There are four Tones in Mandarin Chinese Tone system, along with a special Neutral Tone. (You’ll traditionally hear 9 tones mentioned, but some of them have merged). Cantonese has 9. But did you know Cantonese also has its own romanization system? And, because of all these accessible resources, you’ve decided that this year you’re going to start learning Chinese! So, what will it be now—Cantonese or Mandarin? How to read: 21.7% of those 14288 characters have the Cantonese 4th tone AND the Mandarin 2nd tone. with Cantonese tones 7 and 8 with accuracy rate as the dependent variable. Cantonese has three tonal registers (low/mid/high) with flat tones and rising/falling tones between some of the registers (though no “boomerang” tone like the third tone in Mandarin.) However, Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong and Macau, which are my favorite places! Knowing the difference between the two, as well as where and by whom each one is used will help you choose the one that’s best suited to your specific language goals and needs. Mandarin Chinese Language and Culture Blog, Chinese is infamous for being a tonal language, How Long Does It Take to Learn Chinese? If you plan to do business in China or with a Chinese-speaking company, then Mandarin is definitely the way to go. Twenty-eight merging participants and thirty control participants in Hong Kong were recruited for a perception experiment. It currently contains over 5,000 characters specifically for written Cantonese. Tones 聲調. For most practical purposes, you can regard Cantonese has having 6 tones, their contours often ordered and described in the following way: 1. Translation is more than a transaction. There is a very interesting article on the German Wikipedia site of Cantonese about the relation of Cantonese and Mandarin tones (I could not find this in the English version). Both languages have different tones, but the use of tones in Cantonese is even more challenging due to it having between 6 and 9 different tones. 我喜欢学中文 (wǒ xǐ huān xué zhōng wén) — I like studying Chinese, 我是美国人 (wǒ shì měi guó rén) — I am American, 我喜歡學中文 (wǒ xǐ huān xué zhōng wén) — I like studying Chinese, 我是美國人 (wǒ shì měi guó rén) — I am American. Mandarin and Cantonese stems from a common source, a new style of Chinese music that developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but the two musics realize linguistic tone differently. Cantonese and Mandarin are written in the same way, though Cantonese favors traditional Chinese characters rather than simplified. 3.Mandarin is easier to learn compared to Cantonese. The characters and grammar are very similar between Mandarin and Cantonese. FluentU is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Do all Chinese people speak Mandarin, since it is the official language? © 2019-2020, LinguaLinx Language Solutions, Inc. 你是哪国人?(nǐ shì nǎ guó rén?) If you're a learner of Mandarin, put your tones on a mental map so that you can pick up any other Chinese language easier, and get the tone right 90% of the time in Cantonese, Hakka, Shanghainese, you name it. Cantonese has six lexical tones (T), but some tone pairs appear to be merging: T2 [25] vs. T5 [23], T3 [33] vs. T6 [22], and T4 [21] vs. T6 [22]. Mandarin has 4 tones. Cantonese has 9. Years of building client partnerships means we’ve become pretty adept at meeting the unique needs of each one. 3.Tones. Mandarin has 4 tones as shown below, plus a neutral tone. According to WorldAtlas, Cantonese is most commonly spoken in Hong Kong and the Guangdong Province, where it’s recognized as the lingua franca—the common language, but not necessarily the native language. We have the experience to serve your industry with subject-matter expertise. Our teams of linguists, cultural consultants and technology experts bring a wealth of industry knowledge to your project. (Download). Cantonese had lost its medials sometime ago in its history, reducing the ability for speakers to distinguish its sibilant initials. Finally, Cantonese and Mandarin share two schematically similar tone categories: high level and high rising. The official language of China is mandarin, which is one of the few official languages at UN also. To the untrained, the sound of Cantonese and Mandarin may be similar. Both accuracy rate and reaction time data were collected. Tone 1: High flat. Whether it's Mandarin or Cantonese, LinguaLinx works with companies around the world to help localize translations to your customers so you deliver the right message at the right time. « previous post | next post » If you ask Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM — Guóyǔ 國語 / Pǔtōnghuà 普通话) speakers how many tones there are in their language, most of them will tell you without much hesitation that there are four tones (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) plus a neutral tone.. This means that changes in your voice pitch while pronouncing a vowel sound form part of the meaning of a word. In Japanese, which has adopted Chinese characters for some 1,600 years,4 this checked tone is the only tone, of the original four tones, which … Where are the two languages spoken? However, for those who speak the language, they recognize that the sounds of spoken Cantonese and spoken Mandarin are vastly different. The internet is full of Cantonese music, TV shows and other kinds of captivating content. It’s called Jyutping. Regarding the writing systems, both Mandarin and Cantonese shared the same character sets until the 1950s and 196… Most Chinese communities in Australia, Europe, North America, and other parts of the world also use Cantonese as their primary language. The trusted, go-to partner for the world’s leading companies, institutions, and governments. Tone sandhi is not attested in Cantonese, and so our data cannot speak to this phenomenon, but evidence from Wan and Jaeger's (1998) analysis of Mandarin tone errors found strong evidence that sandhi takes place after the encoding of tones. Although it sounds fairly simple, it can get pretty complicated. Mandarin has five tones, while Cantonese has nine different tones. A Comparative Study on Tone Realization in Cantonese-Accented Mandarin and Standard Mandarin Jian Jin1, Weixiang Hu2, Xia Wang2 and Ziyu Xiong3 1Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Sun Yat-sen University 2 Nokia Research Center, China 3 Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China imjinjian@gmail.com, {ext-weixiang.hu, xia.s.wang}@nokia.com, xiongziyu@163.com Cantonese (粵語 or 廣東話) is primarily used in the Guangdong and Guangxi provinces in Southern China and until the 1997 British handover of Hong Kong to China, it Cantonese was the primary language of Hong Kong. While there are a few regional varieties of Mandarin, all of them are understandable to any Mandarin speaker. It’s what most people automatically think of when they hear or say “Chinese.”. FluentU takes a step back from the traditional textbook approach and encourages you to learn in a more natural way. However, it is one of the five major languages in mainland China that also includes Cantonese language. Chinese is infamous for being a tonal language—meaning the tone, or pitch of the word determines its meaning. But in recent years, the number of Mandarin-speaking Chinese people living abroad has rapidly increased as more Northern Chinese are Taiwanese immigrants playing a larger and more active role in the global culture and economics. Cantonese is by far the more challenging of the two languages, particularly for a beginning Chinese language learner. However the use of the Mandarin language is rapidly growing in Hong Kong from 25% of the population speaking Mandarin in 1997 to slightly over 50% today. Depending on the source, you may see Cantonese described as having 6, 7, 9, or 10 tones. Mandarin is the official state language of China and the most widely spoken Chinese dialect in the country. This post is only for those who already learned Mandarin before, or those who plan to learn Mandarin. Depending on the source, you may see Cantonese described as having 6, 7, 9, or 10 tones. Tone 3: Flat mid-pitch, lower than first tone. You must rise, maintain or lower the relative pitch of your voice to "sing" each word. There are two different Chinese writing systems: simplified and traditional Chinese. Since Cantonese has 6 basic tones (not counting the entering tones 入聲) and Mandarin only 4 the vice versa rule might be less accurate but still quite high: Mando 1 … We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe, Sign up for our weekly blog newsletter for a chance to win a free FluentU Plus subscription (value $240), Get regular language learning tips, resources and updates, starting with the "Complete Guide to Foreign Language Immersion" e-book. Keep in mind, though, that Mandarin is the official language of China, meaning even Cantonese speakers are required to learn it in school. In Taishanese, the plural forms of the pronouns are formed by changing the tone, whereas in Cantonese and Mandarin, a plural marker (地/哋/等 dei6 and 们 / 們 men, respectively) is added. Just like Pinyin, Jyutping uses the Latin alphabet to spell out Cantonese words and uses marks and numbers to symbolize tones. It’s also the official language of Singapore and Taiwan. Cracking the tones are said to be the hardest part of learning Chinese. However, it also includes a few refinements to certain pronunciations. The following chart compares the personal pronouns among Taishanese, Cantonese, and Mandarin. These six are named dark flat, dark rising, dark departing, light flat, light rising, and light departing. Cantonese has 9 tones in total which can be divided into 6 open syllables and 3 checked syllables. All About Tones . Spoken Mandarin and Cantonese are not mutually intelligible. Conclusion: if you know the Cantonese tones, you can statistically guess the mandarin tone. The pronunciation of shared words in Cantonese and Mandarin is totally different. Mandarin is the official state language of China and the most widely spoken Chinese dialect in the country. It's kind of extremely specialised deep linguistic analysis to present anything but the standard tones taught to foreigners in standard Cantonese of HK and Standard Chinese. There is no checked tone in modern Mandarin. Discrepancies in the findings of studies that examined the effects of temporal cues on the perception of Mandarin and Cantonese tones indicate that findings on Mandarin tones may not be generalizable to Cantonese tones. Do you know notable counterexample? Cantonese is known as a more difficult language to learn compared to Mandarin. Just check out this fun video on YouTube where a Chinese boyfriend speaks only Cantonese to his girlfriend for 24 hours! 我喜歡學中文 (wǒ xǐ huān xué zhōng wén) — I like studying Chinese. Plus, it’s used in some of China’s most populated and tourist-attractive regions. Furthermore, when counted as a percentage of sound errors, all studies report a relatively high percentage of tone errors, including Chen (1999), who argued tone errors are exceedingly rare. Equivalent to second tone in Mandarin. Mandarin has 4 tones (plus a neutral 5th), Cantonese has 6 tones (or indeed 9 tones if you include the checked tones) Mandarin has over 1.2 billion speakers worldwide This study tests the influence from L1 experience and psychoacoustic similarity on the naï ve perception of Cantonese tones. Please check your email for further instructions. Cantonese, however, is spoken largely in Hong Kong, as well as in Macau and the Guangdong province, including Guangzhou. Cantonese is often described as a dialect of mandarin, but the fact that there are glarin… I speak Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Mandarin. It’s communication that has the power to bring us closer together. With Cantonese, people argue about how many tones there are, saying there are up to 9 and using this as a reason to suggest that Cantonese is really difficult to learn. 6 Fundamental Factors That You Should Consider, Quick Guide to Learning Chinese Through Movies, Learn Chinese Through Music: Top 10 Modern Karaoke Classics, Chinese Listening Practice: Why and How to Get Started, Chinese Idioms Like a Boss: 15 Common and Useful Chinese Idioms, Learn Chinese through TV: 10 Great Shows To Get Started, 6 Awesome Chinese Podcasts You’ve Never Heard Of. And different tones have different meanings, even when used for the same word. It’s a connection that bridges countries, cities, communities, and families. Mandarin and Cantonese are both tonal languages, although they differ in tones. LSHK Jyutping is very similar to Sidney Lau as it uses numbers to mark the tones. FluentU brings Chinese to life with real-world videos. 3. in Mandarin should all be 2nd tone, 4. in Mandarin all be 4th tone, and 3. and 4. should be 陽入 (9/6) in Cantonese. 1. and 2. in Mandarin are all over the place, however in Cantonese they should be 陰入 split up according to whether the vowel is long (8/3) or whether it is short (7/1). There are 6 different tones in Cantonese. Now the rule to remember is that most of the times (there’s exceptions), a Mandarin word and its Vietnamese cognate will belong to the same tonal group, either level or oblique. After all, they’re two different languages. Summary – The 6 Main Differences between Mandarin and Cantonese are: The Tones (4 in Mandarin, 6 in Cantonese) The lack of Romanization in Cantonese (making it harder to learn at the start) Lack of written Cantonese; Lack of learning resources in Cantonese; Mandarin is much more widely spoken; Mainland China = Mandarin. This is the closest you can get to real-life Mandarin immersion without physically immersing yourself in it! — What’s your name? In the 1950s, Pinyin was invented to help improve literacy rates in China. If, however, you plan to settle in Hong Kong, then it would be worth it to pick up Cantonese. I discovered the complexity of Chinese tones during my project to learn Cantonese. I also did research in this matter and I will share with you some facts. 你係邊度人呀?(néih haih bīndouh yàhn a?) Consecutive, Simultaneous or On-Demand interpretation; your meetings & events are too important for anything but the highest standards of expertise and interpersonal skills. In fact, it’s the most commonly used writing system in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. © 2020 Enux Education Limited. The tone system differs between Mandarin and Cantonese. Work with us. Mandarin is spoken widely in Singapore and Taiwan. The arrows are numbered to represent tones 1-6. Each of the tones will have a different meaning even when you are saying the same word, or sound – this is very different from the English language, which makes it difficult to pick up. How to Pronounce the Four Tones in Mandarin. Can they be considered two different languages? Conclusion: if you know the Cantonese tones, you can statistically guess the mandarin tone. Mandarin utilizes four tones, whereas Cantonese has at least six and sometimes as many as nine. If you're a learner of Mandarin, put your tones on a mental map so that you can pick up any other Chinese language easier, and get the tone right 90% of the time in Cantonese… There are different Mandarins - many of them - who have different archiphonemese for the four Mandarin tones. — What’s your name? At our core, we are a dedicated team of communicators that make meaningful connections. An example is 蘭, which is pronounced as "lan4". 你叫做乜野名呀 (neih2 giu jouh ma1tyeh2 meng2 a?) Whether it's Mandarin or Cantonese, LinguaLinx works with companies around the world to help localize translations to your customers so you deliver the right message at the right time. Both accuracy rate and reaction time data were collected. And there's no-one better than Chris Parker from Fluent in Mandarin … Mandarin utilizes four tones, whereas Cantonese has at least six and sometimes as many as nine. It seems that it doesn't follow any "rules of changing tone" like those in Mandarin. There are actually hundreds of Chinese dialects! Probably not the easiest thing in the world to learn! 3 A comparison of average DA scores between these tone categories in both languages based on tonal f0 data, as shown in Fig. In fact, the Huế people pronounce tones differently from Northern and Southern people and we understand them just fine. Mandarin has 4 tones. I discovered the complexity of Chinese tones during my project to learn Cantonese. Here are some bite-sized facts that we think you’ll also find useful. But what is the difference between Cantonese and Mandarin? Here's our recommendations for how to hire the right Translator for your business. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s spoken by 73.4 million people. It’s also the most commonly spoken dialect in China. The charts below show a more detailed description. As a learner, all it takes is a bit of exposure, listening comprehension practice and ear-adjusting to be able to identify different Mandarin accents and dialects from one another, as well as to understand them. If you’re interested in learning Mandarin, FluentU is the place to do just that! Mandarin is spoken widely in Singapore and Taiwan. So, even if two words sound exactly the same except for the tone, a different tone = a different meaning. Because beyond the translations, there are deadlines and budgets and other unique factors that have nothing to do with the words, and everything to do with the outcome. Take into consideration language subtleties, cultural expectations & target-market distinctions to convey the meaning of your source communication in a more culturally cogent manner. Mastering Chinese on your own used to be ranked as one of the most challenging language feats on the planet! As with learning any language, learning Cantonese will allow you to connect on a deeper level with native Cantonese speakers. But Cantonese and Mandarin aren’t the only Chinese languages with a tonal system. Cantonese has six tones, whereas Mandarin has just four. Then, it comes as a surprise that mainland Cantonese, which kept these final stops, distinguishes between three tones with falling tonal contour. Mandarin, on the other hand, uses simplified characters. I am a native Cantonese speaker. It is spoken in many of the largest cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai. Learning Chinese becomes fun and easy when you learn with movie trailers, music videos, news and inspiring talks. Since Mandarin only uses four tones, it is considered much easier for non-natives to learn Mandarin instead of Cantonese. The characters and grammar are very similar between Mandarin and Cantonese. Yale Jyutping uses diacritics to mark tones (like Pinyin) and is the most commonly used type. It’s no surprise that most Chinese learners choose to study Mandarin. Suddenly, you’re questioning whether you should be learning Mandarin or something else, like Cantonese. Tone 2: Rising, like you’re asking a question. I like Mandarin, because it's easier to learn. Learn More about: Simplified Chinese vs Traditional Chinese. Mandarin has 4 tones. Cantonese and Mandarin are two of the most commonly used dialects in China. Individuals who are fluent in either language are able to communicate with one another through the written word, as both languages share a common vocabulary, give or take a few words. Cantonese and Mandarin are mutually unintelligible—meaning, the speaker of one can’t understand the other. Together, that comes out to a whopping nine tones— four more than Mandarin . Aside from languages, Brooke runs her freelance writing business, Writing & Thriving and specializes in B2B copywriting, content marketing and holistic health and wellness. As for the tones, we are very forgiving and most of the time, the context will determine the meaning of the word anyway. Mandarin consists of four major tones, but some linguists count the neutral tone as a fifth. There are many ways that cultures with tone languages may deal with the interaction of linguistic tone and music. Both the Mandarin and Cantonese dialects are tonal languages where one word has many meanings depending on the pronunciation and intonation. In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party declared simplified Chinese to be the new common writing system in order to reform the nation. It’s also spoken in Malaysia and Macau. All the dialects of Chinese including Mandarin and Cantonese have tones; they are tonal languages, just like Thai, Vietnamese and other languages, which means that the tones are a crucial part of the language. Since Mandarin is the official language of three countries, it’s also the language used in most Chinese movies, TV programs and music. Cantonese tone identification accuracies in 2MB and in SSN are mostly comparable. Spoken Mandarin and Cantonese are not mutually intelligible. Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you Cantonese has six lexical tones (T), but some tone pairs appear to be merging: T2 [25] vs. T5 [23], T3 [33] vs. T6 [22], and T4 [21] vs. T6 [22]. Our team of native-speaking, subject matter experts will effectively communicate not just the meaning of your source-language content—but also the intent behind your message—with resonance and clarity. In this way, you’re exposed to authentic Mandarin content spoken and used by native Mandarin speakers. For most practical purposes, you can regard Cantonese has having 6 tones, their contours often ordered and described in the following way: 1. And Cantonese tones are an entirely different creature. But Cantonese and Mandarin aren’t the only Chinese languages with a tonal system. If I am interested in learning Chinese, which language should I learn? Now that you know the primary differences, you probably have a better idea of which Chinese dialect you’d like to learn. The article collects information and advice from more than twenty articles about learning tones, along with resources and references for further reading. As two major languages spoken in China, the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese is very interesting topic to a linguist. We also participate in other affiliate advertising programs for products and services we believe in. It was Emperor Qin Shihuang who first united Chinese words over 2200 years ago in 221 B.C. Not surprisingly, tones have a tendency to scare people away from learning Chinese because they’re commonly deemed too difficult to learn. As a result, they’re the two most studied Chinese languages. We take pride in delivering a quality product and know that setting you up for success must always be the first step. Well, Mandarin as 5 tones (if you count the neutral tone), and Cantonese has about 10. Unlike Mandarin tones, which are primarily cued by pitch, Burmese tones are cued by phonation type as well as pitch. Before you change your mind on pursuing this challenging, but highly rewarding language feat, let me give you the rundown of the differences between these two beautiful dialects and answer all of your Cantonese vs. Mandarin questions. I'm not talking about lexical correspondences between the three languages or rules to infer tones from one to … Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved. Sidney Lau Jyutping uses numbers to mark tones (foe example: neih2 hou2) and used to be the most common type. And different tones have different meanings, even when used for the same word. — What’s your name?. Cantonese has more, with nine tonnes (traditionally), composed of three checked syllables and six open syllables. As we previously established, Pinyin is the spelling of Chinese words with English letters. In contemporary Mandarin Chinese, the falling (fourth) tone is usually associated with final stops -p, -t, -k in Old Chinese. While some people like to say there are nine tones, some of these are extremely subtle variants of six main tones. Cantonese speakers primarily use traditional characters. Mandarin has a neutral tone and four main tones. I'm Teochew but am also fluent in cantonese due to my upbringing. Mandarin only has 4. But like anything in the field of language learning…where there's a will, there's a way! FluentU brings Chinese to life with real-world videos. — Where are you from? 2.Mandarin has 4 tones whereas Cantonese has 6 to 9 tones. — What’s your name? As the industry leader, our translation, localization and subject matter experts have proven that they are the best in the business. And there's no-one better than Chris Parker from Fluent in Mandarin … 你叫做乜野名呀?(néih giu jouh mātyéh méng a?) Together, that comes out to a whopping nine tones—four more than Mandarin. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. For example, native Mandarin speakers in China can read most traditional characters and vice versa. Let’s take a look at some examples of different Cantonese and Mandarin vocabulary words. Here’s a quick guide to the six Cantonese tones in Jyutping order: Diagram of Cantonese tones. It depends on what you are planning to do with your language after you’ve learned it. We translate over 98% of the world’s languages. Chinese vs Mandarin – Quick Facts. In fact, every Chinese dialect has a tonal system. Connect with your global audience through multilingual content that is true to the heart of your identity. This study examines the perception of Mandarin lexical tones by native speakers of Burmese who use lexical tones in their first language (L1) but are naïve to Mandarin. We investigated the perceptual development of lexical tones in native tone-learning infants during the first 2 years of life, focusing on two important stages of phonological acquisition: the preverbal and vocabulary explosion stages. 你叫做乜野名呀 (néih giu jouh mātyéh méng a?) Cantonese has several sounds and sound combinations that don’t exist in Mandarin, as well as six tones to Mandarin’s four. However, it wasn’t created for that purpose. 好久不见 (hǎo jiǔ bù jiàn) — Long time no see, 你叫什么名字? (nǐ jiào shénme míng zi?) Spoken Chinese is a tonal language. So, let’s look at some of the main differences between Cantonese and Mandarin. The chart below shows you the difference that Tones function in a tonal-language and non-tonal language. But I don't know why. How to read: 21.7% of those 14288 characters have the Cantonese 4th tone AND the Mandarin 2nd tone. For example, Gwai Lo (鬼佬) in Cantonese refers to a foreigner. This is because there are more tones used in Cantonese (Cantonese uses up to nine tones, whereas Mandarin only uses four). Cantonese, on the other hand, has six major tones and three additional high, mid and low-level tones. Cantonese has six tones, whereas Mandarin has just four. It’s the newest type of Jyutping and is being promoted and recommended by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong. In the teaching context, Mandarin pronunciation is usually romanized using the pinyin system (or Zhuyin/Bopomofo in Taiwan) where Cantonese commonly uses Yale romanization. Contemporary vocal music in both Mandarin and Cantonese stems from a common source, a new style of Chinese music that developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but the two musics realize linguistic tone differently.