bin1 zi2 gu1 noeng4

The Single Braid

Brace yourself up and learn Cantonese through Hong Kong’s urban legend.

How to choose a good Cantonese name?

Do you want to choose a good Cantonese name for yourself or your family?  Apart from choosing meaningful characters, you also need to consider the tone of characters used in the name.  In this lesson, you will learn how to choose good Cantonese name based on tone pattern(平仄).

What is tone pattern(平仄)?

Tone pattern(平仄)is a summery representation of the 4 tones in Middle Chinese, the level(平), rising(上), departing(去)and entering(入).  Rising, departing and entering tones are summarized as oblique tones(仄). Regardless which Cantonese romanization system you use, the tones of Cantonese can be represented in those Middle Chinese tones.  Therefore, they can also be represented with level tones and oblique tones.

Jyutping/ Yale tone notationsMiddle Chinese tone notationsTone pattern
Tone 1陰平Level(平)
Tone 2陰上Oblique(仄)
Tone 3陰去Oblique(仄)
Tone 4陽平Level(平)
Tone 5陽上Oblique(仄)
Tone 6陽去Oblique(仄)

The entering(入)tone is referring to the unreleased stop in Cantonese pronunciation, which happens when ending consonant p, t or k is used.

Jyutping/ Yale tone notationsMiddle Chinese tone notationsTone pattern
Tone 1陰入Oblique(仄)
Tone 3中入Oblique(仄)
Tone 6陽入Oblique(仄)

Choose a good Cantonese name with tone pattern

Tone pattern(平仄)is crucial for choosing a good Cantonese name.  A name is consider balance in tone when level tones(平)are followed by oblique tones(仄) , vice versa. 

Most of the Cantonese name are created in the pattern of level-oblique-level(平仄平).

zoeng1 gwok3 wing4

張國榮

Level-oblique-level(平-仄-平)

can4 siu2 ming4

陳小明

Level-oblique-level(平-仄-平)

ceoi4 bou6 gou1

徐步高

Level-oblique-level(平-仄-平)

mui4 jim6 fong1

梅艷芳

Level-oblique-level(平-仄-平)

Choose a good Cantonese name based on Middle Chinese tones

You can also find names using other patterns, as long as you put 陰 and 陽 of middle Chinese tones into consideration.  It is acceptable for you to use characters with level tones or oblique tones consecutively, if they have different value on 陰 and 陽.

wong4 zi1 fung1

黃之鋒

Level-level-level(陽平-陰平-陰平)

zau1 ting4

周庭

Level-level(陰平-陽平)

lei5 gaa1 sing4

李嘉誠

Oblique-level-level(仄-陰平-陽平)

The rarest pattern you can find is is oblique-oblique-oblique(仄-仄-仄).

ze6 wai5 zeon3

謝偉俊

Oblique-oblique-oblique(仄-仄-仄)(陽去-陽上-陰上)

Reference

  1. 張洪年(2007)。香港粤語語法的研究(增訂版)。香港:中文大學出版社,頁 2-7。
  2. 姜卓如2016)。如何改一個響噹噹的名字? 從「香港眾志」談到粵語保育

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