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studying mandarin and cantonese simultaneously


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My name is Tom. I'm a new user, but not new to studying Chinese. I've taken two years of Mandarin classes at my university and would say I'm at an intermediate level. Now, I know the question could be easily answered with "well, it depends on how much time you have", but I want to know if any of you from experience know if it's ok to delve into Cantonese albeit not having a very strong background in Mandarin. Just want to be aware of any pitfalls or any interesting linguistic discoveries you all have found. 謝謝!

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Personally, I wouldn't really advise it. I think there's so much to learn when learning a Chinese language, that it's just best to stick with one and really study hard, day in day out for years. Then, branch out into another dialect/language.

However, on the other hand, if you're able to practice with native speakers of both, or have a girlfriend/boyfriend who speaks one, or if you have an intense cultural interest in one, then I think it's probably ok to do both at the same time.

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Cantonese made easy

I found a book that was written in 1887 and it gives better tone lesson than nowadays Cantonese learning book.

It just teaches pupils to follow their teachers "singings"

Too bad it does't have mp3 but I plan to remake this tone exercise.

But I found a website that will pronounce what you type and it has both Cantonese and Mandarin.

Mandarin and Cantonese re cording

Left circle is for Mandarin and right is for Cantonese.

Cantonese tone is very tidy and very balanced.

6 tones - 3 highs and 3 lows. The 3 other checked tones are just inside that six tones.

Therefore Cantonese can be simplified into just 6 tones.

Those checked tones are just p, t, k at the final postion and as in English, a p,t,k at the back kills a vowel and makes the word "sounds shorter".

Copy and paste the following into that recording site...

3 high,

先癬線屑 (sin1, sin2, sin3, sit3)

3 low

藍濫艦立 (lam4, lam5, lam6, lap6)

sort of like do re me fa so la ti do

but you don't have to hit that exact pitch.

tone is just a relative pitch.

some people can speak with higher pitch and some people speak with lower pitch.

like those people who have smoker's voice, their pronunciation of number 4 tone (第四聲, which has a pitch contour of 2 to 1 or 1 to 1)

gives them more style (cracking voice).

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Well, I'll just answer your question. You can start learning any language without background knowledge in other languages. As for learning two at the same time vs. one at a time, I don't know. However, if you want to learn 3 or more Chinese languages, I recommend first learning Middle Chinese.

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