Hey guys, thanks for checking out the Jyutping Chart! In this post, I wanted to quickly go over some of the features and mention a few things to do with how to use the Jyutping chart well. If you’re okay with all this and just want to reference the Jyutping chart right away, here’s the link to it:
Okay, this is going to be a short post, but here goes.
(Last Updated: 9th May, 2017.)
How to use the Jyutping Chart
It’s super easy! I just wanted to point this out so some features don’t go unnoticed.
#1 You can scroll horizontally and vertically to get the consonant + final jyutping combination you want. (This design is inspired by the Mandarin pinyin chart over at PinpinChinese, so full credits go to them! I have enabled fixed scrolling both horizontally and vertically though.)
#2 You can also click on each Jyutping to get a popup with word examples.
#3 At the top of each popup, you can change tones on the top right corner of the popup.
#4 It’s taken a little under one week, but I’ve also included 1,586 recordings for each of the entries available within the chart. Don’t forget to click on the Chinese word to see how it’s pronounced! If it’s not clear, it might be easier to wear headphones, but remember – DON’T PUT IT ON FULL VOLUME, some of these recordings sound a bit louder because my mouth was close to the microphone. (I’ll have to apologize for my voice if it sounded weird at times, I was a bit out of it after 1000 recordings! -__-”)
#5 I know a lot of readers here actually visit Cantolounge from a mobile device. While this Jyutping Chart is viewable from anywhere, I highly recommend viewing this chart from a desktop or a tablet web browser. Unfortunately, something of this size is not suited to be viewed on such a small device as a phone, and I haven’t been able to come up with any clever designs that would be mobile friendly and still retain a visual clarity, so I’ve decided to go with this in the end.
When to use the Jyutping Chart
I designed this chart for beginning learners of Cantonese, but this is equally applicable for Cantonese learners at all stages who are unsure of their Cantonese pronunciation on certain words, and they can use this chart as a reference point to check if their pronunciation is correct. Unlike in English, and many other languages, there’s a fixed number of sounds (I guess I should say there are less sounds in Cantonese than most other languages) produced in Cantonese (around 1,500), so all you have to do is to copy one of the 1,500.
So if I were a Cantonese learner, I might use the Jyutping Chart when:
- If I’m just starting out, and I’m going over Jyutping. I know it’s all intuitive, but there are a few sounds that look a bit weird (like “hoeng”), and I just wanted to check.
- I’m still coming to grips with Jyutping and the other day I heard something that sounded like “leu”, I want to see if that’s a sound that exists, and I want to see what the proper Jyutping and tone is for it.
- I’m currently an intermediate learner and I have a good conversational level, maybe a strong B2 level, and after this time, I feel it’s time to improve my accuracy. I want to go over some of the details of my pronunciation and compare my Jyutping and tones pronunciation with a native speaker.
- I want to hear a male version of how to say “goek3”, I heard it the other day, and I found it difficult to pronounce.
- Or, maybe I just find this a really useful resource and want to come back to grab the link and share it on Facebook. 🙂
So, please think of this as a reference, and a collection of reference points to improve your understanding of Cantonese pronunciation, and how these sounds are mapped to Jyutping.
Notes about the Jyutping chart
- Please note that some words have multiple pronunciations, so don’t be alarmed if you see two words with different jyutping. For example, 彈 is pronounced “daan6” in 彈弓 (a spring), and “taan4” in 彈琴 (playing the piano).
- Some words don’t have official characters that represent them (especially Cantonese spoken only words), or they exist but I am unaware of how they are written. In that case, I’ve simply used the Jyutping to represent it. For example, the word he3 (commonly printed in the media as “hea”) is a word that popped up in the 2010’s, but I never recalled seeing its written form anywhere.
- Some words might not be represented by its “true” form. For instance, the word 茂利 mau6 lei2 means something along the lines of “idiot, dude” (but in a slightly rude way) has a rather uncommon written version, and I don’t remember how it’s written, so I’ve replaced it with a similar word that is incorrect but recognizable and probably used by most native speakers.
- Cantonese as a language has evolved over the last century, and as such, certain sounds are no longer distinguished, and I have treated them as such in this chart. Specifically, these sounds I have treated as the same ( → a unidirectional arrow means one form is converted to the other commonly by native speakers; ↔ bidirectional arrows indicate that both forms are interchangeable)
- ng → m (e.g. 吳 ng4 → m4, the surname)
- n → l (e.g. 能力 nang4 lik6 → lang4 lik6, capability)
- ng → / (e.g. 我地 ngo5 dei6 → o5 dei6, we / us)
- *gwo, gwong, gwok → go, gong, gok (e.g. 中國 zung1 gwok3 → zung1 gok3, China)
*As pointed out by Billy Wong, “gw” itself isn’t necessarily converted to “g”. For example, you might hear people saying “陽光” (sunlight, joeng4 gong1 –> joeng4 gong1), but something like 烏龜 (turtle, wu1 gwai1) cannot be contracted to gai1, which would turn into 烏雞, which is a type of chicken.
How I chose these words
At 1,586 entries currently, all of these are words I hand picked either from memory, or from the dictionary. I tried, whenever possible, to follow the following principles:
- Whenever there’s a choice between a word that’s (a) only used in written contexts; (b) used in written and oral contexts; (c) used only in oral contexts, I tried to go for words in category (c). These are, after all, the words that are most representative of “Chinese”. Of course, I’m not saying that this is a hard and fast rule – but I have made an effort to do that.
- You’ll find that some cells in the table are blank. There are certain words, that, if you visit a Cantonese dictionary, you’ll find entries for that particular jyutping, and yet it’s blank. On the other hand, you might also find that there are non-blank cells when the dictionary doesn’t have records of such a word.The reason is because in the first case, some of those words are so rare that they’re not really used all that often outside of literary or very specific contexts; and in the second case, and in the second case, some of these words are spoken, but they’re probably “invented” words, or loanwords with a Cantonese twist to it that there is no corresponding character(s) for it (e.g. soe4 waat6 tai1 means “to go down a slide”, but I’ve never seen a word for it before).
- Some might ask, “why leave the table blank at all, why not just fill the table even for words that don’t exist?” The fact of the matter is that there’s just no use knowing how to pronounce a certain romanization if there’s no corresponding word (might be useful for a pronunciation exercise), and some combinations are very difficult to pronounced (e.g. ngyut). To top that off, there’s no reason to make pronunciation any harder than it needs to be for the learner, so the idea was to keep it as simple as possible.
A word on Chinese fonts
You’ll see that some words are displayed in a rather odd way that doesn’t match the font of the other words.
喺度, for example, will be displayed with two different fonts, where 度 is displayed properly by the font used on this website, but 喺 is not.
The reason is that, while most Chinese characters are available under this particular font (楷體 kaai2 tai2, which is considered to be a standard font in publications), this font was drawn with a set of standard characters in mind. This excludes the many characters used in non-standard (written) Chinese, which, unfortunately, includes many words used only in Cantonese.
There is no solution for it now, so I simply ask that readers bear with me for now. 🙂
That’s it from me for now. Here’s the link to the Jyutping Chart again: https://cantolounge.com/jyutping-chart/.