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Comparison between Yale romanization of Cantonese and Jyutping

A complete comparison between Yale romanization of Cantonese and Jyutping

To choose between learn with Yale romanization of Cantonese (Yale) and Jyutping is an inevitable problem for every learner.  In this article, we will explain the difference between Yale and Jyutping, helping you make the decision wisely and start learning Cantonese.

Why are there so many romanization systems in Cantonese?

Due to the lack of government-sponsorship, there are numerous amounts of Cantonese romanization systems yet none of them becomes the standard and dominates.

Among all Cantonese romanization systems, Yale romanization of Cantonese(耶魯粵語拼音)and Jyutping(粵拼)has become the mainstream and have the highest popularity in the recent years.

The history of Yale romanization of Cantonese and Jyutping

Yale has a much longer history than Jyutping.  Yale was created by Gerard P. Kok and Parker Po-fei Huang(黃伯飛)in 1952 and published in 1958; Yale romanization of Cantonese is one of the four romanization systems created at Yale University for four different East Asian languages.

Meanwhile, Jyutping was created by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong (LSHK) in 1993.  Therefore, you will not be able to find any materials published before 1993 using Jyutping as their romanization system.

What is the difference between Yale romanization of Cantonese and Jyutping?

Yale and Jyutping is largely similar, differing in their notation of tones and about 19% of the consonants and vowels.  Nevertheless, Jyutping is much more detailed, as it denotes vowels cannot be expressed by Yale.

Therefore, if you start off by learning in Yale, in some point of your study, you will come across words that cannot be romanized.  By then you will have to switch to Jyutping and adopt a new romanization system.

Difference between Jyutping and Yale in tones notation

 JyutpingYale
Tone 1e1ē
Tone 2e2é
Tone 3e3e
Tone 4e4èh
Tone 5e5éh
Tone 6e6eh

Difference between Jyutping and Yale in initial consonants

JyutpingYale
zj
cch
jy

Difference between Jyutping and Yale in vowels

JyutpingYale
oeeu
oengeung
oekeuk
eoieui
eoneun
eoteut
eu/
em/
en/
ep/
et/

Is Yale romanization of Cantonese or Jyutping easier to use?

Jyutping definitely wins in this aspect.  For typing Jyutping, you do not need to use any additional add-ons or programs, as Jyutping is expressed with numbers and alphabets commonly found on a typical keyboard.

Meanwhile, for typing Yale, a Pinyin keyboard has to be used for typing diacritics (i.e. tone symbol), which is quite inconvenient as you need to copy and paste again and again.

Pinyin keyboard

For typing characters with Jyutping and Yale, there are more input methods supporting Jyutping instead of Yale.  Input methods supporting Jyutping is available on Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android and Chrome extension.  You may refer to this guide on how to set up your Cantonese input in various platforms.

The popularity of Jyutping has increased steadily over the years.  Based on a poll we conducted on our Facebook page, about 60% of the learners are using Jyutping now.

Nevertheless, Yale is surprisingly more popular than Jyutping in some countries.  For example, learners in Japan tend to learn Cantonese with Yale.

Is the Modified Yale romanization of Cantonese (1994) better than Jyutping?

Yale romanization of Cantonese has been updated in 1994, and it is called Modified Yale romanization of Cantonese.  In this system, numbers are used to represent tones instead of diacritics, making typing easier.

Difference between Jyutping and modified Yale in tones notation

 JyutpingYale
Tone 1e1e1
Tone 2e2e2
Tone 3e3e3
Tone 4e4e4
Tone 5e5e5
Tone 6e6e6

Nevertheless, we do not recommend using this system as well.  Being similar with traditional Yale romanization of Cantonese, it is still unable to describe all vowels being used in Cantonese.

Difference between Jyutping and modified Yale in vowels

JyutpingYale
aaa
oeeu
oengeung
oekeuk
eoieui
eoneun
eoteut
eu/
em/
en/
ep/
et/

FAQs

Why are there so many romanization systems in Cantonese?

Due to the lack of government-sponsorship, there are numerous amounts of Cantonese romanization systems yet none of them becomes the standard and dominates.

Yale romanization of Cantonese(耶魯粵語拼音)and Jyutping(粵拼)has become the mainstream and have the highest popularity in the recent years.

What is the difference between Yale romanization of Cantonese and Jyutping?

Yale and Jyutping is largely similar, only differing in their notation of tones and about 19% of the consonants and vowels.

Is Yale romanization of Cantonese or Jyutping easier to use?

Jyutping is definitely easier to type with keyboards, as it uses numbers to represent tones.

Besides, there are more input methods supporting Jyutping instead of Yale across platforms.

Is Yale romanization of Cantonese or Jyutping more popular?

The popularity of Jyutping has increased steadily over the years and it has become the mainstream.

Nevertheless, Yale is surprisingly more popular than Jyutping in some countries. For example, learners in Japan tend to learn Cantonese with Yale.

What is the difference between Modified Yale romanization of Cantonese (1994) and the original Yale romanization of Cantonese?

Unlike to original Yale romanization of Cantonese, Modified Yale romanization of Cantonese uses numbers instead of diacritics to represent tones.

Conclusion

Whether to use Yale or Jyutping comes down to your personal preference at the end of the day.  However, due to the inconvenience for typing and the limited romanization of Yale, we recommend you learning Cantonese with Jyutping. 

If you haven’t already, start learning Jyutping with our lessons now!

That’s it for this lesson on comparing different Cantonese romanization systems!  If you appreciate our work, sign up now and give us a LikeCoin by clicking the LikeCoin button below 5 times.  It will empower us to create more useful contents for you in the future!

6 thoughts on “A complete comparison between Yale romanization of Cantonese and Jyutping”

  1. I first studied Cantonese in GuangZhou, using Guangdong romanization since all the teaching materials are using it. For me I can relate more easily to Yale and JyutPing since Guangdong romanization kind of mix both of them together.

    However, due to the inconvenience for typing, I switched to JyutPing, not only the romanization, but also Chinese characters to Traditional Chinese. I feel proud of it when I type in Traditional Chinese because that’s real Cantonese! You might feel it’s taxing in the beginning but it’s definitely worth your effort!

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