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FYI: New Language Resources for Research on Cantonese


Author: Andy Chin

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Yue

FYI Body: The Research Centre on Linguistics and Language Information
Sciences (http://www.rclis.ied.edu.hk) at the Hong Kong Institute of
Education has recently released two new online Cantonese corpora.

1. A Linguistic Corpus of Mid-20th Century Hong Kong Cantonese
(http://hkcc.livac.org/)
The construction of this corpus aims to supply new and authentic
natural language data for studying the historical development of
Cantonese in the last 50 years. 21 selected Cantonese movies
produced between 1950 and 1960 were transcribed (in Chinese
characters). Users can search the corpus with Chinese characters or
words, Cantonese pronunciations as well as other attributes, such as
production years of movies, genders and names of speakers.

2. Cantonese Dialogues (1850) Online Version
(http://www.livac.org/hobson/)
The Cantonese Dialogues, compiled by Dr. Benjamin Hobson (1816-
1873) in 1850, is an introductory text on Cantonese produced for
missionaries working in Southern China, and is in an interesting
didactic format, which is also useful for research into pragmatics. It
contains a wide range of topics associated with Chinese culture,
religion, and social life, such as religious rituals, spirits and demons,
language of China, education system of China, Chinese government,
provincial government, medical profession, marriage, and funeral
rituals.

In addition to linguistic research, these two corpora are also useful for
studying the language and culture of the periods concerned, and the
relationship between them. Other than Mandarin, Cantonese is a
dialect with rare authentic colloquial materials back for nearly 200
years.

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