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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Cantonese Pronunciation Guide.
In this series, you'll master Cantonese pronunciation. Proper pronunciation is essential in Cantonese, and in this series, you'll learn it in a fast, comprehensive, and easy way.
In this first lesson, you'll learn about the building blocks of the Cantonese pronunciation system that will help you in future lessons.
As you're probably quite aware, Cantonese doesn't use an alphabetical writing system like English does. Instead, it uses characters that are comprised of parts that depict physical objects or abstract ideas.
"Literacy in Cantonese requires the memorization of thousands of components and characters. As you can see, this can be quite daunting for new learners of Cantonese.
For example, if you were asked to pronounce this character, where would you even begin?"
"You'll pick up the writing system eventually, but since we're just focused on pronunciation, we need to skip them for now.
We need to start dealing with the sounds of Cantonese without the baggage of characters, and that's where the Cantonese jyutping comes in."
佛 (fat6)
Jyutping is the transcription of Cantonese using Roman letters. This makes learning Cantonese much easier, particularly for English speakers. As you begin to learn more characters and improve in Cantonese, you'll eventually rely less and less on romanization. But for now, it's a good place to start.
Now, let's have a look at all the sounds in Cantonese.
There are 22 consonant sounds, and 7 vowel sounds in Cantonese. You can form every single word in Cantonese by using these sounds.
Still seem complicated? Well how about this: of the 22 consonant sounds in Cantonese, you *already know* 21 of them. That's right, if you're a native English speaker, then you already make these sounds every day.
You can also ignore five of the vowel sounds for the same reason.
The only thing standing between you and perfect Cantonese pronunciation are two new vowel sounds and one new consonant sound. You can handle that!
Now let me introduce Teddy, who will be helping you to master these new sounds.
Hello my name is Teddy in Cantonese
Throughout this series, Teddy will be giving you native pronunciation examples for you to imitate. But for this first lesson, just sit back and listen to the unique sounds of Cantonese:
角 (gok3)
卡 (kaa1)
瓜 (gwaa1)
誇 (kwaa1)
唔 (m4)
五 (ng5)
班 (baan1)
拍 (paak3)
達 (daat6)
拖 (to1)
將 (zoeng1)
鏘 (coeng1)
阿 (aa3)
靴 (hoe1)
於 (jyu1)
In the next lesson, we'll look at the top 5 pronunciation mistakes Cantonese learners make. You'll want to make sure not to fall into these common traps.
After that, we'll start going through the vowels and consonants of Cantonese. This is your chance to learn how to correctly say all of the words you just heard.
We'll finish up the series by covering some special topics that will really make your Cantonese sound natural!
To close this lesson, here's a question for you.
Why is it important to spend time on learning proper pronunciation, even if you're already an advanced speaker?
The answer...
You will be understood, and this will help you build more confidence as you communicate in Cantonese. For beginners, you're creating a strong foundation to build on. And for more advanced students, this is your chance to improve your accent and lose any bad habits you may have picked up.
What is hard about pronouncing Cantonese to you? Tell us about it in the comments!
See you in the next Ultimate Cantonese Pronunciation Guide lesson!

32 Comments

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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What is hard about pronouncing Cantonese to you? Tell us about it in the comments!

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:08 AM
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Hello CATHY KRACK,


Thanks for sharing your difficulty in learning Cantonese.

Please just let us know if you have any question. 😉


Ada

Team CantoneseClass101.com

CATHY KRACK
Monday at 04:24 AM
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What is hard is that I'm 66 years old and just beginning. I'm trying to find out the best way that I learn. You are correct in that the characters overwhelm me. I need to focus on words, tones and vocabulary. Also the words aren't similar to English like Spanish is, so it's a whole new language. Also, the sounds seem to come from further back in the throat. So even learning the way to form sounds is different. I'm going to work at this, I am just being honest about what challenges me so far.

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 07:55 PM
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Hi Ashley,


Thanks for sharing your difficulty about the pronunciation of Cantonese. Yes, you are on the right track and repeating is a very good way to help you memorize the pronunciation. 😉👍


Ada

Team CantoneseClass101.com

Ashley
Friday at 11:27 AM
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I think the hardest part of pronunciation is memorizing the sounds associated with the words. My boyfriend is a native speaker from Hong Kong, so he'll have me repeat words after him. I can say it several times, but then the next day or even later that day I have a hard time remembering how to pronounce it.


I'm currently trying to immerse myself by listening to podcasts to help make the sounds more familiar in addition to studying here out loud.

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 06:32 AM
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Hey Wendy,


Well, yeah. 😄😄 Repeating out loud is super effective technique and also listening yourself while you pronounce these words and then comparing it to the native helps immensely as well. Don't worry, you'll be fine. There are some sounds that are quite difficult at first but don't get stressed out because it is perfectly feasible to learn the pronounciation of these, and we are here to help you out.


Let us know if you have any questions. Good luck with your Cantonese! 😉


Kind regards,

利凡特 (Levente)

Team CantoneseClass101.com

Wendy
Monday at 01:20 PM
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What will be a challenge is those sounds that use your tongue to the roof of your mouth,(like: ngo) tonality and words that you make the "o" with your lips. I have to get used to hearing and imitation of those words! 😅😅

CantoneseClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 12:24 AM
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Hello Jenna,


Thanks for leaving us a question. 👍

The differences between Jyutping and Yale romanization are minor. They share most of the letters but differ in for example: the vowels eo and oe in Jyutping = eu in Yale, the initial j in Jyutping = y in Yale, the initial z in Jyutping = j in Yale and the initial c in Jyutping = ch in Yale.

You could find more information in this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyutping 😉


Ada

Team CantoneseClass101.com

Jenna
Monday at 03:52 PM
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Hey there!

I started taking a Cantonese class through my uni and am hoping this will supplement.

We are using the Yale romanization, not Jyutping. Can you help me identify some common differences between these?

cantoneseclass101.com
Saturday at 06:49 AM
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Hello Michele,


Thanks for your passion and not giving up to learn Cantonese. 👍


Most of the lessons here like the one listed below provide the lesson transcript, recording feature, normal speed and slow speed audio file for learners to practice and revise the lesson. You can also try our one to one teacher program to get more practice and guidance from the native Cantonese teacher.

How Popular is Fast Food in Hong Kong?

https://www.cantoneseclass101.com/lesson/lower-beginner-9-how-popular-is-fast-food-in-hong-kong/#comment-46516


Appreciate your persistence again.


Siuling

Team CantoneseClass101.com


Michele
Tuesday at 12:02 PM
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I have hearing damage so I don't hear all the frequencies in speech and have an auditory processing disorder too. It all sounds the same to me. So pronouncing correctly is hard cause I can't tell the difference. I don't know anyone else who speaks Cantonese so I can't practice in real life. I'm hoping to learn so I can get a job and move to an area with more Cantonese speakers.