Chinese (Hong Kong Cantonese)
Phonetics Laboratory, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics,
City University of Hong Kong, 83 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong
The style of speech illustrated is that typical of the educated younger generation in Hong
Kong. The recording is that of a 22-year-old male university student who has lived all his
life in Hong Kong.
k w k wh
ts ts h
p pal 'father*
p h p h a"l 'to lie prone'
m mal 'mother'
f fan 'flower'
t h al
p h an1
ts h a"l
k kal 'to add'
k h k h al 'truck'
rj . p h arj1 'to cook'
k w k w a1 'melon'
k wh k wh a1 'to boast'
h hal 'shrimp'
Illustrations of the IP A 59
\ a \
(low-mid to low, falling)
(low-mid to high, rising)
(low-mid to mid, rising)
60 Handbook of the IP A
(a) Consonants, vowels and diphthongs
Syllable-final plosives [p, t, k] are unreleased, i.e. [p, t\ k" 1 ]. Syllable-initial [t, t h , n] and
final [t, n] are apico-laminal denti-alveolar; syllable-initial [s, ts, ts h ] are laminal alveolar;
and syllable-initial  is apical denti-alveolar or apical alveolar, [n] rarely occurs in
syllable-initial position; syllable-initial [rj] is often deleted, [i, y, e, oe, a, o, u] occur in
open syllables as well as syllables closed by a plosive or nasal. In open syllables, [i, y, u]
are about cardinal; [e] = [e]; [oe] = [oB]; [o] = [o]; and [a] = [a]; [i, y, u, e, ce\ o, a] are
lowered in syllables closed by a plosive or nasal, [i, y, e, oe, a, o, u] are long in open
syllables and short (a third shorter) in syllables closed by a plosive or nasal, [i, e, e, u]
which occur only in syllables closed by a plosive or nasal are extra-short (two thirds
shorter than [i, y, e, oe, a, o, u] in open syllables). All diphthongs are long; the first
elements in [ai, au, oi, ui, iu, eu] are longer than the second elements; and the first
elements in [m, mi, ei, oy, ou] are similar to the second elements in length, [au] = [au];
[ai] = [ai]; and [eu] = [eu]. The alternative transcriptions for vowels and diphthongs
given above differ in whether these length distinctions are indicated.
[1, H, -I, J, \ A] (= high; mid; low-mid; low-mid to low, falling; low-mid to high, rising;
low-mid. to mid, rising) are long tones; [J] is relatively shorter. The short or extra-short
variants of [1, H, -l] occur on syllables closed by a plosive. On a compound-final syllable,
[H, -I] and their variants and [J] are often replaced by .
Transcription of recorded passage
jmU jetl ts h iH I pekl furfl t h uqJ t h aiH joeqJ heil tou-J am kenl pinl koH lekl
til II k h eyJ tei-J ami ami t h ml tou^l jeuJ koH jiml haqJ k w oH I lil koH jenl
tsoekH l:sy-l kin-J tai-l leul II k h eyJ tei-l tseu-l wa-l lakH I pinl koH hoi ]\A tsirj'l
touH lil koH jem ts h eyJ tso^l kin-l IbuI lei I tsmi-l synH pinl koH lekl til lakH
II jyl si-l I pekl furp tseu-J pokH meq-l keml ts h eyl II timl tsil I k h eyJ jyt-J
ts h eyl irekl seil lei-l I kol koH jem tsmi-l jyt-l hei-J lal sst-J kin-J teul II tseyH
heu-l I pekl fuql moiU saiH fuJ I weLl yeuA forjH heiH II kenl tsy-l I t h aiH joeqJ
ts h etl leiJ saiH tso-1 jetl tsim-l I ko-1 koH jen'l tsBu-l tsikl hakl ts h eyJ tsol
kin-l teul lakH II jyl si-l I pskl furjl vraJ jmU jirj-l syl lal II
Orthographic version (non-standard, vernacular)
wmm • im • imwmmtw. • S&& • mmmmi • mmxmmmmm
#«•««• immsn • mmm • m& • *Mmm&r-w • mmxm
Handbook of the International Phonetic Association :
A Guide to the Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet
International Phonetic Association, July 1999.