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Encyclopedia > Standard Cantonese

Standard Cantonese is a variant, and is generally considered the prestige dialect of Cantonese Chinese. It is spoken natively in and around the cities of Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Macau in Southern China. Standard Cantonese is the de facto official Chinese spoken language of Hong Kong and Macau, and the lingua franca of Guangdong province and some neighbouring areas. It is also spoken by many overseas Chinese, especially those of Cantonese descent, in Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, United States, Australia, Europe and elsewhere. Traditionally, Cantonese was the lingua franca of overseas Chinese communities in the Western world, although that situation has changed with the increasing importance of Mandarin in the Chinese-speaking world as well as immigration from other provinces. A variety of a language is a form that differs from other forms of the language systematically and coherently. ... A prestige dialect is the dialect spoken by the most prestigious people in a speech community large enough to sustain multiple dialects. ... Cantonese (Traditional Chinese: 粵語; Simplified Chinese: 粤语]], Cantonese: Yuet6yue5; Mandarin pinyin: YuèyÇ”, lit. ... (Simplified Chinese: 广州; Traditional Chinese: 廣州; pinyin: GuÇŽngzhōu; Wade-Giles: Kuang-chou; Postal System Pinyin: Canton) is the capital of Guangdong Province in southern China. ... North China (北方 Hanyu pinyin: Běifāng) and South China (南方 Hanyu pinyin: Nánfāng) are two approximate regions within China. ... Spoken Chinese The Chinese spoken language(s) comprise(s) many regional variants. ... Lingua franca, literally Frankish language in Italian, was originally a mixed language consisting largely of Italian plus a vocabulary drawn from Turkish, Persian, French, Greek and Arabic and used for communication throughout the Middle East. ... China, and should not be confused with the former Kwantung Leased Territory in north-eastern China. ... Overseas Chinese are Chinese people who live outside China. ... Cantonese people (Traditional Chinese: 廣東人; Simplified Chinese: 广东人; Pinyin: GuÇŽngdōng rén; Jyutping: gwong2 dung1 yan4), broadly speaking, are persons originating from the present-day Guangdong province in southern China. ... World map showing Europe A satellite composite image of Europe Europe is one of the seven traditional continents of the Earth. ... Lingua franca, literally Frankish language in Italian, was originally a mixed language consisting largely of Italian plus a vocabulary drawn from Turkish, Persian, French, Greek and Arabic and used for communication throughout the Middle East. ...


In popular speech, Standard Cantonese is often known simply as Cantonese, though in academic linguistics the name can also refer to the broader category to which it belongs, Cantonese language (Traditional Chinese: 粵語; Simplified Chinese: 粤语;Jyutping: Yuet6yue5; Mandarin: Yuèyǔ). Standard Cantonese is also known popularly as Guangdong speech (Traditional Chinese: 廣東話; Simplified Chinese: 广东话 Jyutping: Gwong2dong1 Wa2; Mandarin: Guǎngdōng huà) or as the Canton Prefecture speech (Traditional Chinese: 廣州話、廣府話; Simplified Chinese: 广州话、广府话; Jyutping: Gwong2zau1 Wa2, Gwong2fu2 Wa2; Mandarin: Guǎngzhōu huà, Guángfǔ huà). Cantonese (Traditional Chinese: 粵語; Simplified Chinese: 粤语]], Cantonese: Yuet6yue5; Mandarin pinyin: YuèyÇ”, lit. ... Traditional Chinese characters are one of two standard sets of printed Chinese characters. ... Simplified Chinese characters (Simplified Chinese: 简体字; Traditional Chinese: 簡體字; pinyin: jiÇŽntǐzì; also Simplified Chinese: 简化字; Traditional Chinese: 簡化字; pinyin: jiÇŽnhuàzì) are one of two standard character sets of printed contemporary Chinese written language. ... Jyutping (sometimes spelled Jyutpin) is a romanization system for Standard Cantonese developed by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong (LSHK) in 1993. ... Standard Mandarin is the official Chinese spoken language used by the Peoples Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore. ... Traditional Chinese characters are one of two standard sets of printed Chinese characters. ... Simplified Chinese characters (Simplified Chinese: 简体字; Traditional Chinese: 簡體字; pinyin: jiÇŽntǐzì; also Simplified Chinese: 简化字; Traditional Chinese: 簡化字; pinyin: jiÇŽnhuàzì) are one of two standard character sets of printed contemporary Chinese written language. ... Traditional Chinese characters are one of two standard sets of printed Chinese characters. ... Simplified Chinese characters (Simplified Chinese: 简体字; Traditional Chinese: 簡體字; pinyin: jiÇŽntǐzì; also Simplified Chinese: 简化字; Traditional Chinese: 簡化字; pinyin: jiÇŽnhuàzì) are one of two standard character sets of printed contemporary Chinese written language. ...

Contents

Phonology

Like any dialect, the phonology of Standard Cantonese varies among speakers. Unlike Standard Mandarin, there is no official agency to regulate Standard Cantonese. Below is the phonology accepted by most scholars and educators, the one usually heard on TV or radio in formal broadcast like news reports. Common variations are also described. The vowels of modern (Standard) Arabic and (Israeli) Hebrew from the phonological point of view. ... Standard Mandarin is the official Chinese spoken language used by the Peoples Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore. ...


There are about 630 different extant combinations of syllable onsets (initial consonants) and syllable rimes (remainder of the syllable), not counting tones. Some of these, such as /ɛː22/ and /ei22/ (欸) , /pʊŋ22/ (埲), /kʷɪŋ55/ (扃) are not common any more; some such as /kʷɪk55/ and /kʷʰɪk55/ (隙), or /kʷɑːŋ35/ and /kɐŋ35/ (梗) which has traditionally had two equally correct pronunciations are beginning to be pronounced with only one particular way uniformly by its speakers (and this usually happens because the unused pronunciation is almost unique to that word alone) thus making the unused sounds effectively disappear from the language; while some such as /kʷʰɔːk33/ (擴), /pʰuːi55/ (胚), /jɵy55/ (錐), /kɛː55/ (痂) have alternative nonstandard pronunciations which have become mainstream (as /kʷʰɔːŋ33/, /puːi55/, /tʃɵy55/ and /kʰɛː55/ respectively), again making some of the sounds disappear from the everyday use of the language; and yet others such as /fɑːk33/ (謋), /fɐŋ11/ (揈), /tɐp55/ (耷) have now become popularly (but erroneously) believed to be made-up/borrowed words to represent sounds in modern vernacular Cantonese when they have in fact been retaining that sounds before these vernacular usage became popular. In phonetics and phonology, a syllable onset is the part of a syllable that precedes the syllable nucleus. ... In the study of phonology in linguistics, the rime or rhyme of a syllable consists of a nucleus and an optional coda. ...


On the other hand, there are new words in Cantonese circulating in Hong Kong which use sounds which never appeared in Cantonese before, such as get1 (note: this is non standard usage as /ɛːt/ was never an accepted/valid final for sounds in Cantonese, though the final sound /ɛːt/ has appeared in vernacular Cantonese before this, /pʰɛːt22/ - notably in describing the measure word of sticky substances such as mud, glue, chewing gum etc), the sound is borrowed from the English word gag to mean the act of amusing others by a (possibly practical) joke. Measure words, in linguistics, are words (or morphemes) that are used in combination with a numeral to indicate the count of nouns. ...


Initials

Initials (or onsets) are initial consonants of possible syllables. The following is the inventory for Standard Cantonese as represented in IPA: The initial, also called the onset, or in Chinese shengmu (PY: shēngmǔ, TC: 聲母, SC: 声母), is an important concept in the phonological study of Chinese languages. ... In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. ... A syllable (Ancient Greek: ) is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. ... For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words see here. ...

Labials Coronals Sibilants Palatals Velars Labial-Velars Glottals
Unaspirated Stops p t ts   k ( ) ( ʔ )
Aspirated Stops tsʰ   ( kʷʰ )  
Nasals m n     ŋ    
Fricatives f   s       h
Approximants   l   ( j )   ( w )  

Note the aspiration contrast and the lack of phonation contrast for stops. The sibilant affricates are grouped with the stops for compactness in displaying the chart. Labials are consonants articulated either with both lips (bilabial articulation) or with the lower lip and the upper teeth (labiodental articulation). ... Coronal consonants are articulated with the flexible front part of the tongue. ... A sibilant is a type of fricative or affricate, made by directing a jet of air through a narrow channel towards the sharp edge of the teeth. ... Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate (the middle part of the roof of the mouth). ... Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate (the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum). ... Labial-velar consonants are doubly articulated at the velum and the lips. ... Glottal consonants are consonants articulated with the glottis. ... In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies the release of some obstruents. ... A stop, plosive, or occlusive is a consonant sound produced by stopping the airflow in the vocal tract. ... In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies the release of some obstruents. ... A stop, plosive, or occlusive is a consonant sound produced by stopping the airflow in the vocal tract. ... A nasal consonant is produced when the velum—that fleshy part of the palate near the back—is lowered, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. ... Fricatives (or spirants) are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. ... Approximants are speech sounds that could be regarded as intermediate between vowels and typical consonants. ... In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies the release of some obstruents. ... In phonetics, phonation is the use of the laryngeal system to generate an audible source of acoustic energy, i. ... A stop, plosive, or occlusive is a consonant sound produced by stopping the airflow in the vocal tract. ... A sibilant is a type of fricative or affricate, made by directing a jet of air through a narrow channel towards the sharp edge of the teeth. ... Affricate consonants begin as stops (most often an alveolar, such as or ), but release as a fricative such as or (or, in a couple of languages, into a fricative trill) rather than directly into the following vowel. ...


Some linguists prefer to analyze /j/ and /w/ as part of finals to make them analogous to the /i/ and /u/ medials in Standard Mandarin, especially in comparative phonological studies. However, since final-heads only appear with null initial, /k/ or /kʰ/, analyzing them as part of the initials greatly reduces the count of finals at the cost of only adding four initials. Some linguists analyze a /ʔ/ (glottal stop) when a vowel other than /i/, /u/ or /y/ begin a syllable. The final, also called the rhyme, or in Chinese yunmu (PY: yùnmǔ, TC: 韻母, SC: 韵母), is an important concept in the phonological study of Chinese languages. ... In linguistics, medial may refer to the following: The glide that occurs before before the main vowel of a syllable, especially in Chinese phonology (see syllable rime) A voiced stop consonant A medial clause in a clause chain This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other... Standard Mandarin is the official Chinese spoken language used by the Peoples Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore. ... The initial, also called the onset, or in Chinese shengmu (PY: shēngmǔ, TC: 聲母, SC: 声母), is an important concept in the phonological study of Chinese languages. ... The glottal stop or voiceless glottal plosive is a type of consonantal sound, used in many spoken languages. ... Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ...


The position of the coronals varies from dental to alveolar, with /t/ and /tʰ/ more likely to be dental. The position of the sibilants /ts/, /tsʰ/, and /s/ are usually alveolar ([ts], [tsʰ], and [s]), but can be postalveolar ([tʃ], [tʃʰ], and [ʃ]) or alveolo-palatal ([tɕ], [tɕʰ], and [ɕ]), especially before the /iː/, /ɪ/, or /yː/ vowels. Coronal consonants are articulated with the flexible front part of the tongue. ... Dentals are consonants such as t, d, n, and l articulated with either the lower or the upper teeth, or both, rather than with the gum ridge as in English. ... Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli (the sockets) of the superior teeth. ... A sibilant is a type of fricative or affricate, made by directing a jet of air through a narrow channel towards the sharp edge of the teeth. ... Postalveolar (or palato-alveolar) consonants are consonants articulated with the tip of the tongue between the alveolar ridge (the place of articulation for alveolar consonants) and the palate (the place of articulation for palatal consonants). ... Sagittal section of alveolo-palatal fricative In phonetics, alveolo-palatal (or alveopalatal) consonants are palatalized postalveolar fricatives, articulated with the blade of the tongue behind the alveolar ridge, and the body of the tongue raised toward the palate. ...


Some native speakers cannot distinguish between /n/ and /l/, and between /ŋ/ and the null initial. Usually they pronounce only /l/ and the null initial. See the discussion on phonological shift below.


Finals

Finals (or rhymes) are the remaining part of the syllable after the initial is taken off. There are two kinds of finals in Cantonese, depending on vowel length. The following chart lists all possible finals in Standard Cantonese as represented in IPA: The final, also called the rhyme, or in Chinese yunmu (PY: yùnmǔ, TC: 韻母, SC: 韵母), is an important concept in the phonological study of Chinese languages. ... In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived duration of a vowel sound. ... For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words see here. ...

ɑː ɛː ɔː œː
Long Short Long Short Long Short Long Short Long Short Long Short Long Short
-i / -y ɑːi ɐi   ei     ɔːi   uːi     ɵy    
-u ɑːu ɐu ɛːu¹   iːu     ou            
-m ɑːm ɐm ɛːm¹   iːm                  
-n ɑːn ɐn     iːn   ɔːn   uːn     ɵn yːn  
-ŋ ɑːŋ ɐŋ ɛːŋ     ɪŋ ɔːŋ     ʊŋ œːŋ      
-p ɑːp ɐp ɛːp¹   iːp                  
-t ɑːt ɐt     iːt   ɔːt   uːt     ɵt yːt  
-k ɑːk ɐk ɛːk     ɪk ɔːk     ʊk œːk      
Syllabic nasals: [m̩] [ŋ̩]
¹Finals [ɛːu], [ɛːm] and [ɛːp] only appear in colloquial speech. They are absent from some analyses and romanization schemes.

Based on the chart above, the following central vowels pairs are usually considered to be allophones:

[ɛː] - [e], [iː] - [ɪ], [ɔː] - [o], [uː] - [ʊ], and [œː] - [ɵ].

Although that satisfies the minimal pair requirement, some linguists find it difficult to explain why the coda affect the vowel length. They recognize the following two allophone groups instead: In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, which differ in only one phoneme, toneme or chroneme and have a distinct meaning. ...

[e] - [ɪ] and [o] - [ʊ] - [ɵ].

In that way, the phoneme set consists of seven long central vowels and three short central vowels that are in contrast with three of the long vowels, as presented in the following chart:

ɑː ɔː ɛː œː
Long Short Long Short Long Short Long Long Long Long
-i / -y ɑːi ɐi ɔːi ɵy   ei   uːi    
-u ɑːu ɐu   ou     iːu      
-m ɑːm ɐm         iːm      
-n ɑːn ɐn ɔːn ɵn     iːn uːn   yːn
-ŋ ɑːŋ ɐŋ ɔːŋ ʊŋ ɛːŋ ɪŋ     œːŋ  
-p ɑːp ɐp         iːp      
-t ɑːt ɐt ɔːt ɵt     iːt uːt   yːt
-k ɑːk ɐk ɔːk ʊk ɛːk ɪk     œːk  
Syllabic nasals: [m̩] [ŋ̩]

Tones

Standard Cantonese has nine tones in six distinct tone contours. It has been suggested that Tonal language be merged into this article or section. ... The tone contours of Standard Mandarin Tone contours are numbers that represent the way pitch varies over a syllable. ...

Tone name Yin Ping
(陰平)
Yin Shang
(陰上)
Yin Qu
(陰去)
Yang Ping
(陽平)
Yang Shang
(陽上)
Yang Qu
(陽去)
Shang
Yin Ru
(上陰入)
Xia
Yin Ru
(下陰入)
Yang Ru
(陽入)
Contour 55 / 53 35 33 21 / 11 13 22 55 33 22
Description high level /
high falling
medium rising medium level low falling /
very low level
low rising low level high level medium level low level
Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (1) 8 (3) 9 (6)
Written (Yale) mā or mà ma màh máh mah māk mak mahk

For purposes of meters in Chinese poetry, the first and fourth tones are traditionally grouped in the "flat category" (平聲), while the rest are "oblique" (仄聲). Tones in Chinese derive from the traditional Middle Chinese tone classes, known as Ping Sheng (平聲), Shang Sheng (上聲), Qu Sheng (去聲), and Ru Sheng (入聲), which in English in the linguistic literature, are sometimes called the level, rising, departing and entering tones. ... The tone contours of Standard Mandarin Tone contours are numbers that represent the way pitch varies over a syllable. ... A tone number is a numeral used in a notational system for marking the tones of a language. ... The Yale romanizations are four systems created during World War II for use by United States military personnel. ... Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain by Emperor Gaozong Hand-painted Chinese New Years poetry pasted on the sides of doors leading to peoples homes, Old Town, Lijiang, Yunnan, China. ...


In Hong Kong, the first tone can be either high level or high falling without affecting the meaning of the words being spoken. Most Hong Kong speakers are in general not consciously aware of when they use and when to use high level and high falling. In Guangzhou the high falling tone is more usual.


It is interesting to note that there are not actually more tone levels in Standard Cantonese than in Standard Mandarin (three if one excludes the Cantonese low falling tone, which begins on the third level and needs somewhere to fall), only Cantonese has a more complete set of tone courses. Standard Mandarin is the official Chinese spoken language used by the Peoples Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore. ...


Standard Cantonese mostly preserves the tones in Middle Chinese in the manner shown in the chart below. Middle Chinese (Traditional Chinese: 中古漢語; Pinyin: zhōnggǔ Hànyǔ), or Ancient Chinese as used by linguist Bernhard Karlgren, refers to the Chinese language spoken during Northern and Southern Dynasties and the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties (6th century - 10th century). ...

 Middle Chinese  Standard Cantonese
Tone Initial Central Vowel Tone Name Tone Contour Tone Number
Ping V−   Yin Ping 55 / 53 1
V+ Yang Ping 21 / 11 4
Shang V− Yin Shang 35 2
V+ Yang Shang 13 5
Qu V− Yin Qu 33 3
V+ Yang Qu 22 6
Ru V− Short Shang Yin Ru 55 7 (1)
Long Xia Yin Ru 33 8 (3)
V+   Yang Ru 22 9 (6)

V− = voiceless initial consonant, V+ = voiced initial consonant. The voice distinction was found in Middle Chinese and has been lost in Cantonese, preserved only by tone differences.


Phonological Shifts

Like other languages, Cantonese is constantly undergoing sound changes, processes where more and more native speakers of a language change the pronunciations of certain sounds. Sound change or phonetic change is a historical process of language change consisting in the replacement of one speech sound or, more generally, one phonetic feature by another in a given phonological environment. ...


Previous Shifts

One shift that affected Cantonese in the past was the loss of distinction between the alveolar and the alveolo-palatal (sometimes pronounced as postalveolar) sibilants, which occurred during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This distinction was documented in many Cantonese dictionaries and pronunciation guides published prior to the 1950s but is now longer distinguished in any modern Cantonese dictionary.


Publications that documented this distinction include:

  • Williams, S., A Tonic Dictionary of the Chinese Language in the Canton Dialect, 1856.
  • Cowles, R., A Pocket Dictionary of Cantonese, 1914.
  • Meyer, B. and Wempe, T., The Student's Cantonese-English Dictionary, 3rd edition, 1947.
  • Chao, Y. Cantonese Primer, 1947.

The depalatalization of sibilants caused many words that were once distinct to sound the same. For comparison, this distinction is still made in modern Standard Mandarin, with the old alveolo-palatal sibilants in Cantonese corresponding to the retroflex sibilants in Mandarin. For instance: The Meyer-Wempe romanisation system was developed by two Catholic missionaries in Hong Kong, Bernhard F. Meyer and Theodore F. Wempe, during the 1920s and 1930s. ... Yuen Ren Chao (趙元任 Pinyin: Zhào Yuánrèn; WG: Chao Yüan-jen; Gwoyeu Romatzyh: Jaw Yuanren) (November 3, 1892 - February 25, 1982) was a Chinese phonologist and dialectologist who shaped Gwoyeu Romatzyh. ... Sub-apical retroflex plosive In phonetics, retroflex consonants are consonant sounds used in some languages. ...

Sibilant Category Character Modern Cantonese Old Cantonese Standard Mandarin
Unaspirated affricate /tsœːŋ/ (alveolar) /tsœːŋ/ (alveolar) /tɕiɑŋ/ (alveolo-palatal)
/tɕœːŋ/ (alveolo-palatal) /tʂɑŋ/ (retroflex)
Aspirated affricate /tʰsœːŋ/ (alveolar) /tʰsœːŋ/ (alveolar) /tʰɕiɑŋ/ (alveolo-palatal)
/tʰɕœːŋ/ (alveolo-palatal) /tʰʂɑŋ/ (retroflex)
Fricative /sœːŋ/ (alveolar) /sœːŋ/ (alveolar) /ɕiɑŋ/ (alveolo-palatal)
/ɕœːŋ/ (alveolo-palatal) /ʂɑŋ/ (retroflex)

Even though the aforementioned references observed the distinction, most of them also noted that the depalatalization phenomenon was already occurring at the time. Williams (1856) writes:

The initials ch and ts are constantly confounded, and some persons are absolutely unable to detect the difference, more frequently calling the words under ts as ch, than contrariwise.

Cowles (1914) adds:

"s" initial may be heard for "sh" initial and vice versa.

A vestige of this palatalization difference is sometimes reflected in the romanization scheme used to romanize Cantonese names in Hong Kong. For instance, many names will be spelled with sh even though the "sh sound" (/ɕ/) is no longer used to pronounce the word. Examples include the surname (/sɛːk22/), which is often romanized as Shek, and the names of places like Sha Tin (沙田; /sɑː55 tiːn11/). The Hong Kong Government Cantonese Romanisation (not an official name) is the more or less consistent way for romanising Cantonese proper nouns employed by the Hong Kong Government departments and many non-governmental organisations in Hong Kong. ... Shing Mun River and Lek Yuen Bridge (瀝源橋). Sha Tin ( also spelt Shatin ) is an area in the New Territories, in the Hong Kong special administrative region of the Peoples Republic of China. ...


After the shift was complete, even though the alveolo-palatal sibilants were no longer distinguished, they still continue to occur in complementary distribution with the alveolar sibilants, making the two groups of sibilants allophones. Thus, most modern Cantonese speakers will pronounce the alveolar sibilants unless the following vowel is /iː/, /i/, or /y/, in which case the alveolo-palatal (or postalveolar) is pronounced. Canton romanization attempts to reflect this phenomenon in its romanization scheme, even though most current Cantonese romanization schemes don't. Complementary distribution in linguistics refers to the relationship between two elements where one element can be found only in a particular environment and the other element can be found only in the opposite environment. ... In Quebec, an allophone (French or English. ... Guangdong Romanization refers to the four romanization schemes published by the Guangdong Provincial Education Department in 1960 for transliterating the Standard Cantonese, Teochew, Hakka, and Hainanese spoken varieties of Chinese. ...


The alveolo-palatal sibilants occur in complementary distribution with the retroflex sibilants in Mandarin as well, with the alveolo-palatal sibilants only occurring before /i/, or /y/. However, Mandarin also retains the medials, where /i/ and /y/ can occur, as can be seen in the examples above. Cantonese had lost its medials sometime ago in its history, reducing the ability for speakers to distinguish its sibilant initials. In linguistics, medial may refer to the following: The glide that occurs before before the main vowel of a syllable, especially in Chinese phonology (see syllable rime) A voiced stop consonant A medial clause in a clause chain This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other...


Current Shifts

Main article: Hong Kong Cantonese

In modern-day Hong Kong, many younger native speakers are unable to distinguish between certain phoneme pairs and merge one sound into another. Although that is often considered as substandard and is denounced as being "lazy sounds" (懶音), it is becoming more common and is influencing other Cantonese-speaking regions. Hong Kong Cantonese (香港廣東話, 香港粵語, 港式粵語) is a variant of Standard Cantonese spoken by Hongkongers. ...


Romanization

There are several major romanization schemes for Cantonese: Barnett-Chao, Meyer-Wempe, and Yale. While they do not differ greatly, Yale is the one most commonly seen in the west today. The Hong Kong linguist Sidney Lau modified the Yale system for his popular Cantonese-as-a-second-language course, so that is another system used today by contemporary Cantonese learners. In linguistics, romanization (or Latinization, also spelled romanisation or Latinisation) is the representation of a word or language with the Roman (Latin) alphabet, or a system for doing so, where the original word or language uses a different writing system. ... The Meyer-Wempe romanisation system was developed by two Catholic missionaries in Hong Kong, Bernhard F. Meyer and Theodore F. Wempe, during the 1920s and 1930s. ... The Yale romanizations are four systems created during World War II for use by United States military personnel. ... Sidney Lau (Traditional Chinese: 劉錫祥) wrote a series of textbooks in the 1970s, for teaching western people to speak Cantonese. ...


Sytematic efforts to develop an alphabetic representation of Cantonese pronunciation began with the arrival of protestant missionaries in China early in the nineteenth century. Romanization was considered both a tool to help new missionaries learn the dialect more easily and a quick route for the unlettered to achieve gospel literacy. Earlier Catholic missionaries, mostly Portuguese, had developed romanization schemes for the pronunciation current in the court and capitol city of China but made few efforts at romanizing other dialects. Robert Morrison, an early and perhaps the first protestant missionary in China published a "Vocabulary of the Canton Dialect" (1828) with a rather unsystematic romanized pronunciation. Elijah Coleman Bridgman and Samuel Wells Williams in their "Chinese Chrestomathy in the Canton Dialect" (1841) were the progenitors of a long-lived lineage of related romanizations with minor variations embodied in the works of James Dyer Ball, Ernest John Eitel, and Immanuel Gottlieb Genăhr (1910). Bridgman and Williams based their system on the phonetic alphabet and diacritics proposed by Sir William Jones for South Asian languages. Their romanization system embodied the phonological system in a local dialect rhyme dictionary, the Fenyun cuoyao, which was widely used and easily available at the time and is still available today. Samuel Wells Willams' "Tonic Dictionary of the Chinese Language in the Canton Dialect" (Yinghua fenyun cuoyao 1856), is an alphabetic rearrangement, translation and annotation of the Fenyun. In order to adapt the system to the needs of users at a time when there were only local variants and no standard -- although the speech of the western suburbs, xiguan, of Guangzhou was the prestige variety at the time -- Williams suggested that users learn and follow their teacher's pronunciation of his chart of Cantonese syllables. It was apparently Bridgman's innovation to mark the tones with an open circles (upper register tones) or an underlined open circle (lower register tones) at the four corners of the romanized word in analogy with the traditional Chinese system of marking the tone of a character with a circle (lower left for "even," upper left for "rising," upper right for "going," and lower right for "entering" tones). John Chalmers, in his "English and Cantonese pocket-dictionary" (1859) simplified the marking of tones using the acute accent to mark "rising" tones and the grave to mark "going" tones and no diacritic for "even" tones and marking upper register tones by italics (or underlining in handwritten work). "Entering" tones could be distinguished by their consonantal ending. Nicholas Belfeld Dennys used Chalmers romanization in his primer. This method of marking tones was adopted in the Yale romanization (with low register tones marked with an 'h'). A new romanization was developed in the first decade of the twentieth century which eliminated the diacritics on vowels by distinguishing vowel quality by spelling differences (e.g. a/aa, o/oh). Diacritics were used only for marking tones. The name of Tipson is associated with this new romanization which still embodied the phonology of the Fenyun to some extent. It is the system used in Meyer-Wempe and Cowles' dictionaries and O'Melia's textbook and many other works in the first half of the twentieth century. It was the standard romanization until the Yale system supplanted it. The distinguished linguist, Y. R. Chao developed a Cantonese adaptation of his Gwoyeu romanization system which he used in his "Cantonese Primer." The front matter to this book contains a review and comparison of a number of the systems mentioned in this paragraph. The GR system was not widely used.



The one advocated by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong (LSHK) is called jyutping, which solves many of the inconsistencies and problems of the older, favored, and more familiar system of Yale Romanization, but departs considerably from it in a number of ways unfamiliar to Yale users. Some effort has been undertaken to promote jyutping, but it is too early to tell how successful it is. The Linguistic Society of Hong Kong (LSHK) is a non-profit academic association, which was formally registered as a charitable organization in Hong Kong on March 8, 1986. ... Jyutping (sometimes spelled Jyutpin) is a romanization system for Standard Cantonese developed by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong (LSHK) in 1993. ...


Another popular scheme is Standard Cantonese Pinyin Schemes, which is the only romanization system accepted by Hong Kong Education and Manpower Bureau and Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. Books and studies for teachers and students in primary and secondary schools usually use this scheme. Some dictionaries for Hong Kong students may use an older system: IPA system (free style). Standard Cantonese Pinyin is a romanization system for Standard Cantonese developed by the Yu Bingzhao (ch. ... The Hong Kong Education and Manpower Bureau (ch. ... Established in 1977, the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA, 香港考試及評核局) (previously known as Hong Kong Examinations Authority, HKEA) was put in charge of administration the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) the following year. ... The predominant system for transcribing Cantonese in IPA in Chinese phonological studies is referred to by a name that can be translated as the S. L. Wong system and another which can be translated as “IPA free style”. It is a broad phonemic transcription system created by S. L. Wong...


However, learners may feel frustrated that most native Cantonese speakers, no matter how educated they are, really are not familiar with any romanization system. Apparently, there is no motive for local people to learn any of these systems. The romanization systems are not included in the education system either in Hong Kong or in Guangdong province. In practice, Hong Kong people follow a loose unnamed romanisation scheme used by the Hong Kong Government. See Hong Kong Government Cantonese Romanisation for details. On July 1, 1997, the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) resumed its exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, ending more than 150 years of British colonial control. ... The Hong Kong Government Cantonese Romanisation (not an official name) is the more or less consistent way for romanising Cantonese proper nouns employed by the Hong Kong Government departments and many non-governmental organisations in Hong Kong. ...


Written Cantonese

Main article: Written Cantonese

Cantonese is usually referred to as a spoken dialect, and not as a written dialect. Spoken vernacular Cantonese differs from modern written Chinese, which is essentially formal Standard Mandarin in written form. Written Chinese spoken word for word sounds overly formal and distant in Cantonese. As a result, the necessity of having a written script which matched the spoken form increased over time. This resulted in the creation of additional Chinese characters to complement the existing characters. Many of these represent phonological sounds not present in Mandarin. A good source for well documented Cantonese words can be found in drama and opera (dai hay) scripts. Written Cantonese is largely incomprehensible to non-Cantonese speakers because written Cantonese is based on spoken Cantonese which is different to Standard Mandarin in grammar and vocabulary. Written Cantonese refers to the written language used to write colloquial standard Cantonese using Chinese characters. ... Standard Mandarin is the official Chinese spoken language used by the Peoples Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore. ... Cantonese opera is one of the major categories in Chinese opera, originating in southern Chinas Cantonese culture. ...


"Readings in Cantonese colloquial: being selections from books in the Cantonese vernacular with free and literal translations of the Chinese character and romanized spelling" (1894) by James Dyer Ball has a bibliography of works available in Cantonese characters in the last decade of the nineteenth century. A few libraries have collections of so-called "wooden fish books" written in Cantonese character. Facsimiles and plot precis of a few of these have been published in Wolfram Eberhard's "Cantonese Ballads." See also "Cantonese love-songs, translated with introduction and notes by Cecil Clementi" (1904) or a newer translation of these Yue Ou in "Cantonese love songs : an English translation of Jiu Ji-yung's Cantonese songs of the early 19th century" (1992). Cantonese character versions of the Bible, Pilgrims Progress, and Peep of Day as well as simple catechisms were published by mission presses. The special Cantonese characters used in all these was not standardized and shows wide variation.


With the advent of the computer and standardization of character sets specifically for Cantonese, many printed materials in predominantly Cantonese speaking areas of the world are written to cater to their population with these written Cantonese characters. As a result, mainstream media such as newspapers and magazines have become progressively less conservative and more colloquial in their dissemination of ideas. Generally speaking, some of the older generation of Cantonese speakers regard this trend as a step "backwards" and away from tradition. This tension between the "old" and "new" is a reflection of a transition that is being undergone by the Cantonese speaking population.


Cultural role

China has numerous regional and local varieties of spoken Chinese, many of which are mutually unintelligible; most of these are rarely used or heard outside their native areas, and are not used in education, formal purposes, or in the media. Regional/local dialects (including Cantonese) in mainland China and Taiwan tend to be used primarily between relatives and friends in informal situations, with Standard Mandarin being used for formal purposes, in the media, and as the language of education. Even though the majority of Cantonese speakers live in mainland China, due to the linguistic history of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as its use in many overseas Chinese communities, the use of Standard Cantonese has spread from Guangdong far out of proportion to its relatively small number of speakers in China. Standard Mandarin is the official Chinese spoken language used by the Peoples Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore. ... Overseas Chinese are Chinese people who live outside China. ...


As the majority of Hong Kong and Macau people and/or their ancestors emigrated from Guangdong before the widespread use of Standard Mandarin, Cantonese became the usual spoken variety of Chinese in Hong Kong and Macau. Cantonese is the only Chinese variety to be used in official contexts other than Standard Mandarin, which is the official language of both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China. Also because of its use by non-Mandarin speaking Cantonese speakers overseas, Cantonese is one of the primary forms of Chinese that many Westerners come into contact with. However, the importance of Cantonese as a lingua franca in North America has decreased in recent years, with the advent of Mandarin.[1] Standard Mandarin is the official Chinese spoken language used by the Peoples Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore. ... Motto: None Anthem(s): National Anthem of the Republic of China Capital Taipei City (de facto) Nanjing (de jure)1 Largest city Taipei City Official language(s) Mandarin (GuóyÇ”) Government Semi-presidential system  - President Chen Shui-bian  - Vice President Annette Lu  - Premier Su Tseng-chang Establishment Xinhai Revolution   - Declared... Lingua franca, literally Frankish language in Italian, was originally a mixed language consisting largely of Italian plus a vocabulary drawn from Turkish, Persian, French, Greek and Arabic and used for communication throughout the Middle East. ... World map showing North America A satellite composite image of North America. ...


Along with Mandarin and Taiwanese, Cantonese is also one of the few Chinese spoken varieties which has its own popular music (Cantopop). The prevalence of Hong Kong's popular culture has spurred some Chinese in other regions to learn Cantonese, unique among the varieties of Chinese in the sense that most Chinese who learn a non-native regional/local dialect do so as a result of long-term residence in that area. Template:Dablick Taiwanese (Traditional Chinese: 台語, 台灣話; Pinyin: Táiyǔ, Táiwānhuà; Taiwanese Pe̍h-oē-jī: Tâi-gí or Tâi-oân-oē) is a dialect of Min Nan spoken by about 70% of the Taiwanese population. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


The contrast is especially clear with other Chinese varieties, such as Wu. Wu has more speakers than Yue (the wider group under which Cantonese is located), it is spoken in an area that is approximately equally wealthy, and Shanghainese, one of the prestige dialects of Wu, is spoken in Shanghai, arguably the economic center of Mainland China. However, Shanghainese is not used in official contexts, Shanghainese does not have a form of popular music, and is virtually unknown in the West. This is because usage of Shanghainese is discouraged by the government, and is banned in schools.[2] In addition, virtually all Shanghai people can speak Standard Mandarin and use Shanghainese only with other Shanghainese speakers. Therefore, Shanghainese is rarely used outside of the city. This applies to many local varieties of Chinese. Hong Kong people do not speak Standard Mandarin and continue to use Cantonese as the only spoken form of Chinese. However, spurred on by the success of Cantonese, some Wu speakers have begun to promote their mother tongue. Wu (吳方言 pinyin wú fāng yán; 吳語 pinyin wú yÇ” lumazi wu niu(nyu)) is one of the major divisions of the Chinese language. ... Cantonese (Traditional Chinese: 粵語; Simplified Chinese: 粤语]], Cantonese: Yuet6yue5; Mandarin pinyin: YuèyÇ”, lit. ... Shanghainese, sometimes referred to as the Shanghai dialect, is a dialect of Wu Chinese spoken in the city of Shanghai. ... Shanghai (Chinese: ; pinyin:  ; Shanghainese: ), situated on the banks of the Yangtze River Delta in East China, is the largest city of the Peoples Republic of China and the eighth largest in the world. ... First language (native language, mother tongue, or vernacular) is the language a person learns first. ...


Cantonese has a standing slightly inferior to Mandarin but enjoys a much superior one to other varieties of Chinese in China.[citation needed] This is seen in Guangzhou where announcements in the public transport are made in both Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese. Some teachers in Guangdong continue to teach in Cantonese, as most Cantonese feel affinity with their own language much more than they do Mandarin Chinese, though doing so is against the national language policy. It has even caused some dissatisfaction amongst immigrants from other provinces who usually do not speak Cantonese.


Loanwords

Main article: Hong Kong Cantonese

Life in Hong Kong is characterised by the blending of Asian (mainly south Chinese) and Western influences, as well as the status of the city as a major international business centre. Influences from this territory are widespread in foreign cultures. As a results, many loanwords are created and exported to China, Taiwan and Singapore. Some of the loanwords are even more popular than their Chinese counterparts. At the same time, some new words created are vividly borrowed by other languages as well. Hong Kong Cantonese (香港廣東話, 香港粵語, 港式粵語) is a variant of Standard Cantonese spoken by Hongkongers. ... World map showing the location of Asia. ... A loanword (or loan word) is a word directly taken into one language from another with little or no translation. ...


Cantonese versus Mandarin in Hong Kong and Singapore

The so-called "Battle between Cantonese and Mandarin" started in Hong Kong in the mid-1980s when a large number of non-Cantonese speaking mainland Chinese people started crossing the border into Hong Kong during Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms. At that time, Hong Kong and Macau were still under British and Portuguese rules respectively, and Mandarin was not often heard in those territories. Businesspeople from the mainland and the colonies who did not share a common language shared a mutual dislike and distrust of one another, and in magazines in China in the mid-1980s, they would publish polemics against the other's language - thus Cantonese became known on the mainland as "British Chinese" - and Mandarin became known as "Liu Mang Hua" - literally "outlaw speech" - in the colonies. Deng Xiaoping with US President Jimmy Carter Deng Xiaoping   (Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Dèng XiÇŽopíng; Wade-Giles: Teng Hsiao-ping; August 22, 1904–February 19, 1997) was a leader in the Communist Party of China (CCP). ...


In Singapore the government has had a Speak Mandarin Campaign (SMC) which seeks to actively promote the use of Standard Mandarin Chinese instead of Chinese dialects, such as Hokkien (45% of the Chinese population), Teochew (22.5%), Cantonese (16%), Hakka (7%) and Hainanese. This was seen as a way of creating greater cohesion among the ethnic Chinese. In addition to positive promotion of Mandarin, the campaign also includes active attempts to dissuade people from using Chinese dialects. Mostly notably, the use of dialects in local broadcast media is banned, and access to foreign media in dialect is limited. Some believe that the Singaporean Government has gone too far in its endeavour. Some Taiwanese songs in some Taiwanese entertainment programmes have been singled out and censored. Japanese and Korean drama series are available in their original languages on TV to the viewers, but Hong Kong drama series on non-cable TV channels are always dubbed in Mandarin and broadcast in Singapore without their original Cantonese soundtrack. Some Cantonese speakers in Singapore feel the dubbing causes the series to sound very unnatural and lose much of its flavour. The Speak Mandarin Campaign (SMC; Simplified Chinese: 讲华语运动) is an initiative to encourage Singapores ethnic Chinese population to speak Mandarin, the official language of China, commonly referred to as Putonghua in Chinese. ... Standard Mandarin is the official Chinese spoken language used by the Peoples Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore. ... A dialect (from the Greek word διάλεκτος, dialektos) is a variety of a language used by people from a particular geographic area. ... Mǐn N n (Chinese: 閩南語), also spelt as Minnan or Min-nan; native name B ; literally means Southern Min or Southern Fujian and refers to the local language/dialect of southern Fujian province, China. ... The Chaozhou language , also called Teochew, Teochiu, Tiuchiu, or Diojiu, is a dialect of the Chinese spoken variant of Minnan 閩南, spoken in the Chaoshan region of eastern Guangdong. ... Cantonese (Traditional Chinese: 粵語; Simplified Chinese: 粤语]], Cantonese: Yuet6yue5; Mandarin pinyin: YuèyÇ”, lit. ... Hakka is one language in the family of languages known as Chinese. ... Hainanese is a dialect of the Min Nan group spoken in the southern Chinese province of Hainan. ...


An offshoot of SMC is the Pinyinisation of certain terms which originated from southern Chinese languages. For instance, dim sum is often known as dianxin in Singapore's English language media, though this is largely a matter of style, and most Singaporeans will refer to dim sum when speaking English. Another result of SMC is that most young Singaporeans from Cantonese speaking families are unable to understand or speak Cantonese. The situation is very different in nearby Malaysia, where even most non-Cantonese speaking Chinese can understand the dialect to a certain extent through exposure to the language. [citation needed] Pinyin is a system of romanization (phonemic notation and transcription to Roman script) for Standard Mandarin, where pin means spell and yin means sound. The most common variant of pinyin in use is called Hanyu Pinyin (Simplified Chinese: , Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: HànyÇ” PÄ«nyÄ«n), also known as scheme... Dim sum (Chinese: 點心; Cantonese IPA: dɪm2sɐm1; Pinyin: diǎnxīn; Wade-Giles: tien-hsin; literally dot heart or order heart, meaning order to ones hearts content; also commonly translated as touch the heart, dotted heart, or snack), a Cantonese term... Dim sum (Chinese: 點心; Cantonese IPA: dɪm2sɐm1; Pinyin: diǎnxīn; Wade-Giles: tien-hsin; literally dot heart or order heart, meaning order to ones hearts content; also commonly translated as touch the heart, dotted heart, or snack), a Cantonese term...

Footnote

  1. ^ Pierson, David. "Cantonese Is Losing Its Voice", Los Angeles Times, 2006-01-03. Retrieved on 2006-08-03.
  2. ^ Cultural identity, conflicts with Putonghua, status, and bans. Zanhei.com. Retrieved on 2006-08-03.

2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... August 3 is the 215th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (216th in leap years), with 150 days remaining. ... 2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... August 3 is the 215th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (216th in leap years), with 150 days remaining. ...

See also

The following is a list of major Chinese dialects. ... Cantonese (Traditional Chinese: 粵語; Simplified Chinese: 粤语]], Cantonese: Yuet6yue5; Mandarin pinyin: Yuèyǔ, lit. ...

External links

Wikipedia
Standard Cantonese edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • Wikia has a wiki about: Cantonese
Wikibooks
Wikibooks has more about this subject:


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[edit] Chinese: spoken varieties  
Categories:

Gan | Hakka | Hui | Jin | Mandarin | Min | Ping | Xiang | Wu | Cantonese
Danzhouhua | Shaozhou Tuhua Spoken Chinese Spoken Chinese comprises many regional variants. ... Gan (赣语) is one of the major divisions of spoken Chinese, concentrated in and typical of Jiangxi Province. ... Hakka (Simplified Chinese: 客家话, Traditional Chinese: 客家話, Hakka: Hak-ka-fa/-va, pinyin: Kèjiāhuà) is a Chinese dialect/language spoken predominantly in southern China by the Hakka ethnic group and descendants in diaspora throughout East and Southeast Asia and around the world. ... The Hui (徽) dialects are unrelated to the Hui (回) ethnic group of China. ... Jin (simplified: 晋语; traditional: 晉語; pinyin: jìnyǔ), or Jin-yu, is a subdivision of spoken Chinese. ... Mandarin, or Beifanghua (Chinese: 北方話; Pinyin: BÄ›ifānghuà; literally Northern Dialect(s)), or Guanhua (Traditional Chinese: 官話; Simplified Chinese: 官话; Pinyin: Guānhuà; literally official speech) is a category of related Chinese dialects spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. ... Min (閩方言 in pinyin: min3 fang1 yan2) is a general term for a group of dialects of the Chinese language spoken in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian as well as by migrants from this province in Guangdong (around Chaozhou-Swatou, and Leizhou peninsula), Hainan, three counties in... Pinghua (平話/平话), also Guangxi Nanning, is a subdivision of spoken Chinese. ... Xiang (湘語/湘语), also Hunan, Hunanese, or Hsiang, is a subdivision of spoken Chinese. ... Wu (吳方言 pinyin wú fāng yán; 吳語 pinyin wú yÇ” lumazi wu niu(nyu)) is one of the major divisions of the Chinese language. ... Cantonese (Traditional Chinese: 粵語; Simplified Chinese: 粤语]], Cantonese: Yuet6yue5; Mandarin pinyin: YuèyÇ”, lit. ... Danzhouhua (hua = language) 儋州話 / 儋州话 is an unclassified Chinese dialect spoken in the area of Danzhou on the island Hainan. ... Shaozhou Tuhua ( 韶州土話 / 韶州土话 ) is an unclassified Chinese language spoken in the border region of the provinces Guangdong, Hunan and Guangxi. ...

Subcategories of Min: Min Bei | Min Dong | Min Nan | Min Zhong | Puxian | Qiongwen | Shaojiang
Subcategories of Mandarin: Northeastern | Beijing | Ji-Lu | Jiao-Liao | Zhongyuan | Lan-Yin | Southwestern | Jianghuai | Dungan
Note: The above is only one classification scheme among many.
The categories in italics are not universally acknowledged to be independent categories.
Comprehensive list of Chinese dialects
Official spoken varieties: Standard Mandarin | Standard Cantonese
Historical phonology: Old Chinese | Middle Chinese | Proto-Min | Proto-Mandarin | Haner
Chinese: written varieties
Official written varieties: Classical Chinese | Vernacular Chinese
Other varieties: Written Vernacular Cantonese

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Chinese language - The Encyclopedia (5735 words)
The standardized form of spoken Chinese is based on the Beijing dialect, a member of the Mandarin group; it is described in the article “Standard Mandarin”.
Standard Mandarin is the official language of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China on Taiwan, as well as one of four official languages of Singapore.
Spoken in the form of Standard Cantonese, Chinese is one of the official languages of Hong Kong (together with English) and of Macau (together with Portuguese).
Standard Cantonese: Information from Answers.com (3007 words)
Standard Cantonese is a variant, and is generally considered the prestige dialect of Cantonese Chinese.
Standard Cantonese is the de facto official Chinese spoken language of Hong Kong and Macau, and the lingua franca of Guangdong province and some neighbouring areas.
Regional/local dialects (including Cantonese) in mainland China and Taiwan tend to be used primarily between relatives and friends in informal situations, with Standard Mandarin being used for formal purposes, in the media, and as the language of education.
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