Cantonese Pinyin

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Cantonese Pinyin (Chinese: 常用字廣州話讀音表:拼音方案, also known as 教院式拼音方案) is a romanization system for Cantonese developed by Yu Bingzhao (余秉昭) in 1971, and subsequently modified by the Education Department (merged into the Education and Manpower Bureau since 2003) of Hong Kong and Zhan Bohui (詹伯慧). It was used by Tongyin zihui (同音字彙), Cantonese Pronunciation list of Chinese Characters in Common Use (常用字廣州話讀音表), Dictionary of Standard Cantonese Pronunciation (廣州話正音字典), and List of Chinese Characters in Common Use for Primary education (小學中文科常用字表). It is the only romanization system accepted by Education and Manpower Bureau of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.

Note that the formal and short forms of the system’s Chinese names mean respectively “the Cantonese Pronunciation list of Chinese Characters in Common Use romanization system” and “the romanization system of the Hong Kong Education and Manpower Bureau”.

Pinyin[edit]

The Cantonese Pinyin system directly corresponds to the S. L. Wong system, an IPA-based phonemic transcription system used in A Chinese Syllabary Pronounced According to the Dialect of Canton by Wong Shik Ling. Generally, if an IPA symbol is also an English letter, the same symbol is used directly in the romanization (with the exception of the IPA symbol “a”); and if the IPA symbol is not an English letter, it is romanized using English letters. Thus, /a/→aa, /ɐ/→a, /ɛ/→e, /ɔ/→o, /œ/→oe, /ŋ/→ng. This results in a system which is both easy to learn and type but is still useful for academics.

In the following table, the first row inside a square shows the Cantonese Pinyin, the second row shows a representative “narrow transcription” in IPA, while the third row shows the corresponding IPA “broad transcription” using the S. L. Wong system.

Initials[edit]

b
[p]
〔b〕
p
[pʰ]
〔p〕
m
[m]
〔m〕
f
[f]
〔f〕
d
[t]
〔d〕
t
[tʰ]
〔t〕
n
[n]
〔n〕
l
[l]
〔l〕
g
[k]
〔ɡ〕
k
[kʰ]
〔k〕
ng
[ŋ]
〔ŋ〕
h
[h]
〔h〕
gw
[kʷ]
〔ɡw〕
kw
[kʷʰ]
〔kw〕
w
[w]
〔w〕
dz
[ts]
〔dz〕
ts
[tsʰ]
〔ts〕
s
[s]
〔s〕
j
[j]
〔j〕

Finals[edit]

aa
[aː]
〔a〕
aai
[aːi]
〔ai〕
aau
[aːu]
〔au〕
aam
[aːm]
〔am〕
aan
[aːn]
〔an〕
aang
[aːŋ]
〔aŋ〕
aap
[aːp]
〔ap〕
aat
[aːt]
〔at〕
aak
[aːk]
〔ak〕
  ai
[ɐi]
〔ɐi〕
au
[ɐu]
〔ɐu〕
am
[ɐm]
〔ɐm〕
an
[ɐn]
〔ɐn〕
ang
[ɐŋ]
〔ɐŋ〕
ap
[ɐp]
〔ɐp〕
at
[ɐt]
〔ɐt〕
ak
[ɐk]
〔ɐk〕
e
[ɛː]
〔ɛ〕
ei
[ei]
〔ei〕
eu
[ɛːu]
〔ɛu〕
em
[ɛːm]
〔ɛm〕
  eng
[ɛːŋ]
〔ɛŋ〕
ep
[ɛːp]
〔ɛp〕
  ek
[ɛːk]
〔ɛk〕
i
[iː]
〔i〕
  iu
[iːu]
〔iu〕
im
[iːm]
〔im〕
in
[iːn]
〔in〕
ing
[ɪŋ]
〔iŋ〕
ip
[iːp]
〔ip〕
it
[iːt]
〔it〕
ik
[ɪk]
〔ik〕
o
[ɔː]
〔ɔ〕
oi
[ɔːi]
〔ɔi〕
ou
[ou]
〔ou〕
  on
[ɔːn]
〔ɔn〕
ong
[ɔːŋ]
〔ɔŋ〕
  ot
[ɔːt]
〔ɔt〕
ok
[ɔːk]
〔ɔk〕
u
[uː]
〔u〕
ui
[uːi]
〔ui〕
    un
[uːn]
〔un〕
ung
[ʊŋ]
〔ʊŋ〕
  ut
[uːt]
〔ut〕
uk
[ʊk]
〔ʊk〕
oe
[œː]
〔œ〕
oey
[ɵy]
〔œy〕
    oen
[ɵn]
〔œn〕
oeng
[œːŋ]
〔œŋ〕
  oet
[ɵt]
〔œt〕
oek
[œːk]
〔œk〕
y
[yː]
〔y〕
      yn
[yːn]
〔yn〕
    yt
[yːt]
〔yt〕
 
      m
[m̩]
〔m̩〕
  ng
[ŋ̩]
〔ŋ̩〕
     
  • The finals m and ng can only be used as standalone nasal syllables.

Tones[edit]

Cantonese has nine tones in six distinct tone contours.

Tone name Yīn Píng
(陰平)
Yīn Shàng
(陰上)
Yīn Qù
(陰去)
Yáng Píng
(陽平)
Yáng Shàng
(陽上)
Yáng Qù
(陽去)
Yīn Rù
(陰入)
Zhōng Rù
(中入)
Yáng Rù
(陽入)
Tone Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (1) 8 (3) 9 (6)
Tone name in English high level or high falling mid rising mid level low falling low rising low level entering high level entering mid level entering low level
Contour 55 / 53 35 33 21 / 11 13 22 5 3 2
Character Example
Example fan1 fan2 fan3 fan4 fan5 fan6 fat7 (fat1) faat8 (faat3) fat9 (fat6)

Comparison with Yale Romanization[edit]

Cantonese Pinyin and the Yale romanization system represent Cantonese pronunciations with these same letters:

  • The initials: b, p, m, f, d, t, n, l, g, k, ng, h, s, gw, kw, w.
  • The vowels: aa (except when used alone), a, e, i, o, u.
  • The nasal stops: m, ng.
  • The codas: i (except for being the coda [y] in Yale), u, m, n, ng, p, t, k.

But they have these differences:

  • The vowels oe represent [ɵ] and [œː] in Cantonese Pinyin while the eu represents both vowels in Yale.
  • The vowel y represents [y] in Cantonese Pinyin while both yu (used in nucleus) and i (used in coda) are used in Yale.
  • The initial j represents [j] in Cantonese Pinyin while y is used instead in Yale.
  • The initial dz represents [ts] in Cantonese Pinyin while j is used instead in Yale.
  • The initial ts represents [tsʰ] in Cantonese Pinyin while ch is used instead in Yale.
  • In Cantonese Pinyin, if no consonant precedes the vowel y, then the initial j is appended before the vowel. In Yale, the corresponding initial y is never appended before yu under any circumstances.
  • Some new finals can be written in Cantonese Pinyin that are not contained in Yale romanization schemes, such as: eu [ɛːu], em [ɛːm], and ep [ɛːp]. These three finals are used in colloquial Cantonese words, such as deu6 (掉), lem2 (舐), and gep9 (夾).
  • To represent tones, only tone numbers are used in Cantonese Pinyin while Yale originally used tone marks together with the letter h (though tone numbers can be used in Yale as well).

Comparison with Jyutping[edit]

Cantonese Pinyin and Jyutping represent Cantonese pronunciations with these same letters:

  • The initials: b, p, m, f, d, t, n, l, g, k, ng, h, s, gw, kw, j, w.
  • The vowels: aa, a, e, i, o, u.
  • The nasal stops: m, ng.
  • The codas: i (except for being the coda [y] in Jyutping), u, m, n, ng, p, t, k.

But they have these differences:

  • The vowels oe represent [ɵ] and [œː] in Cantonese Pinyin while eo and oe represent [ɵ] and [œː] respectively in Jyutping.
  • The vowel y represents [y] in Cantonese Pinyin while both yu (used in nucleus) and i (used in coda) are used in Jyutping.
  • The initial dz represents [ts] in Cantonese Pinyin while z is used instead in Jyutping.
  • The initial ts represents [tsʰ] in Cantonese Pinyin while c is used instead in Jyutping.
  • To represent tones, numbers 1 to 9 are usually used in Cantonese Pinyin, although to use 1, 3, 6 to replace 7, 8, 9 is acceptable. However, only numbers 1 to 6 are used in Jyutping.

Examples[edit]

Traditional Simplified Romanization
廣東話 广东话 gwong2 dung1 waa2
粵語 粤语 jyt9 jy5
你好 你好 nei5 hou2

Try to write an old Chinese poem:

春曉 (Chunxiao)  孟浩然 (Meng Haoran) Tsoen1 Hiu2  Maang6 Hou6jin4
春眠不覺曉, (I forgot to wake up on a morning in spring,) Tsoen1 min4 bat7 gok8 hiu2,
處處聞啼鳥。 (The bird sang everywhere.) Tsy3 tsy3 man4 tai4 niu5.
夜來風雨聲, (There were strong wind and rain at the night,) Je6 loi4 fung1 jy5 sing1,
花落知多少? (How many flowers were wither and fall?) faa1 lok9 dzi1 do1 siu2?

References[edit]

External links[edit]