Peter Xu

Date of Award


First Advisor

Nancy Bonvillain

Second Advisor

Christopher Coggins


In an attempt to unify the country, Mandarin has been made the official standard language of Chinese. This has caused trouble for the numerous other languages that exist in China and brings about a question of identity for speakers of these lesser languages. One language in particular, Cantonese, has challenged the unification of Mandarin and struggles to preserve its linguistic identity. This thesis will focus on Cantonese as a language and my experiences growing up with it as it connects to the formation of my own identity in one of many diaspora communities of Cantonese. The thesis will examine 1) the history of linguistic development in China and the origin of Cantonese pride and culture, 2) a general overview of particular characteristics of the Cantonese language, 3) the discussion of what it means to be a language/dialect and its relationship with personal identity, 4) Chinatowns and Hong Kong, the most prominent diaspora communities of Cantonese and their influences.

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