Cantonese is really an amazing language and once you get into it as a second or foreign language learner it really starts to change how you see it. This, to me, is partly due to the differences it has to my native language of English. While there are similarities as with all languages, there are some aspects of Cantonese that I have found to be things that I have come to Love about Cantonese. Here I will share the 5 things that I Love about Cantonese.
Cantonese seems so damn direct sometimes that you can’t help but to be amazed at how easy it can be to understand or say things in a very direct way. Lot’s of times the sentences do not need to be very long and it makes it really easy, in my opinion, to be able to remember ways to say things. While of course you can use longer sentences and say anything in a more complex or formal way, colloquially, you will be just fine using very direct language. Also, Hong Konger’s direct nature is funny and embarrassing at times too.
Example: 我: 我吐痛.
This is just one funny example that you would hear from someone in a very casual setting but that isn’t really said to someone that you didn’t know very well in most Western countries.
The foul language culture in Hong Kong is amazing. While I try not to use much foul language in Cantonese, I do have a proper potty mouth in English. Often if I use foul language in Cantonese it’s in a funny way when joking around and rarely use it in anger on the street. While of course there are times when it has been necessary, it is a major part of Hong Kong street culture.
I remember once I was sitting in a KFC restaurant and behind me I could hear these ladies cussing up a storm with all the multiple forms of using the F-bomb in Cantonese (there are many) and they were having a great conversation. When I turned around, it was three elderly women that probably had the combined age of 350. It was so great to sit there and just listen to them cussing like sailors.
Living in MongKok, you hear a larger proportion of people using foul language than you would in maybe some other districts, but either way, you will get a good dose of some great foul language as you move through the streets of Hong Kong.
嘩你嘅中文係好勁! Everyone is so amazingly impressed with your Cantonese skills even if you just say ‘thank you’ to them. It feels good at times but it is funny that if you just say something small, everyone goes crazy over it. Mostly, this is because very few foreigners learn Cantonese and it is a great sign of appreciation when you show to them that you are trying to learn their language. When you start really rapping with people, man-oh-man the flood gates open. Which is where number 4 comes in.
Everyone is your friend it seems. The connection with Hong Kong people cannot be replaced and so much of it comes from knowing some Cantonese. Cantonese has helped make a connection with the people of Hong Kong in such an amazing way. Hong Kong people are very welcoming to people and even more so if you speak their language. I have gotten into conversations with people while just waiting in line at the supermarket and have met so many people because of my ability to talk with people. Speaking Cantonese helps you to be accepted into the community and part of the tribe. People start to forget that you are not from Hong Kong after a while once you can assimilate into the community more and more.
Speaking Cantonese brings you a deeper connection to the city and the culture. There are things that you cannot learn or even understand without being a Cantonese learner. I am not saying that you have to be of a high proficiency to be able to have that connection, but your connection will undoubtedly be greater with a deeper connection to the language.
This connection makes you a part of the culture as well because you are able to do anything and go anywhere without any barriers (for the most part). This can be important as a Cantonese language learner because it motivates you immensely to keep trying to learn more and become great at Cantonese. Plus, if there are any major problems, having a deeper connection to the language, community and people can help you a lot.
Every language you learn, you develop a language identity. Learning Cantonese and developing that identity is an amazing thing. You start to say things and hear things that re-enforce that identity and soon you feel more and more part of the language. When you are speaking to yourself, you start using the language to yourself and this creates a deeper connection to the language, its speakers and all of the other things mentioned above.
The ability to communicate with people is our goal in language learning and the benefits that come with that communication. I hope that everyone continues work hard to reach their goal and move forward.