If you are looking to enjoy business success in Hong Kong, Cantonese is necessary. Mandarin, in contrast, is more useful in mainland China. Nevertheless, there are some areas of China where Cantonese is spoken, including the Guangxi Province, Macao and the Guangdong Province.
Mandarin and Chinese both have a logographic writing system, meaning that symbols are used to represent a word or morpheme. Cantonese characters in fact derived from Mandarin characters, but Mandarin characters have since become simplified, reducing the number of strokes for certain words.
The internet is abound with amusing instances of Chinese idioms being too literally translated into English. Chinese has many proverbs and idioms. Hence, automatic translations cannot be depended upon when it comes to translating from Chinese as it is likely to lead to a non-sensical result. Equally, there are many expressions in Cantonese which do not have a direct equivalent in Mandarin.
Chinese is a tonal language. This can provide challenges for non-native speakers who have not learnt Chinese from a young age and are thus unable to replicate the unique sounds of the language. For this same reason, if you are looking for Cantonese interpreting services, it is essential to use a native speaker, so that you can be assured that meaning is not obscured due to a foreign accent. Cantonese, which has nine tones, has more tones than Mandarin, which has five.
Why is Cantonese an important language?
There are approximately 9,000 businesses present in Hong Kong, which is known as an international business hub. Close to important Asian markets, including mainland China, it is no surprise that businesses should flock there. However, when conducting business in Asia, one must be aware of the unique cultural norms to adhere to. Using an interpreter who is sensitive to cultural differences or using a localisation service to ensure that your message is being portrayed without offence, is therefore recommended. That is why Cantonese translation is a job for professionals.
A gateway to other languages
By knowing Cantonese, you will also gain a greater understanding of other languages. Cantonese is similar to not only Mandarin Chinese, but 400 other languages in the Sino-Tibetan family.
South-East Asian culture is fascinating and diverse. Influenced from a range of sources, including Islam, India and China, there is much to be gained by having a presence in the region.