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Yue () is a group of similar
Sinitic languages The Sinitic languages, often synonymous with "Chinese languages", constitute the major branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages, Sino-Tibetan language family. It is frequently proposed that there is a primary split between the Sinitic languages and ...
spoken in
Southern China Northern China () and Southern China () are two approximate mega-regions within China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's ...
, particularly in
Liangguang The provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, c. 1900. A western part of Guangdong south of Guangxi (Nanlu region) has since been given to Guangxi to give it access to the sea. Liangguang (; Postal romanization: Liangkwang) is a Chinese language, Chinese ...
(the
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal Provinces of China, province in South China on the north shore of the South China Sea. The capital of the province is Guangzhou. W ...

Guangdong
and
Guangxi Guangxi (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, loca ...

Guangxi
provinces). The name Cantonese is often used for the whole group, but linguists prefer to reserve that name for the variety used in
Guangzhou Guangzhou (, ; ; or ; ), also known as Canton and alternatively romanized as Kwongchow or Kwangchow, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the ...

Guangzhou
(Canton),
Wuzhou Wuzhou (, postal: Wuchow; za, Ngouzcouh / Ŋouƨcouƅ), formerly Ngchow, is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a ...

Wuzhou
(Ngchow),
Hong Kong Hong Kong (, ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) (), is a metropolitan area and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of the China, People's Repu ...

Hong Kong
and
Macau Macau or Macao (; ; ; ), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (MSAR), (RAEM) is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of the Chi ...

Macau
, which is the
prestige dialect In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and society's effect on language. ...
.
Taishanese Taishanese, or in the Cantonese romanization Toisanese (; Taishanese: ), is a language of Yue Chinese Yue () is a group of similar Sinitic languages spoken in Southern China, particularly in Liangguang (the Guangdong and Guangxi ...
, from the coastal area of
Jiangmen Jiangmen, alternately romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and mode ...

Jiangmen
(Kongmoon) located southwest of Guangzhou, was the language of most of the 19th-century emigrants from Guangdong to Southeast Asia and North America. Most later migrants have been speakers of
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale romanization of Cantonese, Yale: ''Gwóngdūng wá'') is a language within the Varieties of Chinese, Chinese (Sinitic) branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages originating from the city of Guang ...
. Yue varieties are not
mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
with other
varieties of Chinese Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, w ...
. They are among the most
conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the traditional values or practices of the culture and civilization ...
varieties with regard to the final consonants and tonal categories of
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese language, Chinese recorded in the ''Qieyun'', a rime dictionary first published in 601 and followed by several revised and expanded ...
, but have lost several distinctions in the initial and medial consonants that other Chinese varieties have retained.


Naming

The prototypical use of the name ''Cantonese'' in English is for the Yue variety of Guangzhou (Canton), but it is also used for Yue as a whole. To avoid confusion, academic texts may call the primary branch of Chinese "Yue",Ethnologue: "Yue Chinese"; "Yue" or older "Yüeh" in the OED; ISO code ''yue'' following the
Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan (ROC), and Singapore. It is often used to teach Standard Chinese, Standard Mandari ...

pinyin
spelling, and either restrict "Cantonese" to its common usage for the Guangzhou variety, or avoid the term "Cantonese" altogether and distinguish Yue from Guangzhou (Canton) dialect. In Chinese, people of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Cantonese immigrants abroad, usually call their language ''Gwóngdūng wá'' (廣東話) "speech of Guangdong". The people of Guangdong and Guangxi also use the term ''Yuht Yúh'' (粵語) "Yue language" and the term ''baahk wá'' (), as for example in an expression like "南寧白話", which means the "''baak waa'' of Nanning".


History

The area of China south of the
Nanling Mountains The Nanling (), also known as the Wuling (), is a major mountain range in Southern China Northern China () and Southern China () are two approximate mega-regions within China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC) ...
, known as the
Lingnan Lingnan (; Vietnamese language, Vietnamese: Lĩnh Nam) is a geographic area referring to the lands in the south of the Nanling Mountains. The region covers the modern Chinese subdivisions of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hong Kong, and Macau, as w ...
(roughly modern
Guangxi Guangxi (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, loca ...

Guangxi
and
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal Provinces of China, province in South China on the north shore of the South China Sea. The capital of the province is Guangzhou. W ...

Guangdong
), was originally home to peoples known to the Chinese as the
Hundred Yue The Baiyue ( zh, t=百越), Hundred Yue, or simply Yue, was a blanket term historically used by ancient Chinese to describe various indigenous ethnic groups inhabiting sporadic regions in Southern China Northern China () and Southern Chin ...
(Baiyue). Large-scale Han Chinese migration to the area began after the Qin conquest of the region in 214 BC. Successive waves of immigration followed at times of upheaval in Northern and Central China, such as the collapse of the
Han Han may refer to: Ethnic groups * Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on ...

Han
, Tang and
Song A song is a musical composition intended to be performed by the human voice. This is often done at melody, distinct and fixed pitches (melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various song form, forms, such as those includi ...
dynasties. The most popular route was via the
Xiang River The Xiang River is the chief river of the Lake Dongting drainage system of the middle Yangtze, the largest river in Hunan Province, China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of ...
, which the Qin had connected to the
Li River The Li River or Li Jiang (), which belongs to the Xi River, Xijiang River system in the Pearl River (China), Pearl River Basin, is a generic term for the tributary of the upper reaches of the Gui River, Guijiang River and is located in the northea ...
by the
Lingqu Canal The Lingqu () is a canal in Xing'an County Xing'an County is a county (China), county in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. It is administered as part of the prefecture-level city of Guilin. Its area is , with a population ...

Lingqu Canal
, and then into the valley of the Xi Jiang (West River). A secondary route followed the
Gan River The Gan River (, Gan: Kōm-kong) travels north through the western part of Jiangxi before flowing into Lake Poyang and thus the Yangtze River. The Xiang-Gan uplands separate it from the Xiang River of neighboring eastern Hunan. It is the major ...
and then the
Bei Jiang Image:Zhujiangrivermap.png, 400px, right Bei River (北江;, pinyin: Běi Jiāng, jyutping: Bak1 Gong1, literally "North River") is the northern tributary of the Pearl River (China), Pearl River in southern China. The other two main tributaries o ...
(North River) into eastern Guangdong. Yue-speakers were later joined by
Hakka The Hakka (), sometimes also referred to as Hakka Han, or Hakka Chinese, are a Han Chinese Han Chinese subgroups, subgroup whose ancestral homes are chiefly in the Hakka Chinese, Hakka-speaking provincial areas of Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Gu ...
-speakers following the North River route, and Min-speakers arriving by sea. After the fall of Qin, the Lingnan area was part of the independent state of
Nanyue Nanyue (, also called Southern Yue) or Nam Việt ( vi, Nam Việt; za, Namzyied), was an ancient kingdom ruled by Chinese monarchs of the Triệu dynasty that covered the modern Chinese subdivisions of Guangdong, Guangxi Guangxi (; alt ...

Nanyue
for about a century, before being incorporated in the Han empire in 111 BC. After the Tang dynasty collapsed, much of the area became part of the state of
Southern Han Southern Han (; 917–971), officially Han (), originally Yue (), was one of the ten kingdoms that existed during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–979) was an era of political upheav ...
, one of the longest-lived states of the
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–979) was an era of political upheaval and division in 10th-century Imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang d ...
, between 917 and 971. Large waves of Chinese migration throughout succeeding Chinese dynasties assimilated huge numbers of Yue aborigines, with the result that today's Southern Han Chinese Yue-speaking population is descended from both groups. The colloquial layers of Yue varieties contain elements influenced by the
Tai languages Tai or TAI may refer to: Arts and entertainment *Tai (comics) Tai is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. A Cambodian, Tai was something of a mentor for the New Warriors in the first 25 issues of ...
formerly spoken widely in the area and still spoken by people such as the
ZhuangZhuang may refer to: *Zhuang people (or Bouxcuengh people), ethnic group in China *Zhuang languages *Zhuang logogram *Zhuang Zhou, ancient Chinese philosopher *Zhuang (surname) (庄/莊), a Chinese surname {{disambiguation Language and nationality ...
or the Dong.


Rise of Cantonese

The port city of
Guangzhou Guangzhou (, ; ; or ; ), also known as Canton and alternatively romanized as Kwongchow or Kwangchow, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the ...

Guangzhou
lies in the middle of
Pearl River Delta The Pearl River Delta Metropolitan Region (PRD; ; pt, Delta do Rio das Pérolas (DRP)) is the low-lying area surrounding the Pearl River estuary, where the Pearl River flows into the South China Sea. It is one of the most densely urbanized regi ...
, with access to the interior via the West River, North River and
East River The East River is a salt water tidal estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone ...
, which all converge at the delta. It has been the economic centre of the Lingnan region since Qin times, when it was an important shipbuilding centre. By 660, it was the largest port in China, part of a trade network stretching as far as Arabia. During the
Southern Song The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kuan ...

Southern Song
, it also became the cultural centre of the region. Like many other Chinese varieties it developed a distinct literary layer associated with the local tradition of reading the classics. The Guangzhou dialect (Cantonese) was used in the popular ''Yuèōu'', ''Mùyú'' and ''Nányīn'' folksong genres, as well as
Cantonese opera Cantonese opera is one of the major categories in Chinese opera, originating in southern China's Guangdong Guangdong ( alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administ ...
. There was also a small amount of vernacular literature, written with Chinese characters extended with a number of non-traditional characters for Cantonese words. Guangzhou became the centre of rapidly expanding foreign trade after the maritime ban was lifted, with the British
East India Company The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), the English East India Company or (after 1707) the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Comp ...
establishing a chamber of commerce in the city in 1715. The ancestors of most of the Han Chinese population of
Hong Kong Hong Kong (, ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) (), is a metropolitan area and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of the China, People's Repu ...

Hong Kong
came from Guangzhou after the territory was ceded to Britain in 1842. As a result,
Hong Kong Cantonese Hong Kong Cantonese is a dialect of the Cantonese language of the Sino-Tibetan family. It is the native and ''de facto'' standard language of Hong Kong.. A similar dialect is also spoken in Macau. Although Hong Kongers refer to the language ...
, the most widely spoken language in Hong Kong and Macau, is an offshoot of the Guangzhou dialect. The popularity of Cantonese-language media,
Cantopop Cantopop (a contraction of "Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale romanization of Cantonese, Yale: ''Gwóngdūng wá'') is a language within the Varieties of Chinese, Chinese (Sinitic) branch of the Sino-Tibetan ...
and the
Cinema of Hong Kong The cinema of Hong Kong ( zh, t=香港電影) is one of the three major threads in the history of Chinese language cinema, alongside the cinema of China, and the cinema of Taiwan. As a former British colony, British Hong Kong, Hong Kong had a gre ...
has since led to substantial exposure of Cantonese to China and the rest of Asia. On the Mainland, the national policy is to promote
Standard Chinese Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca among the speakers of various Mandarin and other varieties of C ...
, which is also the medium of instruction in schools. The place of local Cantonese language and culture remains contentious. In 2010, a controversial proposal to switch some programming on Guangzhou local television from Cantonese to Mandarin was abandoned following widespread backlash accompanied by public protests.


Languages and dialects

Yue languages are spoken in the southern provinces of
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal Provinces of China, province in South China on the north shore of the South China Sea. The capital of the province is Guangzhou. W ...

Guangdong
and
Guangxi Guangxi (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, loca ...

Guangxi
, an area long dominated culturally and economically by the city of
Guangzhou Guangzhou (, ; ; or ; ), also known as Canton and alternatively romanized as Kwongchow or Kwangchow, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the ...

Guangzhou
(Canton) at the delta of the
Pearl River The Pearl River, also known by its Chinese language, Chinese name Zhujiang in Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin pinyin or Chu Kiang and formerly often known as the , is an extensive river system in South Central China, southern China. The name "Pear ...
. The
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale romanization of Cantonese, Yale: ''Gwóngdūng wá'') is a language within the Varieties of Chinese, Chinese (Sinitic) branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages originating from the city of Guang ...
variety, also spoken in
Hong Kong Hong Kong (, ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) (), is a metropolitan area and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of the China, People's Repu ...

Hong Kong
and
Macau Macau or Macao (; ; ; ), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (MSAR), (RAEM) is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of the Chi ...

Macau
, is the prestige variety of Yue. The influence of Guangzhou has spread westward along the Pearl River system, so that, for example, the speech of the city of
Wuzhou Wuzhou (, postal: Wuchow; za, Ngouzcouh / Ŋouƨcouƅ), formerly Ngchow, is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a ...

Wuzhou
some upstream in Guangxi is much more similar to that of Guangzhou than dialects of coastal districts that are closer but separated from the city by hilly terrain. One of these coastal languages,
Taishanese Taishanese, or in the Cantonese romanization Toisanese (; Taishanese: ), is a language of Yue Chinese Yue () is a group of similar Sinitic languages spoken in Southern China, particularly in Liangguang (the Guangdong and Guangxi ...
, is the most common Yue variety among overseas communities. Yue varieties are not totally mutually intelligible with one another.


Classification

In
Yuan Jiahua Yuan Jiahua (, ; January 19034 September 1980) was a Chinese linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Si ...
's dialect manual (1962), Yue dialects were divided into five groups: * Yuehai, covering the
Pearl River Delta The Pearl River Delta Metropolitan Region (PRD; ; pt, Delta do Rio das Pérolas (DRP)) is the low-lying area surrounding the Pearl River estuary, where the Pearl River flows into the South China Sea. It is one of the most densely urbanized regi ...
and
Xi River The Xi River (;"Xi"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''. ) or Si-Kiang is the western tributary of the Pearl River ( ...
valley. *
Siyi The Siyi (Seiyap or Sze Yup in Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale: ''Gwóngdūng wá'') is a language within the Varieties of Chinese, Chinese (Sinitic) branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages originating from the ...
(''Seiyap'' "four counties"), in the coastal prefecture of
Jiangmen Jiangmen, alternately romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and mode ...

Jiangmen
to the southwest of Guangzhou. * Gao–Lei, in southwestern Guangdong. * Qin–Lian (''Hamlim'') in southern
Guangxi Guangxi (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, loca ...

Guangxi
. * Guinan, in southwestern Guangxi. In the ''
Language Atlas of China The ''Language Atlas of China'' (), published in two parts in 1987 and 1989, maps the distribution of both the varieties of Chinese Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety Algebraic varieties are the centr ...
'', some varieties spoken in western Guangxi formerly classified as Yue are placed in a separate
Pinghua Pinghua (; Yale: ''Pìhng Wá''; sometimes disambiguated as /) is a pair of Sinitic languages spoken mainly in parts of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with some speakers in Hunan Hunan () is a landlocked province A province is a ...
group. The remaining Yue dialects are divided into seven groups. Three groups are found in the watershed of the
Pearl River The Pearl River, also known by its Chinese language, Chinese name Zhujiang in Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin pinyin or Chu Kiang and formerly often known as the , is an extensive river system in South Central China, southern China. The name "Pear ...
: * Guangfu () includes
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale romanization of Cantonese, Yale: ''Gwóngdūng wá'') is a language within the Varieties of Chinese, Chinese (Sinitic) branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages originating from the city of Guang ...
proper, spoken in
Guangzhou Guangzhou (, ; ; or ; ), also known as Canton and alternatively romanized as Kwongchow or Kwangchow, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the ...

Guangzhou
,
Hong Kong Hong Kong (, ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) (), is a metropolitan area and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of the China, People's Repu ...

Hong Kong
and
Macau Macau or Macao (; ; ; ), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (MSAR), (RAEM) is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of the Chi ...

Macau
, as well as the dialects of surrounding areas in the
Pearl River Delta The Pearl River Delta Metropolitan Region (PRD; ; pt, Delta do Rio das Pérolas (DRP)) is the low-lying area surrounding the Pearl River estuary, where the Pearl River flows into the South China Sea. It is one of the most densely urbanized regi ...
such as
Zhongshan Zhongshan (; ) is a prefecture-level city in the south of the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong Provinces of China, province, China, with a population of over 3 million (2012). The city-core subdistricts used to be called Shiqi or Shekki (). Zhong ...

Zhongshan
,
Foshan Foshan, postal map romanization, alternately romanization of Chinese, romanized as Fatshan, is a prefecture-level city in central Guangdong province of China, Province, China. The entire prefecture covers and has an urbanization in China, urban ...
,
Dongguan Dongguan () is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful distinction, because the sign is located ''already'' w ...
,
Zhuhai Zhuhai (, ; Yale Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research universities in the Northeastern United S ...

Zhuhai
and
Shenzhen Shenzhen (; ; ), also known as Sham Chun, is a major sub-provincial A sub-provincial division () (or deputy-provincial divisions) in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List ...

Shenzhen
, and in southern parts of the inland prefectures of
Zhaoqing Zhaoqing () , postal map romanization, alternately romanization of Chinese, romanized as Shiuhing, is a prefecture-level city in Guangdong Province (China), Province, China. As of the 2020 Chinese census, 2020 census, its population was 4,113 ...

Zhaoqing
and
Qingyuan Qingyuan, formerly romanized as Tsingyun, is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful distinction, because th ...

Qingyuan
and in parts of Guangxi such as the city of
Wuzhou Wuzhou (, postal: Wuchow; za, Ngouzcouh / Ŋouƨcouƅ), formerly Ngchow, is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a ...

Wuzhou
. * Gou–Lou (''Ngau–Lau'') dialects are spoken in inland areas of western Guangdong and eastern Guangxi, and include the dialect of Yulin (Bobai). * Yong–Xun (''Yuhng–Cham'') is spoken mainly in the YongYuXun valley in Guangxi, including the provincial capital
Nanning Nanning (; za, Namzningz) is the capital and largest city by population of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in Southern China. It is known as the "Green City" because of its abundance of lush subtropical The subtropical zones or subt ...

Nanning
. The remaining four groups are found in coastal areas: *
Siyi The Siyi (Seiyap or Sze Yup in Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale: ''Gwóngdūng wá'') is a language within the Varieties of Chinese, Chinese (Sinitic) branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages originating from the ...
(Sze Yap) dialects are spoken in the coastal prefecture of
Jiangmen Jiangmen, alternately romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and mode ...

Jiangmen
to the southwest of Guangzhou. They include the Taishan variety, also known as
Taishanese Taishanese, or in the Cantonese romanization Toisanese (; Taishanese: ), is a language of Yue Chinese Yue () is a group of similar Sinitic languages spoken in Southern China, particularly in Liangguang (the Guangdong and Guangxi ...
, which was ubiquitous in American
Chinatown A Chinatown () is an ethnic enclave of Chinese people located outside mainland China Mainland China, also known as the Chinese mainland, China mainland, or the Mainland Area of the Republic of China is the geopolitics, geopolitical area ...

Chinatown
s before the 1970s. * Gao–Yang dialects are spoken in areas of southwestern Guangdong such as
Yangjiang Yangjiang, postal map romanization, alternately romanization of Chinese, romanized as Yeungkong, is a prefecture-level city in southwestern Guangdong provinces of China, Province in the People's Republic of China. It borders Maoming to the west, Y ...

Yangjiang
and Lianjiang. * Wu–Hua is spoken mainly in western Guangdong around Wuchuan and Huazhou. * Qin–Lian dialects are spoken in the southern Guangxi areas of
Beihai Beihai () is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful distinction, because the sign is located ''already'' wit ...

Beihai
,
Qinzhou Qinzhou ( postal: Yamchow, , Jyutping: ''Jam1 zau1'' ( Canton) /''Ham1 zau1'' ( Local) ) is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangs ...

Qinzhou
and Fangcheng. Anne Yue-Hashimoto has proposed an alternative classification based on a wider sampling of features: * Pearl River Delta ** Northern ***
Sanyi–Zhaoqing
Sanyi–Zhaoqing
: dialects of
Foshan Foshan, postal map romanization, alternately romanization of Chinese, romanized as Fatshan, is a prefecture-level city in central Guangdong province of China, Province, China. The entire prefecture covers and has an urbanization in China, urban ...
and southeast
Zhaoqing Zhaoqing () , postal map romanization, alternately romanization of Chinese, romanized as Shiuhing, is a prefecture-level city in Guangdong Province (China), Province, China. As of the 2020 Chinese census, 2020 census, its population was 4,113 ...

Zhaoqing
*** Interior: western part of the Pearl River catchment, including the ''Atlass Gou–Lou and southern
Pinghua Pinghua (; Yale: ''Pìhng Wá''; sometimes disambiguated as /) is a pair of Sinitic languages spoken mainly in parts of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with some speakers in Hunan Hunan () is a landlocked province A province is a ...
dialects. ** Guangfu *** Core:
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale romanization of Cantonese, Yale: ''Gwóngdūng wá'') is a language within the Varieties of Chinese, Chinese (Sinitic) branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages originating from the city of Guang ...
proper (Guangzhou,
Hong Kong Cantonese Hong Kong Cantonese is a dialect of the Cantonese language of the Sino-Tibetan family. It is the native and ''de facto'' standard language of Hong Kong.. A similar dialect is also spoken in Macau. Although Hong Kongers refer to the language ...
) *** Interior: Gao–Yang dialects of
Maoming Maoming, alternately romanized as Mowming, is a prefecture-level city located in southwestern Guangdong province, China. Facing the South China Sea to the city's south, Maoming city borders Zhanjiang to the west, Yangjiang to the east, and ...

Maoming
and the Yong–Xun dialects of
Nanning Nanning (; za, Namzningz) is the capital and largest city by population of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in Southern China. It is known as the "Green City" because of its abundance of lush subtropical The subtropical zones or subt ...

Nanning
and
Guiping Guiping () is a county-level city A county-level municipality (), county-level city or county city, formerly known as prefecture-controlled city (1949–1970: ; 1970–1983: ), is a Administrative divisions of China#County level ...
. ** Southern *** Zhongshan, including Shiqi dialect *** Guan–Lian: dialects of the east delta region (
Dongguan Dongguan () is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful distinction, because the sign is located ''already'' w ...
and the
New Territories The New Territories is one of the three main regions of Hong Kong Hong Kong (, ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) (), is a metropolitan area and Special administrative re ...
) as well as the coastal Guangxi dialects classified as Qin–Lian in the ''Atlas''. *** Interior: Huazhou, Wuchuan, Yulin * Wuyi–Liangyang ** Wuyi *** Xin–En: Xinhui, Taishan, Enping and the neighbouring
Doumen District Doumen District () is a district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or counties, several ...
. *** Kai-He: Kaiping and Heshan. ** Liangyang:
Yangjiang Yangjiang, postal map romanization, alternately romanization of Chinese, romanized as Yeungkong, is a prefecture-level city in southwestern Guangdong provinces of China, Province in the People's Republic of China. It borders Maoming to the west, Y ...

Yangjiang
and
Yangchun Yangchun, alternately romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and mod ...
(the eastern part of the ''Atlass Gao–Yang area) The
Dapeng dialect Dapeng dialect () is a Chinese dialect, a variant of Yue Chinese, Cantonese with a strong Hakka Chinese, Hakka influence that was originally only spoken on the Dapeng Peninsula of Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. The Overseas Chinese, Chinese diaspora h ...
is a Cantonese-Hakka mixed language spoken by 3,000 to 5,500 people in Dapeng, Shenzhen.


Cantonese

The Guangzhou (Canton) dialect of ''Yuehai'', usually called "Cantonese", is the
prestige dialect In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and society's effect on language. ...
of Guangdong province and social standard of Yue. It is the most widely spoken dialect of Yue and is an official language of Hong Kong and of Macau, alongside English and Portuguese respectively. It is the ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
'' of not only
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal Provinces of China, province in South China on the north shore of the South China Sea. The capital of the province is Guangzhou. W ...

Guangdong
province but also of overseas Cantonese emigrants, though in many areas abroad it is numerically second to the
Taishanese Taishanese, or in the Cantonese romanization Toisanese (; Taishanese: ), is a language of Yue Chinese Yue () is a group of similar Sinitic languages spoken in Southern China, particularly in Liangguang (the Guangdong and Guangxi ...
dialect of Yue. By law,
Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
(''Putonghua'' or ''guoyu'') is the standard language of mainland China and
Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The main islan ...

Taiwan
and is taught nearly universally as a supplement to local languages such as Cantonese in Guangdong and Guangxi. In Guangzhou, many distinctively Yue vocabulary items have been replaced with Cantonese pronunciations of corresponding ''Putonghua'' terms. Cantonese is the ''de facto'' official language of Hong Kong (along with English) and Macau (along with Portuguese), though legally the official language is just "Chinese". It is the oral language of instruction in Chinese schools in Hong Kong and Macau, and is used extensively in Cantonese-speaking households. Cantonese-language media (Hong Kong films, television serials, and
Cantopop Cantopop (a contraction of "Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale romanization of Cantonese, Yale: ''Gwóngdūng wá'') is a language within the Varieties of Chinese, Chinese (Sinitic) branch of the Sino-Tibetan ...
), which exist in isolation from the other regions of China, local identity, and the non-Mandarin speaking Cantonese diaspora in Hong Kong and abroad give the language a unique identity. Colloquial Hong Kong Cantonese often incorporates English words due to historical British influences. Most ''
wuxia ( ), which literally means "martial heroes", is a genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artist Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense; militar ...
'' films from Canton are filmed originally in Cantonese and then dubbed or subtitled in Mandarin,
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, or both.


Taishanese

When the Chinese government removed the prohibition on emigration in the mid-19th century, many people from rural areas in the coastal regions of Fujian and Guangdong emigrated to Southeast Asia and North America. Until the late 20th century, the vast majority of Chinese immigrants to North America came from the
Siyi The Siyi (Seiyap or Sze Yup in Cantonese; ) refers to the four former counties of Xinhui (Sunwui), Taishan, Guangdong, Taishan (Toisan), Kaiping (Hoiping) and Enping (Yanping) in the Pearl River Delta of Southern Guangdong, Guangdong Province, Chi ...
(four counties) to the southwest of Guangzhou. The speech of this region, particularly the Taishan dialect, is thus the most common Yue variety in these areas. It is only partially understood by speakers of Cantonese.


Phonology

Yue varieties are among the most
conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...
of Chinese varieties regarding the final consonants and tonal categories of
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese language, Chinese recorded in the ''Qieyun'', a rime dictionary first published in 601 and followed by several revised and expanded ...
, so that the rhymes of Tang poetry are clearer in Yue dialects than elsewhere. However they have lost several distinctions in the initial and medial consonants that other Chinese varieties have retained.


Initials and medials

In addition to aspirated and unaspirated voiceless initials, Middle Chinese had a series of voiced initials, but voicing has been lost in Yue and most other modern Chinese varieties apart from Wu and
Old Xiang Old Xiang, also known as Lou-Shao (娄邵片 / 婁邵片), is a conservative Xiang Chinese language. It is spoken in the central areas of Hunan Hunan () is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division within ...
. In the Guangfu, Siyi and Gao–Yang subgroups, these initials have yielded aspirated consonants in the level and rising tones, and unaspirated consonants in the departing and entering tones. These initials are uniformly unaspirated in Gou–Lou varieties and uniformly aspirated in Wu–Hua. In many Yue varieties, including Cantonese, Middle Chinese has become or in most words; in Taishanese, has also changed to , for example, in the native name of the dialect, "Hoisan". In Siyi and eastern Gao–Yang, Middle Chinese has become a
voiceless lateral fricative The voiceless In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic ...
. Most Yue varieties have merged the Middle Chinese
retroflex A retroflex, apico-domal, or cacuminal () consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral c ...
sibilants with the
alveolar Alveolus (pl. alveoli, adj. alveolar) is a general anatomical term for a concave cavity or pit. Alveolus may refer to: In anatomy and zoology in general * Pulmonary alveolus A pulmonary alveolus (plural: alveoli, from Latin ''alveolus'', "littl ...

alveolar
sibilants, in contrast with
Mandarin dialects Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic (Chinese) languages spoken across most of northern and southwestern China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies ...
, which have generally maintained the distinction. For example, the words ''jiāng'' and ''zhāng'' are distinguished in Mandarin, but in modern Cantonese they have the same sound, ''jeung1''. Many Mandarin varieties, including
Beijing dialect The Beijing dialect (), also known as Pekingese, is the prestige dialect of Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin spoken in the urban area of Beijing, China. It is the phonological basis of Standard Chinese, the official language in the China, People's Repub ...
, have a third sibilant series, formed through a merger of palatalized alveolar sibilants and velars, but this is a recent innovation, which has not affected Yue and other Chinese varieties. For example, 晶, 精, 經 and 京 are all pronounced as ''jīng'' in Mandarin, but in Cantonese the first pair is pronounced ''jīng'', and the second pair ''gīng''. The earlier pronunciation is reflected in historical Mandarin romanizations, such as "Peking" (
Beijing Beijing ( ; ; ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the Capital city, capital of the People's Republic of China. It is the world's List of national capitals by population, most populous national capital ci ...

Beijing
), "Kiangsi" (
Jiangxi Jiangxi (; Postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kiangsi or Chianghsi, Gan Chinese: ''Kongsi'', Hakka: ''Gong Si'') is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in East China, the east of the China, People's Republic of China. Its capit ...

Jiangxi
) and "Tientsin" (
Tianjin Tianjin (; ; Mandarin: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Tientsin, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality and a coastal metropolis in North China, Northern China on the shore of the Bohai Sea. It is ...

Tianjin
). Some Yue speakers, such as many Hong Kong Cantonese speakers born after World War II, merge with , but Taishanese and most other Yue varieties preserve the distinction. Younger Cantonese speakers also tend not to distinguish between and the zero initial, though this distinction is retained in most Yue dialects. Yue varieties retain the initial in words where Late Middle Chinese shows a shift to a labiodental consonant, realized in most Northern varieties of Chinese as . Nasals can be independent syllables in Yue words, e.g. Cantonese ''ńgh'' (五) "five", and ''m̀h'' (唔) "not", although Middle Chinese did not have syllables of this type. In most Yue varieties (except for Tengxian), the rounded medial has merged with the following vowel to form a monophthong, except after velar initials. In most analyses velars followed by are treated as Labialized velar consonant, labio-velars. Most Yue varieties have retained the Middle Chinese palatal medial, but in Cantonese it has also been lost to monophthongization, yielding a variety of vowels.


Final consonants and tones

Middle Chinese syllables could end with glides or , nasals , or , or stops , or . Syllables with vocalic or nasal endings could occur with one of three tonal contours, called level (''píng'' 平), rising (''shǎng'' 上) or departing (''qù'' 去). Syllables with final stops were traditionally treated as a fourth tone category, the entering tone (''rù'' 入), because the stops were distributed in the same way as the corresponding final nasals. While northern and central varieties have lost some of the Middle Chinese final consonants, they are retained by most southern Chinese varieties, though sometimes affected by sound shifts. They are most faithfully preserved in Yue dialects. Final stops have disappeared entirely in most Mandarin dialects, including the Beijing-based standard, with the syllables distributed across the other tones. For example, the characters , , , , , , , , , and are all pronounced ''yì'' in Mandarin, but they are all different in Yue (Cantonese ''jeoi6'', ''ngat6'', ''ngai6'', ''jik1'', ''jik6'', ''ji3'', ''ji6'', ''ai3'', ''jap1'', and ''jat6'', respectively). Similarly, in Mandarin dialects the Middle Chinese final has merged with , but the distinction is maintained in southern varieties of Chinese such as
Hakka The Hakka (), sometimes also referred to as Hakka Han, or Hakka Chinese, are a Han Chinese Han Chinese subgroups, subgroup whose ancestral homes are chiefly in the Hakka Chinese, Hakka-speaking provincial areas of Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Gu ...
, Min and Yue. For example, Cantonese has ''taahm'' (譚) and ''tàahn'' (壇) versus Mandarin ''tán'', ''yìhm'' (鹽) and ''yìhn'' (言) versus Mandarin ''yán'', ''tìm'' (添) and ''tìn'' (天) versus Mandarin ''tiān'', and ''hàhm'' (含) and ''hòhn'' (寒) versus Mandarin ''hán''. Middle Chinese is described in contemporary dictionaries as having four tones, where the fourth category, the entering tone, consists of syllables with final stops. Many modern Chinese varieties contain traces of a split of each of these four tones into two registers, an upper or ''yīn'' register from voiceless initials and a lower or ''yáng'' register from voiced initials. Mandarin dialects retain the register distinction only in the level tone, yielding the first and second tones of the standard language (corresponding to the first and fourth tones in Cantonese), but have merged several of the other categories. Most Yue dialects have retained all eight categories, with a further split of the upper entering tone conditioned by vowel length, as also found in neighbouring Tai dialects. A few dialects spoken in Guangxi, such as the Bobai dialect, have also split the lower entering tone.


Vocabulary

While most Chinese varieties form compounds consisting of a qualifier followed by a qualified element, Yue dialects use the reverse order. For example, the Standard Chinese word for "guest" is 客人 ''kèrén'' "guest-person", but the same morphemes are interchanged in Cantonese ''jɐn ha:k'', Taishanese ''ŋin hak'' and Teng County, Tengxian ''jən hɪk''. This is generally attributed to the influence of
Tai languages Tai or TAI may refer to: Arts and entertainment *Tai (comics) Tai is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. A Cambodian, Tai was something of a mentor for the New Warriors in the first 25 issues of ...
, in which modifiers normally follow nouns. Gender markers for nouns are also suffixed, as in other southern varieties. Some Yue dialects, including Cantonese, can use the same word ''bīn-go'' (), meaning "which one", for both "who" and "which". Other dialects, including Taishanese, use ''sŭe'' (, cognate with the word used in Mandarin) for "who", and words meaning "which one" for "which".


See also

* Cantonese grammar * Chinese input methods for computers * Lingnan culture * Written Cantonese * Written Chinese * Languages of China * List of varieties of Chinese


References


Citations


Works cited

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

*詹伯慧 & 张日昇 (1987). 珠江三角洲方言字音对照. Guangzhou: 广东人民出版社. . *詹伯慧 & 张日昇 (1988). 珠江三角洲方言词汇对照. Guangzhou: 广东人民出版社. . *詹伯慧 & 张日昇 (1990). 珠江三角洲方言综述. Guangzhou: 广东人民出版社. . *詹伯慧 & 张日昇 (1994). 粤北十县市粤方言调查报告. Guangzhou: 暨南大学出版社. . *詹伯慧 & 张日昇 (1998). 粤西十县市粤方言调查报告. Guangzhou: 暨南大学出版社. . *谢建猷 (2007). 广西汉语方言研究. Nanning: 广西人民出版社. . *广西壮族自治区地方志编纂委员会 (1998). 广西通志: 汉语方言志(2册). Nanning: 广西人民出版社. , . * *


External links

* * {{Use dmy dates, date=February 2020 Yue Chinese, Chinese languages in Singapore Subject–verb–object languages Articles containing video clips