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Difference Between Mandarin and Cantonese

china-japanMandarin vs Cantonese

Mandarin and Cantonese are two very related languages that people often mistake to be one and the same. However, these languages have major differences that depend on a variety of aspects.

Foremost, these languages differ because they are used by different groups of people who reside in different locations. If you are talking about the language dominantly used in Taiwan and Mainland China, Mandarin is the obvious language. Wherever you’ll go or do, may it be going to school (of any level), watching local TV channels and listening to local radio stations, you will stumble upon a Mandarin dominated education and media network. Conversely, Cantonese is widely spoken in the capital city of Canton in Guangdong, China. Cantonese is also the preferred language for the overseas European, Australian, and North American Chinese populace; although the trend is leaning towards an increasing number of Mandarin dialect users regardless of where the language was originally spoken.

Another major difference between Mandarin and Cantonese is the pronunciation. Both languages are being pronounced differently even if they use almost the same written characters (and some exceptions of course). Cantonese is deemed to be more complex because it has six tones and uses several oral expressions whereas Mandarin only has four tones with less special expressions. Cantonese can even have 9 unique tones. Because both depend on tone so much, each word (even with the same sound) is different in each language if pronounced in a different tone. It is like how you imagine the chicken talking to the duck wherein they belong to the same bird family but will surely have a hard time understanding one another. The vowels and consonants of both languages somewhat vary as well.

Because of its complexity level, there is no doubt that Cantonese is the more difficult dialect for beginners to learn. With less people who speak the language, less print or education materials and more tones to master, the Cantonese language is truly the most difficult dialect of the two. This practically makes sense because most literatures, arts and Chinese terminologies are in Mandarin and that most Cantonese users know Mandarin. There are only a few Mandarin users who can speak Cantonese. Overall, knowing Mandarin makes you understand more people and at the same time be understood by even more people.

Summary:
1.Mandarin is the language used primarily in Mainland China and Taiwan whereas Cantonese is used in Canton and is the common language spoken by the overseas Chinese.
2.Mandarin has 4 tones whereas Cantonese has 6 to 9 tones.
3.Mandarin is easier to learn compared to Cantonese.


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