The Cantonese people 廣府人 (gwong2 fu2 jan4) are known to be originated from Guangdong. But, what else should we learn about these great people?
The Hong Kongers that we know today have a lot of history from their ethnicity. If you have been learning Cantonese for a while, you might want to learn about Cantonese people since they were responsible for spreading this language. Thanks to Cantonese people who have been through a lot.
The Cantonese people or Yue people are a Yue-speaking Han Chinese subgroup that originates from or resides in the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi (collectively known as Liangguang), which are located in Southern Mainland China. But this is just basic information about them. Let’s learn more!
History Of Cantonese People: The Journey From Southern China
- Guangzhou, a big city in the south that has been inhabited for over 2,200 years, has always been the center of Cantonese culture
- In 214 BC, during Emperor Qin Shihuang’s 33rd year in power, the Nanhai Prefecture was set up in what is now Guangzhou. A lot of Han people flooded into the area.
- In the ninth century, a lot of foreign merchants moved to Guangzhou. They stayed there until the T’ang emperors lost control of the city in AD 878.
- Han Chinese from the central plains migrated to the south throughout the 4th–12th centuries. During the Tang period, Cantonese and other Guangdong dialect groups arose. Multiple Han migrations have occurred in Southeastern and Southern China.
- It is believed that people from the north of China went to the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, while the Baiyue people still occupied those areas. This is where the Cantonese people got their start.
- During the reign of Wang Mang in the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), there were large migrations of Han Chinese people into the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, the western coast of Hainan, Annam (now Northern Vietnam), and eastern Yunnan.
- During the 19th-20th century, lots of devastating things happened. In 1800, fighting arose between Cantonese and Portuguese pirates in the form of the Ningpo massacre. Between 1855-1867, the Punti-Hakka Clan Wars happened, and the third plague pandemic broke out, killing thousands and spreading by water to Hong Kong and Macau.
- The 19th-century unrest and early-20th-century political upheaval forced many Guangdong inhabitants to emigrate. Most overseas Chinese emigrated from Guangdong and Fujian until the second part of the 20th century.
- Today, there are now a great number of Cantonese communities located all over the world. These communities can be found in places such as Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Western Europe. Cantonese communities are frequently responsible for the establishment of Chinatowns.
If you wanna know more about Cantonese culture and people, you can search it online, or you can also visit Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong, if you have the means to.
Facts About Cantonese People In Hong Kon
“Cantonese” only refers to people from Guangzhou and the cities and towns around it, as well as native speakers of Standard Cantonese. It doesn’t just mean “people from the Liangguang region.” In Vietnam, they are also known as “Hoa,” while in Malaysia and Indonesia, they are called “Kongfu” and “Konghu,” respectively.
According to the census completed in 2016, 92% of Hong Kong’s population identifies as being of Chinese ethnicity, with 32.1% of the population having been born in Mainland China, Taiwan, or Macau.
Now that you have learned the brief history of the Cantonese people let us go deeper. When you go to Hong Kong, you will not fully enjoy your trip without communicating and making connections with the locals. So, it’s nice to learn some things about them.
Many people view Hong Kong as a very advanced city in the world, but you should know that Hong Kong is more than that. What makes them special is the people that make up Hong Kong. So now, let’s discover interesting things about the Cantonese people or Hong Kongers.
1. People Are Called Hong Kongers
Even though Hong Kong is an administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, many Hong Kong people do not refer to themselves as Chinese. The most recent survey in Hong Kong reveals that the locals refer to themselves as citizens of Hong Kong or Hong Kongers that Chinese people.
After the handover of Hong Kong, the University of Hong Kong conducted a study to determine how Hong Kong inhabitants described themselves. During this time, a distinct Hongkonger national identity emerged, with only 20% of Hong Kongers identifying as “Chinese.”
Hongkongers often refer to legal Hong Kong residents, as recognized by the Hong Kong Basic Law. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first time the word “Hongkonger” was used in English was in an issue of the American newspaper The Daily Independent in 1870. Both “Hongkonger” and “Hong Kongese” were added to the Oxford English Dictionary in March 2014.
2. They Speak The Cantonese Language
Cantonese is the official language of Hong Kongers 香港人 (hoeng1 gong2 jan4). When you go to Hong Kong, the people speak Cantonese and English. There are also people who speak Mandarin, which is the official spoken language of Chinese people in Mainland China. Cantonese speakers are also in Mainland China, Taiwan, Macau, and other overseas Chinese.
The Cantonese language was traditionally a spoken language only, but now, it is the official language of Hong Kong. It is one of the most challenging languages to learn because, unlike Mandarin (Standard Chinese), Cantonese does not have a standard romanization system. If you wanna learn Cantonese, you can start your language journey with Ling App.
3. They Have The Cantonese Culture
Aside from the breathtaking skyscrapers, this vertical city also has a rich Cantonese culture. This includes Cantonese cuisine, Cantonese music, and even ancient Chinese tradition like the use of traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Chinese celebrations, and more.
For their religion, the Cantonese have always been the most openly religious Chinese people, even during the time of the Communists. Spirit altars are in most homes in Guangdong Province. The Cantonese also celebrate Daoist and Buddhist holidays with great care.
There is also a Chinese saying that says if you want to be happy in this life, you should be born in Suzhou, live in Guangzhou, and die in Suzhou. This is because Suzhou has the most beautiful people, Guangzhou has the most luxurious things, and Suzhou has the best coffins.
4. Hong Kongers Have One Of The Highest Life Expectancy
Hong Kong has one of the best life expectancies in the world. It is estimated that men and Hong Kongers live until they are 81.2 years old, and women live until they are 86.9 years old. The health of the Hong Kongers is attributed to decreased smoking rates and good living conditions.
5. They Love Bubble Tea And Carbs
When you walk along the streets of Hong Kong, especially in Mong Kok, you’ll notice a lot of Bubble Teas that will really make you crave. Hong Kongers are real suckers for bubble tea. From traditional cheese milk cap tea to the trendy brown sugar milk tea, you’ll have lots of options to choose from.
Another thing that Hong Kongers love is carbs. They can start their day off with a delicious congee or macaroni breakfast. Then they can have stir-fried noodles for lunch. For dinner, how about a big bowl of rice. Of course, for the snack, instant noodles are the one to beat. The good news about this is all of this food is affordable in Hong Kong.
6. They Don’t Sleep With Wet Hair
Sleeping with wet hair is also not a thing for Hong Kongers. That’s why do not be surprised if you see hairdryers in any household. In their culture, sleeping with wet hair will bring headaches for the rest of your life. It is also believed that sleeping with wet hair is like asking to be sick. So, if you ever go to Hong Kong, remember that it’s a big no.
7. Hong Kongers Are Sucker For Freebies
Who doesn’t love freebies? Well, when it comes to freebies, Hong Kongers will definitely wait in line. They love to be the first to try out something new, so they don’t mind waiting in line because they will surely get real deals such as cheap sales or seats in a new restaurant.
8. Nearly 60% of Young Hong Kongers Want To Emigrate
The fight for the freedom of Hong Kongers against China is far from over. Hong Kong’s ongoing pro-independence protests are no secret for most of us. They are making headlines in the international newspaper and on social media sites.
Hong Kong is technically a part of China, but it operates as a semi-autonomous region. The Chinese government said that Hong Kong would retain a high degree of autonomy as well as democratic freedoms like the right to vote, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly.
Since the British Government handed over Hong Kong to China, Hong Kong has been under Chinese rule under a special agreement called one country, two systems. This agreement will not last forever because, in 2047, Hong Kong is expected to become a part of China fully. But, there have been reports that pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong are being arrested, and many people are being threatened for their freedom of speech.
In 2003, there are half a million Hong Kongers successfully fought legislation that would punish people who speak ill about China. In 2014, protesters gathered to protest the influence of China on Hong Kong’s elections. Today, Hong Kongers are fighting against the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill, which is seen as a threat to their freedom. This has caused the majority of Hong Kongers, especially young ones have the desire to emigrate.
Speak Cantonese Like A Native Speaker. Here’s How!
After learning about Cantonese people, you might have changed how you viewed Hong Kong and its culture. So, why not go really deeper and learn the Cantonese language?
Cantonese is not a common language that appears on someone’s list of languages to learn, but this shouldn’t stop you from learning the language of one of the biggest and most advanced cities in the world. Of course, if you wanna learn Cantonese, it’s a good opportunity to try using Ling App.
Ling App is a language learning platform that makes it possible to language learners to learn a language in a fun and convenient way. It will give you a flexible language learning experience where you can learn Cantonese or any language in your own time and phase. You won’t need to bring books or worry about scheduled lessons with your tutor because you can simply download the app and start your lesson anytime you want. You wouldn’t worry too much about the quality of lessons because native speakers develop the lessons.
The history of the Cantonese people you witnessed is just proof of how significant the Cantonese language is, so be one of the people who can speak Cantonese.