Research on Cantonese: Cantonese as Written Language by Don Snow

When I first wanted to learn more about Cantonese, I didn’t put much effort into searching for general research done on Cantonese; although I was interested in studying Cantonese, I would only study it if reading material on Cantonese somehow came into my possession.

Perhaps I really started to consider learning about Cantonese and Hong Kong culture when I visited Hong Kong in summer 2010. While at a bookstore, a book’s title caught my attention: Cantonese as Written Language The Growth of a Written Chinese Vernacular. I had never encountered any book, or even any article or piece of literature, on Cantonese before. Yet while the book interested me, I only saw it in passing and decided against buying it, seeing that it cost around 300 HKD.

But a few months later, in early 2011, it resurfaced to my mind when I was thinking about buying books. And after previewing it, I had a great urge to buy it and read it. And so I did. It was the most expensive thing I had ever purchased online, and one of the only books I had ever bought in my life. And perhaps, I read this book more quickly than every other book I have read because I felt a sense of urgency to read it – I wanted to find out what the fate of Cantonese would be.

Around $50 (USD) and two years later, I don’t regret this decision. Maybe this book opened me up to learning more about Cantonese – not just the language, but its role in Hong Kong society. As, might I say, nerdy, as it sounds, after reading this book, I became more interested in reading nonfiction papers and research papers, which I try to do in my free time now.

Granted, most people probably won’t find this book as intriguing or fascinating as I do, but if you’re interested in Cantonese and its future or current role in Hong Kong society, just preview the first few pages available for free (link above). But also feel free to buy it if you’re ever so inclined as I am.


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