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The artice is devoted to the problem of preserving the Cantonese dialect (language) in modern China, where for several decades the government persistently pursued a policy of disseminating of the nation-wide Chinese language (“pǔtōnghuà”). Cantonese is the largest language by speakers among all Chinese languages and it is native to most residents of Guangdong and Hong Kong, however, unlike the languages of the national minorities of China, it is not fully protected by law and is consistently ousted from the education system and out of business communication. In the article the authors carefully analyze the linguistic history of China, the role of dialects in the system of Chinese languages and the historical and political significance of a single written norm. According to the authors, the division of China into two large cultural and historical communities (northern and southern) corresponds to the established linguistic division, but unlike many other countries in the world, the ethnolinguistic and ethnocultural differences between the northern and southern Chinese due to the centuries-old unifying efforts of the central government do not lead to the division of the Chinese nation. The article examines in detail the history of Cantonese, a linguistic analysis of the differences between Cantonese and Putonghua, and on this basis concludes that Cantonese should be considered not as a dialect of Chinese, but rather as a separate language of the Sino-Tibetan language group, albeit closely related to the Chinese language. Analyzing the role of Cantonese in the formation of a special cultural and historical community in Guangdong and Hong Kong, the authors conclude that the declining of the Cantonese dialect (language) will probably occur over the next several decades, unless the language and education policies of the Chinese government are changed. Otherwise this tendency will lead to the loss of the province's identity, which is part of the intangible cultural heritage of the entire Chinese nation.

About the authors

Sergey A Barov

Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation

Author for correspondence.
Leningradskiy prospekt, 49, Moscow, Russia, 125993

Candidate of Political Sciences, Associate Professor, the Department of Language Training

Maia A Egorova

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

6, Miklukho-Maklaya str., Moscow, Russia, 117198

Candidate of Political Sciences, Associate Professor, the Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


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Copyright (c) 2019 Barov S.A., Egorova M.A.

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