Speaking Cantonese may cause nasal cancer

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Guangzhou Daily printed an article discussing whether speaking Canto causes nasal cancer:

They'd better be worried! Since Cantonese is merely a "dialect" of "Chinese," if it causes nasal cancer, "Chinese" might cause brain cancer!

Selected readings

"Is Cantonese a language, or a personification of the devil? " (2/9/14)

"Cantonese and Mandarin are two different languages" (9/25/15)

"Speak Cantonese" (6/10/16)

"Cantonese: still the main spoken language of Hong Kong" (7/1/17)

"Cantonese is not the mother tongue of Hong Kongers" (5/4/18) — with references to more than two dozen earlier posts on Cantonese relevant to today's topic; in toto, the number of LLog posts touching on one or another aspect of Cantonese is far greater than those listed at the end of this 5/4/18 post

"Cantonese is not the mother tongue of Hong Kongers, part 2 " (5/7/18)

"Cantonese as a Second Language " (4/22/19)

[Thanks to Chris Fraser]


  1. Jenny Chu said,

    September 10, 2019 @ 6:10 am

    I think it would be fun to speculate about what diseases speaking other languages might cause. German – chronic bronchitis? Czech – tennis elbow? French – "ahem*…

  2. Bathrobe said,

    September 10, 2019 @ 7:54 am

    This goes rather a long way back. The article was first published in Hainan Medical Journal (海南医学) in 2004 by three people: 张浩亮 (Zhāng Hàoliàng) , 于锋 (Yú Fēng) and 孙子谋 (Sūn Zǐmóu?). It was based on a study at Zhongshan University tumour treatment centre done on 16536 patients between 1984 and 1992. The newspaper story appeared in 2014 — over five years ago — and the thesis was debunked and severely criticised in the story itself. 于锋 was deputy head of No. 12 People's Hospital in Guangzhou at the time. He was interviewed about the article and produced some waffle about it not being 'mature' and needing long-range study by linguists and medical specialists to determine whether it had any basis. Other people interviewed weren't so charitable. You can check it out here: http://news.ifeng.com/gundong/detail_2014_04/19/35888435_0.shtml as well as Zhihu (https://www.zhihu.com/question/266024598) in 2018.

  3. Neil Kubler said,

    September 10, 2019 @ 8:31 am

    Anyone who does even a little research into this question quickly realizes that it's the foods that many Cantonese speakers eat (in particular, 鹹魚 "salted fish"), not the language that they speak, that can cause nasopharyngeal cancer.

  4. Andy Stow said,

    September 10, 2019 @ 11:49 am

    Next up: speaking American English makes people worse drivers than those who speak British English, and is responsible for 30,000 of the 40,000 traffic deaths in the US.

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