What is the list of diacritics used to denote the seven Cantonese tones (in pinyin or similar notation)? Is there a standard (or even, more common) convention?


Common romanization systems for Cantonese are Jyutping, Cantonese Pinyin, and Yale.

In both Jyutping and Cantonese Pinyin, tones are represented with numbers.

In Yale, tones are either indicated with tone marks coupled with -h, or with numbers:

1   high-flat   55  sī  sīn     sīk
1   high-fall.  53  sì  sìn
2   mid-rising  35  sí  sín
3   mid-flat    33  si  sin     sik
4   mid-falling 21  sìh sìhn
5   low-rising  13  síh síhn
6   low-flat    22  sih sihn    sihk
  • Thanks for your excellent explanation. But aren't there supposed to be 7 tones. The link by @leo4jc displays 9 boxes but I cannot hear anything. Could you please clarify. Jul 12 '15 at 18:35
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    @JackMaddington Yale distinguishes the high-level and high-falling (both #1 in all systems) with tone marks (e.g., sī vs sì). Neither of the other systems do. It should be noted that in HK Cantonese, those two tones have merged, and so they don't need to be distinguished in writing. Jul 12 '15 at 20:21
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    @JackMaddington Also, since you seem confused about the "9 tones", I should note that there are 3 other "allotones" for syllables ending in -p,-t,-k. For example, sīk has a different tone contour than sī. Similarly for si and sik and for sih and sihk. However, these tone differences are never contrastive (i.e., if the syllable ends in a stop consonant, then the contour is one way, if they don't, then it's the other way), so all the romanizations I listed don't make the distinction--they treat sihk as the same tone as sih, etc. Jul 12 '15 at 20:25
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    Thank you for yor explanation. It makes clear how the three extra tone sounds can be described with no need for additional notation (and how the first two tones have come to losr their distinction in HK Cantonese). Jul 14 '15 at 7:03

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