Day 32: The ABCs of ABCs #1 – the difference between Cantonese and Mandarin

Day 32: The ABCs of ABCs #1 – the difference between Cantonese and Mandarin

Day 32: The ABCs of ABCs #1 – the difference between Cantonese and Mandarin

Sunday, 1 February 2015

I get asked this one a lot by people who watched Fist of Fury in the 70s subtitled, and then noticed the dialect is completely different in Crouching Tiger. Most have already been told that one is in Cantonese and the other is in Mandarin, but many have confessed that they haven’t the first idea what that means. So here it is.

It’s like listening to someone from Scotland and the United States speaking English: the pronunciation is different, but the writing is pretty much the same. It’s basically the same language.

Sure, you’ll get the occasional argument over what’s better between Simplified and Traditional, but that’s really no different to whether it’s ‘colour’ or ‘color’.

The ABCs of ABCs is a light-hearted attempt to explain the ins and outs of the Australian-Born Chinese culture for Caucasians who can’t make any sense of it. There’s a lot of idiosyncratic behaviour I get asked the same questions about, so I’m going to do my best to answer them. Call it my way of bridging the gap between cultures. 

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