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Cantonese Accents


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Hello everyone

I'm cantonese from Vietnam and always wonder why my accent is so different as shen zhen or hong kong accent. For exemple I've found out that the word tea (茶) pronoumced as "cha" (english pronoumciation) by cantonese from Vietnam is pronoumced as "za" by mainland cantonese. There are many other examples with the "ch-" / "z-".

Another example 好中意妳 hou chong yi nei (still englis pronoumciation) in Vietnam becomes hou zong yi lei in Guang Dong.

My friends from shen zhen always laugh at me because of my "ancient accent" as they like to say. How come? Are there different accents for cantonese language? Is cantonese from oversea an older pronoumciation?

Thanx for help


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I also think that Cantonese overseas accents tend not to evolve, whilst Cantonese in Guangdong and especially Hong Kong changes contantly.

One example I can think of off the top of my head is the proclivity of people in Hong Kong to say the number 5 as "Mmmm" instead of "Ng" - an M sound missing the g, instead of hte "ng" sound

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My father who grew up in 西关 (sort of the standard of Guangzhou Cantonese) half a century ago also says "mmm" instead of "ng". So I don't think the "mmm" and "ng" mix-up is a recent development. They are both acceptable and hardly noticeable unless you pay specific attention.

There are many other examples with the "ch-" / "z-".

I'd feel uncomfortable when I hear "ch" used in place of "z/ts".

On the topic of Hong Kong Cantonese, it reminded me of a guy from the last 残酷一叮 episode. You can listen to him here, and see if you can understand him. 8)

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好中意妳 hou chong yi nei (still englis pronoumciation) in Vietnam becomes hou zong yi lei in Guang Dong.

I think changes in Cantonese pronunciation are sort of common; all the Cantonese speakers I know say 你 as "lei", 国 as "gok" and so on... whereas jyutping dictates "nei", etc.

To say one's accent is "ancient" is definitely a bit prescriptivist. Surely, Hong Kong Cantonese, or so-called Standard Cantonese, is probably "the norm", so to speak, but that's not to say another pronunciation is wrong.

Although I have to say, I've never been to Hongkong or Guangzhou.... so I'm not exactly an authority!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Some changes are more acceptable than others. For example, losing the initial "ng" is more acceptable than losing the ending "ng". (讲->赶) Changing "uo" into "o" is more acceptable than changing the ending "k" into "t". (觉->葛) The latter imo is just wrong... but the habbit is like a virus, it keeps spreading. Even people who originally spoke good Cantonese would sometimes be affected.

The rapid changes in Hongkong are due to immigration from other parts of China. Each dialect group contributes something new to the Cantonese language. Kids who have Cantonese parents and grandparents tend to speak better Cantonese.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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