The History of Cantonese and Putonghua

2390 Words10 Pages
The varieties of Chinese According to Bernard Comrie (1990: 83),’ there are more than 1,000,000,000 people are speakers of some form of Chinese.’ By seeing this figure, Chinese should have appeared long enough for its evolution and let it spread to different areas in which Chinese or its form can become the dominant language. The origin of Chinese is studied through bone and tortoise shell inscription because the earliest records were marked on them in around 1300B.C. (Chou Fa- Kao 1986:1) They are the earliest recorded founded that can be used for analysis, the development of Chinese is also base on these findings. Chinese is one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages. It is said that there are seven major languages in Chinese languages (Joseph 2004:7) . They are Cantonese (Yue), Fukiense (min), Gan, Hakka, hunanese (Hsiang), Mandarin, and Wu. Basically, there are three stages in the development of the Chinese language. They are Old Chinese, Middle Chinese and Modern Chinese . For each stage, it can be further divided into different intervals (Fig 1). Within different intervals, varieties mentioned above occur. However may be some of the bones and tortoise shells were not perfectly preserved that inadequate information was available for analysis, there is discrepancy between different references concerning time and therefore no exact boundary could be made between each development stage. There is only a rough estimation made by those who studied the history of Chinese Language. Besides, Joseph (2004:16) also said that due to the lack of data, most descriptions of family relationship among Chinese languages are based on impression. There was a long story of the historical development of the Chinese Lang... ... middle of paper ... object, noun adverb, etc, these elements in fact are being placed in different position in a sentence in Cantonese and Putonghua. As mentioned in the second part, they get different order in a sentence. Also, even the same symbol are used, the vocabularies is different from each other in certain extend. Therefore, I consider this grammatical difference attribute to their mutual unintelligibility. As we know, there is no exact answer on how to classify Cantonese and Putonghua, whether they are languages or dialects. When we discussing this problem, there are actually things depend on what extent. To what extent is the size large enough? To what extent is the status is high enough to be a prestigious one? These all depend on which angle we consider. Base on the points mentioned so far, I would consider Cantonese and Putonghua as languages instead of dialects.
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