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China_Checker

Is it worth it to learn Cantonese or is it a dying language?

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China_Checker

I just moved to the mainland from Hong Kong six months ago and am now learning Mandarin which in makes me think in many ways, I should not have even started to learn Cantonese. More and more people in HK are learning Mandarin. Is there any reason I should continue studying Cantonese or will it be a dead language in a few more years? I would appreciate the feedback from people who have learned both Cantonese and Mandarin. Thank you.

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renzhe

I don't think that there's any chance of Cantonese dying in our lifetimes. It is and will remain an important language.

I do expect that Mandarin will become even more important than it is now, though.

You are the only one who knows whether there are reasons for you to study Cantonese. What were your reasons for starting to learn Cantonese and have they changed?

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Lu

It all depends on who you want to talk to. If you're going to spend most of your time on the mainland, it's probably more useful to learn Mandarin than Cantonese. If you're going to be in Hong Kong, Cantonese might be more useful. It's unlikely to die off in our lifetime, but I think its usage will become somewhat narrower.

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Nathan Mao

It's appeal will become more selective.

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anonymoose

Some people still learn latin, so why not?

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Kobo-Daishi

Some people still learn latin, so why not?

The Roman Catholic clergy?

Lawyers and scientists?

There's no incentive for priests, lawyers or scientists to learn Cantonese?

Once Hong Kong becomes just another Chinese city, Cantonese is doomed.

Kobo.

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imron
Once Hong Kong becomes just another Chinese city, Cantonese is doomed.

I certainly didn't get that impression of Cantonese from visiting a number of Chinese cities where Cantonese is the main language.

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Shelley

I also think that overseas Chinese are usually Cantonese speakers.

 

There are very large communities of Cantonese speakers in many big cities around the world,

 

This will probably continue for many years to come.

 

I can't see it dying out for good long time.

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Silent

 

Is there any reason I should continue studying Cantonese or will it be a dead language in a few more years?

Or there is a reason to study Cantonese is up to you. As many already said it will  almost certainly deminish in importance. There is a general tendency for smaller (ok cantonese is not that small) languages to die out due to increased mobility and communication and improved education. Basicly it's just impractical to change language every few kilometers. For cantonese there is the large migration of mandarin speakers and politics added to the mix. Politics may very well also be a reason for a future revival of Cantonese. E.g. if China gets divided in independent states.

 

Cantonese won't die overnight, it will take at least a couple of generations. Even if from now on no-one would learn it it would take 100 years or so before all the speakers  and with it the language has died.

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Lu

Or there is a reason...

Speaking of small languages: Silent, your Dutch is showing :-p

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lakers4sho

I'm from LA, and everywhere I go to most Chinese people that I've interacted with (outside of Chinese students at my school) are Cantonese speakers.

lakers4sho

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Pokarface

Renzhe is right, think about your reasons for learning a language.

Make a list writing down the reasons why you would like to learn Mandarin and Cantonese, and select whichever is more important to you today in the present, don't think about the past or the future, but what are your needs right now.

It's true, many people in China study Mandarin since they might speak a regional dialect; however, if you are living in Hong Kong, people WILL feel more comfortable speaking their mother language, in this case, Cantonese.

 

Cantonese is useful in Hong Kong, Macau, the Guangdong province in China, and I think all the China-towns around the globe (I recommend you visit your local China-towns if you objective is to socialize since you'll hear a lot of languages)

 

Nowadays, I see more students from China and Taiwan at American universities; therefore, Mandarin can be useful. Also, in my city I hear a lot of Mandarin and Vietnamese at the China-towns, that's why I want to learn both languages at a conversational level; whereas, some people want to learn a language for job opportunities.

 

Whatever your reasons are for learning a language, make sure they are your legitimate decisions. Don't follow trends or language myths.

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tytzer

Just fyi that Cantonese is a dialect and not a language since it still uses Chinese characters but just different pronunciation.

 

It is definitely not a dying 'language' since it's still spoken in most of GuangDong Province, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore. So adding another 'language' into your arsenal is not a bad thing so why the hell not? I say go for it.

 


P.S. I might be a little bias since I do speak Cantonese..  :P

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Pokarface

Tytzer, you are not being biased at all! This is true. Even the pirates of the carribean have gone to Singapore :-p

Have you guys seen that movie?

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tytzer

Haha.. Yes I've definitely seen that movie.. Although historically inaccurate, I just enjoy watching the film.  :lol:

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Hofmann

Just checking; nobody thinks it's just like Mandarin but pronounced differently, right? No? OK.

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tytzer

Hofmann.. It uses the same Chinese characters but pronounces it different.. Same thing with other dialects like Hokkien spoken in Taiwan and Fujian Province.. 

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lakers4sho

But syntax and grammar is a bit different, even some of the words.

lakers4sho

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tytzer

True.. But a lot can be said with other dialects in many other countries.. Like Moravian and Silesian dialects in Czech Republic.. Or Kyushu Japanese that is only spoken in the southern part of Japan..  

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imron

And like Spanish and Portuguese, or French and Italian.

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