The Info List - Yale Romanization Of Cantonese

The Yale romanization of Cantonese
was developed by Gerard P. Kok for his and Parker Po-fei Huang's textbook Speak Cantonese
initially circulated in looseleaf form in 1952[1] but later published in 1958.[2] Unlike the Yale romanization of Mandarin, it is still widely used in books and dictionaries, especially for foreign learners of Cantonese. It shares some similarities with Hanyu Pinyin
in that unvoiced, unaspirated consonants are represented by letters traditionally used in English and most other European languages to represent voiced sounds. For example, [p] is represented as b in Yale, whereas its aspirated counterpart, [pʰ] is represented as p. Because of this, the Yale romanization is easy for English speakers to pronounce without much training.[3][4] Students studying Cantonese
at the University of Hong Kong
University of Hong Kong
learn the Jyutping
system of romanization, while those who attend The Chinese University of Hong Kong's New-Asia Yale-in-China Chinese Language Center are taught to use the Yale romanization.[5]


1 Initials 2 Finals 3 Tones 4 Examples 5 See also 6 References 7 Further reading 8 External links


b [p] 巴 p [pʰ] 怕 m [m] 媽 f [f] 花

d [t] 打 t [tʰ] 他 n [n] 那

l [l] 啦

g [k] 家 k [kʰ] 卡 ng [ŋ] 牙 h [h] 蝦

gw [kʷ] 瓜 kw [kʷʰ] 誇

w [w] 蛙

j [ts] 渣 ch [tsʰ] 叉

s [s] 沙 y [j] 也


a [aː] 沙 aai [aːi̯] 晒 aau [aːu̯] 筲 aam [aːm] 三 aan [aːn] 山 aang [aːŋ] 省 aap [aːp] 圾 aat [aːt] 殺 aak [aːk] 客

  ai [ɐi̯] 西 au [ɐu̯] 收 am [ɐm] 心 an [ɐn] 新 ang [ɐŋ] 生 ap [ɐp] 十 at [ɐt] 失 ak [ɐk] 塞

e [ɛː] 些 ei [ei̯] 四       eng [ɛːŋ] 聲     ek [ɛːk] 石

i [iː] 司   iu [iːu̯] 消 im [iːm] 閃 in [iːn] 先 ing [eŋ] 星 ip [iːp] 攝 it [iːt] 舌 ik [ek] 色

o [ɔː] 蔬 oi [ɔːy̯] 鰓 ou [ou̯] 酥   on [ɔːn] 看 ong [ɔːŋ] 康   ot [ɔːt] 割 ok [ɔːk] 各

u [uː] 夫 ui [uːy̯] 灰     un [uːn] 寬 ung [oŋ] 風   ut [uːt] 闊 uk [ok] 福

eu [œː] 靴 eui [ɵy̯] 去     eun [ɵn] 信 eung [œːŋ] 上   eut [ɵt] 摔 euk [œːk] 削

yu [yː] 書       yun [yːn] 孫     yut [yːt] 雪  

      m [m̩] 唔   ng [ŋ̩] 吳      

Only the finals m and ng can be used as standalone nasal syllables.


Graphical representation of the 6 tones of Cantonese.

Modern Cantonese
has six phonetic tones. Cantonese
Yale can represents these tones using tone marks with the letter h.[6][7] Traditional Chinese linguistics treats the tones in syllables ending with a stop consonant as separate "entering tones". Cantonese
Yale follows modern linguistic conventions in treating these the same as tones 1, 3 and 6, respectively.

No. Description Chao tone number Yale representation

1 high-flat 55 sī sīn sīk

2 mid-rising 35 sí sín

3 mid-flat 33 si sin sik

4 low-falling 21 sìh sìhn

5 low-rising 23 síh síhn

6 low-flat 22 sih sihn sihk


Traditional Simplified Romanization using Tone Marks Romanization using Numbers

廣州話 广州话 Gwóngjāuwá Gwong2zau1wa2

粵語 粤语 Yuhtyúh Yut6yu5

你好 Néih hóu Nei5 hou2

Sample transcription of one of the 300 Tang Poems by Meng Haoran:

春曉 孟浩然 Chēun Híu Maahng Houh Yìhn

春眠不覺曉, Chēun mìhn bāt gok híu,

處處聞啼鳥。 chyu chyu màhn tàih níuh.

夜來風雨聲, yeh lòih fūng yúh sīng,

花落知多少? fā lohk jī dō síu?

See also[edit]

phonology Jyutping Yale romanization of Mandarin Yale romanization of Korean


^ Huang, Parker Po-fei (1965). Cantonese
Sounds and Tones. New Haven, CT: Far Eastern Publications, Yale University. p. Foreword.  ^ The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language, p. 40. ^ Brian Kwong. "Why Cantonese
isn't as hard as you think". Fluent in 3 Months. Retrieved 2016-10-27.  ^ "Cantonese". Omniglot. Retrieved 2016-10-27.  ^ "CUHK Teaching Materials". Retrieved 2016-10-27.  ^ Ng Lam & Chik 2000: 515. "Appendix 3: Tones. The student of Cantonese
will be well aware of the importance of tones in conveying meaning. Basically, there are seven tones which, in the Yale system, are represented by the use of diacritics and by the insertion of h for ..." ^ Gwaan 2000: 7. "Basically, there are seven tones which, in the Yale system, are represented by the use of diacritics and by the insertion of h for the three low tones. The following chart will illustrate the seven tones: 3 Mid Level, 1 High Level, 5 Low Falling, 6 Low Level..."

Further reading[edit]

Gwaan, Choi-wa (關彩華) (2000). English- Cantonese
Dictionary - 英粤字典: Cantonese
in Yale Romanization (2nd ed.). Chinese University Press. ISBN 962-201-970-6.  Matthews, Stephen & Yip, Virginia (1994). Cantonese. A Comprehensive Grammar. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-08945-X.  Ng Lam, Sim-yuk & Chik, Hon-man (2000). Chinese-English Dictionary 漢英小字典: Cantonese
in Yale Romanization, Mandarin in Pinyin. Chinese University Press. ISBN 962-201-922-6. 

External links[edit]

Comparison chart of Romanization for Cantonese
with Yale, S. Lau, Guangdong, Toho and LSHK (uses Shift JIS encoding) MDBG free online Chinese-English dictionary (supports Cantonese
Yale romanization) Online Chinese Character to Yale Romanization of Cantonese
lookup Conversion tool

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