On June 21st, I took a trip to a workshop called Cantonese Worlds where different people interested in Cantonese gathered together and talked about various topics, ranging from aspects of Cantonese linguistic history, presentations from students about their educational trip to somewhere in China, Cantonese opera, research into identity issues of Cantonese speakers from Cambodia and Vietnam and other places, issues affecting Vancouver’s Chinatown, and a project for Cantonese-language adult education, and a Cantonese teacher sharing her successful and happy experience using a theme-based approach to teach students, in a method she calls Spiral learning. There were presentations of music and video, many hours and hours of Powerpoint slides, a bit of discussion, meet and greet, and a few celebrities. You can see more details here: Cantonese Worlds.
I was not a presenter, and attended the event in the hopes of inspiring some of these researchers to help me make a phonetic Cantonese alphabet a practical daily reality. I also went around telling people about the Cantobet that I created with the help of various very kind people I met along the way. Though the results of my efforts may not have been very successful, I did end up telling a lot of people to come to this website, so I feel it is important to make this blog post.
I write in English because my ability to write in Chinese is limited. Writing a single paragraph often takes up a lot of my time, and though a worthwhile endeavour, I feel compelled to communicate in the language that I am most comfortable in, which is English. I will make an effort to write in Chinese in the future, but for now, I will write in English, which is the only language I can write in without spending a lot of time asking people for help, learning how to use online tools, and using a combination of various dictionaries.
The two PDF files that can currently be found on this website, the files for Cantobet 1, I realize are not easily understood, and I wanted to make this blog post to tell people that I am working on presenting the information in a much better way. It is my goal to reupload a newer version, Cantobet 2, which will have a big improvement to readability, comprehensibility, and will fix some errors in the writing system that I have discovered, ranging from missing sounds(the sound of sh, iu and ai) to extra sounds(the symbols for the swallowed sounds for t,p,k, I feel can be omitted without losing much). You can still use the old files, but I hope to upload the newer version soon.
I also wanted to make another call out for volunteers. As usual, if you are interested in helping to make a Cantonese alphabet, there are many things that you can do, including: 1)Trying it out, writing something in Cantonese using the Cantobet, and sharing it with friends. 2)Helping to spread the idea that Cantonese is language that deserves to have its own alphabet. 3)Share your Cantobet writing online to give a reason for others to read it. 4)Help me figure out what the most common sounds and tones are in Cantonese so that the most common tones for various vowel combinations is known. This would be boring work of counting dictionary entries and associating them with tones for various vowels until you have gone through the dictionary several times for all the vowels, and have counted the most common tone, second-most common, third,fourth, fifth, sixth and maybe even seventh most common tone for each of the vowels. 4)Many other things such as helping out with this website, collecting and updating a set of links, providing information on how to learn, developing a kind of online curriculum that will get a person from a complete beginner into a fluent speaker, helping figure out the complicated space of online writing in Cantonese, and basically anything that will help people achieve their language goals for Cantonese.
The greatest need I have is to find leadership, the ability of someone to take this project from its current state to a successful conclusion. I would really value help that I could get. Basically, I could use the help of anybody really interested in moving this project forward, to do a whole bunch of random things. There are many other things that I could use help on, but have not listed here because I could come up with a very long list.
I know there is a great chance of people coming to this site, looking at the PDF files and being disappointed when they see the alphabet I promised isn’t so easy to understand and I am trying to do a better job, and will give an update as soon as I have come up with Cantobet 2, which will have be basically almost the same as Cantobet 1 that you can find in the PDF files, but with a few improvements. Don’t give up on the Cantobet because of this site! An update is coming as soon as I can manage it.