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Question For Chinese Speakers

Wed Oct 06, 2004 2:01 am

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!
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RE: Question For Chinese Speakers

Wed Oct 06, 2004 2:29 am

Just a little bit.

Id liken it to English and German. You can pick out a few words here and there, but I cant understand most of it.
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RE: Question For Chinese Speakers

Wed Oct 06, 2004 3:48 am

Not really, no.... but I'm not a native speaker, so go fig.  Big grin
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RE: Question For Chinese Speakers

Wed Oct 06, 2004 3:53 am

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.
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RE: Question For Chinese Speakers

Wed Oct 06, 2004 4:03 am

Awesome, thank you very much guys, that helps a lot!
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RE: Question For Chinese Speakers

Wed Oct 06, 2004 9:24 am

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.


[Edited 2004-10-06 02:31:11]
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RE: Question For Chinese Speakers

Wed Oct 06, 2004 10:52 am

Do I understand this correctly that the non-phonetic script will have completely different spoken words associated with the same written symbols?

So the syntax and semantics will be identical, just the words will sound completely different?
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RE: Question For Chinese Speakers

Wed Oct 06, 2004 12:00 pm

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).

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