The Cantonese Romanisation system known as Barnett–Chao (abbreviated here as B–C) is based on the principles of the Gwoyeu Romatzyh system (GR) developed by Chao Yuenren in the 1920s, which he modified in 1947. The B-C system is a modification in 1950 by K M A Barnett (an Administrative Officer of the Hong Kong Government) which was adopted by the School of Oriental and African Studies, London (SOAS).
Barnett-Chao was used in the Chinese Language Training Section (formerly the Government Language School) of the Government Training Division of the Hong Kong Government from 1963 to 1967 but its transcription was considered "over-complicated" for teaching Cantonese as a second language and abandoned in favour of Sidney Lau's version of Standard Romanisation.
Like GR spelling, B–C spelling uses contrasting unvoiced/voiced pairs of consonants to represent aspirated and unaspirated sounds. B–C also uses single versus double vowels letters to represent certain short + high versus long + low final vowels even in open syllables where the contrast does not exist: buk, buut, baa, and different letters to represent the contrast in other cases: sek, sin. Some vowels are only long and do not use doubling to represent length: ea, o, y.
The Cantonese high and low pitch registers are indicated by inserting -h- or -r- after the initial: bhat, brat. Medium pitch register has no insert, and is considered the basic form: baa.
The following two tables list the B–C spellings of initials and finals with their corresponding IPA values.
- The finals m and ng can only be used as standalone nasal syllables.
There are nine normal tones in six distinct tone contours and two modified tones in Cantonese.
B–C spelling represents the normal tones using the letters h and r before and after the main vowel of the final as well as spelling changes of certain finals as described below.
Before the vowel of the final, h indicates that the start of the tone is high; after the vowel of the final, h indicates that the tone falls, however a falling contour is also indicated by a change in spelling in some finals: Vi > Vy, Vu > Vw, ng > nq, n > nn, m > mm for example saan "disperse" and shaann "mountain", sou "number" and show "whiskers", sai "small" and shay "west".
Before the vowel of the final, r indicates that the start of the tone is low; after the vowel of the final, r indicates that the tone rises, however a rising contour is also indicated by a change in spelling in some finals: Vi > Ve, Vu > Vo for example sai "small" and sae "wash", sou "number" and soo "count".
The modified tones representing high-flat (高平) and modified mid-rising (高升) when the original tone is not mid-rising are indicated by adding an 'x or v after the end of the syllable. High-register syllables that end in a stop (entering tone) are already considered high-flat and cannot take x.
|Traditional||Simplified||Yale Romanization with tone marks||Barnett–Chao Romanization|
|廣州話||广州话||gwóng jàu wá||Gworngzhawwraav|
|你好||你好||néih hóu||nree xoo|
- Chao, Yuenren (1947). Cantonese Primer. Harvard University Press.
- Wong, Shik-ling (1963). Cantonese Conversation Grammar. Institute of Oriental Studies, Hong Kong University. p. vii.
- David Johnson, Andrew James Nathan, Evelyn Sakakida Rawski, eds. (1985). Popular Culture in Late Imperial China. University of California Press. p. 76.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
- Lau, Sidney (1969). Elementary Cantonese. Hong Kong Government].
- e.g. Whitaker, Katherine Poe-kan (1953). 1200 Chinese Basic Characters: an adaptation for students of Cantonese of W Simon's National Language version.
- Kataoka, Shin; Lee, Cream (2008). "A System Without a System: Cantonese Romanization". Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics. 11, 1.
- Yue, Hashimoto Oi-kan (1972). Phonology of Cantonese; Studies in Yüe Dialects 1. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521084423.