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Hong Kong Cantonese

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  Summary  

Hong Kong Cantonese is a form of Yue Chinese commonly spoken in Hong Kong. Although Hongkongers largely identify this variant of Chinese with the term "Cantonese" ("廣東話"), a variety of publications in mainland China describe the variant as Hong Kong speech ("香港話"). There are slight differences between the pronunciation used in Hong Kong Cantonese and that of the Cantonese spoken in the neighbouring Chinese province of Guangdong, where Cantonese is a lingua franca. Over the years, Hong Kong Cantonese has also absorbed foreign vocabularies and developed a large set of Hong Kong-specific vocabularies. These differences from the Canton norm are the result of British rule between 1841 and 1997, as well as the closure of the Hong Kong-China border immediately after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

  Biography  

Before the arrival of British settlers in 1842, the inhabitants of Hong Kong mainly spoke the Dongguan-Bao'an (Tung Kwun-Po On) dialect of Yue, as well as Hakka, Teochew, and Tanka. These dialects are all remarkably different from Cantonese.

After the British acquired Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories from the Qing in 1841 , 1860 and 1898 respectively, large numbers of merchants and workers came to Hong Kong from the city of Canton, the centre of Cantonese. Cantonese became the dominant spoken language in Hong Kong. The frequent migration between Hong Kong and other Cantonese-speaking areas did not cease until the 1949 when the Communists took over mainland China. During this period, the Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong was very similar to that in Canton.

Around 1949, the year that the People's Republic of China was established, Hong Kong saw a large influx of refugees from different areas of China. The Hong Kong Government closed the border to halt the influx, but illegal immigration from mainland China into Hong Kong continued. Because of this, the correspondence between language and ethnicity may generally be true though not absolute, as many Chinese who speak Hong Kong Cantonese may come from other areas of China, especially Shanghai or non-Cantonese regions of Guangdong where Hakka and Teochiu prevail. Movement, communication, and relations between Hong Kong and mainland China became very limited, and consequently the evolution of Cantonese in Hong Kong diverged from that in the rest of Guangdong. In mainland China, the use of Mandarin as the language of official use and education was enforced. In British ruled Hong Kong and the Hong Kong SAR, Cantonese was and continues to be the medium of instruction in schools, along with written English and written Chinese. And because of the long exposure to English during the colonial period, large number of English words were loaned into Hong Kong Cantonese, e.g. "巴士" (/páːsǐː/), literately, "bus". Hong Kong people even started to calque English constructions, for example, "咁都唔 make sense" (literately "it still does not make sense."). Therefore, the vocabularies of Cantonese in Mainland China and Hong Kong differed.

Moreover, the pronunciation of Cantonese changed while the change either did not occur in Mainland China or took place much slower. For example, merging of /n/ initial into /l/ initial and /ŋ/ initial into null initial were observed. Due to the limited communication between Hong Kong and Mainland China, these changes only had a limited effect in Mainland China at that time. As a result, the pronunciation of Cantonese between Hong Kong and Mainland China varied, and so native speakers may note the difference when listening to Hong Kong Cantonese and Mainland China Cantonese.

Hong Kong-based Cantonese can be found in Hong Kong popular culture such as Hong Kong films and Hong Kong pop music . Hong Kong people who have emigrated to other countries have brought Hong Kong Cantonese to other parts of the world.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Hong Kong Cantonese", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.