A Cantonese shopper in Macao carries a baby on her back, vegetables in her bag, and an umbrella in her hand. The best known and most populous of the speakers of Cantonese, a language of many dialects, are the people of Guangzhou and Hong Kong. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.
Fifty-five million Chinese speak Cantonese (Yue), which makes Cantonese the second-most-spoken language in China after Mandarin. But is Cantonese—and Mandarin for that matter—a language or