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Thoughts on Cantonese?


PRLDynasty424
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I am sort of interested in  learning Cantonese. Anyone have any good  resources from it?

 

I know it  is less  useful of a language than  say Mandarin, but  idk I find the  culture  and  tones of the language fascinating and almost more  colorful than Mandarin.

 

Any native Cantonese speakers here, and thoughts on learning it?

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On 12/13/2020 at 12:49 AM, PRLDynasty424 said:

Anyone have any good  resources from it?

 

 

Start here

 

http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/

 

and here

 

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/55713-cantonese-textbooks-resources-after-mandarin/

 

 

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I picked up a little bit in Hong Kong when I lived there. I've thought about making more of a dedicated effort to learn myself. It might be far less useful than Mandarin but was such a tiny region I would say it has a much more abundant world of media such as good films and music that you could get into than PR China or even Taiwan. 

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not sure where you're located but the community college in SF has conversational classes, UCSF has 1-unit non-elective classes, and if you're interested in health and medical terminology, you'll find lotsa bilingual materials like at sfhp.org. of course, i'm gonna do a plug (hope that's ok), i have a YT channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/notnowigottago and podcast at: https://soundcloud.com/leslie-frank-643243096

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  • 1 month later...

I mainly used these two books back in the day:

 

香港広東語会話 (book in Japanese)

https://www.toho-shoten.co.jp/toho-web/search/detail?id=4497202046&bookType=jp

 

新编今日粤语 (book in Chinese)

https://www.blcup.com/PInfo/index/3755

https://www.blcup.com/PInfo/index/9849

 

It's a pleasant surprise to see that the 下册 is finally out (in 2018 it seems). I used the 上册 in around 2011, and didn't really have anywhere to go after that (other than native materials).

 

Before these, I used Sydney Lau, but I wouldn't recommend it unless it was your only choice.

 

Also, this book is the only resource i know of for learning Modern Standard Written Chinese without learning spoken Mandarin. If you aren't learning Mandarin and want to learn to read/write, this will be helpful:

 

Learning Chinese Using Cantonese

http://www.green-woodpress.com/products_detail.php?id=102

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On 12/15/2020 at 4:36 AM, Leslie Frank said:

i have a YT channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/notnowigottago 

 

I started viewing one of your videos and gave up very quickly because it was incredibly frustrating. What is the actual objective of these videos, and who is the target audience?

 

If they are language learning videos, then firstly I suggest separating Cantonese and Mandarin. Anyone who is a proficient speaker of either is not going to want to waste time listening to the language they already speak, and I suspect there are very few learners who are learning both simultaneously.

 

In addition, there was far too much slow English chat, most of which was not relevant to the Mandarin/Cantonese linguistic aspect of the video.

 

How you make your videos is obviously up to you. However, if you wish to attract more viewers, I suggest making videos dedicated to Mandarin and Cantonese separately, and increase the amount of those languages spoken and decrease the amount of English.

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Routledge has several Cantonese grammar books and an introductory course including audio. I would think these materials would be good to start with. There are teachers on italki and other sites.

https://www.routledge.com/Basic-Cantonese-A-Grammar-and-Workbook/Yip-Matthews/p/book/9780415815598

https://www.routledgetextbooks.com/textbooks/colloquial/language/cantonese.php

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13 hours ago, anonymoose said:

What is the actual objective of these videos, and who is the target audience? ...I suspect there are very few learners who are learning both simultaneously.

 

you're right--there's not a whole lot of ppl learning both canto and mando, but there are some (i suppose the small number of ppl who subscribed on the video channel as well as the ones on the podcast, although there may be a crossover from the podcast which has more subscribers), and that's okay. i made these because they help me with my job where i have to talk to ppl in both canto and mando, specifically about health matters. as an ABC with canto as my first language, health and medical terms were not in my arsenal of language skills, cuz growing up, nobody really talked about such things so i had to figure out what the terminology was and since i only needed to TALK to folks in their native language, in the beginning i didn't give two hoots about the characters but then a few ppl started asking for transcripts to read along while listening to the podcast eps, so again, because i never intended for character learning, i then had to spend time putting the transcripts together so there would be corresponding chinese characters and that took up a bit of time (yes, my beginning podcasts pretty much just utilized jyutping and pinyin); that's when i decided to do the videos, so ppl could see the characters, negating the need for transcripts.

 

so the ppl who have reached out to me personally were also mostly in the healthcare industry (although, interestingly, more on the psych side of health care which i may put a little more emphasis on but as i mentioned earlier, this started for my own personal needs and most of my clients are not talking to me about mental health issues--course, chinese folks (blanket generalization coming) usually don't like to air out their mental health problems and i suppose i could delve into those areas of their wellbeing but that's something that may come later) who wanted to be able to, at some point, communicate with canto and mando speaking patients. of course, there is no way that there will be full communications ability between patient and healthcare provider for those listening to my podcast or watching the videos to learn canto and mando. if their patients are monolingual canto or mando speakers, they're gonna need to use professional translators, but i suspect they wanted at least some basic knowledge to make their patients feel more comfortable with them as their healthcare provider.

 

i also started the podcast because at the time it came to my attention that the CCP was pushing to eradicate canto from HK's school system, so i conscientiously wanted to encourage canto learning. most folks want to learn mando but there's a fair amount of ppl who are learning canto as well, and the similarities and differences between the two languages are interesting to me (and possibly to others). i know i've said that the videos may turn some ppl off (cuz of the unconventional delivery), but not others; i guess i could further say, there'll be some ppl who won't give a flying fig about learning both canto and mando, but for the few who do, my podcast and videos may be of use to them.

 

as far as the amount of english--believe it or not, i've actually cut down on it a lot compared to the earlier podcast eps. (and in the beginning, i did all canto first, then all mando, but later i decided it would be more interesting to hear them both side-by-side for comparison purposes. i do say at the beginning of the vids that they supplement the podcast (or some such verbiage) so for those who have been listening to the podcast from the getgo, it's sort of a natural progression of things but probably awkward (if not offputting) for those who are just viewing the vids for the first time...)

 

short(-ish) answer to your question, is that i had to do the research cuz there isn't much out there about health and medical matters in terms of language learning and since i did the research, i thought i'd share my findings. i suppose the target audience are ppl like me, who are already working (or plan to work) with a canto and mando native speaking clientele in the healthcare industry. i feel extremely lucky that i'm at the spot i'm in cuz even if i don't know everything i need to know during our conversations, because at the end of the call (or a series of calls) i am helping these folks/resolving an issue, they are more than happy to educate me if it's obvious that i'm searching for a word term (instead of explaining a process, like a pap smear), or correcting me (leave out one (or two) characters, and you're talking mental (like ur challenged in that way) instead of the nervous system), so it's a win-win all around. 

 

i've worked with visiting scholars from china and some of them expressed to me how they are glad to be able to hear/learn canto as compared to their native mando. it's interesting but there's more canto speakers who can understand mando than the other way around, dunno why that is. the thing is, you're probably right that not many ppl will care to learn both, but for those who have an interest in both, then while my podcast and video channel may not be the best learning tool, it's just there available for them to take a gander at.

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  • 10 months later...

Glad you're able to ease into Cantonese fluency. I have the same experience. Clearly, learning Mandarin is extremely useful, but in my day-to-day work talking with clients in either Cantonese or Mandarin, it's actually Cantonese that's the more popularly spoken language; at least it is in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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On 1/29/2021 at 9:38 AM, Leslie Frank said:

it came to my attention that the CCP was pushing to eradicate canto from HK's school system


Cantonese supporters will say this. 
 

From a practical point of view, what would be the utility of using Cantonese as the main medium of teaching when it isn’t recognised as the national language and the rest of the country is using putonghua? Another viewpoint to look at the issue is that it’s not going to be supported in the way Mandarin would be. 

 

The majority of HK parents accept their children need putonghua and start them young. 
 

It’s good to be sentimental but societal needs have changed.


 

On 1/29/2021 at 9:38 AM, Leslie Frank said:

it's interesting but there's more canto speakers who can understand mando than the other way around, dunno why that is.


Err, because putonghua happens to be the national language of China and therefore exposure in numbers, educational and entertainment resources is greater across different areas? Taiwanese mandarin songs are pretty popular. Cantonese is more complicated with the extra tones and not matching standard written Chinese. 

 

 

The paucity of Cantonese learning materials for second language learners gives you some indication of what’s going on. Then, there’s the apathy of Cantonese speakers in encouraging interest their own dialect as noted by @PerpetualChange

 

On 12/15/2021 at 4:23 AM, PerpetualChange said:

even in Hong Kong most people do not seem to view Cantonese as worthy of formal study. 


 

If one wants to learn Hakka or Hokkien, there few formal learning resources. 

 

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Quote

 

Err, because putonghua happens to be the national language of China and therefore exposure in numbers, educational and entertainment resources is greater across different areas? 

 

 

This is probably true for the most part, but there's still a lot of the folks I talk to, who have been in the States for a long time, like when HK was still a British crown colony. I think what you've also said is true about entertainment resources, although, I'm pretty sure there are still HK movies that can be viewed in Cantonese, like the John Woo movies (that you can borrow from a public library), although more and more of them are getting dubbed in Mando.


 

Quote

 

From a practical point of view, what would be the utility of using Cantonese as the main medium of teaching when it isn’t recognised as the national language and the rest of the country is using putonghua?

 

 

Mando is definitely the more popular language found in schools outside of China and Taiwan; however, I'm glad there are some colleges and universities in America and Canada that have Canto classes. For my work, it's imperative that I know Canto, because most of the Chinese speaking clients I talk to speak Canto. 

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On 12/15/2021 at 3:23 AM, Leslie Frank said:

America and Canada that have Canto classes.

The paucity of learning resources is really absurd when you consider that there are many more Cantonese speakers than there are speakers of many other "official" languages. There are also more Cantonese speakers than speakers of Vietnamese or Korean, yet no one says why bother when it comes to them. Plus, consider the interest of heritage speakers, who want to retain the culture of their ancestors and care little about Mandarin.

 

As a native speaker of English I don't really view my language learning efforts as being of any particularly compelling utility. It's more about feeling a deeper appreciation of culture. Cantonese would be worthwhile as anything either way. 

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There's a sad probability that Cantonese is going the way of the many languages nearly wiped out thanks to colonialism although there are small pockets of people here and there who are trying their mightily best to keep these nearly lost languages like Hawaiian, Welsh, and many tribal languages alive for future generations. People, in general, seem to appreciate the diversity of people of different ethnicities; I hope an appreciation of diversity in languages will come to pass, in particular for Cantonese. There's so much good in learning and speaking multiple languages--it's such a shame that the powers-that-be are generally impervious to such a notion.

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On an unrelated note, is anyone aware of how people in Hong Kong learn written Chinese? 

Do they learn how to pronounce characters in Cantonese, and then get Mandarinized later in their education? Or do they just speak Cantonese at home, and then get taught with Mandarin as soon as they go to school (where they receive most of their education in Mandarin)

 

I lived in HK 10+ years ago, and things were done as in the former scenario, though there was a lot of worry amongst some people that educational reforms were pushing toward the latter. I believe that, even in PRC, people in areas with deeply entrenched local language culture receive at least the first several years of their education in that language, with Mandarin-speaking teachers showing up with greater and greater frequency toward the back half of primary school. But the main difference would be that they typically do not learn how to pronounce the written Chinese characters in their local language. That is where education in Hong Kong would differ (at least 10 years ago). 

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On 12/15/2021 at 3:04 PM, Leslie Frank said:

There's a sad probability that Cantonese is going the way of the many languages nearly wiped out thanks to colonialism although there are small pockets of people here and there who are trying their mightily best to keep these nearly lost languages like Hawaiian, Welsh, and many tribal languages alive for future generations.

 

Cantonese is a language spoken by almost 100 million people. Did Hawaii even pass 100,000 inhabitants before colonisation? Like @PerpetualChangesaid, if it's dying, we're gone before that happens.

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On 12/15/2021 at 10:12 AM, PerpetualChange said:

Well, if it really is dying (some would say that it's doing better than ever), it likely won't be near those levels of extinction until many years after I am personally long dead also. So might as well go for it 😄

Like I said, Canto is just seeming to follow in the footsteps of domineering powers like native Hawaiian languages when colonization mandated English as the official language.
 

[A law passed in 1896 prohibited the use of Hawaiian in public and private school instruction (Kupau, 2004). In 1898, Hawai'i became a US territory, and two years later the Organic Act of 1900 was passed mandating that all government business be conducted in English (Kupau, 2004). These trends in public and private education and laws prohibiting the official use of Hawaiian in schools and government effectively made English a symbol of power and status in the islands (Kahumoku, 2003). These policies precipitated a wholesale shift to English and left less than 2% of Native Hawaiians fluent in Hawaiian (Language Materials Project: Hawaiian, 2010; Salvail, Nguyen, & Liang, 2010). ]

 

But there's still a lot of people who support Canto and hopefully that will lead to the preservation of the language, again like what is happening for the Hawaiians.


[Despite the dwindling number of native Hawaiian language speakers and polices that diminished the value of the Hawaiian language, the 1970's saw a political and cultural revival among Native Hawaiians. This resilience in the face of almost overwhelming opposition is "a testament to the importance and relevance of Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) cultural heritage to contemporary Kānaka Maoli" (Kaholokula, Nacapoy, & Dang, 2009). The Hawaiian Renaissance has included Hawaiian language revitalization, establishing a bachelor's program in Hawaiian language at the University of Hawai'i in 1972...]

 

If you've read my previous posts, you'll see that I'm very much for learning Canto, so good on you for staying the course.

 

The above excerpts from:

scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu 

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On 12/15/2021 at 10:26 AM, PerpetualChange said:

Do they learn how to pronounce characters in Cantonese, and then get Mandarinized later in their education? Or do they just speak Cantonese at home, and then get taught with Mandarin as soon as they go to school (where they receive most of their education in Mandarin)


I just talked to one client and he basically said Canto is the oral language he grew up with, without any academic training. He never bothered to learn Canto characters but because he saw those characters used in written media and/or ads, he was able to recognize what those characters were in their context. He might not know how to write Canto characters but he can recognize them when he sees them, based on his knowledge of them as part of his oral vernacular. He and his family (originally from HK) live in the States as all my clients do, and they always speak Canto at home. I have another appointment with another client later today and if there's anything different from what I just wrote here, I'll give an update; otherwise, it'll be the same ole, same ole.

 

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