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Dominant flavour of Cantonese spoken in Vancouver/British Columbia?
Thread poster: xxxvwkl
xxxvwkl
Canada
Local time: 11:08
Chinese to English
+ ...
Sep 19, 2010

Hi fellow translators,

I am currently working on a project that involves providing localized transcripts in Cantonese, for a client in Vancouver. It has already been decided that Cantonese, out of all the Chinese dialects, will be used, and I agree with it that part because IMO, in that locale, the Chinese speaking population is currently dominated by Cantonese, with the majority of these speakers originating from Hong Kong. And thus I have been using the dialect of Hong Kong Cantonese (广东话) for the project so far.

However, suddenly a conflict occurred, where another person working on the project (from the client's side) introduced what appears to be another Cantonese dialect used possibly elsewhere in the province of Guangdong. I am not expert in all these various dialects but it appears that part of it comes from the Mandarin vocabulary. The body of the project now contains a grating mix of vocabulary from distinctively different locales (there is a good reason why even though we say "Cantonese" in English, we sub-catogorize it into 粤语、广东话、广州/广府话 etc.in Chinese!)

I understand that most non-Chinese or even Chinese speakers would say these sub-dialects are almost the same, but in the context of this project, the results are quite bad. And mind you, I am not talking about the very colloquial, spoken style of Cantonese here. I am talking about the style you would find in newspapers and government publications.

I was hoping to find some references that show that the dominant flavour of Cantonese spoken in Vancouver/Greater Vancouver Area is the Hong Kong-style Cantonese, but there is not much online data available. The 2006 Canadian population census has data that actually distinguishes Hong Kong from the rest of China for ethnicity, and Cantonese from Taiwanese, Mandarin etc. for mother tongue. However there is simply no information that pinpoints what I need. For example:

http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/topics/RetrieveProductTable.cfm?ALEVEL=3&APATH=3&CATNO=&DETAIL=0&DIM=&DS=99&FL=0&FREE=0&GAL=0&GC=99&GK=NA&GRP=1&IPS=&METH=0&ORDER=1&PID=89272&PTYPE=88971&RL=0&S=1&ShowAll=No&StartRow=1&SUB=702&Temporal=2006&Theme=70&VID=0&VNAMEE=&VNAMEF=&GID=838071

I would appreciate if anyone can give advice on where to find this data or how to deal with this, to get the project running again.

Oh, and I understand that this topic can be subject to some very heated debates, so I would like to request that the discussion be kept on topic. Thanks in advance for your input!

Cheers.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:08
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
If a client requires Cantonese translation Sep 19, 2010

it is meant for people coming from HK. People from verywhere else in Guangdong use Mandarin perfectly.

it is sugguested that you tell your client that the other translator is using a different style, which will result in serious inconsistency of both terms and styles in the project. Don't forget to tell him yours is the "Official" Cantonese targeting HK immigrants.


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Cynthia Ho
Local time: 23:08
English to Chinese
I suggest HK-style Chinese Sep 19, 2010

Like you I don't have official data either. But school of life tells me that HK-style Chinese is a dominant language in the Chinese community in Canada since most are immigrants from Hong Kong. At least the two most popular Chinese newspapers are both from Hong Kong.

Also, both spoken and written Chinese of Hong Kong and Guangzhou citizens are quite different. For the written language difference, I suggest referring to the newspapers:

Hong Kong:
Sing Tao Daily: http://news.singtao.ca/vancouver/
Ming Pao Daily: http://www.mingpaovan.com/

Guangzhou:
Nanfang Daily (no Canadian/US version): http://nf.nfdaily.cn/

Best,
Cynthia


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xxxvwkl
Canada
Local time: 11:08
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, that's the basic idea. Sep 19, 2010

jyuan, thanks for your input. People like you and me just assume that is the case, and I have been doing my work based on this forever, either as a given from the client, or accepted without dispute. This is the first time something like this came up, and so I'd like to find some official documents to back it up, which I knew would be difficult because:

Those who can tell the difference do not care (about a foreign locale), and those who care (the Canadian government) do not know about the difference .

jyuan_us wrote:

Don't forget to tell him yours is the "Official" Cantonese targeting HK immigrants.


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wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:08
Chinese to English
+ ...
Wikipedia page Sep 19, 2010

I wonder if this could be of any help to you? 2001 data is a bit dated. However, IMO it's still better than nothing.

Either way, good luck with getting your project back on track.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Canadian



Language

In 2001, 87% of Chinese reported having a conversational knowledge of at least one official language, while 15% reported that they could speak neither English nor French. Of those who could not speak an official language, 50% immigrated to Canada in the 1990s, while 22% immigrated in the 1980s. These immigrants tended to be in the older age groups. Of prime working-age Chinese immigrants, 89% reported knowing at least one official language.

In 2001, collectively, Chinese languages are the third-most common reported mother tongue, after English and French. 3% of the population, or 872,000 people, reported the Chinese language as their mother tongue — the language that they learned as a child and still understand. The most common Chinese mother tongue is Cantonese. Of these people, 44% were born in Hong Kong, 27% were born in the Chinese Guangdong province, and 18% were Canadian-born. The second-most common reported Chinese mother tongue was Mandarin. Of these people, 85% were born in either Mainland China or Taiwan, 7% were Canadian-born, and 2% were born in Malaysia. There is some evidence that fewer young Chinese-Canadians are speaking their parents' and grandparents' first language.

However, only about 790,500 people reported speaking a Chinese language at home on a regular basis, 81,900 fewer than those who reported having a Chinese mother tongue. This suggests some language loss has occurred, mainly among the Canadian-born who learned Chinese as a child, but who may not speak it regularly or do not use it as their main language at home.




[Edited at 2010-09-19 20:09 GMT]


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wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:08
Chinese to English
+ ...
Vancouver Sep 19, 2010

Another unofficial document** that characterizes the main composition of the new Chinese immigrants whom settled in the Vancouver area during the '80s and '90s.



http://www1.canadiana.org/citm/specifique/asian_e.html#hongkong

In the 1980s, a new type of immigrant was added to the Immigration Act: those who belonged to a "business" class. That is, anyone who wanting to bring significant entrepreneurial or business funds to Canada could immigrate here.

Many of this new class of immigrants were of Chinese origin and came from the tiny island colony of Hong Kong. During the 1980s and '90s, capitalist business people living in Hong Kong were anxious over the Chinese government's impending treaty take-over of the island from Britain, which occurred in 1998. They looked to Canada as a place to resettle and do business ...

Between 1983 and 1996, about 700,000 Chinese business people (mostly from Hong Kong) came to settle in Vancouver and, to a lesser extent, Toronto. They brought billions of dollars worth of investment funds with them.



** http://www1.canadiana.org/citm/index_e.html



[Edited at 2010-09-19 21:58 GMT]


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Chunyi Chen
United States
Local time: 08:08
English to Chinese
明報的風格很有台味 Sep 20, 2010

看了一下明報的連結,發現它的中文風格跟在台灣用的繁體中文很像。
我總以為港式中文會夾雜粵語,雖然我不懂粵語,但我知道這類文章會出現
係、佢之類的字眼。當客戶要求"粵語"時,他們指的不是這類風格的譯文嗎?我以為
在香港的讀者比較習慣這類(我看不懂)的文章哩。


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xxxvwkl
Canada
Local time: 11:08
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks everyone for all the helpful input! Sep 21, 2010

Yes, most of the data available on the web is somewhat outdated, but is good for my purposes for now. My concern is, there are debates saying that there had also been a mass exodus of Hong Kong immigrants from Vancouver post-1997, supposedly bringing down the number of HK-style Cantonese speakers there.

Just wondering if there's anyone from Vancouver (or BC) who can weigh in?


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Cynthia Ho
Local time: 23:08
English to Chinese
視乎他們的要求 Sep 21, 2010

比起中台市場,香港市場是比較麻煩。報紙和書信之類的書面語跟中台的差不多,最多也只是用詞不同,文法差異不大。可是電影、娛樂、文宣之類就不一樣,電影字幕的話要視客戶要求和電影本身的種類,例如笑片的話多加口語(也就是粵語用詞)看起來會比較生動,劇情和對話需要的話甚至會配粵語髒話(例如X你個X等等),如果是歷史片的話通常是配書面語。

很多客戶(我覺得中外都是)以為香港人說粵語,那就只會要人家譯粵語(曾經有客戶找我將向香港的慈善基金申請籌款的信譯成粵語),其實自己連target audience平常說甚麼寫甚麼也搞不清楚。

再說日月報,他們的記者在行內算是高質素了,所以很少會在裡面看到夾雜粵語這種低級錯誤。


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xxxvwkl
Canada
Local time: 11:08
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
其實所謂的港式文章... Sep 21, 2010

Chun-yi Chen wrote:

看了一下明報的連結,發現它的中文風格跟在台灣用的繁體中文很像。
我總以為港式中文會夾雜粵語,雖然我不懂粵語,但我知道這類文章會出現
係、佢之類的字眼。當客戶要求"粵語"時,他們指的不是這類風格的譯文嗎?我以為
在香港的讀者比較習慣這類(我看不懂)的文章哩。


閣下大概是台灣人吧﹖其實所謂的港式文章﹐一般不會用比較屬於俗語的廣東話字詞。所見的「佢_(口地)」﹑「_(口係)度」等﹐通常都只會於(某些)現代小說/文章看到﹐大部份時間都是口述時用的。


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Chunyi Chen
United States
Local time: 08:08
English to Chinese
我是 Sep 21, 2010

是的,我是台灣來的。
"閣下"是很典型的港式中文用語。台灣對等的詞應該就是"您"。


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Chunyi Chen
United States
Local time: 08:08
English to Chinese
放諸四海皆準的中文 Sep 21, 2010

不管是簡體或繁體,中式或港式或台式,
只要寫得好,其實讀起來都是一種享受,
所呈現的字形樣貌只是一種次要的符號罷了.


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wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:08
Chinese to English
+ ...
台山话 Sep 22, 2010

Vikki,

Here's a blog post I found on the web that talks about the history of Chinese immigrants in Vancouver, written by a Chinese-descent Vancouverite. The author clearly distinguishes between a Cantonese dialect spoken by the older generation of immigrants mainly from Taishan versus another predominantly spoken by more recent immigrants from Hong Kong.

Perhaps these two flavors might be the two conflicting dialects that are at odds which you may have encountered?

The newest wave of immigrants arriving from Mainland China in all likelihood speak Mandarin, including those whom hail from Guangdong Province. The way I see it, even if the folks from Guangdong Province socialize in Cantonese, or speak Cantonese at home, the written word is still mostly in standard Mandarin. After all, Guangdong, like all other provinces, has been an integral part of the People's Republic of China for more than 60 years.

http://btr.michaelkwan.com/2009/07/31/a-brief-history-of-chinese-vancouver/



However, in the coastal county-level city called Toi San, my ancestors had a slightly different mother tongue. Some people refer to Taishanese as a dialect of Cantonese, but I almost feel that it is a different language altogether. It’s a little more crude and has an air of “village speak” for some people. In general, Toi San people can understand Guangdong Cantonese but usually not the other way around. Whatever the case, Toi San was the Chinese that I knew. In fact, that’s probably the Chinese that most people knew in North America up until the late 1980s.

According to Wikipedia, “as late as 1988, those with ancestry from Taishan accounted for 70% of Chinese Americans.” Aside from the people who were brought here to build the railroads, the Taishanese represented the first major wave of Chinese immigrants into North America. Mostly poor and outcast by Western European Canadians, these Taishanese immigrants formed Vancouver’s Chinatown in Canada’s poorest postal code. These days, it’s rare to hear anyone speak Toi San in public. Since my grandparents passed away, I haven’t spoken much of it either.




[Edited at 2010-09-23 12:24 GMT]


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redred  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 23:08
English to Chinese
+ ...
爱国侨领梅彩迺,祖籍台山 Sep 26, 2010

引用:被美国报纸称为“中国的洛克菲勒”的美国华侨梅彩迺,1926年在烟墩路建筑占地2897平方米的彩园,内有三座洋房。

Steve,“中国的洛克菲勒”,哪儿的美国报道?听说过吗?


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wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:08
Chinese to English
+ ...
广东五邑民系 Sep 26, 2010

redred,

可惜我没听说过这位梅彩迺先生. 搜索 "Chinese Rockefeller" 也没找到什么美国媒体对他的报道. 我想他大概在老一代华侨居住比较集中的地方比较出名.

搜索你的一句引文时,倒是找到一些国内有关五邑侨民历史上对广东房产业及社会文化所作贡献的文章. 下面这篇也许对 Vikki 提出的的议题可以提供一些关于五邑华侨的背景. (Notice the mention of "四邑話" in one of the links.)

http://bbs.southcn.com/thread-206353-1-1.html



五邑民系:
http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-tw/五邑民系

五邑人是居住在廣東的一個族群,一般普遍說是四邑人,四邑是指江門市的新會、開平、恩平、台山,五邑(加上鶴山)和六邑(加上赤溪)。其中四邑用得最多。在1983年,鶴山

劃入江門地區管理後,五邑成為官方名稱,但在海外社區,很多人仍沿用四邑的稱呼。至於赤溪,歷史上曾有此建制,但1953年已併入台山縣。住在這裡的人大都操四邑話。另

外珠海斗門操四邑話的族群亦屬於五邑民系。



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