Gwóngdūng wá
Gwóngdūng wá written in traditional Chinese (left) and simplified Chinese (right) characters
Native toChina, Hong Kong, Macau and overseas communities
RegionPearl River Delta of Guangdong, eastern Guangxi
Written Cantonese
Cantonese Braille
Written Chinese
Official status
Official language in
 Hong Kong
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-3yue (superset for all Yue dialects)
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Traditional Chinese廣東話
Simplified ChineseSimplified ChineseCantonese YaleGwóngdūng wá
Literal meaning'Guangdong speech'
'Guangzhou speech' or 'Canton speech'
Traditional Chinese廣州話
Simplified ChineseSimplified ChineseCantonese YaleGwóngjāu wá
'Guangfu speech'
Traditional Chinese廣府話
Simplified ChineseSimplified ChineseCantonese YaleGwóngfú wá

Cantonese is a variety of Chinese originating from the city of Guangzhou (also known as Canton) and its surrounding area in Southeastern China. It is the traditional prestige variety of the Yue Chinese dialect group, which has about 68 million native speakers.[3] While the term Cantonese specifically refers to the prestige variety, it is often used to refer to the entire Yue subgroup of Chinese, including related but largely mutually unintelligible languages and dialects such as Taishanese.

Cantonese is viewed as a vital and inseparable part of the cultural identity for its native speakers across large swaths of Southeastern China, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as in overseas communities.In mainland China, it is the lingua franca of the province of Guangdong (being the majority language of the Pearl River Delta) and neighbouring areas such as Guangxi. It is the dominant and regional language of Hong Kong and Macau. Cantonese is also widely spoken amongst Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia (most notably in Vietnam and Malaysia, as well as in Singapore and Cambodia to a lesser extent) and throughout the Western world.

Although Cantonese shares a lot of vocabulary with Mandarin, the two varieties are mutually unintelligible because of differences in pronunciation, grammar and lexicon. Sentence structure, in particular the placement of verbs, sometimes differs between the two varieties. A notable difference between Cantonese and Mandarin is how the spoken word is written; both can be recorded verbatim, but very few Cantonese speakers are knowledgeable in the full Cantonese written vocabulary, so a non-verbatim formalized written form is adopted, which is more akin to the Mandarin written form.[4][5] This results in the situation in which a Cantonese and a Mandarin text may look similar but are pronounced differently.


In English, the term "Cantonese" can be ambiguous. Cantonese proper is the variety native to the city of Canton, which is the traditional English name of Guangzhou. This narrow sense may be specified as "Canton language" or "Guangzhou language".[6]

However, "Cantonese" may also refer to the primary branch of Chinese that contains Cantonese proper as well as Taishanese and Gaoyang; this broader usage may be specified as "Yue speech" (粵語; 粤语; Yuhtyúh). In this article, "Cantonese" is used for Cantonese proper.

Historically, speakers called this variety "Canton speech" or "Guangzhou speech" (廣州話; 广州话; Gwóngjāu wá), although this term is now seldom used outside Guangzhou. In Guangdong and Guangxi, people also call it "provincial capital speech" (省城話; 省城话; Sáangsìng wá) or "plain speech" (白話; 白话; Baahkwá). Also, academically called "Canton prefecture speech" (廣府話; 广府话; Gwóngfú wá).

In Hong Kong and Macau, as well as among overseas Chinese communities, the language is referred to as "Guangdong speech" or "Canton Province speech" (廣東話; 广东话; Gwóngdūng wá), or simply as "Chinese" (中文; Jūngmán).[7][8] In mainland China, the term "Guangdong speech" is also increasingly being used amongst both native and non-native speakers. Given the history of the development of the Yue languages and dialects during the Tang dynasty migrations to the region, in overseas Chinese communities, it is also referred to as "Tang speech" (唐話; Tòhng wá), given that the Cantonese people refer to themselves as "people of Tang" (唐人; Tòhng yàhn).

Due to its status as a prestige dialect among all the dialects of the Yue branch of Chinese varieties, it is often called "Standard Cantonese" (標準粵語; 标准粤语; Bīujéun Yuhtyúh).

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Kantonees
العربية: صينية يؤ
беларуская: Кантонскі дыялект
Bikol Central: Kantones
български: Кантонски език
brezhoneg: Kantoneg
català: Cantonès
čeština: Kantonština
Cymraeg: Cantoneg
Esperanto: Kantona lingvo
فارسی: کانتونی
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Kóng-tûng-fa
한국어: 광둥어
Ilokano: Kantones
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Kanton
íslenska: Kantónska
kernowek: Cantonek
Limburgs: Kantonees
македонски: Кантонски јазик
Malagasy: Fiteny kantoney
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa Kantonis
Nederlands: Standaardkantonees
日本語: 広東語
Nordfriisk: Kantoneesk spriak
occitan: Cantonés
پنجابی: کینٹونی
Plattdüütsch: Kantoneesch
português: Língua cantonesa
संस्कृतम्: कैंटोनी भाषा
Scots: Cantonese
српски / srpski: Кантонски језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Standardni kantonski jezik
svenska: Kantonesiska
Tagalog: Kantones
Türkçe: Kantonca
українська: Кантонська мова
اردو: کینٹنی
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: كانتونچە
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Quảng Châu
粵語: 廣府話
中文: 广州话