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Learning cantonese instead mandarin?


Kijn the Relar

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Kijn the Relar

Hi, I have recently become interested again in chinese. Im not sure what chinese to study honestly. Everyone claims u should study mandarin but thing is, I live in the US and have no reason businesswise to learn chinese. I am learning it out of interest pretty much. I know very little about dialects of chinese but I do know cantonese seems to me to sound cooler than mandarin.  

 

thing is, Im actually an animation student and hearing about china's future animation market seems to intrigue me as if learning the language might pay off in my field. I will say, I have no idea what dialect chinese restaurants speak near me, I live in north carolina btw. It would be awesome to be able to talk to those speakers and order in chinese if possible. Im also concerned about the avaliable learning materiala for cantonese or other dialects.

 

Any thoughta? 

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Totally agree with Lu. Maybe do some further exploration into the different Chinese dialects and see what you like, but remember that as far as usefulness goes Mandarin will fulfil both party trick status and practical tasks around the globe as it is fast becoming the predominant lingua franca in the Chinese speaking world. Nevertheless if you're likely to be self studying then I think the biggest factor in your success or failure will be how much you like the language you're studying, so by all means go with Cantonese if that's your thing.

 

By the way, is your username related to the King Killer Chronicle?

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I worked in a chinese grocery store for about a year here in Florida. Of the 26 chinese coworkers I had about 6 or 7 spoke cantonese. Of these only one didn't speak mandarin as well. It was the daughter of the owner who was second generation and just spoke with the family at home.

 

I had coworkers from Taiwan, Guangzhou, Xian, Tianjin, Inner Mongolia, Fuzhou etc. They all had local dialects but spoke together in mandarin with no problem.

 

Mandarin is the national language both in the Mainland(putonghua) and Taiwan(Guoyu) as well as being promoted in Singapore. 

 

There are over  1,300,000,000 people in China and about  7,000,000 in Hong Kong.  Everyone on the mainland either speak Mandarin or are pressured to speak Mandarin.  Even in Hong Kong there are many people learning mandarin.

 

Toisan was the original lingua franca here in the US but then was replaced by Cantonese. With emigration to America it will become Mandarin. There will be pockets of Cantonese speakers but its just a numbers game. 

 

I really like Cantonese, Taiwanese(hokkien) etc but its a reality of what is practical. That being said if you want to learn Cantonese learn it. There are fewer resources but  you can find them.

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I just saw that  your an animation student and you say Chinese might help you in your field. I would say that Mandarin would be what would help you period.

They are related languages and studying Mandarin will help you to learn other dialects quicker if you decide to learn Cantonese as well.

 

Study both Simplified and Traditional Hanzi characters. If you have to choose study Simplified but Traditional characters opens up Taiwan and Hong Kong to you.

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Kijn the Relar

Wow so many quick, informative replies! Thanks, dudes. I think I'll stick it to mandarin since it obviously has the most usage. Plus, I already have a bit of experience with the sounds and tones of mandarin. Especially since it might likely be relevant to animation.  I agree, ordering food in the restaurant in Chinese does seem trivial and kinda useless.   I may decide to study cantonese later but as for now, probably just continue with Mandarin. 

 

Limo, my username is from my action-adventure comic book series I'm in production of titled "Seamsters". Relars are an intelligent species/race in addition to humans which have canine characteristics among other differences. ;)   See my avatar 

 

 

 

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Another point, and an important one, is that formal written Chinese and spoken Mandarin are one and the same, apart from various colloquial characteristics of the spoken language. Just like English: you don't quite write and talk the same.

 

But written Cantonese exists only in special contexts, such as ads, language textbooks, opera scripts, and movie star interviews. So learning to read and write formal Chinese would be more difficult if you start with Cantonese.

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Publius

Alright, let me be the devil's advocate. 8)

There's still a sizeable Cantonese-only population in North America. Being able to communicate with them is a big plus.

Cantonese is phonologically closer to Middle Chinese. Knowing Cantonese can help you better enjoy ancient poetry.

It also helps if you decide later to take on Japanese. Japan as we all know is a giant in the animation world.

Cantonese is cool. The Cantonese textbook I used is the most entertaining textbook I've ever seen.

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1 hour ago, Publius said:

There's still a sizeable Cantonese-only population in North America. Being able to communicate with them is a big plus.

True, but most of them speak English at least as well as Cantonese.

1 hour ago, Publius said:

Cantonese is phonologically closer to Middle Chinese. Knowing Cantonese can help you better enjoy ancient poetry.

True, but I don't see from the OP's post that poetry is important to them. Of course, they might change their mind once they get to know Chinese poetry. Still, I think it can be enjoyed perfectly well in Mandarin. The meaning doesn't change.

1 hour ago, Publius said:

It also helps if you decide later to take on Japanese. Japan as we all know is a giant in the animation world.

Is Cantonese more similiar to Japanese than Mandarin is? Even if that is so, if one wants to learn Japanese, one needs to learn Japanese, not Cantonese.

1 hour ago, Publius said:

Cantonese is cool. The Cantonese textbook I used is the most entertaining textbook I've ever seen.

It's true, Cantonese is cool. No argument here. Some of the best Chinese movies are in Cantonese.

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Kijn the Relar

I already know Japanese to a fairly advanced level, though my actual speaking sucks due to no one to practice with. But yes, I decide to take up cantonese later on, but let's just see first how good mandarin goes haha.  

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Ah, fair enough. Sounds quite interesting, I hope it goes well. The Relar I was referring to is a sort of rank at an academic institution (makes it sounds boring but it's a good series if you're into fantasy/adventure).

 

 

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querido

If you had a family member or loved one who spoke one or the other this might override every other consideration. And if your primary interest is future employment (which you mention), then most people - including the native Cantonese speakers I know, undoubtedly -  would advise you to study Mandarin. But if you have "no reason businesswise to learn chinese", are "learning it out of interest pretty much", and if "Cantonese seems to me to sound cooler than Mandarin", I'll share my experience for what it's worth.

 

[To Kijn the Relar: I had no reason to study Chinese other than this interest and a vague goal of delaying the aging of my brain. And I remember that when I was deciding between Mandarin and Cantonese I loved the sound of Cantonese much more (though Mandarin was beautiful too (if spoken clearly)). At that time, I accepted the arguments about practicality and about the better standardization of Mandarin and of Mandarin study materials. I started in Mandarin with the most perfectly-spoken materials I could find and I continued with these until I felt I had to switch to native materials. I tried to do that but very quickly became annoyed by the prevailing native enunciation (the speaking without moving the lips or opening the mouth). I'm sorry, but that causes me to feel like it's, I'll say, less open. In Cantonese now, I am happy struggling to match what sounds and feels like openness about the information being shared and about the feelings of the speaker. These are just feelings, man, but they're important to me.

But lastly, I must warn you that you should probably have a much weightier reason to start with either of these - a family member or loved one, yes; a vague goal of future employment, maybe. But it'll take a chunk of your life, you know.]

 

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Kijn the Relar

Querido, I agree that yes, cantonese is probably mostly worth it IF I had a loved one who spoke it and I wanted the communicate with them. Though I do honestly disagree with you needing to have a weighted, heavy reason beyond pure interest or career interest. There are countless people who have learned Japanese for example and have no real connection to friends or family that spoke it. They simply wanted to learn it and immerse themselves in a new culture or loved Japanese pop culture. I'm coming at mandarin out of the reason  to understand the, or at least a significant part of the Chinese culture beyond what average American's know.   I have gone to Chinese restaurants my whole life, it was a simply fun thing to do. I have watched numerous Chinese films and now I want to get beyond the surface level and really get an idea as best I can to understanding the people and culture through learning the language.    Perhaps, that would be considered a deeper reason to want to learn it though. :)   

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fabiothebest

Learn what you prefer. You can also learn both. It won't be the easiest thing on earth, but I guess you already know this. There are more resources for learning Mandarin, but you can surely learn Cantonese. Cantonese uses traditional characters and has a different pronunciation. You may simply focus on Cantonese or learn Mandarin or the Chinese spoken in Taiwan (that uses simplified characters) and then expand your study to Cantonese. I've been studying Mandarin all the time and I'm at intermediate level and I'll never finish learning new things. I also didn't learn traditional characters but it's something I'd like to do in the future and if I wanted to learn spoken Cantonese fast I'd surely use Glossika as one of my resources (already downloaded it, ready to use it when I want :P). There are also some books, but I didn't really started learning myself so I can't suggest you any at this time. Maybe someone who is studying Cantonese already can help you in that regard. Anyway coming back to the main topic of your post, if you just study for the love of studying a new language and getting closer to a culture you like, just choose the one you prefer. If you like Cantonese although more people speak Mandarin there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just go for it.

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If one plans eventually to learn both, my experience is that it is easier to go from Cantonese to Mandarin. It's easier to drop the final stops to approximate Mandarin than to learn where the "new" Cantonese ones should go.

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