Although traditionally Cantonese speakers just use standard Chinese (mostly Traditional in my experience) for writing and reading, written Cantonese does exist as you can read about in this Wikipedia article. I'm curious as to whether there exists any input system for this written Cantonese. I specifically use Windows, but I'd be interested to know about systems for Mac and Linux as well.

If not, do most or all the characters used for written Cantonese exist in other Chinese input libraries? I ask this realizing that many of the characters in written Cantonese are simply re-purposed, but I also know that many of them are other characters with the addition of a leading 口 character and I don't know whether those exist outside of written Cantonese or not. Please enlighten me!

4 Answers 4


Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe all Cantonese characters (theoretically) have pinyin representations. Examples:

  • (have not) / Yale: mou5 / Pinyin: mao3
  • 佢哋 (they) / Yale: keui5 dei6 / Pinyin: qu2 di4
  • (similar to 了) / Yale: jo2 / Pinyin: zuo3
  • (thing) / Yale: ye5 / Pinyin: ye3

But in my experience, using a Standard Chinese Pinyin IME to enter Cantonese characters is just not natural. Sometimes characters are missing. Some commonly used characters are way down the list.

One solution is to use a Cantonese IME like this one. There are even online tools to input Cantonese.

  • +1 for using other IMEs to enter Cantonese feeling unnatural. I'd even prefer to write Traditional Chinese with a Cantonese IME if I could, just because that's where I'm more comfortable. Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 20:52

The preferred phonetic input method (like pinyin) for Cantonese is Jyutping (粤拼/jyut6ping3/yue4pin1 in Mandarin).

In GNU/Linux, both SCIM and (the now preferred?) IBus have packages available that add Jyutping support. They are available for Debian, but might be hard to find for other systems. At least I have only found .deb and .rpm for ibus-jyutping, and no source.

Here's a forum thread about getting compound words to work when using Jyutping in SCIM.

  • 1
    Thanks for the input and for the forum link. If it's just for being able to easily input characters it might be worth learning Jyutping, but I'd really love to be able to use Yale to input characters as that's the romanization I'm familiar with and find more intuitive. Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 16:32
  • Jyutping for Mac OS X exists also. I have been using it for years rescomp.stanford.edu/~domingo2/Chinese.html And my Blackberry from Peoples (中國移動香港) comes preloaded with jyutping input too.
    – dda
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 15:12

If you don't want to install a Cantonese IME, the Cantonese specific characters are included in cangjie (倉頡), using the same stroke decomposing rules. Here are some examples:

  • 冇 = 大月
  • 哋 = 口土心木
  • 睇 = 月山金弓竹

Another useful resource is http://www.cantoneseinput.com/

  • Yes, Cangjie is the way to go. 👍 You can even use it for free online without any installation. Version 5: chinesecj.com/ime/cj5.php Version 3: cangjieinput.com 冇 xkb 哋 rgpd 睇 bucnh 係 ohvf 唔 xrmmr Once you're familar with a character, you just think 'm goi' and your fingers type it from muscle memory (唔該 xrmmr yryvo ).
    – YQ002lc2
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 22:34

There is a great system that has been created to do Cantonese Romanization to Traditional or Simplified Characters input, it is a program called NJ Star Chinese Word Processor. You can change the language to Cantonese Romanization and the output to either Traditional or Simplified and then write in the romanization and it will give you character options to choose from. The program is free and can be found here and is a great help to me.

I havent found a character that I need that I cannot find in there.

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