmung lemonade # MK* ningmeng shui lemon time wmmw ningmeng shijian lepton w&m leibodun Leveler / B»&:£ niweila dang (political party) liaison mm lianyong libido Wc& laibiduo" ()
  31. ^

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