Cantonese, or Standard Cantonese, is a variety of the Chinese language spoken within Guangzhou (historically Canton) and its vicinity in southeastern China. It is the traditional prestige variety of Yue, one of the major subdivisions of Chinese. In mainland China, it is the lingua franca of the province of Guangdong, being the majority language of the Pearl River Delta, and neighbouring areas such as Guangxi. It is the dominant and official language of Hong Kong and Macau. Cantonese is also widely spoken amongst overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia (most notably in Vietnam and Malaysia, as well as in Singapore and Cambodia to a lesser extent) and throughout the Western world. While the term Cantonese refers narrowly to the prestige variety, it is often used in a broader sense for the entire Yue subdivision of Chinese, including related but largely mutually unintelligible languages such as Taishanese. When Cantonese and the closely related Yuehai dialects are classified together, there are about 80 million total speakers. Cantonese is viewed as a vital part of the cultural identity for its native speakers across large swaths of southeastern China, Hong Kong and Macau. Although Cantonese shares some vocabulary with Mandarin, the two varieties are mutually unintelligible because of differences in pronunciation, grammar and lexicon. Sentence structure, in particular the placement of verbs, sometimes differs between the two varieties. A notable difference between Cantonese and Mandarin is how the spoken word is written; both can be recorded verbatim but very few Cantonese speakers are knowledgeable in the full Cantonese written vocabulary, so a non-verbatim formalised written form is adopted which is more akin to the Mandarin written form. This results in the situation in which a Cantonese and a Mandarin text may look similar, but are pronounced differently.
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