The Chinese dialect spoken in and around Guangzhou city (formerly Canton), and central and western Guangdong province.

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23
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11answers
60k views

How to describe differences between Cantonese and Mandarin?

When I tell people I speak Cantonese I'm often asked, "What's the difference between that and Mandarin?". This inevitably leads to a very poor explanation that includes references to the differences ...
12
votes
9answers
3k views

Why Cantonese is considered as a dialect of Chinese?

Can someone explain why Cantonese is considered as a dialect of Chinese, instead of a language? It is also for any language exist in China, both land and Taiwan (Cantonese, Hunanese, Fujianese, ...
12
votes
3answers
519 views

How does foreign word transliteration work in the context of Cantonese vs Mandarin?

If I understand correctly, Cantonese sounds very different from Mandarin, despite being written in the same way (omitting some small differences, which are irrelevant for the question). If it is the ...
9
votes
2answers
408 views

What's the difference between 咁 (gam3) and 噉 (gam2)?

What does "gam" mean in these two contexts, and why is a different character used in each? Note 咁 used in this sentence 我睇見你坐喺梳化椅處, 唔停咁同張太太,何太太,王小姐佢哋傾偈。 (ngo5 tai2 gin3 nei5 co5 hai2 so1 ...
8
votes
2answers
292 views

Are the Cantonese word 係 and the Japanese word はい related?

The Cantonese word meaning "to be", written as 係 (Jyutping: hai6) sounds similar to the Japanese word はい ("hai" in various Romanizations). Both words are used to answer "yes" or "it is correct" to ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Is 師奶 (see lai) strictly a Cantonese word? Is it a neutral word or does it have a negative connotation?

I had heard a husband refer to his wife in Cantonese as 師奶 (pronounced "see lai"). The way he said it sounded like an insult but I was told it's not a bad word. How would 師奶 be described in English? ...
7
votes
1answer
305 views

Macau Cantonese, any differences from HK?

Does anyone know how Cantonese from Macau differ from HK if there are any? Any slangs or terms used in Macanese Cantonese that is rarely used or heard in HK? Maybe some sinicised portuguese words? ...
7
votes
2answers
222 views

Are there more special numerals like 廿?

In Hong Kong herbal tea shops, you will see a tea called "廿四味" (24 flavours) (you will also hear "廿蚊" to mean "20 dollars" in small shops) In this case 廿 (niàn or pán) has the meaning "20". Are ...
7
votes
3answers
213 views

How Cantonese and Mandarin writing can be identical

Forgive any ignorance on my part - I am a beginner, studying Mandarin. If "Apple" in Mandarin is "苹果" (píngguǒ), then I guess in Cantonese it is also "苹果", though no doubt pronounced completely ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there an equivalent for the Cantonese phrase “Ng Goi”

The Cantonese phrase "Ng Goi" has many meanings; "Excuse me" "Thanks" (casual) "Hey" Does it have a 普通话 equivalent? And how can I write it in pinyin? Is it even possible?
6
votes
7answers
992 views

Written Cantonese Pronunciation

I recently attended a Cantonese reading class in Hong Kong and discovered that pronunciation of the spoken form of written Cantonese can be very different from normal speech. The teacher was not able ...
6
votes
6answers
954 views

Resources for learning Cantonese

I'd like to learn Cantonese, does anyone know some good resources (books, websites) that provide a thorough introduction into the language? I know that the pronunciation is a lot harder than in ...
6
votes
1answer
197 views

In Cantonese, what does 多到 (do1 dou3) mean?

In Cantonese, what does 多到 (do1 dou3) mean in this context? 你可以想像罪案多到幾咁嚴重嘞! nei5 ho2-ji5 soeng2-zoeng6 zeoi6-on3 do1 dou3 gei2-gam3 jim4-zung6 laak3! My guess is that the sentence ...
6
votes
2answers
117 views

What happened to the Old Chinese coda -p of 拉 in Cantonese?

Baxter's Middle Chinese reconstruction has 拉 as *lop, which surprised me given that the Cantonese reflex is laai1. Other characters with the rime -op such as 合, 答 and 雜 end up with the rime -ap or ...
6
votes
1answer
163 views

馅饼 in Cantonese

In the Dim Sum place I usually go to (in the U.S), they call the pan-fried bun stuffed with Chinese chive and shrimp 韭菜馅饼. I came from Northern China and the shape and size of that bun are, by any ...
6
votes
1answer
75 views

Why the change in tones of the words in some phrases?

I am a native Cantonese speaker. I found that we have to change the tones of some words, when used in particular phrases. But I don't know why. It seems that it doesn't follow any "rules of changing ...
5
votes
4answers
969 views

Written Cantonese input?

Although traditionally Cantonese speakers just use standard Chinese (mostly Traditional in my experience) for writing and reading, written Cantonese does exist as you can read about in this Wikipedia ...
5
votes
3answers
276 views

What is the difference between 做番 vs. 做返?

A friend (Mainland Chinese, living in Hong Kong) recently posted the following sentence on Facebook: 聖誕節買禮物?做番中國人啦! As I had never seen the "做番" construction before, I asked if perhaps she had ...
5
votes
2answers
141 views

Character 瞓: where did the pronunciations come from?

The character 瞓 is a Cantonese character meaning "sleep". It is pronounced xùn in mandarin and fan3 in Cantonese. I was wondering how two so different pronunciations (I would expect xun to match syun ...
5
votes
3answers
139 views

How can I find the exact written versions of commonly spoken Cantonese words?

I was trying (unsuccessfully) to find the written representation of the Cantonese translation of "to make", pronounced as "jing", by looking through the alternatives on Google Translate and reading ...
5
votes
1answer
84 views

Difference between alveolars and alveolo-palatals in Cantonese

I would like to understand the difference in distribution between the alveolar consonants s, ts, tsʰ and the alveolo-palatal consonants ɕ, tɕ, tɕʰ in Cantonese. One source told me that the ...
5
votes
1answer
122 views

List of classifiers for Cantonese?

There are many resources listing classifiers for Mandarin, but do any pages exist that document classifiers for Cantonese?
5
votes
4answers
7k views

How can I get a Cantonese keyboard on an iPhone?

Like Pinyin, but I need something that can recognize Cantonese instead of Mandarin. The only Chinese keyboards recognize Mandarin.
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the Cantonese equivalent for 你怎么样?

Colloquial Cantonese phrases often differ significantly from Mandarin, so I would be nervous to use 你怎么样 pronounced in Cantonese. Is there a greeting of identical (or nearly identical) meaning in ...
4
votes
3answers
517 views

Where can I find Cantonese poetry?

I would like to identify some Cantonese poetry to study, and I'm looking for the kind of poetry that follows a recognized style and is bound by certain rules (even Cantonese haiku or limericks would ...
4
votes
1answer
196 views

Tone of 竟 and 境 in Mandarin and Cantonese

竟 and 境 are both read ging2 in Cantonese, which usually corresponds to a third tone syllable in Mandarin (as is the case for 警, which is ging2 in Cantonese and jing3 in Mandarin). However, both of ...
4
votes
5answers
573 views

How to start learning Cantonese?

How can I learn Cantonese on my own? What resources can I use and what is the right way to do it? I have friends who are from Hong Kong so I have people to "talk at" I guess who will honestly evaluate ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the Mandarin equivalent of 對 XXX 嚟講?

In Cantonese, 對我嚟講 more or less means "speaking for myself", for instance, in: 對我嚟講,行政長官選舉唔重要。 Speaking for myself, the chief executive election isn't important. 我 can also be replaced with ...
4
votes
2answers
62 views

Learning written forms of dialects

I've looked for this question on the site but can't seem to find it. I'm interested in learning Chinese, well, Cantonese specifically, and I want to focus on both the written and spoken components. ...
4
votes
1answer
101 views

How is Cantonese spoken by some mainland Chinese different from “standard” pronunciation?

As someone who's more or less a native Cantonese speaker, I've noticed that a number of speakers from mainland China (presumably from Cantonese speaking areas) sound "weird", in that I could clearly ...
4
votes
2answers
173 views

Is the phrase “slot machine” 老虎机 the same in different Chinese dialects?

Just wondering whether the phrase 老虎机 (slot machine) sounds and is written the same in all Chinese dialects, such as: Mandarin, Wu Chinese, Min Chinese, Cantonese, Jin Chinese, Xiang  Chinese, ...
4
votes
5answers
601 views

Why do people often say 最多 in Cantonese when they mean “at the very least”?

I often hear on TVB shows that people say 最多 in a context when they mean to say, "at the very least?" For instance, something like, "At the very least, I'll take you to dinner tomorrow for being ...
3
votes
2answers
378 views

Can someone explain what the 其 in 順其自然 means?

The phrase 順其自然 means trust nature to take its course in Cantonese, and every character makes sense except for 其. Can someone explain its meaning in the phrase? Thanks!
3
votes
4answers
599 views

Most common words in Cantonese?

There are many resources documenting the most common words for Mandarin, but none for Cantonese. Is there a list of the most common 500/1000/2000 words in Cantonese? Thanks!
3
votes
1answer
753 views

Are Cantonese and Lao related?

I have a friend who is Lao and I've noticed that a lot of the same words in Lao and Cantonese sound the same. The grammar itself seem different, but the numbers are similar. Is there much ...
3
votes
2answers
687 views

Cantonese Romanization schemes

The Cantonese romanization scheme that I know is Yale Romanization, which to me makes the most sense and is the easiest to read of any that I've seen. It seems to give a very good idea of how to ...
3
votes
3answers
312 views

When did the usage of “N” to indicate some unspecified quantity come up?

I have heard a number of Cantonese speakers use N (pronounced like the English letter) to designate some sort of unspecified quantity, for instance: 我 N 年前去过。(Approximately "I went there some ...
3
votes
2answers
197 views

Written Cantonese Pronunciation 2

this is a follow up question regarding Cantonese Pronunciation. Previous question here. Does anyone know how people from Guangdong, who would speak Cantonese at home but be taught in Mandarin at ...
3
votes
1answer
171 views

The slang meaning of “Seven/七” in Cantonese

I have heard a few Hongkongers saying seven in a similar, likely identical, context. I assume they are addressing a person because when they say it, they make the L hand gesture. I could be wrong, but ...
3
votes
1answer
297 views

Subway door announcement mystery

I think probably every metro system around the world has to have an audio announcement warning passengers to stay away from the train's doors as they're closing. Here in New York, a pre-recorded voice ...
3
votes
4answers
184 views

What are the most popular new year greetings in Cantonese?

Lots of sites highlight the most popular new year greetings in Mandarin. What are the most popular ones for Cantonese, ideally categorized by usage (e.g., family, business, health, kids, parents, ...
3
votes
3answers
226 views

What is the difference between 台 and 臺?

What is the difference between 台 and 臺? 台 is both "simplified" and "alternative", 臺 is "traditional". 臺 seems to be the "correct" traditional form for Taiwan, but I've never seen it in reference to ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Characteristics of Northern and Southern accents

My first language is Cantonese. I learned Mandarin as a second language. Native speakers of Mandarin often understand me with no major issues. Of course, they recognize the Southern accents right ...
3
votes
2answers
123 views

Characters for Taiwanese

As far as I know, Cantonese has its associated characters. But as I searched for Taiwanese characters, I only find the pinyin system to indicate the pronunciation of words, such as: 遮雨 ...
3
votes
1answer
92 views

Simplified variant of 幺?

This question is regarding when 幺 appears in traditional Chinese. What is the simplified variant of 幺? I asked this question on the cantodict forums recently, and one member gave this excellent ...
3
votes
1answer
77 views

Yale tone marks and low-level 'h' for vowel-less syllables

For tone-marked Yale, the tone mark goes over the first vowel and then (for tones 4,5,6) an 'h' is placed after the last vowel. But what about the syllables without any vowels: hm, hng, m, ng ? I'm ...
3
votes
2answers
284 views

Cantonese jyutping Tone 4 question “throat should be vibrating”

I was wondering whether anyone could help me distinguish how to pronounce tone 4 (mostly low flat) and tone 3 (mid flat). I read in tone 4, you should feel your throat vibrate. Honestly, I have my ...
2
votes
3answers
185 views

Is 菜心 used in Mandarin?

Is the vegetable 菜心 (Choy Sum - English rendering of Cantonese) called 菜心 in Mandarin? Is it pronounced "cài xīn" or is it pronounced as it would be in Cantonese?
2
votes
1answer
165 views

Using 變音 when reading Classical Chinese poetry in Cantonese

The poem 《登鸛雀樓》 (Climbing Stork Tower) has the final line 更上一層樓. If I were to read this in Cantonese, would I pronounce the final character as lau4 (without 變音), or lau2 (with 變音)? My guess would be ...
2
votes
1answer
285 views

Tones in Cantonese: 6 or 9?

Wikipedia has a tone contour chart for Cantonese with only 6 tones, but the table just below has 9. In fact, the table states 7=1, 8=3 and 9=6. From a historical point of view, there are 9 tone ...