How to speak English like a Cantonese

This project initially was a print publication demonstrating how to speak English with a Cantonese accent. Within the print edition, “rules” were established to demonstrate the linguistic properties of achieving a closely accurate vocal and audio quality of the accent. Though the technicality of the linguistic endeavors of this project is questionable, it has provided a valuable insight into my past, and present. The cultural impact of being raised Chinese-American and especially by F.O.B. parents and relatives.

The digital translation of this project has taken a turn into a cultural and extremely personal analysis of myself in relationship to my family, especially with my sister. It is a record of the process into the making of this project. Of interviewing my family and analyzing their inherently faulty English, I have somehow come to accept the cultural embarrassment. In a way the process of interviewing my family was very much stripping away my prejudice against my own identity.

To your right, you will find the " rules " established by both Julia, my sister, and I. Along with rules, are audio excerpts of our interview process during the initial production of the book, How to Speak English like a Cantonese.

This book was catalyzed during the winter of 2010, when I returned home for winter break. My sister spoke frequently about her linguistic endeavors, often times probing my dad to say certain words for the sake of proving what she had learned or hypothesized. As usual, I sat passively, partially attentive to my dad and sister's back and forth. I finally questioned if the word fried was really flied in the minds of our immigrant relatives, knowing that the word was often used as a racial joke. Perhaps it does sound more so flied than fried. When I say fried, they still hear flied. The neurological wiring of their brains has somehow transformed the r sound into a l sound.

rule no.1

preserved lateral liquid in consonant cluster

The liquid sound in the consonant cluster is maintained and a vowel is used to break the consonant cluster to preserve the original sound of the word.

rule no.2

s coda are not found in cantonese dialect

Since the S coda does not exist in Cantonese an E sound is used as a replacement.

rule no.3

bisyllabic words are preferred.

Bisyllabic pronunciation is the most important rule in learning how to speak English with a Cantonese.

rule no.4

r liquid sounds are not found in cantonese dialect

Since the R liquid sound does not exist in Cantonese it is substituted with an L sound.