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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Cantonese pronunciations in resource articles. For a guide to adding IPA characters to resource articles, see {{IPA-yue}}, {{IPAc-yue}} and Resource: Manual of Style/Pronunciation § Entering IPA characters.

See Cantonese phonology for a more thorough look at the sounds of Cantonese.

IPA Yale Jyutping Character English approximation
Non-syllabic consonants
f f ? fan
h h ? house
j y j ? you
k syllable-initial g ? scan
k? syllable-final k ? doctor
k? syllable-initial k ? can
k? gw[1] ? squeak
k kw[2] ? quick
l l ? leaf
m m ? moon
n n ? noon
? ng ? singing
p b ? span
p? syllable-final p ? apt
p? syllable-initial p ? pan
s s ? saw
t d ? stand
t? syllable-final t ? Atkins
t? syllable-initial t ? tan
ts[3] j z ? cats
ts?[4] ch c ? cats hissing
w w ? water
Syllabic consonants
m? m ? rhythm

ng[5] ? (syllabic ng)

All non-syllabic consonants except [p?, t?, k?] may begin a
syllable, but some speakers do not have initial [n, ?].[6]
The six non-syllabic consonants [p?, t?, k?, m, n, ?] may end a syllable.[7]

IPA Yale Jyutping Character English approximation
a: aa,
syllable-final a
aa ? father (Australian English)
a:i aai ? time
a:u aau ? how
? non-syllable-final a a ? cut
?i ai ? Canadian price (see Canadian Raising)
?u au ? Canadian clout (see Canadian Raising)
ei ei ? hey
?: e ? yes
?:u -- eu ?[8] roughly like yeah well
e i before k or ng ? sick
i: i ? see
i:u iu ? roughly like few
ou ou ? hoe (American English)
?: o ? law
?:y oi ? roughly like boy; Häuser in German
oe: eu before k or ng
or syllable-finally
oe ? roughly like fur in British English; fleuve in French
? eu before n or t eo ? roughly like again but rounded
?y eui eoi ? No English equivalent; like Japanese koi but rounded even at the end
o u before k or ng ? look
u: u ? food
u:y ui ? roughly like phooey; almost like nouille in French
y: non-syllable-initial yu[9] yu ? No English equivalent; menu in French
IPA Yale Jyutping Tone number Character Description
sí: s? si1[10] 1 ? high level: si:?
sî: 1b (7) ? high falling: si:
s?: si2 2 ? mid rising: si:
s?: si si3 3 ? mid level: si:?
sìh si4 4 ? low falling: si:
or very low: si:?
si?: síh si5 5 ? low rising: si:
sì: sih si6 6 ? low level: si:?
pí:t? b?t bit1 7 (1) ? high checked: pi:t
s?:t? sit sit3 8 (3) ? mid checked: si:t
sì:t? siht sit6 9 (6) ? low checked: si:t


  1. ^ [k?] is often merged with before in Hong Kong Cantonese.
  2. ^ [k] is often merged with [k?] before in Hong Kong Cantonese.
  3. ^ Often pronounced as /t/ (Hong Kong)
  4. ^ Often pronounced as /t/ (Hong Kong)
  5. ^ Some speakers replace [] by [m?].
  6. ^ Non-syllabic initial [?] is not pronounced in Hong Kong Cantonese by younger speakers, who replace it with a glottal stop [?] before a, e, o. Also, initial [n] may be replaced by [l].
  7. ^ Non-syllabic final [?] may be replaced by [n] in Hong Kong Cantonese except after [e, o]. [i, u] in diphthongs are equivalent to a final /j, w/. After rounded vowels, an i becomes [y].
  8. ^ [?:u] is pronounced only in colloquial speech.
  9. ^ Syllable-initial yu is [jo] before k or ng, and [jy:] otherwise.
  10. ^ The high level and high falling tones have merged to high level in Hong Kong Cantonese for most words.


  • Zee, Eric (1999), "Chinese (Hong Kong Cantonese)" (PDF), Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-65236-7

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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