This r/korean comment answers my question as "yes", but it contains factual errors like "Cantonese is also much closer to Middle Chinese than Mandarin is". This r/linguistics comment and Quora contend that Korean share more phones (or phonemes — which is the correct term?) with Cantonese than Mandarin. Can someone critique that comment please? Any other errors?

Cantonese FAQs

Q: Is Cantonese closer to Middle or Old Chinese than Mandarin?
A: The general answer is NO, since both languages have undergone a lot of change. Phonetically speaking, certain aspects of the Cantonese sound system have undergone less changes than Mandarin has, so in those respects, it would be closer. Nevertheless, Middle Chinese pronunciation is still a long way from Cantonese pronunciation. Certain vocabulary has been preserved, while others have not. Grammatically, there are definitely differences. If you traced the two dialects back to Middle Chinese, you will find that both have undergone significant change.

  • I assume you are referring to Standard Chinese (普通话) rather than Mandarin, which is not a language but a dialect group.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 20:07
  • The foreknowledge of any Sinitic language will help you to lean Korean no better than Latin will help you to improve your Polish.
    – shabunc
    Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 21:33
  • Similarly, English has preserved some consonant sounds that have disappeared in most other Indo-European languages, but has undergone massive changes to its vowel system and grammar.
    – Robert Columbia
    Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 14:32

1 Answer 1


You wouldn't notice any difference in grammar, but you may find pronunciations of Sino-Korean words to be easier to recognize given knowledge of one or the other, which can help with the speed of vocabulary acquisition. You can compare Sino-Korean pronunciations with Mandarin and Cantonese pronunciations at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Xenic_pronunciations#Background. At a glance, Cantonese shares consonant finals with Korean while Mandarin vowels are a bit more similar, with a small overall advantage to Cantonese.

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