• Derek

Is Cantonese Easy To Learn?

Welcome to Episode 2 of Chai Tea-V!


This is a kinda weird blog post, but I wanted to explain my thoughts on why Cantonese is not the easiest language to pick up and learn. First of all, you may want to learn Cantonese for a variety of reasons, whether you need it for work, you’re moving to Asia, you want to just learn a new language, or maybe you’re planning on a vacation to Hong Kong when this whole shitshow is finally over.


Like any other language, there is a big difference between being able to speak a few words to get by when you’re on holiday, to being conversant, and even more so, be able to read and write. Cantonese, for starters, is not the same as Mandarin, and being fluent in one doesn’t automatically make you fluent, or even able to understand, the other. Most of China doesn’t speak Cantonese, nor does Taiwan, pretty much just Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou. And the other big difference between Cantonese and say, Spanish, is the completely different character set, with all the brush strokes. And whether you’re learning from a book, an app or a CD, the learning curve can be pretty steep.


Adding to this, is the fact that there are many different ways to say the same thing (albeit with sometimes a slightly different intention or meaning), and you’ve got some serious learning to do. And Cantonese is very tonal, so it’s easy to accidentally say “fart” instead of “leather”, for example, because these two words sound very similar out loud.


If you’ve ever heard a conversation between two Cantonese speaking people, you will also notice that it usually sounds very animated, and this could easily be mistaken for arguing. But this is usually not the case. It’s just the language.


If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about my native tongue, check out my video!


Have a great week!

D

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