Over a period of 150 years, the province of Guangdong in China has been the most common origin of most Cantonese Chinese to North America. However, in the past 30 plus years, Cantonese Chinese also migrated from Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Although the Cantonese language shares much vocabulary with
Mandarin Chinese, the two varieties are not mutually intelligible because of pronunciation, grammatical, and also lexical differences. Sentence structure, in particular the placement of verbs, sometimes differs between the two. The use of vocabulary in Cantonese also tends to have more historic roots.
Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese becomes the third most widely spoken non-English language in North America behind Spanish and French.
With the above in mind, Cantonese Chinese take great pride in their distinct Cantonese Chinese social identity.
This has resulted in larger metro area enclaves of various Chinese people groups emerging. For example, in New York City, Cantonese speakers still predominate in the city's older and traditional
Chinatown in Manhattan, while the newer Chinatowns of Queens and Brooklyn, have large numbers of Mandarin Chinese and Hokkien Chinese speakers respectively.
As another example, in northern California, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cantonese Chinese have historically and continue to predominate in the Chinatowns of
San Francisco and Oakland, as well as the surrounding suburbs and metropolitan area, although Mandarin is now also found in the Silicon Valley. In contrast, southern California hosts a much larger Mandarin-speaking population, with Cantonese found in more historical Chinese communities such as that of Chinatown, Los Angeles and older Chinese ethnoburbs such as San Gabriel, Rosemead and Temple City.
Similar to other Chinese groups, the majority of Cantonese Chinese profess faith in Buddhism but what they practice is correctly called Chinese folk religion. It incorporates traditional Chinese practices such as the belief in deities (bodhisattvas) who help people gain salvation. Many Cantonese Chinese households have the deity Guanyin (the goddess of mercy) on the family altar. Guanyin is believed to have compassion for people in need. Religion, like other aspects of their life, is pragmatic and relates to the everyday issues of life. At the time of offering incense it is a routine for the Cantonese to ask Guanyin and the other deities or spirits for blessing, protection, good health, etc. Many Cantonese place great importance and value on education and skills. They believe that sufficient education and skill
improvement can help them improve their standard of living. In spite of professed beliefs, the risk of materialism
replacing recognition of true spiritual needs is great.
Pray that Cantonese Chinese will recognize truth found in Christ and be motivated to become His instruments
in demonstrating the transforming power of the good
Pray that evangelical Cantonese Chinese will share the message of Christ in such a way more Cantonese churches will be planted.
"After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9, NIV)