Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Yale romanization of Cantonese

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The Yale romanization of Cantonese was developed by Gerard P. Kok for his and Parker Po-fei Huang's textbook Speak Cantonese (1958). 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. Students studying Cantonese at the 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.



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

    Modern Cantonese has six phonetic tones. Cantonese Yale can represents these tones using tone marks with the letter h. 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.


    Sample transcription of one of the 300 Tang Poems:


    Yale romanization of Cantonese Wikipedia