What's the Difference between Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese?
Here is one of the questions I get asked most often by my many US clients. The simple answer I give is that Mandarin and Cantonese are primarily an oral distinction vs. written distinction. In general, Mandarin Chinese is standard Chinese or standard Mandarin Chinese, which first originated in the North of China, but some form is spoken by most Chinese in China as well as Taiwan. In everyday use Mandarin refers to Standard Chinese or Standard Mandarin (Putonghua / Guoyu / Huayu), which is based on the particular Mandarin dialect spoken in Beijing. Standard Mandarin functions as the official spoken language of the People's Republic of China, the official language of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and one of the four official languages of Singapore.
Cantonese is primarily spoken by those from Guangzhou, Canton being the old capital name for current Guangdong. And of course, Cantonese is the native language of those from Hong Kong too. That's my 2 cents.....For more details of the differences, read my esteemed colleague Song's excellent article here: What are the Differences between Mandarin and Cantonese?
Coming soon.....Can Cantonese and Mandarin Speakers Understand Each Other?