Jyutcitzi: A Hong Kong Cantonese Phonetic Script with Sinoglyph Aesthetics
Jeffrey Mak Cantonese Script Reform Society
Hong Kong Cantonese is a Sinitic language which is mutually unintelligible with Mandarin. Following the steps of standardized written Mandarin, an Honzi-only orthography is currently used for written Cantonese, though it remains unstandardized. Fundamentally, this orthography induces conflation between written Cantonese and Mandarin, props up undemocratic barriers which forces the use of ad-hoc sinoglyph solutions for sinoglyphless words in the spoken lexicon. The logographic sinoglyphs also fail to canonically represent Cantonese syllables when required. Finally, the accumulated scriptal debt causes the orthography to decompose into a symptomatic discombobulated jumble of sinoglyphs and English letters, where English letters and words appear as one-off ad-hoc patches for salvaging the unrepresented sinoglyphless spoken lexicon. While such issues could be resolved via complete romanization, this comes at the cost of the entire sinoglyph-related cultural capital which will no longer be accessible for future Cantonese scribers. Alternatively, the adoption of Bopomofo, Hiragana or Hangul also fails due to phonological mismatches with Cantonese. To systematically solve the aforementioned issues, we introduce Jyutcitzi, a Faancit-inspired phonetic script with sinoglyphic aesthetics. Structurally founded on Cantonese phonology and drawing inspiration from the unorchestrated invention of Cantonese phono-semantic sinoglyphs, Jyutcitzi tickles the well-known “have-side-read-side” principle by using onset and final sinoglyph blocks, accompanied by an optional semantophore. Combining the advantages of Honzi and Jyutcitzi, a Honzi-Jyutcitzi mixed script is currently the best option available for an independent, productive, and dignified Cantonese writing system, and is technologically realized as a RIME keyboard with various fonts at https://jyutcitzi.github.io/download.