Cantonese

Best Dictionaries

 

From the web - Canto Dict

For mobile - Pleco

Cantonese popup dictionary for google chrome – Read a lot on your computer? Simply have this add-on enabled. Then when you hover your mouse above a character, it will tell you the pronunciation and the English meaning of compound words, not just single characters. Great for helping you dissect difficult texts on the computer.

words.hk - Simple but very useful Cantonese dictionary. It is a work in progress so some words will be missing and you need to sign in with facebook to see the full extent of words they have. However, this dictionary is unique because it is the only Cantonese-Cantonese dictionary I have seen with explanations in colloquial Cantonese. Also each entry is avaliable with an example sentence, jyutping and English.

 

Beginner Resources

Cantoneseclass101 - This is a great place to start for beginners, podcasts, dialogues with full line by line audio, transcripts as well as posts about cultural insights and aspects of the language. Just be sure to stay away from the vocabulary lists, as they often mix up written and spoken Cantonese, which can be confusing as a beginner. It is for this reason, I would focus solely on the dialogues and podcasts. This is a great first resource to use and I highly recommend it! (All lessons use jyutping romanization, which is my favorite)
Teachyourself Complete Cantonese – This book comes with 26 chapters full on a wide range of topics, building up from the basic, “hello, how are you?”, building you up to more complicated and difficult topics later in the book. Comes with full transcripts in characters and yale rominization. This is surprisingly rare, and should you want to learn characters this book can double as reading practice for you to come back to once you have a grasp of speaking.
Cantonese for everyone - Textbook full of dialogues and pronounciation with everything you need to get started learning Cantonese. Comes with Jyutping romanization.

Intermediate Materials

Cantonese Conversations – I’m a huge fan of this resource, in fact if you scroll right to the bottom you’ll see a testimonial back when I was first learning Cantonese. In a nutshell, this is full speed conversations by native speakers on a wide range of topics, with full transcripts in Characters, jyutping rominization and English. Also comes with additional vocab lists after each dialogue. This isn’t easy, and it’s a huge leap up from beginner materials such as teachyourself, but the content is interesting enough to keep you engaged. This is full speed, no holds barred Cantonese, with all the supplements you need to be able to break it down into manageable chunks!
Glossika Cantonese – This resource is mass sentences in Cantonese, with audio as well as full transcripts. This is a staple in many language learners tools and a great additional to the world of learning Cantonese
Living Cantonese – This book is hard, I mean really hard. But the dialogues are interesting. It’s probably closer to upper intermediate/advanced. It is based off a series of 10 dialogues taken from a RTHK radio-drama, full of colloquialism, idiomatic expressions and natural paced Cantonese.

Learning to read & Write Cantonese

 

Expansion Packs - Looking for materials to read in Cantonese I have managed to find quite a few fiction books, but nothing helped me overcome the gap to talk about specific topics I was passionate about with my friends. That's why I created my own resources, a collection of non-fiction articles on interesting topics all with full audio and vocab lists. 

Remembering the traditional Hanzi by James Heisig – This book breaks down 1500 of the most common traditional characters in modern Chinese, in a logical digestible manner using mnemonics, in an interesting way that none of the schools will teach you. Not everyone will like this book, slogging through a list of 1500 characters with no pronunciation or context isn’t for everyone. But if you do go for this, you will be able to learn all the characters inside the book in a matter of months, in a way you can’t do with rote memorization alone. What’s more is you will gain the ability to break down any Chinese character you see after that, into it’s much simpler parts in order to remember it
Hello Talk – What better way to practice recognizing and using Chinese characters than practicing with natives. This is a great way to meet people, learn about the culture and practice all at the same time. If combined with the “clipboard reader” on the app pleco, means you can have meaningful conversations with native speakers from relatively early on!
Wedding Bells – This is my favorite book for learning to read colloquial Cantonese. Based on the Diary entries of a Hong Kong women as she falls in love with a Japanese man. This love story is presented as 20 short dialogues, each about 1 page long in the character form. Each dialogue comes with, additional transcript (in Yale romanization, English as well as standard Chinese), Vocab lists, audio as well as cultural insights and grammar notes. Truly an interesting story, that even my Hong Kong friends enjoy to read.
The Little Prince - The little prince is the first ever entire book to be translated into spoken Cantonese. Originally "Le Petit Prince" in French, this book was first published in 1943 and is Antoine de Saint-Exupéry most famous work.. 
我的港女老婆 - "ngo5 dik1 gong2 neoi5 lou4 po4" in Jyutping roughly translated to my Hong Kong wife. The term "港女"/"gong2 neoi5" is a slang used to describe a type of Hong Kong girl who is way too materialistic. This comic book is a funny read, and a great insight into some of the aspects of Hong Kong culture
講古佬 BookTalker – This Facebook page translates short stories from English into Cantonese all for free! Great way to boost your reading at an advanced level through intensive reading of short stories.

Also check out post 1 and post 2 on Cantonese literature.

 

Youtube channels with Cantonese subs:

 

伯賴 - Satirical comedy Cartoon with all of his older videos with Cantonese subtitles. All the videos are short and really funny. But be careful, because his newer content has standard Chinese subtitles, and not Cantonese.

FHProductionHK and FHMedia – Get an insight into HK culture with a range of funny sketches on these two channels. These videos are typically longer than the previous channel mentioned, but the conversations are more natural as it’s not a cartoon. All of the videos I have seen on both channels have full Cantonese subtitles!
Pat Pat English – Ironically the point of this channel is to teach native Cantonese speakers English by getting rid of there “chinglish”. The funny thing is, you learn the colloquialisms from where this comes from, and all with Cantonese subtitles!
Arm Channel TV – This is a lifestyle and culture channel and the majority of their videos have Cantonese subtitles!
Memo子 - Has short and funny videos (a lot under 1 minute) with Cantonese subtitles. Good for wanting to move onto authentic content, as the videos are very short you can watch them over many times.

Other

 

Cantonese: A Comprehensive Grammar – The most comprehensive Cantonese grammar book to date. Explanations are complete with examples sentences in both Yale and Characters along with English translations. There is even a section dedicated to all of the different particles in Cantonese.

Google input tools – This add on for google chrome lets you type in Cantonese through a rominization that I would say is closer to yale than jyutping. It’s very intuitive to use and let’s  you string together long sentences quickly in conversation. This is the best input tool I have found, period. And on top of that it is available in many other languages as well!

Cantokey – The favorite Cantonese input I have found on iphone using jyutping input method.

Google Cantonese input – Cantonese google input tools, but for smart phones. This is the best Cantonese input I have found on android phones and works in the same way as google input tools.

CPIME Keyboard - Not as easy to use as google input tools, but this keyboard is can be downloaded and used offline.

Do you have any great resources for Cantonese that I missed off? Let me know in the comments below!

2 Comments

  1. Irene Popper

    You write that “Cantoneseclass101 – This is a great place to start for beginners, podcasts, dialogues with full line by line audio, transcripts as well as posts about cultural insights and aspects of the language.”

    I would say: the Vocabulary link is quite misleading for beginners. This section confusedly uses Standard Written Chinese forms for Cantonese and presents them in a way that Cantonese speakers never speak — for example, in the
    Food – Fruits & Vegetables section
    大豆在莢子内生長 — 在 is a mistake should be 喺
    我最喜歡的蔬菜是粟米。
    ngo5 zeoi3 hei2 fun1 dik1 so1 coi3 si6 suk1 mai5 — 喜歡的 should be 鍾意嘅

    etc. ad infinitum

    Reply
    • Truman

      Hi, are you talking about the vocabulary lists on the website? I never actually used them because I didn’t find them that useful, I think if you stick to the dialogues then cantoneseclass101 is a great resource for beginners.

      The main problem I found is after the first month the dialogues are too short so I think complete Cantonese is better in that respect because the dialogues are longer, but still I think cantonclass is a good starting point

      Reply

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