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Old 02-03-2018, 11:05 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian_Lee View Post
IMO Putonghua is like English, a working language in Hong Kong. So it doesn't hurt to learn another language given there are more opportunities for business and employment.

It is just like the Dutch who can easily handle Dutch, English, German and French. As an international city, the population in Hong Kong should learn both English and Putonghua. But as a medium of instruction, Cantonese is irreplaceable. Because most HKers' mother tongue is Cantonese, many studies have shown that a student can attain better grades if he is instructed via his mother tongue.
I lived in HK when the government tried to really push mother tongue medium of instruction more in the schools back in 1998. I agree that it does make sense from a pedagogical point of view. And there are some secondary schools in HK that use Chinese as a medium of instruction with students who have gone on to achieve well - example - Pui Ching Secondary School in Kowloon, which boasts Nobel Laureate in Physics Daniel Tsui and John Hung, former managing director of Wheelock Holdings.

However, in HK, probably because of its colonial legacy, English language medium schools are seen as more prestigious, often because mastery of English is seen as beneficial. However, in practice, the problem is the vast majority of local students don't really get the opportunity to use English as much as they should.

And what happens is a lot of students may end up getting instruction in English, but speak mostly in Cantonese - and they wind up not getting really good mastery of either language in a formal manner.
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Old 02-08-2018, 04:18 PM
 
Location: Boston, MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
China has a hundred mutually unintelligible dialects, spoken by ethnic Chinese. Cantonese is nothing special in terms of linguistics. Not to mention they share the same written language.

Hong Kong people are ethnic Chinese too, and they live in the same country as other Chinese. So the American vs Russian or Chinese vs Australia analogy is hilariously wrong.
Well the situation is not as clear as you think. Hong Kong people are ethnic Chinese, there's no doubt about that, and Hong Kong is now officially China's territory. From Aberdeen and Shek O all the way to Lo Wu, it all belongs to China now. Beyond the political identity however, things get murky in Southern China but you probably know already. I like to compare Hong Kong's language and cultural situation to that of Quebec, Canada and particularly to Montreal.

If you read my original post, you can see I never raised the question of Hong Kong's political identity, which is and is not tied to it's linguistic and cultural identity, but the latter two are equally if not more important. You may not find standard Cantonese special in terms of its linguistics but many other people including myself do. For instance, it's vocabulary is much broader, it has richer tones than Mandarin, and its old end particles that Mandarin no longer has make it easier to distinguish words. For the most part, you are right in saying that Mandarin and Cantonese share the same written language but it is not always so. In fact, as I found out when studying there in the early 2000's, there is at least one newspaper that writes in standard spoken Cantonese (I believe it is called The Apple Daily but someone correct me).

A major issue is that there aren't enough instructors in standard Cantonese to widely teach the language to non-speakers such as Westerners and Northern Chinese. There are several Romanization systems: Meyer-Wemp, Chao-Barnett, Yale (the system I learned while studying in HK), and Juytping but how many Cantonese instructors actually know these systems enough to teach at any age? They are not nearly as popular as Hanyu Pinyin.
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Old 02-09-2018, 12:35 PM
 
Location: Honolulu
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Actually Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong do not not share the same written language with Putonghua speakers in Mainland. The former uses traditional script and the latter uses simplified script. So should simplified script be forced onto Cantonese?

I would say it poses some difficulties.

The reason is Cantonese is more sophisticated than Putonghua. For example, the character miles (里) shares the same pronunciation as inside (裡) in Putonghua. But in Cantonese, they are pronounced differently. In the simplified script, both characters are simplified as 里.
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Old 02-09-2018, 12:45 PM
 
Location: Honolulu
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Technically speaking, Putonghua is just as a dialect as Cantonese is. Putonghua is a dialect that has been spoken in Beijing region. Due to political reason, it has been chosen as a national language during the ROC and PRC eras.

But actually Putonghua is less pure than Cantonese. Beijing, for most of the time in the last 1,300 years, had been ruled by non-ethnic Chinese like Khitan (Liao), Jurchen (Qin), Mongol (Yuan) and Manchu (Qing). The language spoken in Beijing has been influenced a lot by these tribes, i.e. some tones have been lost as compared with Cantonese.
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Old 02-10-2018, 01:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian_Lee View Post
Technically speaking, Putonghua is just as a dialect as Cantonese is. Putonghua is a dialect that has been spoken in Beijing region. Due to political reason, it has been chosen as a national language during the ROC and PRC eras.

But actually Putonghua is less pure than Cantonese. Beijing, for most of the time in the last 1,300 years, had been ruled by non-ethnic Chinese like Khitan (Liao), Jurchen (Qin), Mongol (Yuan) and Manchu (Qing). The language spoken in Beijing has been influenced a lot by these tribes, i.e. some tones have been lost as compared with Cantonese.
This is very wrong in many aspects.
Just go read any novel written in Ming Dynasty or later (not necessarily by authors from Beijing), you will find the language is based on Mandarin not Cantonese or any other dialect.

In a broader sense, Mandarin refers to the group of dialects spoken in almost all of north China, southwest China, and parts of east China. People from Chengdu, Nanjing, Wuhan etc can still understand each other although they are from the "south".
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Old 02-10-2018, 07:52 PM
 
Location: Boston, MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
This is very wrong in many aspects.
Just go read any novel written in Ming Dynasty or later (not necessarily by authors from Beijing), you will find the language is based on Mandarin not Cantonese or any other dialect.
Yes but poetry from the Tang Dynasty is reportedly more based on what was later known as Cantonese. I don't see your point here. A great many non-Mandarin speaking Chinese have learned how to read the Ming Dynasty classics in the past without the aid of Mandarin. It can be done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
In a broader sense, Mandarin refers to the group of dialects spoken in almost all of north China, southwest China, and parts of east China. People from Chengdu, Nanjing, Wuhan etc can still understand each other although they are from the "south".
The term "Cantonese" usually means Standard Cantonese, the language based on what is spoken in Gwongjau (Guangzhou or Canton) and spoken either as a primary or secondary language throughout the rest of Guangdong Province and parts of neighboring Guangxi. Notice I don't even use the word "dialect" but refer to Cantonese as a language because Cantonese itself has many "dialects" some of which are nearly mutually unintelligible from each other and may be hard if not impossible to understand by speakers of Standard Cantonese. I myself for instance can clearly understand Standard Cantonese but have a very hard time understanding Toisanese (Taishanese), the dialect commonly spoken in the Siyi region of Guangdong and at one time widely spoken by inhabitants of Chinese communities in America. So yes, you are correct in saying that Mandarin refers to a group of dialects thought I am skeptical in believing that every "Mandarin" speaker can easily understand each other. You just named a handful of major cities in a very big country without regard to the vast rural areas. That's also likely why many Hong Kong Chinese now refer to what they are learning as "Putonghua" or "Guoyue" ("National Language" - a term dating back to the ROC days but still commonly understood) based on the Beijing dialect so as to distinguish it from any other Mandarin dialect.

Here you also brought up the argument of what is considered "Southern China" which ought to be a topic thread in its own right in this forum but I'll address it briefly here. Is Southern China any place south of the Chiang Jiang (Yangtze River) or is Southern China a more specifically defined geographic area? My Discovery Channel Insight Guides tourist guide defines Southern China as Guangdong (including HK and Macau), Hainan, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan provinces only. So that leaves out Chengdu, Nanjing, and Wuhan. Growing up, I always thought any place north of Hunan and Jiangxi was considered Northern China but during the time I studied in Hong Kong, I did encounter some native Shanghainese students who took offence when I referred to them as Northerners. They considered people from Beijing as Northerners but not themselves. A great many Cantonese will consider you a Northerner though if the first thing you do is open your mouth and speak in Putonghua regardless of where you're from. I'm not lying to you.
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Old 02-10-2018, 10:16 PM
 
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No, most HK people's english levels are not good.


A great variety exist in HK. Some people only know the english alphabets. Some know a few basic english phrases. The professionals or people working in the government are better, mostly in english reading and writing but not speaking. If your experience was everyone know english, you were in tourist, middle class or wealthy areas. In areas where people don't hire ladies from the Phillippines, you will see many Indonesian women or mostly Chinese, these are the areas where few people are good in English. The english of HK college students is generally better than college students of Japan and Taiwan, because the english exam of university applicants is harder. What are taught to English major students in many Asian univerisities are already learnt by HK students during primary and secondary years. There is a strong focus on english grammar by HK primary schools.

The filipinos is the largest english speaking group in Hong Kong. Westerners in Hong Kong seem to have more friendly relations with them than the Chinese and other Asians due to common language. Mandarin speakers in HK universities and society have their own circles, they mostly work in companies with Mainland Chinese background. A chinese restaurant in HK generally don't hire staff unable to speak fluent Cantonese.

Last edited by HSrights; 02-10-2018 at 10:34 PM..
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Old 02-11-2018, 02:39 AM
 
6,725 posts, read 6,602,936 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Peasant View Post
Yes but poetry from the Tang Dynasty is reportedly more based on what was later known as Cantonese. I don't see your point here. A great many non-Mandarin speaking Chinese have learned how to read the Ming Dynasty classics in the past without the aid of Mandarin. It can be done.



The term "Cantonese" usually means Standard Cantonese, the language based on what is spoken in Gwongjau (Guangzhou or Canton) and spoken either as a primary or secondary language throughout the rest of Guangdong Province and parts of neighboring Guangxi. Notice I don't even use the word "dialect" but refer to Cantonese as a language because Cantonese itself has many "dialects" some of which are nearly mutually unintelligible from each other and may be hard if not impossible to understand by speakers of Standard Cantonese. I myself for instance can clearly understand Standard Cantonese but have a very hard time understanding Toisanese (Taishanese), the dialect commonly spoken in the Siyi region of Guangdong and at one time widely spoken by inhabitants of Chinese communities in America. So yes, you are correct in saying that Mandarin refers to a group of dialects thought I am skeptical in believing that every "Mandarin" speaker can easily understand each other. You just named a handful of major cities in a very big country without regard to the vast rural areas. That's also likely why many Hong Kong Chinese now refer to what they are learning as "Putonghua" or "Guoyue" ("National Language" - a term dating back to the ROC days but still commonly understood) based on the Beijing dialect so as to distinguish it from any other Mandarin dialect.

Here you also brought up the argument of what is considered "Southern China" which ought to be a topic thread in its own right in this forum but I'll address it briefly here. Is Southern China any place south of the Chiang Jiang (Yangtze River) or is Southern China a more specifically defined geographic area? My Discovery Channel Insight Guides tourist guide defines Southern China as Guangdong (including HK and Macau), Hainan, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan provinces only. So that leaves out Chengdu, Nanjing, and Wuhan. Growing up, I always thought any place north of Hunan and Jiangxi was considered Northern China but during the time I studied in Hong Kong, I did encounter some native Shanghainese students who took offence when I referred to them as Northerners. They considered people from Beijing as Northerners but not themselves. A great many Cantonese will consider you a Northerner though if the first thing you do is open your mouth and speak in Putonghua regardless of where you're from. I'm not lying to you.
You missed the point. What you considered to be "north" is not important, but if you say Mandarin is only (natively) spoken in Beijing area, it is definitely wrong.

Tang poems were NOT written in vernacular language, so it does not make sense to compare it to novels. Many poems rhyme better in Mandarin than in Cantonese too, such as 锄禾
It is always wrong to say XXX modern dialect is YYY 1000 years ago. All languages evolve.
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Old 02-12-2018, 12:31 PM
 
Location: Honolulu
1,356 posts, read 546,239 times
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Bettafish:

Your points validated what I said.

The novels written in Ming Dynasty and after pretty much resembles current day Putonghua. That is what I wrote -- Putonghua has been tainted by the intrusion of tribal language -- Khitan, Jurchen and Mongol -- which preceded Ming rule.

Practically nobody knows what language the people in Tang and Song dynasties spoke. But there are hints that it may more likely be close to the language spoken in Southern China nowadays.

For example, Japan implemented its first reformation during China's Sui and Tang dynasties when they sent thousands of students and monks to China to copy the latter's culture, system and language. So Japan's language has most likely retained the legacy of Tang's language.

Japanese say "to eat" as 食べる. Cantonese also say "to eat" as 食. But Putonghua say "to eat" as 吃. Japanese vocabulary is closer to Cantonese even though these two regions are more farther apart.

Last edited by Ian_Lee; 02-12-2018 at 12:44 PM..
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Old 02-12-2018, 12:42 PM
 
Location: Honolulu
1,356 posts, read 546,239 times
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Bettafish:

Technically speaking Cantonese is not a dialect but a different language apart from Putonghua like English apart from German.

On the other hand, the dialects spoken in Tianjin, Jinan, Shanxi, Shenyang,...etc are dialects of Beijinghua-based Putonghua since they are some variable forms of Putonghua..

But if a Cantonese speaker can only speak Cantonese while a Beijinger can only speak Putonghua, they will be in a state of incommunicado. Of course, they can communicate in written language (but nowadays it is harder if the Cantonese speaker resides outside Mainland and is not familiar with the simplified script).

If the difference between two languages are even farther apart than Spanish from Portuguese, then how can one language be a dialect of the other?
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