Online Cantonese Input Method

Something that I have found interesting about many older Cantonese speakers who do not speak Mandarin (when I refer to “Cantonese speakers” or “Mandarin speakers” later in this post, I mean those who only know Cantonese OR Mandarin, not both) is that they do not know how to type Chinese on a computer. I know quite a few Cantonese-speaking people who only lived in Hong Kong, not mainland China, before immigrating overseas to non-Cantonese-speaking communities long before computers came into use. As these Cantonese-speaking Chinese lived abroad before computer skills became necessary (or at least helpful) for life, they are unable to type in Chinese on computers; many primarily use English on the computer even as they are much more comfortable with Cantonese conversation-wise.

Some of the reasons for this are:

1. the easiest method of typing Chinese on the computer involves using Mandarin pinyin (while many former Hong Kong citizens only know Cantonese, not Mandarin);

2. alternate methods of typing Chinese involve handwriting Chinese characters on an IME recognition pad, or learning unique codes for parts (not exactly radicals) of characters, that may seem complex or time-consuming; and

3. they do not know that there is exists a method that they can use to type Chinese using Cantonese jyutping.

This third option refers to Cantonese Input, which is very helpful in allowing such Cantonese speakers easily to Chinese characters. This input method is what I would call the Cantonese equivalent of pinyin – the phonetic method that many Mandarin speakers use to type Chinese characters on the computer. For those who can reasonably relate Cantonese pronunciations of Chinese characters to their romanized jyutping equivalents, this method allows them to type on the computer using Cantonese, the language that they primarily speak and think in.

Although many have become fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin recently, for those who primarily speak Cantonese and might be unable to speak Mandarin at all, or just feel more comfortable using Cantonese for daily use (both of which describe me in certain ways), this site is extremely helpful.

But a large disadvantage about this input method could be that the lack of very standardized Cantonese romanization or the complexity of Cantonese pronunciation in general might render one unable to start typing using this method right away; it can be difficult for Cantonese speakers to use this method by sounding-out Chinese words to find their romanization, as they learned Cantonese pronunciations by hearing, not by relating romanized sounds to them as foreign-born/raised Cantonese might have.

But despite this, I think this input method is the easiest and fastest for Cantonese speakers (unless they have already perfected using another method), just as pinyin has become (what I believe is) the most widely used method to type for Mandarin speakers. Additionally, the fact that Cantonese Input is online for all those who might come across it alone makes it so pleasantly free and accessible; if  you are considering what method to use in typing Chinese, try it out!

(In case you missed the link: http://cantoneseinput.com/)

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