Cantonese as a World Language

From Pearl River and Beyond


  • Jiaqing Zeng St. Paul's School
  • Dr. Asif Agha University of Pennsylvania



Cantonese, China, Languages, Asia, Pop Culture


       In this paper, I will be comparing different registers of Cantonese from all around the world, mainly focusing on the Pearl River Delta region after the 1800s. Yet my larger purpose is to draw attention to how these different registers relate to the cultural values and social lives of the people living in those places. Max Weinreich, a pioneer sociolinguist and Yiddish scholar once said, “a language is a dialect with an army and a navy (Fishman).” Cantonese is no exception, and the state of this language has been dependent upon four factors: the geographic distribution of the Cantonese-speaking population, the economic development of Cantonese-speaking regions, official status, and international significance.


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Author Biography

Dr. Asif Agha, University of Pennsylvania

Graduate Group Professor


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How to Cite

Zeng, J., & Agha, A. (2021). Cantonese as a World Language: From Pearl River and Beyond. Journal of Student Research, 10(2).



Honors Research Articles