SW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6221 posts, RR: 9 Posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 1022 times:
A quick question for those who speak Chinese. With all the different dialects, such as Mandarin and Cantonese, how much can, say, someone from Hong Kong, where I beleive Cantonese is spoken, understand and speak with someone from, say, Beijing? Thank you, I have always been curious!
AOMlover From France, joined Jul 2001, 1299 posts, RR: 12 Reply 3, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 997 times:
No they can't. My mother speaks Madarin and she doesn't understand Cantonese. She told me that the writing is the same, but not the pronounciation. That means that theorically a Beijiner can read a Hong Kongese newspaper, but he can't understand what a Honk kongese says. There might be some similarities in the pronounciation, I don't know.
FlyboyOz From Australia, joined Nov 2000, 1929 posts, RR: 27 Reply 5, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 978 times:
Oh!... AOMlover is right but his last sentence is not correct.
Hong Kong people speak Cantonese and Chinese people from China and Taiwanese speak Mandarin. Nowaday, Hong Kong people and young hong kong people are now studying and learning cantonese, mandarin and english.
The chinese and Hong Kong people cannot communicate with each other because Mandrian and Cantonese are different dialents and with different pronounciations. For example, Hong Kong is cantonese speaking and Xiang gang (also stands for Hong Kong) is manadrian. However the chinese people (including Hong Kong people, Chinese from China and Taiwanese) can read chinese characters because there is only ONE chinese language.
Airways1 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 555 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 963 times:
The fact that we refer to the different ways chinese people speak as dialects is a little confusing. Actually, the chinese dialects are different languages just as much as, say, English, Dutch, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, etc.. So no, they are not mutually intelligible, though they may contain many similarities.
The situation with the writing is a bit different. In fact, only Mandarin has a standard writing system, so no matter which part of China a person comes from, or which dialect is their mother tongue, local publications will be in Mandarin. Therefore, to be able read this material, one must be literate in Mandarin, even if one cannot speak it! Most official publications in Hong Kong are also in Mandarin. However, chinese characters have been adapted in order to write Cantonese, and so some things may be writting in Cantonese. However, under these circumstances, cantonese grammar and vocabulary is used, and therefore may make as much sense to a Mandarin speaker, as say reading spanish would to a french speaker (in other words, they may be able to understand the general meaning if not every word).