30 Dec

Which Should You Learn, Mandarin or Cantonese

Chinese culture is reaching and influencing many countries nowadays, this which makes most people want to learn Chinese. It becomes a great challenge for those who decide to do so because there are many Chinese dialects.

This makes learning Chinese even more confusing for some because they then need to try to figure out which is used often. However there are only two dialects that are often used which are Mandarin and Cantonese.

Here are the main differences of each to help you decide whether learning mandarin or Cantonese would be better.

Difference Between Mandarin and Cantonese

Mandarin is a collection of Chinese dialects and is usually spoken in northern China. There are some provinces all over china that also speak the language. Nowadays, Mandarin is spoken in China’s capital city Beijing as well as Taiwan and Singapore.

Cantonese is spoken in the southern areas of the mainland China, Hong Kong and many other small communities around the world. Western countries have higher Chinese that speak Cantonese due to the immigration rate of people from Hong Kong.

They are both tonal languages meaning tones give different meanings to the words, but the number of tones is totally different.  Mandarin has up to 4 tones and Cantonese has six which can also reach up to nine. Another difference is that they have different vowels and consonants.

Which is More Difficult To Learn?

With those differences mentioned, it is clear that it is easier to learn mandarin since it has only 4 tones.  The tone in Mandarin is directional it goes up or down, down then up or even up through the entire word. It’s pretty much the same in Cantonese, but the main difference is the pitch in which the word is sounded. The words in Cantonese end with either consonant or a vowel, while in mandarin the words only end in vowels.

When it comes to the writing form, Cantonese is more complex since they use a traditional writing style. There are only few people who speak mandarin that writes the traditional way most of them nowadays write in simplified characters. The only advantage of traditional Chinese writing is that they can read simplified Chinese characters.

Which Will Be More Useful In Singapore?

In Singapore, the main language they use is English and they prefer their second language to be Mandarin because most of the people living there are Chinese Descendants.

Learning Cantonese would be less useful in Singapore because of the fact that you probably won’t be understood when you speak to most Chinese people in Singapore.

Learning Mandarin in Singapore is ideal for those who seek to learn Chinese the easy and most effective way. Not only will you be able to communicate with almost anyone in Singapore, it will actually be easier to learn since you’ll basically learn simplified Chinese characters instead of the more complex traditional characters.

Overall, it’s always best to first know about the country you plan to go to before learning the language. Otherwise, a language dialect you’ve learned may not be applicable and may be a waste of your effort.