Hakka Romanization

I have used the romanization system as set up by the Guangdong Provincial Education Department in 1960. Please click here for a summary in Chinese.

This means that I will be avoiding the gallicized Hakka spellings that are commonly used in Mauritius, such as in names like 'Ah Voune' and 'Ah Youille' (although I am quite fond of them and they are a unique linguistic specimen!). 

Here follows a very, very rough guide to pronouncing Hakka.  


Consonants pronounced as in English:

f as in fun

h as in hand

l as in love

m as in mum

n as in no

s as in sun

v as in van

Consonants with subtle differences:

b like the unaspirated 'p' in 'spell'

p like the aspirated 'p' in 'pat' 

like the unaspirated 't' in 'stay'

t like the aspirated 't' in 'tap'

g like the unaspirated 'k' in 'skill'

k like the aspirated 'k' in 'kiss' 

Trickier ones: 

z like a cross between the 'dz' sound in 'adds' and the 'ts' sound in 'cats' e.g. congee 粥 zug(5)

j like z above but used only when the next letter is 'i' e.g. older sister 姊 ji(3)

c  like the 'ts' sound in 'cats' e.g. car/vehicle 车 ca(1)

q like c (above) but used only when the next letter is 'i' e.g. seven 七 qid(5)

x like a cross between 's' and 'sh' e.g. small 小 xiau(3)

 ng  [+a or +o] like the 'ng' in 'song' e.g. I, me 𠊎 ngai(2)  

ng [+i] like the 'ny' in 'can you' e.g. person 人 ngin(2)

VOWELS (British Pronunciation!)

as in 'at' e.g. tea 茶 ca(2)

ê as in 'let' e.g. North 北 bêd(5) 

as the 'schwa' sound in 'taken' e.g. eat 食 sed(6)

as in 'fin' e.g. gold 金 gim(1) (except in the combinations 'si' and 'zi', where the 'i' is pronounced like a longer version of the 'schwa' sound mentioned above)

as in 'on' e.g. egg 卵 lon(3)

like a shorter version of the 'oo' in 'too' e.g. red 红 fung(2)



ai to rhyme with 'eye' e.g. buy 买 mai(1) 

au to rhyme with 'ow!'  e.g. stir-fry 炒 cau(3)


êu try saying 'eh' followed by 'oo', over and over again, faster and faster e.g. bean 豆 têu(4)


ia like the 'ya' in 'yam'  e.g. given name 名 miang(2) 

iai  'y' + 'eye' e.g. boundaries 界 giai(4)  - sorry cannot find an easier word in the dictionary as an example!

iau  'y' + 'ow' e.g. to chat 聊 liau(4)

iui try saying 'you' followed by 'ee' (corresponds with the gallicized spelling 'youille') e.g. sharp 銳 : 锐 iui(4)

like the 'ye' in 'yet'  e.g. deep fry 煎 jiên(1)

io like the 'yo' in 'yob'  e.g. aubergine (alternative name) 茄 kio(2)

iu [with no letters following it] try saying 'yee' followed by 'oo', over and over again, faster and faster e.g. alcohol 酒 jiu(3)

iu [with a consonant following it] like a short version of the word 'you' e.g. six 六 liug(5)


oi to rhyme with 'boy'  e.g. vegetables/dishes 菜 coi(4)


ua like the 'wha' in 'wham'  e.g. melon 瓜 gua(1)

uai to rhyme with 'why' e.g. quick 快 kuai(4)

like the 'we' in 'wet'  e.g. country 國 : 国 guêd(5)

ui  [after all consonants except 'g' or 'k'] try saying 'oo' followed by 'ee' e.g. water 水 sui(3)

ui [after 'g' or 'k'] like the word 'we' e.g. expensive 貴 : 贵 gui(4)  

uo like the 'wo' in 'wombat'  e.g. fruit 果 guo(3)