Mandarin Monday: Rate my Cantonese!

It’s still Monday in United States so here comes my Mandarin Monday, but this time with a little twist. Some readers have asked me to record my Cantonese and finally I managed to do so! My Cantonese is still very limited, I only know some phrases. Also my tones and pronunciation are quite terrible.

But still here it goes, listen to this short clip of my Cantonese and let me know what you think.

Listen to my Cantonese

If the player above isn’t working, you can also get the mp3 here: Cantonese

  • Okay, I’m gonna be concise and cruel. I’ll give you a 7 out of 10, mainly because you sound like a Mandarin speaker speaking in good Cantonese. Minus the Mandarin speaker element, I’ll give you a 5/10. That’s pretty good. Not to shabby, not too shabby, Sara.

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    Sara Reply:

    Honest feedback is what I’m looking for because it can best help me to find out where I’m at and how to improve. Thank you for taking the time and helping me out!

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    thenakedlistener Reply:

    No problem, glad to be of help. Of course, my marks for you is based just on your two-minute recording. I’m pretty sure that if you were to have a sustained Cantonese conversation with me, your marks are going to fall off the cliff! How so? Mainly because I can speak Hong Kong Cantonese, old-fashioned ‘Canton’ Cantonese and ‘Standard’ (neutral) Cantonese. I understand ‘PRC’ and Singapore Cantonese more than well enough, but their locution/phraseology don’t come naturally to me.

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    Sara Reply:

    I didn’t know there are so many different types of Cantonese. Besides that two minute clip there isn’t that much I can say, but Cantonese is just a hobby for me and even slow progress is progress for me. Glad I have such an amazing readers to help me :)

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    thenakedlistener Reply:

    There are, and many (perhaps not most) aren’t very attuned to this fact. If you ever grew up with several different generations of Cantonese speakers, then all this becomes quite apparent. BTW, I’m not even Cantonese myself.

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  • Stanley

    I understand all the sentences except the last one.
    the stresses on some words are a bit awkward, for example— boyfriend (jyutping: naam4PANG4jau5.)
    maybe have your boyfriend record what you said and then you can compare.

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    Sara Reply:

    I was trying to say that “Now I’m really busy”, I guess I should have said “yi ga ngo hou mong”. I have a teacher’s recording of our textbook and I should practice with that more often.

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  • ECHO

    Sara,
    您好!
    无意中看到你的博客,很有意思。听了你普通话和粤语的录音,我被逗笑了。外国人能坚持学习汉语,实是好事,也深深被你好学而打动,继续努力!加油!
    从你的录音来说,你说的两种都缺乏字正腔圆的感觉。与其学太多,不如一个一个字说标准。我想我正在学习拼音的儿子能教会你标准的普通话和拼音,很多时候,除了语文教师,大人说的普通话没有小孩标准,都会杂带着土音。

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    Sara Reply:

    ECHO,
    我很开心你喜欢我的博客。我也一定会继续努力学习普通话。开始学普通话的时候,我没有够注意发音的重要性,所以现在我的发音也不是那么好。我有时候跟录音练习朗读,听一个句子然后朗读。希望这样的办法有效果。我也可能有时候说的太快,所以没有注意声调。

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  • I am not a Cantonese and I can understand Cantonese more than I can speak it. Not problem in understanding most of the sentences. But like Stanley said, the pronunciation for bf is a bit off. And maybe towards the ending part of you speech there was a little Hakka tune?

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    Sara Reply:

    I think that was just a foreigner tune :) I’m glad that you all could understand atleast something for my recording. I haven’t used my Cantonese outside yet, but hopefully that day will come soon.

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  • Sorry, I forgot to mention that I like the earlier part of your introduction. Sounded clear to me anyway. But I am definitely no expert in Cantonese. Like I said, I struggle to speak it.

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  • Stanley

    the first line Nei ho. the tone and stress on ho don’t sound right. maybe used the wrong tone for the same character but in different context. good (ho has two different tones depend on how it is used.) the Ah is descending tone I think and your name’s rising tone. Guangzhou- put the stress on Guang.

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    Sara Reply:

    My name should be the first tone (fong1). But basically when speaking I find it very hard to remember to pay attention to tones. I really have to spend more time with listening and repeating with Cantonese or I’m in the same situation as with my Mandarin (didn’t learn it well enough in the beginning and now try to fix).

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  • Cyril

    My teacher always tell me to wash my ears and my mouth because the Hong Kongers always use vulgar, crude and lewd languages in daily life and on TV. Guess I speak like them. I think I am going to change. Hints: Buy yourself a Hanyu Zidian (Simplified) and a Practical English and Chinese Dicitionary (Traditional) if you don’t have them. Of course, your Mandarin is better than mine.

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    thenakedlistener Reply:

    No, they don’t, actually. On the flip side of the coin, Hongkongers say Cantonese speakers in the PRC always use supercilious phraseology and mandarinised locution – which, again, is untrue. Works both ways, you know.

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    Sara Reply:

    How could these dictionaries help my Cantonese or my Mandarin? I’m relying on online dictionaries at the moment and only own two paper ones that are both quite small.

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    thenakedlistener Reply:

    To be perfectly honest, all of the online dictionaries are geared towards Putonghua. Indeed, I myself haven’t found any good Cantonese-English/English-Cantonese dictionaries online – otherwise I would be using them like mad!

    Some of the print Canto-Eng/Eng-Canto dictionaries are useful, but the chief problem with them is they’re mostly published in the 1950s, 60s or early 70s, often using Wade-Giles romanisation. Wade-Giles is the default romanisation for Cantonese (and it works), but it’s hell for people like yourself who are reared on Pinyinisation. So my scorecard would be 4/10 for Cantonese and 8/10 for Putonghua.

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    Sara Reply:

    I was only thinking of putonghua when I thought about the dictionaries. I think I don’t really need a Cantonese dictionary at the moment, because I’m taking the slow way with it. But somekind of phrasebook would be good.

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    thenakedlistener Reply:

    Yeah, I know what you’re getting at, Sara. There are so few Canto phrasebooks anyway, and most are no good – the locution is either too ‘foreign’ or too mandarinised or just plain invented. One would have thought that publishers would see there’s a big market for Cantonese phrasebooks and/or dictionaries, wouldn’t you? I mean, there are roughly 106 million Cantonese speakers just in China alone, plus another maybe 25-40 million worldwide, plus Hong Kong being the Cantonese-speaking capital of the world. Hmm, maybe we should patent this idea before The Delegates get their hands on this…

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    Sara Reply:

    I went to the bookstore on Monday and looked for Cantonese phrasebooks, but there was nothing useful. All had some really strange pinyin or something like that, just like you said.

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    Cyril Reply:

    I am sorry that I can’t be much of a help as the paper dictionary I am using is based on Wade-Giles romanisation.I am using traditional Chinese with a mix of simplified Chinese. Hanyu Zidian dictionary is for me to switch to writing in Jien Ti or simplified Chinese. Google Translate may be a better option.

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    Sara Reply:

    I think Google Translate is a terrible option. For Mandarin I usually use MDBG online dictionary. For Cantonese we use Guangdong Romanization at school, but I think in some cases Jyutping would make more sense.

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  • Cyril

    I don’t want to curse and yell but life is hell for some of us.Try to live our dreams and the dreams are just delusions only.

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  • Stanley

    how do you write your chinese name?

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    Sara Reply:

    亚雪芳 so in Cantonese I’m called a3 fong1.

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  • Your pronunciation is good. Some tones are off, in particular the 4th (low) tone. I have put the tones in brackets for the ones which are way off.

    你好! 我叫阿(3)芳(1). 我係芬蘭人.
    我住喺廣(5)州(1). 我係中大嘅學生.
    我嘅男(4)朋(4)友係中國人(4).
    我(而家)好忙(4)啊
    Bye Bye.

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    Sara Reply:

    Thank you Edwin! I should continue practicing this short monologue until I get a better pronunciation.

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  • P

    Hello, I am Cantonese from Hong Kong. Only a few words are off tone, the rest are just fine. I think you are doing great by speaking slowly.

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    Sara Reply:

    Only a few tones were off? I had no idea I was even that good. Thanks!

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