Welcome to the Cantonese Language Centralization Project (歡迎嚟到廣東話集中計劃 / fun1 jing4 lai2 dou3 gwong2 dung1 waa6 zaap6 zung1 gai3 waak6)
Links (鏈接 / lin4 zip3)
- Learn Cantonese (學廣東話 / hok6 gwong2 dung1 waa6)
- Join Our Chatroom (加入聊天室 / gaa1 jap6 liu4 tin1 sat1)
- More Information (多啲資料 / do1 di1 zi1 liu2)
Introduction (介紹 / gaai3 siu6)
This project is an attempt to formally gather and document the Cantonese language, and provide resources to make the language as easy as possible to learn. At the moment, there are many different standards in the community that make it more difficult for a person to learn the language. These things can range from:
- What romanization system to use?
- Jyutping, Yale, Cantonese Pinyin, Etc
- What character should we use for a particular word?
- To give: 畀 / bei2 or 俾 / bei2
- To not have: 冇 / mou5 or 無 / mou4
- Why do I speak and write completely differently?
- Standard Chinese (書面語 / syu1 min6 jyu5) vs Written Cantonese
An important thing to remember that would better explain this dilemma is that Cantonese is a language that has always been only spoken, not actually written. Because of this, Cantonese is in a very unique position where the written and spoken forms are completely different. Written Cantonese does exist, but it’s normally only used in informal communication. On the other hand, Standard Chinese, as the name implies, is the standard way of writing Chinese in the modern era. However, since the standard is based on Mandarin words and grammar, it ends up being very different than the Cantonese words and grammar. This massive difference means that it becomes very difficult for a new learner of Cantonese to learn the language through Standard Chinese, since what you are reading and saying will not match up. With that said, the benefit of using Standard Chinese is that it allows people that speak any type of Chinese language (Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien, Etc) to still be able to communicate through writing. Standard Chinese acts as a bridge between all the languages at the written level, even if these groups of people would not be able to talk to each other through speech. This is an interesting characteristic of the written language. However, for a person that is trying to learn Cantonese, this causes a lot of pain and difficulty.
With that said, since the goal of this project is to make Cantonese as easy as possible to learn, we will be using Written Cantonese (As oppose to Standard Chinese) for all of the teaching material. However, once the person does learn Spoken and Written Cantonese to a good level, there will be optional material available so that one could learn Standard Chinese afterwards. This will allow the Cantonese learner to be able to perfectly express themselves in speech and in writing, using Cantonese, and if they want, they can also write in Standard Chinese when those situations arise. I believe this provides the best balance to the learner, where it allows them to be able to learn Cantonese using characters and examples that they are familiar with, while at the same time avoiding the need to learn an entirely separate set of vocabulary and grammatical structures immediately.
Furthermore, in order for us to be able to:
- Successfully spread the teaching material and language to as many people as possible
- Allow as many people as possible to build and contribute new content
- Ensure that we never have the possibility to lose the data gathered
A few measures have been taking from the start of the project:
- All material generated and published by this project will be licensed under a Free Culture license, specifically the following license from the Creative Commons.
- In order for us to be able to effectively reach the widest possible audience, the information collected should not be placed behind a paywall, since that would limit the amount of speakers that have access to this information, and helps prevent the spread of the language.
- The entire website and project is provided as a distributed git repository.
- This is a bit more technical but it basically means that anyone has the ability to easily download and back up the entire project. Ensuring that we will never lose the information gathered. It also means that people can more easily collaborate on the project.
- The project’s chat room is hosted on the Matrix Protocol.
- Matrix is a decentralized platform for real time and secure communication. In this case what this means is that anyone, from anywhere in the world can join the chat room from any matrix compatible server and be able to easily communicate. (Think of email, Gmail users can send a message to Yahoo users even though they are on two different servers owned by two completely different companies). Also, due to the fundamental design of the Matrix Protocol, every person that joins the chat room from a different server, will automatically keep a complete back up of the channel. No matter what happens to the main chat room, people will always be able to communicate since every server has their own backup.
With that said, I’m not a native speaker of the language but a learner amongst everyone. This website will definitely contain mistakes, but over time things will improve and get better for all. I’m glad that I’m able to do this and I love the language and the people. 我哋一齊加油! (ngo5 dei6 jat1 cai4 gaa1 jau4)
License (執照 / zap1 ziu3)
All content on this website is licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0 which essentially allows anyone to copy, modify, and distribute all of the content that I’m creating on here and use it for whatever purpose. The only requirement is that if you do modify the content and distribute your modifications, those changes must also be made available to everyone under the same license. Please click the link above to view more details on the license.
Website Standards (網站嘅標準 / mong5 zaam6 ge2 biu1 zeon2)
This website will standardize on and promote the following standards to maximize language acquisition:
- Hong Kong Cantonese (香港廣東話 / hoeng1 gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa6)
- There are many different types of Cantonese variations spoken throughout the world. However, Hong Kong has for a long time been the center of the Cantonese Language from everything from new Cantonese content (Movies, Music) to language development (Jyutping, HKSCS, and Modern Slang). Due to these reasons, this variant of Cantonese will be used.
- Traditional Chinese (繁體字 / faan4 tai2 zi6)
- Memorization of characters are easier in Traditional due to their distinctness and consistent usage of Radical Composition. Culture is also an extremely important characteristic of the people, and of the language of those people. Traditional Characters preserve that Culture.
- One-to-One Speaking/Writing Philosophy (講嘢 = 寫嘢 / gong2 je5 = se2 je5)
- In order to make the language as easy as possible to learn, Written Cantonese will be used. However, Standard Chinese is a very useful and valuable part of the Chinese language as a whole and should be learned by a Cantonese learner after they have become proficient in Spoken and Written Cantonese. This way you will get the benefit of being able to Speak and Write in Cantonese, and also have the benefit of being able to communicate to the rest of the Chinese world, through Standard Chinese.
- Jyutping (粵拼 / jyut6 ping3)
- Jyutping is a Cantonese Phonetic System developed by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong in 1993. This system expresses all of the Cantonese sounds in an easy way and will also allow us to type on the computer using a Jyutping keyboard.