Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Michael: What types of Cantonese romanization are there?
Siuling: And which one is most common?
Michael: At CantoneseClass101.com, we hear these questions often.
Consider the following situation. Sasha Lee is confused about Cantonese romanization. She asks a befriended teacher, Helen Hui, "What is the Cantonese romanization system called?"
李麗莎: 廣東話嘅拼音叫咩? (gwong2 dung1 waa2 ge3 ping3 jam1 giu3 me1?)
Dialogue
李麗莎: 廣東話嘅拼音叫咩? (gwong2 dung1 waa2 ge3 ping3 jam1 giu3 me1?)
許維虹: 主要有兩種拼法,粵拼同耶魯拼法。 (zyu2 jiu3 jau5 loeng5 zung2 ping3 faat3, jyut6 ping3 tung4 je4 lou5 ping3 faat3.)
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
李麗莎: 廣東話嘅拼音叫咩? (gwong2 dung1 waa2 ge3 ping3 jam1 giu3 me1?)
Michael: "What is the Cantonese romanization system called?"
許維虹: 主要有兩種拼法,粵拼同耶魯拼法。 (zyu2 jiu3 jau5 loeng5 zung2 ping3 faat3, jyut6 ping3 tung4 je4 lou5 ping3 faat3.)
Michael: "There are two main systems: Jyutping and Yale."

Lesson focus

Michael: Almost every Cantonese learner has had a question, “Which Cantonese romanization system is better?”. Let’s take a closer look at both of these systems!
Siuling: First, Jyutping, the one we use at CantoneseClass101.com, was developed by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong in 1993.
Michael: Despite its comparatively short history, it’s the standard, most commonly used phonetic system for spelling Cantonese using roman letters.
Siuling: And the other system, Yale, which is also widely used among Cantonese learners, was created by Gerard P. Kok and Parker Po-fei Huang in 1952 and published in 1958.
Michael: So what is the difference between Jyutping and Yale?
Siuling: Actually, they’re quite similar. There are a few differences in consonants and vowels, and the notations of tones. For initial consonants, J is used in Jyutping while it’s Z in Yale, and then we have CH instead of C, and Y instead of J.
Michael: Can you give us an example?
Siuling: Sure! For example, in Jyutping, 人 (jan4) “people,” is jan4, beginning with J, whereas the Yale romanization is yàhn, beginning with Y.
Michael: Right, and, for the vowels, EU in Yale represents both EO and OE in Jyutping. And note that some vowels cannot be expressed by the Yale system, such as EU, EM, and EP.
Siuling: Moreover, the notations of tones are quite different. Remember that, in Jyutping, we have different numbers representing the tones, like the first tone is a high flat tone? In Yale, of course, tone numbers can be used. However, the traditional way in Yale is to add accent marks on the vowel to represent tones; and often you can see the letter H following the vowel. For example, for a high-flat tone, there’s a short horizontal bar placed above the vowel.
Practice Section
Michael: Let's review. Respond to the prompts by speaking aloud. Then, repeat after Siuling focusing on pronunciation.
Do you remember how Sasha says "What is the Cantonese romanization system called?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 廣東話嘅拼音叫咩? (gwong2 dung1 waa2 ge3 ping3 jam1 giu3 me1?)
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Siuling: 廣東話嘅拼音叫咩? (gwong2 dung1 waa2 ge3 ping3 jam1 giu3 me1?)
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 廣東話嘅拼音叫咩? (gwong2 dung1 waa2 ge3 ping3 jam1 giu3 me1?)
Michael: And do you remember how Helen says "There are two main systems: Jyutping and Yale."
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 主要有兩種拼法,粵拼同耶魯拼法。 (zyu2 jiu3 jau5 loeng5 zung2 ping3 faat3, jyut6 ping3 tung4 je4 lou5 ping3 faat3.)
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Siuling: 主要有兩種拼法,粵拼同耶魯拼法。 (zyu2 jiu3 jau5 loeng5 zung2 ping3 faat3, jyut6 ping3 tung4 je4 lou5 ping3 faat3.)
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 主要有兩種拼法,粵拼同耶魯拼法。 (zyu2 jiu3 jau5 loeng5 zung2 ping3 faat3, jyut6 ping3 tung4 je4 lou5 ping3 faat3.)
Cultural Expansion
Michael: Don’t be surprised when you text a native speaker in Cantonese romanization and he or she doesn’t understand at all.
Siuling: Right! In Hong Kong, this is never taught in school so most native speakers don’t even know about the Jyutping and Yale systems.
Michael: Instead of these romanization systems we mentioned, you can see an unpublished system used in Hong Kong, mainly in districts and road names, as well as people’s names. This system is used by the government and is familiar for the native speakers because it’s a transliteration from Cantonese to English; however, it’s not used academically for learners.
Siuling: Because that system doesn’t indicate the tone, and has some sounds that are more similar to English than Cantonese, it can be somewhat confusing unless you already know the language.
Michael: Can you give us some examples?
Siuling: Certainly. Near the airport, we have a fishing town called Tai O. In Cantonese, it’s 大澳 (daai6 ou3), and both the Jyutping and Yale romanization comes out to be daai6 ou3, but, in the unpublished system, it’s Tai O,
Michael: so the consonant changed from D to T.
Siuling: Right, another example is the name of a very popular tourist area, 尖沙咀 (zim1 saa1 zeoi2). In Jyutping, it’s spelled zim1 saa1 zeoi2; and in Yale, jim1 saa1 jeui2.
Michael: And in the unpublished system that the Hong Kong government uses?
Siuling: Tsim Sha Tsui.
Michael: Wow, that is so different!
Siuling: Right.
Michael: In the end, all these romanization systems are just stepping stones for non-native speakers to pronounce the names and words as similarly as the native speakers do. So, don’t get too intimidated by it.
Siuling: And since all our materials use the Jyutping system, we highly recommend you focus on this system.
Michael: That’s right!

Outro

Michael: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Siuling: 拜拜! (baai1 baai3!)
Michael: See you soon!

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