Why is it that Mandarin and Cantonese are considered dialects of Chinese but Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French are considered separate languages and not dialects of Latin?

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Why is it that Mandarin and Cantonese are considered dialects of Chinese but Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French are considered separate languages and not dialects of Latin?

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8 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Some good answers all around, but I think a big distinctiin that eurocentric redditors may be missing is that in chinese there are two different words for language. One is for written language 文字 and the other is for spoken language 语言; they are distinct but related concepts. While it is easily argued that Cantonese and Mandarin are different spoken languages, the official and academic texts are all called Chinese. Barring colloquialisms, there isn’t a precise sense in which high register text can described as “Mandarin” or “Cantonese”

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