Letters to the Editor: I am a native Cantonese speaker who is sad to see my language fade away

Shops, some with signs in Chinese lettering, flank a street with strings of red lanterns hanging overhead
In San Francisco’s Chinatown, seen in March 2020 during the COVID-19 shutdown, Cantonese is the language of the dim sum eateries and herbal shops.
(Chris LaBasco / Getty Images)

To the editor: Languages can vanish from the world when they’re difficult to learn, not passed down to the next generation or gobbled up by a neighboring culture. It’s sad to see Cantonese fade after the world watched Beijing’s quashing of free speech and self-governance in Hong Kong. (“The quest to save Cantonese in a world dominated by Mandarin,” April 17)

And who would’ve thought that Cantonese would leave L.A.?

As a Cantonese speaker growing up in the 1980s, I heard my native tongue around the city, coming out of the mouths of parking attendants and dim sum ladies. (Yes, they are always ladies.) You might have found Mandarin speakers in Monterey Park, but they were still a minority.

Cantonese sounds start at the back of the throat and land like a slap in the face. Romance language it is not, but it’s a slap in the face I’m most familiar with, and I’m sad to see it go.


Wendy Leung, Canoga Park