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Old August 2nd, 2010, 07:28 PM   #1
hkskyline
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Saving Cantonese (拯救廣東話)

Cantonese in China protest over language loss fears

BEIJING, July 26 (Reuters) - Hundreds of people took to the streets of the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou over the weekend to demand the government halt efforts to push aside the local Cantonese language, state media said on Monday.

The protest on Sunday was prompted by plans to switch most programming on Guangzhou television stations to the country's official language, Mandarin, feeding fears that the government wants to phase out Cantonese in official settings, reports said.

Some newspapers in Hong Kong, where Cantonese remains the main language of government, education and the man in the street, said demonstrators numbered more than 10,000, with participants singing and giving impassioned speeches in Cantonese.

The Global Times, a popular Chinese tabloid run by Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily, said the protest was peaceful and dispersed after a few hours.

"I stand for multiculturalism, and I strongly oppose the government's plan to promote Putonghua with administrative means," the report quoted one demonstrator as saying, referring to another name for the Mandarin Chinese language.

Beijing has promoted Mandarin for decades to unite a nation with thousands of dialects and numerous minority languages.

Cantonese is still widely spoken in the booming southern province of Guangdong, thanks in part to the spillover influence of Hong Kong's wildly successful and racy vernacular pop culture, but some people fear for its future.

An influx of outsiders seeking work in China's coastal export hubs has added to the onslaught on local languages.

Chinese newspapers and Internet sites have reported on companies where employees are fined for speaking Cantonese at work, prompting anger.

"I support Cantonese. If we don't speak it, we are shaming our ancestors," wrote "Bright Star" on the popular Chinese internet portal Sina.com.

The Guangzhou authorities strongly deny wanting to marginalise Cantonese.

"The city government has never had such a plan to abandon or weaken Cantonese," the Global Times quoted Su Zhijia, one of Guangzhou's Communist Party deputy bosses, as saying.

The controversy has prompted the People's Daily itself to wade in. In an editorial last week, the newspaper stressed the importance of Mandarin, but also of respecting dialects.

"We have to find a balance," it said.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 07:54 PM   #2
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I think there is strong Taiwanese influence on the HK youth today from game shows and music. More and more people are speaking in Mandarin and exposed to Mandarin media.

Even in Toronto 10-15 years ago, virtually no one spoke Mandarin. At least in my Canadian primary school, every single Chinese student spoke Cantonese. There were Cantonese language lessons, but no Mandarin lessons. But now you can hear Mandarin out in public quite often.
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 07:04 AM   #3
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 07:53 AM   #4
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 08:46 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skybean View Post
I think there is strong Taiwanese influence on the HK youth today from game shows and music. More and more people are speaking in Mandarin and exposed to Mandarin media.

Even in Toronto 10-15 years ago, virtually no one spoke Mandarin. At least in my Canadian primary school, every single Chinese student spoke Cantonese. There were Cantonese language lessons, but no Mandarin lessons. But now you can hear Mandarin out in public quite often.
I think it's a change in demographics, especially since in recent years, Chinese immigrants were mostly from mainland China, rather than Hong Kong or Taiwan. Hence, they'd speak Mandarin. Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong immigrants dominated the 90s wave.
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 10:34 PM   #6
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Yes, it is changing demographics. My point is that even in overseas Chinese populations, Cantonese is losing its ubiquity. Nowadays there are Mandarin-exclusive businesses and proportionally fewer Cantonese ones.
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Old August 4th, 2010, 03:59 AM   #7
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English report by Al-Jazeera

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Old August 6th, 2010, 06:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skybean View Post
Yes, it is changing demographics. My point is that even in overseas Chinese populations, Cantonese is losing its ubiquity. Nowadays there are Mandarin-exclusive businesses and proportionally fewer Cantonese ones.
Again, the demographic has a lot to do with the rate.
There are 1.5 billion people who speaks Mandarin in China and Taiwan, but only 15-20 millions people speak Cantonese in HK, Macao, Guangzhou and some parts of Guangdong.
For every Cantonese speaker, there are 100 Mandarin speakers.
If the two groups emigrate at the same rate, the Mandarin speakers can flood the communities in no time, just like it is happening in Toronto as your described.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 08:17 AM   #9
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@EricIsHim: You're wrong.

According to Encarta, Madarin has about 800 M native speakers while there are 77 M Cantonese native speakers. The ratio is 800:77 or 10:1 only

Some info on Wiki might be helpful:
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Old August 6th, 2010, 09:33 AM   #10
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No you're wrong. Almost every mainland Chinese speak Mandarin. Native Cantonese speakers are around 20 mil. So that's 1.3 bil for 20 mil. More like 1:50
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Old August 6th, 2010, 09:36 AM   #11
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Never thought Cantonese was so common. Even in Shenzhen, I hear a lot of Mandarin, probably beccause there is a huge migrant population there.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 12:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heavyrain2408 View Post
@EricIsHim: You're wrong.

According to Encarta, Madarin has about 800 M native speakers while there are 77 M Cantonese native speakers. The ratio is 800:77 or 10:1 only

Some info on Wiki might be helpful:
800M speak mandarin as their 1st language, but remember that almost all primary, secondary and tertiary education has been conducted in Mandarin for the past 30?-60?years.

This has been applied across the whole of the PRC and Taiwan so there is a total population of 1300M people who can speak Mandarin.

Also, that 77M counts all Yue speakers, which is not the same as Standard Cantonese. Wikipedia only lists 26M as true Cantonese speakers.

The disparity is ever worse if you compare 26M Cantonese speakers against the total population of 1300M people who can speak Mandarin as a 1st or 2nd language. You end up with a disparity of 40:1.

Heck, even half of the 26M Cantonese speakers in Guangdong can speak Mandarin as a 2nd language.

=======

From my own personal experience in Europe and Asia, I also see a huge influx of people who can speak Mandarin. In addition, I see that most/all of the Chinese schools in the UK, Malaysia, Singapore promote Mandarin as the most important part of their curriculum - simply because it is easier to learn and will be the common language of a superpower that bestrides the globe.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 03:55 PM   #13
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Let's correct the first chinese word in our thread title
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Old August 6th, 2010, 10:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saigoneseguy View Post
No you're wrong. Almost every mainland Chinese speak Mandarin. Native Cantonese speakers are around 20 mil. So that's 1.3 bil for 20 mil. More like 1:50
Cite your reliable source?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Restless View Post
800M speak mandarin as their 1st language, but remember that almost all primary, secondary and tertiary education has been conducted in Mandarin for the past 30?-60?years.

This has been applied across the whole of the PRC and Taiwan so there is a total population of 1300M people who can speak Mandarin.

Also, that 77M counts all Yue speakers, which is not the same as Standard Cantonese. Wikipedia only lists 26M as true Cantonese speakers.

The disparity is ever worse if you compare 26M Cantonese speakers against the total population of 1300M people who can speak Mandarin as a 1st or 2nd language. You end up with a disparity of 40:1.

Heck, even half of the 26M Cantonese speakers in Guangdong can speak Mandarin as a 2nd language.

=======

From my own personal experience in Europe and Asia, I also see a huge influx of people who can speak Mandarin. In addition, I see that most/all of the Chinese schools in the UK, Malaysia, Singapore promote Mandarin as the most important part of their curriculum - simply because it is easier to learn and will be the common language of a superpower that bestrides the globe.
Many people speak Mandarin but many speak as their second language! We are counting only native speakers.

I believe even the kids in Guangdong speak Mandarin which is required at school, they are still able to speak Cantonese as their mother tongue.

And wiki is not a reliable source. I think Encarta is more dependable. And who cares abt the rest of the world? We are talking about Southern China vs. the rest of Mainland China.

Btw, people should have the right to speak their mother language if they want. Don't use any dictatorial way to impose them!
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Old August 7th, 2010, 12:13 AM   #15
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I'd be a happy camper as long as they keep the Cantonese swearing words alive!
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Old August 7th, 2010, 12:14 AM   #16
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I think you're missing the point.

In Guangzhou city:

1. There are at most 4M native Cantonese speakers.
2. There are another 4M others

In Guangdong province

1. There are at most 19M native Cantonese speakers
2. There are another 100-110M others

======

To me, that disparity forms a perfectly rational basis for a change to TV programming because you're not just catering to one group
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Old August 7th, 2010, 05:08 AM   #17
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They can open another channel for Mandarin viewers during the Games, rather than alienate those who speak the native language of the area.
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Old August 8th, 2010, 06:08 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
They can open another channel for Mandarin viewers during the Games, rather than alienate those who speak the native language of the area.
Some channels could do multi-language anyway right? Like you switch whichever audio channel u really want?
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Old August 9th, 2010, 08:50 PM   #19
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I've posted about this too

http://british-chinese.blogspot.com/...o-push_09.html
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Old August 11th, 2010, 01:36 AM   #20
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A trench that's encroaching everywhere around the globe. That chart up there are outdated btw.

My Hokgienese will probably be gone first than the Cantonese and I do agree Taiwanese media have major influences on the ethnic Chinese youth today, including myself. A bit sad since these Sinitic dialects are fossil of ancient and middle Chinese languages.
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