Chinese, Yue


A language of China

Alternate Names
Cantonese, Yue, Yueh, Yuet Yue, Yueyu
粵語‎ (Yuht Yúh)

62,000,000 in China (Asher and Moseley 2007). Total users in all countries: 73,538,610 (as L1: 73,136,610; as L2: 402,000).


Guangdong province: most except Hakka-speaking areas northeast, and Min Nan-speaking areas east; Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region: east; Hainan and Hunan provinces.

Language Maps
Language Status

2 (Provincial). De facto provincial language in Guangdong Province. Language of recognized nationality: Han.


Siyi (Hoisan, Schleiyip, Seiyap, Taishan, Toisan), Gaolei (Gaoyang), Qinlian, Guinan, Ping, Bobai, Tengxian, Cangwu, Yangjiang, Zhongshan, Guangzhou. The Guangzhou variety considered the standard. A member of macrolanguage Chinese [zho].


SVO; prepositions; genitives, relatives, adjectives, numerals before noun heads; noun classifiers; no articles; 18 consonants, 7 vowels; tonal (6 tones: 3 level, 3 contour).

Language Use

Second only to Mandarin [cmn] in use. All domains. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Also use Mandarin Chinese [cmn], which many understand, speaking it only with difficulty. Used as L2 by Biao [byk], Chadong [cdy], E [eee], Min Nan Chinese [nan], Vietnamese [vie], Yang Zhuang [zyg], Yongnan Zhuang [zyn], Zuojiang Zhuang [zzj].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 91% (2000 census, Han nationality). Speakers are highly literate in Chinese. Taught in primary and secondary schools. Fully developed. Bible: 1894–1981.


Braille script [Brai], used in Hong Kong. Han script, Simplified variant [Hans]. Han script, Traditional variant [Hant], official usage in Hong Kong and Macau, also used elsewhere. Latin script [Latn], used since mid-19th century.

Other Comments

Many members of other nationalities in Guangxi, Guangdong and Hainan also speak Yue dialects.

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