Cantonese is a major dialect group of the province of Guăngdōng, the city of Guăngzhōu (Canton), as well as in Hong Kong, Macau. Spoken by approximately 52 million people in these four areas, it is also considered the most prestigious dialect spoken.
Cantonese is considered a conservative dialect due to its sound system that still uses the final consonants and tones of literary standards of Tang Dynasty.
This dialect consists of an optional initial consonant + vowel that is accompanied by tone + optional final consonant.
Linguists have different opinions on the vowel inventory of Cantonese. The phonemes of Cantonese differ in meaning depending on the analysis. But there is a similarity in the vowels – they are long in final position.
Cantonese has approximately 18 consonants but there is no contrast given between voiceless and voiced consonants. The contrast available is between voiceless plain and voiceless aspired.
Every syllable has a pitch that differ it from others. In Cantonese, there are six different tones. These are 3 levels and 3 contours. A level tone maintains its pitch but a contour tone switches its pitch.
Like other Chinese languages, Cantonese is also an analytical language. The words used have only one grammatical form and the grammatical functions are expressed using prepositions, orders, particles, discourse and words instead of suffixes attached nouns and verbs.
Numbers and genders have no grammatical marking but understood with context.
Nouns require classifiers for counting.
Tenses are indicated by adverbs instead of grammatical marking
Aspect and moods are marked by particles
In syntax, topic of a sentence precedes information.
Cantonese has words matching with those found in Mandarin and other Chinese dialects but the language spoken in Hong Kong has more loanwords from English than from other Chinese dialects.
Cantonese isn’t the language that you can learn from books or in classroom where students get limited attention. For a thorough understanding, you need Cantonese tuition. Hire an experienced Cantonese tutor for home study and develop your language skills in a time-bound manner.
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