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Cantonese eases its way into popularity
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11:11, November 01, 2007

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Once spoken only by people in Guangdong Province, over the years, certain Cantonese phrases have slowly made their way into the everyday vocabulary of Chinese people around the country.

Among the most popular expressions are maidan (foot the bill), shengmeng (alive), baodianhuazhou (have a very long chat over the phone), baoman (completely packed or filled up) and chaoyouyu (lay off).

Some of the Cantonese expressions have become so commonplace they have even been listed in the latest edition of the Xinhua Chinese Dictionary.

Si Qisheng, a Chinese linguistics professor with Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, attributed the increased popularity of Cantonese words primarily to the influential effect of the economic development of Guangdong and the Pearl River Delta regions.

It is there the dialect of Cantonese is widely spoken.

"Guangdong used to be China's pilot region for reform and opening-up and the province has been a vanguard for its economic development," he said.

"Many migrant people nationwide, who have come to the province to work or do business, have developed a passion for the liveliness of Cantonese expressions.

"Many such people considered Cantonese fashionable and they dotted their dialect with some Cantonese expressions even when they returned to their hometown as a way to show off. In this way, Cantonese words have gained popularity nationwide."

Zhao Jizhou, also a Chinese linguistics professor with Sun Yat-sen University, said the popularity of TV in China had also contributed to the rising use of the Cantonese dialect.

"Hong Kong and Cantonese TV series, and those comic plays and crosstalks that parody how successful Cantonese businesspeople talk are all among the forces that have made Cantonese expressions popular in other regions outside Guangdong," Zhao said.

Source: China Daily

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