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 is 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
Difference between Jyutping and Yale in initial consonants
Difference between Jyutping and Yale in vowels
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.
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.
Is Yale romanization of Cantonese or Jyutping more popular?
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
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
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!
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