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I was trying (unsuccessfully) to find the written representation of the Cantonese translation of "to make", pronounced as "jing", by looking through the alternatives on Google Translate and reading the Mandarin pronunciations. What better ways are there to find the exact written word for spoken Cantonese words?

An example is the word 係, which is commonly spoken in Cantonese but not written.

In my case, I know Mandarin pinyin, but I do not have a viable vocabulary in Mandarin, and most of the spoken Cantonese words of interest here would not be used in Mandarin like the example above.

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"An example is the word 係, which is commonly spoken in Cantonese but not written." It is written, including by the government and companies in advertisings. I have plenty of examples showing this... – dda Aug 21 '14 at 9:20
@dda I was basing that statement on my very, very limited exposure to Chinese overall, having grown up outside of China. But thank you for the information anyway! – SimonT Aug 21 '14 at 13:36
up vote 2 down vote accepted


2010 Comerical Press

8,453 (approx.) entries

Is a good place to start.

For instance the entry for 係

1 是







2 只有(與“至”配搭着用)





Not only does it have written Cantonese for the individual words but also example sentences with mandarin translations.

Words without characters are marked with a: □.

-- Edit: and I believe your 'jing' can be found under the entry for

Romanization is a little different: zing2

Here's the 'to make' part of the definition:

3 做





So! If you know the Cantonese pronunciation and, even roughly, know the romanization system it should be pretty easy to: (A) find the written form of your cantonese words and characters and then (B) find the mandarin equivalent - including examples for each. Should be helpful for what you're looking for/to do

-- Edit 3: zing is Jyutping / jing is Yale - is just double checked - the digitalized dictionary I'm using supports both and can switch between the two.

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What's interesting is that Wiktionary has no definition for this in any Chinese, and Google Translate only has translations like "whole". I'll give your suggestion a try, but I might need to learn Jyutping and Yale first. – SimonT Aug 21 '14 at 13:38
@SimonT I didn't want to put this in my answer, for fear of spamming - but seeing as you've already marked it as correct and seem to think it's a good idea - there's a dictionary company called Pleco who sell Chinese dictionaries on iOS and Android, they have already digitalized, if you will, this dictionary so if you want to find this dictionary, digitally, I think it's your best way to go. – user3306356 Aug 21 '14 at 15:56

The best way is to install a Cantonese input plugin for your computer/phone. I have jyutping (粵拼) installed both on my Mac and Android phone. Works great. I use this to write both in Cantonese and (broken) Mandarin.

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Once I learn Jyutping, I'll definitely give this a go. – SimonT Aug 21 '14 at 15:52

There are a lot of Cantonese dictionaries online. The one I often use is CantoDict. It is volunteer-contributed and is pretty comprehensive. I has both characters and words, and has pronunciation for both Cantonese in Jyutping and Mandarin in pinyin, meanings in English. and you can search based on characters, Jyutping, pinyin, or English.

Once you get the hang of Jyutping, that will be the easiest way to search for something you know how to pronounce in Cantonese but don't know the character for.

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