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The Punti, a rough transliteration of the Cantonese term for "original locality," refers to the Cantonese-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 and follow different cultural traditions.



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 is using 'Punti' in court, that means he elects to use Cantonese as the language in trial instead of English. Despite the reference of "Punti" in this context means nothing much more than "Cantonese" 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".

Practically, "Cantonese" can be used to mean all the dialects in Guangdong Province, and the Cantonese spoken in Guangzhou, Canton dialect, is actually a bit different both in 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 linguistic, 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.[citation needed]

The place of origin of the Punti is Bao'an,[disambiguation needed] Guangdong, a former county that encompassed what is now Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China.[citation needed]

See also