Is It Best To Learn Mandarin or Cantonese?


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If you are thinking about studying Chinese, you will first need to decide which dialect will be most suitable for your personal needs. This article discusses the difference between Mandarin and Cantones Chinese.

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Is It Best To Learn Mandarin or Cantonese?

  1. 1. ==== ====Learn Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin) in Hong Kong: ====Is Chinese the same as Mandarin? What about Cantonese? And where is each language spoken?In this article, I will answer those questions."Chinese" as a language does not exist. "Chinese" is only the name of a group of languages, andMandarin and Cantonese are part of that group. There are many Chinese dialects, includingMandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien and Teochew.Mandarin and Cantonese, in that order, are the most important Chinese dialects. In the PeoplesRepublic of China, Mandarin is the language of administration. Education takes place in Mandarin,and you can be sure that if you meet an ethnic Chinese from China, they will speak Mandarin.Mandarin is based on the language that was spoken in the North of China but through its usage asa government language, it is now spoken in the entire country. Apart from Northern China andTaiwan, Mandarin may not be the language people speak at home. They may speak anotherdialect at home but use Mandarin in school and at work.Cantonese is the dialect spoken in the South of China, more precisely in Canton Province(Guangdong in Mandarin). This Southern Province is one of Chinas most entrepreneurial andrichest. Throughout the centuries, many Cantonese migrants have moved to all parts of the worldin search of business opportunities.The early migrants did not speak Mandarin, so among overseas Chinese, Cantonese has longbeen more commonly spoken than Mandarin. These days, Cantonese is still very much alive inSouthern China, and if you want to do business there, it will be a real advantage to speak at leastsome Cantonese. In fact, Cantonese has taken the role of a "secondary dialect" in the South ofChina. People who speak a different dialect at home (such as Teochew or Hokkien) speakCantonese for their dealings with different dialect groups within Southern China.If you want to move around freely in entire China, Mandarin will be the best language to learn. Ifyou only really plan to deal with people from the south of China, you should learn some Cantonesephrases as well. Though the Cantonese people speak Mandarin, a few Cantonese phrases will goa long way to forge a closer bond.Taiwan, just like Mainland China, uses Mandarin as its official language. Other dialects spoken areHakka and Taiwanese Minnan (Taiwanese). You will feel absolutely free in Taiwan if you speakMandarin.Hong Kong is a case in itself. As it borders Canton province, Cantonese is the most spokenlanguage. But unlike their Mainland counterparts in Canton province, most Hong Kongers have not
  2. 2. learnt Mandarin in school, but English. In the Hong Kong metro, announcements are made inCantonese first, then in English, and Mandarin is only the third language.Before Hong Kong joined China in 1997, the citys education system did not give priority toMandarin. With Chinas growing importance and accessibility, Mandarin is now emerging in HongKong. But you are still more likely to make yourself understood to a Hong Konger in English thanin Mandarin. Cantonese is the first language. You will hear a lot of Mandarin spoken in the city aswell, but these are generally Mainland Chinese who are visiting the city or working there.Singapore is not originally an ethnically Chinese territory. The Chinese in Singapore aredescendants from migrants that came mainly from Southern China. Historically, many Chinesedialects were spoken in Singapore, Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese being the most common.However, for the last few decades, Mandarin has been taught in Singaporean schools and is nowthe unified language among Singapore Chinese. Older Singapore Chinese do not always speakMandarin, but it is your best bet. There is a group of English educated older Chinese who do notspeak Mandarin that well, though they may be fluent in Cantonese or other dialects. The youngergeneration (below 40) of Chinese Singaporeans speaks Mandarin rather well. They may speakCantonese or other dialects at home, but they are generally less fluent than their (grand)parents.Conclusion: you will not have a problem in Singapore to get around in English. If you want to forgecloser bonds with Singaporean Chinese, learn Mandarin.Hong Kong is still proudly speaking Cantonese, and will for decades to come. Although Mandarinis gaining importance. In the rest of the world, Mandarin is now more important than Cantonese.A Dutchman currently living in Singapore, Guus has so far studied 7 languages (English, German,French, Spanish, Ancient Greek, Latin and Chinese ). He is passionate about travel, culture,languages and learning.His website features the courses of a growing number of Singapore language schools.Article Source: ====
  3. 3. Learn Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin) in Hong Kong: ====