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Strawberries513

How easy to learn Cantonese after Mandarin?

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Strawberries513

If someone speaks Mandarin fluently, how much of a 'discount' would they get for learning Cantonese? Would the time required to learn Cantonese be significantly shorter? Thanks for any input.

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Xiao Kui

I'm in the same boat, just starting Cantonese, already fluent in Mandarin. I can make some comparisons though because before I learned Mandarin once I did tackle Cantonese for a short time but dropped it because I moved to the mainland away from HK and wasn't going to need it any time soon.

I think some of the grammar sentence structures are the same as Mandarin which is a big advantage and some (a small percentage it seems!) of the words sound similar so that's a tiny advantage. The biggest advantage I have though is i can already read Mandarin fluently so when it comes to recordings that have accompanying text I can play them back at slightly slower speed and read along, so I can pick up stuff a lot faster than the average newbie westerner with a textbook.

Again, I'm just starting out, but these have been my observations thus far. One of the best advantages maybe that after you've already learned Mandarin you actually believe it's possible to learn any language, so it doesn't seem so formidable. I'm looking forward to being fluent in Cantonese one day, but it's gonna take me a few years.

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Quest

I think it helps to recognize sound shift patterns, many sound shifts are consistent. Grammar should be a breeze, they are pretty much the same between the two dialects. Also, learn common Cantonese specific words, there aren't that many. Lastly, there are a lot of idioms in Cantonese, this will take some time. Knowing Mandarin, especially Taiwan Mandarin helps a lot in learning Cantonese.

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floatingmoon

Watching Cantonese tv shows with caption can help learning Cantonese.

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Lu

I can't speak for Cantonese, but learning Taiwanese is a lot easier with Mandarin under my belt. I find you can often just fill in the dialect words into a Mandarin sentence structure and get it right (not always, but often). Also many words are of course related. I'd say it definitely helps a lot.

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wushijiao

I've been studying Cantonese really intensely for about a month now.

So far, it seems that you really need a ton of listening to the sounds to get an ear for it. Some of the vowel sounds can be pretty tough to distinguish, coming from Mandarin (or English, for that matter).

Learning the vocab seems easy so far.

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asheh

Strawberry,

The 'big discount' you get is that you won't need to learn any characters / grammar and it is pretty big. If you end up in HK, there are some traditional vs simplified issues, but they are easy to get used to.... I don't think you have to 'study those' -- it is just practice at looking at them.

The tricky part would be the speaking part. All words are pronounced differently (with more tones). As you know, if you write /know standard Chinese and learn to pronounce each word in Cantonese, you will be fine.

It is only when you get colloquial /conversational that Cantonese adds certain words/ expressions into the speech -- most of them you will not put into text in a formal letter. If you are planning in living in Guangzhou or HK for a while, you will pick those up easily (I think)

Because of the tones, IMO learning Mandarin after Cantonese is easier than Cantonese after Mandarin.

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LaoZhang

Seems to me that the Cantonese accent when speaking Mandarin is much stronger than a Mandarin accent when speaking Cantonese, which would lead me to think that it's better to study Mandarin first, but I'm just talking about people who's first language was either Mandarin or Cantonese. I haven't heard very many foreigners speaking good Cantonese.

What does everyone else hear?

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calibre2001

IMO without a grasp of colloquial cantonese, one can consider himself/herself as a person who knows cantonese. It is after all a spoken dialect/language rather than a written one.

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wushijiao
haven't heard very many foreigners speaking good Cantonese

There are certainly some. Take a look at some videos wannabefreak has put on his website, (which is really well done):

http://cantonese.hk/wp/?p=25

I picked up a book today called "Cantonese in Hong Kong" by Kwok-kin Chan and Chung-mou Si. The book is specifically designed for people who know Mandarin, and then study Cantonese. It has dialogues, spoken with pauses after each line, so that one can repeat it. They then do the new words in isolation. The dialogues and new words are presented with its Mandarin equivalent and English equivalent. Then they have useful drills afterwords (word building and substitution drills). Altogether, it comes with three CD's.

Anyway, this is the type of learning material that will hopefully allow me to transfer my Mandarin skills as effectively and quickly into Cantonese. (I'll give an update in a month or two!)

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floatingmoon

question: So people whose first language is "not" Chinese, would find that book useful too?

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wushijiao
So people whose first language is "not" Chinese, would find that book useful too?

I think so. It has English with it that is fairly clear, and the book is well designed from a teaching point of view. The audio is well made, too. However, I think the pace that it goes at is a bit faster than books designed for people who don't know some dialect of Chinese.

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floatingmoon

I have some sudden thinking. If anyone in HK, may be they can go to library and ask the librarian to suggest books about learning Cantonese for people whose first language is not Chinese. Perhaps in an university too? and wow, speaking of that, I saw a tv documentary show, a foreigner professor studying Chinese linguistic. So be great if anyone get to know people like such who can suggest how to learn Cantonese.

There is a way of pronunciation for Cantonese, but it's very complicate. Much more complicate than Mandarin 羅馬拼音.

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zozzen

the romanization system promoted by most scholars is called "jyutping" (粵拼) in which all syllables can produce around one thousand sounds. If you can speak all these sounds correctly that means you can orally deliver all Cantonese sound. I don't think it's "more" difficult than mandarin pinyin, but it's much lesser common for most native cantonese speakers. I'm among a few of my classmates who learned it when i had joined the Society for the Chinese Poem.

Check this link:

http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-can/syllables.php

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floatingmoon

zozzen:

Do you know any books (for English reader) regarding Cantonese, that you can suggest here? Thank you.

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zozzen

sorry that i didn't follow this thread. I have no ideas about books for English speakers, but I've, out of curiosity, listened to pimsleur's course on cantonese. I think that's okay. Their pronunciation is based on Standard Cantonese, and that's full of real-life conversation. The problem is that it's fairly difficult to imitate Cantonese pronunciation (less difficult than Vietnamese but more difficult than Mandarin, in my opinion) so make sure you have a Cantonese speaker to correct your sounds early.

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tooironic
IMO without a grasp of colloquial cantonese, one can consider himself/herself as a person who knows cantonese. It is after all a spoken dialect/language rather than a written one.

Mostly. But not all dialects conform exactly to Mandarin's standard grammar (not to mention lexical) structures. Such, it's pretty close, but there are (often confusing) exceptions. The idea that all of the Chinese dialects are united under the same writing system is not entirely correct. Don't get me wrong, there is certainly a high degree of correlation, but it's not as homogeneous as some scholars might have you believe.

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amego

Real life example:

I'm a native Mandarin speaker, after watching Japanese dramas, I still can't speak and Japanese.

However, after watching some Cantonese drama, I can understand and speak Cantonese (though not perfect of course).

Same with Hokkien.

The basic structure and form is there, thus knowing one Chinese language will help you in another greatly.

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L-F-J

wushijiao-

how about that update? :mrgreen: how's it going?

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wushijiao
wushijiao-

how about that update? how's it going?

Not bad. :mrgreen: I finished working through "Teach Yourself:Cantonese", and I'm more than halfway through Cantonese in Hong Kong.

Steve Kaufmann mentioned that to learn Cantonese (as a Mandarin speaker) he listened to Cantonese audio over and over for about 6 months. So, I'm kind of following that model. I'm trying to get a good base in listening and the sounds, and will then go from there.

Anyway, if you knwo Mandarin, I really think the best book, that I've seen, is Cantonese in Hong Kong, by Kowk-kin Chan and Chung-mou Si. It's really well made.

How about you L-F-J?

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