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Kantonesische Sprache

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Yue, commonly known as Cantonese, is a primary branch of Chinese spoken in southern China.

The issue of whether Yue is a language in its own right or a dialect of a single Chinese language depends on conceptions of what a language is. Like the other branches of Chinese, Yue is considered a dialect for ethnic, political, and cultural reasons, but it is also considered a distinct language because of linguistic reasons. Spoken Cantonese is mutually unintelligible with other varieties of Chinese, though intelligible to a certain degree in its written form.

The areas of China with the highest concentration of speakers are the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi and the regions of Hong Kong and Macau. There are also substantial Cantonese- and Taishanese-speaking minorities overseas in Southeast Asia, Canada, Australia, and the United States.


 Relation to Classical Chinese
Since the pronunciation of all modern varieties of Chinese is different from Old Chinese or Middle Chinese, characters that once rhymed in poetry may no longer do so today. Some linguists agree to some extent that Cantonese is closer to classical Chinese in its pronunciation and some grammar. Many poems that don't rhyme in Mandarin do so in Cantonese. Cantonese retains a flavor of these archaic and ancient languages, and it has been used to help with linguistic reconstruction.

 Qin and Han
In the Qin Dynasty Chinese troops moved southward and conquered the Baiyue territories, and many Han people began settling in the Lingnan area. This migration led to the Chinese language being spoken in the Lingnan area. After Zhao Tuo was made the Duke of Nanyue by the Qin Dynasty and given authority over the Nanyue region, many Han people entered the area and lived together with the Nanyue population, consequently affecting the lifestyle of the Nanyue people as well as stimulating the spread of the Chinese language.

In the Sui Dynasty, North China was in a period of war and discontent, and many people moved southwards to avoid war, forming the first mass migration of Han people into the South. As the population in the Lingnan area dramatically rose, the Chinese language in the south developed significantly. Thus the Lingnan language began to develop more significant differences with central Chinese.

Yue pronunciation and vocabulary has preserved some features and elements from the Middle Chinese that was spoken during the Tang dynasty. Dialectologists believe that migrants and exiled officials from the heart of the Tang brought their dialect to Guangdong. Remoteness and inefficient transport to Guangdong created an environment in which the language remained largely intact after it arrived.

 Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing
In the Song Dynasty, the differences between central Chinese and Yue became more significant, and the languages became more independent of one another. This trend continued during the Yuan and Ming dynasties.

 Mid to late Qing
In the late Qing, the dynasty had gone through a period of maritime ban under the Hai jin. Guangzhou remained one of the few cities that allowed trading with foreign countries, since the trade chamber of commerce was established there. Therefore, some foreigners learned Cantonese and some Imperial government officials spoke the Cantonese dialect of Yue, making the language very popular in Cantonese-speaking Guangzhou. Also, European control of Macau and Hong Kong had increased the exposure of Cantonese to the world.

  20th century
In 1912, shortly after the fall of the Qing dynasty, revolutionary leaders including Sun Yat-sen met to choose a new national language to replace Classical Chinese. Mandarin Putonghua was then a northern dialect spoken by the Manchurian officials. Many perceived it as an 'impure form' of Chinese. Cantonese is said to have lost out by a small margin of the vote to Putonghua, though some historians dispute this.

The popularity of Cantonese-language media, Cantopop and the Hong Kong film industry, has since led to substantial exposure of Cantonese to China and the rest of Asia. On the Mainland, the national policy is to promote Putonghua. While the government does not prevent people from promoting local Cantonese language and culture, it does not support them. Occasionally there are news reports of children being punished for speaking Cantonese in schools.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Юэ (язык)", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.