Mandarin vs. Cantonese:
They are two SPOKEN styles/dialects of Chinese language. As an official spoken “dialect”, Mandarin is widely used in Mainland China, Taiwan area and Singapore. Cantonese is specifically targeted to HK audience only.
Mandarin in China
In Mainland China, we don’t have this exact word. Instead, we call this official dialect as “Pu Tong Hua”, which means the “common/standard language” in English. Where does this word “MANDARIN” come from? There is saying that the pronunciation of this word sounds like “Man Da Ren” in Chinese, which indicates the “Officials of Qing Dynasty”. However, this saying is only a saying for foreigners – the word “MANDARIN” in its English form basically means nothing to normal Chinese people who do not speak English. (Sounds strange? Normal Chinese people don’t know what is “MANDARIN” while many English-speaking people like you understand that it’s the official language spoken in China. Well, we have our own word for that, the “Pu Tong Hua”.)
Does Cantonese become an “Independent” language?
No it’s not an “Independent” language, it’s just a dialect spoken in China’s Guangdong (or you may say “Canton”) province and in Hong Kong.
So why didn’t other Chinese dialects gain the same or similar importance in western world? Why don’t we hear much of “Sichuanese”, “Shanghainese” or “Shandongnese”? This is because the Grangdong province was the earliest in China to start its communication and economic exchange with the western world more than one hundred years ago (Hong Kong was then a small village lying on the south coast of Guangdong). Many Chinese people nowadays living in the United States are of Canton (Guangdong) origin, their accent (Cantonese) is much more heard by western people than any other Chinese dialect was.
Too complex for you? Maybe you don’t have to spend too much time to study these. To handle your Chinese projects, you just need to know:
For mainland readers, use Simplified Chinese text, mandarin style
For HK readers, use Traditional Chinese text, Cantonese style
For Taiwanese readers, use Traditional Chinese text, mandarin style
For Singapore readers, same as for mainland readers.
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