A proposal to change the broadcast language of local TV stations from Cantonese to Mandarin sparked protests from Cantonese speakers in southern China to Hong Kong. Hundreds took to the streets to show their lack of support for this proposal as they saw this as a threat against their language. Mandarin has often been promoted as the official language of government and the primary language of instruction in schools. Even though Mandarin is a popular Chinese language, Cantonese is still considered an important dialect in China. Cantonese is a unique Chinese language, given that it has been able to preserve most of its characteristics since ancient times, which most Chinese dialects have failed to do. Standard Cantonese is mainly based on the different dialects found in the cities of Canton, Hong Kong and Macau.
There are 55 million Cantonese speakers in China. In addition to this, there are 20 million other Cantonese speakers around the world. Cantonese speakers can be found in Vietnam, where a lot of Cantonese Chinese speakers immigrated to look for work and became soldiers and rail road workers. There are approximately 1 million Cantonese Chinese speakers in Vietnam. Cantonese speakers can also be found in Australia, Europe, North America and South East Asia. There have been efforts to Romanize the language and write Cantonese using Latin script. This has led to the development of different Romanization systems. However, all these systems have failed to gain favor among many Cantonese speakers, who are unfamiliar with the Roman scripts used. This has made it difficult for most speakers to understand written Cantonese.
Chinese food plays an important role in their culture. In most cases, seafood is served during meals. Hoi seen is the Cantonese name for seafood. While fresh fish is popular in Hong Kong, shrimp, lobster, crab and other types of fish can be found. Most restaurants serve fish and you will also be served rice together with the fish, whether you ordered for it or not. Cantonese cooking features mello sauces and is normally characterized by onions, soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic. Cantonese cuisine is popular in western countries due to the immigration of many Cantonese to western countries.