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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How Similar Are Mandarin and Cantonese?

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Hello everyone welcome to the Internet and my name is

Today we're going to look at the differences between Chinese and Chinese

Well, what I mean is we'll be looking at two of the many Chinese languages, Mandarin and Cantonese

As I mentioned in my video on Chinese, Chinese is not a single language.

But rather a number of dialect groups that are united by a common writing system.

The spoken languages are different and generally mutually unintelligible.

Which is definitely the case with Mandarin and Cantonese?

Which are both Sinitic languages or Chinese languages spoken in China.

Mandarin is spoken by 960 million native speakers.

Mainly in the north of China, but is now used all over mainland China and Taiwan as the official language of government media and education,

and it's one of the four official languages of Singapore as well.

Cantonese on the other hand is spoken by 50 to 60 million native speakers in Hong Kong, Macau

Guangzhou and some adjacent areas as well as in Chinese diaspora communities around the world.

It's part of the wider Yue branch of Chinese

Before we get into the main differences between the two languages

it's important to point out that these days speakers of either language typically write in standard Chinese or

Hua which is based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin, but when Cantonese speakers read standard Chinese?

They say each word using Cantonese pronunciation

Which creates the misconception that Cantonese is exactly the same as Mandarin except for the pronunciation, but that's not the case spoken

Cantonese is also somewhat different in terms of grammar and vocabulary and there's also written

vernacular, Cantonese

Which reflects the spoken language and is used in some informal contexts the differences we talk about in this video will be based on?

spoken, Cantonese

And it's written equivalent written vernacular Cantonese by far the largest difference between Mandarin and Cantonese lies in pronunciation

Both of these languages are tonal languages

But they each have a different number of tones Mandarin has four tones plus one neutral tone

there's a high flat tone a rising tone a

Falling rising tone a falling tone, and the neutral tone for example well well

Oh ball

The neutral tone is a short de-emphasized syllable which is said with no regard to tone

Cantonese has six basic tones

There's a high flat tone

Amid rising tone a mid flat tone a low falling tone a low rising tone and a low flat tone




Si, si si

Some people count three additional tones for a total of nine. These are historical tones that were used for syllables ending in the

Orca in standard, Cantonese

They've merged with other tones so that the only remainder of these tones is the stop consonant at the end of the syllable

So if we compare the two sets of tones

You'll see that Mandarin has a tone that falls then Rises which is something that Cantonese doesn't have

You'll also notice that Mandarin has a narrower range of tones

Cantonese has a wider range of tones with tones essentially in two ranges the mid to high range and the low range this makes

Cantonese harder for English speakers to learn than Mandarin because instead of

distinguishing only the movement of a tone they also have to

Distinguish whether a tone is in the mid to high range or the low range in both Mandarin and Cantonese

and all Chinese languages for that matter each Chinese character or


Represents one morpheme either a word or a meaningful part of a word, which can't be further divided

But each character is pronounced differently in Mandarin and Cantonese one example of this is the word for I in Mandarin. It's pronounced or

With the third tone or falling rising tone while in Cantonese

It's pronounced more with the fifth tone or low rising tone so the tone is different

But also notice that the initial consonant sound is different as well

Another example is this word which means China in Mandarin?

It's pronounced to cool with a high flat tone and a rising tone and in Cantonese

It's pronounced to moi with a high flat tone and a mid flat tone

To cool Hong Kong the pronunciation of these two words might sound pretty close

But the tones are partially different and remember that the meaning of words is partly determined by tones

Notice that the second character is

pronounced with a cup sound at the end in Cantonese while in Mandarin it ends in a vowel sound in Mandarin every syllable ends in

A vowel or in a nasal sound in Cantonese however syllables can end in the stop consonants pot and cup as well

Pronunciation differences between Mandarin and Cantonese are often consistent this character that we just looked at is

Pronounced jewel in Mandarin, and so is this character and this one among many others in Cantonese

they're all pronounced shown the difference here lies mainly in the initial consonant sound the systems of

Romanization are different for Mandarin and Cantonese so the Roman characters might be a little misleading here

But the initial consonant in Mandarin is something like the English J

Sound but with your tongue curled back the initial consonant in Cantonese is

like TS in English think of the end of the word cats

Let's look at three more characters first in Mandarin chin

chin chin

and in Cantonese gein


Gein in this case. We can see that the consonants and vowels consistently correspond

But that a different tone in Mandarin corresponds to a different tone in Cantonese

But the sounds don't always correspond like this there are also characters that have the same pronunciation in one language but different

pronunciations in the other

in Mandarin, there's shi



But in Cantonese they're pronounced fair



Here we can see that the Mandarin sounds don't consistently correspond with Cantonese cells in Mandarin

They're pronounced the same except for the tones, but the three words are pronounced in three completely different ways in Cantonese

differences in grammar both languages are fundamentally SVO

For example here's a sentence meaning. I read those books first in Mandarin. What can I see you next in Cantonese?

What I shall go DC

Word-for-word both sentences translate as I read those book so you can see that both are SVO


Even though the words are different in both languages the verb consists of two parts the verb itself followed by the perfective marker

which shows completion and in both languages the object includes two parts a determiner followed by the noun a

Determiner is a word like an article or a demonstrative adjective, which tells us information about which now and we're talking about

One difference can be noted in sentences that have a direct object in basic sentences in mandarin the indirect object

Comes before the direct object while in Cantonese it comes after

For example here's a sentence in each language meaning. Give me a pen in Mandarin

We would say okay, WA Ichi PE and in Cantonese. It's a Etsy but

Notice that these are imperative sentences commands or instructions

Word-for-word the Mandarin sentence translates as give me a pen

The Cantonese sentence translates as give a pen me

with the indirect object in the sentence final position after the direct object

Notice that the word meaning. I and the phrase meaning a pen are reversed

Let's take a look at the phrase meaning a pen for a second it consists of three parts first the word meaning one

Followed by a word that functions as a counter for long cylindrical objects, and then the word for pen

In other cases the indirect object is in the same position as in Mandarin before the direct object

Like in this sentence meaning. He sends me a book in Mandarin

It's tehsil even sure and in Cantonese clothes on

Leprosy notice right here that in both sentences the indirect object comes after the verb and before the direct object in

Both languages the indirect object could go after the direct object, but another word functioning like a preposition meaning two would be necessary

Another difference is the way that comparisons are formed in Mandarin and Cantonese. Here's a sentence meaning, I'm bigger than you in Mandarin

You'd say what being eat that while in Cantonese? You'd say

Multi-ball a word for word the Mandarin sentence is I compare you big or you could think of it as I?

compared to you and big the Cantonese sentence translates as I

Big more than you so you can see that in the Mandarin sentence the adjective comes at the end

While in the Cantonese sentence it comes before the comparative word and the pronoun meaning you

Notice that the comparative word is different in the two languages

differences in vocabulary in Chinese languages words are represented by IDEO graphic characters called hanzou

sometimes Mandarin and Cantonese use different words

Represented by different Chinese characters to represent the same concept and in other cases the same Chinese character it might have a somewhat different

meaning or usage in either language

The difference in vocabulary could be as high as 50%

That's when comparing Mandarin to spoken Cantonese and written vernacular Cantonese here are some examples of different vocabulary

These words function as copula verbs like is in English she is used in Mandarin when read in Cantonese

It's pronounced si

But the typical Cantonese where it is high?

This character is also used in Mandarin and is pronounced si, but it's used with the basic meaning of relation or connection

These are negation words meaning no or not in Mandarin. It's full again

This word is also used in Cantonese and pronounced

but but it's used more often in standard writing than the colloquial Cantonese word hmm this word is not used in Mandarin if

We look at the word for teacher in both languages

We'll see that Mandarin uses the word Lao Shu while Cantonese uses the word singsong

This word is also used in Cantonese with the pronunciation lo see

This word is also used in Mandarin with the pronunciation

Say Shen and means mister or husband actually in Cantonese it has both of those meanings as well as the meaning of teacher

But from what I hear this word seen sang is not used by younger people who use Losey instead for the meaning of teacher

These are the words for bus in Mandarin. It's Google teacher

These four characters could be translated literally as something like public shared gas car

But normally these two characters form the word meaning public and these two form the word meaning car in Cantonese


Bossy a word derived from the English word bus

two Chinese characters

with sounds similar to those of the word bus were chosen to represent this English borrowing this type of

Borrowing from English is more common in Cantonese particularly in the Hong Kong variety because it was a dependent territory of the UK in

Mandarin to ask someone's name you would say each our means in in Cantonese you would say lake Yuma in man

Here you can see that the word order is the same so the sentences are

Translatable word for word if we translate word for word we get you call what name but some of the words are different

The word for what is different and the word for name or first name is different in Mandarin

It's a two character compound word and in Cantonese

It's a single character of course even the words that are the same are pronounced differently in either language

This word meaning U is pronounced in Mandarin as me with a falling rising tone in Cantonese

It's lay with a low rising tone you may have noticed that the Cantonese audio recording sounded more like

Lay with an initial L

Sound rather than nee with an initial end sound the end sound is considered proper, Cantonese

while the L sound is considered casual or relaxed pronunciation

This word meaning call is pronounced in Mandarin as gel with the falling tone in Cantonese its

Keel with a mid flat tone

This word or word component meaning name is pronounced in Mandarin as mean with a rising tone and in Cantonese

It's man with a mid rising tone

Note that throughout this video I've been using traditional Chinese characters for both Mandarin and Cantonese

but in mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia

simplified Chinese characters are used for Mandarin while traditional characters are used in Taiwan as for Cantonese in Hong Kong and Macau

Traditional characters are used in Guangzhou and surrounding areas people normally use

Simplified characters for Cantonese some people think that Mandarin is always written in simplified characters, and that Cantonese is always written in

Characters, but it's not that simple

You may be asking yourself, which language is better to learn well

there are definite benefits to learning either one if

You learn Mandarin you'll be understood all over mainland China as well as Taiwan and also in Singapore and Malaysia

But they'll probably just speak English to you

and if you learn

Cantonese you'll be able to communicate with people in the southern part of mainland China as well as Hong Kong and Macau and you'll be

able to enjoy all of those famous movies from Hong Kong

Either way if you have a deep cultural interest in either of these languages that will certainly make it easier to learn

the question of the day for native speakers of either Mandarin or Cantonese to what extent can you understand the other language when it's spoken

How about when it's written and for learners of either language have you taken a look at the other language?

What similarities and differences did you notice be sure to follow Leng focus on Facebook Twitter and Instagram?

And I'm not sure if you can follow those in China, but please try and once again

I would like to say thank you to all of my wonderful patreon supporters. Especially these ones right here on the screen

They are my top tier patreon supporters so many. Thanks to them. Thank you for watching and have a nice day


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