Can Cantonese and Mandarin Speakers Understand Each Other?

May 31, 2009 at 07:11 | Posted in China Business 中国商务, Language 语言 | 2 Comments
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Cantonese and Mandarin speakers can understand each other through standard written Chinese.  This is particularly true to Cantonese speaker. A Cantonese speaker can normally learn what a Mandarin speaker means when the speaker talks, and can further get a clearer understanding when the speaker writes in a standard Chinese. When Chinese is in standard written format, it is understandable to all Chinese people. Only spoken Chinese has difficulty in communication among different Chinese dialect groups because of the dialect diversities.

However, a Mandarin speaker may or may not understand the written document created by a Cantonese speaker when idiomatic characters are used. Cantonese-speaking communities, such as Hong Kong, have created words that match the pronunciations of the Cantonese dialect or are of unique expression. Under these circumstances, the written Chinese by a Cantonese speaker will not be understandable to a Mandarin speaker, or to other Chinese with other dialects.

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2 Comments »

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  1. From what I understand after discussion with some Chinese friends, trying to understand Cantonese for a Mandarin speaker is about like an English-speaker trying to understand Dutch or Norwegian.

  2. I love cantonese ! so random.


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