我最討厭粵拼 (a bashing of romanized cantonese) II

Annoying and irregular as both Jyutping and Yale are, I can actually read both romanizations pretty well now – but it wasn’t without a lot of effort.  I accidentally came up with a trick to do so, using my favourite open-sauce program Anki.  (Anki is an SRS – a spaced repetition system, designed to help retain learned information – but more on that in another post).

Firstly though, what’s a child’s favourite thing to do before going to sleep?  Being read to.  Furthermore, they rarely want to hear a story just once – children love repetition, and by ingraining language structures from bedtime stories, they gradually improve their language skills.

Since Anki supports both text and sound, my approach was to try and emulate being read to – I SRSed Cantonese sound-bites with accompanying transcripts in both Chinese characters and Jyutping.  Then, I could see which sounds accompanied which letters, and gradually – gradually, I could produce those sounds correctly without having to hear them first.  Because an SRS forces you to repeat cards when needed, the repetition a child gets when being read to was also present.

So I guess my point is twofold – there is nothing so difficult that cannot be overcome without practice and a good method, and that the best methods [for language learning] are based on those that children instinctively use.

Anyone else out there master Jyutping or Pinyin in a different/better way?  I’d be interested to know!

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8 thoughts on “我最討厭粵拼 (a bashing of romanized cantonese) II

  1. Pingback: Notes on “How To Learn Cantonese” #2 « thousand mile journey

  2. well, pretty much all of my Cantonese learning materials are written in Yale, and many have accompanying CDs. Learning Jyutping was just about learning how it differs from Yale.

  3. Prevalence does not automatically make something good *coughreligioncough*. However, you’re right in that it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to learn one system or the other. However however, neither system is as intuitive as perhaps it could be, considering they’re non-organic transcription systems. [In other words, there’s no reason for them to be irregular since Cantonese phonology hasn’t changed at all since their inception.]

  4. I came across Yale several times, but I didn’t really know how to pronounce it correctly.

    I recently learned Jyutping and Yale. But it was very hard, as there definitely aren’t a lot of resources to learn from!

    I stumbled across this revelation – that there are only 19 initial sounds and 59 final sounds, and the combination of these (plus 6 tones) covers all the sounds in Cantonese. Basically, the ABCs to sound out Cantonese. This was so eye-opening for me, that if I mastered this limited set of sounds, I would have a foundation to learn Cantonese.

    Here are the Jyutping Initials and Finals – http://cantoneseeveryday.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/cantonese-romanization-system-jyutping-initials-and-finals/

    I used Greenwood’s Spoken Cantonese book, which includes a CD and has the pronunciation of these initials and finals.

    I listened and repeated over and over again, as well as recording myself until I got the sounds right. So lots of practice.

  5. I hear you about the Yale, brah – I have the same problem with Mandarin Pinyin at the moment. I’m still not sure what the difference between ‘-an’ and ‘-ang’ is, for example.

    The 19 initials and 59 finals can be simplified further if you break down the finals. For example, the final -oeng can be broken down into -on and -ng, both of which are used in many other sounds.

    Cheers for the link, by the way! Keep up the practice!

    • I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now, but the difference between “an” and “ang” in pinyin is exactly the same as in English: “sin” vs “sing

  6. I first learned Jyutping. I thought it was pretty intuitive because it had so many similarities to both Mandarin pinyin, and the international phonetic alphabet used in linguistics, both of which I already knew. Then when I learned Yale, it seemed to me to be pretty similar to Jyutping except with some very minor adjustments to make things easier for English speakers. Also h’s. So many seemingly pointless h’s everywhere! All well I understand them now.

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