This article is about the language of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong and Macau. For related languages and dialects, see Yue Chinese. For other uses, see Cantonese (disambiguation).
廣東話 / 广东话
Gwóngdūng Wá / gwong2 dung1 waa2
Gwóngdūng Wá / gwong2 dung1 waa2 (Cantonese) written in traditional Chinese (left) and simplified Chinese (right) characters
Native to China, Hong Kong, Macau, overseas communities
Region City of Guangzhou and surrounding Pearl River Delta, western Guangdong, eastern Guangxi
Written Cantonese
Cantonese Braille
Written Chinese
Official status
Official language in
  Hong Kong
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6 yyef (Yue F)
guzh (Guangzhou)
Glottolog cant1236 [2]
Linguasphere 79-AAA-ma
Traditional Chinese 廣東話
Simplified Chinese 广东话
Literal meaning Guangdong speech
Guangzhou speech
Traditional Chinese 廣州話
Simplified Chinese 广州话
Guangfu speech
Traditional Chinese 廣府話
Simplified Chinese 广府话

Cantonese, or Standard Cantonese, is a variety of Chinese spoken in the city of Guangzhou (known historically as Canton) in southeastern China. It is the traditional prestige variety of Yue, one of the major subdivisions of Chinese.

In mainland China, it is the main lingua franca of the province of Guangdong and some neighbouring areas such as Guangxi, as well as the majority language of the Pearl River Delta. In Hong Kong and Macau, Cantonese serves as one of their official languages. It is also 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.

While the term Cantonese refers narrowly to the prestige variety, it is often used in a broader sense for the entire Yue subdivision of Chinese, including related but largely mutually unintelligible languages such as Taishanese. When Cantonese and the closely related Yuehai dialects are classified together, there are about 80 million total speakers. [3] Cantonese is viewed as vital part of the cultural identity for its native speakers across large swathes of southeastern China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Although Cantonese shares some 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 formalised 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" is 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" in English. [6]

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

Historically, speakers called this variety "Canton speech" or "Guangzhou speech" ( s广州话; t廣州話, [7]), although this term is now seldom used outside mainland China. In Guangdong province, people also call it "provincial capital speech" ( s省城话; t省城話) [8] or "plain speech" ( s白话; t白話). [9]

In Hong Kong and Macau, as well as among overseas Chinese communities, the language is referred to as "Guangdong speech" ( s广东话; t廣東話, [10]) or simply "Chinese" (中文, [11]). [12] [13] In mainland China, the term "Guangdong speech" is also increasingly being used among both native and non-native speakers.

Due to its status as a prestige dialect among all the dialects of the Cantonese or Yue branch of Chinese varieties, it is often called "Standard Cantonese" ( s标准粤语; t標準粵語). [14]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Kantonees
العربية: صينية يؤ
беларуская: Кантонскі дыялект
Bikol Central: Kantones
български: Кантонски език
brezhoneg: Kantoneg
català: Cantonès
čeština: Kantonština
Esperanto: Kantona lingvo
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
norsk bokmål: Standard kantonesisk
occitan: Cantonés
پنجابی: کینٹونی
Plattdüütsch: Kantoneesch
português: Cantonês
संस्कृतम्: कैंटोनी भाषा
Scots: Cantonese
српски / srpski: Кантонски језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Standardni kantonski jezik
svenska: Kantonesiska
Tagalog: Kantones
Türkçe: Kantonca
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: كانتونچە
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Quảng Châu
粵語: 廣府話
中文: 广州话