2kool4u asked in TravelAsia PacificChina · 1 decade ago

If a person wants to learn Chinese, should they learn Cantonese or Mandarin?

And what's the difference? Which is the most widely-spoken? Which is the most useful? Thanks.

I read somewhere that in twenty or thirty years there will only be two languages that you need to know, English and Chinese. But I can't remember if it was Cantonese or Mandarin.

Update:

I read some stuff on the Internet about the difficult of learning Chinese. It seems awesomely complicated, and apparently even native Chinese people sometimes don't know the written characters. So maybe I'll leave it for my next life and learn Spanish instead :-)

Thanks to everyone who answered!

13 Answers

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  • Jeff L
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Of course Mandarin.

    It spoken in China, Taiwan and other Chinese people in different countries like Singapore,Malaysia,Indonesia...etc.

    About Hong Kong and Macau,their main language is Cantonese but now Mandarin is more important than Cantonese,many of them are learning Mandarin after 1997.

    Mandarin is the main official language in Taiwan and China.

    There are some other dielects in Chinese.

    Will you learn Mandarin in China or Taiwan? Almost when all foreigners are learning Mandarin, go China or Taiwan are the main choices.

    China is using simplify Chinese characters but traditional Chinese characters are using in Taiwan,some characters are the same writing some don't.

    for example "country"

    國家 (traditional characters), 国家 (simplify characters)//////

    "conference" ,會議(traditional characters), 会议 (simplify characters)///////

    "internet" , 網路<Wang3 Ru4> (traditional characters), 网络<Wang3 Ruo4> (simplify characters) ........etc

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  • Anonymous
    3 years ago

    1

    Source(s): Learn Chinese Easily http://enle.info/LearnChinese
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  • 1 decade ago

    You should learn Putonghua (that's how Mandarin is called in Chinese). It's the official language in China and it's the most widely spoken in Mainland China and even outside China. You can communicate in Putonghua everywhere in Mainland (okay, maybe it's more difficult in really remote areas), in Taiwan, in Singapore (with people of Chinese descent) and even in Hong Kong and Macau it's getting better and better with their knowledge in Putonghua.

    Putonghua and Cantonese (and all other Chinese languages/dialects) are written with the same characters though when spoken they're dramatically different. A person from Beijing will not understand a person from Guangzhou (Canton) and vice versa when both speak their local dialects. All Chinese dialects are tonal but Putonghua has 5 tones whilst Cantonese has 9 tones. Also the characters are pronounced differently in Putonghua and Cantonese. One example would be the number "1" which in Putonghua is "yi" and in Cantonese is "yat".

    Source(s): MA Chinese Studies, been living in China for 5 years
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  • 1 decade ago

    Mandarin. Although Cantonese is more spoken in Chinatowns and Hong Kong and the southern edge of China, Mandarin is spoken by the majority of Chinese. Also, nowadays, people in Hong Kong and Chinatowns mostly understand Mandarin also, while only a few people understand Cantonese if that's not their native tongue.

    This is almost the same as the relationship between Castellano and Catalan: people in Barcelona may speak Catalan, but they all understand Castellano. And if you want to learn "Spanish", I'll bet you will learn Castellano.

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  • 1 decade ago

    There are many provinces in China and the Chinese from each province have their own dialect. Mandarin is the national language of China.So it's Mandarin which will be one of the two languages most people speak in the future.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Cantonese has far fewer speakers than Mandarin; however, if you're planning to use your Chinese in Hong Kong or in any North American Chinatown, then Cantonese would be more useful to you. If you just want to know Chinese, then study Mandarin.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Mandarin is supported by the Chinese government as the official language of China. So, for the future, it is the only one to recognize.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Mandarin is the language mainland Chinese speak. But Cantonese is much interesting.

    By the way, don't forget Spanish. I don't think there will be only 2 languages in 30 years. The number of English speaker in the US is decreasing but Spanish and other minority languages are increasing.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Putonghau - Mandarin is the written form as well, learning Mandarin is better and it is widely use in the whole country.

    Cantonese is only the dalect we use here in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You should learn to speak Mandarin first, then slowly learn the chinese characters. But first of all, you should know Hanyu pinyin to help you to pronounce the word clearly.

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