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Q: Why is Cantonese more difficult to learn than Mandarin?

6 years 25 weeks ago in  Culture - Guangzhou

 
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It may seem difficult depending on how you perceive it. Any language learning skill needs a right exposure and practice. To my own honest opinion , though i can't speak cantonese, i feel its more easy to pronounce cantonese than the chinese mandarin. Mr. Ludovico, if you can find a good cantonese family buddies or just a sounding cantonese environment where they always speak it, i think you will stand at a better chance.

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6 years 25 weeks ago
 
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For starters, Cantonese is mainly only spoken in Guangdong province and Hongkong. Most Cantonese speakers learn the language through speaking and watching tv since Cantonese isn't generally used in schools (at least not in the Mainland, I don't know about Hong Kong). That makes it harder for Cantonese speakers to explain things to people trying to learn the language. For example, Cantonese has 9 tones, but if you ask someone from Guangdong to explain them to you, there's a good chance they're not really sure what to say.

Mandarin, on the other hand, is the official language of China so it's taught in schools all over the country. Students learn about the four tones from an early age and usually have no problem explaining at least pronunciation rules. And with so many more Mandarin speakers, it's easy to find plenty of people to practice with~~

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6 years 25 weeks ago
 
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It is because Mandarin is spoken by way utmost people proportionally to Cantonese. By doing simple math, you can say it's statistical. Science never lies. Except for Santa.

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6 years 24 weeks ago

Getting halp from moar and moar people is like spin-o-rama high-fiving new friends on answers.echinacities.com with a tip of the hat finishing move.

 
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6 tones! nuf said.

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6 years 5 weeks ago
 
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Mandarin has 4 or 5 tonals depending upon which expert (A hole) you talk to.

Guangdong language (Cantonese) has 8 (or 9 tonals depending on which A hole you talk to), So its more difficult for a westerner.

Be glad you aint in Nam etc. 16 tonals,its  like singing a frickin song! Smile

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6 years 5 weeks ago
 
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It's been easier for me to learn Cantonese because it just sounds better to me and I enjo speaking it more, so I get more practice.

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6 years 5 weeks ago
 
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I also think Cantonese is more difficult to learn. This is not so much because of having more tones as it is for other reasons.

First, Cantonese is not widely spoken outside Guangdong, so there are fewer publications for the study of the language. 

Next, unlike the Mandarin pinyin system, which took me about half an hour to master, Cantonese does not have a pinyin that makes sense for English speakers, or possibly speakers of any other language that uses roman script. For example, when I am in Hong Kong and I see a sign that says, "Mong Kok," I want to say it like Mong COCK, when in fact the locals pronounce the "kok" more like a "gogk" or with some kind of gutteral chocking sound from that back of their throats that we don't have in english, thus cannot make a proper transliteration for.

That brings me to my third point, which is that Cantonese is more difficult than mandarin because it is full of strange consenent sounds that are totally foreign to my American ears. the nasal and gutteral back of the throat sounds are subtle sometimes (except in Guangzhou when I hear two old ladies yelling at each other, when in fact they are only having a friendly converstaion) and at other times pronounced.

Mandarin, especially far North Mandarin can be hard to understand too, but i think its much easier to speak.

My joke is that Beijingers sound like they are talking with marbles in their mouths, and Cantonese sound like they are talking with a clothing pin on their noses and an egg stuck in their throat!

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5 years 50 weeks ago
 
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More people speak Mandarin as opposed to Cantonese. Many Hong Kong residents speak both Mandarin and Cantonese, but not so for mainlanders. That would be one of the reasons that it is harder to learn. Also I'm not sure that there are many schools that teach Cantonese. I've never seen one. 

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5 years 50 weeks ago
 
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Actually I would say the opposite.  I think that the 9 tones in Cantonese are quite clear and rather short as opposed to the 4 tones of Mandarin.  While some of what has been written is accurate, nonetheless, there are many televisions stations that broadcast in Cantonese.  Announcements in the Guangzhou subway system are made in Cantonese first as is the case on the buses.  There has been a tremenduous influx of workers from other provinces into Guangdong who do not speak Cantonese and this may have had an impact on the overall percentages.  Nonetheless, Cantonese remains the de facto language of the province and of at least one or two neighboring provinces.  Remember, too, that Guangzhou is one of the two strongest economic motos of the countries.  And while children in school should ostensibly be taught in Mandarin only, my own observations have lead me to the conclusion that that is not the case.

Cantonese is more staccato than Mandarin, for a fact, but for a person with musical training or a musical ear, the sounds are clearly discernible.

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5 years 49 weeks ago
 
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For the pronunciation is quite different between mandarin and Cantonese,so I think it's not more difficult than mandarin

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5 years 48 weeks ago
 
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Contrary to what everyone else here has said, Cantonese is more widely spoken throughout the rest of the world, because of the history of the place in relation to Europeans.

That, of course, has little to do with one's ability to learn it easier than Putonghua...

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5 years 48 weeks ago
 
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Tonal languages are obsolete and have been for thousands of years.  If I said "hi" to you as a greeting or if I said "HiiiIIIIIgghhhh!!!"...  Ugh, ridiculous.

Mandarin Chinese has 1600 different "words" you can say.  That's it.  Combine initials and finals, there are actually only 400 x 4 tones = 1600.

This language is so limited.

Look in a Chinese dictionary.  There are 30-40 common meanings for "shi" in any tone.  The word is used for lord knows how many things, and you can only derive the meaning by context.

So, like 1,000 years ago, people thought that making other sounds was wrong?  Obviously.  And this "tradition" carries through to today as "culture".

Sure, speaking like a caveman might have it merits I guess.  It's simple, easy, but then why make the written language so difficult?

It's because it was made that way so only "scholars" knew it. 

Honestly, Chinese as a language is ridiculous.  It's based in folklore and tradition and will never become a world language.

It's the same as trying to say Egyptian heiroglyphics are a modern language.

Sorry linguistics have evolved.  Sure Chinese might have been amazing in 220BC, but it's 2012 now.  Just like numbers, use what the rest of the world is using.

Or I guess be proud of the fact that the Chinese language hasn't evolved at all for such a long time that it has to make BS phonetic sounds for stuff, like "Ke ka ke le" - Which means "bite the wax tadpole" or something.  This language needs to die out because it's not useful for anything more than asking a store clerk how much something is and arguing about it.

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5 years 48 weeks ago
 
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Cantonese is not as well documented for those with English mother-tongue, however it's not too hard to learn. Start with cusswords,a s they roll off the tongue so much easier than Mandarin cusswords.

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5 years 35 weeks ago
 
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that is cultural difference, many Chinese live outside Guangdong or even far from Guangzhou City can't speak Cantonese well. So it's normal to a foreigner who is hard to learn and speak it. 

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5 years 34 weeks ago
 
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They have 6 standard tones and an extra 2 tones that can be used in different contexts. Enough said, I gave up on learning Cantonese a long time ago.

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5 years 34 weeks ago
 
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In fact , know mandarin is enough to travel around the world! no need to learn other dialects.

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4 years 3 weeks ago
 
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In fact , know mandarin is enough to travel around the world! no need to learn other dialects.

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4 years 3 weeks ago
 
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As a native Cantonese speaker, I always feel pitiful that my mother language is not Mandarin.

 

Cantonese is an awesome language but it's kinda useless for career or in any purpose if I stay abroad or out of my city.

 

It's harder to learn but less useful than Mandarin and some or the Asian languages.

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4 years 2 days ago
 
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  It's not, just start by learning that drinking game: "SEI HONG SEI, YAO DIN YAO, TOU MING JIAO, BI YUN TAO!!!!"

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4 years 2 days ago
 
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