Cantonese or Mandarin

Discussions on the Cantonese language.
David

Cantonese or Mandarin

Postby David » Wed Apr 16, 2003 7:57 am

I am currently investigating the possible translation of a technical (engineering) book for the Chinese market and would be interested to find out whether users of this forum believe it would be better to produce the book in Cantonese or Mandarin.

Radagasty

Re: Cantonese or Mandarin

Postby Radagasty » Wed Apr 16, 2003 9:26 am

> I am currently investigating the possible translation of a technical (engineering) book
> for the Chinese market and would be interested to find out whether users of this forum
> believe it would be better to produce the book in Cantonese or Mandarin.

Neither... Modern Standard Chinese would be most appropriate -- there is no question here. It would be most unusual to see an engineering book in Cantonese.

You would, however, have to decide whether the book will be printed in the traditional or the simplified script. The latter is used in Communist China, Malaysia and Singapore, whilst the former is used in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, most overseas Chinese communities, and increasingly in Communist China too, especially in the southern provinces.

Sebastian.

red phoenix

Re: Cantonese or Mandarin

Postby red phoenix » Thu Apr 17, 2003 5:06 am

yeah, agree, either simplified or traditional writing...

Michael Thigpen

Re: Cantonese or Mandarin

Postby Michael Thigpen » Thu Apr 17, 2003 6:21 am

Radagasty is totally right. But the answer may confuse some people who think that Mandarin is "standard Chinese". Mandarin is the official spoken language of China, so it can be called standard in that sense, but it is not what is normally written. Written Chinese is formally called "Modern Standard Chinese."

Modern Standard Chinese is very similar in grammar and usage to Modern Mandarin, but there are very important differences. You can write Modern Mandarin exactly as it is spoken, but it is not what you would call literary language.

So, David, when you decide to do the translation just realize that what you want written is a more literary form of Chinese, but it is much closer to Mandarin than to Cantonese.

[%sig%]

rathpy

Re: Modern Standard Chinese

Postby rathpy » Thu Apr 17, 2003 10:05 am

In a previous thread, Sebastian Hew said this of Modern Standard Chinese:

> Whilst this is based on the Peking 北京 dialect of Mandarin, Modern
> Standard Chinese (MSC) is a wholly artificial language. It was not
> identical to the Peking dialect, and, when it was created, it had no
> native speakers.

Who created MSC? -The Nationalists that came to power in 1912?

“a wholly artificial language” . . . Why create yet another dialect?
What was unsuitable about 官話 (the spoken administrative language), or the Nanking 南京dialect, or the Peking 北京 dialect as it was?

Is it practical to describe more how MSC and modern spoken Mandarin differ? Is it just a matter of avoiding some of the more informal/colloquial words (just as in English we might avoid “got” when writing), or is it deeper than that?

Is it the case that written representations of spoken Beijing Mandarin is just as uncommon as written forms of spoken Cantonese, and that everyone publishes in MSC (except for perhaps informal personal communications, comics, quotations, etc.)?

I’m a Cantonese learner also learning to write (MSC is what I think I am learning). How do I know when I’m looking up a dictionary that it is referring to MSC or Beijing Mandarin? The forewords don’t seem to talk about this.

Regards,
rathpy

Michael Thigpen

Re: Cantonese or Mandarin

Postby Michael Thigpen » Thu Apr 17, 2003 8:08 pm

Rathpy,

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Most of this is just background information. It does occasionally become important to remember, though.

I believe the use of an arbitrary set of parameters for putonghua was to try and make it suit the largest number of people and to avoid some political controversies. Instead of designating a single location's speech as the basis for vocabulary, they specified that it would be taken from the most common cross-section.

There was a period of genesis for this begining from the end of the Qing empire, but an important event was a committe based in a Nationalist China publication in 1932 and a final offical decision by the Communists in 1955 upholding most of those decisions with some pro-proletarian changes. If I remember right, there were three major descriptors:

Beijing area (not Bejing city) pronunciation
Most common vocabulary in Northeastern China (Mandarin dialects)
Grammar of the vernacular rather than the written forms


This is what is being taught in most schools and dictionaries. When some vocabulary term or grammar structure are peculiar to a particular region, then there is a note made. (Like-- this is only used in Taiwan, this is only in Shandong, in Taiwan this means x but in Beijing it means y) Most of the time, Mandarin is used to mean Modern Standard Chinese even though Mandarin really should refer to a broad range of local dialects.

Actually, now that I think about it, the first response should have been Standard Written Chinese instead of Modern Standard Chinese. Ah well.

[%sig%]

pattu
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 7:10 am

Re: Cantonese or Mandarin

Postby pattu » Fri Sep 04, 2009 7:12 am

Modern Standard Chinese is very similar in grammar and usage to Modern Mandarin, but there are very important differences. You can write Modern Mandarin exactly as it is spoken, but it is not what you would call literary language.


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