Cantonese are not "authentic" Chinese

Discussions on the Cantonese language.

Re: Cantonese are not "authentic" Chinese

Post by ppk »

and yue, check how many speaks english before 1400 and how many speaks english now. u wont be surprised anymore.

Re: Cantonese are not "authentic" Chinese

Post by KP »


hey man, I'm in the same boat as you. I seemed to have the same views about Chinese folks that you have. If you haven't read the previous thread mentioned by "sheik" above, you should really read it. I know its long, but there's alot of interesting stuff in there.

Heres how I thought before:

The Chinese of today, especially mainlanders, have that almost "korean" or "japanese" look to them: pale skin, smaller slanty eyes, single eyelids...etc, etc. Then theres the claim that ancient Chinese language was most similar to Cantonese, not Mandarin like I assumed. I didn't understand why these people, who tend to hold on to traditions and are very nationalistic....would give up Cantonese and take Mandarin as their "Chinese Language".

This is kind of the general idea I have now:

That "look" I refer to above was inherited by inter-marrying with the barbarian tribes that controlled parts of China on and off.

I guess the language part happened during those times(North-South Dyn?) as well? Slowly, those folks in the "North" started speaking more of "Mandarin" type of dialects while those in the "South" were able to hold on to their original, authentic Chinese language. I assume the Manchus played a part in the wide spread use of Mandarin as well?

Anyways, I'm sure someone has some corrections and things to add to my theory.

Re: Cantonese are not "authentic" Chinese

Post by ppk »

to kp,

single eyelids were only prominent among ancient chinese, like those terra cotta warriors in xi'an. modern chinese have a larger portion with double eyelids, esp the northerners. cos thruout history they intermarried other minority races. the first double eyelid portrait is probably the statue of buddha, cos he's indian. u got it upside down.

first of all, u have to keep this in mind, cantonese and mandarin are different stages of a single language, it's not giving up one and picking up the other. certain methods of pronouciation change in the course of history plus additional accent from the mongols and manchus, and cantonese pronouciation gradually transformed into hakka/hokkien/teochew etc and finally into mandarin, it is an evolution within a single language. there is a constant pattern and complete trend to trace this transformation. mandarin already exist in the ming dynasty b4 the manchu came. the novels like 'romance of the 3 kingdoms' in ming dynasty and 'dreams of red chambers' in qing dynasty are written in mandarin, so mandarin is not a foreign language introduced by the manchus. they have their own manchurian tongue.
Posts: 134
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 3:53 pm

Re: Cantonese are not "authentic" Chinese

Post by Mark »

PPK: exactly.

However, I must say that modern Chinese languages aren't varieties of the same language, they're as different as French is from Spanish.

But your viewpoint can still be used: Cantonese and Mandarin are BOTH ancestorial languages of the Chinese people, it's just that Mandarin has changed more from the old language than has Cantonese.

And the Manchus actually did spread Mandarin. When they ruled over a large part of China, they used Mandarin as their language of administration, if I recall correctly, and that's why it ended up spreading so far.

As for not seeing how Mandarin can have so many speakers today if it wasn't spoken before the 1400s: First, take a look at English in 1400, and then today. Second, Mandarin didn't just appear out of nowhere, Middle Chinese gradually evolved into Proto-Mandarin (as well as other sinitic protolanguages), which gradually evolved into Mandarin. The language was already spread before it became Mandarin.

Re: Cantonese are not "authentic" Chinese

Post by ppk »


something like that. i wanted to use the indo european language as an example but they are not exactly identical cases. anyway the idea is more or less there...
Thomas Chan

Re: Cantonese are not "authentic" Chinese

Post by Thomas Chan »

yue wrote:
> Iv'e never said that cantonese are not chinese, i only said
> that cantonese are not authentic chinese.

If something is "not authentic", then it's not. If someone gave you
some "gold" that was "not authentic" (e.g., it is pyrite), then they
cannot honestly say it was gold. It's either real or its fake.

> The word china
> came after the qin state conquered other 6 states and
> established a unified country. From my opinion i think
> authentic chinese should be define as the people of all 7
> states that were living in the year 221 b.c when the state of
> China was created and the word chinese come about!

Okay, this is good that you are providing us with what your
definition of "authentic Chinese" means before making statements
such as in the name of this thread. It saves a lot of discussion if
everyone isn't talking about different things.

However, now you must tell us how you are defining "Cantonese".
If someone lived in Luoyang in 222 B.C., and 20 years later, we
find him living in Lingnan, would you define this person as
"Cantonese"? If so, then "Cantonese" would still be "authentic

> If you say cantonese are chinese because they speak a
> chinese language; can you define what languages to be
> considered as chinese.

Chinese languages belong to the Chinese (or "Sinitic", if you
prefer) branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. I don't think
I need to tell you which languages are Chinese. (And no, Vietnamese
doesn't belong to Sino-Tibetan.

> I also disagree with ppk that no one
> speaks mandarin before 1400 because there are around 850
> millions people speak mandarin today. This number is too
> huge!

850 million or whatever is out of about a bit over a billion people.
However, this is a modern population figure, and if you look back
only a few decades, the Chinese population can be counted in
hundreds of millions.

> If mandarin was a language of such a small state in
> the classical time, how come mandarin becomes the most widely
> spoken language by the majority of today's population. I
> don't believe mandarin just pop out from somewhere and
> becomes the most dominant language. From my opinion, i think
> mandarin must have been a widely spoken language of many
> states in the classical time; anything other than that, i
> can't think of a reason why this language is so popular today.

Look at the geography of China. Mandarin is spoken across territory
which is rather flat and accessible, and Mandarin dialects are very
homogenous. Now, look at the other Chinese languages--they are
all squished into the southeast, along the coast. For the other
extreme, look at Min, spoken in Fujian. Its dialects exhibit the most
diversity, and the region is very mountainous--in fact, that was the
last region added to China in antiquity (I'm not counting places like
Yunnan, which are recent in comparison to long-term history) in
Tang times, I recall.

> the way, i brought in the vietnamese topic was because
> many chinese texts and critics always deny that vietnamese
> didn't live in modern day Kwangtung and Kwangsi provinces. I
> might sound like a Jew who wants to reclaim the "promised
> land" but the fact is that vietnamese did live in these
> provinces in the classical era!

I was aware of that fact already, but thanks. I don't know what
these Chinese texts or who these critics are, but it's well known that
there were non-Chinese peoples living in the south--collectively, they
were called the Bai Yue 百越 (Hundred Yue)--the Chinese didn't really
know the differences (and probably didn't really care to know).

BTW, are you familiar with the word Yue 粵? This is the name the
Cantonese have adopted for themselves. But it is really the same
word as Yue 越. In the past, they are used somewhat interchangably.
(Of course, 越 does not always mean Vietnamese.)

Thomas Chan

Re: Cantonese are not "authentic" Chinese

Post by yue »

may I ask if an Asian becomes a U.S citizen, would you call he/she an authentic American?

Re: Cantonese are not "authentic" Chinese

Post by ppk »

why not? 'americans' is just describing a certain 'nationality', what passport he or she holds, that is. its not stating a specific race. a black american or a white american or an asian american are equally authentic as long as they carry the american passport, and hold the american citizenship. 'americans' is a mixture of more than 200 races, just like the 'chinese' people is a mixture of many ancient races that roamed across the chinese land.

Re: Cantonese are not "authentic" Chinese

Post by yue »

come on ppk, you have to be realistic. The whole world only considers an authentic american as someone who is a decendent of the Europeans. We all know that the world looks at black and asian american with a different notion of american. Let me give you an example. when my uncle went to the middle east and he told the locals that he's an american but the locals quickly responded that my uncle is not an "authentic american". You see how the world thinks of the word authentic!

btw, may i ask if one day somehow the state of vietnam is being annexed to china and the vietnamese and chinese start to intermarry each other. If 2200 years later, would you say the decendents of these interracial marriages are authentic chinese?

Re: Cantonese are not "authentic" Chinese

Post by ppk »

ha. u will be branded as a racist in america. the europeans came much later than the aborigins, ie, the native indians. anyway u are contradicting urself. if u say the europeans, which came only after columbus discovered america, and conquered the aborigins, are the authentic americans, i dun see why the chinese which conquered the ancient viets in guangdong and guangxi, and formed the cantonese after that, cannot be authentic population of that area.

after the world war it is a common understanding that war is no longer the accepted way of solving international conflicts and the days of imperialism is long gone. so the situation where china annex vietnam will not possibly happen.