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Starting Cantonese


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Hi, I've been studying Mandarin for over 3 years now... I would like to start learning Cantonese, but I cannot study it as intensively YET. This is because I'm studying Mandarin and Spanish. I would like to take courses for Cantonese in college, but I am eager to start learning little by little. I need to start learning because of a personal situation I am in. So, what would be a good way to start? I asked my friend if he could teach me a few phrases each day, but this is not how I started learning Mandarin. I'm just really confused as to what I should do... Should I wait until I can take a course in college? Or should I just get some very basic background knowledge? If so, where do I start?


Very confused,



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cantonese is better to learn from friends and living in place where you must use cantonese to survive. total immersion will help you get the tones. some places 7 tones, some places 9 tones. angry taxi driver: 11 tones.

:o) my girlfriend can record me watching an English Premier League match. you'll be cursing in fluent cantonese in no time...

hor hor.. ^_^

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listen to Pimsleur's Cantonese, it gives you a good intro to the language and doesn't require any real work.

your 3 year's mandarin will definately help you with developing cognates, even stuff like words starting with the same letter.

and go through this:


and for all intents and purposes, there are 6 tones.

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I also learnt Mandarin before starting to learn Cantonese, and I think your knowledge of Mandarin will help you quite a bit. Things to look out for:

- the 6 (7 if you learn from Teach Yourself Cantonese) tone contours

- Mandarin equivalents eg Cantonese (ge) basically = Mandarin 的

- some differences in grammar eg Mandarin 我先走 = Cantonese 我走先

Also check out Adam Sheik's site http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk and the forums there, and you may like to try out some books + audio tapes, such as Teach Yourself Cantonese, Chan Kwok Kin & Betty Hung's A Cantonese Textbook (I think that's what it's called - too lazy to check :roll: ) and Colloquial Cantonese.

You might also be able to get a copy of FSI Cantonese, I know there were people at the Cantonese Learning & Discussion Forums http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/phorum/read.php?2,44375 sharing it via bittorent.

Hope that helps! :)

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most importantly ... speak it.

create dialogues and practice. pretend you are in a market and speak speak speak with a native speaker and watch movies to imitate the actors accents and actions. don't worry about the cantonese particles that end sentences. practice practice practice dialogues for cantonese. :o)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think the best way to start learning Cantonese is by watching Hong Kong (HK) DVDs. Just about all HK movies have English subtitles. Although, I believe triad movies are the only worthwhile kind to buy, since they teach you the practical street phrases on how to curse and hire hookers.

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  • 1 month later...

Brother, trust me, DON'T LEARN CANTONESE! I struggled with it several years ago and I just gave up eventually because you'll never get to use it if you want to learn real classic upper-class Chinese culture. And I totally agree that it sounds like fighting. If you want to take a language course in college, take Mandarin. That's the smart thing to do.

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