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Cantonese language

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Yuht Yúh/Jyut6 jyu5 (Yue) written in traditional Chinese (left) and simplified Chinese (right) characters
Native toChina, Vietnam, Malaysia
RegionPearl River Delta (central Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macau); eastern-southern Guangxi
EthnicityCantonese people (Han Chinese)
Native speakers59 million  (2007)
Language family
Guangfu (incl. Canton)
Siyi (incl. Taishan)
Writing systemTraditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
(Written Cantonese)
Cantonese Braille
Official status
Official language inHong Kong and Macau (de facto, though officially referred to as "Chinese"; Cantonese and occasionally Mandarin are used in government). Recognised regional language in Suriname.
Language codes
ISO 639-3yue
Idioma cantonés.png

Cantonese is an Asian language which began in Canton, Southern China. Often, people use the word 'Cantonese' to refer to the Guangzhou dialect, Hong Kong dialect, Xiguan dialect, Wuzhou dialect, and Tanka dialect of Yue. However, linguists prefer to keep the name 'Cantonese' for the Yue dialect of Guangzhou (Canton) and Hong Kong. Using this classification, Cantonese is the prestige dialect of Yue.

Cantonese is spoken by people in Southern China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as places with many overseas Chinese who came from Cantonese-speaking parts of China, such as Melbourne. It is also the most common language of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia and North America. It is said that over 100,000,000 people speak Cantonese. It is a tonal language with 6 kinds of tones. Many people consider Cantonese as the second most frequently used Chinese language, with Mandarin being first.

Cantonese is from the Sino-Tibetan family of languages.

Hong Kong and Macau

In Hong Kong, the official languages are English and Cantonese, according to the Basic Law of Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, many people speak Cantonese instead of Mandarin, and some may even get offended if you speak Mandarin. Most schools in Hong Kong teach in Cantonese, rather than the language that they speak in Mainland China. In Macau, the majority speak Cantonese and it is also the official language with the other being Portuguese. Because Hong Kong and Macau have Cantonese as their official languages, it's a fact that all Special Administrative Regions of China have Cantonese as an official language.