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Tomsima

Using Cantonese in HSK

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Tomsima

Well I finally decided to start on Cantonese today! :tong i am aware that there is no HSK equivalent standardised test for Cantonese, and also aware that written Cantonese is essentially the same as the written form of 'standard Chinese'. However I'm still not sure to what extent written Cantonese is the same as standard 'written Chinese' (ie. the 白話文、 文言文 etc. taught under the name of 'Mandarin').

 

so here's my hypothetical question: if you have never studied Mandarin, but have studied Cantonese to a high level, or if Cantonese is your native tongue, could you take an hsk exam and still have a chance at passing?

 

obviously the listening is a write off, as it is 'oral', stylistically speaking, and of course the pronunciation is totally different. looking at the HSK 6, with a pass at 180/300, and a total of 200 marks available for reading and writing, would it be fair to say it is theoretically possible for a Cantonese speaker to take an HSK exam and pass, purely due to the written forms of these languages being so similar, and that there is no oral section?

 

Sorry if this is a dumb question and the answer is obvious. I'm not planning on doing this or anything, just a question i was thinking about and was interested what people might have to say.

  • Good question! 2

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Hofmann

Cantonese and other non-Mandarin varieties are in a diglossic relationship with Mandarin. When Cantonese speakers write, they usually (attempt to) write 100% Mandarin. However, because many don't speak Mandarin, they read the characters aloud in Cantonese when they read texts written in Mandarin. However, the language they speak when they read aloud isn't really a language, but part of one language and part of another. An analogy would be reading (German) "mein Deutsch ist sehr schlecht" aloud as "mine Dutch is sore slight." Clearly, this isn't a language because no one ever spoke this way.

 

This situation is potentially confusing for a layperson, more so for a Chinese speaker (as Chinese varieties share the same script), so they explain it as you have, that all Chinese varieties are written the same way, and not just with the same script.

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geraldc

Other than facebook posts, there really isn't anywhere to read written Cantonese. With regards to can you pass reading and writing section of the HSK if you only speak Cantonese but can read "Chinese", looking at the population of Hong Kong, the majority of the population should easily pass, the only problems being the simplifed text.

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chiuyan
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Other than facebook posts, there really isn't anywhere to read written Cantonese.

 

There are numerous magazines, websites, and even books from Hong Kong that use written Cantonese. Many, if not most, of the adverts these days on the mtr use some amount of written Cantonese. And of course people use various combinations of standard Chinese and written Cantonese when communicating online. Written Cantonese is very common in HK. 

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