What is romanised -r-?

Discussions on the Cantonese language.
Radagasty

What is romanised -r-?

Postby Radagasty » Tue Apr 15, 2003 7:29 am

I have noticed that a few posters use a medial -r- when romanising Cantonese syllables, e.g., 'serng'. Cantonese, however, does not have any retroflex consonants, so what does this -r- indicate? I thought it was just a personal idiosyncrasy the first time I saw it, but several different posters use this form of romanisation, so I can't just be a personal thing.

Sebastian.

Dylan Sung

Re: What is romanised -r-?

Postby Dylan Sung » Tue Apr 15, 2003 3:17 pm

I think it is an approximation for what they think the sound is, rather than being any one defined romanisation. One of the worst romanisations I've seen for Cantonese is that found in one version of the Teach Yourself Cantonese books. (There are two I know of, one by R Bruce, and the other with the horrible romanisation.)

Also, the price of the TY series have gone up recently. With the new format, but same old contents, its almost doubled. Back in the end of the 1980's and early nineties, in the UK, it was around three or four pounds stirling. Now they cost around thirteen pounds stirling! (Roughly 20 US dollars!!!)

Dyl.

Thomas Chan

Re: What is romanised -r-?

Postby Thomas Chan » Tue Apr 15, 2003 8:19 pm

Radagasty wrote:
> I have noticed that a few posters use a medial -r- when
> romanising Cantonese syllables, e.g., 'serng'. Cantonese,
> however, does not have any retroflex consonants, so what does
> this -r- indicate? I thought it was just a personal
> idiosyncrasy the first time I saw it, but several different
> posters use this form of romanisation, so I can't just be a
> personal thing.

After <a>, it is imitating non-rhotic English pronunciation and spelling,
such that 克 (as in the director Tsui Hark 徐克) is spelled <hark>, even
though the vowel transcribed is simply the [a] like in English "father".

I don't know about after <e> (as in "serng"), but I think it could be
depicting the vowel in words like 上, 想, 常, etc., which is written in IPA
with an oe digraph (or in German, umlauted "o"); it's the rounded counterpart
of the vowel written in IPA with epsilon. I suppose to people who don't
have the former vowel in their language, it must sound somewhat like an
"er" to them. (The same vowel is in words like 靴, 腳, 薑, etc.)

I wouldn't consider such systems to be serious systematic forms of
omanizations, nor personal idiosyncrasies, but ad hoc schemes influenced by
the spelling conventions of the languages they are familiar with (for which
English is one of the poorer models for this sort of thing).


Thomas Chan
tc31@cornell.edu

Helmut
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 3:53 pm

Re: What is romanised -r-?

Postby Helmut » Tue Apr 15, 2003 9:44 pm

The -r- can be found in Cantonese romanisation in two cases.

Case 1: In some elaborate but not popular romanisation systems, the -r- is used to indicate tones. The current version of Teach Yourself seems to be doing that. Probably not the case here in the forum.

Case 2: Basically what Thomas Chan was saying. I have not seen any complete romanisation system doing that, but some people invent a specific English romanisation on the fly. -er- stands probably for Jyutping "oe" (Yale "eu"), because of the English word 'her', which contains a similar vowel. Many textbooks use 'her' to explain the sound. Though it could also mean to be an extension of the -ar- and -or- rules to keep the -e- an "e". Of course all this does not lead to a useful Cantonese romanisation system. Nevertheless, in real life such transcriptions have more success than the real romanisation systems popular in linguistics or language teaching. Especially in person names, you often see -ar- and -or-. Another such popular real life rule that I never found in an actual romanisation system is the use of -u- for a short "a" as in Sun Hung Kei (a big HK construction company), pronounced "san hung gei".

Thomas Chan

Re: What is romanised -r-?

Postby Thomas Chan » Wed Apr 16, 2003 1:27 am

Helmut wrote:
> Another such popular real life rule that I never found
> in an actual romanisation system is the use of -u- for a
> short "a" as in Sun Hung Kei (a big HK construction company),
> pronounced "san hung gei".

I haven't seen that one in a formal scheme, either. On the other hand,
it is not unusual nowadays to see <kw>, as in "Kwong" 光 or "Kwok" 郭
(which Yale writes "gwong" and "gwok"), whereas in at least early US
sources (late 19th/early 20th c.), one often sees <qu> used, like "Quong".
I don't think anyone familiar with English spelling would have come up
with <kw> independently.


Thomas Chan
tc31@cornell.edu

Thomas Chan

Re: What is romanised -r-?

Postby Thomas Chan » Wed Apr 16, 2003 1:32 am

Helmut wrote:
> short "a" as in Sun Hung Kei (a big HK construction company),
> pronounced "san hung gei".

I just noticed that it's actually "Sun Hung Kai" for 新鴻
(see http://www.shkp.com.hk/). With gei 基 spelled as <kai> in this
ad hoc scheme, how is one to transcribe words like 界, 階, 街 (which are
gai)?


Thomas Chan
tc31@cornell.edu

pakkal
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 7:00 am

Re: What is romanised -r-?

Postby pakkal » Sun Sep 06, 2009 7:01 am

With the new format, but same old contents, its almost doubled. Back in the end of the 1980's and early nineties, in the UK, it was around three or four pounds stirling. Now they cost around thirteen pounds stirling


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