N.B. Please note that I have used the sounds of English wherever possible to cover the Sa Tdiu Gok Hakka sound. So, the sound 'tong' has the initial 't~' like the english 'taking' and so on.
|Letter||Sound Values if used as|
|a||short in 'cat'||always a long value as in 'tar'|
|b||'bigger'||p can be substituted|
|ch||'chance'||never used as an ending|
|d||'dog'||t an be substituted|
|e||short 'e' as in 'bed'||long 'e' rhymes with 'hair'|
|f||'fat'||never used as an ending|
|g||'get'||k can be substituted|
|h||'hat'||Not used, except to lengthen a vowel - see also the ending ~r (Now discontinued as of Nov 1997, but may still be found in the dictionary pages)|
|i||like short 'i' in 'hit'||always long rhymes with 'bee'|
|j||'jam'||never used as an ending|
|k||'kite'||g can be substituted|
|l||'long'||never used as an ending|
|m||'man'||soft m as in 'ham'|
|n||'n' has become mutated into 'l' in Sa Tdiu Gok Hakka when used as an initial||nasal 'n' in 'an'|
|ng||merged nasal 'ng' in 'singer'||as ending in 'song'|
|o||short 'o' as in 'hot'||always a long value rhymes with 'core'|
|p||'park'||b can be substitued|
|r||never used as an intial||Not used except when untrilled 'r' in 'ore' or a soft 'h' is need to lengthen a vowel (Now discontinued as of Nov 1997, but may still be found in the dictionary pages)|
|s||'sand'||never used as an ending|
|sh||'shout'||never used as an ending|
|t||'tap'||d can be substituted|
|td||like the 't' in 'star'||never used as an ending|
|ts||like 'ts' in 'its'||never used an ending|
|u||short 'u' as in 'but'||always a long value rhyming with 'loo'|
|v||'van'||never used as an ending|
|w||This is the same as the 'v' sound||never used as an ending|
|y||Some STdG Hakka people use y, but at this site, all y~ ('yesterday') initials are mapped onto z~||never used as an ending|
|z||'zest'||never used as an ending|
I have prepared a number of Real Audio sound files for demonstating the words in read life. Please click on the table below and compare with the sound inventory above:
|big||to reach||to listen||peach||sky||to kick||head||to carry||sugar||rabbit||bucket|
Each one of these initials can begin the sound of a word. In order to have a rationalised set of letters, the sounds of these letters are fixed when used as the initials. However, when they are used as an ending, they hold different values. So, for each letter of the romanisation, they embody more than one type of sound value, depending on its use as an initial or as an ending.
m,n, and ng all have nasal qualities which allow for the lengthening of the sound. This produces somewhat of a glide, or humming of the end letter's sound. It is associated with the long or legato tones, (tones 1, 2, 3, and 4) see Table b.
On the other hand, p (b), t (d), k (g) are three sound values that creates a stop to the sound, hence shorting the sound somewhat. These lead to the production of the short or staccato tones (tones 5 and 6) see Table b.
You may be wondering why we have also have the bracketed letters. The sound is stopped short so that the full effect of the letters are not realised. This gives the ending "~p" a "~b"-like quality, ending "~b" a "~p" like quality and so one. The convention here at this site is to end staccato tones with the stops '~p', '~t' and '~k'.
This convention allows comparison to Cantonese which also has all six consonant type endings, though Cantonese initials and final vowels are slightly different. It is considered that Cantonese, also a Southern Dialect like Hakka, is more conservative in preserving the ancient vestiges of the Middle Chinese dialect of the Tang Era. However, Hakka is quite faithful to this also. Where this is not true, the following two points demonstrate the reason why.
There is a tendency for Hakka to have a ~in ending where in the Cantonese there is a ~ing ending. Also, in some words, the Cantonese ends in ~k whilst the Hakka has changed to ~t. But, we note that this is not always 100 percent the case. (M. bei C. baak; H. bet; J. hoku K. baeg E. north)
Though these two points detract from the prestige of Hakka as a faithful conserver of the ancient endings, it is noted however, that Cantonese has over time mutated the ng~ initial into y~ whereas the Hakka retains the ng~ initial feature faithfully in most cases.