Cantonese is a language spoken by… 130 million people?  I’m sure I’ve seen that statistic somewhere.  Anyway, that’s on a par with the number of people speaking (say) Italian, yet there is very little in the way of material for English-speaking learners.  If you pop into Waterstones however, you find a veritable deluge of material for European languages with a comparable number of speakers (but I’ve yet to meet a single Italian in the UK in 21 years of living here).

Why?  Why are there no [good] resources – the grammar I have unhelpfully omits Chinese characters, the only dictionary I could find lists just 3,000 words, and as for an all-encompassing textbook… nada.  Nothing.  El zilcho.  And verily, I am disappointed.

Having said that, there is a rather splendid online dictionary called CantoDict which is a collaborative effort – there’s not very many words I’ve searched for there that it doesn’t have.  Interesting how it’s not possible to buy useful learning materials, yet in their absence something comes along and more than adequately fills the void.  Kinda like the void Linux fills really…

EDIT: Chris Walsh over at the CantoDict forums points to Greenwood, which seems to stock a lot more Cantonese books and other resources than Amazon or a lot of bookstores.  Might be worth checking that out if you really need a textbook (not that I’m going to review any of them anytime soon… without someone sending me free copies, *hint hint wink wink* :P)


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