Two Widespreading MythsEdit

There are two widespreading myths about Cantonese - Cantonese grammar is the same as Mandarin and written Cantonese is exactly the same as standard writtten Chinese, which is based on written Mandarin.

From PRI's "Cantonese: a Dialect in Peril":

"Chinese shares a common writing system. But when spoken, each dialect is mutually unintelligible.

Take the Chinese for I love you. Written, it’s 我爱你. Spoken, there is “no structural difference” between the Mandarin and Cantonese, according to Julie Tay, director of the Asian Cultural Exchange, a learning center in New York’s Chinatown. But it sounds very different from one dialect to the next. In Mandarin, it sounds like “woh ai knee.” In Cantonese: “noh noi nay.”

So no matter which Chinese dialect any two people speak, they can share the same newspaper. They can “read the same article and laugh about the same things but they may not be able to speak to one another,” says Tay."

Level of "Cantoneseness" in Print MediaEdit

The reason why speakers of whatever Chinese "dialects", Sinitic languages, can share the same newpaper is because only standard written Chinese can be used in formal print media. There are different levels of written Cantonese allowed in Cantonese print media. General rule of thumb, the more serious an article is/the more conservative the print media is/the wider audience an article targets, the less Cantonese it becomes.

First Level: No CantoneseEdit

Title and content are in written Mandarin and the supposed Cantonese dialogue is translated into Mandarin. Inavoidable Cantonese vocabulary, which will cause confusion if translated to Mandarin, will be quoted with brackets to show that it should not be part of the written system.

Second Level: Some CantoneseEdit

In this level, the title of the article is usually in written Cantonese while the main content is in written Mandarin. Inavoidable Cantonese vocabulary is not always bracketed. Cantonese dialogue in this level maybe in written Cantonese as well.

Third Level: Half Cantonese Half MandarinEdit


The most confusing form - half Cantonese and half Mandarin in an article!

In this level,

1. In a paragraph, a sentence can be written Cantonese and the next sentence can be written Mandarin.

2. In a setence, the first part can be written Cantonese and the latter part can be written Mandairn.