I have come across a couple of Cantonese words transliterated in Jyutping which had * in the tone number. For example, on CantoDict, the word 广东话 is transliterated as gwong2-dung1-waa6*2. What does that asterisk mean? Is it some form of sandhi?

2 Answers 2


It's not standard Jyutping, but CantoDict uses the asterisk to indicate a changed tone. In your example, waa6*2, the standard citation tone for 话 is 6, but when pronounced in the word, 广东话, its tone changes to a rising tone, so it is denoted with a *2. A note at the footer of the definition page indicates this convention:

Also, CantoDict uses a unique "asterisk (*)" convention, to show readings such as jyu4*2. For more information please see CantoDict Tone Conventions.

Addendum: Since you mentioned sandhi, I just wanted to note that Cantonese changed tones is different from tone sandhi. This previous answer explains in further detail: https://chinese.stackexchange.com/a/9599/166

  • So the word "word" is waa6 but the tone changes to 2 in compound words like the one in the question. Got it. For the record, Wiktionary also uses the star convention.
    – MickG
    Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 18:53

That's called 连续变调. In Chinese dialects such as Wu(spoken in Zhejiang Province and Jiangsu Province and Shanghai City), Min(spoken in Fujian province and Taiwan) or Cantonese(one member of the Yue Dialects), there exists the alterations of characters' tones when they are used in words. That's called 连续变调.

  • English: Tone Sandhi. But unless I'm much mistaken, Cantonese has no Sandhi. It has Changed tone, however...
    – MickG
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 16:58
  • Indeed, no Sandhi in Cantonese.
    – MickG
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 17:01
  • And Changed Tone is 变音. Liánxù biàndiào has nothing to do with this question.
    – MickG
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 17:03

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