Gwóngdūng wá
Gwóngdūng wá (Cantonese) written in traditional Chinese (left) and simplified Chinese (right) characters
Native toMainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, overseas communities
RegionGuangdong, eastern Guangxi
Written Cantonese
Cantonese Braille
Written Chinese
Official status
Official language in
 Hong Kong
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6yyef (Yue F)
guzh (Guangzhou)
Traditional Chinese廣東話
Simplified Chinese广东话
Cantonese YaleGwóngdūng wá
Literal meaningGuangdong speech
Guangzhou speech
Traditional Chinese廣州話
Simplified Chinese广州话
Cantonese YaleGwóngjāu wá
Guangfu speech
Traditional Chinese廣府話
Simplified Chinese广府话
Cantonese YaleGwóngfú wá

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

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 official 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.

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 a vital part of the cultural identity for its native speakers across large swaths 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. Additionally, for the necessary verbatim use of auxiliary words, for example in online chatting and arrest record, people use specific coinage characters for the same pronunciation which obeys the creating rule of Mandarin.


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" (广州话; 廣州話; Gwóngjāu wá), although this term is now seldom used outside mainland China. In Guangdong province, people also call it "provincial capital speech" (省城话; 省城話; Sáangsìng wá) or "plain speech" (白话; 白話; Baahk wá)

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

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" (标准粤语; 標準粵語; 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
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
اردو: کینٹنی
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: كانتونچە
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Quảng Châu
粵語: 廣府話
中文: 广州话