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Does ethnic Chinese Vietnamese speak Cantonese with weird accent?


JohnLe
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I have a couple of friends who were born in Vietnam but to Chinese parents who emigrated to Vietnam in the 30s and they went to Hong Kong for a vacation. When they tried to speak Cantonese, they found out that the Hong Kong people made fun of their accent and generally treated them with a lot of disrespect. They cut their vacation short and went home. Is their Cantonese accent that bad?

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My guess is that it's not objectively 'bad', but obviously different, much as Americans speak English differently from English people. And once you can hear from someone's accent where they're from, that information can be used to treat someone differently. I suppose Hongkongnese look down on Vietnamese or Vietnamese Chinese (perhaps because Vietnam is a poorer country?), and they were not so much laughing at their Cantonese, but laughing at them for being from Vietnam.

Which is actually worse. What a shitty experience your friends' parents went through, that's no way to be treated on your holiday.

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If I'm not mistaken, Vietnamese itself is heavily influenced by both Mandarin and Cantonese, so it seems reasonable that they would have their own unusual accent as a result of that. Whether or not it's bad, would of course be somewhat subjective.

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One must consider also the history of 華人 in the lands of Vietnam and the rest of French Indo-China, as families may not necessarily have originated in the urban centres from which emerged the Cantonese of Hong Kong around the 珠江三角洲, but maybe from 潮州 Min-influenced areas, from 粵西 regions, or of a 客家 background. 

 

The other aspect is whether there is a real 河内 or 西貢 Cantonese lingua franca (often called 越南白話). Here is the impression of one forum-poster. There's a real dearth of academic literature on this, whether in English, French or Chinese.

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There are historical reasons why Hong Kong people don't like Vietnamese people, i.e. Hong Kong being the port of first asylum for Vietnamese boat people for decades. Perhaps the disrespect had more to do with their being Vietnamese (which should have little to do with Vietnam being poorer, re #2) than their Cantonese accent.

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  • 4 weeks later...
My guess is that it's not objectively 'bad', but obviously different, much as Americans speak English differently from English people. And once you can hear from someone's accent where they're from, that information can be used to treat someone differently.

 

If Cantonese is their second language, it could just be the influence of Vietnamese on their accent.

 

I've known a few second-generation Chinese-Americans who speak Cantonese with a bit of an American accent.  The accent is more pronounced with the few third-generation Cantonese speakers around here.

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