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Questions tagged [cantonese]

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

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30 votes
12 answers
109k 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 ...
Zann Anderson's user avatar
19 votes
9 answers
8k 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, ...
mrjimoy_05's user avatar
16 votes
3 answers
1k 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 ...
KT.'s user avatar
  • 263
14 votes
9 answers
2k 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 ...
12 votes
2 answers
5k 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 ...
Mike M. Lin's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
10k views

Is there an equivalent for the Cantonese phrase "M Goi"

The Cantonese phrase "M 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?
Matthew Rudy 马泰's user avatar
11 votes
9 answers
12k 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? ...
amateur's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
5k 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 yes-...
user102008's user avatar
11 votes
4 answers
513 views

Pinyin of 車 in idioms

In Cantonese, 車 has two pronunciations: [ce1] and [geoi1]. In Mandarin, 車 also has two different pinyin: [che1] and [ju1]. [ce1] corresponds to [che1]. [geoi1] corresponds to [ju1]. In most idioms,...
Tang Ho's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
3k views

Cantonese sandhi

In Mandarin, there is limited tone sandhi, mainly about third tones and the tone variations of yi1 (one) and bù (not). By contrast, Min has sandhi rules for all tones, as illustrated by this diagram. ...
MickG's user avatar
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8 votes
5 answers
3k 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 ...
Alan Chin's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
3k 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 ...
Steven's user avatar
  • 81
8 votes
2 answers
2k 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? ...
Max's user avatar
  • 183
8 votes
2 answers
480 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 ...
Matthew Rudy 马泰's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
276 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 -...
jogloran's user avatar
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8 votes
3 answers
420 views

Zhong Shan Suit Inner Shirt Cantonese Name

I would like to ask the Cantonese speakers about the 中山裝. As we know, 中山裝 is similar to the western suit, 西裝, it is designed with the jacket (外套) and the inner shirt (長袖衫). However, my friends told ...
Jacky X.'s user avatar
  • 415
7 votes
7 answers
7k views

Why don't Cantonese speakers write their own language?

For me the most difficult thing about learning Cantonese has been that there are very few learning materials for foreigners (and I assume even for Chinese people). And even the materials that exist ...
oceanus's user avatar
  • 239
7 votes
2 answers
677 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 ...
MickG's user avatar
  • 2,310
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

Does 兩點九 mean 2:09 or 2:45?

I heard somebody using 兩點九 and I thought he means 2:09. Actually, by 兩點九 he means 兩點九個字, or 2:45. Does 兩點九 have two different meanings? Or does it always mean 2:45?
Zuriel's user avatar
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7 votes
7 answers
3k 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 ...
mfc's user avatar
  • 201
7 votes
3 answers
620 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 ...
tbaums's user avatar
  • 716
7 votes
2 answers
3k views

How similar are Hakka and Cantonese?

I refer to this map (also shown below), which depicts that Yue and Hakka variants of Chinese are geographically very close to each other. If we take Hong Kong for example, how similar would the ...
udidosa's user avatar
  • 913
7 votes
1 answer
20k 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 ...
Thomas Hsieh's user avatar
  • 3,297
7 votes
2 answers
11k 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 ...
Tang Nawen's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
395 views

Do Cantonese 畀 and Mandarin 被 have any historical connection?

畀 and 被's modern pronunciations are quite similar. Although 畀 can mean “give” like the Mandarin 给 it also can work like 被: 佢畀人睇見 他被人家看見 Do Cantonese 畀 and Mandarin 被 have any historical connection?
Mou某's user avatar
  • 36k
7 votes
1 answer
380 views

List of classifiers for Cantonese?

There are many resources listing classifiers for Mandarin, but do any pages exist that document classifiers for Cantonese?
Crashalot's user avatar
  • 2,131
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

How is non-standard Cantonese spoken by some mainland Chinese speakers different from "standard" pronunciation?

As someone who's more or less a native Cantonese speaker, I've noticed that some speakers from mainland China (from Cantonese speaking areas) sound "weird", in that I could clearly notice a difference ...
user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
348 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 ...
velut luna's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
639 views

Using this Cantonese particle to indicate past tense

I ran across this 'conversation piece' in a Cantonese study material. 填好地址未? 填好晒。 郵票貼好未? 貼好咗啦。 I found the usage of 晒 strange, because 填好 already indicated the action is done. The same is true with ...
cgo's user avatar
  • 1,052
6 votes
2 answers
2k views

b and p, d and t, k and g etc. in English and Cantonese

Many words in Cantonese which I think should be pronounced as b, d, g, are translated by the British to p, t, k, respectively. For example, a place in Hong Kong called 大埔 and is pronounced as Dai Bo ...
velut luna's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
419 views

Meaning of 滾水 as Cantonese idiom

滾水 (Cantonese gwan2 seoi2) is used (often in restaurant kitchens) as a warning. It literally means "boiling water", but I think it indicates that something potentially dangerous or fragile ...
Ray Butterworth's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
494 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 ...
HAL's user avatar
  • 1,084
6 votes
3 answers
25k 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.
Crashalot's user avatar
  • 2,131
6 votes
1 answer
232 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 ...
NS.X.'s user avatar
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5 votes
4 answers
2k 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 ...
Zann Anderson's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
826 views

How to pronounce 廿卅卌 in Chinese?

I originally just wanted to ask something about 廿 (20). But as I searched on the internet I found 卅(30) and 卌(40) as well, and I have to admit that I didn't know these two. I think 廿 is pronounced as ...
velut luna's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
3k 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 ...
tbaums's user avatar
  • 716
5 votes
2 answers
2k views

How to say job offer in Mandarin/Cantonese?

Google Translate says job offer is 工作機會. This doesn't feel right. How do you say job offer in Cantonese and Mandarin?
Crashalot's user avatar
  • 2,131
5 votes
4 answers
1k views

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

I was trying to find the written representation of the Cantonese word "to make", pronounced as "jing", by looking through the alternatives on Google Translate and reading the ...
SimonT's user avatar
  • 153
5 votes
2 answers
623 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 translates to ...
Mike M. Lin's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
463 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 ...
jogloran's user avatar
  • 1,979
5 votes
4 answers
7k views

"Thank you" in Tibetan, Cantonese, and Mandarin

I have observed, from subtitled movies, that there seems to be an expression [tɔdʒe] in Cantonese meaning, approximately, "thank you". In Standard Lhasa Tibetan as represented by Nawang Nornang, the ...
user avatar
5 votes
5 answers
1k 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 ...
GµårÐïåñ's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
640 views

Are there loanwords from Portuguese used in Macau Cantonese?

I'd like to know if there are some words from Macau Cantonese that are from Portuguese. As HK Cantonese has some words from English, I think Macau also can have some words. Thank you for any examples ...
Alberto Ribeiro's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
2k views

In Cantonese, which is correct: 淨係 or 剩係?

Both phrases are listed in CantoDict (http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/words/3497/). It seems like 剩係 makes more sense, but which is actually correct?
Crashalot's user avatar
  • 2,131
5 votes
5 answers
2k views

吃 and 食 difference

I'm a native Cantonese speaker, so in Cantonese I use 食 as a verb and hardly ever use 吃, but in Mandarin, 吃 replaces 食 as the verb "to eat". Because of that I'm not sure when to use 食 in a correct ...
E.Lee's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is it correct to say the standard for written Chinese is Mandarin, regardless of dialect (e.g. Cantonese)?

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. ...
Sigma's user avatar
  • 153
5 votes
2 answers
216 views

Differences with 呢度,喺度,and 喺呢度

Can anyone explain any differences in usage between the three ways of saying 'here' in Cantonese? I anticipate that in many cases, these will be exchangeable. I'm looking for examples of sentences ...
psitae's user avatar
  • 243
5 votes
1 answer
440 views

Etymology of phrases 靜雞雞 and 靜靜雞. Are both correct, and is there any difference in meaning?

靜 means "quiet" and "雞" means "chicken". Put together as 靜雞雞 or 靜靜雞 the meaning is "quietly" or "steathily". What is the etymology of 靜雞雞 and 靜靜雞? I've heard both 靜雞雞 and 靜靜雞. Are both correct? Is ...
user16351's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
357 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 jia-hōo/lia-...
Thomas Hsieh's user avatar
  • 3,297

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