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Cantonese language

Cantonese Language


Different dialects of Cantonese are spoken depending on area. The most prestigious is the Guangzhou dialect, also referred to simply as "Cantonese". The Guangzhou dialect is the lingua franca of not just Guangdong province, but also the overseas Cantonese diaspora, spoken by about 70 million Cantonese worldwide. The Guangzhou dialect is also spoken in Hong Kong, a financial and cultural capital of southern China. In addition to the Guangzhou dialect, the Taishan dialect, one of the sei yap or siyi dialects that come from Guangdong counties where a majority of Exclusion-era Cantonese-Chinese immigrants emigrated, continues to be spoken both by recent immigrants from Southern China and even by third-generation Chinese Americans of Cantonese ancestry alike.

Like other major varieties of Chinese, Cantonese is often considered a dialect of a single Chinese language for cultural or nationalistic reasons. See Identification of the varieties of Chinese.

Dialects of Cantonese

There are at least four major dialect groups of Cantonese: Yuehai, which includes the dialect spoken in Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau as well as the dialects of Zhongshan, and Dongguan; Sìyì (sei yap), exemplified by Taishan dialect, which used to be ubiquitous in American Chinatowns before 1970; Gaoyang, as spoken in Yangjiang; and Guinan (Nanning dialect) spoken widely in Guangxi. However, Cantonese generally refers to the Yuehai dialect.

In addition, there are at least three other major Chinese languages spoken in Guangdong Province— Standard Mandarin, which is used for formal occasions, education, the media, and as a national lingua franca; Min-nan (Southern Min) spoken in the eastern regions bordering Fujian, such as those from Chaozhou and Shantou; and Hakka, the language of the Hakka people. Standard Mandarin is mandatory through the state education system, but in Cantonese speaking households, the popularization of Cantonese-language media (Hong Kong films, television serials, and Cantopop, most notably), isolation from the other regions of China, local identity, and the existence of the non-Mandarin speaking Cantonese diaspora (including Hong Kong) ensure that the language has a life of its own. Most wuxia films from Canton are filmed originally in Cantonese and then dubbed in Standard Mandarin or English or both.