I'm really thinking of switching as everyone I know uses Cantonese in social settings and at times it seems knowing putonghua is about as useful as English everyone needs to stop and translate for you. For social settings which is where I mainly want to use the the language Cantonese seems a better fit. So I'm wondering if any of you have done this or considered it? and what your thoughts are?
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Learn Mandarin if you want to be harmonious. Learn Cantonese if you feel like a rebel
Don't give up on Mandarin. The same feeling you have about it being as useful as English would apply to the entirety of the country if you spoke Cantonese. If you really want to invest time and effort in learning Cantonese go for it but it sounds like you would be alienating yourself from the rest of the country to speak with a small percentage of people in Guangdong. It's a useless time investment in my opinion.
It would definitely be interesting to learn but make sure your mandarin is top notch first. It's the national language and everyone you interact with speaks it unless you also interact frequently with senior farmers.
After you learn Mandarin it should be pretty easy. I worked with a guy (foreign) who went to Guangdong for two years and came back able to speak it.
I learned Mandarin and am now learning Cantonese because my wife's family speaks it. I tried to learn Cantonese years ago but it was much harder without the Mandarin base.
Instead of is just stupid. Learn mando. And canto you can pick up later.
Depends on what your plans for the future are.
You planning to stay there for a long time? Yeah I'd switch. Both languages are monumental pains in the asses to learn so I don't blame you for the "instead".
You planning to live anywhere else in China? Don't switch.
Definitely learn Mandarin first. If you have basic Mandarin learning basic Cantonese is actually not too difficult. But going into Cantonese blind with all of the tones and the more 'blended' sound of everyday speech can be really difficult.
If you have a goal of learning a language to a high level I'd personally recommend just sticking to Mandarin. Cantonese is so much harder and people will speak in a more natural way whereas a lot of people speak Mandarin as a second language and so they also use simpler phrasing and talk slower. If your ultimate goal is to make deep connections with people and convey complex ideas Mandarin will get you further faster than Cantonese because of the added difficulty and slang. Plus there are far fewer learning resources available to you.
Even in business settings its much better. I hired a Cantonese speaker for this reason.
Learn mandarin first then pick up cantonese. It will be easier. Buddy of mine went fluent in mandarin and then picked up cantonese in less than a year.
I feel your pain. I studied Mandarin but everyone around me speaks Cantonese. It was frustrating to sit there and have people talk in a Chinese language that I didn't know. That being said I eventually began to pick up Cantonese. Often it was words that sounded somewhat like Mandarin words I knew. It's taken years but I finally have a good grasp on Cantonese as well as Mandarin. It does make life easier to understand the people around you. However despite all that I still would learn Mandarin first. First Mandarin I is the official language of the country. Most people speak it fluently even if many people have execrable accents. Finding learning resources for Mandarin is WAY easier than Cantonese. If you live in Guangzhou Shenzhen or Dongguan a large and growing percentage of the population don't speak Cantonese. This includes many of the people you deal with on a daily basis (retail restaurant and other low wage workers). Traveling outside the Cantonese area is WAY easier if you can speak fluent Mandarin. Also a significant chunk of the business owners I deal with also don't speak Canto. Essentially if you have any aspirations for doing business in China Mandarin fluency is essential.