Accompanying Spouse, Language
Comments 3

Turning Cantonese

Foreigner in Cantonese (

Eager to use my siu siu Cantonese, I reserved for two seats at Tim Ho Wan saying yi wai a. Then, I was handed a menu completely in traditional Chinese characters!

Until then, I never realized that the downside of using Cantonese is they just might assume you know more than what you have prepared for. Then, when you run out of Cantonese, you have to switch to English, which defeats the purpose of having to even start the conversation in Cantonese in the first place.

Why am I taking Cantonese class again? Well, picking up bits and pieces of what the locals say around you, good or bad, is half the battle. It is part and parcel of immersing ourselves in the culture of the host country for better public diplomacy Mrs. Diplomat style!



  1. Hi, I was just surfing the tags and came across this. You shouldn’t think of switching to English as defeating the purpose of having started the conversation in Cantonese. Instead you should say “well, right now I can only say 5% of the conversation in Cantonese, but next month I’ll be able to say 10%, and a year from now maybe 75% or hopefully even 100%”.

  2. No worries. I am not giving up on my Cantonese. I am enjoying William’s class and have never been absent yet. I actually intend to go on to the intermediate and advance classes if I have nothing much to do for this year. I am assuming you are also based in Hong Kong. How long have you been here, and which Cantonese class are you taking?

  3. No, I’m not in Hong Kong. But I have listened to the podcasts “Naked Cantonese” on RTHK. You might try seeing if there are rooms in the informal study groups from here: Those are definitely good for beginners.


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