Mandarin vs. Cantonese

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2013/11/13, original URI:

Recently, at IUC 37 in Santa Clara, when I was talking about MSKLC, one of the of the people in the audience (whose name is Stephan Stiller) was asking questions.

Not MSKLC questions.

They really were not keyboard questions at all.

They were actually IME questions.

Questions about a specific IME, actually.

The Cantonese IME, in fact.

Uh oh.

That one has a problem.

Well, the IME doesn't really have a specific problem.

But anyone trying to support Cantonese may notice a problem that some people have with Cantonese.

I mentioned it back in Vista in this blog!

There is just a not insignificant number of people in China or Taiwan who speak Chinese.

Mandarin Chinese. Not Cantonese Chinese.

If you catch my drift.

I wouldn't necessarily consider it to be a serious issue of bias or prejudice or anything like that.

It seems kind of butter side up/butter side down to me, but maybe I'm just showing off....

Perhaps it is a little bit of prejudice of some kind, but only subconsciously so.

Most people wouldn't believe they are guilty of such a thing if you pointed it out to them. They wouldn't take the accusation seriously.

But Cantonese has certain differences from Mandarin in ways that some people would find interesting.

Cantonese has more tones than Mandarin, for example. It can be hard for Mandarin speakers to follow some of those complexities.

I don't necessarily think that is a very good reason to refuse to take it seriously.

But I don't really speak either of them fluently, so some would not consider me to be qualified to have an opinion in such a situation.

Maybe so. But I know bias and prejudice when I see them, and I do not need to know a language to recognize those things...

If everyone spoke Cantonese then no one would be able to have problems recognizing those additional tones. And fewer people would be in a position to dislike those additional tones.

That is probably why I tried to add the Cantonese IME in the first place, even though later versions had people so willingly choose to let it go.

I doubt that it is an accident that Cantonese is really only ever used in Traditional Chinese, and is pretty much unknown in Simplified Chinese.

Well, that isn't really true, as this Wikipedia article explains. But many people deny it even exists as a written language, and thus claiming it has a Simplified form at all is just crazy!

It makes it all the more ironic that GB18030 covers both forms of Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) despite the fact that China is so clearly preferring Simplified Chinese and Mandarin form of the language.

But the standard was always pushing the envelope to cover not just Chinese but also more and more of its minority languages.

Microsoft has to keep up with GB18030 and every new permutation that each new version brings.

Even that Cantonese IME, in the end! 😏😏😏😏

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referenced by

2013/11/22 Unconflating Chinese part 0: The Introduction

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