Some people say (and texts) that mandarin and cantonese differ by spoken language but are same by written language.
But I read in other sources that mainland China simplified their characters, while Cantonese Chinese regions kept the original hanzi. That would mean they do differ.
Mandarin: horse - 马
Cantonese: horse - 馬
Could anyone please explain me what's actually going on with hanzi in both Mandarin and Cantonese? Because written Cantonese and written Mandarin either are same, or they differ, like I mentioned above, it can't be both.
Last edited by 愛の天使 (2008-10-10 07:49:52)
Well, it is both. When you know hanzi ( or kanji ) really well it doesn't matter if the character on the page is written in the traditional or simplified form, the underlying 'character' is the same. To use a Japanese example: when I see 楽 (newer form) or 樂 (the older form) I know they are both representations of the same thing and are read the same. Same thing goes for the hazi examples you've given.
So they're the same, but different
Last edited by Gestalt (2008-10-10 08:12:52)
So.... Cantonese speaking areas started replacing old hanzi with new ones, like mainland China, or they use both for better communication with other Chinese dialects speaking people?
Which are more common in Cantonese speaking areas: old hanzi or simplified hanzi?
Which ones should a foreigner learning Cantonese study/learn: both or only 1 of them (which?) ?
Well, traditional characters are mostly used in Hong Kong (mostly Cantonese speaking) and Taiwan (dominated by Mandarin speakers); apart from those two areas, simplified characters will dominate, I imagine.
Whether traditional or simplified script is used is not the main issue. The point is that they have diverged so much over the centuries that they have become two different languages. Think of it as say French versus Italian. Lots in common, common ancestry, the same script, but different languages.
I asked a native speaker your question recently and the answer was that when Cantonese speakers learn to read and write in school, they are taught Mandarin. The majority of Chinese written material is Mandarin.
Cantonese itself is primarily a spoken language, used mainly in Canton province and Hong Kong. I think Macau also.
It is also possible to read and write pure Cantonese. According to Wikipedia, this is a historically recent development, an is used, for example, in court proceedings where it is important to record a Cantonese speaker's exact words. There are many differences with written Mandarin. Even a simple sentence in the two languages will often be written differently. Have a look at the Wikipedia link for more details.
If you want to learn to read Chinese, I think you should probably learn the simplified script since this is what's mainly used now, unless you want to read material originating from Taiwan.
If you want to learn speak Cantonese, though, I don't know how you would go about it. You should try and find some books that teach it and see what they do. What about Hong Kong travelers books or something like that?
Question: now that Hong Kong is under mainland rule again, are they switching to simplified script?
Thank you a lot for your answers, Raichu.
Whether traditional or simplified script is used is not the main issue.
This is the main point, I think. Mandarin can be written in either simplified or traditional characters. Which you learn depends a bit on what you want to read. If you want to be able to read both then I think it is best to learn traditional characters first- it's easier to learn the simplified variants of the traditional forms than vice versa. But either way will do, in the end.
And yes, there is specifically Cantonese orthography, and it differs from both traditional and simplified characters. I've had some people explain a few details of it to me, but I don't speak Cantonese at all, so I won't try to relay what they said as I would surely get it laughably wrong.
Anyway, you ought to treat learning Cantonese and Mandarin like you treat learning, say, Spanish and Italian. Because actually, it is probably easier for a Spanish speaker to understand Italian than it is for a Mandarin speaker to understand Cantonese. The issue is complicated by the fact that China has a vast body of classical literature that is in theory independent of modern dialect, but... by the same token it is neither Mandarin nor Cantonese.
in terms of learning which set first which later matters little, because it's rather obivious which is which, since there are patterns and rules with the simplification, but however since tranditional is used more by cantonese adn taiwanese than mainland and they have different vocabulary, like "trash can" and "rubbish bin".
Therefore there are things written in traditional that you'll never seen in simplified and vise versa.
picking up the differences is easily done if you just spend enough time on them,you don't need to go out of your way to study them, i never did.
If you're not spoending enough time on it, then you don't actually use it that much, which means you don't really need to know the dialet specific things, you can lways pick them up when you need them.
The more diligent you are the faster you learn,the road to learning is filled with endless pain but the pain will take you to success.It might seems like endless pain and failure but success might be closer than you think.
I am a novice in Chinese myself (have not used the language for more than 15 years, my knowledge is simply gone, only the very basic remains). But having lived in a country where Chinese is spoken on daily basis (a dailect of Cantonese or Cantonese mostly), I can say that the written Chinese are not that much different between the traditional and simplified. They do look different but once you master one, you can guess or recognize the other quite easily.
For emaxple, in Taiwan or oversea Chinese in general, traditional style is more of a norm. My firend who is originally from Taiwan, have no difficulty reading the simplified version. It is the spoken languages that is the problem.
Last edited by mm (2009-07-06 11:27:53)
I am a native Chinese.
I think for a beginner the problem shall not obsess you that much, since you can safely just stick to one system and disregard the other (kind of).
Traditional hanzi users generally think simplified hanzi as 錯別字(or 腦殘體, a more impolite name)， i.e wrong spellings or wrong characters (Imagine, if the words "there" and "their" are both simplified into one word :"zere". )
Simplified hanzi users regard the traditional writing as old-fashioned and troublesome.
Traditional Hanzi is based on traditional Chinese orthography which has a lineage of over 2000 years, retained a closer relationship to Korean Hanja and Japanese Kanji. Simplified Chinese, though simplified in a careful manner, abandoned many important traits and rules of Hanzi.
Regarding the usage of Tra/Sim Hanzi, Calligraphy and painting
use traditional styles often than not. Other than these,the only occasion where you will surely engage traditional characters in mainland China is while you are singing Karaoke songs. as the mandarin pop-music industry is dominated by Taiwan-based firms.
The words and expressions used in Taiwan and the mainland regions are different actually.(Besides translated words).To make a hasty generalization, Taiwan Mandarin diverge less from the traditional classic Chinese. (to give a glimpse, the letter writing style can be even more formulated and complex than the Japanese style, if you really want to be that "formal".) Mainland China purposely changed the style of writing when it took over the Mainland so as to "reflect new social relationship".
Besides traditional characters and simplified ones that can be understood in both languages there are a some main differences between Cantonese writing and Mandarin one. I will only write about some main differences of the usage of Hanzi and not about the sentence structure, because this would go a little bit too far. However it's important to know that Cantonese and Mandarin don't look the same in the written language, regardless of the usage of traditional or simplified characters.
1. Characters in Cantonese that are not used anymore or never existed in Mandarin.
Examples: "畀", "噉"
2. Characters that have a totally or slightly different meaning in both languages.
Examples: "點解", "銀包"
3. Words that have one character in Cantonese, but two in Mandarin.
Example: "褲" - "褲子"
Last edited by chip (2010-04-21 17:06:02)
Kuraf.az:ar.eba, sono uma.ki=wo sir.az:ar.u=nari#
There have always been simplified Chinese characters in the Chinese language. They are sometimes come across in ancient writings. However simplified Chinese didn't dominate in China until the last century.
The Mainland Chinese Government unified the shape of all simplified Chinese characters and made simplified Chinese their official language.
At that time, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao have already left the control of the Mainland Government, so people in these three places use tradition Chinese.
All three places still retain their traditional Chinese writing style now but some people occasionally use several simplified Chinese characters in their writing (just several, not the whole writing) to save time.
I'm native to tradition Chinese but rarely do I come across simplified Chinese characters I do not know. You can guess the meaning easily even if you haven't seen them before.
Written Cantonese is different from written Mandarin. The differences are more than traditional and simplified. Cantonese has different grammar and lexical. In my view, Mandarin is like English while Cantonese is like German.
In my view, Mandarin is like English while Cantonese is like German.
In my view, Mandarin is like English while Cantonese is like German.
You know,English has more speakers in the world than German.In China,Mandarin has more speakers than Cantonese.So Mandarin is like English.
I'm 13 and studying chinese in my school
I think that there really isn't much of a need to learn the written form of cantonese
Most people only speak it and they also will know chinese.
I learn simplified chinese and whenever i watch taiwanese shows i find it quite easy to read as chinese language are pictographs so it basically resembles certain things . But when it became simplified its harder to see the resemblance so if you are planning to learn both forms i reccomend the simplified first as after getting that done its much easier to get a feel on how the language is based.
But you don't have to take advice from a kid