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Character Pinyin English
粤话 Yuèhuà Cantonese language (PN)
普通话 Pǔtōnghuà Mandarin language (PN)
广州 Guǎngzhōu Guangzhou (PN)
广东 Guǎngdōng Guangdong Province (PN)
香港 Xiānggǎng Hong Kong (PN)
澳门 Àomén Macao (PN)
广西壮族自治区 Guǎngxī Zhuàngzú Zìzhìqū Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (PN)
语言 yǔyán language (N)
方言 fāngyán dialect (N)
唐人街 Tángrén Jiē China Town (PN)
汉藏语系 Hàn Zàng yǔxì Sino-Tibetan language family (PN)
声调 shēngdiào tone (N)
语法 yǔfǎ grammar (N)
汉字 hànzì Chinese characters (N)

Study Questions

  • Why might some people refer to Cantonese as a dialect when it is mutually unintelligible with Mandarin? Compare this with Spanish and Italian which are somewhat mutually intelligible, but always referred to as separate languages.
  • Why do Cantonese speaking people refer to themselves as Tángrén rather than Hànrén? What does this indicate about the historical differences between southern and northern Chinese people.
  • For Chinese speakers/learners: Can you find any similarities between Cantonese phonetics and southern-accented Mandarin?
  • Within mainland China, the significance of Cantonese is greatly overshadowed by Mandarin, the national language. What is the significance of Cantonese overseas, especially in America, as compared to Mandarin?
  • How might regional language differences challenge Chinese national identity and unity? Which takes precedent: linguistic identity or national identity?

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