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A Note On Written Cantonese

Before we begin, we thought it would be helpful to give you a brief note on the writing and transliteration in Cantonese. The Cantonese in this course is written in simplified Chinese characters. You will see simplified Chinese throughout much of mainland China, including Canton, where Cantonese is spoken. In Hong Kong, they use traditional Chinese characters, but the spoken language is the same as is taught here.

The transliteration of Cantonese uses a numbering system to indicate the tone of a vowel. Cantonese has 10 distinct tones; the tones in Cantonese make important distinctions between words, so pay careful attention to the pronunciation of each word, whether the vowel is high and flat, falling, or rising.

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