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7 facts about Cantonese

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Enjune Zhang

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7 facts about Cantonese

有关粤语的七个事实

 

Not everyone speaking Cantonese knows the facts about this language, more specifically, a dialect of Chinese. However, knowing them may smoothen your path of learning Cantonese.

1 Not every Cantonese could speak Cantonese

We call people born in Guangdong province Cantonese. People in Chaozhou and Meizhou are Cantonese, but they both have their own mother tongue, Teochew and Hakka.

 

2 Cantonese is spoken not only in Guangdong province

People in several parts of Guangxi province speak Cantonese, say Wuzhou and Yulin. Immigrants moving from south China to foreign countries speak Cantonese, especially those in New Zealand, Australia, American and Canada, etc.

 

3 Cantonese applies the same Chinese characters applied in Mandarin

Frequently applied Chinese characters are with their Cantonese pronunciation, but some are not applied when we write in Cantonese while we may have some other wordings describing the same thing different from Mandarin. It will be hard to find the exact character in dictionary corresponding to the pronunciation, since the modern dictionary is edited according to Mandarin. Therefore, we may make the written form of Cantonese closer to the Mandarin style, applying the characters normally used in Mandarin with the same meaning let along getting the character 100% matchable with the Cantonese pronunciation written. It is quite normal when someone speaking Cantonese doesn't know how to write a certain character he has just spoken. Written language in Cantonese is highly consistent with that of Mandarin, which makes the title in TV program reading friendly nationwide, while leaving that part of characters alien from the perspective of Mandarin seldom applied and recalled even by people speaking Cantonese.

 

4 There is Pinyin for Cantonese too

Pinyin in Cantonese is a romanization of of pronunciation. It is invented for foreigners or Chinese not natively speaking Cantonese. Actually, native Cantonese speakers have no idea of the tones and Pinyin of Cantonese, which is even hard for them to comprehend and master. Cantonese native speakers learn Cantonese via daily imitation and practice without the help of Pinyin.

https://cantonese.ca/romanization.php

 

5 There are more than four tones in Cantonese

There are six tones in Cantonese, which is marked as 1-6. If the Cantonese pronunciation of a character is ended with p, t or k, which sounds short, strong and stops in an abrupt way, it is taken as a special tone since it shares the same pitch of tone 1, 3 or 6. 

 

6 Chinese mark the pronunciation of Cantonese with characters

There is no such a thing as Pinyin in ancient China. Pronunciation of Chinese is marked by a combination of characters, with one familiar character sharing the same consonant with the alien character, and the other sharing the same vowel.

 

7 There are varies accents and styles of Cantonese

Not people speaking Cantonese can understand the Cantonese they speak to each other. Cantonese spoken by people in Hong Kong may sound a little bit different to those spoken by people in Guangzhou. But anyway they could understand each other. However, it is not the same when it comes to the case where the difference is distinct, say, pronouncing the same thing in hugely different accents, or describing the same thing in different wordings. It is talking about the difference between Cantonese in Guangzhou and Cantonese in other Guangdong cities. The latter may develop toward a way close to Cantonese in Guangzhou style or Hong Kong style, given that Guangzhou is the capital in Guangdong province, and its accent is taken as something standard for people in any other area of Guangdong to follow, while Hong Kong media like TVB are widely known and they are having greater influence to people in mainland China.

 

Video resources for Cantonese learners

TV SERIES

七十二家房客 

法证先锋

金枝玉孽

使徒行者

外来媳妇本地郎

NEWS

城事特搜

珠江新闻眼

CANTONESE SONGS BY THE SINGERS BELOW

陈慧娴

梅艳芳

徐小凤

叶倩文

Beyond

张学友

张国荣

陈百强

陈奕迅

TEACHING VIDEOS IN BILIBILI BY THE ACCOUNTS BELOW

粤语卜卜斋

笑谈广州话

粤语老师

粤知一二

粤讲越好玩

 

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