Yale romanization of Cantonese

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Traditional Chinese 耶魯
Simplified Chinese 耶鲁
Cantonese Yale Yèh-lóuh

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. [3] Students attending The Chinese University of Hong Kong's New-Asia Yale-in-China Chinese Language Center are taught using Yale romanization. [4]

The Yale romanization of Mandarin is a system for transcribing the sounds of Standard Chinese, based on Mandarin Chinese varieties spoken in and around Beijing. It was devised in 1943 by the Yale sinologist George Kennedy for a course teaching Chinese to American soldiers, and popularized by continued development of that course at Yale. The system approximated Chinese sounds using English spelling conventions in order to accelerate acquisition of pronunciation by English speakers.

Cantonese standard dialect of Yue language that originated in the vicinity of Guangzhou (Canton) in southern China

Cantonese is one of the hundreds of varieties of Chinese. It is typically spoken in the city of Guangzhou and its surrounding area in southeastern China. It is the traditional prestige variety and standard form of Yue Chinese, one of the major subgroups of Chinese.



[ p ]
[ ]
[ m ]
[ f ]
[ t ]
[ ]
[ n ]
[ l ]
[ k ]
[ ]
[ ŋ ]
[ h ]
[ w ]
[ ts ]
[ tsʰ ]
[ s ]
[ j ]


[ ]
[ ɛː ]
[ ]
[ ɔː ]
[ ]
[ œː ]
[ ]
[ ]
[ ŋ̩ ]


Graphical representation of the tones of six-tone Cantonese. Cantonese Tones.png
Graphical representation of the tones of six-tone Cantonese.

Modern Cantonese has up to seven phonemic tones. Cantonese Yale represents these tones using a combination of diacritics and the letter h. [5] [6] 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 the high-flat, mid-flat and low-flat tones, respectively.

No.DescriptionIPA & Chao
tone numbers
Yale representation
1high-flat˥ 55sīnsīk
high-falling˥˨ 52sìn
2mid-rising˨˥ 25sín
3mid-flat˧ 33sisinsik
4low-falling˨˩ 21sìhsìhn
5low-rising˨˧ 23síhsíhn
6low-flat˨ 22sihsihnsihk


Traditional Simplified Romanization
你好Néih hóu

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

The Three Hundred Tang Poems is an anthology of poems from the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907) first compiled around 1763 by Sun Zhu (1722–1778), the Qing Dynasty scholar, also known as Hengtang Tuishi. Various later editions also exist. All editions contain slightly more than 300 total poems: in this case, three hundred means not exactly 300 but refers to an estimative quantification; the ten, twenty, or more extra poems represent a sort of a good luck bonus, analogous to the "baker's dozen" in the West. Even more, the number 300 was a classic number for a poetry collection due to the influence of the Classic of Poetry, which was generally known as The Three Hundred Poems.

Meng Haoran poet from the Tang Dynasty

Meng Haoran was a major Tang dynasty poet, and a somewhat older contemporary of Wang Wei, Li Bai and Du Fu. Despite his brief pursuit of an official career, Meng Haoran mainly lived in and wrote about the area in which he was born and raised, in what is now Hubei province, China. Meng Haoran was a major influence on other contemporary and subsequent poets of the High Tang era because of his focus on nature as a main topic for poetry. Meng Haoran was also prominently featured in the Qing dynasty poetry anthology Three Hundred Tang Poems, having the fifth largest number of his poems included, for a total of fifteen, exceeded only by Du Fu, Li Bai, Wang Wei, and Li Shangyin. These poems of Meng Haoran were available in the English translations by Witter Bynner and Kiang Kanghu, by 1920, with the publication of The Jade Mountain. The Three Hundred Tang Poems also has two poems by Li Bai addressed to Meng Haoran, one in his praise and one written in farewell on the occasion of their parting company. Meng Haoran was also influential to Japanese poetry.

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

The standard pronunciation of Cantonese is that of Guangzhou, also known as Canton, the capital of Guangdong Province. Hong Kong Cantonese is related to the Guangzhou dialect, and the two diverge only slightly. Yue dialects in other parts of Guangdong and Guangxi provinces, such as Taishanese, may be considered divergent to a greater degree.

Jyutping romanization scheme for Cantonese

Jyutping is a romanisation system for Cantonese developed by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong (LSHK), an academic group, in 1993. Its formal name is The Linguistic Society of Hong Kong Cantonese Romanisation Scheme. The LSHK promotes the use of this romanisation system.

Guangdong Romanization refers to the four romanization schemes published by the Guangdong Provincial Education Department in 1960 for transliterating Cantonese, Teochew, Hakka, and Hainanese. The schemes utilized similar elements with some differences in order to adapt to their respective spoken varieties.

Related Research Articles

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

Wade–Giles, sometimes abbreviated Wade, is a romanization system for Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Wade, during the mid-19th century, and was given completed form with Herbert A. Giles's Chinese–English Dictionary of 1892.

Taiwanese Hokkien language

Taiwanese Hokkien, also known simply as the Taiwanese language, is a variety of Hokkien Chinese spoken natively by about 70% of the population of Taiwan. It is spoken by the Taiwanese Hoklo people, who descended from immigrants from southern Fujian during the Qing dynasty. The Pe̍h-ōe-jī (POJ) romanization is a popular orthography for this variant of Hokkien.

Meyer–Wempe romanization was the system used by two Roman Catholic missionaries in Hong Kong, Bernard F. Meyer and Theodore F. Wempe, for romanizing Cantonese in their Student's Cantonese English Dictionary published in 1935.

Yi script Script used to write Yi peoples language

The Yi script is an umbrella term for two scripts used to write the Yi languages; Classical Yi, and the later Yi Syllabary. The script is also historically known in Chinese as Cuan Wen or Wei Shu and various other names (夷字、倮語、倮倮文、畢摩文), among them "tadpole writing" (蝌蚪文).

General Chinese is a diaphonemic orthography invented by Yuen Ren Chao to represent the pronunciations of all major varieties of Chinese simultaneously. It is "the most complete genuine Chinese diasystem yet published". It can also be used for the Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese pronunciations of Chinese characters, and challenges the claim that Chinese characters are required for interdialectal communication in written Chinese.

Cantonese Pinyin is a romanization system for Cantonese developed by Rev. Yu Ping Chiu (余秉昭) in 1971, and subsequently modified by the Education Department of Hong Kong and Prof. Zhan Bohui (詹伯慧) of the Chinese Dialects Research Centre of the Jinan University, Guangdong, PRC, and honorary professor of the School of Chinese, University of Hong Kong. It is the only romanization system accepted by Education and Manpower Bureau of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.

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Tone numbers are numerical digits used like letters to mark the tones of a language. The number is usually placed after a romanized syllable. Tone numbers are defined for a particular language, so they have little meaning between languages.

Chinese dictionary language version of dictionary

Chinese dictionaries date back over two millennia to the Han Dynasty, which is a significantly longer lexicographical history than any other language. There are hundreds of dictionaries for the Chinese language, and this article introduces some of the most important.

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Transliteration of Chinese

The different varieties of Chinese have been transcribed into many other writing systems.

The Common Phonetic Spelling is the phonetic spelling system devised in 2012 by the British-based Chinese lexicographer Ian Low in his Chinese to English dictionaries.


  1. Huang, Parker Po-fei (1965). Cantonese Sounds and Tones. New Haven, CT: Far Eastern Publications, Yale University. p. Foreword.
  2. The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language , p. 40.
  3. "Cantonese". Omniglot. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  4. "CUHK Teaching Materials" . Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  5. 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 ..."
  6. 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

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.