Most people know that Mandarin is widely spoken across China—and when they say “Chinese,” they probably actually mean Mandarin. Simultaneously, many people know about Cantonese, famous as the language of Hong Kong and Macau (as well as areas of southern Mainland China). Cantonese is also “Chinese”—because Chinese is a language family rather than a single language.
Despite Cantonese’s fame as the language of Hong Kong and Macau, it’s still overshadowed by the much larger Mandarin. However, within Hong Kong, less than half of residents speak Mandarin, whereas 94% speak Cantonese. This puts Cantonese in a much more advantageous position than most of its Sinitic language cousins. At TranslationServices.com, we’re proud to have put together a professional Cantonese translation team to provide translation services to the people of Hong Kong, Macau, southern China, and anyone else in the world who needs them.
You can request a free quote for Cantonese translation by contacting us today—so why not reach out?
How is Cantonese different from Mandarin?
It’s hard to deduce an exact figure of Cantonese speakers, but the number is probably in the tens of millions. It’s widely spoken in Hong Kong and Macau as well as parts of the Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, and it’s also the most widely spoken Chinese language among the overseas Chinese diaspora. In Hong Kong and Macau, as well as many overseas communities, Cantonese is written in the Traditional Chinese script, different from the Simplified Chinese script used in the mainland. Not only pronunciation but also vocabulary and grammar starkly distinguish Cantonese from Mandarin—so it would be essentially impossible for a Mandarin speaker to understand Cantonese either in speech or in text.
Even the most basic words can be entirely different in Cantonese and Mandarin. An example is pronouns, as Cantonese uses entirely different characters from Mandarin. Cantonese also fails to distinguish gender in the third-person singular pronoun, whereas Mandarin does make a distinction in writing. Cantonese word order can differ, with direct objects positioned before indirect objects—which almost never happens in Mandarin. Like many other southern Chinese languages, Cantonese can use noun classifiers in place of a genitive marker to render a noun phrase possessive—but this is impossible in Mandarin. Other ways in which Cantonese distinguishes itself from Mandarin are a habitual aspect marker and the need to identify the agent of a passive construction.
Cantonese is complex in various ways, but our Cantonese translators are experts who can effortlessly navigate the challenges it presents.
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Do you want Cantonese translation services you can rely on? Just let us know whether you’re looking to translate into Cantonese or out of it, and we’ll get you set up with the right translation expert for you. Historians, academics, businesspeople, and others may like to use our Cantonese-to-English translation services to share historical documents with the outside world, publish their scholarly findings internationally, or take their business dealings abroad. Similarly, businesses, academics, and content creators may be interested in our English-to-Cantonese translation services to better cater their business offerings to locals in Hong Kong or Macau, make their academic papers more accessible to locals, or publish their book, poetry, game, website, app, or other content in Cantonese.
Get in touch with us today to let us know what you need for your Cantonese translation project.