Jump to content
  • Sign Up

New Cantonese Input Method!


Recommended Posts


ㄩユᴸ ㄩˇ ㄗㄩ˚ イヒˉ ㄈㄨˋ ㄏㄡᴸ

Cantonese Phonetic Symbols


For those of you who've grown tired of using the numerous and often confusing Cantonese Romanisation schemes, I present to you here an alternative phonetic (read: phonemic) system and accompanying input method called CPS (or 粵注 in Chinese). As the name implies, it is based on Mandarin Phonetic Symbols (known colloquially as Zhuyin or Bopomofo); I feel that a natively Chinese script is the best tool to transcribe a natively Chinese language. While it was necessary to borrow a number of symbols from the Japanese Katakana system to represent those phonemes not shared with Mandarin, the symbols of both MPS and Katakana were derived directly from standard Chinese characters in the 楷書 (regular script) calligraphic style; their common origins have allowed an aesthetically consistent hybrid script to be possible (Hiragana, an intrinsically cursive script, is not used) . Rest assured, all symbols borrowed from Katakana were carved out of Chinese characters with the appropriate Cantonese readings; they are neither arbitrary nor bound to Japanese phonology. While all previous iterations of this system have been Unicode compatible, this latest iteration can also be universally displayed. For convenience, the official Jyutping tone marks of Hong Kong University (created by Chow Bun Ching and used in her popular Cantonese textbook 'Cantonese for Everyone') are employed in this system as well (the vertical form is slightly modified and employs the nearly identical tone marks of Taiwanese Phonetic Symbols). Naturally, CPS has a one-to-one correspondence with Jyutping, and their relationship mimics that between MPS and Hanyu Pinyin. Excluding tone marks, there are fewer than fifty symbols in total, which is comparable to either of the two Japanese Kana scripts. Following the tradition of MPS, each syllable may contain a maximum of three symbols and one tone mark (with each symbol being composed of no more than three strokes); initials and finals have no overlapping symbols. If you've already taken the time to learn Zhuyin for Mandarin, this system will be even easier to learn, since I've largely preserved the existing symbol-sound assignments (with a few easily justifiable exceptions). Admittedly, those who are learning or are otherwise native users of Katakana might run into some confusion, though Zhuyin already has twelve symbols that overlap with Kana anyway: させくヌヘムメルアセエー.


Controversies that CPS either resolves or avoids altogether:
1) The initial in the syllable 'jyu' is encapsulated within the symbol for 'yu' (as with 'yi' and 'wu').
2) The coda in the final 'eoi' is encapsulated within the symbol for 'eoi'.
3) All short vowels are fused with codas as individual symbols (no more allophonic presumptions).
4) CPS is strictly hexatonal, and the entering tones are thus distinguished only by coda, with no additional tone marks.

5) Neither ㄅㄉㄍ(B/D/G) nor ㄆㄊㄎ(P/T/K) are used as entering-tone codas, which have their own symbols.


Jyutping-CPS Chart: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15757362/new_CPS.pdf

Jyutping-CPS IME (Macintosh): https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15757362/JP_CPS200.cin

CPS Sample Text (vertical): https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15757362/UDHR_CPSV.pdf

CPS Sample Text (horizontal):


ㄙㄞ˚ ㄍㄚㄧ˚ イㄢˋ ㄎㄩㄣˋ ㄙㄩㄣˉ ㄧㄣˋ

(ㄌㄩㄣˋ ㄏマᴸ クㄛフ˚

イㄢˋ イㄢˋ ㄙㄚㄥˉ ㄘセˉ ㄌㄞˋ ㄗㄠᴸ ㄏㄞᴸ ㄗㄧᴸ イㄠˋ ㄍㄝ˚ 

ㄏㄞˊ ㄗㄩㄣˉ ㄧロˋ ㄊエˋ ㄎㄩㄣˋ ㄌㄟˇ ㄙㄜㄥᴸ イヤˉ ㄌセᴸ ㄆヰˋ ㄉㄤˊ

ㄎㄦˇ ㄉㄟᴸ ㄍㄦᴸ イㄠˇ ㄙヰ˚ ㄊエˋ ㄌㄜㄥˋ ㄙヒˉ ,ㄧˋ ㄘㄝˊ イヰˉ ㄍㄛㄧˉ イエᴸ 

ㄏヰˉ ㄉㄞᴸ ㄍㄚㄣˉ ㄍㄝ˚ クㄚㄣˉ ㄏㄞᴸ ㄌㄞˋ ㄨᴸ ㄙㄜㄥˉ ㄉㄦ˚ ㄉㄛㄧᴸ 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am a native Cantonese speaker and I don't understand why I would bother to learn a new set of symbols/system.  None of the native Cantonese speakers I know (my friends, family, colleagues, in Hong Kong) know how to input Chinese using a phonetic-based system.  They either (1) use changjie or its simplified forms; or (2) use handwriting input methods; or (3) don't use Chinese as they can't type it.


I input Chinese using (1) hanyu pinyin input methods including Google pinyin and rimeime on PCs and handphones; and (2) Google Cantonese input methods (Yale and Jyutping standards) on handphones and Chrome.  For me, neither required me to learn anything extra and they work very well.


I think the difficulties that many Cantonese speakers face iro phonetic-based Chinese typing are that (1) there does not seem to be a standard; (2) even though there are standards they don't know them.  Personally I think Jyutping is a pretty good standard (quite clear and consistent and does not require the learning of any new symbols like zhuyin fuhao) and should be supported and promoted. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your anecdotes echo those of many Cantonese-speaking friends of mine, actually. It is precisely because most native Cantonese speakers are unable or unwilling to write Cantonese phonetically that I developed this system. I concede that CPS, as with any new system, will likely be met with resistance from native speakers in their adult years. However, I believe that it holds the potential to be instrumental in Cantonese education reform, both for native-speaking children and foreign learners. Jyutping is an acceptable standard for Romanisation, but as stated in my proposal document, CPS is meant to coexist with–not replace–systems of Romanisation, indeed as Hanyu Pinyin and Zhuyin coexist in Taiwan today. The pitfalls of Romanisation are detailed exhaustively in the aforementioned document, and CPS rectifies each issue to an appreciable degree.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looking over it, I have two thoughts:

  • I wonder if Hangul would be cleaner.
  • I wish the alveolar and alveolo-palatal affricates and fricatives were differentiated. I know neither Jyutping nor Yale does this, but it feels a bit weird to see examples characters 渣叉沙 with ㄗㄘㄙ. If I were doing it, I'd assign those to 精清心 and ㄓㄔㄕ to 章昌書, and maybe make an option to merge them.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As mentioned in my official proposal, ㄐㄑㄒ are reserved to distinguish the historical alveolo-palatal/post-alveolar initials of nineteenth-century Cantonese (e.g. 'sheoi' for water). I had initially emphasised this distinction in previous drafts, but after having received overwhelming resistance from both professional linguists and casual speakers alike, I've decided to maintain the optionality of this distinction (and that of the high-falling and high-level tones).


In sooth, I had attempted to modify Hangeul to adequately handle Cantonese phonology, but there was ultimately no Unicode-friendly way to do so. On the other hand, Unicode contains all of the necessary glyphs for my current system.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
  • 2 months later...
  • 6 months later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...