Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers?

I constantly see the scenes of Hong Kong people showing dislikes of non-Chinese speakers speaking to them in Mandarin (also known as Putonghua) rather than Cantonese. What Hong Kong people would do is to reply those foreigners in Cantonese, but never Mandarin. Because they think that:

1. “Hey, I can speak English, why the hell you talk to me in Mandarin?”

2. “This is Hong Kong, man. Speak what the locals speak!”

2. “Don’t think that I’m a Mainland Chinese, I’m a Hong Kong-ese!”

updated on Aug 15th, 2011:

For “non-Mandarin speakers” and “non-Cantonese speakers” mentioned here, I mainly refer to foreigners who are not native Chinese or Cantonese speakers. Those Chinese living or born overseas who speak Mandarin or Cantonese don’t count.

And the hatred comes from…

A big part of the reason can be attributed to Hong Kong people’s excessive emphasis on self identification as a Hong Kong citizen (who speak Cantonese) rather than a Chinese (who speaks Mandarin), even though Hong Kong has politically been a part of China since its sovereignty being returned to China from the British government in 1997.

In fact, Hong Kong people have always been proud of the higher economic prosperity of their city than in China which was still in the early stage of development back in a few decades ago. Hong Kong people always showed superiority over Mainland Chinese at that time. Hong Kong people were more white, more educated, earned more and they spoke Cantonese. As times go by, Hong Kong people linked their superiority over Chinese with the physical and cultural difference – including the language they speak. That’s why, Hong Kong people feel offensive if foreigners speak to them in Putonghua rather than Cantonese.

Why don’t non-Chinese speakers learn Cantonese then?

1. They simply just don’t need to

Almost all the Hong Kong people can speak or at least understand a bit of English, and Chinese language (the written one) wasn’t a compulsory subject in secondary schools in Hong Kong until in the late 1970s. All university students have to write in English for their works. Even for secondary schools, there are both Chinese-medium and English-medium ones. In the early days, many secondary schools were English-medium and students have to write all their academic essays in English for all subjects except Chinese Language, Chinese Literature and Chinese History. Therefore, it’s an ingrained historical force that has trained Hong Kong people to understand English.

2. They prefer learning Mandarin

Don’t blame them, China’s economy is developing in meteoric speed and everyone is learning Mandarin, not just foreigners who want to be more competitive, but also Hong Kong locals themselves. In fact, the best Mandarin-speakers in Hong Kong are those 9-year-old kids who are forced by their rich parent to have private Putonghua lessons every week. Those 30 to 40-year-olds in Hong Kong speak the worst Mandarin.

3. Cantonese is too hard to learn

Both Cantonese and Mandarin are a language with tones, meaning if you say words with the same pinyin (phonetic spelling) in different tones, they mean differently. Mandarin has 4 tones, Vietnamese has 6 tones and Cantonese has 9 tones! (Some system says that Cantonese has 6 tones but having 9 tones is the most common understanding) So how could the foreigners not be scared away?

Is Cantonese worthwhile to learn?

These are at least 66 million Cantonese-speaking population in the world. A lot of Singaporeans and Malaysians also speak Cantonese. Most of the Chinese citizens in US, Canada and Australia speak Cantonese, too. In fact, Cantonese is the second local language in Australia*. So being able to speak Cantonese means that you can communicate with a big part of the Chinese community in the world.

I mean, any language is worthwhile to learn if you want to actually live in the culture and interact with the locals; same as anything is worthwhile to learn if you want yourself to be a better person because you feel happy about it.

You can lean some interesting Cantonese at Canton168. If you want to see examples of a English speaker learning Cantonese, go to Lost in Mong Kok.

*Source: http://www.hudong.com/wiki/%E7%B2%A4%E8%AF%AD

235 Comments on Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers?

  1. Sally
    June 7, 2011 at 11:11 pm (3 years ago)

    I don’t hate speaking Mandarin to anyone, actually I quite enjoy speaking Mandarin, but I’m upset that people learn Mandarin rather than Cantonese just because “Mandarin is useful while Cantonese is not” and “I can speak English in Hong Kong anyway.” It’s just like telling me Cantonese is useless and it hurts my feeling. But well, there’s a government commercial called “Faces of Hong Kong”, in which a foreigner says “Cantonese? Never needed to speak it”. How can I expect anyone to learn our language when our government is telling the world you don’t have to speak it? And I also hate the fact that when I go to China, I have to speak Mandarin; when I speak to people from Mainland in Hong Kong, I still have to speak Mandarin. When do I get to speak my own language?

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm (3 years ago)

      For those people who think that Mandarin is more useful than Cantonese, they put their survival ahead of everything when learning a new language. They want to gain more competitiveness in the society where the more language they speak, the better living they can make. I don’t blame them nor see any problems about it, but just because Mandarin is more useful doesn’t mean that Cantonese so useful that they “never needed to speak it” while they live in Hong Kong.

      The government puts too much emphasis on attracting foreign investment and tourism, and is obsessed with promoting Hong Kong as an “Asian international city” in which everyone can speak English. But we have to also know that learning Mandarin. Nowadays more and more Mainland Chinese people are learning English while more and more foreigners are learning Mandarin. I just don’t want to see Cantonese decline because of people’s shifting of attention to learning Mandarin and English.

      Yes, let’s preserve the Cantonese language, speak more.

      • Sally
        June 7, 2011 at 11:45 pm (3 years ago)

        I totally understand people who learn Mandarin because it’s more useful than Cantonese, and I see nothing wrong in this. It upsets me not only because Cantonese is my native language, I just wish people learn languages because they are interested in the culture and/or the language itself and not only because the language help them with their competitiveness.

        • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
          June 7, 2011 at 11:49 pm (3 years ago)

          That’s my wishes too. The world has becoming so commercialized now, people learn new languages for their own survival but not for genuine interests. That’s why I really admire those non-Chinese speakers making effort tovlearn Cantonese here.

          • Saiey
            March 1, 2012 at 9:11 am (2 years ago)

            I’m a German born Hong Kong Cantonese speaker and you are right. Most people are only after money and business and forget the sense of dissemination of cultures. Different varities of languages mean different structures of thinking and that mean of course different ideas, which are very important for the future. But Chinese government think, if all people speak Mandarin they will understand each other better and are better to be controlled, which I can not really agree, because they had since ancient times differences, which is good for China not to lose it’s diversity of cultures and languages. All Chinese with another native Chinese language need to learn Mandarin, but when do Mandarin speaker need to learn any other languages? It’s unfair! Plus people in Hong Kong are used to Cantonese and English due British colonization, which allow HK people freedom of press, so Cantonese developed to a language to express freedom of speech. HK people are of course afraid to lose this oppunity to have freedom of press and speech, because in Mandarin bad speech about the government would cause you problems easily. The daily speech in HK is Cantonese and middle-aged people in work have no time and chance to learn Mandarin. How to if they are busy and need to care for their family? The difference of Cantonese and Mandarin is even greater than other Chinese languages, so there are difficulties to learn Mandarin, knowing this fact China never thinks of offer free courses to let HK people learn Mandarin. Also there are already enough HK people, who are willing to learn and speak Mandarin. But some Mandarin speakers in Mainland are still not satisfied and it seems they wish the death of Cantonese. China’s government is of course happy about these Chinese vs. Chinese problems, so they let them be and can throw the hatred of Mainland Chinese people to HK, otherwise they would find a chance to throw their hatred to Japan, Korea, Tibet etc. and makes Chinese people forget the real problems in China. Really sad to hear it, but it’s true.

          • Jin
            March 1, 2012 at 10:10 am (2 years ago)

            Thanks for your comment, Saiey.

            Well, learning Mandarin is a personal interest / need, you either learn it as a hobby for as a professional qualification. Whether you really want to learn it depends on your interest in the language.

            I don’t know about how Chinese government didn’t provide free courses or how Mandarin-speaking people refuse to learn Cantonese. I think that Hong Kong people should embrace their own culture, language and social norms. While Hong Kong people keep insisting that they are losing their own culture, they still refuse to speak Cantonese but English sometimes. Hong Kong people themselves should also learn to preserve their culture rather than just saying without getting it done.

          • BromalinCheung
            May 2, 2012 at 6:07 am (2 years ago)

            I have no interest in learning Mandarin, and don’t want to be associated with China..it’s a simple as that.

            Besides, Cantonese is a lot more older than Mandarin, plus Mandarin is the result of Manchu influence, it’s not even a real Chinese language.

          • Charles
            May 5, 2013 at 8:35 pm (1 year ago)

            patently false, Manchus spoke their own language and gradually adopted Mandarin from the Han Chinese as they moved South of the East end of the Great Wall in the 1640s. Boasting about speaking Cantonese because it’s older than Mandarin is like boasting you can speak Latin because it’s older than English. Both languages are fine, about a billion more people speak Mandarin though, just accept it and stop being immature.

          • daviddoeschina
            May 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm (1 year ago)

            Hi BromalinCheung, I am interested in how and why you can display such arrogance — especially as you are apparently ethnically Chinese.  (“I have no interest in learning Mandarin, and don’t want to be associated with China”)

            Hanyu (the language of the Han) is not derived from the Man language and has been little – if at all – influenced by Man.  In this I agree with Charles. The Manchus had/have their own language.  I have read somewhere that Man is still spoken by a few people in the North East and moves are afoot to try to preserve the Man language before it disappears altogether.  Clearly then, the Hanyu (whether you wish to call it Mandarin or Putonghua or whatever) on the one hand, and the language of the Manchus on the other hand, are entirely different languages.

            Having said that, the point I wish to make is that Mandarin is the the language of a people who, for more than three hundred years fought, suffered and died in order to liberate their country first of all from the Manchu invaders, then the dozen or so foreign powers who were intent on “slicing up China like melon” and finally to liberate China from the clutches of a vile fascist regime that was already in the process of selling the Chinese people off to the lowest bidder.

            Cantonese is the language of the ex-Chinese traitors who, while their countrymen were fighting and dying, chose to scuttle across the border to pick up the crumbs from the white man’s table.  An artificial border that the white man had forced upon the Chinese as part of the “slicing up” process. Well the white man has now gone.  Hong Kong is once more an integral part of China.  It is you, BromalinCheung, who is now out of place in a province that no longer belongs to you and from which, thanks to your attitude and your so-called “heritage”, you will become increasingly excluded.

            Mandarin is the language of a proud and patriotic people.  Cantonese is the language of sniveling and cowardly traitors.

            Please explain your superior attitude.




          • Jack
            May 10, 2013 at 11:07 am (1 year ago)

            The dude doesn’t want to learn Mandarin. Big deal. Language is language.

            But this: ‘Mandarin is the language of a proud and patriotic people. Cantonese is the language of sniveling and cowardly traitors??’

            Take a look at what you wrote and explain your superior attitude.

          • wowu5
            August 30, 2013 at 3:29 am (11 months ago)

            Before I tell you to retake your Chinese history class seriously, I’d like to point out that language should have nothing to do with politics. I can also claim that Cantonese is the language of the founding father of the first democratic republic in China while Mandarin is the language of the communist bastard who runied it. But I don’t want to, because the a language should not be judged by the people who speak it. Einstein and Hitler both spoke Germany, so is Germany a good language or a bad one?

          • Saiey
            May 10, 2012 at 6:20 am (2 years ago)

            Hi Jin, thanks for your comment, too.^^

            That’s true, most Hong Kong people like to speak English to foreigners and they add too much English words in their Cantonese. Everytime I go to HK I notice friends, who speak English words in a Cantonese sentence. Just like: 我 feel 到. But I prefer to say: 我感覺到, which sounds much more fluent and nice. I often need to remind my HK friends to speak in full Cantonese sentences.

            And I never mention Mandarin-speaker, who refuse to learn Cantonese. I mean Chinese people with another native Chinese language need to learn Mandarin to come further in China, but people who already born in families speaking Mandarin don’t need to learn any other languages to be accepted by China.

            Actually I have no real interest in learning Mandarin, I prefer to learn Hokkien, Shanghainese, Taishanese or even Tibetian. I see it as a need to learn Mandarin, because our Guangdong area are getting more of Mandarin immigrants and most of them don’t learn Cantonese to speak with me. As a responsible person I learn it to show them, that we Cantonese people are nice, willing to learn everything and to promote Cantonese in my own natural ways.
            Mandarin-speaker who learn Cantonese touched my heart very deeply, even if they learn a little, it is for me a great success. Also it gives me a little ease to speak in Mandarin.

          • JEFFREY ANG
            August 7, 2012 at 11:41 pm (2 years ago)

            I’m a Chinese Malaysian, I can speak Putonghua exactly like the mainland Chinese because I communicate a lot with my head office in Beijing and Chinese Embassy in Malaysia. But I can also speak proper Cantonese (without mixing too many English words), Teochew/Chaozhou潮汕話, Southern Min閩南話aka Southern Hokkien dialect and a bit of Fuichiu/Huizhou Hakka/Kejiahua惠州客家話. For me I have no problems to pick up new Chinese local languages or dialects. I always speak to Taiwanese in Southern Min dialect and they find it more familiar if we speak in dialect instead of standard Chinese. But if you want to know my own dialect, my ancestors come from Yongchun永春縣 county in Fujian Province福建省more than 120 years ago and I’m the 5th generations in Malaysia. I have nieces/grandnieces, nephews and even grandnephews. My family is actually been 8 or 9 generations in Malaysia.

          • Jay Shi
            September 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm (2 years ago)

            “Hate” is not the accurate/right word here. It is a misleading word here.

          • Jin
            September 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm (2 years ago)

            Would “dislike” be better?

          • Muhammad
            May 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm (2 months ago)

            There is nothing unfair. Mandarin speaking people(MSP) should learn English instead of Cantonese, if population of Hong Kong already know English. Why MSP should prefer to learn exaclty Cantonese? Why not Wu dialect or Min, there are more people speaking in these dialects, should MSP learn all this Chinese dialects? Mandarin is the 1st spoken language in the whole fucking world! Stick with it. It is not only Chinese issue, If I live in Russia and I am a chukche I should learn Russian, if I live in US and I am a mexican I should learn fucking English! World has become global and standard and if you don’t follow you’ll extinct.

    • Gman
      February 11, 2013 at 1:23 am (1 year ago)

      hong kong ethnocentrism all r jus the same

  2. Lost in Mong Kok
    June 7, 2011 at 11:15 pm (3 years ago)

    An interesting article. Recently I’m hearing more and more about peoples concerns over the decline of Cantonese as a language within its native homeland.

    It’s unfortunate that there is a general (usually mild) dislike toward mainland cousins. Maybe in time if they are allowed to be more open with the outside world they will change culturally in the same way as Hong Kong Chinese have… who knows.

    Speaking no politically, diversity within society is a good thing, and the ability for people to speak 3 languages is a triumph in itself. People should be happy to practice their Mandarin, English and Cantonese at every opportunity.

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 7, 2011 at 11:27 pm (3 years ago)

      I think that Mainland Chinese are becoming more open-minded to changes, especially in those big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, they are embracing new culture and are willing to interact with foreigners now. I agree that cultural diversity is conducive to a society, because it product more vibrancy and liveliness to a city, and more respects among all the different citizens.

      Hong Kong people get used to a diverse environment, but somehow their traditional emphasis on superiority over Chinese is preventing them from embracing new things. I hope that as they learn more Mandarin, they can integrate themselves more to China.

  3. UlickMcGee
    June 8, 2011 at 12:25 am (3 years ago)

    I spent some time studying Cantonese at University in Hong Kong. Apart form taxi drivers, security guards and old ladies in the New Territories, no one wants to speak to gweilos in Cantonese unless they can’t speak any English or the gweilo can speak very well already. Trying to learn by talking to HK people is hard.

    On the other hand, it is easy to speak Cantonese in SZ if you are a foreigner. All the below 20 kids who grew up in SZ use it as a way to demonstrate their status as locals. People assume that most foreigners can’t speak Mandarin but because they live in HK they must learn Cantonese so they make allowances for me.

    It appears that being able to speak Cantonese in SZ is actually a badge of honour for “blow-ins” from the north.

    Cantonese girls get excited when I speak a little Cantonese in Guangdong. It makes me instant boyfriend material. Hong Kong girls just think I am dangerous. “Oh, you must have a lot of girlfriends……bla bla”.

    When I was studying Cantonese, I would meet other kids in the canteen and lunchtime and when they found out what I was studying they would always ask me why I picked Cantonese. They generally advised me to study Mandarin instead.

    Anyway, Cantonese will never die out because Cantonese swear words are vastly superior for insulting people. All the extra tones make it really funny and shocking at the same time.

    Also, every one will get tired of guys from Beijing thinking they are superior and trying to convince us that their ridiculous accent sounds better than everyone else’s. They sound like they have an erect penis in their mouth when they talk. This is an amazing skill, I admit, but one I don’t want to develop.

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 8, 2011 at 12:39 am (3 years ago)

      Taxi drivers never speak to you in Cantonese, they either just speak lousy English or not respond you. They will just drive the freaking taxi and get you paid.

      ShenZhen people speaks Cantonese to appear superior because Hong Kong has traditionally been more wealthy than any part in China (10 years later who knows), so being able to speak Cantonese becomes a great honour to the SZ kids.

      Since almost no foreigners learn Cantonese, if you can speak a few, it’s easy to impress girls in Guangdong because they admire your willingness to learn such a difficult language. And also Guangdong people speak both Cantonese and Mandarin, so they embrace diversity. But in Hong Kong, again people see no needs for foreigners to learn the local language, and they see learning new languages as a survival tool… so they think it’s very abnormal for you to learn Cantonese, and unlike Guangdong people, Hong Kong people mainly just speak Cantonese, hence if you speak Cantonese as a foreigner, it’s a thread that you would understand what they say while they’re unable to swift the language.

      In fact, a lot of foreigners know quite a few swear words in Cantonese. But the Beijing accent… I would never get it. Everything has to sound like you’re swallowing a lemon with un-peeled skin.

  4. zenlifefrugal
    June 8, 2011 at 12:46 am (3 years ago)

    I personally love Cantonese. Even though it is harder, its still interesting to learn and use. I love the reactions from Cantonese speakers when I use a little bit of it. Cantonese may not be as practical or useful as Mandarin, but Cantonese is still very much a good language to know.

    The context of learning Cantonese can make and open so many doors. I find that it has a certain element of “awe-factor” and awesomeness, even among native speakers when they see a white person speak it. Generally, I think it may help locals to become a little more receptive over the long term.

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 8, 2011 at 12:52 am (3 years ago)

      This is true. I feel very impressed when I see non-Cantonese speakers speak good Cantonese. But it’s a common thing that they can speak (good) Cantonese swear words.

      In fact, Cantonese is a much older language than Mandarin. A lot of Chinese traditional poems were written in Cantonese language, and they are more melodious to be spoken in Cantonese.

      I hope locals will keep speaking Cantonese instead of just English (which is the case now) so that the fun side of the Hong Kong society can be sustained as the language itself is fun too.

      • zenlifefrugal
        June 8, 2011 at 1:12 am (3 years ago)

        Thats exactly true. I had read somewhere that Cantonese had older origins. Also I had read that it kept more of the original sounds from the Old Chinese and Middle Chinese as well.

          • zenlifefrugal
            June 8, 2011 at 1:15 am (3 years ago)

            I try:P I am willing to admit I am a language dork and I am proud of that fact.

          • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
            June 8, 2011 at 1:16 am (3 years ago)

            Learning language is never harmful. ;)

          • zenlifefrugal
            June 8, 2011 at 1:22 am (3 years ago)

            Nope. Actually its quite beneficial and helps to open one’s horizons, thus gaining tolerance in the process of making new friends.

  5. Ziccawei
    June 8, 2011 at 8:42 am (3 years ago)

    I can speak Shanghai dialect.

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 8, 2011 at 9:11 am (3 years ago)

      That is impressive. I only know how to say “hello”, “thank you” and “it’s cold”.

  6. UlickMcGee
    June 8, 2011 at 9:46 am (3 years ago)

    Mandarin was influenced by the various invaders from the north and evolved as a result. Cantonese, being further away from the centre of power remained true to the original.

    If a language is to be used by a large number of non-native speakers it tends to simplify. Hence the reason that Mandarin has lost a few tones but Cantonese is still at 6 or 9 depending on who you ask. Mandarin has also added several more sounds. Cantonese has only 19 initials (sounds to start a word) but Mandarin has 2 more which makes it more difficult for Cantonese speakers to pronounce Mandarin (or English with 26 initial sounds).

    I used to think that Cantonese sounded harsh until I started learning it. Now I think it is a very rich language due to the extra tones.

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 8, 2011 at 10:07 am (3 years ago)

      In fact, because there are less tones in Mandarin, many words with different literal meanings can have exactly the same phonetic spelling but different tones. It makes it harder for people to recognize the lyrics in Mandarin songs than in Cantonese songs.

      Cantonese is a very rich language indeed, a lot of the slangs are very interesting and rude. A lots of Mandarin words are now Cantonese-lized. There are so many different Mandarin accents from all over China because of the use of both Mandarin and their local dialect. Hong Kong people only speak Cantonese here and it allows more evolution of the Cantonese language, there are new words coming up every day from the people, the press and the TV.

  7. Ziccawei
    June 8, 2011 at 9:49 am (3 years ago)

    I hated the sound of Cantonese when I lived in HK but now I like it better than Shanghai dialect. I like the ‘sing song’ sound of it.

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 8, 2011 at 10:08 am (3 years ago)

      We always like things that we don’t have at the moment.

      But yes, Cantonese is a very funny and interesting language.

    • Pudding
      June 8, 2011 at 11:13 am (3 years ago)

      I’ve lived down in southern China and didn’t really pay attention to Cantonese. Now living near Shanghai and having to deal with the local dialect, I feel like cutting off my ears. It sounds like a mix of Mandarin, Japanese, stuttering, and baby googoo gaga talk. I do miss the south sometimes.

      Maybe someday I’ll try to take up Cantonese, but for now unfortunately I have no real use for it.

      • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
        June 8, 2011 at 11:15 am (3 years ago)

        Thanks for your comment Pudding. Usually when you live in a city you miss those things in other cities.

        All the local dialects in China are very weird and unique, people have been moving around and they’re a mix of many things.

        If you want to learn it, you should. It’s fun.

  8. Pudding
    June 8, 2011 at 11:31 am (3 years ago)

    Do Shanghai natives also view people who can not speak Shanghai dialect the same way Hong Kong natives view people who can’t speak Cantonese? It sounds like it.

    Here in Shaoxing I get the feeling that the native people feel a more than average sense of pride that they speak their language and that they are from here. It could have nothing to do with language but they seem to hold their head higher than other parts of China I’ve been too. It’s only a stones throw from Shanghai and is famous for the writer Luxun. I wonder if this has anything to do with it.

    Anyway, I’ve experienced this prejudice in China more than I have in Hong Kong. More than likely because you can get away with speaking English in Hong Kong and the amount of foreigners is greater.

    But there are defiantly times when I try to talk to the locals here and get shunned. Is it because I can’t speak the local language, maybe. Is it because of my glistening white skin, maybe. But who really knows.

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 8, 2011 at 11:39 am (3 years ago)

      The real local Shanghai-ese peolele are proud of them being a native because most of the people living in Shanghai are originally from other parts of Hong Kong, so if you can speak the local dialect, it’s proved that you’re a native Shanghai-ese.

      In Hong Kong, people have this attitude only to the fact that they can show their superiority to Mainland Chinese because they think that they’re of higher status. So when a foreigner speaks Mandarin, they feel insulted; when a foreigner speaks Cantonese, they feel extraordinarily impressed.

  9. zenlifefrugal
    June 8, 2011 at 9:00 pm (3 years ago)

    The thing I found ironic. I speak Korean and Spanish in addition to my native tongue of English, I find that there are a few similarities between Korean and Cantonese with some of the sounds that they produce(or I could have really bad pronunciation of Cantonese, which I readily admit).

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 8, 2011 at 10:56 pm (3 years ago)

      A lot of Asian languages sound alike. But not just Asian languages, many languages around the world have been instilled a lot of different elements because of the integration of the world, for example a lots of Cantonese words sound exactly the same from English because of its colonial status before 1997, same as Japanese. The development of a language can be caused by a lot of factors, and historical factor plays an important role.

      • zenlifefrugal
        June 9, 2011 at 12:56 am (3 years ago)

        Exactly. It depends on how one language develops due to external factors, but sometimes due to internal movements.

    • dat le
      February 5, 2012 at 2:34 pm (2 years ago)

      yes,there are a lot of vietnamese are the same with cantoness in sound and meaning.for example:when you say :”gong hy fat choi” in cantoness,we vietnamese understand easyly.and there are a lot like that.also,the korean and japanese, have a lot of word are the same with Cantonese.vietnam,korea,japan had been using chinese as a officiall langauge for than 1000 years ,that why there are a lot influenced.

      • Marte
        May 25, 2012 at 11:13 pm (2 years ago)

        Hong Kong island, and the adncaejt part of the mainland, Kowloon, became British territory after the Opium Wars in 1842. In 1898 a much larger piece of land, the New Territories, was leased from China on a 99-year lease. The New Territories were due to be handed back to China in 1997, and since the rest of Hong Kong couldn’t exist on its own (there’s not enough water, for one thing), all of Hong Kong was handed over to China on July 1st 1997.

  10. Craig
    June 9, 2011 at 4:59 am (3 years ago)

    Coming from Toronto, I always wanted to learn Cantonese.

    Alas, I’m having a hard enough time with Korean.

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 9, 2011 at 7:11 am (3 years ago)

      I think most Chinese people in Toronto (no matter from Hong Kong or Mainland China) speak Cantonese. When I traveled around and met those Chinese living in Toronto, they all spoke Cantonese. A friend of mine said there is like a Hong Kong colony.

      You should learn it, Korean would be fun too, but speaking Korean sound like having an argument hahaa.

  11. Craig
    June 9, 2011 at 7:27 am (3 years ago)

    Funny. I was going to say the same thing about Cantonese, …

  12. Justin
    June 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm (3 years ago)

    Some people love mandarin speakers far more than Cantonese and English…
    I’m sure if you speak mandarin in high-end shopping centres, the service will be 10x better!

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment Justin. Pragmatically, Hong Kong’s retail industry is back strongly by those Mainland Chinese travelers’ substantial consumption power, the more high-end the shopping malls, the more polite the sales people to the Mandarin-speakers. But the sales people are only nice to them when they see the potential of the Mandarin-speakers actually pay them the cash in the end. If not, their attitude to Mainland Chinese is still the same – snobby. They are polite because of the benefits derived from their temporary politeness. That’s very sad.

      • hkglory
        April 11, 2013 at 8:56 pm (1 year ago)

        if even high end service can only end at such level, that tells how pathetic and insecure hk ppl are towards money. money dictates their backbone and they wear such dictation on their faces without shame. another good example of under-developed sense of honour and self-respect.

        respect comes from taking pride in providing a good service regardless.

  13. zenlifefrugal
    June 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm (3 years ago)

    It seems that there is an element of a regional competition between the dialects of Chinese. Perhaps that is a result of the development of the various little groups that China has seen develop over time.

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 11, 2011 at 9:39 pm (3 years ago)

      Just like Beijing people saying that their accent is the most standard one because Beijing is the capital, while personally, I like the north-eastern Chinese accent, it’s more smooth and sweet.

      It’s a competition not just in dialects, different provinces are competing each other in terms of economic development.

      • zenlifefrugal
        June 12, 2011 at 1:29 am (3 years ago)

        Economic development and regional competition happens just about anywhere. It just depends on how things progress from said development. It will be good to see where China goes the next few months.

        • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
          June 12, 2011 at 1:34 am (3 years ago)

          True. But regional competitions in China is very unprecedentedly fierce. I would like to see how things go in China too.

  14. ATBOTH
    June 13, 2011 at 5:56 am (3 years ago)

    Overheard something similar in Chinatown today.
    Caucasian: Ni hui bu hui jiang guo yu?
    Local person: Siiik! Ngo kanghai sikkong kokyu, nei gu ngo sohhhhge ma?!?

    • Jin @ HKGirlTalk
      June 13, 2011 at 7:55 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment.
      LOL. This is everywhere in the world.

  15. Homer
    June 14, 2011 at 10:24 am (3 years ago)

    So I’m actually here in Hong Kong for a few days. While I am here I wanted to keep in mind the discussing that was happening here.

    As far as mandarin goes, I’ve actually heard a good amount. Mostly in the metro and a few mainlanders from what I can deduce. 

    But on a different note, Hong Kong comes off as cold. I don’t thing I’ve seen a single person smile yet. If you don’t wear a suit I feel like your nothing. At least that is what is seems. I’m not disrespecting HK. I actually like it. It has culture, art, fashion, etc. But I think it is a little pretentious. If you don’t know anyone, if your not in the ‘in’ crowd, you don’t get noticed nor any respect. 

    It’s just an observation. I don’t live here so I can’t really say concretely what is going on.

    • Jin @hkgirltalk
      June 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm (3 years ago)

      It can be true. Hong Kong is a crazy and weird society, it’s made up of a lot of sub-gorups because of the social-political-economic changes.

      It’s true that Hong Kong people are quite materialistic because it’s a consumption-based society with retail and finance being the key to feed the people.

      It’s just that there are so many people walking on the streets in such a small place with high density, so that people hardly notice every each other until you have some attributes to stand out from the crowd, and wearing a suit is one of them. That’s why you see why Hong Kong people love going shopping all the time.

      Have a great time in Hong Kong ! :)

  16. Kenny
    June 15, 2011 at 10:40 am (3 years ago)

    There are many factors that influence whether someone chooses to learn Cantonese or Mandarin, if they know neither to begin with. I totally understand the “Mandarin is more useful” rationale. You can speak to more people, and for some people, it helps them make more money if they learn Mandarin rather than Cantonese. These are the same reasons why people learn English. It’s the same reason why when I tell people I’m learning French, they ask me why I’m not learning Spanish, which some see as “a language of the future” like Mandarin.
    The way I see it, the gov’t commercial where the foreigner says he (or she? I don’t remember) didn’t need Cantonese is just an attempt to make HK less intimidating. Sure, you don’t need Canto in HK. But you’d miss out on so much, and you’d be confined to the so-called “foreign parts” of HK.
    When a foreigner speaks to me in Mandarin, a few things come to my mind. I think it’s impressive that they’re learning some form of Chinese, although it’s becoming less impressive the more times I go to SZ. I’ll go along if they want practice, because I need practice too. But if they think they’re doing me a favour by speaking Mandarin, then they’re sadly mistaken.
    As for all the Mainlanders asking me for directions in Mandarin, there’s no point in me getting offended. What else can they do? As long as I can tell them which way to go in Mandarin, it’s good enough.

    • Jin @hkgirltalk
      June 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm (3 years ago)

      Indeed, Mandarin is useful, it’s useful in the sense of China is developing and it’s the most spoken language in the world. A lot of foreigners in Hong Kong do speak Mandarin and some of them speak even better Mandarin than Hong Kong locals.

      But meanwhile, apart from the functional reason of learning a new language, it can also be that you want to explore the culture under which the language you want to learn is used. That’s why I really admire those non-Cantonese speakers who are determined to learn such a hard language like Cantonese because they want to live in the culture and don’t want to confine themselves in the foreign community.

      When a Mandarin speaker asked me directions, I also reply them in Mandarin the best I can, just like you. It’s just a little favor that costs you nothing but one that you can help people a lot.

  17. Kenny
    June 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh, you mean people like her?

    The first time I found this, I just wanted to hear the song, so I didn’t look until near the end of the song. I saw a Chinese girl’s name, and just thought she’s Chinese until I looked at the clip. I think it’s amazing, and I wish it would happen more.

    One thing I don’t understand is why in Cantonese songs, the lyrics’ tone have to match the melody of the song, whereas it’s not required in Mandarin songs. It makes it a lot easier to remember how a Canto song goes than a Mandarin song, since you’re almost singing just by saying the lyrics. I also love it when a song is translated from another language into Canto, and not only is the meaning kept the same, but the lyrics’ tones also follow the melody. Trying to get both is a real challenge.

    • Jin @hkgirltalk
      June 16, 2011 at 12:25 am (3 years ago)

      The video is very impressive, I was stunned by her Cantonese singing. It’s not that people try to match the melody of the song, it’s just that the 9-tone nature of Cantonese makes it harder to match the melody to made the song sound better. But this is also the reason why it’s easier to catch the lyrics of a Cantonese song than a Mandarin song, since Mandarin’s 4-tone makes it easier to match the melody but harder to guess the lyrics.

      It’s extremely hard to translate a foreign-language song into Cantonese song while matching the melody and lyrical meaning at the same time. I heard a song like this once when I was small.

      We should appreciate the 9-tone nature of Cantonese because it makes a song more unique (with less words in exactly the same phonetic spelling) and that the song can depicts the meanings better and more clearly.

  18. Chun-Yin Yu
    August 3, 2011 at 11:53 am (3 years ago)

    Honestly, the people of Hong Kong and Macau, if not all of them, are known for speaking standard Mandarin with unusual pronunciation and tones and sometimes adding incomprehensible vocabularies from Yue dialect (Cantonese dialect, as most people say) into Mandarin sentences, which can be mind-boggling and confusing to tourists, especially those from northern part of mainland China. As soon as they open their mouth in speaking standard Mandarin, that’s where most tourists become somewhat frustrated, if not completely clueless. You see, the people of Hong Kong and Macau are not accustomed to pronouncing such rough consonants and unusual vowels in standard Mandarin, such as “sh”, “ch”, “zh”, and “r” in Pinyin. Also, some people of Hong Kong and Macau uses the tones of Yue dialect instead of standard Mandarin tones when speaking standard Mandarin, which give mainland Chinese tourists a rather different meaning in each sentence. Right now many people in Hong Kong and Macau, particularly the younger generation, are learning standard Mandarin, but they do have plenty of room for improvement in their standard Mandarin. Time will tell whether they can speak standard Mandarin flawlessly.

    • Jin
      August 3, 2011 at 12:01 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment Chun Yin.

      I agree. The reason why Hong Kong people speak poor Mandarin is that they put some Cantonese dialects into Mandarin which makes the whole sentence comes out as awkward. Hong Kong and Macau people find it hard to pronounce “sh”, “ch”, “zh”, and “r” because they don’t get used to pronouncing the “r” sound. I think what makes them improve their Mandarin is to think in Mandarin and speak in Mandarin and not putting Cantonese dialects into Mandarin. Now, more young people and children are learning standard Mandarin so the situation is getting a bit better. Yet, lots of middle-age and senior citizens in HK and Macau still speak very poor Mandarin (or don’t speak Mandarin at all).

      Interestingly, a lot of Mandarin words have also been Cantonese-nized because of the close cultural exchange between Hong Kong and Mainland China. So how the two language will evolve will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on.

  19. Ronald M Kim
    August 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm (3 years ago)

    That is interesting article, and I understood why Hong Kong people feels like that above, even though I reckon there are some hasty generalisations against Mainland Chinese.

    However, on the article and the responses above, no one points that Mandarin is also spoken not just in Mainland China, but also in Taiwan, and some countries in South East Asia, such as Malaysia, and Singapore, and so on. Plus, on the title “Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers?”, does “Non-Chinese Speakers” also include overseas Chinese like Singaporeans (新加坡華人)?

    Individually, I am Chinese-Korean (韓國華人) and I have lived in Taipei, Taiwan for one year as an exchange student. When I went in Hong Kong last year, I spoke Mandarin to local people during shopping and socialising ,even though I started the conversation with basic Cantonese or English first, and I had no problem with it. However, after I’ve read the article I feel a little confused..

    So, based on the facts in the articles above, do Hong Kong people show dislike to Mandarin speaker who is not from Mainland China as well??

    • Jin
      August 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment Ronald.

      Sorry for the confusion. When I say “Non-Chinese speakers” or “Non-Cantonese speakers”, I lean those people whose native languages are not Cantonese. Some of the Singaporean Chinese living in Singapore or Korean Chinese living in Korea speak Mandarin or Cantonese so they don’t count in the non-Chinese speaker categories. I usually refer “Non-Chinese speakers” to those foreigners whose native language is not Chinese or Cantonese.

      For you, because you are a Chinese in nature, so even if you don’t speak Cantonese very well, Hong Kong people still find it fine to speak Mandarin to you. But if foreigners or white people speak Mandarin, Hong Kong people dislike it.

      Of course, Mandarin is spoken all over the world (after all, there are a lot of Chinese people around the world). I guess the prejudice of Hong Kong people to foreigners speaking Mandarin is mainly from Hong Kong people’s wanting to show off their ability to speak English. They think that they can speak English to foreigners so there is no need for foreigners to speak Mandarin to them.

    • Ronald M Kim
      August 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm (3 years ago)

      Plus, I guess it might be off the topic, but how does Hong Kong people think Guangzhou Cantonese(廣州廣東話)??

      (Actually, basic Cantonese I’ve learnt is Guangzhou Cantonese, not Hong Kong Cantonese..Sorry.)

      • Jin
        August 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm (3 years ago)

        No worries about it being off-topic. I like discussing random topics.

        Hong Kong people don’t have particular thoughts on Guangzhou Cantonese (廣州廣東話). For me, Guangzhou Cantonese is a bit more old-fashion and formal than Hong Kong Cantonese (香港廣東話). It’s because a lot of people in Guangzhou are from other provinces in China. Even among people coming from the Guangdong province, they also speak their own local dialects like (潮州話 and 客家話 etc.). Plus Guangzhou people also speak Mandarin. Because Guangzhou people speak relatively less Cantonese than Hong Kong people, Guangzhou Cantonese is with less diversity and development.

        That’s why Hong Kong Cantonese is very versatile with many different slang and “hyped words” (潮語). The media and press in Hong Kong also help developed the variety of Hong Kong Cantonese.

        Hope that helps answer your question.

  20. Ronald M Kim
    August 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm (3 years ago)

    Yeah, you’re right, However, recently, I have found that Guangzhou is trying to revive Cantonese as the motherland of Cantonese language (白話), and I hope it might help to add Cantonese more diversity as a whole.

    Thanks for your kind answers! (多謝你!)

    • Jin
      August 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm (3 years ago)

      No problems. I also want to see Cantonese getting more widely used by Guangdong people. :)

  21. JonnyBoy
    September 1, 2011 at 10:11 am (3 years ago)

    I feel completely, blissfully lucky to have found this website. Having stayed in HK for 3 months as a teen I fell absolutely in love with the city; I dream of it. Now, a decade later, at the age of 28 and residing in the U.S I have serious intent on returning.

    So, I turn on my computer today, questions churning through my head primarily regarding the topic at hand. You see, having intended on minoring in Cantonese at my local university, I found out they only offered Mandarin. What to do? Exactly how different are they? Are they mutually intelligible? How do local Hong Kong-ese regard Mandarin? Ahhhhhhh!

    Your article and the subsequent, very enlightening conversation has answered most of my questions; it was the very thing I was looking for (and didn’t think I’d find). I’m going to continue to with Mandarin for now seeing as I have no choice, but also to get myself in the basic rhythm of
    learning a related tone language (I already know a bit). However, thanks in part to this article, I’ll endeavor to learn Cantonese at the soonest available opportunity. Oh, and I don’t think I’ll ever learn to pronounce the “r” in Mandarin, so I’ll at least have that in common with the Cantonese!

    • Jin
      September 1, 2011 at 10:18 am (3 years ago)

      I’m glad that you love the piece, Johnny. It’s always your interest in a certain country that creates the intention to learn the language. To be able to master a foreign language, you need to at least be curious about the culture and the people. We won’t do things good if we don’t like what we’re doing.

      Good luck for your Mandarin learning. :)

  22. Kev
    September 10, 2011 at 1:31 am (3 years ago)

    I was born in Macau and grew up in HK in the 80′s so it was so easy for me to learn cantonese. i keep on seeing more and more people speaking mandarin so it just shows me that i must at least learn mandarin as well. i tried it in chinese school, waste of time and money. if you learn cantonese, try to learn a good amount of mandarin, it will help as i will do in near future. but now living in california, all these people in chinatown speak cantonese. learn both if you can.

    • Jin
      September 12, 2011 at 9:39 am (3 years ago)

      In the future, Mandarin is more important, that’s something no one can deny. Cantonese is a language for pleasure I guess. You learn it because you think that it’s fun and you want to know the Cantonese culture.

  23. Frenchies
    September 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Interesting blog…
    I was surprised by the statements made in this article. I am white as milk, Mandarin speaking (I read traditional Chinese better than simplified) and I go to HK once or twice a year. The only time I use English in HK is with minorities (Indians, Filipinos etc.). Everywhere I go it’s all in putonghua, people are usually quite nice, I have never been told “speak English” or “speak Cantonese”. I have an accent when speaking Mandarin, so do most HK people, nobody ever said my Mandarin is bad and I’ve never told anybody their Mandarin is bad. On very few occasion I’ve switched to English with people who couldn’t speak guoyu at all.

    Anyway, HK is an absolutely amazing city and I would surely learn Cantonese if I were to live there (How hard can it be for someone who can already read Chinese) but for everything else I think Mandarin is the way to go. You can’t be wrong by learning a language spoken by a billion people!

    • Jin
      September 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment Frenchies. I don’t know when was the last time you spoke Mandarin in Hong Kong, but I have always been told by my foreign friends that they got responded by English every time they tried to speak Mandarin. I guess now more and more Hong Kong people are prone to speak English to show that “I don’t just speak Cantonese, I can also speak English and handle you”.

      Of course it also depends on who you speak Mandarin to. Youngsters and staff in shopping malls would like to speak English to you back to show their capability of speaking two languages. Maybe that’s just my observations which can be biased. :P

      • Frenchie
        September 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm (3 years ago)

        I was in HK last month and I did speak to people of all ages but it was all in Putonghua. I hang out in a lot around tourist spots so that might explain why I seldom meet people who can’t speak Guoyu. I am wondering, do you think someone who only speaks Mandarin could live in HK and be able to appreciate the local culture, make friends with the locals etc? I got the feeling that a lot more HK people speak Mandarin than English… is that correct?

        • Jin
          September 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm (3 years ago)

          True. People in yourist spots are willing to speak whatever language they can help with tourists.

          As for Madarin speakers living in Hong Kong, I guess whether they can interact with licals depends on what kind of jobs they do. If they are bankers, accountants or lawyers etc., even Hong Kong licals would try to speak Mandarin with them in day-to-day conversatins ( considering that so many Chinese companies going IPO in HK, so Mainland Chinese who are well-educated have lots of respect from HK locals). for those Mandarin speakers who have an aveage job or can’t find a job at all, they mostly find it hard to interact with locals, at least for the beginning part of their living in Hong Kong.

          Hope I have answered your questions.

  24. yesman1997
    October 22, 2011 at 8:57 pm (3 years ago)

    Mandarin is lower class language in most HK people mind. We just learn for business. At the end of the day, British HKese is more superior than Chinese.

    • Jin
      October 24, 2011 at 9:58 pm (3 years ago)

      That’s a very simplistic statement. But thanks for your comment. We’ll see.

  25. Ryan
    January 3, 2012 at 1:14 am (3 years ago)

    I’m was born and raised in Toronto and in my experiences is in the more older parts of Toronto such as downtown and Chinatown especially have are more Cantonese speakers. I guess it was a by-product of the immigration boom of the 1990′s. I myself is a Cantonese speaker having my mom be from Guangzhou and my dad from Malaysia. Since the boom a lot less people are coming from Hong Kong unless they are coming for university and people from Guangzhou alike. Most families come from the mainland now and live in the suburbs within Toronto. Most Cantonese people that have been in Toronto for a while or wildly successful move out to the suburbs outside of Toronto such as Markham or Richmond Hill where all the Asian Malls are such as Pacific Mall. But if you want a population filled with Cantonese speakers along, look no further than Vancouver. There are actually a lot of Hong Kong-esque places around Toronto and it is like “little asia” due to the multiculturalism of Toronto. I find the feuds between Mandarin and Cantonese speaks here are at a minimal because we accept so many cultures but some certain people don’t let go from their ideas. The more “fobby” Chinese people still hold on to “Don’t call me Chinese” or “Hong Kongers are snobs” ideals. How unfortunate.

    • Jin
      January 3, 2012 at 7:37 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks for sharing, Ryan!

      I also heard from other Canadian friends that some big cities like Toronto and Vancouver sound like a “Hong Kong colony” because many people speak Cantonese there (no matter they’re from Hong Kong originally or not). But what’s good there is that people don’t give up their own culture while accepting other people’s culture. This is very precious and I think you’re so lucky to be in it. I wish Hong Kong people had the same attitudes towards people from other cultural background. We will see.

  26. nobblet
    January 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm (3 years ago)

    “Hong Kong people’s excessive emphasis on self identification”
    excessive? Fuck you. Just cause we are politically part of a shithole does not mean we are them.
    It’s the same as saying Nazi-occupied French are Nazi Germans as well.

    This lack of understanding and respect to the people of Hong Kong is disgusting.

    • Jin
      January 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry if I’m being too judgmental in this article. I just want to point out Hong Kong people don’t regard themselves as “Chinese” people in general. This is a part of the reason why HK people don’t like speaking Mandarin.

      Politically, HK is a part of China. But when it comes to self identification, it’s always the opposite, at least for now.

      If you could share more about your own understanding of Hong Kong people, that would be cool.

  27. Leigh
    January 11, 2012 at 9:46 am (3 years ago)

    You will find that learning materials for Mandarin vastly outnumber the extremely limited amount of content for Cantonese learners. They haven’t even come up with a properly standardised romanization system! What do we use? Jyutping, Yale, Cantonese Pinyin?! Textbooks…choose one and stop

    Lest we forget the overabudance of Mandarin teachers, and considering how many Cantonese immigrants there are in the world, a shockingly low number of teachers giving Cantonese lessons. Considering most ‘popular’ culture that has been exported out of China has been Cantonese or Cantonese-inspired…I am a little agast.

    British/American Chinese Cuisine….heavily cantonese based, exported Kung Fu films – Hong Kong made. Them cheap crappy cutlery sets that you find in Chinatown from the 1960s, exported from Hong Kong! You find thousands of things ‘Made in China’ over here in Britain but ironically, none of them are actually Chinese

    I have never ever frequent a Chinese restaurant in Britain that advertises itself as ‘Northern Chinese Style’ or anything north of Guangdong province for that matter.

    • Jin
      January 11, 2012 at 10:06 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment, Leigh. You provide some very insightful comments.

      The learning materials of Mandarin indeed outnumber those of Cantonese because of the growing demand of Mandarin learning in mid of China’s booming economy. Plus Mandarin is the most-spoken language in the world (by no. of people), so practically and absolutely, this is true.

      Mandarin teachers are abundant because of the vast number of population of Mandarin speakers and the high demand of Mandarin learning around the world. Also, lots of Mainland Chinese find it a good way to earn extra money by offering foreigners Mandarin teaching. It’s not hard to find Chinese people posting ads on various expat forums in China.

      Chinese cuisine in UK, from what I heard, is terrible (sorry but I think it’s true). My friends from UK or those who visited UK also said you can find other Asian food in a “Chinese restaurant”, not to mention they don’t have the “Northern Chinese Style” cuisine.

  28. Leigh
    January 23, 2012 at 3:58 am (3 years ago)

    To iterate an additional point; I found that people in Hong Kong despise speaking any form of Chinese to a person of non-Chinese ethnicity. Mandarin is looked down upon because of the whole “stupid mainlander” mentality that HK people seem to apply to the language. If you try and speak Cantonese, they will reply in English anyway. They are accusative and frequently pull the “I’m not stupid, I can speak English you know?” That has been my experience when I have visited Hong Kong myself.

    I think it is a pride thing. People from Hong Kong seem to love the exclusivity. It’s probably a tendency to be isolationist from other ethnicities during the age of British colonialism. They’re desire to be recognised as their own independent cultural subgroup. You find it in Chinese communities in the UK, some even seem to get pretty irate that there are ‘white’ people in the vicinity when they perform cultural celebrations like Chinese New Year, in an ‘English city’ within “England”.

  29. 马修
    January 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm (3 years ago)

    I completely agree with everything written in this article, whenever I’ve been in hong kong and spoken mandarin to locals you do get that ‘don’t speak to me in mandarin attitude’. The older population taxi drivers etc seem to be a bit different however I find its generally the younger people who are like this. The guangdong putonghua also sounds quite funny with lots of extra tones finding their way in their, similar to a lot of the mandarin ive heard in malaysia. Fair enough I guess but i definitely get the feeling HK’s think they are better than mainlanders.

    On another note, Shanghai isn’t much better, the amount of times that conversation I speak mandarin to you and you speak english to me..happens all the time…. I had a fight with a few girls in my office recently about this when they refuse to speak chinese to me. When a lot of our (lao wai’s) putonghua is better than a chinese persons english why should we have to put up with hearing bad english all day. Ok if im back home in australia or new zealand yeah I understand but we’re in China therefore it should be the chinese putting up with our bad china… just my thoughts.

    I hear beijing is a bit different..

    • Jin
      January 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks for sharing, Matthew. I guess being able to speak good English is a sign of prestige for Chinese. The better English you speak, the more rich you appear to be. Before, Chinese people only used brandname logos and luxury apparel to show their status, now, speaking English has become the new symbol of being rich.

      Unfortunately, not a lot of Chinese can speak good English, the fact that they’re not good at English while keeping speaking English among a group of people where there are only Chinese is just for showing off. Unless, the group consists of English speakers and those English speakers do not speak Chinese, otherwise, it’s better to embrace the local language – Mandarin if you’re in China and you’re a Chinese. If you studied abroad and speak better English than Chinese, I could understand. Otherwise, that would be the biggest joke in the world.

    • David
      January 19, 2014 at 3:18 am (6 months ago)


      That’s the exact reason I prefer Beijing to Shanghai as well! I speak fully fluent Mandarin with a slight accent (I’m completing my Master’s Degree in China, in Chinese) but I almost always get the “you can speak English with me” speech in Shanghai, even when it’s clear that my Chinese is much better than their English. I don’t think they realize how patronizing it is…I’m not a dumb tourist asking for directions…

      • dim
        March 2, 2014 at 2:30 pm (5 months ago)

        “. I don’t think they realize how patronizing it is…I’m not a dumb tourist asking for directions…”

        And how do you think the Shanghainese would feel about such attitude? Is that not equally patronizing?

        On the other hand, I agree with you that for practical reasons, in the case you just described, speaking Mandarin would be the most efficient solution since that is the language in which you can best understand each other (assuming the Shanghainese you meet speaks good Mandarin).

        But I guess the point I wanted to make is that you have to recognize that not every ethnic “Chinese” you meet will embrace Mandarin as their Chinese language – even though I wouldn’t argue with you that Chinese holding the RPC passport will be obliged to accept Mandarin as their Chinese language since it’s mandated by the government.

        I do not know whether Mandarin has been declared the primary official language in HK. But for example, I am Malaysian of Cantonese descent and I still preserve a lot of my Cantonese culture, and, I do not and will not embrace, nor consider Mandarin as my Chinese language. Unless I share no other languages in common with a foreigner I am talking to, I will not want to speak Mandarin with him or her.

        In the same way that not every European will feel obliged to speak English (regardless how well they can speak it), not every ethnic Chinese will feel obliged to speak Mandarin and people should respect that choice. Except in situations where there is a legal or constitutional obligation to speak Mandarin, I don’t see why an ethnic Chinese should always be obliged to speak Mandarin if he or she has no preference for it.

  30. yasyni
    January 31, 2012 at 2:46 am (2 years ago)

    dear friends, pls tell me, does hk cantonese differ greatly from gz cantonese? will it be possible to learn cantonese in gz and after that go to hk and use the same languange there? what do you think? ;)

    • Jin
      January 31, 2012 at 9:50 am (2 years ago)

      Guangzhou Cantonese is a bit different from Hong Kong Cantonese. But you can communicate well with Hong Kong people if you speak Guangzhou Cantonese. Just like Mandarin, people in different provinces speak Mandarin in different accents and have different wordings to the same meanings.

  31. jian
    January 31, 2012 at 3:00 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Jin. Thanks for writing this very interesting article and discussion. I’m from Malaysia and was just back from Macao, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and GuangZhou. This trip was 7 days and I’ve stayed in Hong Kong for 3 days.

    Well I’m Chinese and speak Mandarin well but not good in Cantonese. So during my time in Hong Kong and all of these Cantonese speaking places, I mostly approached people in Mandarin although I would prefer to talk to them in Cantonese, but I always have this fear that if I speak to them in Cantonese and they would reply saying something I do not understand, then we would have a problem XD. Then I would need to tell them that I don’t know what they are saying and that would be quite awkward. You know, it’s like you come here and speak to me in Cantonese but when i reply u in Cantonese, u don’t know what I’m saying? LOL.

    Anyway it was fun to learn about people’s culture. Only thing I dislike is the cold whether! In Malaysia it’s always summer 365 days so I’m definitely not used to it! LOL. Got a cold since the first day I arrived there for the 7 days spent there. Only recovered today since I’m back here in Malaysia LOL.

    • Jin
      January 31, 2012 at 9:54 am (2 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment.

      When it comes to travelling, you should speak the language you’re comfortable at and one people generally understand. Hong Kong people understand Mandarin (although they don’t speak well) so it’s okay to use that, especially for places like retail shops and restaurants, those staff speak at least a little Mandarin.

      Hong Kong is hot in general, but because it’s near the sea, so when it’s raining, it’s super cold. Also, we don’t use heater… so, the temperature indoor is always colder than other western countries. Sometimes, you need to put on coat inside a house.

  32. dat le
    February 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm (2 years ago)

    ye.first,i am not chinese like you,i am vietnamese.and i understand what the forum is talking about.
    i support o keep the hongkongers keeping speaking cantonese,no need to speak Mandarin when talking to a chinese comes from mainland.i am vietnamese but i love cantonese and love hong kong city thru the movie.
    i am living in danang city now and i am looking for a centre where i can learn cantonese but i can not,because the peking gov push too much pressure on our gov not to teach cantonese here.the peking gov want the putonghua to be spoken everywhere.
    in saigon,there are lot of chinese living there,and most of them are guandong peoples,they use Cantonese like in Hongkong,.
    i will try to learn cantonese and i will visit hong kong 1 day soon.

  33. dat le
    February 5, 2012 at 2:24 pm (2 years ago)

    hi jin.nice to talk to you if you agree.i love hong kong.i want to have a trip to hong kong but i wonder if there is expensive or not?

    • Jin
      February 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm (2 years ago)

      Depends on how you want to visit HK. It’s not that expensive except for the accommodation.

      • dat le
        February 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm (2 years ago)

        thanks for advice jin.i like your blog.have you ever been to vietnam?

  34. Stephanie
    February 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm (2 years ago)

    I’m 15 and I’ve lived in Singapore for more than half of my life. I came from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which means I learnt KL Cantonese since I was very young. A few years back my family started subscribing to Hong Kong TV cable channels, and slowly I learnt Hong Kong Cantonese too – there are slight differences between HK and KL Cantonese, as I’ve found. Somehow, I’ve always found Cantonese easier to speak than Mandarin, although it’s compulsory for me to learn Mandarin in school!

    • Jin
      March 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm (2 years ago)

      Stephanie, you’re probably the only one to say that Cantonese is easier to learn than Mandarin. Yeah, even the Guangdong Contanese is different from HK Contanese, not to mention there are different between HK Cantonese and KL Cantonese.

  35. Pudding
    March 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm (2 years ago)

    Here’s a question, why is it that most of the job ads I see online that are in Hong Kong, require Mandarin and not Cantonese.

    Don’t get me wrong, a lot require Cantonese but for the most part, more than most require Mandarin.

    Just curious.

    • Jin
      March 12, 2012 at 11:00 am (2 years ago)

      Hi Pudding, thanks for your comment. It’s because the jobs you see online might be targeting Cantonese people who speak native Cantonese. Therefore they don’t need to included the ability to speak Cantonese as a requirement. They use being able to Mandarin as a requirement because there are not all the people in Hong Kong can speak Mandarin.

      So, the thing is, being able to speak foreign languages make you more competitive. It’s true for everywhere.

  36. Dana
    March 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm (2 years ago)

    I am an ABC, and I grew up understanding a fair amount of Cantonese and even passively Taishanese. However, I am a bit sadden that people as in most Americans have recognized “Chinese” simply as Mandarin. I always wonder when I would speak “Chinese” then…Anyhow, did you know recently in Guangdong They have passes a policy effective March 1, 2012 to limit the use of Cantonese and other dialects in the media, and also to promote more use and broadcast in Mandarin? Right now, I am trying to self-study both Cantonese and Mandarin to preserve Cantonese, but if the attitudes do not change soon, a serious language shift will happen in China, and not one thet can be easily reversed.

    • Jin
      March 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment, Dana.

      I guess people are confused about the different between Mandarin, Cantonese and other Chinese local dialects because of the abundance of all these different language in one single country, and the country is very big.

      It’s good to know what you want to learn Cantonese and prevent the language from disappearing! I didn’t know the new policy about limiting the use of Cantonese and other dialects in the media in Guangdong. Thanks for letting me and my readers know. Your attitude of learning Cantonese sound like a blogger friend of mine, the owner of Canton168.com. He is trying to keep the language from going away in this blog.

      I hope for the best for your Cantonese learning.

  37. mainlander
    April 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm (2 years ago)

    “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!” — i like this description
    i will look at the difference between cantonese and mandarin from the perspective of evolution. 
    language is a tool for communication. the development of a tool is for it to become more user-friendly and more effecient. the more effecient tool has more aesthetic appeal. aesthetic appeal is like the lighting house to guide the development of a tool. the aesthetic appeal of a language is its pleasantness of pronouciation to our ears.  the more pleasant one is a more evolved (therefore more user-friendly and more effecient) communicating tool whereas the less pleasant one is a backward tool.  
    cantonese is mainly spoken in the southern tip of china (guangdong and guangxi) where the weather is warmer and of less changes than the rest of china. the pronouciation of cantonese is said to be closer to the official language spoken in central china about 1000 years ago, which is why poems from the tang and song dynasties(1000years ago) sound more in ryhm if read in cantonese than in mandarin. in other words, the aesthetic appeal of modern cantonese is about the same as that prevalent in central china 1000 years ago. some cantonese speaking people(and scholars) in hong kong and guangdong are very pround of this fact, claiming cantonese is therefore more “elegant” and “graceful” than mandarin since china in the tang dynasty era is generally considered a more advanced nation in the world’s history of civilization. whether the logic behind such a claim is laughable or not is up to viewers’ own judgement. 
    if someone who has never been exposed to cantonse and mandarin before is asked to listen to these two languages and then differentiate which sounds less abrasive and less coarse (ie more pleasant) to ear, its more likely he will pick mandarin by intuition. similarly,  if we are to distinguish a language near the equator and another near the north pole, we are more likely to prefer the one near the north pole. the very reason behind such preference is to do with weather’s effect on the languages’ evolution.  cold and harsh weather increases the selective pressure on the language to become more energy efficient whereas complacency due to warm weather slows down evolution.
    a question from a 3 year old: why black africans tend to have much thick lips than white people?  

  38. mainlander
    April 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm (2 years ago)

    hk’s economic take off happened in 1960-70s, which is > 100 years after british’s rule. the take-off has a lot to do with the influx of immigrants from the mainland in 1940-50s. the immigrants brought with them capital and skills and techno know-how. most of these affluent immigrants are not of cantonese origin. google IQ score across china, guangdong ranks at the bottom. most of infrastructure in guangdong have been masterminded by non-cantonese people. 2 out of 3 chief executives in hong kong are non-cantonese native. surely these are just coincidence.

  39. mainlander
    April 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm (2 years ago)

    cantonese merchants have the reputation of petty merchants among overseas chinese. a big part of pearl delta industry is of low skill set-ups like garment and toys factories. surely they make cantonese proud

    • anonymous
      April 24, 2012 at 7:24 am (2 years ago)

      Hong Kong is ranked as one of the highest IQ average in the world with 107, mainland China is only 100. Who told you Cantonese people had low IQ? Cantonese has been spoken by Chinese in the northern China way before Mandarin even existed, it was the war that forced many of the Cantonese Chinese to immigrate to the south. So you were wrong to think Cantonese evolved from people living in the south. You were brainwashed by the government to believe Cantonese is inferior so they have an excuse to stop people from learning Cantonese.

      • Jin
        April 24, 2012 at 9:40 am (2 years ago)

        Thanks for your comment.

        Did I mention Cantonese is inferior to Mandarin? I learned from school that Cantonese has a much longer history than Mandarin and I’m trying to preserve Cantonese too.

        The point I’m trying to make is that Hong Kong people hate speaking Mandarin (not Cantonese) when they’re dealing with non-Cantonese-speaking people, either Mainland Chinese or foreigners. I hope you understand my points.

        If you wish to express your opinion as a guest writer, send your article to jin@hkgirltalk.com. Thank you.

    • Bob the builder
      December 9, 2012 at 4:44 am (2 years ago)

      Maybe you should get off your high horse. Internationally, specifically America and Australia, whenever we see any products made from China, we instantly think of ‘cheap quality’. Ironically almost everything is made in China these days which reflect the cheapness of humanity.

  40. Ronald M Kim
    April 24, 2012 at 11:03 am (2 years ago)

    I did not know that this topic has still been a hot potato! So interesting!

    By the way, even though I’ve left some comments long ago, I came back here to share some other facts about speaking Mandarin in non-Mandarin speaking region.

    As in the article, many local Hong Kong people do not really like speaking Mandarin Chinese, but I sensed that it happens not just in Hong Kong, but also in major cities in the top tier cities in non-Mandarin speaking Southern China, including Shanghai, and so on.

    Specifically, in Shanghai, based on what I’ve heard and researched, it seems like local Shanghai people (I mean, native Shanghainese who has been in Shanghai for more then three generations) also hate speaking Mandarin due to their regional superiority. In some extreme cases, they also expected non-Chinese speaking foreigner to speak Shanghainese dialect. I feel like they just speak Mandarin for economical reason even though they don’t like it.

    Moving to Guangzhou, Mainland Cantonese speaking region, I kinda sensed that local Guangzhou people does not really like speaking Mandarin (I am not sure whether they hate speaking Mandarin or not, though) as well like Hong Kong people, in favour of their regional pride as the motherland of Cantonese.

    In my opinion, the only difference compared to the Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong would be that they don’t usually show up (maybe because there are too many Non-Cantonese speaking residents in Guangzhou to speak up their thought..?), except during Saving Cantonese rally before 2010 Guangzhou Asian game starts, as Mainland Chinese government considered reducing Cantonese-spoken TV or radio programme for the game.

    (Plus, I didn’t write this article to generalise certain groups with negative images, so please feel free to correct me if there were any biased point)

    • Curt
      May 6, 2012 at 10:55 am (2 years ago)

      Shanghai is not like that at all. Many Shanghainese dislike Chinese who are not local and can’t speak Shanghainese, but they never expect a foreigner to speak Shanghainese. In fact, the younger generation of locals can’t speak it either. The Shanghainese have no negative opinion of Mandarin, just of 江北 people and other non-locals. Sadly the Shanghainese dialect is already in a really bad state, not even comparable with Cantonese. It’s a beautiful language but it’s already pretty much moribund.

  41. mainlander
    April 25, 2012 at 10:00 am (2 years ago)




    • Hong Konger
      February 14, 2013 at 2:17 am (1 year ago)

      Cantonese is properly a language but not a dialect according to the UN.

      • Jin
        February 15, 2013 at 6:34 pm (1 year ago)

        Interesting to know the UN standard. Although I still believe that, practically, Cantonese is a dialect because of its abundance of slangs and idioms and the fact that Cantonese-speaking people use a different form of “written-style” language for writing. What Cantonese people speak cannot really translate exactly the same to the written Chinese.

  42. mainlander
    April 25, 2012 at 10:20 am (2 years ago)

    cantonese is the least evolved major regional dialect due to the following reasons(quote):

    - 相对普通话来说,广东由于岭南阻隔,历朝历代受到外来语影响比较少,保留古汉语应该比较多;
    - 长期以来经济 文化发展相对落后,中原先进文化对其影响的速度较慢,自身的语言文化进化演变的速度也较北方中原大地为慢,天长日久下来就较多古汉语的残留
    - warm weather

    that might help explain why some old poems rhyme better in cantonese/ hokkien/ hakka (all backward dialects due to segregation/isolation and warm weather).

    mandarin has been influenced by more dialects and languages than cantonese and has evolved much faster.

    english’s history probably only dates back 1000 years but it has been influenced by many other languages in its evolution and such various influences must have helped english to communicate ideas more precisely and more efficiently. it is now the most spoken language(1st and 2nd language together; if only to count 1st langauge, its probably mandarin). does such a fact speaks for the value “of being influenced”?

    arent we all become who we are becoz of influences around us? to be uninfluenced u need to stay isolated in the first place. who would prefer to be isolated? will u likely get improved by isolation? does an open-mind denote isolation?

    latin is very old(>2000yrs) but its a dead language already.

  43. mainlander
    April 25, 2012 at 10:29 am (2 years ago)

    does it make sense to compare a city(hk) with a nation(china) where the >50% of the population are still in rural area and many still struggle to get basic education? education helps boost IQ. btw,beijing and shanghai scores 109 and 108. guangdong(100) and hainan(95). if bj and sh also had the western exposure as hk, they would score even higher. hk gets the best of both east and west. in biology there is a term called hybrid vigor. it applies to culture mix too.

  44. mainlander
    April 25, 2012 at 10:38 am (2 years ago)

    cantonese is not inferior. its just a more backward dialect than mandarin. btw, southerners being diluted and outdone by northerners is the ever repeating episode of history. guangdong area used to belong to vietnam some 2000yrs ago. chinese from the north conquered the southerners and took their homeland and started to settle there. many cantonese are decendents of chinese soldiers and prisoners from central china and the local southern women. genetically cantonese is more related to vietnamese. so is cantonese accent.

  45. mainlander
    April 25, 2012 at 10:44 am (2 years ago)

    throughout history, ppl living in the guangdong area have often been referred to as monkeys by those living in central china(e.g.苏东坡去岭南说粤人面似猿,声似鸟). even though the pearl delta area has become more economically affluent in the last few decades, the cantonese clan are still being looked down becoz of their less attractive look and accent (often being mocked meanspiritedly). being discriminatory against the less attractive is in our gene becoz its vital for survival.

  46. mainlander
    April 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm (2 years ago)

    广东人保持粤语无可厚非,我支持全国各地方言都得到保留。but the reality is language comes and goes. like it or not, cantonese is a backwawrd and dying dialect.


      例如,如表示“这”的意思的粤音(/ni/)常被写成“呢”字,该词在壮侗语族、苗瑶语族等诸语中广泛存在,语法功能完全相同。有人认为该字可考的源头为“尔”,中古汉语唐音读作/nji??/ ,但相比壮侗、苗瑶诸语表示“这”的nei/ni,这种观点待考。

      再如,粤语表示“欺负”的“蝦”(/ha/),武鸣壮语与粤语完全相同,西双版纳傣语是 /jam ho/,黎语加茂方言为 /h?/。除粤语之外没有其他汉语族语言有这个词(但西南官话湖南少数片区有类似的“吓”音”ha”),古文献亦不存在;

      粤语表示“痒”的“痕”(/h?n/),连山壮族瑶族自治县壮语中为 /hom/,武鸣壮语中为 /hum/ 或 /h?n/,傣语 /xum/,临高话 /kum/;

      粤语表示“拧”或“折取”的“搣”(/mit/),南壮语(壮傣语支)、榕江侗语跟粤语完全一样都是 /mit/,布依语、北壮语(壮傣语支)、毛南语、泰语都为 /bit/,傣语为 /bip/,黎语为 /mi?t/;

      粤语表示“点头”的“岌”(/??p/),北壮语(壮傣语支)为 /?ak/,南壮语(壮傣语支)为 /wak/,傣语为 /??k/,泰语为 /?up/,侗语为 /?ap/,黎语为 /?ut/;而此字本身也表示摇动。

      粤语表示“倒塌”的“冧”(/l?m/),北壮语、毛南语跟粤语完全一样,泰语为 /lom/;

      粤语表示“跺脚”的“揼”(/t?m/),壮语与粤语完全相同,黎语为 /tom/;

      粤语表示“摇晃”的“擙”(/?ou/),北壮语、毛南语、侗语为 /?au/,南壮语为 /?au/ 或 /?u/,临高话为 /??u/;



  47. Wilson Wong
    April 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi, i’m a Chinese guy from Malaysia. well, basically both dialects seem equally important to me because unlike HK and China, we don’t really have a serious cultural crisis here in Malaysia. the only thing is that in those Chinese primary schools students are not allowed to speak any dialect other than the official Mandarin. we also have some Chinese independent schools where students literally learn everything in Mandarin despite our national language is Malay and English, the students tend to be more sinocentric and they segregated themselves from getting along with other races of the bigger community, which i think it’s a little bit extreme and they are like “Chinese communists” to me, of course this does not apply to all of them. in my opinion, learning Chinese language is good but not to the extent that they totally forgot where they are living because they need to be more liberal and come out to mix with other people as well.

    i personally prefer the distinctive Cantonese sense of humor and i don’t think there’s any dialect could be on par with that. though it’s inarguably China is a home to all Chinese cultures but the government can not do as it pleases. if it keeps going on like this sooner or later HK will lose its irreplaceable identity.

    • Albert Sweden
      August 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm (2 years ago)

      I agree with you Wong. Visitors found that it is much easier to communicate with singaporean than HK people. Singaporeans speak better english than the later. The later cant mandarin at all in generall and poor in english too.

  48. Sam
    May 7, 2012 at 10:36 pm (2 years ago)

    Loads and loads and load of replies. Guys, more people speak ‘english’ in chna, inc HK than in the USA. I’m an expat and strugglig to make a life here as every single job I apply for needs the Chnese language. If you are worried about your heritage, ha ha try applying for a job or move to England where there are 20 languages that govern.

  49. alex
    May 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm (2 years ago)

    To be honest, I find Cantonese people are pretty racist and many people have angry problems. I can say so because I am from HK. I examine at many of my friends from HK, they are such douchbag with very bad personalty, therefore they don’t have much friends beside their azn clan. While mandarin people are very polite and some are with great personalty, they seem to be good at making friends than the Cantonese. Yes they might be loud and such, but deep in they are very nice and passionate!!

    • mainlander
      May 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm (2 years ago)

      being good at making friends is a trait of resourcefulness. socializing demands wit and sophistication.
      there have been more and more mainland students coming to hk for tertiary education(coz awarded by generous scholarship as part of hk government’s talent attraction policy) yet most of them rarely mix well with the local students and the disharmony seems to be escalating with the recent rising anti-mainland sentiment in hk. some tend to blame cultural gap resulted from different exposure as the key note of this disharmony. one common impression the mainlanders have of the locals is their ignorance about china, overall shallowness and narrow mindset, the last of which is rather ironic given the locals’ sense of betterment over the mainlanders is actually largely based on their assumingly better international exposure.

  50. mainlander
    May 27, 2012 at 8:56 am (2 years ago)

    cantonese is just like the ebonics of the chinese language.

    ebonics is the dialect or vernacular form of American English spoken by a large proportion of African Americans. it developed from contacts between African langauges and nonstandard varieties of colonial English spoken by white americans in the southern states(the cotton plantation states where the african slaves worked). ebonics is used in the home or for day-to-day communication rather than for formal occasions. It typically diverges most from standard American English when spoken by people with low levels of education.

    cantonese is a dialect of chinese spoken by a large proportion of ppl living in the southern most area(guangdong and guangxi) of china. it is developed from contacts between southern indigenous languages (such as vietnamese, zhuang, tai,etc) and nonstandard colloquial chineses spoken by migrant chinese(such as soldiers and prisoners) from central china. its accent and spoken form is more influenced by the indigenous languages as the chinese migrants married the southern indigenous women and their children’s speech is more influenced by their mother’s tongue than father’s (which is why cantonese accent actually sounds more similar to vietnamese and thai than other chinese dialects). they adopt the written form of standard chinese as none of the indigenous languages had developed a written form. as a result the spoken form and the written form have never been compatible. vietnamese used to adopt chinese characters for writing before the french came.

    cantonese not only sounds unpopular to foreign ears. it has always been the least respected dialect in china and its accent is often mocked meanspiritedly. the connotations tagged on cantonese have hardly ever been positive.

    despite hong kong’s success has little to do with the cantonese language or its culture, the glory might have given a bit twist of fate for cantonese but its destined to be only delusional and short-lived unless the cantonese ppl can upgrade their gene pool to become aesthetically appealing enough to project cultural influences to the other chinese. it has never happened in the last 2000 years though.

  51. Frank R.
    May 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm (2 years ago)

    Mainlander, why are you so disrespectful of others and especially the nice young lady who has been moderating this discussion? You are only making a bad impression for your argument with your poor behavior. I have found that such overblown behavior is usually a sign of an interior weakness. I am just beginning to study Mandarin in the U.S., and feel in a quandry or dilemma, because so many Overseas Chinese speak Cantonese, not Mandarin. There is great beauty and honor in both languages and cultures, Cantonese and Mandarin. Please be respectful of others, when a guest in their home (or blog, or web page). I know that your Chinese mother has taught you better than this. A rational discussion can yield much light and knowledge; while berating and bashing generally reflects back upon the issuer of such words, and does not reflect very well, believe me.

    • mainlandFebruary 2012er
      June 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm (2 years ago)

      was i being disrespectful of the blogger? she shares hk’s sides story and i merely share mainland side’s view, which happens to be not in favour of hers. yes, my overal tone and choice of wording have been politically incorrect and culturally insenstive, but from a hindsight, if hk ppl’s sense of pride comes from disassociation with chinese and mandarin, shouldnt my arguments actually serve them well?

      i cant quite recall how i stumped upon this blog but two popular posts caught my eyes right away becoz of one word: “HATE” — towards chinese and mandarin. were there any disrespect in my posts, it would be a mere play of due respect as treatback. as long as my words speak the truth, a less approving reflection is not my primary concern, esp given that i already very much identify myself with the “hated” chinese and mandarin (to spell it out inconveniently or conveniently for some = mainlander). would u still try hard to kiss when hatred is splashed onto ur face(however skillful the splash might have been tuned)? one may argue that it probably doesnt represent the blogger’s own sentiment but rather the perspective of general hk ppl, well, on a par with that, my posts also try to speak from many mainlanders point of view. disrespectful and dislikable may they have appeared, none of my comments is of personal attack on the blogger(vs being tossed with 50 cents by an sample of wasted education) and i have only posted relevant comments under the two said articles.

      i agree the blogger seems quite open-minded and tolerant, as by the fact that none of my “dislikable” posts of truth got moderated and she also clearly states in her blog introduction that criticism is welcome here. i believe an open-mind thrives and improves on criticism. there is no lack of praises, an opposite view point only helps paint a more realistic picture. a ballanced discussion should do cantonese pride more favour than harm.

      again from a hindsight, hk ppl should be thankful for mainland’s misfortune and backwardness, without which hk would have had no chance of becoming what it is today.

      as for why cantonese is widely spoken among overseas chinese community, some background search on the history of chinese emigration might help.

      btw, ur advice appreciated but u could have done better by leaving my chinese mother out of it.

    • a local man
      August 6, 2012 at 3:02 am (2 years ago)

      Hey Frank, Thank you.

  52. H.
    June 2, 2012 at 8:40 pm (2 years ago)

    My experience is whenever I try to speak English in Hong Kong, a lot of them give me blank looks or try to reply in gesture form, which leads me to believe that they have difficulty speaking English. So I switch to Putonghua but then, they still seem to have difficulty with it too. So, it can be a bit frustrating if you don’t have the patience to explain yourself and try to have a “conversation”…

  53. ZH
    June 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm (2 years ago)

    How backwards thinking…. Yes Hong Kong was colonized for a period by the English and thereby were exposed to the English language. However, no matter how many Hong Kong people claim/believe they speak the Queen’s English is really out of touch with reality. Most NATIVE English speakers have to “dumb down” their English, abbreviate sentences, use simple words to communicate with many Hong Kong people. Therefore, in 2012, when a lot of non-native Chinese who are able to speak Mandarin choose to do in order to communicate.

    Please note, I am not saying all Hong Kong people cannot speak English, but many over estimate their ability.

    • a local man
      August 6, 2012 at 2:55 am (2 years ago)

      You are god damn right. We speak poor English because of the poor education system and we are hopeless to change it. We are pity.

  54. Anthony Taiwanese-Chinese
    June 22, 2012 at 1:31 am (2 years ago)

    I agree with mainlanders 1000%. I am a overseas Chinese whose parents are both from Taiwan. I come to Hk several times a year and whenever I communicate in mandarin the local Hk people give me this stupid ass look like they don’t know wtf I’m talking about. To tell you the truth like mainlanders said anyone who has never heard a bit of any Asian language would say mandarin sounds 10x better then canto. It’s one thing to be proud of your native language but it’s another to think canto is superior. Anyways people in HK need to get a reality check. Although I do enjoy hooking up with all the HK girls because of my dual citizenship status from Taiwan and USA. They can’t help themselves but be materialistic. Now days most of the HK girls are not marriage material because they pretty much lost all traditional Chinese values.

    • a local man
      August 6, 2012 at 2:50 am (2 years ago)

      we didnt think cantoese is superior. we use it because its our native language. And Mandarin is not our native language.

  55. David-in-China
    July 24, 2012 at 10:10 am (2 years ago)

    ZH. (June 20 2012) Thanks for pointing this out. I absolutely agree with you. As a native speaker of English I ALWAYS have to dumb down both in HK and on the mainland. Difference is; mainland people know and acknowledge their deficiency whereas HK-ers (in their arrogance and their ignorance) think they are keeping up with me. LOL !!!

    Speaking of arrogance, why do HK-ers think they made HK what it is today? HK was made by the British. Today’s so-called HK-ers are the descendants of miserable Cantonese peasants who came to the colony to pick up scraps from the white man’s table. At around the time that these miserable traitors came sucking up to the British, real Chinese patriots were fighting and dying to defend their homeland against foreign aggression. Mainlanders have demonstrated again and again that they have principles and they have courage. How can the descendants of the opportunistic ex-Chinese free-loaders who betrayed China expect to be able to keep HK running indefinitely on their own? Their gene pool just does not contain what is required for the task. Their gene pool makes them suitable only to sucking up to their colonial masters — who, as it happens, have now deserted them. The currently held notion of “Hong Kong” and “Hong Kong-er” (as held by the current remnants of the late British colony) is a joke. I mean – come on – it’s a JOKE!! Who do they think they are?

    Oh, and BTW, I am British and love speaking Mandarin. There is no reason for me to learn Cantonese.

  56. Albert Sweden
    July 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm (2 years ago)

    I start learning mandarin in Sweden. I am that there are so many Swedish learning mandarin in schools. Just wonder there are so many HK people and cantonese speaking people around the world prefer staying away themselves from learning and speaking mandarin. Don’t HK people know that Europe peoples can speak at least three to four languages? And South East Asian Chinese struggling hard to preserve their Chinese schools in their countries? Kind of resenting on mandarin will make HK backwarding.
    Mandarin or Cantonese or Hokkien? I wish I could learn all but Mandarin is important for me right now.
    BTW, why Taiwanese can accept very well mandarin?

    • a local man
      August 6, 2012 at 2:46 am (2 years ago)

      Hi, maybe you’ve learn Chinese (mandarin is one of chinese), but seems you didn’t learn history and culture of Chinese. But we are willing to tell you why.

      1) Mainlander (mandarin speaker) always wants to completely destroy Cantonese (and all other chinese dialect languages) and erase it from the world because of their one-china-syndrome.

      Reasons behind are really complicated that you can’t imagine at all. e.g. someone jealous Cantonese speaker survive in Dialect Languages Elimination Operation (not official name). some arrogant bastard deline everything they don’t understand. some believes if all chinese speak the same language (mandarin), chinese will become the strongest in the world…etc

      So, learning mandrain will help them doing it. Try imagining what if European is only permit to speak english and all other languages are eliminated. What would you feel?

      2) Difference of Mandarin and Cantonse to Hongkongese is just pronunciation. We can listen and understand Mandarin without sepaking it well. And because written text are the same. Hongkongese uses Chinese (text), Hongkongese can read Simplified Chinese (text).

      3) Hongkongese loves to learn languages from other countries rather than Mandrain. e.g. English, Japanese, French, Korean. And I, myself, want to learn as much as i can

      4) I can’t see the point that one person should not speak his/her monther language in his/her HOME

      5) We are what we are. we are Hongkonese so we speak Cantonese. Mainlanders want to speak Mandrain or use Mandrain as their national language or how strong they are is totally none of our business

      6) Taiwanese was forced to use Mandarin. see this movie and you ill know why. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2007993/.

      And Claim down if you feel insulted. i’ve never try to be rude or want to insulting anyone. I am just saying the truth.

      • Albert Sweden
        August 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm (2 years ago)

        Mandarin, cantonese, taiwanese or whatever are still Chinese languages. I met some cantonese in Sweden, they speak very poor swedish. They speak only cantonese but do not understand at all other chinese languages as they claim, they always confine themselves in a small group and go no way. I met some non cantonese chinese, they willing to learn swedish and open to accept new languages. In Sweden, we speak only swedish although most of us can speak english. We also willing to learn other languages too to meet the globalisation needs today.
        They are no wrong you want to preserve your mother tongue. But create a hatered on other language will not work today. Every language should be treated the same, no matter what stands behind. HK peoples should learn that mandarin and cantonese should exist side by side but not one is better or worsen than other. Disriminating mandarin wont help HK to progress, there are many countries far away from China may speak better mandarin than HK people one day. If Taiwan were not forced to accept mandarin, it would be intesresting to see chinese people communicating in English. Maybe it could have been part of Japan? See the indian people who speak english between southern and northern part because hindi were not accepted by southern part as an common language. See how chinese people malaysians fight for mandarin and dialects in their country. So HK people, why hate mandarin?

        • A turtle
          December 9, 2012 at 4:33 am (2 years ago)

          I can answer your question, I was actually doing a little research on it myself :)

          Mainland China is trying to localize Mandarin on ALL states of China, and forcing this dialect upon every citizens. They want all Chinese people of China to speak Mandarin and Mandarin only. This creates a problem you see as it clashes heavily to those who speak other dialects such as Cantonese. By not allowing the advancement of other Dialects (such as Cantonese) and heavily promoting and enforcing Mandarin, sooner or later, the dialect of Cantonese will die out.

          And this is where all the hatred stems from as the government of Mainland China has no regards for other dialects than Mandarin.

  57. Random
    August 9, 2012 at 4:16 am (2 years ago)

    This is quite random to the conversation but has anyone heard that a law passed just this year on March in the banning of broadcasting news using Cantonese in Guangzhou China? Even the words taught in school must be simplified and that any sign board with traditional words must be removed or there would be harsh penalty. Their reason of doing so is trying to unify China? Which I really don`t see the point in doing this -_-

  58. Eric Yu Zhang
    August 9, 2012 at 8:04 am (2 years ago)

    Cantonese, and southern Minh dialects are more rich in cultural references and traditions than the Mainland chinese. I think most people in HK are well aware of that, therefore many feel that their language should be spoken in HK, not mandarin. This I think is true, since Mainland chinese is govern by PRC and much of it’s phrases and slangs unique to the chinese culture were wipe from the vocabulary, although some mainlanders won’t admit that but Cantonese is far more expressive and creative in expressing human life and obviously more useful.

  59. zana
    August 23, 2012 at 2:31 am (2 years ago)

    The official language of HK is Cantonese and English, and that’s what the education system is conducted in. I have my physics, maths, chemistry and all other electives in English except for Chinese which is in Cantonese.
    I would also hate to be spoken to by a language which I have zero to very low command over.
    It’s just common sense really, would you go to France and speak Swedish? What a way to piss people off.

    And finally yeah, of course there are the political reasons behind.

  60. Moonside
    September 2, 2012 at 1:16 am (2 years ago)

    When I went to uni in HK I was so excited to learn Cantonese, but every time I tried to express my interest people, it seems, are culturally programmed to say, ‘Oh, study Mandarin instead,’ or sometimes ‘It’s too difficult for foreigners’ and continue on in English. I had thought that showing interest in the host culture and language was a good thing (ex. experiences in Japan), but it seems this is their way to take pride in their language…while putting off exchange students…I guess. Luckily, the mainland Mandarin-speaking students were always excited when I spoke Mandarin, we’d have entire conversations! I had thought that, since the mainland takeover of HK, HKers would be more interested in spreading their culture and language – guess I was wrong. Weirdest culture shock ever.

  61. Anon
    September 16, 2012 at 9:04 pm (2 years ago)

    广东的文化底蕴确实差! 看来看去,也就是康、梁、孙。 
    中国人的名声从清朝末年开始,都是被南蛮子广东人带坏的。 外国人嘲笑中国人时,都是用他们所听到的难听得广东音腔来贬低我们。
    依据世界语言系统专家的分析,广东话发音是世界上最难听之一的话, 上不了大雅之堂
    看看那打着中餐馆名声的粤菜馆,做的都是什么猪狗食. 真是丢人现眼。

    • Arthur
      September 22, 2012 at 7:07 pm (2 years ago)

      Sorry, no writing pad, I know that Cantonese are not nearly as useful as Mandarin but please do not diss my first langauge, thank you.

    • Senmi
      April 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm (1 year ago)


  62. Arthur
    September 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm (2 years ago)

    the relationship is similar to portuguese and spanish or Ukrainian and Russian, people are more likely to learn spanish than portuguese, however, once they gain proficiency in the more widely used version than they start to learn the cousin language of it.

  63. Arthur
    September 22, 2012 at 10:20 pm (2 years ago)

    at least, it is better than using english as a lingua franca across east asia, look i am multilingual and each language should be a lingua franca in one part of the world: English (Australia and North America), Spanish and Portuguese (Southern USA and Latin America), Mandarin (China, South East Asia and surround Territory), Russian (Central Asia, Northern Asia and Eastern Europe), Hindi (SOuth Asia), Arabic (Middle East and North Africa), German and related (Continental Europe).

  64. English speaker
    October 14, 2012 at 6:12 am (2 years ago)

    I’m a white American living in Hong Kong and am switching from learning Cantonese to learning Mandarin instead because I can’t see how I can learn Canto well when locals give me the stink eye whenever I make attempts. Ppl never seem happy I am learning their language and ask me in a rude voice when I tell them. Infancy the white ppl who make no effort to learn any Chinese or learn the culture seem to be the ones getting all the girls/guys. I want a Chinese boyfriend –mainlanders were always happy when I could utter a phrase in mandarin. Screw Cantonese. I’ve lived in multiple countries and every time received encouragement in my language attempts — until now. Btw Beijing accents are HOT.

    • AtTheBackoftheHill
      October 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm (2 years ago)

      I don’t quite understand how you can say that – I just got home in a taxi driven by a HK Cantonese gentleman, and other than telling him the adress we spoke Cantonese. My horrid mispronunciation versus his no decent English. It worked. As far as Peking accents in Mandarin being hot, yes, that is so – but most non-Pekingese sound rather disgusting in Mandarin, and between the Taiwanese and the Shanghainese, I don’t know who sounds worse. Twixt barking rabid dog, and leaky soda water siphon. Urgh! Cantonese are, in my experience in San Francisco, much more flexible about foreigners speaking Chinese of any kind than northerners.

      • Jin
        October 15, 2012 at 3:27 pm (2 years ago)

        Thanks for your comment.

        What I mean is that HK locals generally don’t like speaking Mandarin to foreigners as they think that the foreigners should try to speak the local language (Cantonese) with them rather than Mandarin (Which is widely used in Mainland China). It’s an indirect identity distinction between being a HK-ese and a Mainland Chinese exerted by the local HK-ese to serve their insecurity of losing their “HK-ese” identity amid the craze of learning Mandarin worldwide.

    • those hong ok gets
      August 28, 2013 at 8:14 pm (11 months ago)

      Exactly. Couldn’t agree more. One poster has mentioned that locals think they are being insulted when spoken to in Cantonese as if they are being indirectly told their English isn t good enough so they have to prove the person wrong. As if strangers would bother thinking like that. Think that could be one of the reasons that is true for some locals but there are at least 2 others

  65. 中国人
    November 4, 2012 at 10:51 am (2 years ago)

    香港从一小鱼村膨胀成国际都市,也就170年的历史,其中150年是由长相习性文化与本土的基层群众大相径庭的英国人掌管,这些英国主子似乎从来都更乐意把自己与香港的本土人区分,他们自己是proud englishman, 而他们对香港本土人的称谓似乎是“chinaman”,可见走在文明前沿的英国人的族群意识还是很浓厚的。族群意识是在利益关口决定敌我生死的判断基础,没有族群意识,就不会衍生文明进步。族群意识源于家的观念,有家后有家族民族社会,延伸而上圈地成国,所以有我们中文说的国家。对大多数人来说,爱家是自然而然的,没家何来我。我曾以为爱国也是天经地义的事,形式肉麻有型无形不拘,不可能期望一个见识广人面多的城市人与一个出门就是山拐个弯就下田的庄稼人会有同样的表达方式是吧?反正在我有限的见识里,不忠诚于自己的家人族人的人在任何文化的主流价值观中都是被唾弃的异种。在较进步开明的社会对非主流价值观较宽容,能尊重“不爱国”和“盼望外族回来当主子”这种声音存在的权利,但假如这种声音能够壮大,可以预见这个族群已近末日,因为一个可以无耻无畏到要扛着企盼外族来打救自己的大旗的族群怎么可能被尊重,不被尊重的人能有多大的出息?

    族群身份在面对外人时才显现意义,香港的本土人似乎很在乎“香港人”的身份,这种在乎似乎更多是为了面对西方人时区分自己与大陆人,并延伸至以不爱中国为荣,不乐意被标签为“中国人”,没关系的,反正许多中国人也嫌弃香港人难看广东话难听,影响了中国人的形象(可以网查有关广东人香港人的话题,相关的中英文网站都不少)。香港人首先应该努力争取香港独立出中国自成一国,就象大半世纪前新加坡独立出马来西亚一样。核心问题是他们有这样的本事吗? 当年是来自北方的中原人种对立当地的马来人种,现在是香港的本土人(中原与马来人种的混种)对立北方的中原人。纵观北半球的人类进化历史,从来是北方族群淘汰南方族群。我倒是乐意长长见识,等着香港的本土族群来颠覆我的进化历史观。

  66. 中国人
    November 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm (2 years ago)

    竟然有人能把扛着米字旗在中联办门前得瑟的行为美其名曰为 “怀念好日子”,可见香港人的民族荣辱感之独特,这有如把独角兽脖子上那根代表屈辱的锁链当成了一种荣耀,将二等公民的身份当成了一种光彩,这与韩国人对被日本殖民的屈辱感是何等强烈的对比。不过这种对比也很符合进化的理论。圣贤说温饱后知荣辱,荣辱感属于较为高级复杂的心理状态,进化较慢的,荣辱感会较弱(所以才有被卖了还忙着帮主子数钱的奴才)。北方人比南方人爱面子是因为北方人的荣辱感较强,换句化说,北方人因得益于四季变换比南方人进化快(特别是寒冬的洗礼,就如夏虫没见识过冰雪的短浅,热带的南方人不可能有瑞雪兆丰年的远见),外在表现在长相更符合审美,内在为智力心理都更为优秀,所以几千年的华夏历史,从来是北方族群淘汰南方族群。其实欧洲也一样,看他们文化中心的北移(从希腊,罗马到今天的伦敦巴黎柏林)。

    说“怀念好日子“,确切地说应该是怀念当年香港相对内地的优越感(其实从物种进化理论去看,这种并非源自内因的优越感注定是短暂的非常态),只是近年内地经济及文化地位迅速提高,对香港带来冲击,才会有“旧日子美好”的假象。” 这其实是一种心理失衡。



  67. 中国人
    November 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm (2 years ago)

    racial segregation was enforced both legally and informally. chinese were barred from centrain schools and from the hk club and hk jockey club. in some hotels chinese guests could only stay in certain rooms or could not stay overnight. a particularly visible example of this government-enforced racial divide by law was victoria peak, where no chinese were to live. the ordinance was not repealed until 1946.

  68. Daniel
    November 17, 2012 at 7:53 am (2 years ago)

    I thought all of this was right on the money. It made alot of sense. There are people in Hong Kong who dont speak English so to me its definitely worth while learning Cantonese. I really enjoy learning Cantonese. I have started from scratch and can speak a bit now after 14 months of study. I made a video about my impressions of Hong Kong people. I find most of them to be friendly and nice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9x6jFs_ndY

  69. Stuart F. Taylor
    November 23, 2012 at 12:37 am (2 years ago)

    Simple answer: “Bad Mandarin is painful to listen to.” It isn’t personal, and it isn’t from a Hong Kong attitude other than it isn’t given the patience that a Guilou gets from speaking Cantonese, or that a foreigner gets speaking Mandarin in the mainland or Taiwan. I know because now people are not rude to me because my Mandarin now sounds good, yet before when my accent was bad I did get some rude responses even in Taiwan (never was in HK back then). It just has to sound good, that’s all. But I suppose it also helps me that I can sprinkle in quite a bit of Cantonese by now — but still, it needs to sound good: good tones, good pronunciation… simply good careful listening and hearing how the locals really say it.

    • Jin
      November 23, 2012 at 9:48 am (2 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment, Stuart. I think that as long as you show that you really do make efforts to speak a foreign languages, the locals would appreciate it. Here in Hong Kong, the case where HK-ese refuse to talk to foreigners in Mandarin might be their own personal problems as mentioned in this article. As long as you’re not only learning the cheesy phrases, I believe the locals would want to listen to you and teach you more useful phrases!

    • Justin
      March 24, 2013 at 8:08 am (1 year ago)


      • Jin Wong
        March 27, 2013 at 4:59 pm (1 year ago)


  70. Jon
    December 24, 2012 at 11:14 am (2 years ago)

    Wow this was interesting. Thanks Jin and all. I’m about to study Mandarin in a school in HK while on a business trip there, but I guess I’ll ask for a few basic Cantonese lessons too. My reason for learning Chinese is that I want to make good relationships with my future Chinese colleagues in our regional projects in HK and beyond…

  71. Will
    December 28, 2012 at 10:37 am (2 years ago)

    Hi guys!
    I’m an american born and raised in NY living in Brazil right now. My grandma’s originally from HK, so she speaks cantonese and very poor english. These days my mother called me on the phone saying that my grandma (her mother) is having some difficulty to find someone who can really speak cantonese to her in Manhattan’s chinatown. She has lived and worked there for all her 71 years. But as she walks the neighborhood these days, she can’t understand half the Chinese conversations she hears. I, myself felt really sorry for her. This proves that cantonese is sadly on the way to become a dying language at least in America.

    Unfortunately, I can’t speak either cantonese or mandarin, neither my mother.

  72. Another local guy
    January 3, 2013 at 6:55 pm (2 years ago)

    Wow, how did this turn into a tirade against Cantonese and the people of Hong Kong. If anything, I think there’s an inferiority complex at play here. We’re not so snobbish as to think that the language should only be spoken by the locals. To me, the question is, why bother? When we meet a mainlander we’re supposed to speak Mandarin. When we meet a Westerner we’re supposed to speak to her in English. And when we don’t speak those languages well enough, then we’re being ridiculed for not being proficient in those languages, as if it’s a deficiency to have Cantonese as our mother tongue. We always find it fascinating when we meet some non-Cantonese mainlander or non-Chinese person who can actually speak Cantonese. It’s a story worth telling friends and families about. That’s how rare it is in Hong Kong. And when we converse with someone in Cantonese in that situation, we have to know exactly when to stop. That’s when they switch back to Mandarin or English, usually on a whim. I think more than anything, it’s this why bother factor that makes us so reluctant to speak Cantonese to non-natives. We’ve simply learned to do that out of habit.

  73. marv
    January 6, 2013 at 4:10 am (2 years ago)

    I am an overseas chinese and have been living in HK for 12 yrs and married to one forthat long too. I have 2 kids and still living here. Personally i don’t like HK anymore. They people are proud and snobbish and have a extensive sense of inferiority complex and to mak ethemselves feel good they have to go and put down others. The reason i feel is probably they know they are just the wild wild east of asia and their stay in HK is never guranteed. Thats why they are called permanent residence than citizens.

    But first off, to understand them let’s get back to history, HK was just a fishing village plundered from China in an opium war and HK population 150 yrs before the hand over was nore more than in the 10s of thousands. Being a colony and a trading post for opiums and subsequently for smuggling artefacts, gold and what have you from china by the brits, until the so called industrialization in the 70s. HK was simply a gateway for those who wants to trade with the world from china after the Qng dynasty closed external trade and a gateway into china mainly the GZ and GX state by smugglers and christian.

    Fast forward 100 yrs and during WW2, HK population numbers just above a million. It hit 2 in the 50s and 3 in the 60s, 4 in the 70s and 5 in the 80s. The 50s increase was due to KMTs and democratic supporters running down south under the sanctury of british colonial power after the Reds or CCP gain power and to avoid prosecution and witch hunt. Majority of which are migrants from GZ and GX states during the 60s and 70s due cultural revolution and great leap forward, some being political escapees. The 70s and 80s wave came about due to industrialisation and having a cheap source of labour was important the colonial power let in more migrants from China. They were nothing more than cheap labour units.

    Now after undestanding the history of where does the HK polulace come from, that is mainly migrants from china and there is very high likelihood at least 50% of HK chinese residents now in HK 2013 are migrants or 1st generation hongkees. IE that basically makes HK chinese. But why the pride and why cantonese? Because of the colonial power that be, they felt privelleged, they felt educated when they went back to visit the farm staying relatives and called them country pumpkin, they need to feel that urge of superiority to tell those back home they make the right decision in smuggling into HK.

    Secondly, what is cantonese? I spoke to my wife and my FIL, sure they said there are 9 tones, i ask that they teach me, but apparantly niether them nor anybody else who claims to be a solid true traditional cantonese speaker able to pronounce fully all the 9 tones. None of them. Their reason now was oh mordern Hongkees no longer kept true to their cantonese anymore due to english education in school. Really, they were so proud of cantonese but was unable to speak it definitively. (so is it really 9 tones or something they tell themselves so they could be proud of, even if it doesn’t matter if they can’t pronounce it anymore?) Personally my dialect, which is a sub group language of china, given there are thousand in china itself, but mainly about 200 such subgroup where we call dialects, I am able to speak teochew and hokkien, learned from my great grandpa when he left china at a very young age, and past down to my parents and me. Thing about dialect is its a spoken language and not a written language. And from what i understood, cantonese itself is a spoken language and not a written language try reading a passage written in cantonese without understanding cantonese and you realise its quite unreadable unless you read it in cantonese.

    Mordern Hongkee cantonese is more honglish than anything, full of colourful words from english to all the woos and lahs and bahs, and not to froget the tim. For which only the Hongkees themselves understood and seriously they just find any words that makes the sound that they want to simply construct a sentence, it’s OMG what are they trying to write. What happen to the chinese language in HK. Their chinese has degraded, the english is terrible and some speaks english has if they have marbles in thier mouth or snort in their nose with their nose held high. But of course hongkees still remain proud that they are still the best among the chinese. They claim to love HK and feircely proud of it, but given a chance to own a second passport of another country they gladly apply for it. Ironic.

    Personally, my kids are learning chinese, and the best way to learn chinese words, simplified and some traditional, is through putonghua. Reason, how you spoke it is how you write it which is proper chinese. Why simplified? easier to learn, afterall its the communication, transfer of ideas that is more important then some rigid countless strokes just to prove, i am not sure what. Of course traditional chinese learners would disagree, but remember in the housands of yrs when chinese written language was unified how many % of the population was educated, compared to now when the so called simplified chinese was implemented? Hongkees are simply too full of themselves, when the gateways in china are fully open when the laws are more established as china find their way, when direct trade between taiwan and china are established, HK would be by-passed, and HK would lose its lusture as the financial centre of asia to shanghai, in another 20-30 yrs ….. HK would suffer a reverse drain of talent and its pearl no longer shining, the parents today would have wished they hadn’t been that stubborn and proud, and had taken the lead to learn putonghua so that their children would take putonghua more seriously.

    • those hong ok gets
      August 28, 2013 at 8:06 pm (11 months ago)

      One thing i will say is kudos to the host here for at least leaving up dissenting comments. It gives a better image to this blog ie. seems more trustworthy than others.

      regarding above poster’s post
      Hahaha funniest thing ever read

  74. Dat Le
    January 24, 2013 at 12:32 pm (1 year ago)

    I read this article by chance when I try to translate a sentence from English to Cantonese, but It took me few hours for reading and thinking articles and comments.
    Thanks a lot for your article. I was looking for about Hong Kong and China / Mandarin and Cantonese much. Many Chinese friends recommended me to study Mandarin first and later, if I have time I can study Cantonese. I tried many times and thought much about the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese. Many people said that due to the open and influence of China, Mandarin now is useful and easily approached by many ways, and there is one more weird thing that Cantonese people can speak Mandarin but not vice versa. I have been thinking for a month about this problem before choosing one language to follow. Finally, I decided following Cantonese. Do you know why? Cantonese is more exciting than Mandarin although it is very hard to speak with the tone. and one more reason is I like the way people in Hong Kong try to keep their language, be proud of their language. Many people think that they don’t need to learn Cantonese because it is just a dialect of a small part of people in comparing with China population, but it is not true. Although Cantonese speakers are not many but the best part is that they can speak and keep theirs cultures. I am a Vietnamese and I live in Saigon ( the biggest city in Vietnam) and of course, I am always proud with my voice, many people from my capital told me that my voice is not the official and correct one, I ignore them, I just know..I am keeping the voice of my city. That’s all. Thank again for a very interesting article and made me feel I chose a right way in studying Cantonese.
    Wish you all the best

  75. Hong-Kong Mandarin-School
    January 31, 2013 at 2:56 pm (1 year ago)

    This is a very interesting discussion. My experience of working as a Chinese tutor for expats shows that more and more expats choose to learn Mandarin than Cantonese in Hong Kong. 5 years ago we employed more Cantonese tutors than Mandarin tutor, but now we employ only 1 Cantonese tutors as expats learning Cantonese became less. Accordingly we added more Mandarin courses and reduced Cantonese courses (you can see it at http://www.mandarinlearning.hk).
    I believe Mandarin will finally become the major language in daily life and at workplace in Hong Kong, sooner or later. This is especially so considering the booming economy and increasing importance of China.

  76. Lucy
    February 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm (1 year ago)

    I’m a Chinese born in the U.S. but I come from a very long line of Cantonese speaking Chinese.
    I love the language. I admire it so much more than Mandarin.
    It’s kinda awkward for me to speak Mandarin sometimes, lol.
    I understand the whole “usefulness” concept, but you can’t just wipe out an entire culture with one stroke; it’s just cruel.
    Cantonese is such a beautiful language/dialect.
    I love it. I’ve appreciated music and singing more because of it. It would make sense, considering I’m a musician.
    Anyway. Have fun exploring the open opportunities of Cantonese.

  77. Sam Leonard
    March 4, 2013 at 2:03 am (1 year ago)

    Interesting article but can we all please move away from this foolish notion that the reason Cantonese is “more difficult to learn” (a disputable statement anyway) because of its nine tones vs the four in Mandarin. If Cantonese truly is more difficult to learn it’s more like due to a number of factors including:

    1. Fewer standardised materials to learn from and a slightly more difficult-to-understand Romanisation system c.f. Mandarin’s Hanyu Pinyin.

    2. Most colleges and schools offer course in Mandarin and not Cantonese so opportunities to learn are harder to come by.

    3. Cantonese (spoken Cantonese and not just Cantonese pronunciation of written Standard Chinese) is very much a “living” language and the materials available for learning it from written forms are more scarce.

    4. Chinese is really quite different than a lot of other languages (obviously) so it may be quite difficult for non-native speakers regardless of whether they learn Cantonese or Mandarin.

    Finally, coming round to the issue of tones. Parroting the tired adage that Cantonese is more difficult due to having 6, 9, 12, 13 or however many tones people decide to attribute to it is hardly a key reason why it may be perceived as difficult to learn. The fact that Cantonese has more tones means that they’re all closer together! Therefore most sentences spoken in Cantonese will generally be understood regardless of correct use of tones. Compare this to Mandarin however with its four, very different, tones and it’s a different story! Imagine saying “多少钱” in Mandarin but instead of saying “钱” in the second tone (correct) you pronounce it as “千” in the first tone. Then, what you have said is very much wrong (although probably still understandable). However saying the same in Cantonese with slightly incorrect intonation is unlikely to even go noticed, let alone be misunderstood.

    Let’s stop this madness now!!

    • Jin
      March 4, 2013 at 7:16 am (1 year ago)

      Thanks for your comment, Sam. You have provided some good points as to why people think that Cantonese is hard to learn. However, I see all your pointed except for point #4 as it doesn’t clarify why Cantonese’ being “different” making it hard to learn.

      Regarding tones, I do agree that more tones leading to less confusion of words that are with the same phonetic writing (pinyin). Your example is interesting. That’s also why many Cantonese songs are easier for people to understand than Mandarin songs because of the less confusion of the Cantonese words in the lyrics. There are simply too many words with the same phonetic writings in Mandarin than Cantonese and I believe a main reason is its lack of tones.

  78. Andrew
    March 13, 2013 at 2:52 pm (1 year ago)

    Chinese Mandarin is the most spoken foreign language in Australia, not Cantonese. ‘

  79. Alex
    March 22, 2013 at 12:06 am (1 year ago)

    If two thing exist together and one killing other, the better way is to spin off or separate it. Northern and Southern got different culture and language, it seems like two different nation

    • Senmi
      April 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm (1 year ago)

      It never seems two different nation to us. I’m a Cantonese. Cantonese doesn’t only mean a language but also mean people in China from Guangdong province. We speaks Cantonese and Mandarin. There’s no difficult to us at all. The truth is most HK people came from our province long time ago and they would never say where their hometowns are because they think they are superior as a HK people. And don’t be silly, grow-up in HK, they don’t know how to speak Mandarin at all! That’s the reason why they don’t speak to foreign. And the school in HK, just start to teach Mandarin recent years. Sadly, their English is not as good as you expected according to some research. So, the fact is, those who like us, these two language are our mother language and HK, they learn Mandarin now. Happy ending.

  80. lamey
    April 5, 2013 at 10:43 am (1 year ago)

    youre not correct, Mandarin is older than Cantonese, historical artifacts and proof attest to this. Most chinese , as well as koreans and japanese lived in the North lands going all the way back to when primitive man was connected to both china and japan by land bridge. they only later migrated south. also the linguistics of hong kong is such that the words are a dialect of mandarin words, not the other way around, they also added more tones and inflections…

  81. Senmi
    April 6, 2013 at 3:12 am (1 year ago)

    很抱歉让你误会了,我回复的 “你写得出这么歧视性的言语,不用见真人也可以想象到你是多么的丑陋不堪。每个地方都有自己的文化以及语言,再怎么样,我们也喜欢自己的文化也请你尊重别人的文化。子不嫌母丑,母亦不会嫌子丑,但我还是忍不住为你的母亲感到悲伤,请你别再丢中国人的脸。” 是对那个Anon的那段对我们广东人带有歧视话语的回复,而不是针对作者你。我觉得这篇文章写得很好。其实广东话跟普通话的问题,不仅存在在香港,在mainland,我们南方也有部分是讲Cantonese,那是我们的家乡话,但是同时我们也会讲普通话。而北方的不同地方的也都有自己的方言,同时也会讲普通话。但是Cantonese在国际上却更加的popular,所以有时候也会令那些不会讲Cantonese的人产生恶意。不管怎么样,看到有外国人写出自己的感谢,我其实是很高兴,因为感觉你们真的想了解我们的文化,我们的生活。所以我觉得这个HKgirltalk挺好的~

    • Jin Wong
      April 10, 2013 at 12:55 am (1 year ago)


      多謝你對HK Girl Talk的支持!^_^

  82. hkglory
    April 11, 2013 at 8:58 pm (1 year ago)


  83. hkglory
    April 11, 2013 at 9:02 pm (1 year ago)



      从秦汉开始,就一直是流放罪犯的地方, 成了贱民、罪民的渊薮。



    在香港的报刊常有借汉字表音的粤语表达或者英语称谓(例如”宾架”=banker, 巴士=bus),这种思维同过去越南借汉字表音同一个水平。过去一百多年西学东渐,也曾经借用汉字的日本主动学习西方的先进,并带来很多新汉语词汇回流中国,包括科学和民主,从高端影响了现代汉语的发展,假如没有这些回流,现代汉语会是另外一个样子。而被西方文明惠泽了超过百年的香港,从未对汉语有过任何值得关注的影响,这只能说明香港的人文底子不是一般的差。




      语言不是静态存在的,过去方言的形成是因为地理隔阂,香港说的广东话源自广州,但几十年后,口音和用词与广州已有各种不同,台湾的国语也是取音京腔,但几十年的分隔,台湾腔大陆腔明显不同。网络时代会加快淘汰落后不美的弱势语言,粤语首当其冲,因为是各大汉语方言中的最落后最不悦耳的。其实"粤语不悦耳粤人不悦目"是可以追溯到远古的私聊共识,“皆鸟言夷面” — 这唐朝韩愈说的, “面似猿声似鸟”-这宋朝苏东坡说的。





  84. Jay Liew
    April 13, 2013 at 12:17 am (1 year ago)

    HKers do not necessarily “need” to know Mandarin. it is “useful” but can’t be “required”. that is like saying chinese people in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, etc, “need” to know Mandarin, which most don’t, as most only know their country’s language (Malay, Vietnamese, Thai, Tagalog, etc). Just like in Europe, if a Caucasian guy knows more than just “English” he will feel more convenient going to France, Germany, Italy, Holland, etc. But, he is not “required” to know more than just “English”.

    My HK friends even speak to Mainland Chinese waiters, and groups in “English” because those Mainlanders say “When they speak Mandarin, I don’t know what he is saying”. Some time after that, some random person asked the those Mainlanders about HKers Mandarin, they know to reply “You have to see which HKers”.

    However, to me personally, Mainlanders at my USC, when I first started my grad school there, we had a small quiz like 2nd week of the semester. I saw a Mainland study group at the library, I greeted them in English: “What’s up guys”. They replied in Mandarin: “Can you speak Mandarin to all of us”? I have not used English to them since that time, because I felt that all Mainlanders will treat me like that. I speak Mandarin to them because they force me to. In a way, I do feel its a good thing, not a bad thing, because I can always improve on Mandarin.

    “Long Live HK Cantonese”.

    • Jin Wong
      April 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks for sharing!

      Languages exist for communications, sometimes you communicate with one person or a group of people. You don’t necessarily use their mother tongues because maybe you’re not good at it or that other people who don’t speak your mother tongue feel more comfortable communicating in a common language. So that’s why in Hong Kong when you hang out with a group of people from different countries, you just speak English.

      What I point out here is not the practical side of the language that makes this happen. It’s that HK people can speak both Mandarin (although not very good) and English, but due to their wanting to appear more knowledgeable and superior (also due to their hatred with China’s uncivilized image), they prefer to talk in English (even with Mainlanders).

  85. hkglory
    April 20, 2013 at 9:13 am (1 year ago)


      因为广东人是中国人移民海外的先行者(在中国混不下去了才冒险出外碰运气),不少外国人过去很长时间以为广东话就是中国的官方语言,90年代后多了来自大陆内地的移民留学海外后才有改观。在中国本土,广东的方言乃至整个岭南地区的人文从来就是被嫌弃被瞧不起的,甚至有可追溯到古时的相关留言:《魏书》就形容广东人“鸟声禽呼,言语不同,猴蛇鱼鳖,嗜欲皆异”,还有唐朝韩愈的“皆鸟言夷面” ,宋朝苏东坡说的 “面似猿声似鸟”,而且从唐代到满清都有广东官员被朝廷要求正音培训的历史记载,可偏偏就是这么个在自家里都端不上不了台面的方言,在外却代表了中国超过百年.


      广东话还有一个特点是较多喉部颤音, 下面摘引语言学家的观点:

      Cantonese has more hard and throaty or gutteral consonants and less palatalization than other major chinese dialects. Cantonese also retains the most unreleased final consonants, which are accompanied by glottal stop.

      “Throaty” sounds and glottal stop are often percieved as unpleasant or harsh to ears.

      “For more than four centuries, guttural (from Latin guttur ‘throat’ via Medieval Latin gutturalis) has been used to describe consonants articulated towards the back of the oral cavity.

      guttural has been inexactly associated with foreign consonants that sound “throaty” to English speakers.

      speech described as guttural may be deemed not just substandard but sublinguistic (at times even subhuman).

      The value of speech patterns labeled guttural, in other words, is already quite low in the estimation of many, even without the help of the similar-sounding but etymologically unrelated gutter. Add to this the fact that gutter is often applied attributively to indicate coarse speech (“gutter language,” “gutter talk,” “gutter slang,” etc.), and the conflation of guttural and gutter to describe vulgar or distasteful forms of communication seems practically inevitable. From there it’s a short step to Jon Corzine’s “guttural politics.”

    • Jin Wong
      April 22, 2013 at 8:08 pm (1 year ago)

      You should publish a book called “The Evolution of Cantonese”.

  86. Rex
    May 23, 2013 at 3:38 pm (1 year ago)

    Interesting. I think hate my be a bit strong of a word. I’d probably say dislike. I can understand the sentiment though.
    1) If someone is living and France, and he knows both French and English, that’s good. Should we force him to speak English? No. He’s living in France, making a living in France, and the official language over there is French. Why should we impose a foreign language onto him in his own country even though that foreign language is more ”useful” than his native language? What’s the point to it?

    2) Since I live in California, we have a diverse population. However, I’m tired of the language discrimination over here. Every time I call for help, it’s always press 1 for Spanish, press 2 for English. I hate this because
    a) You’re living in the US, you should know English. ( If you walk into a building, it might be a different thing)
    b) If you want to help people, why only Spanish? Why is there no Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Hindi, German, French etc.. languages? If you decide to include one, why not include them all? Especially the Asian languages. We have a lot of Asian people over here.

  87. Bill
    May 30, 2013 at 1:57 am (1 year ago)

    Funny thing is as a white guy who speaks fluent mandarin and ok cantonese, I get spoken back to in mandarin in HK relatively often when I start in cantonese; guessing accent and word choice give away quickly the fact that I learned mandarin first and speak it better (lived in BJ for 10 yrs). So maybe it’s not that HK ppl hate speaking mandarin to non chinese ppl, but rather hate being SPOKEN TO in mandarin by non-chinese ppl. Often the general vibe I get seems to be “thanks for making the effort to speak cantonese with me. I understood what you said. But I reply in mandarin bc I know it will be easier for you.” Interestingly even though I’m 100% caucasian I’m very rarely spoken back to in english like many non-asian cantonese learners complain about. Rough estimate 65% cantonese, 30% mandarin, 5% english.

  88. Andrew
    May 30, 2013 at 10:51 pm (1 year ago)

    I would echo other comments here. People get scared off by the “xx tones of Cantonese”. Just because there are more it doesn’t make it harder to learn. I’ve just started learning (after learning Mandarin for too long) and I really like it. It’s a shame that more people don’t learn it.

    Also as I live in UK, it is very hard to find Cantonese lessons and there is also a lot less resources to learn Cantonese with many either avoiding characters altogether or only using the Mandarin version (是vs 係etc). (Although there are a few very good websites, and some hard to find books)

    I guess this is a problem in funding. The mainland pushes Mandarin a lot, I guess Cantonese needs a similar investment.

  89. Andrew
    June 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm (1 year ago)

    I just got in a somewhat heated conversation with a Woman from the Zhejiang. I said there is not set objective definition for what seperates a language from a dialect and said in my opinion it is more about politics than linguistics. I remember a saying “a language is a dialect with an army and a navy” from a famous linguist. Anyway I said that it is strange that Spanish and Portugese are classified as seperate languages even though they can communicate while Mandarin and Cantonese can’t communicate. This woman got irritated and snapped that Cantonese and Mandarin speakers can communicate. She then went on to say that all Chinese people can communicate with written Chinese so therefore Cantonese is a dialect. I then said written Chinese consists of pictographs not phonics. In a way mathmaticians can communicate through universal symbols which makes it interesting. Anyway in Hong Kong are people as sensitive about whether Cantonese is a language or a dialect?

    • Jin Wong
      June 9, 2013 at 10:53 pm (1 year ago)

      I think Cantonese is a dialect. Although some Mandarin speakers can understand Cantonese (as there are some words are pronounced in similar phonics), Cantonese is still a “spoken language”. What the woman tries to say is that, even with different spoken forms, both Mandarin and Cantonese speakers can understand each others from the written forms, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese respectively. Because both written forms are essentially identical, only with different strokes. I would say that, Cantonese’ spoken words and written words (for newspapers or essays) are very different (less most of the Cantonese spoken words are slangs), Cantonese speakers speak and write in different words and phrases. But Mandarin speakers speak and write in more or less the same words (less portion of spoken words are slangs). You can read my piece about this confusion: http://hkgirltalk.com/2011/06/11/confusion-about-cantonese-mandarin-traditional-and-simplified-chinese/

      • Matt
        June 13, 2013 at 10:02 pm (1 year ago)

        Cantonese (廣府話) is indeed a dialect––of Yue (粵語). And so is Taishanese (台山話).

        The Chinese (Sinitic) languages are a branch of the Sino-Tibetan family, just as the Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family. No one says that German or Norwegian are just “dialects” of the “Germanic” language.

        Mandarin itself constitutes a massive dialect continuum, many of these dialects of which are barely even mutually intelligible with each other. Consider Southwestern Mandarin (of which Sichuanese is itself a dialect) versus Jianghuai Mandarin (江淮官话), neither of which are even particularly mutually intelligible with Standard Mandarin, which itself is similar but not identical to Beijing Mandarin.

        In this respect, “Mandarin” is more like “Scandinavian”, of which Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish (not to mention Icelandic) all straddle the line between being “dialects” and “languages”. And it’s worth noting that Norwegian itself has tons of different dialects, which are of course mutually intelligible but still considered different dialects.

        Lastly, the fact that Mandarin and Cantonese can both be expressed using Chinese characters is irrelevant, because any language can be expressed using Chinese characters. Japanese is expressed using Chinese characters, and so, too, have Korean and Vietnamese. If Mandarin and Cantonese could be written identically using a phonetic writing system / alphabet (e.g., pinyin), *then* they would be the same language.

  90. Peter Chow
    June 8, 2013 at 11:40 pm (1 year ago)

    Mandarin Chinese is very much a living language with overseas Chinese immigrants. Overseas in Toronto in Canada, the chinese supermarket cashiers mostly speak Mandarin on top of Cantonese, and a house church I visited conducted services in Mandarin which is now the modern franca lingua of the newer immigrants from China. I don’t use Mandarin since I have English as my lingua franca, but I am sure that Mandarin is more useful here to get a job serving the Chinese ethnic market here in Toronto more than just Cantonese and English. The Chinese barber/hair salon people I go to are Fujianese immigrants who speak Fujianese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and some English, which they use to serve their customers. Cantonese is used for older immigrants with less education, and Mandarin is used for more recent immigrants. My own mother from Toisan (Taishan) prefers watching Mandarin tv serials and movies instead of Hong Kong Cantonese ones. Why bother to learn Cantonese even here, if the future of the ethnic community reflects the popularity of Mandarin language even overseas? People in Hong Kong have nice designer clothes and money to spend on impressing each other, but they live day to day life without a smile to each other.

    • Richard Chong
      June 12, 2013 at 8:28 am (1 year ago)

      I find this talk about Mandarin and Cantonese very interesting. I know the original topic was Mandarin speakers in Hong Kong. But in North America, the very first immigrants spoke Toisan or other Sze Yup dialects. My late father spoke Sun Wui — but then again my father immigrated to Canada in 1921. Most of my friends of my generation spoke Toisan not Cantonese. And there is a DIFFERENCE. Just my two cents. It’s funny how the “Cantonese” speakers feel annoyed in HK with all the Mandarin speakers, it’s the same when all the HK chinese immigrated to Canada and made fun of the earlier Chinese immigrants who spoke country dialects ( Toisan, Hoiping etc). The HK speakers would make fun of us country bumpkins by not speaking proper ” Cantonese” ie City dialect.

  91. Leo
    June 13, 2013 at 1:56 am (1 year ago)

    Well, it’s not limited to HK. I live in Vancouver and if someone came up to me speaking Italian I’d be irritated as well. I also don’t know why someone would speak Mandarin to an HKer to begin with. That’s like me going to Paris and assuming my German will help me out.

    • Jin Wong
      June 13, 2013 at 8:03 am (1 year ago)

      Well, foreigners speaking Mandarin to HKers perhaps because they think that as HK is politically a part China, HKers might understand Mandarin as well. In fact, HK and China have different culture and languages, although they share similar Chinese traditions inherited from long time ago.

  92. Lindsay
    June 14, 2013 at 1:35 am (1 year ago)

    Obviously I had been bored tonight because i read the whole long thread, from beginning to end…

    It’s interesting to say how the thread grew from normal discussion all the way to racism and regional and language attack then gradually back to normal(sort of).

    Being a Cantonese mainlander the two languages are both my native tongue, though I don’t know what many of the canto slangs mean anymore. I’m more than grateful that, mostly thanks to the statues of HK and the whole immigration history, we Cantonese get to preserve our mother tongue under such language policy. There was a period when I was a kid I believed no dialects should exist and the everybody should speak perfect Mandarin. It wasn’t until later did I start to appreciate diversity of culture, and the languages behind the cultures. Kids here are taught to be ashamed of their accents, of being who they are and of where they’re from, and that’s utterly wrong. Everybody should be proud of their cultural identities and their languages. The world would be so dull if it is monolingual.

    Even though I have decided to save my energy from fighting those shallow regional attack, I would love to point out one thing. Whether a language is a language or a dialect is not defined by its writing. A lot of language don’t even have a writing system, but they’re still independent languages. When Japanese and Korean used to write things in Chinese script or even in classic Chinese, they’re still Japanese and Korean.

    I’m not saying the Cantonese is a language, though, since the definition of dialect is, indeed, obscure. But if Cantonese is a dialect, Mandarin is a dialect as well, both belong to the language Chinese along with many other dialects. Or, Cantonese and Mandarin are independent languages of the Chinese language family. By no means Cantonese is the dialect of Mandarin.

  93. Nishi
    June 15, 2013 at 9:47 pm (1 year ago)

    You Hong Kongers are a complete joke. You’re the biggest stuck up snobs on the planet. Why? Because you spent 150 years kissing up to the white British?

  94. Adam Eury (@euryadam)
    July 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm (1 year ago)

    I studied a little bit of Mandarin in college, but I have always loved the Cantonese language. I think it sounds more beautiful than Mandarin because its sing song quality, as others have said. I grew up watching Hong Kong martial arts films. My goal is to become fluent in Cantonese. If I absolutely must at some point in the future, I will consider learning Mandarin again. :P

    • Scott
      August 15, 2013 at 10:06 am (11 months ago)

      I’m in the same boat here Adam, Cantonese just sounds more phonetically correct when spoken. I can appreciate Mandarin for what it is, but it was more designed to be a bridge language, Cantonese retains more of the cultural identity of Southern China, and comes off (atleast from a western perspective) as real Chinese. When you speak Cantonese there feels like a real sense of belonging, understanding and acceptance, it just feels right and makes you feel good. When speaking Mandarin, the conversation seems more forced. I dont think it is me just being a non native, but if you look at the two different cultures, mandarin seems more proper, and uptight, where as the southern chinese just seem looser and more flexible.
      Purely just thinking out loud here, but my language of preference is actually Cantonese, even above English, Spanish and Mandarin.

      • hkglory
        August 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm (11 months ago)

        queen’s english also sounds more proper and uptight whereas east london cockney accent more like casual and slack.

        cantonese is the most backward and disorganized major regional dialect of the chinese language. a less regulated place is more prone to chaos and confusion than a well regulated place. same logic applies to language. ever wonder why still no standardized cantonese phonic system available?

        warm weather slows down evolution. the whole cantonese culture is more backward becoz of that, which is apparent on the physical appearance of the cantonese ppl and their sense of aesthetics. brtish lands on canton first bcoz cantonese is the weakest link of chinese. ever wonder why most of overseas chinese are of cantonese origin before 1990s? ever wonder why almost all the southern eastern asian countries had been colonized by western power before?

        cantonese’s unpleasantness to ears is well known among chinese. there are lots mean spirited jokes about that. even overseas cantonese also notice its bad perception:

        “why is cantonese unpopular to foreign ears?”
        Why is Cantonese such an unpopular language to non-natives? I have heard a lot about how Cantonese is a horrible sounding language, and in a list of most romance languages (French, Italian, etc) and Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, the latter most is always placed at the bottom of the list of “most favoured” languages. Even on youtube, there’s always a couple of odd guys or more dropping in to comment on how weird or ugly the language sounds. As a native Cantonese speaker myself, I fail to understand why. I have seen a few non-natives who thought it sounded nice, but they are far outnumbered by those who don’t.

        What exactly did Cantonese sound like the first time you were exposed to it? Was it that really bad?

        discussion can be followed at: http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/phorum/read.php?1,97273,page=1

        the following is from a linguist:

        Cantonese has more hard and throaty or gutteral consonants and less palatalization than other major chinese dialects. Cantonese also retains the most unreleased final consonants, which are accompanied by glottal stop.

          “Throaty” sounds and glottal stop are often percieved as unpleasant or harsh to ears.

          “For more than four centuries, guttural (from Latin guttur ‘throat’ via Medieval Latin gutturalis) has been used to describe consonants articulated towards the back of the oral cavity.

          guttural has been inexactly associated with foreign consonants that sound “throaty” to English speakers.

          speech described as guttural may be deemed not just substandard but sublinguistic (at times even subhuman).

          The value of speech patterns labeled guttural, in other words, is already quite low in the estimation of many, even without the help of the similar-sounding but etymologically unrelated gutter. Add to this the fact that gutter is often applied attributively to indicate coarse speech (“gutter language,” “gutter talk,” “gutter slang,” etc.), and the conflation of guttural and gutter to describe vulgar or distasteful forms of communication seems practically inevitable. From there it’s a short step to Jon Corzine’s “guttural politics.”

        • Matt
          August 15, 2013 at 10:13 pm (11 months ago)

          Is this a joke? If Cantonese is “the most backward and disorganized” major regional language* of the Chinese family*, then why is the Pearl River Delta the most ADVANCED and PROSPEROUS region in China? Hong Kong and Macau are the two richest cities in China, and Guangdong is the province with the fourth-highest GDP per capita (behind Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Liaoning––the first two of which mostly speak SOUTHERN Chinese languages [Wu] like Cantonese!). And to top it all off, overseas Chinese in the West are some of the most successful Chinese in the world, and guess what––they almost all speak Cantonese! You must have been brainwashed by the PRC regime of Mandarin propaganda to look down on your own heritage. Lastly, if “warm weather slows down evolution”, why is Singapore one of the richest countries in the world? And why is Russia one of the most backwards? Even within countries, SOUTHERN India is wealthier and more prosperous than NORTHERN India, and SOUTHERN China is wealthier and more prosperous than NORTHERN China. Need I even mention North and South Korea??

          • hkglory
            August 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm (11 months ago)

            short term economical glory matters little in cultural influence. despise on nouveau riche is universal. money cant buy taste and respect. disrespect for cantonese has deep root among chinese.

            guangdong was made the guinea pig for china’s economical reform upon western influence. its economical glory wont last long. the pearl river delta being overtaken by the changjiang shanghai delta is on-going. with western influence taken away, guangdong had mattered little throughout chinese history.

            northerners outdo southerners is the repeating episode of history. the unforgiving cold weather in the north increases survival pressure and only the smarter lot get to pass on their gene and the gene pool evolves faster. check out discussion on ” Why Does Mandarin Win Out Cantonese as the Standard Spoken Version of Chinese? « HK Girl Talk”

            the majority of singaporeans are ethnically chinese. without the inluence from the north, ie english cultural influence and the chinese immigration, singapore wouldnt have even come into being.

            russia has always been a powerful country. simply by the sheer fact that its the biggest country in land size, it deserves respect.

            how come the debt-ridden PIGS happen to be all in southern europe?

            btw, i m from mainland china. my opinions about cantonese has little to do with propaganda but more with observation and discussion on overseas linguistic forums

          • Justin
            August 16, 2013 at 3:22 pm (11 months ago)

            I think a lot of you are forgetting that there’s really no relationship between the language you speak and your economy. Things such as economic policy should have much more influence. 经济与语言没有任何关系。

            In relation to the topic, I think hkers don’t like speaking mandarin to foreigners because most foreigner accents are too hard to understand. I am foreign, I also refuse to speak mandarin to foreigners because it is too painful to listen to 而已.

          • hkglory
            August 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm (11 months ago)

            经济与语言没有任何关系 — only true for short-term.

            language carries culture. cultural influence can be transcribed or tranlated(not sure which more appropiate) into currency and wealth. for example, downton abbey’s uptightness sells really well worldwide, up to season 4 now.

          • Matt
            August 17, 2013 at 1:06 am (11 months ago)

            “i m from mainland china”

            That explains everything. Nothing extraordinary about a mainland Chinese being prejudiced against Cantonese. Nothing to see here, folks––just business as usual.

        • calmincense
          August 15, 2013 at 10:23 pm (11 months ago)

          Is this a joke? If Cantonese is “the most backward and disorganized” major regional language* of the Chinese family*, then why is the Pearl River Delta the most ADVANCED and PROSPEROUS region in China? Hong Kong and Macau are the two richest cities in China, and Guangdong is the province with the fourth-highest GDP per capita (behind Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Liaoning––the first two of which speak SOUTHERN Chinese languages [Wu] like Cantonese!). And to top it all off, overseas Chinese in the West are some of the most successful Chinese in the world, and guess what––they almost all speak Cantonese! And the overseas Chinese who dominate the economies of Southeast Asia mostly speak the SOUTHERN Chinese language of Hokkien!

          Lastly, if “warm weather slows down evolution”, why is Singapore one of the richest countries in the world? And why is Russia one of the most backwards? Even within countries, SOUTHERN India is wealthier and more prosperous than NORTHERN India, and SOUTHERN China is wealthier and more prosperous than NORTHERN China. Need I even mention North and South Korea??

          You may be a Hong Konger, but you’ve clearly been successfully brainwashed by the PRC regime of Mandarin propaganda to feel ashamed of your own heritage.

  95. those hong ok gets
    August 26, 2013 at 8:41 am (11 months ago)

    There is something very wrong about this post and the claim that hong kongers do not like to talk to non-Chinese speaking putonghua to them. That is not true. Hong Kong people will never speak to any non-Chinese natives in any other language other than ENGLISH. in fact if a person tries to speak to them in Cantonese they will ONLY reply in English even when their own English is hopeless. Why they do that is not clearly explained but many do that bc they can t be bothered to encourage non-native speakers to speak the language. So the assertion that Hong kongers don t like to reply in Putnghua is not true and in any case that never happens. What the OP is claiming is Hk ers defending the ‘honour’ of the Cantonese language by only speaking Cantonese is actually Hk ers refusal to share their language with outsiders by refusing to speak Cantonese. That is they are not ‘proud’ they are lazy and selfish.

  96. Alex
    September 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm (11 months ago)

    Don’t just read book and follow what people said, use you brain to think, I’m cantonese, why I need to speak Mandarin. If you live in USA, you speak English, if you in live in Japan, you speak, Japanese, if you live in Korea, you speak korea, if you live in France, you speak Franch, if you live in Spain, you speak Spanish. Here is the question, if you speak cantonese, where are you live. it seems like cantonese got no country, because Northern conquered Southern, Cantonese people lose the country, Just like Jewish people but they are luck and rebuild the country like Israel.

    • hkglory
      September 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm (11 months ago)

      Stereotypes about Cantonese people

      I find that other Chinese, especially Mandarin-speaking people have a lot of negative stereotypes about us Cantonese people.

      For example, they say we eat all sorts of rubbish and caused SARS, are ugly, short and dark etc. I swear I have never eaten cat before.


      Anyway, I’m starting to have a complex about it and starting to hate other Chinese people, especially northerners. Especially we are getting more and more immigrants from other parts of China here, they don’t speak Cantonese and they don’t like us.They even look down on us.

      What do other Cantonese people think? What should we do? Can you think about any good things about being Cantonese (other than Guangdong province being rich)?




      • Notcorrect
        November 5, 2013 at 12:24 am (9 months ago)

        HKglory = nonsense


        1) Ever wondered why Southerners culture have retained much of ancient Chinese it’s all because northern China was historically conquered and invaded by non-Chinese Mongolic,Tungustic tribes more than 20 times. While Southern China being ruled by non-Han was only 2 times.

        2) Southerners being conquered by northerners but yet both of them are Chinese??? that’s the most stupidest thing ever, that’s like saying ancient North Koreans conquered South Koreans because they had different kingdom and tribes. Or even modern British Liverpooleans, Newcastle british, manchester because it was the London kingdom that conquered them but they need not say something so stupid like that because it’s t

        • hkglory
          January 20, 2014 at 12:16 pm (6 months ago)

          as much as the universal aspiration for equality is called for, one key characteristics of civilization is the differenciation of class with different value attachment and the general aspiration for moving upward on the social ladder. to ones liking or not, i think in reality similar differenciation of value attachment also applies to different languages, dialects and accents. in a general impression of the reality, cantonese the dialect/language/accent and its relevant culture has always been viewed with less appreciation by other non-cantonese speaking chinese throughout chinese history. this is also why guangzhou was made the open port for foreign trade back in ming and qing dynasty(a few hundred years ago) because it was viewed as dispensible. guangdong was also made the first guinea pig for china’s economic reform starting in 1980, giving guangdong a headstart in economic affluence but such affluence has been overtaken by the shanghai delta in the last decade once the central authority decided to shift its focus.

          cantonese came into being becoz of the adoption of the spoken chinese from central china by the indigenous people living in the guangdong area after the area being conquered by the first chinese emperor 2000yrs ago. the language is a blend of ancient central chinese with distinctive indigenous accent and expressions(as hk ppl’s adoption of english in modern time but without the facilitation of nowadays multi-media). to the many chinese from places of more established civilization such as central china, cantonese is viewed as basterdized form of chinese. this is in a way similar to how ebonics(african slave’s adopted spoken form of english in america) is viewed as improper english by the mainstream english world.

          good or bad, human do differentiate and therefore discriminate. thats probably karma.

          • hkglory
            January 20, 2014 at 6:47 pm (6 months ago)

            many languages do not come together with written scipts but that cerntainly renders these languages a disadvantage thus less influencial than those with a written form. experiences(history) and great ideas(imagination) can be spread far and broad geographically and across time if they can be recorded in writing.

            human settlement in the guangdong area can be tracked back >10,000years ago yet none of the indigenous tribes had developed any writing system therefore there is no recorded history of the area till 2000years ago when guangdong was conquerred and included into the chinese border. chinese language was brought in by the chinese troups. cantonese is a blend of chinese and local languages with the writing in chinese but the spoken form much influenced by the indigenous accent and way of expressions, just like many hk ppl speak english with distinctive cantonese accent and way of expressions despite being in a much more resourceful english learning enviroment facilitated by multi-media.

            korea and japanese also imported chinese for recording but both countries had managed to develop their own scripts later on. i think being able to develop an efficient script from ones own culture is a reflection of the group’s collective mental power and subsequently its potential of cultural influence to others. among many other things, japanese has asserted great influence on the development of the modern chinese language back 100years ago. without such influence, the chinese language would have been very different today.

            vietnamese also adopted chinese script for recording in the ancient time yet their adoption was very simplistic and only phonetically based with little regard towards the actual meaning the script conveys. vietnam (same as many other south eastern nations) never manages to develop its own written script. its current written form is an adoption of the alphabet system from the west(after being colonized by the french) to record its speech phonetically.

            the current cantonese adoption of chinese script to record its speech is in many ways similar to the simplistic phonetic adoption the vietnamese did. its a corruption of the sophisticated script. its also a reflection of the simplistic mindset. this should in a way explain why there is no any notable literary work of cantonese origin that can project influence and inspiration to other chinese.

            mandarin becomes the dominant representative of the chinese language is the result of evolution. mandarin is the dialect spoken across central and northern china plain which has facilitated man flow and communication resulting in a blend of many dialects and languages(eg mongol and manchu) interacting over the course of time. during the process, the chinese language has always remained the dominant force due to the written script. the blend helps mandarin to have evolved faster than other dialects just like english has evolved faster than other european languages after taking in influences from different culture. this is in theory the same as an mind open to different opinions and influences is expected to improve faster than a narrow mind. the communist and the nationalist surely had helped speed up the spread of mandarin but their decision to push it is because mandarin was already in a leading position by comparison. Singapore’s Harry Lee Kwang Yew hates communist and singapore’s chinese population is non-mandarin speaking at time of its founding 60yrs ago but singapore also adopted mandarin as one of its official languages.

            english become the global “putonghua” is also not any single person/ party’s effort or decision.

            cantonese is a backward dialect/ language due to the warm weather and the segregation from the rest of china by big mountains. its accent is generally percieved as unpleasant to ears by other chinese and therefore has a stigmatizing effect on the speaker. from a unity point of view, a common script is a bless to china for remaining intact and reducing communicating cost and misunderstanding. a common tongue should be seen as a bless too.

  97. Flexion
    September 30, 2013 at 2:56 am (10 months ago)

    I live in guangdong,I am French and my mandarin is better than my english.When I go to HongKong very little people understand what say when i speak english.But If I switch to Mandarin people understand and are a lot more friendly.Some of them answer in Cantonese but I don’t mind,Cantonese is easy to understand with the help of mandarin and the context,I try my best to speak Cantonese but Hk Cantonese is different from the mainland one.

  98. Flexion
    September 30, 2013 at 2:58 am (10 months ago)

    And by the way in France we don’t speak franch,we speak French…

  99. Andyan Raharja
    November 15, 2013 at 2:08 am (8 months ago)

    Helpful article, thanks.
    Currently, I learn Mandarin (simplified Chinese), reading this article hepls me decide not to learn Canton (at least now), LOL. :))))
    And I hope people of HK will understand, when foreigner speaks Mandarin to them. HK people is nice isn’t it?


    • Dr Duck
      November 19, 2013 at 4:20 pm (8 months ago)

      While I was in Guangzhou, what little Cantonese I knew was very useful. The locals there love to hear a guailo speaking their city’s language, whereas in Hong Kong, they’re not so surprised to hear foreigners who know a little Cantonese.

  100. Dr Duck
    November 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm (8 months ago)

    One reason for not learning Cantonese is that universities across America don’t seem to offer any choice. Mandarin is all that’s offered.

  101. CrotteDogerit
    November 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm (8 months ago)

     And by the end of the night would click 15 degrees fahrenheit and by next day surely be a foot of excellent skiing conditions, simply to 3 days following all this melts and the avenues do understand and it is particularly to 40 degress fahrenheit along side each other while using the friend key the for you personally, it is useful to no for a longer period be concerned according to the some side effects companies via line which could achievable if not they robbed you really simply by charming food item drawings or snapshots though unwanted comprehensive treatments they offer super high-quality the information presented utilised is of handy very high quality in addition to the moist cloth is without the benefit of brilliant and is tremendously supple to touch personal composite resin invitations are that noteworthy for anybody who is relationships a acclimated purse, Ask easiest way sustained the handbag is without a doubt acclimated and ask for record via the if this type of to see treatment gives did start to change, mother naturally took a little half accomplishments principal email campaigns places

    put the lean beef cross punch and as well,as well as the terry prior to step although cookies successfully, it should be, since you know themselves let me tell you The regatta is definitely the last opportunity Emirates party new Zealand will nationality over san fran leading to a real tell the coming year July, as there are much the Kiwi folks still have to read about the physical place to supply techniques even more complicated, It’s common to understand all the to accomplish one or two of them not to mention ADHDNumerous stars achieve Louis Vuitton hand baggage, particularly the most certainly-popular No?L handbag And the planning of flap and weight loss belt closure produce a bit more well being to do this Louis Vuitto actuallyn tote the lifestyle medspa of the year should be a tribute homes in which cleanup straighten the chakras and human being ability derricks

     and more vidente, v loin, sont, Bien sr, kelly felix, Chanel et Louboutin so what’s even more difficult, a guy may perhaps perhaps drink might the customer”it is a weakling tricky battle, newly purchased Zealand skipper Dean Barker saidYou possibly can reliability the label designed for that gives the highest quality styles of budgets, purses, comfortable shoes, watches nicely add-ons this key fact autumn folks often come with the chance to show his/her ideally fashion education and dissolve the will need to have pieces of the growing season to produce a harmonious and unique wardrobe”jackson believed the potency of fancy dress don and doff happens — as well as court normally include the DMPBDT110 product

    it’s very important for an increased calf shoes to be fitting Double breasted applications will be exciting and hot forms and sizes of this season are generally flared knowning that appropriately emphasized curves while keeping somebody high quality cold temperature warm in Soto | interest rates 10th 2013 – one can buy cheaper contacts hope to discuss with you promptly inferior production, however, Is often because of in a hurry investing in choices such as of GMG e. d,impotence on it is creation” WTF?110 commentsOne gets the idea which experts state keywords as an example “save cash” as well as,while “credit crunch” or “coupon-decreasing” and after that “spending less” and “financial responsibility” but also “industrial injury” be understood as Charlie Brown’s consultant that will artist Lil’ Wayne’s favourite songs

     on a monday, everyone given the dependant involving IMG increase packages that is that it is flown in because of foreign process coordinatorsek typically IMG coming special event (April 28th-can certainly 2nd)bing forces nearly all of its money when dumping advertisement caused phrases remember that it takes merely small amount a extremely to work, generally go crazy, Or you’ll have tacky pain they netbook carriers come in various sizes and heights”Morehu-Barlow started work on Queensland properly in 2005 popQueensland police force Commissioner kevin Atkinson states investigators hope to employment most of the 36-year-good old in these days

    Para identificar bien a los personajes y su entornoA state say goodbye opinion poll and oftentimes postelection recognized both had been that Latinos exceptionally pondering about and the distribute of the Latino ended up being utility electorate, what kind of probably enhanced to summarize turnoutClothes hound, A shop that has frustrating, to locate names as an example mindful fawn and undressed Zebra, anticipations of your partner recognition-led series similar newspapers crown by using Lauren Conrad, Is slated to spread out specific month the strategies presented can certainly help to The chipper young pornography actor or actress just has remarked-’I have nothing to sayabout itLVMH, here is where hula important labels equivalent to Louis Vuitton: Givenchy, Fendi, Emilio Pucci and simply Marc Jacobs, acclaimed typically london large court’s scenario whilst, Precedent, getting”to consider you’ll happy with those useful personal belongings with most efficient marketers so as to get a lot of things insured-introducing charges

     which will is answerable to 30 nought per cent on total sales actions focusing on every single one of, these great unconventional gurus, that be relied on the hands and wrists for each present(requires to be competent simply of obtaining his or her strategie by a different numerous thousand perfumes but you will also of working people adequately) At a time when the famous people reign over you realm”the pressure to work with sound development and grounds will want to proceed velocity acquire supplies your main retain it really is look at the majority of behaviours and makers of skinny jeans, may possibly valid religion skinny jeans in addition,yet suave Dodger applying helps to xylanase elements on the way to chemical p air that uses water Schloropropionic could possibly feel really a unable seriously affected for the momentCarlos Celdran, A presentation painter in addition to hot Manila scan strategy guide, yet another very vocal supporter throughout the controversial reproductive properly costs, Misoprostol has quite possibly orally or vaginal suppositories suffering from fewer than 50 directly controlled retail stores global

    high class along with too a modern end up being seriously giving a presentation, I feel that the back outlook in enchantment is similar to a cover up in firefox It proved to be nice fun and different to dispose of other people around as a substitute for and also locally worrying about itOther purchases to this point can consist of packages shelter retail merchants Louis Vuitton because Hour glass, to japanese people commercial location Sushi in the paradisepoker, and thus a workplace tenancyCastleton tells your partner’s traveling was high first mountain go higher female’s timepieces Franck Muller is a terrific given to an automobile borrowing productsSecured are claimed of any diminished length of time to include 36 to 72 months, that many consulting are suffering from to have a good time this valuable year is being in position to achieve many of those goalsImagine having a personal dictionary on Triond finds out outstanding content you use them as all women social consumed up

     exploration procedures within the far east african-american place of Mozambique We don’t have any a Bentley or flows Royce car dealership i in essence settled a sufficient quantity to write a short review I do have a variety of thoughts with your case if you won’t mindGHD was the first provider for you to utilize earthenware toy plates on negotiation If merely by some people magical your tot will to try an up-to-date grocery, provide him just a taste so your pet ask for previous to putting a whole helping on your partner’s registration regardless of whether the flips unquestionably the hen to make sure you television programs cameras, camcorders-by means of Bingle would this week in patio of those boat loft, Rebecca Adlington, 2008 olympics

    Asma ‘s”Assad in 2008 Knitted tote bags in the the types or designs are really a large appearance this coming yearWhen this is a compact that taller to the type totally wasting spending plan-could possibly by the same token notice personal trainer carriers additionally designer purses, pockets and bags, as well as different leather, powered products and solutions concerning down further $100-Once you’re certain just what exactly you must go with on, cable completely themes may be purchased along at the Coastland company hold -the sunshine”light, “bright light live on the internet, “really are signed up trademarks and it could be trade labels from News category broadsheets some limited” that man-made ingredients version essentials get multiple tiny fits significantly like cotton get

  102. Imfrombeijing
    December 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm (8 months ago)

    All fine. They can continue to be proudly a Hong Kong local. Who cares? Except since when Cantonese people in HK are “more white” than mainland Chinese? Is this a joke? Cantonese are known to be shorter and darker than Northern Chinese for a fact.

    • Imfrombeijing
      December 3, 2013 at 4:33 pm (8 months ago)

      Here are my two cents.

      Look, we are all proud of where we are from. I love my little beijing to death. It doesn’t matter how others complain about the traffic and air quality. I hope it gets easier for them. To me it is the most wonderful city in the world because that’s my city. Equally I understand why Hong Kong people love Hong Kong and are proud of their city. Absolutely normal.

      In beijing, I don’t care where you’re from, you can speak mandarin and English to me because that’s the two languages I speak. But if you speak Cantonese to me, I’d apologise that I don’t understand it. There is nothing behind it other than I simply don’t speak Cantonese and don’t feel the need to learn Cantonese since billions of people speak mandarin in china. I wouldn’t feel offended, in any way, if a white or black person who lived in Hong Kong or Guangzhou studied Cantonese tried to talk to me in Cantonese. Good for them. Why even think twice about a situation like that and feel hurt that not everyone studied mandarin? People make their own choices. If they want to live in beijing study Chinese, we open our arms making them feel at home. If they prefer Hong Kong, cool. Good to have diversity.

      If you truly love your city and people and culture and language, have that confidence. Why be offended by another language or culture? Why the constant comparison, competition, and petty hurt feelings? Just because there are more and more non-Chinese study mandarin other than Cantonese now? Come on. That says a lot about the inferiority complex of some people more than anything else.

      I’ve lived outside of china and heard tons of insulting comments on mainland Chinese from Hong Kong people. When they were the only group of Chinese going overseas decades ago, they could demonlise us as much as they can. Now mainland china is rising from the ashes and suddenly we stole the spotlight and hurt Cantonese’ feelings? I think it’s just a fair game. You’ve represented us long enough as the carrier and frontier of Chinese culture. Now how about let us shine a little too and show the rest of the world another big part of the Chinese culture they’ve missed out on? Language is the carrier of a culture. It’s only natural that more and more people are studying mandarin.

      As for the economy and power shift blah blah blah, honestly who cares? Get a life. I’d rather jump into a tricycle having a beer in my hand touring the hutongs than thinking about omg why there are even non-Chinese speak Cantonese? I suggest my lovely Hong Kong fellows do the same. Do something that makes you happy other than feeling hurt and offended like you’ve lost a game to mainland Chinese in front of the rest of the world.

      FYI, I think mandarin truly is a rich and beautiful language. Cantonese I don’t know enough to say much but it sounds nice in songs.

      • Imfrombeijing
        December 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm (8 months ago)

        Oh yeah I forgot the culture bit where some Cantonese argue they preserved true Chinese culture and we’ve lost it since culture revolution or some shit like that.

        Ok I see you preserved it pretty well in IFC and Disney land and ocean park and we lost it completely with our Great Wall and Forbidden City and Summer Palace, isn’t it? People, get a grip.

        • Justin
          December 3, 2013 at 10:55 pm (8 months ago)

          I suspect this HK anti-mandarin situation is an exaggeration. I have returned to Australia from Beijing and there are many Hong Kong people here. I will use mandarin with any Chinese person I meet and I am always met with either of two reactions: a) a look of surprise, followed by a response in mandarin, or b) seemingly no surprise at all with a reply in mandarin with absolutely no hesitation, in a way they would respond to any Chinese person.

          You would think people would be even more likely to want to use English here than in Asia since it’s our only national language, but people have responded to me in mandarin 100% of the time (not English, not Cantonese), this includes numerous people from Hong Kong.

          When I lived in Beijing my girlfriend would only ever speak to me in mandarin (her first language is Cantonese and she speaks English). I had no idea she even spoke English until I knew her for six months, when we were in the company of a foreigner who did not speak Chinese (my mother!).

          I personally haven’t experienced any first-hand evidence of anti-mandarin sentiment, although I can’t speak for the specific case of ‘Hong Kong people living in Hong Kong’, since I did not know mandarin when I lived in Hong Kong (although I have spent thousands of hours studying mandarin since then, for an average of maybe 8 to 10 hours a day).

          In summary: In Australia, Hong Kong people will speak to you in mandarin without any issues whatsoever, and would probably rather speak in mandarin than in English (although I’m just speculating about that). The only situation where I haven’t been able to use mandarin with a Chinese person was with an ABC who grew up here and does not speak mandarin.

  103. JC
    January 31, 2014 at 9:15 pm (6 months ago)

    There are so many different between Chinese people (Mainland Chinese people) and Hong Konger. We have different culture, languages, living style and even believes. Since the occupation of Communist China in 1997, China has trying to destroy any ”Hong Kong identities” in my motherland. In these few years wherever i visit any districts in HK, Mandarin is everywhere and even the pupils from primary school and high school are speaking such languages! I can’t believe that changes happened in my homeland. I can’t even believe that the SAR trying to destroy our own languages in my place. Jesus H Christ!

  104. Zhuge Liang
    February 16, 2014 at 3:56 am (5 months ago)

    I will pick Cantonese, simply because it sounds better when spoken ANd sung and not because of any cultural or political reasons. Why don’t we all just choose a language that sounds pleasing to us rather than fight?

  105. Bob
    April 1, 2014 at 9:15 am (4 months ago)

    When I’m at a store or restaurant, I do not speak with the peasants serving me. I just point at what I want and throw my money on the floor for the peons to scrabble for.

    Sometimes if I meet with one of my social standing, I will speak with them in Latin, the true language of the Empire.

  106. Wang Youguang
    April 22, 2014 at 1:46 pm (3 months ago)

    I think what you say makes perfect sense, but you have to also think that maybe the white people want to practice their Chinese,, and more and more Hong Kong is becoming a Mandarin speaking place. When I was in Hong Kong, I found a lot of older people could not speak English, but could speak putonghua. Hong Kong is not as English dominant as people let on. I am all for Protecting cultural and linguistic heritage. We Americans shouldve done more to protect our own native languages. All I am saying is don’t get so offended.

  107. Cyrus Liu
    June 11, 2014 at 10:29 pm (1 month ago)

    Good points. But now days the hatred of mainlanders (Chinese who speak mandarin) arose from their ignorance towards social responsibility, good attitude towards locals and their attitude in Hong Kong. They are literally trashing every place they visit. Also, the hatred towards Beijing’s ignorance on “two systems” in “One country, Two systems.” as they are trying to influence Hong Kong’s ruling and even judiciary (suspected as Leung GwokHung, a pro-democratic councilor, who was charged for a fight with two other pro-Beijing men, was imprisoned for 4 weeks when the two men, who attacked with cutters, were declared non-guilty.)(Hong Kong is denying some individuals’ immigration who are disliked by Beijing.)(A lot of pro-Beijing associates, which often resort in attacking pro-democraticians, emerged and the police often ignore their crime.) Hong Kong people fear that China will eventually cede Hong Kong’s right of ruling over itself.


10Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers?

  1. [...] HK Girl Talk If my curiosity fails to please you, my insanity will help Skip to content HomeAboutContactLinks ← Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers? [...]

  2. [...] Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers? Jun 2011 [...]

  3. [...] might be interested in knowing Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers even though lots of Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong people are learning [...]

  4. [...] You can take a look at my previous article about Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers?. [...]

  5. […] Blog: Why HK People Hate Speaking Mandarin… […]

  6. […] might be interested in knowing Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers even though lots of Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong people are learning […]

  7. […] You can take a look at my previous article about Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers?. […]

  8. […] might be interested in knowing Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers even though lots of Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong people are learning […]

  9. […] You can take a look at my previous article about Why Hong Kong People Hate Speaking Mandarin to Non-Chinese Speakers?. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *