Are there any Cantonese learning tools on this site? I have heard that there might be, possibly even some podcasts, but I cannot find them. I did find a group but it seems to be inactive.
After living in Hong Kong for a couple of years, I am looking to hang on to my questionable Cantonese while, at the same time, improving my currently dubious Mandarin
hkboyJuly 22, 2011, 01:42 PM
Glad you asked about Cantonese. There are no Cantonese lessons on this site. There are plenty of Cantonese resources - actually mostly books with listening CDs included. If you live here in HK you can find them and there are some courses you can take.
Good luck with Cantonese.
mikexJuly 23, 2011, 05:44 PM
Actually I just moved back to the states.
It's tough to find a lot of Cantonese resources. I can get Rosetta Stone for Irish, but not for Cantonese. Not sure how many Irish speakers there are (a few in my family) but there are, what, 70+ million Cantonese speakers?
stuartdaleJuly 24, 2011, 10:01 AM
Highly recommend Cantonese: A Comprehensive Grammar by Stephen Matthews and Virginia Yip. Make sure its the 2011 version though. I found the explanations very clear. The new verson has characters too ... I know there is a lot of debate about representing Cantonese in written form and whether it helps, but I found if you already speak Mandarin, seeing the characters for words you already know helps to start building up the patterns of how sounds in Cantonese maps to sounds in Mandarin in many cases. I'm hesitant to say this in case any purists lynch me but I found that if you know how the sounds map, you can often make an educated guess about how a Chinese word will be pronounced in Cantonese - enough to be understood. I'm a self-declared get in the swimming pool and start splashing kind of language learner and I found people are willing enough to correct you once they understand what you're trying to say. It doesn't help you where Cantonese has a colloquial alternative / different grammar though, which is why some kind of structured learning is important too. So far the book above is the most comprehensive I've found, but I'm still on the look out, maybe for something written for people who already speak Mandarin. Good luck!
I fully agree with the above; when learning dialect-languages such as Cantonese, and Fukienese, prior knowledge of Mandarin is a help in understanding basic syntax and concepts of "stative verbs" and construction rules etc. which are largely shared across dialects. Even pronunciation of cognate words and phrases often exhibits a consistent transformation from say, Mandarin to Cantonese or Fukienese. But the kicker is "often". When it doesn't, you're on your own! Besides, your brain is often pre-contaminated with the Mandarin pronunciation associated with the concept and, possibly the written character. So, often when stumbling through my very limited Cantonese, or even Fukienese, I blurt out the Mandarin pronunciation, sometimes with puzzling results, and rarely with disastrous results, but that's another story. On the whole, though, I would think a prior knowledge of Mandarin gives you a leg up when learning any other Chinese dialect, as long as you accept and understand the associated pitfalls.
hkboyJuly 24, 2011, 02:20 PM
Years ago, I started out with the FSI course. It's free but it's not for the faint of heart. After I did that I tried Pimsleur and it was a breeze. It's a bit out of date but if you have the patience to get through it you will know a lot at the end.
Also, the books from Greenwood Press are mostly all excellent.
mikexJuly 25, 2011, 12:03 AM
I want to thank everyone for their very helpful suggestions. I live in Hong Kong for about two and a half years. My strategy to learn Cantonese was to go where people do not speak English. It's ragged at first, but I found Hong Kong people very eager to correct me :)
When I started taking classes at Chinesepod a few months ago, my problem was substituting Cantonese for Mandarin. Now I'm afraid of forgetting. I speak to some friends on skype, but the time difference for all of us can be an issue.
I am determined to keep it up, though, and I appreciate the resources everyone has suggested.