When I first started learning Cantonese, I couldn’t find any decent information on the Internet about how to type Cantonese characters so I gradually made my own list of commonly used Cantonese characters. You can see it below. Since that time, some easier methods of entering Cantonese have emerged. I’ve described them below too.
Cantonese Search Engines – How to Web Search using Cantonese Characters:
Safele has a Cantonese Search Engine at Safele.com/hk. A user only needs to type the first letter of a Cantonese initial sound (using the Sidney Lau Cantonese Romanization System or Yale system) and all characters with an initial sound starting with that letter will be listed above the search box. If the user clicks on one of the Chinese characters, that character will replace the letter in the search box. If the user wants to type an English word or any other non-Chinese text, he/she just continues typing into the search box without clicking on any of the Chinese characters. This method does not require users to learn an entire romanization system. Instead, only the initial letter of each sound needs to be learned, and learning those is so simple that even if you don’t know Sidney Lau’s romanization system or the Yale system, you can learn the initial letters within minutes just by typing English letters and watching which Chinese characters appear in the list. This Chinese character input method is especially useful for Cantonese speakers who have not learned, or not installed, one of the stroke-based Cantonese character input methods, e.g. those using a mobile phone, or a computer in a non-Chinese speaking country, or a computer in an Internet bar, or a computer without a writing tablet. Of course, Safele also warns you about old browser-related software running on your computer, which helps you keep your computer free of viruses, trojans, and malware! Try the Cantonese Search Engine yourself at Safele.com/hk!
Cantonese Input Methods (IME) – How to Type Cantonese:
Here are some of the ways you can type Cantonese-specific characters on your computer:
If you know how to speak Mandarin and how to write pinyin, or are willing to learn, then ...
You can use the Chinese (PRC) IME (freely available from Microsoft), but around 60% of all Cantonese-specific characters will still not be typeable.
You can use the Chinese (Taiwanese) IME (freely available from Microsoft), but around 25% of all Cantonese-specific characters will still not be typeable.
If you’re writing an HTML page ...
You can copy and paste the characters or Unicode values from the table below, but I may not have listed all the characters you need. (If you want me to add some, send me a message by clicking the “Contact Us” link above.)
If you know how to write Chinese characters and how to use Wubi, or are willing to learn, then ...
You can use the Wubi IME (五笔字型输入法) (freely available from wangma.com.cn), and most if not all Cantonese-specific characters will be typeable!
You can use a Cantonese IME such as CPIME (freely available from cpime.hk), and most if not all Cantonese-specific characters will be typeable! (Although the Sidney Lau Cantonese Romanization System implemented in CPIME version 6.2.5 has at least 3 errors that I know of. i.e. The romanization is incorrect for some sounds. It’s not a huge problem though.)
Common Cantonese Characters:
Each row of the table below shows:
a Cantonese-specific Character, or a standard Chinese character which has a different meaning in Cantonese,
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