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What Cantonese romanisation system is this?


Demonic_Duck
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I recently bought 2 textbooks about Cantonese which are sold/published in mainland China, and are aimed at speakers of Mandarin who are learning Cantonese. Both books are in the same series and have the same authors.

 

Here are some examples of the romanisation used:

  • 冚唪唥 ham6baang6laang6
  • 依家 yi1gaa1 (also given as yi2gaa1 and yi1kaa1 at different points in the book)
  • 廣東話 gwong3dung1waa6
  • 靚女 leng5noey4
  • 冇錢 mou4cin3
  • 乜嘢 mad7ye4
  • 香港 hoeng1gong3
  • 多謝晒 do1ze6saai5
  • 對唔住 doey5m26
It seems like it's mostly the same as the romanisation system detailed in 广州话拼音方案, but with a fair few differences:
  • "q" is replaced with "c" (e.g. "cin" not "qin").
  • Long and short vowels are differentiated (e.g. "saai" not "sai").
  • "ê" is replaced with "oe" (e.g. "hoeng" not "hêng").
  • "êü" is replaced with "oey" (e.g. "noey" not "nêü"). However, "ü" remains "ü" in other contexts (e.g. "zü").
  • Most disturbingly, it seems that many of the tone numbers have been swapped around. As far as I can tell, all other mainstream romanisation systems use the same standard - 陰平 1 ˥, 陰上 2 ˧˥, 陰去 3 ˧, 陽平 4 ˨˩, 陽上 5 ˩˧, 陽去 6 ˨. However, in this case, it's 陰平 1 ˥, 陰上 3 ˧˥, 陰去 5 ˧, 陽平 2 ˨˩, 陽上 4 ˩˧, 陽去 6 ˨. It also uses tone numbers 7, 8 and 9, but they have the standard values for when these tone numbers are used.
So I'm wondering, is this a different romanisation system entirely, or did the authors of the book just decide to make their own changes to the system? Perhaps this is an unofficial standard in mainland publishing about Cantonese? Why do they use different tone numbers to almost every other system? Perhaps it's for a closer approximation of Mandarin tones (e.g. what they label "2" often corresponds to mandarin 2nd tone).

 

Anyone have any ideas?

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Out of interests sake, can you post the covers (i.e. names of books and authors).

Isn't there an introduction that tells you about their pronunciation system?

I can read the romanisation and it makes sense.

I used this series of books. It is still sold in some book stores in HK. It is really good!! Highly recommended.

http://sidneylau.com

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Seeing as the initial of 家 is never aspirated, I think they're just making stuff up. It's not like we haven't seen a few bullshitful books from the mainland.

I'd put that down to a typo. The system for the most part seems internally consistent. Whether or not it's consistent with anything else on the market is another matter.

 

The books are both called 《20天学会粤语(广州话)》, one is 基础篇 and one is 交际篇. The authors are 范俊军 and 肖荣钦. Aside from the romanisation issues (and the fact everything is in simplified), they're both OK books; not fantastic, not terrible. They were cheap enough, anyway, as expected for books published and sold in mainland China. Will see if I can find that series you recommended @Flickserve.

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I'd put that down to a typo. The system for the most part seems internally consistent. Whether or not it's consistent with anything else on the market is another matter.

The books are both called 《20天学会粤语(广州话)》, one is 基础篇 and one is 交际篇. The authors are 范俊军 and 肖荣钦. Aside from the romanisation issues (and the fact everything is in simplified), they're both OK books; not fantastic, not terrible. They were cheap enough, anyway, as expected for books published and sold in mainland China. Will see if I can find that series you recommended @Flickserve.

certainly it looks strange but I am no expert on the romanisation. 20days cantonese. Impressive.

Have a flick through Sydney Lau's. It's orientated to Hong Kong practical use. It's quite old so names of places and shops are rather antique. What I liked about it was that it gives information such as the three different variations of saying 'yesterday'. I should really get the complete set.

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Due to the tone numbering discrepencies, I'm putting this down to "plucked out of one or more orifices of one or both authors".

 

I've also decided against Sydney Lau, as it seems his system of romanisation is somewhat niche, too. Seems my best bet is 粵拼, due to appearing fairly logical, not using special characters, and being used relatively widely.

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So, I looked in a bookshop in HK, and they had a semi-decent selection of books for learning Cantonese, but I couldn't find a single one using Jyutping. No Sydney Lau either. In the end I plumped for a book called 《初學廣東話》 by 孔碧儀. The romanisation system used is 廣州拼音方案, but at least it's "out-of-the-box" 廣州拼音方案. The book is very obviously aimed at mainlanders visiting HK. It even has some nice tips on etiquette, such as not letting your kids run riot in public, and not asking “你幾多歳呀”, “你有幾重?” or “你搵幾錢個月?” It seems like a solid enough beginner's course. I particularly think the overall order in which things are presented is good for my purposes - the first few chapters cover 數字、日常應對、購物、點菜、報時、聚會、自我介紹 in that order, which is pretty much exactly the order of importance I'd choose (many books would just jump right in there with 自我介紹).

 

Also, as with the other books (despite their other shortcomings), I think it's useful to approach things from the perspective of a Mandarin speaker, because the two languages are so similar in many ways, yet also different in many others. For example, in 《初學廣東話》, there's a nice explanation of the difference in use between 畀 (Cantonese) and 給 (Mandarin).

 

My Cantonese-learning adventure as a whole is going OK. I'm happy enough with the progress in terms of amount of vocab I've learnt, but I still struggle to make myself understood, or understand responses, in all but the most simple of interactions. And of course, 90% of the people I try to use Cantonese with can speak either English or Mandarin or both to a high level, so it's too easy to use those as fallbacks. Earlier today, after some effort, I just about managed to order the coffee I wanted, and the girl behind the counter just looked at me strangely and asked, "Why don't you just use English?" I responded, "because... 广东话有意思" (in Mandarin).

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Oh right. You are in HK. Also have a look at Hong Kong Book Centre, 25 Des Voeux Road, On Lok Yuen Building Lower Level.

I was living in the New Territories before so there is less English around there.

I presume you have somebody teaching you pronunciation?

HK people used to ask me how much I earnt without a sense of embarrassment. I am not sure why they cannot be asked the same question in return.

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I presume you have somebody teaching you pronunciation?

 

I'm entirely studying on my own. I'm only here for a few days longer, don't think it's worth getting a teacher. For pronunciation, I'm just working from the CDs in the books. I don't think pronouncing any of the sounds in isolation, aping a CD, is too difficult, but when I try to string sentences together, things get mangled, or I forget the pronunciation of a character or three.

 

HK people used to ask me how much I earnt without a sense of embarrassment. I am not sure why they cannot be asked the same question in return.

 

Hmm, maybe it was just trying to play up the differences between HK and mainland culture, then...

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It's probably just double standards that HKers can sometimes have. Exists all over the world.

Just a word of caution, tones in Cantonese are a toughie. Even native Mandarin speakers coming into Cantonese have a tough time of it.

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Yeah, I never had a big problem with Mandarin tones. Four tones which each have their own distinct contour, plus the neutral tone which is shorter in duration. I think the most difficult thing about Cantonese tones is that 1, 3 and 6 all have the same contour (flat), as do 2 and 5 (rising moderately).

 

Luckily, three of the tones are very similar in both pitch and contour to Mandarin ones (Canto1-Man1, C2-M2, C4-M3), so that at least is useful language transfer.

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