A friend of mine just sent me a link to a New York Times article about how Cantonese is slowly dying out in New York’s Chinatown. I couldn’t help but get a little sad reading it. Sure, it’s a ridiculously difficult language to learn (which is why it should be spelled Can’t-onese), but it’s also an amazingly interesting language brimming with character. So, here I make my case for why people should try to learn it in addition to Mandarin. Here you are: My top 10 reasons to learn Cantonese!
Reason 1: The Wow Factor – As I said above, Cantonese is ridiculously difficult. Nobody seems to agree on exactly how many tones it has. Some people say 7. Some say 9. And some say over 11, referencing so-called silent tones. Sorry, but if it’s silent, it’s not a tone. But the insistence on the existence of these so-called silent tones only ups the ‘cool factor’ of Cantonese. If you can master it, you’re pretty much an unstoppable language learning force. Native speakers will lavish you with praise, giving your self-esteem a temporary boost (at least until you say something wrong and get made fun of. See reason number 8). And also, I’ll be really jealous of you.
Cantonese is a very cool language. I like it much better than Mandarin. It's clear and easy to understand, even if it sounds a little hard. Mandarin sounds very lazy, lots of words slurred together.
I was totally convinced that Mandarin sucks when I heard Mandarin speakers try to speak English. It's awful. Sure we all know the Cantonese accent for English sounds pretty funny.. but at least it's understandable. I was on China Airlines and the way they spoke English on there with their slurred words and their purposely high-pitched voices.. I might as well have been listening to Mandarin. Didn't understand a word! What if there was a important announcement like... the plane is falling? It was very frustrating.
So yeah. learn Cantonese. Don't let it die!