The same written language?

Discussions on the Cantonese language.
Hakan

The same written language?

Postby Hakan » Sat Jan 25, 2003 10:29 pm

Hello everybody,

I wonder if Mandarin and Cantonese speakers use the same written language. I mean, I know that people in Hong Kong use the traditional counterparts of chinese characters. And apart from the daily, possibly very different colloquial usages, can someone from mainland China read and UNDERSTAND modern literary texts or street signs or supermarket, internet etc. terms in Hong Kong if he/she knows the traditional variants of the characters? Or does Cantonese have a completely different grammar from Mandarin so that it isn't possible to get what is written? Or can someone from Beijing for example read any web site written in Cantonese by switching between trad. and simpl. forms via some software? I mean does Cantonese differ from Mandarin only in pronounciation ??

All helps are appreciated

HKB

Re: The same written language?

Postby HKB » Sun Jan 26, 2003 4:25 am

Hakan:

Normally, if a Mandarin person knows traditional characters he/she is able to read and understand written Chinese anywhere, including HongKong. The grammar is very different in the spoken tongue but written-wise it is pretty much the same. The diction of the two are different in the written word. However, in certain places like some entertainment magazines, etc. writers have got in the habit of writing cantonese down as the way it is spoken. Since spoken cantonese possess sounds and expressions that standard chinese lacks, people have made up new characters to represent these additional expressions and a Mandarin person might not be able to understand it.

All Chinese dialects: Min Nan, Hu Nan, Shan Xi, Cantonese, Taiwanese, etc. use an identical writing system (other than the fact that the simplified and traditional characters are used.)

yeah, a person from beijing can read any website if that website is not written in the spoken cantonese I talked about.

Terence

Re: The same written language?

Postby Terence » Sun Jan 26, 2003 9:36 am

Something to add.

If the Cantonese ecpression had been written in correct characters, other dialect speakers could have guessed and understood it even though not written in standard Chinese.

Unfortunately, most of the writers of the sub-cultural magazzines in Hong Kong do not know the correct characters and just make wilful creation of characters to match the spoken sound of some expressions which makes other dialect and Mandarin speakers hardly understand.

Hakan

Re: The same written language?

Postby Hakan » Sun Jan 26, 2003 9:37 am

thank you very much HKB.

Hakan

Re: The same written language?

Postby Hakan » Tue Feb 04, 2003 7:55 pm

I have learnt that Taiwanese people often write Mandarin instead of chinese, although they still try to find ways to write down Taiwanese as it is spoken. But they are much more influenced by Mainland China than Hong Kong. So they learn Mandarin, the dialect of the Standard script. But the people in Hong Kong do not know or even learn Mandarin. So how do or can they write Cantonese in Mandarin style? Is it that they can't speak Mandarin but know only the grammar of it? Or is the grammar of Cantonese the same as Mandarin? And you told me that I could understand a Hong Kong based web page if I could speak Mandarin and knew the Trad. Char. So is that web page written in Mandarin style? Or is it written down Cantonese? And when are the Hong Kong supplementary characters are used ?
Thank you very much
I'm very curious for the answers ! :)

HKB

Re: The same written language?

Postby HKB » Wed Feb 05, 2003 8:55 pm

Actually, most people in Hongkong knows how to speak Mandarin. Even if some don't , standard written CHinese taught in schools have always been the standard script (I won't use "Mandarin script" here since spoken Mandarin is nonetheless a bit different than the standardized script known as bai hua wen). They technically don't write "cantonese" in "Mandarin" style, as these refer to the spoken words. Both Mandarin and Cantonese people utilize the Standard Bai Hua Wen as their written language. Before, people wrote in Classical Chinese, which is different from any spoken Chinese dialect. Bai Hua Wen is developed by the Mandarin-speaking people, it's basically the spoken word written down. Therefore it bears almost complete semblence to spoken Mandarin. The Cantonese, when writing Bai Hua Wen, still likes to stick in some of the Classical Chinese words. They also stick in certain cantonese expressions: expressions that aren't untelligeable to Mandarin, though. For example, In English itself, The expression "that's great" is used in the STates but "that's grand" is used in Ireland. But an Irelander would perfectly understand an American. Also, on the Eastcoast, people say "washroom" but they say "bathroom" in the West. they understand eachother. It's kind of the same in WRITTEN forms of Standard Bai Hua Wen. note, I'm talking about the wriiten language here, not the Characters themselves, as you know, Mainland China uses the Simplified characters even in Cantonese speaking areas. Only hong kong, macao, and taiwan use the Traditional characters (for that matter, so do Korea, Vietnam, and all overseas CHinese. I hope what I said didn't confuse you. I'm not very good in explaining it. If anybody out there can do a better job, please help me out.

Hakan

Re: The same written language?

Postby Hakan » Thu Feb 06, 2003 9:52 am

What I didn't understand is :
So people in Hong Kong write something. And then they read it. They read it of course with Cantonese pronounciation. But the way they read it, is not the way they would actually speak it in daily life ?????
If you say no then I will cry!
And if you say yes , then I will say "wow! in what kind of mess they can live in!" Or are they used to this kind of split written-spoken language thing.
Thank you very much again
I'm in your debt
By the way I'm Turkish living in İstanbul
if you "maybe" need help about Turkish or Turkic languages I can help.

Sassy

Re: The same written language?

Postby Sassy » Fri Feb 07, 2003 3:48 pm

> So people in Hong Kong write something. And then they read it. They read it of course with Cantonese pronounciation. But the way they read it, is not the way they would actually speak it in daily life ?????

Based on my experience in Chinese school (I don't live in Hong Kong, but speak Cantonese at home and went to Chinese school on Sundays for ten years), the answer is yes.

Spoken Cantonese is different from written Chinese. Speaking the way you write to someone who speaks Cantonese, even if you use Cantonese pronunciation, sounds awkward and I don't think would be 'accepted' too well.

Chow Yun-Fat

Re: The same written language?

Postby Chow Yun-Fat » Tue Feb 18, 2003 8:24 am

The topic is very interesting! I wonder if any Chinese is here? I am from Shanghai. Maybe I can give you all a lillte help.

It is easy to answer the question. Cantonese is one kind of Chinese dialects. It differs from Mandarin. People in Hong Kong speak Cantonese and write in traditional Chinese. But sometimes they also write in Cantonese. They have created a few characters to express some words can't be written in standard Chinese. If they write in Cantonese, people from other places will feel it hard to understand, although they are all Chinese charaters.

This also happens to other dialects not only to Cantonese. For exsample, I am living in Shanghai and I speak Shanghai dialect in daily life. There are many words easy to say but difficult to write down in standard Chinese. If I try to wrtie them down in Chinese, people who are not living in Shanghai can't understand them at all. That's why!

Mirror

Re: The same written language?

Postby Mirror » Thu Apr 03, 2003 5:43 am

Language is a very complicated thing in Hong Kong. The Chinese people adopted a lot of english in their daily speech. For instance, "num ba" is acutally "number" in english. As an international port, English is not the only thing that gives Hong Kong cultural impact. Gradually, like a cauldron of mixture, they had their own unique culture. Hence, there are "Cantonese Chinese" for writting so as to make it more agreeable to Hong Kong people.

For writing, Mandarin verses Cantonese is like British English verses American English. When an American call someone "sick", it may mean that the person is weird. A British may use "ill" instead. However, it is not hard for an American to communicate with a British.

Even in English, talking and writing are different. It's a matter of formalness.

There is a saying in Cantonese "約定成俗", i.e. when everyone make the same mistake, it becomes a rule. This happens a lot in Cantonese language, especially in Hong Kong. The younger generation has a lot of lazy tones and maluse of grammar. Sometimes, I don't understand what they say, but they can still communicate within their groups. I guess language here (Honh Kong) evolve everyday; hence, it's getting more and more complicated.

HKB

Re: The same written language?

Postby HKB » Thu Apr 03, 2003 8:51 am

yeah,
just like american english, Hongkong youngsters have developed a habit of invented new slangs once in a while.

Michael Thigpen

Re: The same written language?

Postby Michael Thigpen » Sun Apr 06, 2003 6:33 am

Actually, Cantonese and Mandarin are grammatically very very similar. There are very few differences between them in that respect. There are large differences in the usage of many words and also in vocabulary. The Cantonese dialectal characters are there to fill the gaps where there is a Cantonese word that does not exist in the modern set of Chinese characters.

But for the most part, Cantonese speakers will write in standard written Chinese and use the Common Standard Chinese grammar, vocabulary, and usage where there are differences.

Dialectal characters are normally used in pop magazines and publications and in personal communication. For anything official, standard written Chinese will be used.

[%sig%]

pillare
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:46 am

Re: The same written language?

Postby pillare » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:48 am

The diction of the two are different in the written word. However, in certain places like some entertainment magazines, etc. writers have got in the habit of writing cantonese down as the way it is spoken. Since spoken cantonese possess sounds and expressions that standard chinese lacks, people have made up new characters to represent these additional expressions and a Mandarin person might not be able to understand it.

pk007
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 14, 2009 4:03 am

Re: The same written language?

Postby pk007 » Mon Sep 14, 2009 4:07 am

Michael Thigpen wrote:Actually, Cantonese and Mandarin are grammatically very very similar. There are very few differences between them in that respect. There are large differences in the usage of many words and also in vocabulary. The Cantonese dialectal characters are there to fill the gaps where there is a Cantonese word that does not exist in the modern set of Chinese characters.

But for the most part, Cantonese speakers will write in standard written Chinese and use the Common Standard Chinese grammar, vocabulary, and usage where there are differences.

Dialectal characters are normally used in pop magazines and publications and in personal communication. For anything official, standard written Chinese will be used.

[%sig%]

Stop spreading propaganda.
If Cantonese and Mandarin had similar grammar, Mainlander wouldn't complain at Cantonese writing advertisements in Hong Kong. :roll: :roll:

pk007
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 14, 2009 4:03 am

Re: The same written language?

Postby pk007 » Mon Sep 14, 2009 4:10 am

Mirror wrote:
There is a saying in Cantonese "約定成俗", i.e. when everyone make the same mistake, it becomes a rule. This happens a lot in Cantonese language, especially in Hong Kong. The younger generation has a lot of lazy tones and maluse of grammar. Sometimes, I don't understand what they say, but they can still communicate within their groups. I guess language here (Honh Kong) evolve everyday; hence, it's getting more and more complicated.


Even in Qing Dynasty, there were already many Cantonese people messing up N/L.
The phenomenon was even recorded down by foreign missionaries in Guangdong during Qing Dynasty.


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