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What dialect is this? Sub-dialect of Cantonese?


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My BF is Chinese and he's from Guangzhou. He can speak Cantonese as well as his mother language wich is some smaller dialect. But he don't know the official name of his own mother language. Can you help me?

He said that this dialect has about 50% same that in Cantonese and 50% different. When in Cantonese I love you is ngo ngoi nei. In his mother language it is something like gnai gnoi lei.

Any ideas?

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Did you mean: ngai ? If so, I'd say he's most probably Hakka. There are many Hakka in Guangzhou. And, no, Hakka is not a subdialect, but an old Chinese dialect similar to Cantonese. It is also spoken by many overseas Chinese (eg Indonesia) & in Taiwan.

But it's strange that your boyfriend is not aware of his roots. :-? The Hakka are supposed to be very traditional.

I posted a thread on Hakka Multimedia Dictionary a couple of days ago, you can find it under 'unanswered', so check it out. Also, check out other threads tagged with Hakka. See if your boyfriend understands the language. :)

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Here is a sound clip for you. First I speak Finnish and then he speaks his mother language. Maybe this can help you to find out wich dialect this is.

The phrases are: Good morning, Good day, Good bye, Thank you, No need to thank you, No thank you, How are you?, I'm fine, I am..., What's your name?, The food is really good, I can help you, Can I help you?, Sorry, That's okey.

Just some phrases I need to learn :)

Thank you very much!

Maaseutu kiina.amr

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Xuefang, after listening to the clip AGAIN, well, I don't know really... :conf

What confuses me most is that I can understand him as if he spoke regular Cantonese, but then I also hear sounds like -ien & -ia which are a characteristic of Hakka, so it could be Hakka (which also has subvariants) but you'll need a Hakka speaker to actually validate this.

Some words, like thank you 'do zia' & 'zoi gien' & 'lei hau' DO sound like Hakka (Cantonese would be like do ze, zoi gin & lei hou). Or it might be as he says, a sub-dialect of Cantonese, spoken with a regional accent, Chaozhou perhaps, something like that. A native Cantonese or Hakka speaker should be able to tell you more about it. ^^

Whatever, as I said earlier, until an expert comes to your rescue you'd better let him have a go at some of the Hakka audio sites, if it's his native language he should be able to understand what people are saying there.

PS: btw, Finnish sounds equally exotic to my ears :wink:

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  • 12 years later...

I would say it is Hakka (not a dialect of Cantonese, but a separate dialect with many sub-dialects in itself). In Hakka, the word for "I" sounds like "ngai" rather than the "ngo" of Cantonese.


I don't know what specific dialect of Hakka, but if he hasn't moved from a different place I'd guess it'd be similar to the Hong Kong Hakka dialect.

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