Why is Cantonese Even More Difficult Than Mandarin – Here are the reasons
Many friends of mine from other places told me that Cantonese is too damn difficult to learn. Some friends who have been in Guangzhou for two or three years still don’t understand Cantonese. Almost ninety-nine percent can’t write.
Generally speaking, Mandarin is based on Beijing as the standard and representative. As for other northern provinces and cities, standard Mandarin may not be spoken. Cantonese is called Cantonese language learning. With Guangzhou dialect as the standard, there are still big differences in other cities. So not every Cantonese can speak Cantonese, just like not every northerner can speak Mandarin. To make this question clear, it takes a bit of talking. Let me probably talk about my opinion! Putonghua has only been vigorously promoted in recent years.
So why is learning Cantonese more difficult than Mandarin, here are some reasons:
A language with long history
It retains a lot of ancient Chinese elements, which are manifested in phonetics, vocabulary, and grammar. In terms of phonetics, Cantonese retains the stop and labial end of the vowels of Middle Ancient Chinese, but these features have long disappeared in the northern dialects.
Another example is the tones. Cantonese retains the tonal pattern of Middle Chinese that is divided into yin and yang, and it also derives a middle tones from yin and yang.
Putonghua or Mandarin has 6 tones and Cantonese generally has 9 (up to 10 and 11 in some areas).
In addition, Cantonese does not have the tongue-curved, er-shaped, and soft tone of the northern dialects. These characteristics were developed after the Middle Ages, but Cantonese has not kept up with the changes in the northern dialects.
For example, “basketball” and “rugby ball”; “point deduction” and “point seeking”; “haircut” and “hair makeup”, although the pronunciation is similar, but the tone changes and the meaning of the word becomes completely different.
Cantonese Sounds very different from Mandarin
The dialects of other provinces are much the same as Mandarin. Many of them are just a single letter or tone changed. People who don’t understand can understand a dozen parts. However, more than half of the Cantonese pronunciation is completely different from the original, and there are many words.
Those that cannot be literally translated into Mandarin can only find synonyms, and many of them are derived from life, so there are more allegorical and symbolic words and colloquialisms than other dialects.
To learn Cantonese, listen more. It is recommended to watch some Hong Kong movies or TVB dramas, so that it is more convenient to understand the meanings and idioms of some words, and the context must also understand Cantonese culture, especially food and games
Much more vocabulary
In terms of vocabulary, Cantonese retains some ancient words or meanings, while in the northern dialect, these ancient words have been abandoned or rarely used. For example, in Cantonese, “sticky” says “黐”, but northern dialects don’t use it. In terms of grammar, the addition of “A” in front of a person’s name means intimacy, the modifier is placed afterwards, and “cock” is said to be “jigong”. These are the legacy of the characteristics of ancient Chinese.
Cantonese has absorbed more incoming words. After the Opium War, Hong Kong was ceded to Britain and Guangdong was forced to establish a trade port. In its long-term contacts with foreign countries, Cantonese also absorbed a lot of foreign words, mainly from English, Hong Kong Cantonese absorbed more foreign words. It also strongly influences the Cantonese in Guangdong.
Some of these foreign words are not absorbed in Putonghua, such as “bus”, which means “bus” in Putonghua, and some are translated in different ways although they are absorbed in Putonghua. For example, “Salad” in Putonghua is translated as “Salu” in Cantonese.
Practice Speaking Cantonese is also challenging
The second step in learning Chinese is to train your mouth. Sometimes you know how to pronounce that sound, but when you speak, you will make another sound unknowingly, or stammer. Why is there such a “difficulty of speaking”? It is because you are not proficient in the pronunciation of this language, your tongue is not flexible, and the pronunciation will be unknowingly affected by your mother tongue. The only solution is to train your mouth by speaking more.
Near more practice with your ears
The first step in learning Chinese is to train your ears to distinguish two different sounds. Different languages have different phonemes. When you learn Cantonese, at least half of the sounds are something you haven’t heard in your life.
Most people are not very sensitive to voices other than their native language, and it is not easy to distinguish them. For example, the Cantonese chicken gei1 does not have this sound in Mandarin (the e in Cantonese is different from the e in Mandarin, which means the short a sound), and it is usually confused with street gai1. Pay attention to the difference between these sounds when studying.
Learning a language is not an easy task. Northerners often say, “Don’t be afraid of the heavens, and the earth is not afraid of the fact that Cantonese people speak Mandarin.” It can be seen that it is not easy for Cantonese to learn Mandarin well. It is not that Cantonese are slow, and northerners will find it equally difficult to learn Cantonese, even better than Cantonese. It is more difficult to learn Mandarin.
he main difficulty for Cantonese in learning Mandarin lies in the pronunciation, and they are familiar with the vocabulary and grammar of Mandarin, because people with an intermediate level of education are generally familiar with the vocabulary, and also grammatical norms of the national common language, but the difficulty in learning Cantonese for northerners is not only in the pronunciation , As well as vocabulary and grammar. Therefore, when you are determined to learn Cantonese, you must be psychologically prepared.
Honestly speaking, all languages are difficult to learn, actually the difficulty of each language are actually about the same, people who find it difficult are just making excuses. For example, he pointed out that Cantonese needs to learn to write Chinese characters, memorize idioms, use punctuation, etc.,
But in fact, English also needs to learn spelling, memorize prepositions, etc., but for English-speaking students, learn the same language written in English letters. Such as Spanish, Italian, etc., will be more relaxed than completely unfamiliar Chinese characters.