Cantonese is a southern Chinese dialect, which is an integral part of Hong Kong’s identity and culture.

The lavish, expensive Cantonese dishes lost in time
Double-boiled pig’s stomach stuffed with chicken and bird’s nest. Wok-seared crab cake with bird’s nest and egg white. Wok-fried thinly sliced giant sea conch “snow flakes” with chicken fillet and crispy ham medallions. These are just some of the dishes that wealthy customers used to order in high-end Cantonese restaurants in Hong Kong decades ago. But, they eventually disappeared from menus because they were too laborious or difficult to prepare, or the price charged didn’t make them worth the effort. Malaysian-Chinese freelance food writer Agnes Chee had never heard of these dishes before. She later asked seasoned chef Chui Wai-kwan, who had been cooking for over 50 years, to make some of
The tales Chinese last names tell us about immigration
Apart from being badass martial arts icons, Bruce Lee, and Jet Li have one more thing in common – they share the same last name. In English, Lee and Li are two different last names, but in Chinese, they’re written as the same character – 李. It is one of the most common Chinese last names. The distinction in English is the result of two different transliterations. “Lee” comes from a system of romanization of Chinese characters common among Cantonese speakers in southern China, whereas “Li” comes from Pinyin, the standard system of romanized spelling used by Mandarin speakers in mainland China. If you want to get your head around China’s vast regional and cultural differences, Lee and Li is a
Hong Kong’s newest Cantonese opera star is Donald Trump
Before Chairman Mao Zedong died, premier Zhou Enlai delivered a warning: one day, a US celebrity-turned-president could become a major threat to China. At least, that’s the story feng shui master-turned-playwright Edward Li Kui-ming tells in a new Cantonese opera production, Trump on Show. The political satire begins its run in Hong Kong on Friday, a modern update on a centuries-old Chinese art form characterized by its elaborate make-up and costumes. While real relations between China and the United States are under strain, in Li’s production salvation arrives in the form of Trump’s long-lost twin brother, who grew up in China and acts as a bridge between the two worlds. “Imagine when Trum
There isn’t one right way to speak Cantonese
In Kuala Lumpur and the adjoining city of Petaling Jaya, where I recently spent a week, the default Chinese language among Chinese Malaysians seems to be Cantonese. Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial Southeast Asian country of 32 million people, about a quarter of whom are ethnically Chinese. Most of them have ancestral roots in south China, and speak a number of Chinese languages and dialects, in addition to English and the dominant local language, Malay. The explanations given for the prevalent use of Cantonese among Chinese Malaysians in this area include the high concentration of people of Cantonese descent, the firm following of Cantonese popular culture among ethnic Chinese resid
Cantonese: speak it loudly and proudly
Every now and then, the political rumor mill in Hong Kong is abuzz with talk of replacing Cantonese with Mandarin as the medium of instruction in schools. It happened again earlier this month, but this time it wasn’t the usual brand of gossip setting passions aflame. Education chief Kevin Yeung Yun-hung suggested experts should look into whether the official tongue of China should be used instead of Cantonese to teach the Chinese language. Most Hongkongers were particularly offended by his comment, in which he said “the future development of Chinese language learning across the globe will rely mainly on Mandarin”. His comments unwittingly hit a raw nerve with Hongkongers because many see the
Hong Kong’s tiny Cantonese opera stars
The voices are hushed. The lights are low. Backstage, the opera stars are ready for their moment in the spotlight. There’s just one difference from a regular performance: all the stars are children. The Cha Duk Chang Children’s Cantonese Opera Association in Hong Kong has run since 2002, offering Cantonese opera lessons to Hong Kong schoolkids. It produced scripts tailor-made for kids to teach values such as honesty, courage and filial piety. And it all culminates in the annual “Great Fun Show” performance. South China Morning Post photographer Martin Chan captured these miniature opera stars, both on stage and behind the scenes.
Is calling a white guy ‘ghost man’ racist?
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re a ghost man. That’s “gweilo” – Cantonese slang used to refer to westerners. Now a British man has filed a discrimination lawsuit against his ex-employer in Hong Kong, alleging that he was excluded in the workplace – and put down as a “gweilo.” Francis William Haden, a blasting specialist, brought the suit against construction company Leighton Contractors (Asia), which had hired him to work on a tunnel project in Hong Kong. He was dismissed from the post in February last year. “The claimant was made to feel unwelcome and frozen-out because he was not Chinese,” said the writ filed on his behalf. “On a number of occasions, the claimant heard
Hong Kong will keep teaching Cantonese. For now
People in Hong Kong have breathed a sigh of relief after senior officials denied planning to replace Cantonese, the local vernacular, with Mandarin, the national language of China. The latest linguistic brouhaha in politically divided Hong Kong started when internet users found a paper on the website of the city’s Education Bureau, saying that Cantonese shouldn't be described as the mother tongue of Hongkongers, as it is only a dialect.   Cantonese is the standard-bearer of the southern Chinese Yue language, with a 2000-year history. It has preserved more features, such as tones and words, from ancient Chinese than Mandarin. Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam was forced to clarify that the Educa
Why Cantonese teenagers are ditching their mother tongue for Mandarin
Once upon a time, Cantonese was the language that transported Chinese cinema, business and culture across the world. But that’s all changing. Cantonese is being spoken by fewer and fewer people in its spiritual home. The language is fighting what locals fear is a losing battle against China’s official tongue. Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, is the capital of Guangdong province – and the home of Cantonese. Spoken by 73 million people across the world, Cantonese has had great global influence because most of the early Chinese immigrants came from southern China. When they moved, they took their culture and language with them. Mandarin, also known as Putonghua – “common speech” – originat