Language of Hong Kong
One of the most common questions many people ask about Hong Kong before traveling there is, what language do they speak in Hong Kong? The answer, unfortunately, isn’t quite as simple as some people might hope.
Although Hong Kong was under British rule until 1997 and has been an integral part of China since the early 20th century, the official languages spoken in Hong Kong are Cantonese and English rather than Mandarin Chinese.
However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get by with Mandarin Chinese if you can’t speak English or Cantonese in HK.
So, stick around as I walk you through the basic language in Hong Kong as well as other languages that makes preserves their cultural identity.
A Brief Overview of Languages Spoken in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has always been a linguistically diverse place, with multiple Chinese varieties spoken side-by-side. The dominant language has changed over time, however, and today Standard Mandarin is the primary language.
This change is due in part to language policy decisions made by the Chinese government for South China, as well as the increasing number of mainland Chinese speakers in Hong Kong.
Cantonese remains the native language for many residents and the entire population of Hong Kong (Chinese Populations), however, and continues to play an important role in Hong Kong’s cultural identity.
While Mandarin is the basic language taught in schools, most Cantonese speakers also know at least some English, making it one of the most widely spoken languages in Central Hong Kong. Know the top rarest language?
Additionally, people in Hong Kong can speak Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and other Asian languages due to the region’s proximity to these countries.
What is the Official language of Hong Kong?
The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese and English, but the Chinese language is by far the most widely spoken. There are several dialects of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong, but the most common is Cantonese, one of the most common Asian languages.
Other Chinese dialects include Mandarin, Hakka, and Wu. Many words in Cantonese dialect rhyme, which makes it a very musical language. There is also a rich tradition of written Chinese in Hong Kong, dating back thousands of years.
Cantonese Language in Hong Kong
The Cantonese dialect is the predominant dialect spoken in Hong Kong. It’s a dialect of Chinese that is written in traditional Chinese characters and is one of the national languages of Hong Kong, China. Cantonese has its own unique pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.
The written form of Cantonese uses romanization which includes letters from Western alphabets rather than using Chinese characters which makes it challenging for native speakers to use.
Many words in Cantonese rhyme, which makes it a popular choice for poetry and song lyrics. There is also a Cantonese dictionary that includes over 40,000 entries.
Cantonese is a tonal basic language with six tones: high level, rising, falling-rising, falling, dark level, and Entering tone. Cantonese is commonly spoken in parts of the world where Chinese people have immigrated, such as North America.
This is because most immigrants to these regions came from Guangdong Province in China, where Cantonese is the dominant dialect.
The History of Cantonese Language in Hong Kong
Cantonese is spoken in southern China, including the area now known as Hong Kong. The first recorded use of Cantonese dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) when it was used in a poem.
By the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), Cantonese had become a commonly spoken language. The dialect continued to evolve over the centuries, and by the time British colonists arrived in Hong Kong in the 18th century, Cantonese was well established as the local dialect.
Today, Cantonese remains one of the most commonly known languages of China and a widely spoken common language in Hong Kong.
Mandarin Language in Hong Kong
Mandarin is the most common language spoken in Hong Kong, though Cantonese is the most widely spoken or native language, as well as several other dialects.
The Mandarin language is the most widely spoken in China, with over 1 billion speakers. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, which means that the same word can have different meanings depending on the tone it is spoken in. There are four tones in Mandarin Chinese: high level, rising, falling-rising, and falling.
While Mandarin and Cantonese may sound similar, they are actually quite different languages as they have slight differences in pronunciation and vocabulary.
This can be confusing for visitors to Hong Kong, as many words rhyme in both Mandarin and Cantonese. A good Mandarin-Cantonese dictionary can be very helpful in communicating with locals.
English language in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong English is the dialect of the English language used in Hong Kong. Since Hong Kong was a British colony for over 150 years, English is one of the official languages here.
However, the way it’s spoken in Hong Kong is quite different from other varieties of English.
For example, words are often pronounced in a way that rhymes with the Chinese pronunciation of them. This can make it difficult for non-native speakers to understand. There are also many loan words from Cantonese and other Chinese dialects.
But don’t worry, there are plenty of dictionaries available to help you out!
Sign Language in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL) is the primary mode of communication for the deaf community in Hong Kong. It is a dialect of Chinese Sign Language (CSL) and uses a mix of CSL, American Sign Language (ASL), and locally developed signs.
HKSL has its own unique grammar and syntax and can be quite difficult to understand for those who are not familiar with it. There are an estimated 10,000 deaf people in Hong Kong, and HKSL is used by most of them.
What language is mostly spoken in Hong Kong?
The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese and English, but the most commonly spoken language is Cantonese.
Is Hong Kong English-friendly?
Yes, Hong Kong is English-friendly. The good news is that most people in Hong Kong speak English. The bad news is that it’s not always the same English you’re used to hearing that they use in Hong Kong.
How do you say 'hello' in Hong Kong?
In Hong Kong, the most common way to say hello is by saying nei hou (pronounced like nay ho). This phrase can be used for both formal and informal greetings in Hong Kong.
Is it better to learn Mandarin or Cantonese in Hong Kong?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on what you want to use the language for in Hong Kong. If you want to be able to communicate with the majority of people in Hong Kong, then learning Mandarin would be the way to go.