Cantonese speakers worry about the future of their language

Cantonese speakers worry about the future of their language

For years, studying to talk Cantonese wasn’t that troublesome in San Francisco. It’s a place the place Cantonese audio system have migrated from southern China for greater than 150 years. However now, there’s a concern that the Cantonese language and tradition could not survive the present political and social modifications.


It may be troublesome to study Cantonese. In writing, Mandarin and Cantonese use the identical Chinese language characters. However in dialog, the 2 are completely different. Mandarin 4 primary Ringtones. Cantonese has 9, which may be troublesome to distinguish between them.

Cantonese is spoken by about 85 million folks worldwide. In distinction, there are a few billion individuals who communicate Mandarin. As well as, the Chinese language authorities is pushing for a wider use of Mandarin because the nationwide language.

This transformation affected using the Cantonese language from Britain to the US.

Fourth-grade math college students take a look at an train at Alice Fung Yu College in San Francisco, Tuesday, August 30, 2022. The varsity is the primary China public submersible college within the nation to supply Cantonese schooling from kindergarten by eighth grade. (AP Photograph/Eric Risberg)

in Britain

In Britain, as in the US, most colleges providing Chinese language train Mandarin. Consequently, many immigrant Households battle to search out methods to go on their Cantonese language and tradition.

Ceci Pang runs courses for kids on the Cantonese Rainbow Seeds College in London, England. “Loads of[parents]need their youngsters to have the ability to join with their grandparents,” she mentioned. “It is very troublesome right here, there are only a few studying assets and a number of dad and mom getting it Irritating and give up. That is often the purpose the place dad and mom come to me.”

Pang mentioned she didn’t discover many instant considerations in regards to the disappearance of Cantonese as a language. However she mentioned that would change as extra migrants transfer from Hong Kong to Britain.

“I feel in a number of years’ time when an increasing number of Hong Kong households settle right here, there could also be extra dad and mom anxious about their youngsters rejecting Cantonese altogether…” she mentioned.

First grader Susie Tom A student points to pictures and characters on the wall at Alice Fung Yu School in San Francisco, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022 (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

First grader Susie Tom A scholar factors to footage and characters on the wall at Alice Fung Yu College in San Francisco, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022 (AP Photograph/Eric Risberg)

In China

In China, folks have expressed considerations for years in regards to the declining use of the Cantonese language. The language is spoken in southeast China’s Guangdong area and the cities of Hong Kong and Macao.

Guangzhou, previously generally known as Canton, is taken into account the birthplace of Cantonese. However at this time it has turn out to be a hub for manufacturing and technological jobs that herald Mandarin audio system. Now, many younger folks can solely perceive Cantonese however don’t communicate the language.

Whereas the Cantonese language shouldn’t be as vital in folks’s lives because it as soon as was, it’s too early to say that the language is in disaster in Guangzhou. Cantonese remains to be spoken at houses and amongst mates. There are Cantonese TV channels in addition to Cantonese ads for public transport.

Nonetheless, in Hong Kong, Cantonese stays the primary language within the metropolis. It’s utilized by 90 p.c of the inhabitants. This info comes from Lau Chaak-ming, assistant professor of linguistics on the College of Schooling in Hong Kong.

Whereas most lecture rooms in Hong Kong faculties are nonetheless taught in Cantonese, many have added Mandarin Curriculum The Chinese language authorities is making an attempt to consolidate its grip on the town. The Chinese language’s entry to work or schooling additionally elevated using Mandarin. As well as, extra Hong Kong residents discovered to talk Mandarin to do enterprise with the mainland.

However Lau mentioned these modifications didn’t eradicate Cantonese. “The Cantonese have by no means been stronger in Hong Kong,” he added.

Sik Lee Dennig shares a traditional dim sum meal with friends, family and former students in Mountain View, California, August 28, 2022. Dennig says she decided to retire after teaching Cantonese classes at Stanford for more than 20 years after the university cut funding for its Cantonese program.  (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

Sik Lee Dennig shares a conventional dim sum meal with mates, household and former college students in Mountain View, California, August 28, 2022. Dennig says she determined to retire after instructing Cantonese courses at Stanford for greater than 20 years after the college reduce funding for its Cantonese program. (AP Photograph/Haven Daley)

in the US of America

It is a completely different story in the US. Cantonese language instructing has declined considerably, together with in San Francisco, a metropolis that has attracted many Cantonese audio system over time. The San Francisco college system has each Cantonese and Mandarin applications for youthful college students. However in highschool, Mandarin is the one Chinese language language accessible.

In 1990, when Grace Yu was appointed to the Metropolis School of San Francisco, there have been 4 Cantonese academics and a number of other Cantonese courses supplied every year. However for the previous six years, Yu has been the one Cantonese professor, instructing three courses a yr.

vacancies They weren’t changed by Cantonese coaches. As an alternative, they employed Mandarin coaches, Yu mentioned. She described her state of affairs as “a sort of loneliness.”

This spring, Metropolis School authorised a doc to keep up the Cantonese program with not less than one Cantonese trainer. Yu famous that with the doc, “Cantonese courses won’t be canceled in case you retire.”

In the meantime, impartial Chinese language faculties are aiding language schooling as Cantonese-speaking communities develop.

Alida Poe was supervising Cantonese Kindergarten At Advantage Chinese language College in Plano, Texas, for over 10 years. Bo put her two sons in class so they might study the Cantonese language and tradition. Now, it is serving to different households do the identical.

“I hope it isn’t a dying language…” Poe mentioned.

I am John Russell.

And I am Ashley Thompson.

Terry Tang, Haven Daly and Sylvia Hoy reported this story to the Related Press. John Russell tailored it for VOA Studying English.

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The phrases on this story

tone, ring – n. transcendence or weak spot of a spoken syllable; Individual’s voice high quality

immigrant – n. An individual who strikes from one place to a different particularly to search out work

Irritating Pissed off or upset about not having the ability to do or full one thing

Curriculum – n. Programs taught by a college, school, and many others.

vacant – n. A job or place accessible to be stuffed

Kindergarten – n. College or class for very younger youngsters

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