Talk:Hong Kong Government Cantonese Romanisation

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This page was voted on for deletion at Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Hong Kong Government Cantonese Romanisation. The consensus was to keep it. There was some suggestion that it should be moved to a better title, though what that title is was unclear. dbenbenn | talk 00:32, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It's CNY's time, and it reminds me the common saying "Kung Hei Fat Choi" is better known to the English-speaking world by the spelling from this romanisation. It gives 3560 hits on Google (variations: 856 for Kung Hei Fat Choy, 3200 for Kung Hey Fat Choy, 386 for Kung Hey Fat Choi). The Jyutping spelling give no hit at all. Kung Hei Fat Choi everyone. — Instantnood 15:06, Feb 9 2005 (UTC)

HK Government Cantonese romanisation[edit]

Judging from the title, one would be thinking the HK government actually sets standards on how Cantonese is romananised in HK (and beyond?). It is noticed this was not mentioned in the article at all, however. Any explainations on this (and the very existance of an article like this)?--Huaiwei 15:27, 17 July 2005 (UTC)

Seldom do people know that Thomas Francis Wade, one of the founders of Wade-Giles system, had served in Hong Kong Government and has also been an interpreter of Cantonese in the Supreme Court of Hong Kong. I think this romanisation scheme is a degenerated system of Cantonese version of Wade-Giles (it is very likely there is a Cantonese version of Wade-Giles.) . The apostrophes for unaspirated - aspirated pairs are omitted in daily uses. In some old Hong Kong maps, the apostrophes were sometimes shown, like Tai T'am(大潭). It is because I have no evident at hand on the issue. There is another say it is Meyer-Wempe scheme. I have not yet seen the details of the system. - HenryLi 07:53, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
Henry you may be interested in this message on my talk page by Felix Wan, regarding the Meyer-Wempe system. — Instantnood 08:32, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
Meyer-Wempe was created between 1920s and 1930s. There should be a system naming long before its adoption by government in 1947. (Any doucments on this??) It is 106 years after Hong Kong ceded to British. It seems a mixture of systems from the table in the main article. HenryLi 03:43, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
Still, does this indicate any form of governmental control over romanisation standards in HK?--Huaiwei 14:29, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
This is how the Government creates English names for places, streets and roads, public housing estates, etc. — Instantnood 15:15, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
Usage does not mean formulation. I am asking if the government plays an active role in coming up with these so-called "standardisations". Meanwhile, do your government "create" your name for you, since people's names are apprantly related to this article as well? I didnt know the HK govt is this draconian?--Huaiwei 17:28, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
Applicants can choose whether to have the names on English records following this system. — Instantnood 19:44, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
My question is still not answered. I am asking if the HK government actively dictates how someone spells his English name in the registers, not whether the govt determines if he should have an English name or not. Do they?--Huaiwei 05:41, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
English was the only official language in these years and officials needed alphabets to file. The officials in registries would suggest one for applicants if they only provided the Chinese name. Most people in Hong Kong did not know written Chinese well, not to mention English, in those old old days. HenryLi 03:43, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
So the HK government do dictate English names for HKers? You might wish to indicate this in this article, and to provide evidence for this. Also, please also add to the article how the government actually manages to establish this "convention", and how it came up with it in the first place. In contemporary HK, do the government still decide how you should spell your English name?--Huaiwei 05:41, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
If one provided his version of spelling, the official would use it. The official would suggest one only if the spelling was not provided. One could even provide a spelling not related to his Chinese name. Supposed that one wants to name his son 陳大明 and registers it in the birth certificate. It is prefectly legal to provide an alphabet version to together, like Calvin Chan. If he does not provide an alphabet version, the staff would suggest one like Chan Tai Ming.
Since Government documents are in English, the official have to translate the Chinese names of everything into English. For example, when it new road assigned a Chinese name, say 偉業街, the official will also give a corresponding English name, Wai Yip Street. The translation basically follows the rules in the scheme. When public try to address to 偉業街 in English document, he would use the name provided by the governemnt, Wai Yip Street.
HenryLi 07:16, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
Shall I then give you an example. Supposedly someone who's child is named 陳大明, and he wants to register his English name as Chan Tai Ming. Another comes along with a child of the same name, and wants it to be Chan Tie Ming. Does the government allow this? I am wondering just how this government can somehow establish a common romanisation standard if it can also allow individuals to choose how their names are spelt? You arent answering my question over romanisation standards. Why should 偉業街 be romanised as Wai Yip Street? Why not "Why Yip Street"? Who came up with this standard spelling? And I am all the more curious to know why other places, in Singapore in particular, seem to have exactly the same romanisation standard, not just for Cantonese, yet it was pretty clear that the Singapore government itself does not establish these standards?--Huaiwei 12:22, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes, allowded. Even Chan Abc Ming would be allowed. In fact, it is not a standard. It is the practise used by the government. Its purpose is to have a way to romanise Cantonese for the need in writing English documents. You can't find a word to describe it as standard. Government romanises the 偉業街 as Wai Yip Street, not Why Yip Street, just because the scheme is. You might find more than one ways to romanise a character. Just everyone get used to the system. In the old days, paper telephone directory of HKT also has a list of it. Some says it is from Meyer-Wempe which adopted by gov't in 1947. And I guess long before Meyer-Wempe, a Cantonese version of Wade-Giles might exist. The current scheme is just a degenerated form of it. HenryLi 15:06, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
If this article were to remain respectable, we have to explain what these "practises" and "schemes" are, and how they came about. The title of this article suggests the government came up with a formal standardisation for Cantonese romanisation, yet no one seems to be able to support this other then telling us the HK government uses a certain scheme/standard which seems to pre-exist. If that is the case, should not this article either be renamed or even removed, since it has nothing to support its existance?--Huaiwei 15:24, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
Please reread the articles. There is not even a single word mentioned it is a standard, even on the title. In the articles, in the first paragraph only states the fact "widely used by Hong Kong Government from the very early days of British rule." It is of a great use for those what want to know how this scheme work. The government use of the scheme was discussed. Something without official name does not mean it does not exist. The scheme is really prevail and the government use of the scheme affect every walk of lifes in Hong Kong. The title is already the best name under current consensus. Can you propose a better name? The rename and remove issues has been discussed in former voting. Please read Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Hong Kong Government Cantonese Romanisation. It is too much to reiteriate the arguments and counter-arguments on this issus. HenryLi 01:33, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I think I have read the article through and through to get the overwelming impression that it is suggesting the government has a standardised way of romanising Cantonese, and worse, that the government establishes this standardisation scheme for all of Hong Kong. If this is true, I would certainly think it perfectly normal to then ask just how this standardisation came about, and who established it. How can it be possible to have standardisation without common direction? Things just fell in place by chance? Somehow the entire government realised you can have only one way to spell every Cantonese word? The call for article reletion was obviously over its inappriopriate title (made worse by the fact that it is even in capital letters as thou it was a proper noun), and this has to change. Ever considered Cantonese romanisation in Hong Kong as an alternative?--Huaiwei 05:58, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
The practice is predominantly used by the government. — Instantnood 07:38, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
You are just repeating what was said before, and arent answering my questions. And since we are at it, are you suggesting the non-government fratinity dont practice this form of romanisation? Or that you can choose to spell your name in anyway despite what the government says?--Huaiwei 13:17, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
By renaming according to your suggestion the article will have to cover all romanisation systems for Cantonese used in Hong Kong. — Instantnood 14:16, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
And why not?--Huaiwei 14:31, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
This article is specifically about this system. — Instantnood 14:48, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
You are not answering me. Why does it have to specify this "system" alone? It is not used outside the HK govt? Another romanisation standard exists in the rest of HK? Or what?--Huaiwei 17:44, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
This article is written for this system alone. There are other systems in Hong Kong. — Instantnood 18:16, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
So what are the other systems? Do they operate independently from each other? And again, this seems to validify the fact that there is somehow a "System" in place here. Why then, is it difficult to tell me if the HK govt created this system, and that it enforces this system on society, including how individuals spell their names?--Huaiwei 18:30, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
Alright... it's a method to romanise Chinese characters based on Cantonese pronunciations.. — Instantnood 18:40, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
Oh so you finally fell back to agreeing after resisting from doing so all these while. So the Hong Kong government do tell you how to spell your name and give you no liberty in spelling it in any way you prefer?--Huaiwei 18:43, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
The point is not that the government mandated the use of this system. It was simply that the government romanized Cantonese in a more-or-less consistent way, and, without a real standard in place, anyone in HK who would try to romanize Cantonese would very likely mimic what the government is doing.
PS: Have you read the archived sci.lang article I listed in the “References” section.—Gniw (Wing) 22:37, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
If you may refer to my original comment, I mentined my concern was over my impression that "one would be thinking the HK government actually sets standards on how Cantonese is romananised in HK". That concern remains even at this point. Many of you cannot even seem to be able to decide for yourselves if the HK government does so. If this page remains as vague as it is now, then how much value does it give to our readers?--Huaiwei 12:26, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
Both the article and this discussion make quite clear that the government has not set an official standard (but people tend to copy it, usually imperfectly, because it is de facto standard for lots of things). If you mean the title is misleading, do you like a more generic-sounding title like "The usual romanization scheme as used by the Hong Kong government" (which is factually correct but IMHO is way too long)?—Gniw (Wing) 17:49, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
In response to Huaiwei asking why the article is capitalised: all of these words' roots are proper nouns. However, I think that romanisation should be uncapitalised. Anyway, it's important to remember that the government is not one person. If any of you who live in HK get one of the countryside maps produced by the gov't, you can find many inconsistencies between the "romanised" names of the villages and names of bigger places which are more commonly seen. I think the only reason this can be called a "system" is that people who are born in HK never bother to learn about any "official" romanisations, but just live with the standard used by people in the government so that they think it is the right way. In fact, this system is preferable as an unoffical standard because it represents sounds that the intended target (English speaking people) can pronounce, spelt in a way that is most likely for them to pronounce it closely enough to the real sound. The only thing the government forces people to do is to provide an English transliteration of their name on their ID card, or when registering for a business. In the past, since few peopel knew how to use English, the official would suggest a spelling, but now since most people have some sort of proficiency, yet have never been exposed to another system, will select a transliteration similar to the one detailed here. 17:10, 23 December 2005 (UTC)
This has not been always the case. According to my dad, after the war (I assumed WWII), you were forced to accept a transliteration of your name provided by a government agent (not necesarily a real government official), using an assorted, chaotic mix of systems the agents happened to feel like using. You are free to change the transliteration later, but not everyone does that. Whatever criticism this system might have, it at least is much more consistent than some random assortment of systems that might cause your last name and your brother's last name to be spelt differently. (Disclaimer: any errors in this paragraph are my own errors and not my dad’s.)—Gniw (Wing) 22:52, 23 December 2005 (UTC)
One more thing which might be included in the article if anyone agrees - many (younger) people who have good English are tending to dislike the way this system deals with some consonants - the transliteration of North Point using this system would be Pak Kok, but a more correct way to represent the sound would be Buk Gok. Also spellings from early colonial era might be kept, e.g. Wan Chai should be Wan Tsai, Tao Fong Shan (a Christian Chinese church) should be To Fung Shan.
Though it is not much related to the title and sidetrack the discussion, I would like to make a note that there is no indicator shows that Buk Gok is more correct than Pak Kok. The system used by Hong Kong Government is heavily bias to English language (Western languages). Many native speakers of popular European languages do not care about aspiration. In English, aspirated p in pace and unaspirated p in space used the same alphabet. The p in Europena language is just the sound of voiceless bilabial plosive, no matter it is aspirated or not. On the contrary, b is the sound of voiced bilabial plosive. That Use of voiced b for voiceless p is a non-sense to European language speakers. The use of alphabets is up to the designer of a romanisation scheme. For consistance, Buk Gok should be written as Bug Gog since the final consonants are unaspirated [k] too. The use of u in Buk is inferenced by English, comparing to u in Wu. It is just a casual way to translate. - HenryLi 18:41, 23 December 2005 (UTC)
This is related to what I have written to Alanmak before, that English speakers frequently mispronounce the romanizations. (Something he completely disagrees even though I live in an English-speaking country and hear these mispronunciations every day.)
To someone who has at least tried to learn something else, the reason for the above is clear: This romanization scheme is not based on English, but rather grounded more-or-less in German phonetics, plus "eu" from French and only "ch" from English. Ok, the sounds of "s", "z", and "ei" do not correspond to German either, so maybe classical Latin is a better hypothesis for a basis; but basically the whole system does not correspond to English at all and should not be judged according to its (lack of) correspondance to English.
The reason why the younger generation disagrees with the romanization is also clear: they either fail to see the basis of the the romanization (mostly German and French) and feel the system to be without basis, or fail to see why an "English" romanization scheme should not be based on English (though in reality, most "English" romanization schemes are not based on English).—Gniw (Wing) 21:44, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

interesting topic[edit]

It's really an interesting topic, i always wonder who determine the romanisation since i was a child. Let us put the thing in this way: now suppose u are newly employed in the HK Immigration Department, and ur job requires u to romanize the Chinese names of ur clients. And on ur first day, ur fat and rude supervisor throw u a table, saying: "follow this table for the romanisation!" It this were so, then we could say that the HK government actually sets standards on how Cantonese is romananised in HK. Obviously the best way to solve the problem is to ask someone who works in the HK government. Right? --K.C. Tang 03:29, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Do other departments, let's say, the Company Registry, do the something similar too? — Instantnood 14:17, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
yes, i wonder if there are some kind of internal guideline circulating in the government. but i dun know anyone who works in the government, and, woe to me, i'm yet to find a well-paid little-to-do job within the bureaucracy.--K.C. Tang 01:18, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

The Romanization system the HK government uses appears to be the same as the one found in my Cantonese dictionary, with some modifications. I'll expand on the differences shortly. --Yuje 16:58, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

The system used seems almost identical to the Eitel system, with a few exceptions. The Eitel system uses apostrophes to distinguish between certain sounds. t is used for 大 while t’ is used for 啟. The HK system omits the apostrophes. The letters ch, k, kw, p, t, and ts have been merged with ch’, k’, kw’, p’, t’. The system also makes use of diacritic marks to indicate long vowels. These appear to have been omitted in the HK system. Cantonese missionary romanization is also pretty similar to this scheme, using the same initials, but the long vowels are indicated with double vowels. I'd say the HK scheme follows the dictionary pretty closely, with the exception being sometimes odd spellings in the vowels, like wah for 華 or lee for 利, but those are probably already-established spellings, like Hong Kong and Kowloon. --Yuje 17:55, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

Cantonese missionary romanization being the Meyer-Wempe system, of course. --Yuje 03:03, 12 December 2005 (UTC)


IPA Eitel Romanisation Example in Chinese
p' p Sai Ying Pun 西營盤
p p p Po Lam 寶琳
t' t Tuen Mun 屯門
d t t Tai O 大澳
k' k Kai Tak 啟德
k k k Tai Kok Tsui 大角嘴
kʰw kw' kw Kwai Chung 葵涌
kw kw kw Kwun Tong 觀塘
m m m Yau Ma Tei 油麻地
n n n Nam Cheong 南昌
ŋ ng ng Ngau Tau Kok 牛頭角
l l l Lam Tin 藍田
f f f Fo Tan 火炭
So Kon Po
Shau Kei Wan
h h h Heng Fa Chuen 杏花邨
j j y Yau Tong 油塘
w w w Wong Tai Sin 黃大仙
Heng Fa Chuen
Yau Yat Tsuen
Chung On Estate
Tai Kok Tsui


IPA Eitel Romanisation Example in Chinese
-p -p -p Ap Lei Chau 鴨脷洲
-t -t -t Yau Yat Tsuen 又一村
-k -k -k Shek O 石澳
-m -m -m Sham Shui Po 深水埗
-n -n -n Kwun Tong 觀塘
-ng -ng Kwun Tong 觀塘


IPA Eitel Romanisation Example in Chinese
á a
Yau Ma Tei
Wah Fu Estate
Tsz Wan Shan
Hung Hom
Sham Chun River
ɛ/e e e Che Kung Miu 車公廟
Tsing Yi
Sheung Sze Wan
Tsz Wan Shan
Tat Chee Avenue
ɔ o o Wo Che 禾輋
Kwun Tong
Mei Foo
Sheung Wan
Nam Cheong
Shun Lee Estate
Yu Chau Street
Yung Shue Wan
ɑɪ ái ai Chai Wan 柴灣
ɐɪ ai ai Mai Po 米埔
ɑʊ/ɑu áu au Shau Kei Wan 筲箕灣
ɐʊ/ɐu au au Sau Mau Ping 秀茂坪

Lei King Wan
Lee On
Kam Hay Court
Shui Hau Sai Ngan Ma
ɪʊ iu iu Yiu Tung Estate 耀東邨
Choi Hung Estate
Choy Yee Bridge
ʊɪ/uɪ ui ui Pui O 貝澳
œy ui ui Sham Shui Po 深水埗
Tai Mo Shan
Tung Chung
m m m m koi * 唔該
ŋ ng ng Ng Tung River 梧桐河
Thanks so much Yuje. Is there any information on the Eitel system from resources on the Internet? — Instantnood 18:17, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure, the system is pretty old and predates most of the modern Romanization systems. My dictionary was originally published in 1946, and then republished in the 1986 by the Hong Kong University Press. It doesn't actually use the Eitel system, but Meyer-Wempe, but it has a chart which shows thd difference between the two systems. Mainly, initials and finals are the same, but long vowels like á become aa and ó become oh in Meyer-Wempe. In any case, the system seems very similar to Wade-Giles, and I wouldn't be surprised if this system was inspired, influenced, or modified from that. The HK government system is very similar to Postal System Pinyin, where the system is used with apostrophes and diacritics dropped, and long-established romanizations overriding the standard. If I'm not mistaken, Hong Kong, Kowloon, and the use of "Lee" for 利 come from Hakka, don't they? --Yuje 02:35, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
I googled "Eiten" and "Cantonese", and I managed to get the full name of this Mr Eiten. :-) — Instantnood 18:20, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
I has probably come across with the the term Eiten in the book A Chinese Syllabary Pronounced according to the Dialect of Canton by S. L. Wong. HenryLi 06:36, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
maybe we could incorpoarate the material of this discussion into the article?--K.C. Tang 00:53, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
Started a blurb to introduce reader to the Eitel system. The details of the system could go into the body of the article. --Kvasir 08:36, 2 February 2006 (UTC)


The article mentions that "Road" can be romanized as "Do". I have never seen this, and in addition this is a most unlikely spelling (because "d" is not supposed to appear). Can anyone substantiate this "do" spelling with an example of an actual street? Thank you.—Gniw (Wing) 17:55, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

u mean the sentence 'For place names, "Street" and "Road" are often used instead of "Kai" and "Do"...'? there are no road with "Do", i guess... --K.C. Tang 13:11, 20 December 2005 (UTC)
yes, i mean that sentence. first, if it says "often" (instead of "always") it means sometimes "Kai" and "Do" are used in real street names; secondly, it says "Do" instead of "To" (which should be how it would be spelt according to what we know about the system).—Gniw (Wing) 17:06, 20 December 2005 (UTC)
u can correct that, i guess, if no one voices objections here in the coming few days. :D --K.C. Tang 00:00, 21 December 2005 (UTC)
I have changed it to something hopefully more accurate.—Gniw (Wing) 04:36, 24 December 2005 (UTC)


A Portuguese-based yet pretty similar system is used in Macao. Is there any folks familiar with that system? — Instantnood 20:35, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Article title[edit]

If it is not an official name, then at least the capital letters should be removed to get "HK government Cantonese romanisation". However, a better name would be "Cantonese romanisation in the HK government" or similar. (talk) 10:26, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

Hong Kong entries in Merriam-Webster dictionary[edit]

Merriam-Webster dictionary lists "Xianggang" and "Hsiang Kang" as Variants or Chinese of "Hong Kong":, --Anatoli (talk) 21:45, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Neither is Cantonese. Xianggang is Pinyin, whereas Hsiang Kang is Wade Giles for Mandarin.
To be fair, these would have been used as internal government names due to the usage of Mandarin as the government language. I would say that Xianggang and Hsiang Kang are legitimate ways of romanisation, if not common. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:05, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

General Cantonese Romanisation page or about Hong Kong Government Romanisation?[edit]

Noted that an industrious editor has decided to add Yale Romanisation to the tables. This is not such a great idea for the following reasons: (1) there can be no end to it - why add Yale and not all the rest? (2) Yale was not created until about than 70 years after HKGov. If any other systems are to find their presence on this page, they ought to be relevant to the HKGov system, i.e. thought to be precursors of it. Now, you might be inclined to retort that it's helpful to readers to see how HKGov differs from other known systems. I would agree with that sentiment but return to my first point: where do you stop? Too many systems, keep it relevant. So, subject to views to be expressed here, I intend to remove the Yale addition. sirlanz 09:00, 8 November 2016 (UTC)