Toisan (0)
posted by klmcurlyq on June 16, 2012 | 3 comments
Help! Working in Chinatown NYC and many people are speaking Cantonese but can't understand me. It is explained to me that they are speaking Toisanese. How different is this from Cantonese and how can I learn it?

Any help you can provide would be most appreciated.

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sacredhero86 on June 18, 2012 | reply
They're both Yue languages and are related, but I think if you want to learn Taishanese you'll simply have to spend a lot of time with the people there. From what I understand it's going to be a bit like knowing one Latin based language (French, Spanish, Italian)and then learning another.

I also found some material out there....there are some youtube videos as well...I'm sure with a search you can find a bit more.
jlouie_41 on October 20, 2012 | reply
I can fully relate to this.

I'm half chinese with my family being from toisan so we speak both cantonese and toisanese, but as is my case with my grasp of the language I sometimes unknowingly speak a blend of the two. Toisanese people should be able to understand cantonese ( they are very closely related) To address the comment above, in my opinion Toisanese is much more closely related to Cantonese, some most words are very close to the same with only a slight difference in pronounciation, as well as some words being the same. Also as you are probably aware the writing and therefore the reading is the same.

To learn, this to me would seem quite hard unless you meet someone who has the grasp of the two languages and english. It is already quite hard to find proficient online help for cantonese (living in canada).


dunndavid on March 12, 2014 | reply
The Foreign Service Institute did a set of tapes and books for Toisanese some years ago. They also did the same for Cantonese. I speak Cantonese. Toisanese is related but not mutually intelligible. If you knew Cantonese, you could probably eventually pick up Toisanese with some effort. Since Toisanese is a language with fewer speakers than Cantonese it is common for Toisanese to be able to speak Cantonese but not the other way around. I've met lots of people from that area. Some features of Toisan include changing "t" for "h" sound. So tomorrow “ting yat-” in Cantonese becomes “hing yat” in Toisanese. Chinatown in Cantonese “Tong Yan Gai-唐人街” becomes “Hong Yan Gai”. The word for everything in Cantonese “Chun Bo-全部“ becomes “ham ba lang” in Toisanese. There is enough interaction between Toisan and Hong Kong that Hong Kong people also say “ham ba lang” but Cantonese in other locations may not know that.