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Title: Punti  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Walled villages of Hong Kong, Hong Kongers, Kwu Tung, Tai Po Tsai, Ethnic groups in Hong Kong
Collection: Cantonese Words and Phrases, Ethnic Groups in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Society
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Chinese 本地話

The Punti, a rough transliteration of the Cantonese term for "original locality," refers to the Yue-speaking populations of Guangdong province in southern China.[1] They are contrasted with another Han Chinese linguistic group, the Hakka, which settled in the area after the Punti peoples.


  • History 1
    • Punti-Hakka Clan Wars 1.1
  • Usage in Hong Kong 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


It is both documented and generally viewed to various extent that mass exodus of largely the people of Han Chinese ethnicity migrated from north to south of the Yangtze River during the war and upheavals of the Southern and Northern Dynasties, the Jurchen-Khitan Wars, the fall of the Northern Song Dynasty, the Mongol conquest of the Jurchen Jin Dynasty and finally the Southern Song Dynasty pushed generations of refugees into the area including the descendants of the Chinese patriotic leader Wen Tianxiang. The "Great Five Clans" — the Hau (侯), Tang (鄧), Pang (彭), Liu (廖), and Man (文) — were among the earliest recorded familial settlers of Hong Kong. Despite the immigration and light development of agriculture, the area was still relatively barren and had to rely on salt, pearl and fishery trades.

Punti-Hakka Clan Wars

From 1854 to 1867 there were a series of battles between the Punti and Hakka peoples, concentrated mainly in the County of Xinning (present day the City of Taishan).

Usage in Hong Kong

Punti has become a commonly used word in Hong Kong law courts and other authorities such as the police; it is a transliteration of Cantonese 'Boon Dei' meaning 'local'. When a defendant chooses to use Punti in court, he elects to use Cantonese Chinese as the language of trial instead of English. Despite the reference of "Punti" in this context means nothing more than "Cantonese Chinese" as a spoken language and the Hong Kong variation of the language, there are political and practical reasons of not using direct reference to the word "Cantonese Chinese".

Practically, "Cantonese Chinese" can be used to mean all the Chinese dialects of the Guangdong Province, and the Cantonese Chinese spoken in Guangzhou (Canton), is different in both accent and vocabulary than that in Hong Kong.

Nonetheless, the difference is becoming less significant as the Guangdong province is becoming more and more influenced by Hong Kong culture and vocabulary, thanks to the wide Hong Kong television coverage in Southern China. Further, the influx of immigrants and visitors from Guangdong also means their use of vocabulary finds its way to daily Hong Kong usage.

The place of origin of the Punti is Bao'an (Poon), Guangdong, a former county that encompassed what is now Hong Kong and Shenzhen (Shamchun), China.

See also


  1. ^ Guest People: Hakka Identity in China and Abroad, p. 10, at Google Books
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