Standard Cantonese: Wikis


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Cantonese
廣東話 gwong dong waa
廣府話 gwong fu waa
Spoken in Southern China
Region the Pearl River Delta (central and western Guangdong, eastern Guangxi; Hong Kong, Macau); Canada (Vancouver, Toronto); United States (San Francisco, New York City, San Gabriel Valley); Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Indonesia, Singapore, United Kingdom
Total speakers
Language family Sino-Tibetan
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3

Cantonese is a variety of the Chinese language spoken in and around the city of Guangzhou (formerly known as Canton) in Southern China, by the majority population of Hong Kong and Macau, and as a lingua franca of Guangdong province, eastern Guangxi province, and some neighbouring areas. It is used in Hong Kong and Macau as the de facto official spoken language of government and instruction in schools. It is spoken by overseas Chinese communities in Canada, the United States and Australia, as well as throughout Europe and Southeast Asia, being the most widely spoken dialect and a lingua franca in many of these communities. In common usage, "Cantonese" usually refers to the spoken forms from Hong Kong or Guangzhou, or other closely related dialects, although it is sometimes also used to refer to the Yue dialect group.

Contents

Names

In English, the term "Cantonese" is ambiguous. Cantonese proper is the dialect native to the city of Guangzhou, which was called Canton in English in the past, and later brought to Hong Kong and Macau[citation needed]; this narrow sense may be specified as "Guangzhou dialect" or "Canton dialect" in English.[1]

However, "Cantonese" may also refer to the primary branch of Chinese which contains Cantonese proper as well as Taishanese and Gaoyang; this broader usage may be specified as "Yue" (粤). In this article, "Cantonese" will be used for Cantonese proper.

Native speakers of Cantonese customarily call their language "Guangzhou Prefecture Speech".[2] In Guangdong province people also call it "Provincial Capital speech".[3] In Hong Kong and Macau, people usually call it "Guangdong (Province) speech".[4]. Outside of Guangzhou, people also call it "Baak Waa", plain speech or vernacular.[5]

Cultural role

Spoken Chinese has numerous regional and local varieties (dialects), many of which are mutually unintelligible. Most of these are rarely used or heard outside their native areas by native speakers, although they may be spoken in homes outside of the country. Since the early 1900's (1909 Qing Dynasty decree), China has promoted Standard Mandarin for use in education, the media and for official communication,[6] though a few state television and radio broadcasts are in Cantonese. However, due to the linguistic history of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the use of Cantonese in many overseas Chinese communities, international usage of Cantonese has spread far out of proportion to its relatively small number of speakers in China, even though the majority of Cantonese speakers still live in mainland China.[citation needed]

Cantonese is the predominant dialect of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong and Macau. Cantonese is also the only variety of Chinese other than Standard Mandarin to be used in official contexts. Because of their use by non-Mandarin-speaking Yue speakers overseas, the Cantonese and Taishanese dialects are some of the primary forms of Chinese that Westerners come into contact with.

Along with Mandarin and Hokkien, Cantonese is one of the few varieties of Chinese which has its own popular music, Cantopop. In Hong Kong, Cantonese lyrics predominate within popular music, and many artists from Beijing and Taiwan have learned Cantonese in order to make Cantonese versions of their recordings.[7] Popular native Mandarin speaking singers, including Faye Wong, Eric Moo, and singers from Taiwan, have been trained in Cantonese to add "Hong Kong-ness" to their performances.[7]

Phonology

The de facto standard pronunciation of the Cantonese language is that of Guangzhou, which is described at the Cantonese phonology article. Hong Kong Cantonese has some minor variations in phonology.

Written Cantonese

Cantonese has the most developed literature of any form of Chinese after Classical Chinese and Mandarin. It is used primarily in Hong Kong and in overseas Chinese communities. It uses characters not found in Standard Mandarin, and is not easily intelligible to Mandarin speakers.

Romanization

Cantonese romanization systems are based on the accent of Canton and Hong Kong, and have helped define the concept of Standard Cantonese. The major systems are Barnett–Chao, Meyer–Wempe, the Chinese government's Guangdong Romanization, Yale and Jyutping. While they do not differ greatly, Yale is the one most commonly seen in the west today[citation needed]. The Hong Kong linguist Sidney Lau modified the Yale system for his popular Cantonese-as-a-second-language course and is still widely in use today.

Early Western effort

Systematic efforts to develop an alphabetic representation of Cantonese began with the arrival of Protestant missionaries in China early in the nineteenth century. Romanization was considered both a tool to help new missionaries learn the dialect more easily and a quick route for the unlettered to achieve gospel literacy. Earlier Catholic missionaries, mostly Portuguese, had developed romanization schemes for the pronunciation current in the court and capitol city of China but made few efforts at romanizing other dialects.

Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary in China published a "Vocabulary of the Canton Dialect" (1828) with a rather unsystematic romanized pronunciation. Elijah Coleman Bridgman and Samuel Wells Williams in their "Chinese Chrestomathy in the Canton Dialect" (1841) were the progenitors of a long-lived lineage of related romanizations with minor variations embodied in the works of James Dyer Ball, Ernst Johann Eitel, and Immanuel Gottlieb Genăhr (1910). Bridgman and Williams based their system on the phonetic alphabet and diacritics proposed by Sir William Jones for South Asian languages. Their romanization system embodied the phonological system in a local dialect rhyme dictionary, the Fenyun cuoyao, which was widely used and easily available at the time and is still available today. Samuel Wells Willams' Tonic Dictionary of the Chinese Language in the Canton Dialect (Yinghua fenyun cuoyao 1856), is an alphabetic rearrangement, translation and annotation of the Fenyun. In order to adapt the system to the needs of users at a time when there were only local variants and no standard—although the speech of the western suburbs, xiguan, of Guangzhou was the prestige variety at the time—Williams suggested that users learn and follow their teacher's pronunciation of his chart of Cantonese syllables. It was apparently Bridgman's innovation to mark the tones with an open circles (upper register tones) or an underlined open circle (lower register tones) at the four corners of the romanized word in analogy with the traditional Chinese system of marking the tone of a character with a circle (lower left for "even," upper left for "rising," upper right for "going," and lower right for "entering" tones). John Chalmers, in his "English and Cantonese pocket-dictionary" (1859) simplified the marking of tones using the acute accent to mark "rising" tones and the grave to mark "going" tones and no diacritic for "even" tones and marking upper register tones by italics (or underlining in handwritten work). "Entering" tones could be distinguished by their consonantal ending. Nicholas Belfeld Dennys used Chalmers romanization in his primer. This method of marking tones was adopted in the Yale romanization (with low register tones marked with an 'h'). A new romanization was developed in the first decade of the twentieth century which eliminated the diacritics on vowels by distinguishing vowel quality by spelling differences (e.g. a/aa, o/oh). Diacritics were used only for marking tones. The name of Tipson is associated with this new romanization which still embodied the phonology of the Fenyun to some extent. It is the system used in Meyer-Wempe and Cowles' dictionaries and O'Melia's textbook and many other works in the first half of the twentieth century. It was the standard romanization until the Yale system supplanted it. The distinguished linguist, Y. R. Chao developed a Cantonese adaptation of his Gwoyeu romanization system which he used in his "Cantonese Primer." The front matter to this book contains a review and comparison of a number of the systems mentioned in this paragraph. The GR system was not widely used.

Cantonese romanisation in Hong Kong

An influential work on Cantonese, A Chinese Syllabary Pronounced According to the Dialect of Canton, written by Wong Shik Ling, was published in 1941. He derived an IPA-based transcription system, the S. L. Wong system, used by many Chinese dictionaries later published in Hong Kong. Although Wong also derived a romanisation scheme, also known as S. L. Wong system, it is not widely used as his transcription scheme.

The romanization advocated by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong (LSHK) is called Jyutping, which solves many of the inconsistencies and problems of the older, favored, and more familiar system of Yale Romanization, but departs considerably from it in a number of ways unfamiliar to Yale users. The phonetic values of letters are not quite familiar to those who have studied English. Some effort has been undertaken to promote Jyutping with some official support, but it is too early to tell how successful it is.

Another popular scheme is Standard Cantonese Pinyin Schemes, which is the only romanization system accepted by Hong Kong Education and Manpower Bureau and Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. Books and studies for teachers and students in primary and secondary schools usually use this scheme. But there are quite a lot teachers and students using the transcription system of S. L. Wong.

However, learners may feel frustrated that most native Cantonese speakers, no matter how educated they are, really are not familiar with any romanization system. Apparently, there is no motive for local people to learn any of these systems. The romanization systems are not included in the education system either in Hong Kong or in Guangdong province. In practice, Hong Kong people follow a loose unnamed romanisation scheme used by the Government of Hong Kong.

Cantonese outside mainland China

Historically, the majority of the overseas Chinese have originated from just two provinces, Fujian and Guangdong. This has resulted in the overseas Chinese having a far higher proportion of Fujian and Guangdong languages/dialect speakers than Chinese speakers in China as a whole.

The largest number of Cantonese speakers outside mainland China and Hong Kong are in south east Asia; however, speakers of Min dialects predominate among the overseas Chinese in south east Asia.[citation needed] The Cantonese spoken in Singapore and Malaysia are known to have borrowed substantially from Malay and other languages.

Hong Kong

The so-called "Battle between Cantonese and Mandarin" started in Hong Kong in the mid-1980s when a large number of non-Cantonese speaking mainland Chinese people started crossing the border into Hong Kong during Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms. At that time, Hong Kong and Macau were still British and Portuguese protectorates respectively, and Mandarin was not often heard in those territories. Today Mandarin is often taught as a second language, but was not used in daily life (circa 1980-1990's) except by immigrants from the non-Cantonese speaking parts of the mainland. Persons from the mainland and the colonies who did not speak the same dialect, often viewed the other with suspicion or even a mutual animosity. It was not uncommon for Chinese magazines in the mid-1980s to publish polemics against the other's language - thus Cantonese became known on the mainland as "British Chinese" - and Mandarin became known as "流氓話 Lau Man Waa" - literally "outlaw speech" - in the colonies.

Singapore

In Singapore the government has had a Speak Mandarin Campaign (SMC) which seeks to actively promote the use of Standard Mandarin Chinese over other forms of Chinese such as Hokkien (45% of the Chinese population), Teochew (22.5%), Cantonese (16%), Hakka (7%) and Hainanese. This was seen as a way of creating greater cohesion among the ethnic Chinese. In addition to positive promotion of Mandarin, the campaign also includes active attempts to dissuade people from using Chinese dialects. Most notably, the use of dialects in local broadcast media is banned, and access to foreign media in dialect is limited. Some believe that the Singaporean Government has gone too far in its endeavour. Some Taiwanese songs in some Taiwanese entertainment programmes have been singled out and censored. Japanese and Korean drama series are available in their original languages on TV to the viewers, but Hong Kong drama series on non-cable TV channels are dubbed in Mandarin and broadcast in Singapore without their original Cantonese soundtrack. Some Cantonese speakers in Singapore feel the dubbing causes the series to sound very unnatural and lose much of its flavour.

An offshoot of SMC is the Pinyinisation of certain terms which originated from southern Chinese languages. For instance, dim sum is often known as dianxin in Singapore's English language media, though this is largely a matter of style, and most Singaporeans will refer to dim sum when speaking English. Another result of SMC is that most young Singaporeans from Cantonese speaking families are unable to understand or speak Cantonese. The situation is very different in nearby Malaysia, where even most non-Cantonese speaking Chinese can understand the dialect to a certain extent through exposure to the language.[citation needed]

United Kingdom

The majority of Cantonese speakers in the UK have origins from the former British colony of Hong Kong and speak the Canton/Hong Kong dialect, although many are in fact from Hakka-speaking families and are bilingual in Hakka. There are also Cantonese speakers from south east Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, as well as from Guangdong in China itself. Today an estimated 300,000 British people have Cantonese as a mother tongue, this represents 0.5% of the total UK population and 1% of the total overseas Cantonese speakers[8]

United States

For the last 150 years, Guangdong Province has been the place of origin of most Chinese emigrants to western countries; one coastal county, Taishan (or Tóisàn, where the Sìyì or sei yap dialect of Yue is spoken), alone may have been the home to more than 60% of Chinese immigrants to the US before 1965. As a result, Yue dialects such as Siyi (the dialects of Taishan, Enping, Kaiping and Xinhui Districts) and Cantonese (with a heavy Hong Kong influence) have been the major Yue dialects spoken abroad, particularly in the United States.

The Zhongshan dialect of Cantonese, with origins in the Pearl River Delta, is spoken by many Chinese immigrants in Hawaii, and some in San Francisco and in the Sacramento River Delta (see Locke, California); it is a Yuehai dialect much like Guangzhou Cantonese, but has "flatter" tones. Yue is the third most widely spoken non-English language in the United States.[9] Many institutes of higher education, such as Stanford, Duke, and Yale, have Cantonese programs. The currently most popular romanization for learning Cantonese in the United States is Yale Romanization.

The dialectal situation is now changing in the United States; recent Chinese emigrants originate from many different areas including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. Recent immigrants from mainland China and Taiwan in the U.S. all speak Standard Mandarin (putonghua/guoyu)[10][11], with varying degrees of fluency, and their native local language/dialect, such as Min (Hokkien and other Fujian dialects), Wu, Mandarin, Cantonese etc. As a result, Standard Mandarin is increasingly becoming more common as the Chinese lingua franca among overseas Chinese.

Loanwords

Life in Hong Kong is characterised by the blending of Asian (mainly south Chinese) and Western influences, as well as the status of the city as a major international business centre. Influences from this territory are widespread in foreign cultures. As a results, many loanwords are created and exported to China, Taiwan and Singapore. Some of the loanwords are even more popular than their Chinese counterparts. At the same time, some new words created are vividly borrowed by other languages as well.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Ramsey and Ethnologue, respectively
  2. ^ simplified Chinese: 广州话 or 广府话traditional Chinese: 廣州話 or 廣府話Jyutping: Gwong2zau1 waa2 or Gwong2fu2 waa2
  3. ^ simplified Chinese: 省城话traditional Chinese: 省城話Jyutping: Saang2seng4 waa2
  4. ^ simplified Chinese: 广东话traditional Chinese: 廣東話Jyutping: Gwong2dung1 waa2
  5. ^ simplified Chinese: 白话traditional Chinese: 白話Jyutping: baak6waa2
  6. ^ Minglang Zhou, Hongkai Sun (2004). Language Policy in the People's Republic of China: Theory and Practice Since 1949. Springer. ISBN 1402080387, 9781402080388. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=Z4O3bcRUwKQC. 
  7. ^ a b Donald, Stephanie; Keane, Michael; Hong, Yin (2002). Media in China: Consumption, Content and Crisis. RoutledgeCurzon. p. 113. ISBN 0700716149. 
  8. ^ Cantonese speakers in the UK
  9. ^ Lai, H. Mark (2004). Becoming Chinese American: A History of Communities and Institutions. AltaMira Press. ISBN 0759104581.  need page number(s)
  10. ^ Mandarin Use Up in Chinese American Communities
  11. ^ As Mandarin language becomes standard, Chinatown explores new identity

External links

Cantonese edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In English

In Chinese only

In Japanese


Template:About

This article contains special characters. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols.
Standard Cantonese
廣州話 / 广州话 Gwóngjàu wá[1]
Spoken in Southern China
Region the Pearl River Delta (central Guangdong; Hong Kong, Macau); United Kingdom; Vancouver; Toronto; San Francisco, New York City, San Gabriel Valley
Total speakers
Language family Sino-Tibetan
Official status
Official language in De facto official spoken language in Hong Kong and Macau. Recognised regional language in Suriname.
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 zh
ISO 639-2 chi (B)  zho (T)
ISO 639-3 yue

Standard Cantonese, or Guangzhou dialect, is the prestige dialect of Cantonese. It is used in Hong Kong and Macau as the spoken language of government and instruction in the schools. It is spoken natively in and around the city of Guangzhou in Southern China, by the majority population of Hong Kong and Macau, and as a lingua franca of Guangdong province and some neighbouring areas. It is also spoken by many Cantonese immigrants in Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, Malaysia, though the Taishanese dialect is the most common variety of Cantonese spoken by overseas Chinese communities in Canada, the United States, Australia, and Europe.

Contents

Names

In English, the term "Cantonese" is ambiguous. It may refer either to the whole Cantonese language, or specifically the prestige dialect of Cantonese which is widely spoken in Guangzhou and Hong Kong. To disambiguate, "Cantonese" in the latter narrow sense may be specified as "Canton dialect" or "Guangzhou dialect".[2]

The native speakers of Standard Cantonese customarily call their language "Kwongchow Prefecture Speech".[3] In Guangdong province people also call it "Provincial Capital speech".[4] In Hong Kong and Macau, people usually call it "Kwongtung (Province) speech".[dubious ][5]. In outside of Guangzhou, people also call it as "Bak Wa"[6]

Phonology

Cantonese is more standardized than any branch of Chinese other than Mandarin and Classical Chinese. Below is the pronunciation used by most educators, the one usually heard on TV and radio in formal broadcast like news reports. Common variations are also described.

There are about 630 combinations of syllable onsets (initial consonants) and syllable rimes (remainder of the syllable), not counting tone. Some of these, such as /ɛː˨/ and /ei˨/ (欸) , /pʊŋ˨/ (埲), /kʷɪŋ˥/ (扃) are not common any more; some such as /kʷɪk˥/ and /kʷʰɪk˥/ (隙), or /kʷaːŋ˧˥/ and /kɐŋ˧˥/ (梗) which has traditionally had two equally correct pronunciations are beginning to be pronounced with only one particular way uniformly by its speakers (and this usually happens because the unused pronunciation is almost unique to that word alone) thus making the unused sounds effectively disappear from the language; while some such as /kʷʰɔːk˧/ (擴), /pʰuːi˥/ (胚), /jɵy˥/ (錐), /kɛː˥/ (痂) have alternative nonstandard pronunciations which have become mainstream (as /kʷʰɔːŋ˧/, /puːi˥/, /tʃɵy˥/ and /kʰɛː˥/ respectively), again making some of the sounds disappear from the everyday use of the language; and yet others such as /faːk˧/ (謋), /fɐŋ˩/ (揈), /tɐp˥/ (耷) have become popularly (but erroneously) believed to be made-up/borrowed words to represent sounds in modern vernacular Cantonese when they have in fact been retaining those sounds before these vernacular usages became popular.

On the other hand, there are new words circulating in Hong Kong which use combinations of sounds which had not appeared in Standard Cantonese before, such as get1 (note: this is non standard usage as /ɛːt/ was never an accepted/valid final for sounds in Standard Cantonese, though the final sound /ɛːt/ has appeared in vernacular Cantonese before this, /pʰɛːt˨/ - notably in describing the measure word of gooey or sticky substances such as mud, glue, chewing gum, etc.); the sound is borrowed from the English word get to mean to understand.

Initials

Initials (or onsets) are initial consonants of possible syllables. The following is the inventory for Standard Cantonese as represented in IPA:

  Labial Coronal Palatal Velar Glottal
plain sibilant plain labialized
Nasal m n     ŋ    
Stop plain p t ts   k ( ) ( ʔ )
aspirated tsʰ   ( kʷʰ )  
Fricative f   s       h
Approximant   l   ( j )   ( w )  

Note the aspiration contrast and the lack of phonation contrast for stops. The sibilant affricates are grouped with the stops for compactness in displaying the chart.

Some linguists prefer to analyze /j/ and /w/ as part of finals to make them analogous to the /i/ and /u/ medials in Standard Mandarin, especially in comparative phonological studies. However, since final-heads only appear with null initial, /k/ or /kʰ/, analyzing them as part of the initials greatly reduces the count of finals at the cost of only adding four initials. Some linguists analyze a /ʔ/ (glottal stop) when a vowel other than /i/, /u/ or /y/ begins a syllable.

The position of the coronals varies from dental to alveolar, with /t/ and /tʰ/ more likely to be dental. The position of the sibilants /ts/, /tsʰ/, and /s/ are usually alveolar ([ts], [tsʰ], and [s]), but can be postalveolar ([tʃ], [tʃʰ], and [ʃ]) or alveolo-palatal ([tɕ], [tɕʰ], and [ɕ]), especially before the front high vowels/iː/, /ɪ/, or /yː/.

Some native speakers cannot distinguish between /n/ and /l/, and between /ŋ/ and the null initial. Usually they pronounce only /l/ and the null initial. See the discussion on phonological shift below.

Finals

Finals (or rimes) are the remaining part of the syllable after the initial is taken off. There are two kinds of finals in Standard Cantonese, depending on vowel length. The following chart lists all possible finals in Standard Cantonese as represented in IPA:

ɛː ɔː œː
LongShort LongShort LongShort LongShort LongShort LongShort LongShort
-i / -y aːiɐi  ei    ɔːi  uːi   ɵy   
-u aːuɐu ɛːu¹  iːu   ou         
-m aːmɐm ɛːm¹  iːm             
-n aːnɐn    iːn  ɔːn  uːn   ɵn yːn 
-ŋ aːŋɐŋ ɛːŋ   ɪŋ ɔːŋ   ʊŋ œːŋ    
-p aːpɐp ɛːp¹  iːp             
-t aːtɐt    iːt  ɔːt  uːt   ɵt yːt 
-k aːkɐk ɛːk   ɪk ɔːk   ʊk œːk    
Syllabic nasals: [m̩] [ŋ̩]
¹Finals [ɛːu], [ɛːm] and [ɛːp] only appear in colloquial speech. They are absent from some analyses and romanization schemes.
used in Cantonese]]

Based on the chart above, the following central vowels pairs are usually considered to be allophones:

[ɛː] - [e], [iː] - [ɪ], [ɔː] - [o], [uː] - [ʊ], and [œː] - [ɵ].

Although that satisfies the minimal pair requirement, some linguists find it difficult to explain why the coda affects the vowel length. They recognize the following two allophone groups instead:

[e] - [ɪ] and [o] - [ʊ] - [ɵ].

In that way, the phoneme set consists of seven long central vowels and three short central vowels that are in contrast with three of the long vowels, as presented in the following chart:

ɔː ɛː œː
LongShort LongShort LongShort Long Long Long Long
-i / -y aːiɐi ɔːiɵy  ei   uːi    
-u aːuɐu  ou    iːu      
-m aːmɐm       iːm      
-n aːnɐn ɔːnɵn    iːn uːn   yːn
-ŋ aːŋɐŋ ɔːŋʊŋ ɛːŋɪŋ     œːŋ  
-p aːpɐp       iːp      
-t aːtɐt ɔːtɵt    iːt uːt   yːt
-k aːkɐk ɔːkʊk ɛːkɪk     œːk  
Syllabic nasals: [m̩] [ŋ̩]

Tones

Standard Cantonese has six tones, although it is often said to have nine. In Chinese, the number of possible tones depends on the syllable type. There are six contour tones in syllables that end in a vowel or nasal consonant. (Some of things have more than one realization, but such differences are seldom used to distinguish words.) In syllables that end in a stop consonant, the number of tones is reduced to three; in Chinese descriptions, these "entering tones" are treated separately, so that Cantonese is traditionally said to have nine tones. However, phonetically these are a conflation of tone and syllable type; the number of phonemic tones is six.

Syllable typeOpen syllablesStopped syllables
Tone name Upper Level
(陰平)
Upper Rising
(陰上)
Upper Departing
(陰去)
Lower Level
(陽平)
Lower Rising
(陽上)
Lower Departing
(陽去)
Upper Entering #1
(上陰入)
Upper Entering #2
(下陰入)
Lower Entering
(陽入)
Pinyin tone number 123 456 7 (or 1)8 (or 3)9 (or 6)
Examples
Tone letters si˥, si˥˧ si˧˥ si˧ si˨˩, si˩ si˩˧ si˨ sik˥ sik˧ sik˨
Tone diacritics , si̖, sı̏ si̗ sík sīk sìk
Description high level,
high falling
medium risingmedium level low falling,
very low level
low risinglow level high levelmedium levellow level
Yale Romanization sī, sìsi sīh, sìhsíhsih sīksiksihk

For purposes of meters in Chinese poetry, the first and fourth tones are the "level tones" (平聲), while the rest are the "oblique tones" (仄聲).

The first tone can be either high level or high falling without affecting the meaning of the words being spoken. Most speakers are in general not consciously aware of when they use and when to use high level and high falling. In Hong Kong, the high level is more usual. In Guangzhou, the high falling tone is more usual.

The numbers "394052786" when pronounced in Standard Cantonese, will give the nine tones in order (Romanisation (Yale) saam1, gau2, sei3, ling4, ng5, yi6, chat7, baat8, luk9), thus giving a good mnemonic for remembering the nine tones.

There are not any more tone levels in Standard Cantonese than in Standard Mandarin (three if one excludes the Cantonese low falling tone, which begins on the third level and needs somewhere to fall); Standard Cantonese just has more tone contours.

Like other Cantonese, Standard Cantonese preserves the distinction in Middle Chinese in the manner shown in the chart below.

 Middle Chinese  Standard Cantonese
ToneInitial Central VowelTone NameTone ContourTone Number
LevelV−  Upper Level˥, ˥˧1
V+ Lower Level˨˩, ˩4
RisingV− Upper Rising˧˥2
V+ Lower Rising˩˧5
DepartingV− Upper Departing˧3
V+ Lower Departing˨6
EnteringV− ShortUpper Entering #1˥ʔ7 (1)
LongUpper Entering #2˧ʔ8 (3)
V+  Lower Entering˨ʔ9 (6)

V− = voiceless initial consonant, V+ = voiced initial consonant. The distinction of consonants found in Middle Chinese was preserved by the distinction of tones in Cantonese. The vowel length further affects the Upper Entering tone.

Standard Cantonese is special in the way that the vowel length can affect both the rhyme and the tone. Some linguists believe that the vowel length feature may have roots in the Old Chinese language.

Phonological shifts

Like other languages, Cantonese is constantly undergoing sound changes, processes where more and more native speakers of a language change the pronunciations of certain sounds.

Previous shifts

One shift that affected Cantonese in the past was the loss of distinction between the alveolar and the alveolo-palatal (sometimes termed as postalveolar) sibilants, which occurred during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This distinction was documented in many Cantonese dictionaries and pronunciation guides published prior to the 1950s but is no longer distinguished in any modern Cantonese dictionary.

Publications that documented this distinction include:

  • Williams, S., A Tonic Dictionary of the Chinese Language in the Canton Dialect, 1856.
  • Cowles, R., A Pocket Dictionary of Cantonese, 1914.
  • Meyer, B. and Wempe, T., The Student's Cantonese-English Dictionary, 3rd edition, 1947.
  • Chao, Y. Cantonese Primer, 1947.

The depalatalization of sibilants caused many words that were once distinct to sound the same. For comparison, this distinction is still made in modern Standard Mandarin, with the old alveolo-palatal sibilants in Cantonese corresponding to the retroflex sibilants in Mandarin. For instance:

Sibilant Category Character Modern Cantonese Old Cantonese Standard Mandarin
Unaspirated affricate /tsœːŋ/ (alveolar) /tsœːŋ/ (alveolar) /tɕiɑŋ/ (alveolo-palatal)
/tɕœːŋ/ (alveolo-palatal) /tʂɑŋ/ (retroflex)
Aspirated affricate /tsʰœːŋ/ (alveolar) /tsʰœːŋ/ (alveolar) /tɕʰiɑŋ/ (alveolo-palatal)
/tɕʰœːŋ/ (alveolo-palatal) /tʂʰɑŋ/ (retroflex)
Fricative /sœːŋ/ (alveolar) /sœːŋ/ (alveolar) /ɕiɑŋ/ (alveolo-palatal)
/ɕœːŋ/ (alveolo-palatal) /ʂɑŋ/ (retroflex)

Even though the aforementioned references observed the distinction, most of them also noted that the depalatalization phenomenon was already occurring at the time. Williams (1856) writes:

The initials ch and ts are constantly confounded, and some persons are absolutely unable to detect the difference, more frequently calling the words under ts as ch, than contrariwise.

Cowles (1914) adds:

"s" initial may be heard for "sh" initial and vice versa.

A vestige of this palatalization difference is sometimes reflected in the romanization scheme used to romanize Cantonese names in Hong Kong. For instance, many names will be spelled with sh even though the "sh sound" (/ɕ/) is no longer used to pronounce the word. Examples include the surname (/sɛːk˨/), which is often romanized as Shek, and the names of places like Sha Tin (沙田; /saː˥ tʰiːn˩/).

After the shift was complete, even though the alveolo-palatal sibilants were no longer distinguished, they still continue to occur in complementary distribution with the alveolar sibilants, making the two groups of sibilants allophones. Thus, most modern Standard Cantonese speakers will pronounce the alveolar sibilants unless the following vowel is /iː/, /i/, or /y/, in which case the alveolo-palatal (or postalveolar) is pronounced. Canton romanization attempts to reflect this phenomenon in its romanization scheme, even though most current Cantonese romanization schemes don't.

The alveolo-palatal sibilants occur in complementary distribution with the retroflex sibilants in Mandarin as well, with the alveolo-palatal sibilants only occurring before /i/, or /y/. However, Mandarin also retains the medials, where /i/ and /y/ can occur, as can be seen in the examples above. Cantonese had lost its medials sometime ago in its history, reducing the ability for speakers to distinguish its sibilant initials.

Current shifts

In modern-day Hong Kong, many younger native speakers are unable to distinguish between certain phoneme pairs and merge one sound into another. Although that is often considered as substandard and is denounced as being "lazy sounds" (懶音), it is becoming more common and is influencing other Cantonese-speaking regions.

Romanization

Cantonese romanization schemes are based on the Standard Cantonese. The major ones are Barnett-Chao, Meyer-Wempe, the Chinese government's Guangdong romanization, Yale and Jyutping. While they do not differ greatly, Yale is the one most commonly seen in the west today. The Hong Kong linguist Sidney Lau modified the Yale system for his popular Cantonese-as-a-second-language course, so that is another system used today by contemporary Cantonese learners.

Early Western effort

Systematic efforts to develop an alphabetic representation of the Standard Cantonese began with the arrival of Protestant missionaries in China early in the nineteenth century. Romanization was considered both a tool to help new missionaries learn the dialect more easily and a quick route for the unlettered to achieve gospel literacy. Earlier Catholic missionaries, mostly Portuguese, had developed romanization schemes for the pronunciation current in the court and capitol city of China but made few efforts at romanizing other dialects.

Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary in China published a "Vocabulary of the Canton Dialect" (1828) with a rather unsystematic romanized pronunciation. Elijah Coleman Bridgman and Samuel Wells Williams in their "Chinese Chrestomathy in the Canton Dialect" (1841) were the progenitors of a long-lived lineage of related romanizations with minor variations embodied in the works of James Dyer Ball, Ernest John Eitel, and Immanuel Gottlieb Genăhr (1910). Bridgman and Williams based their system on the phonetic alphabet and diacritics proposed by Sir William Jones for South Asian languages. Their romanization system embodied the phonological system in a local dialect rhyme dictionary, the Fenyun cuoyao, which was widely used and easily available at the time and is still available today. Samuel Wells Willams' Tonic Dictionary of the Chinese Language in the Canton Dialect (Yinghua fenyun cuoyao 1856), is an alphabetic rearrangement, translation and annotation of the Fenyun. In order to adapt the system to the needs of users at a time when there were only local variants and no standard—although the speech of the western suburbs, xiguan, of Guangzhou was the prestige variety at the time—Williams suggested that users learn and follow their teacher's pronunciation of his chart of Cantonese syllables. It was apparently Bridgman's innovation to mark the tones with an open circles (upper register tones) or an underlined open circle (lower register tones) at the four corners of the romanized word in analogy with the traditional Chinese system of marking the tone of a character with a circle (lower left for "even," upper left for "rising," upper right for "going," and lower right for "entering" tones). John Chalmers, in his "English and Cantonese pocket-dictionary" (1859) simplified the marking of tones using the acute accent to mark "rising" tones and the grave to mark "going" tones and no diacritic for "even" tones and marking upper register tones by italics (or underlining in handwritten work). "Entering" tones could be distinguished by their consonantal ending. Nicholas Belfeld Dennys used Chalmers romanization in his primer. This method of marking tones was adopted in the Yale romanization (with low register tones marked with an 'h'). A new romanization was developed in the first decade of the twentieth century which eliminated the diacritics on vowels by distinguishing vowel quality by spelling differences (e.g. a/aa, o/oh). Diacritics were used only for marking tones. The name of Tipson is associated with this new romanization which still embodied the phonology of the Fenyun to some extent. It is the system used in Meyer-Wempe and Cowles' dictionaries and O'Melia's textbook and many other works in the first half of the twentieth century. It was the standard romanization until the Yale system supplanted it. The distinguished linguist, Y. R. Chao developed a Cantonese adaptation of his Gwoyeu romanization system which he used in his "Cantonese Primer." The front matter to this book contains a review and comparison of a number of the systems mentioned in this paragraph. The GR system was not widely used.

Cantonese research in Hong Kong

An influential work on Standard Cantonese, A Chinese Syllabary Pronounced According to the Dialect of Canton, written by Wong Shik Ling, was published in 1941. He derived an IPA-based transcription system, the S. L. Wong system, used by many Chinese dictionaries later published in Hong Kong. Although Wong also derived a romanisation scheme, also known as S. L. Wong system, it is not widely used as his transcription scheme.

The romanization advocated by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong (LSHK) is called jyutping, which solves many of the inconsistencies and problems of the older, favored, and more familiar system of Yale Romanization, but departs considerably from it in a number of ways unfamiliar to Yale users. The phonetic values of letters are not quite familiar to whom had studied English. Some effort has been undertaken to promote jyutping, with some official supports, but it is too early to tell how successful it is.

Another popular scheme is Standard Cantonese Pinyin Schemes, which is the only romanization system accepted by Hong Kong Education and Manpower Bureau and Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. Books and studies for teachers and students in primary and secondary schools usually use this scheme. But there is quite a lot teachers and students using the transcription system of S. L. Wong.

However, learners may feel frustrated that most native Cantonese speakers, no matter how educated they are, really are not familiar with any romanization system. Apparently, there is no motive for local people to learn any of these systems. The romanization systems are not included in the education system either in Hong Kong or in Guangdong province. In practice, Hong Kong people follow a loose unnamed romanisation scheme used by the Hong Kong Government.

Written Cantonese

The Standard Cantonese has the most developed literature of any form of Chinese after Classical Chinese and Mandarin. It is used primarily in Hong Kong and in overseas Chinese communities. It uses characters not found in the Standard Mandarin, and is not easily intelligible to Mandarin speakers.

Cultural role

Chinese has numerous regional and local varieties, many of which are mutually unintelligible. Most of these are rarely used or heard outside their native areas by native speakers, although they may be spoken in homes outside of the country. The Chinese government forbids their use for official purposes, such as in education and the media, where the officially designated Standard Mandarin is used.Template:Fact However, due to the linguistic history of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the use of Cantonese in many overseas Chinese communities, international usage of Cantonese has spread far out of proportion to its relatively small number of speakers in China, even though the majority of Cantonese speakers still live in mainland China.Template:Fact

As the majority of Hong Kong and Macau people and/or their ancestors emigrated from Guangdong before the widespread use of Standard Mandarin, Standard Cantonese is the variety of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong and Macau. Standard Cantonese is the only variety of Chinese other than Standard Mandarin to be used in official contexts. Because of its use by non-Mandarin-speaking Cantonese speakers overseas, the Standard Cantonese and Taishanese are some of the primary forms of Chinese that Westerners come into contact with.

Along with Mandarin and Hokkien, Standard Cantonese is one of the few varieties of Chinese which has its own popular music, Cantopop. The prevalence of Hong Kong's popular culture has spurred some Chinese in other regions to learn Cantonese.Template:Fact In Hong Kong, Standard Cantonese is dominant in the domain of popular music, and many artists from Beijing and Taiwan have had to learn Cantonese so that they can make Cantonese versions of their recordings especially for distribution in Hong Kong.[7] Some singers, including Faye Wong, Eric Moo, and singers from Taiwan, have been trained in Cantonese to add "Hong Kong-ness" to their performances[7].

The contrast is especially clear with other branches of Chinese, such as Wu. Wu has more speakers than Cantonese; it is spoken in an area that is approximately equally wealthy; and Shanghainese, the modern prestige dialect of Wu, is spoken in Shanghai, the economic center of Mainland China. However, Shanghainese is not used in official contexts, does not have a form of popular music, and is virtually unknown in the West. This is because usage of Shanghainese is discouraged by the government, and is banned in schools.[8] In addition, virtually all Shanghai people can speak Standard Mandarin and use Shanghainese only with other Shanghainese speakers. Therefore, Shanghainese is rarely used outside of the city. A similar situation pertains to most varieties of Chinese. However, many Hong Kong residents or natives do not speak much Mandarin, and most continue to use Standard Cantonese as their only spoken form of Chinese. Spurred on by the success of Cantonese, some Wu speakers have begun to promote their mother tongue.

Loanwords

Life in Hong Kong is characterised by the blending of Asian (mainly south Chinese) and Western influences, as well as the status of the city as a major international business centre. Influences from this territory are widespread in foreign cultures. As a results, many loanwords are created and exported to China, Taiwan and Singapore. Some of the loanwords are even more popular than their Chinese counterparts. At the same time, some new words created are vividly borrowed by other languages as well.

Cantonese versus Mandarin in Hong Kong and Singapore

The so-called "Battle between Cantonese and Mandarin" started in Hong Kong in the mid-1980s when a large number of non-Cantonese speaking mainland Chinese people started crossing the border into Hong Kong during Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms. At that time, Hong Kong and Macau were still British and Portuguese protectorates respectively, and Mandarin was not often heard in those territories. Today Mandarin is often taught as a second language in those areas, but is not used at all in daily life by anyone except immigrants from the non-Cantonese speaking parts of the mainland. Businesspeople from the mainland and the colonies who did not share a common language shared a mutual dislike and distrust of one another, and in magazines in China in the mid-1980s, they would publish polemics against the other's language - thus Cantonese became known on the mainland as "British Chinese" - and Mandarin became known as "流氓話 Lau Man Waa" - literally "outlaw speech" - in the colonies.

In Singapore the government has had a Speak Mandarin Campaign (SMC) which seeks to actively promote the use of Standard Mandarin Chinese over other forms of Chinese such as Hokkien (45% of the Chinese population), Teochew (22.5%), Cantonese (16%), Hakka (7%) and Hainanese. This was seen as a way of creating greater cohesion among the ethnic Chinese. In addition to positive promotion of Mandarin, the campaign also includes active attempts to dissuade people from using Chinese dialects. Most notably, the use of dialects in local broadcast media is banned, and access to foreign media in dialect is limited. Some believe that the Singaporean Government has gone too far in its endeavour. Some Taiwanese songs in some Taiwanese entertainment programmes have been singled out and censored. Japanese and Korean drama series are available in their original languages on TV to the viewers, but Hong Kong drama series on non-cable TV channels are always dubbed in Mandarin and broadcast in Singapore without their original Cantonese soundtrack. Some Cantonese speakers in Singapore feel the dubbing causes the series to sound very unnatural and lose much of its flavour.

An offshoot of SMC is the Pinyinisation of certain terms which originated from southern Chinese languages. For instance, dim sum is often known as dianxin in Singapore's English language media, though this is largely a matter of style, and most Singaporeans will refer to dim sum when speaking English. Another result of SMC is that most young Singaporeans from Cantonese speaking families are unable to understand or speak Cantonese. The situation is very different in nearby Malaysia, where even most non-Cantonese speaking Chinese can understand the dialect to a certain extent through exposure to the language. Template:Fact

See also

Footnotes

  1. Yale romanization scheme for Standard Cantonese of Cantonese. For other native names, see section "Names."
  2. Ramsey and Ethnologue, respectively.
  3. traditional Chinese: 廣州話 or 廣府話; simplified Chinese: 广州话 or 广府话; Jyutping: Gwong2zau1 wa2 or Gwong2fu2 wa2
  4. traditional Chinese: 省城話; simplified Chinese: 省城话; Jyutping: Saang2seng4 wa2
  5. traditional Chinese: 廣東話; simplified Chinese: 广东话; Jyutping: Gwong2dong1 wa2
  6. traditional Chinese: 白話; simplified Chinese: 白话; Jyutping: bakwa
  7. 7.0 7.1 Donald, Stephanie. Keane, Michael. Hong, Yin. [2002] (2002). Media in China: Consumption, Content and Crisis. Routledge Mass media policy. ISBN 0700716149. pg 113
  8. "Cultural identity, conflicts with Putonghua, status, and bans". Zanhei.com. http://www.zanhei.com/intro.html. Retrieved on 2006-08-03. 

External links

Standard Cantonese edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dictionaries

Cantonese dictionaries or databases with spoken Cantonese entries

Character-only Cantonese pronunciation dictionaries

Other links








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