35 Facts About Cantonese


Cantonese is a language within the Chinese branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages originating from the city of Guangzhou and its surrounding area in Southeastern China.

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Cantonese is viewed as a vital and inseparable part of the cultural identity for its native speakers across large swaths of Southeastern China, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as in overseas communities.

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Cantonese is widely spoken amongst Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia and throughout the Western world.

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Conversely, written Cantonese is mostly used in informal settings such as on social media and comic books.

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Cantonese proper is the variety native to the city of Canton, which is the traditional English name of Guangzhou.

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Cantonese emerged as the prestige variety of Yue Chinese when the port city of Guangzhou on the Pearl River Delta became the largest port in China, with a trade network stretching as far as Arabia.

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Cantonese was used in the popular Yue'ou, Muyu and Nanyin folksong genres, as well as Cantonese opera.

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Meanwhile, Cantonese has remained the official variety of Chinese in Hong Kong and Macau, both during and after the colonial period.

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The Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong and Macau is mutually intelligible with the Cantonese spoken in the mainland city of Guangzhou, although there exist some minor differences in accent, pronunciation, and vocabulary.

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Cantonese first developed around the port city of Guangzhou in the Pearl River Delta region of southeastern China.

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Cantonese remained a dominant and influential language in southeastern China until the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and its promotion of Standard Mandarin Chinese as the sole official language of the nation throughout the last half of the 20th century, although its influence still remains strong within the region.

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Many local Cantonese speaking families in Guangdong province overall in general including in Guangzhou have started placing more stronger emphasis to encourage the use of Cantonese with their children to preserve the local language and culture.

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Cantonese has historically served as a lingua franca among overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, who speak a variety of other forms of Chinese including Hokkien, Teochew, and Hakka.

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In Vietnam, Cantonese is the dominant language of the main ethnic Chinese community, usually referred to as Hoa, which numbers about one million people and constitutes one of the largest minority groups in the country.

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In Malaysia, Cantonese is widely spoken amongst the Malaysian Chinese community in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding areas in the Klang Valley .

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Cantonese radio is available in the nation and Cantonese is prevalent in locally produced Chinese television.

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Cantonese spoken in Malaysia and Singapore often exhibits influences from Malay and other Chinese varieties spoken in the country, such as Hokkien and Teochew.

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Guangxi Cantonese Dialect is still somewhat often spoken in parts of Malaysia.

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Cantonese is widely used as the inter-communal language among Chinese Cambodians, especially in Phnom Penh and other urban areas.

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Furthermore, Cantonese serves as the lingua franca with other Chinese communities in the region.

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In Indonesia, Cantonese is locally known as Konghu and is one of the variants spoken by the Chinese Indonesian community, with speakers largely concentrated in major cities such as Jakarta, Surabaya and Batam.

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Zhongshan variant of Cantonese, which originated from the western Pearl River Delta, is spoken by many Chinese immigrants in Hawaii, and some in San Francisco and the Sacramento River Delta .

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In Northern California, especially the San Francisco Bay Area, Cantonese has historically and continues to dominate in the Chinatowns of San Francisco and Oakland, as well as the surrounding suburbs and metropolitan area, although since the late 2000s a concentration of Mandarin speakers has formed in Silicon Valley.

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In contrast, Southern California hosts a much larger Mandarin-speaking population, with Cantonese found in more historical Chinese communities such as that of Chinatown, Los Angeles, and older Chinese ethnoburbs such as San Gabriel, Rosemead, and Temple City.

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Cantonese is the most common Chinese variety spoken among Chinese Canadians.

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Cantonese is spoken by ethnic Chinese in Portugal who originate from Macau, the most established Chinese community in the nation with a presence dating back to the 16th century and Portuguese colonialism.

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Since the late-20th century Mandarin- and Wu-speaking migrants from mainland China have outnumbered those from Macau, although Cantonese is still retained among mainstream Chinese community associations.

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Cantonese has traditionally been the dominant Chinese language of the Chinese Australian community since the first ethnic Chinese settlers arrived in the 1850s.

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Cantonese is the predominant Chinese variety spoken in Hong Kong and Macau.

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Increasingly since the 1997 Handover, Cantonese has been used as a symbol of local identity in Hong Kong, largely through the development of democracy in the territory and desinicization practices to emphasise a separate Hong Kong identity.

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Hong Kong Cantonese has some minor variations in phonology, but is largely identical to standard Guangzhou Cantonese.

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Systematic efforts to develop an alphabetic representation of Cantonese began with the arrival of Protestant missionaries in China early in the nineteenth century.

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The Barnett-Chao romanization system was first used in Chao's Cantonese Primer, published in 1947 by Harvard University Press .

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Cantonese derived an IPA-based transcription system, the S L Wong system, used by many Chinese dictionaries later published in Hong Kong.

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Google Cantonese input uses Yale, Jyutping or Cantonese Pinyin, Yale being the first standard.

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