Inject Jyutping is a new Chrome extension that simply does what it says: it adds Jyutping romanisation onto Cantonese texts you see on the internet. This comes in the form of Ruby characters, i.e. small pronunciation guides on top of characters, which are common in all languages that use Chinese characters except Cantonese—until now.
This extension is so simple that you can already see the result in the image above, so this will be more of a recommendation than a review. I love it so much because it does one simple thing so well, but can be immensely helpful towards learners. It’s exactly what I aim to do for the transcriptions in our upcoming Cantonese podcast for intermediate-advanced learners.
Since it’s a Chrome extension, don’t forget that the new Microsoft Edge can use it as well.
How it works
It’s just one button. Literally. Click it, and you get jyutping plastered all over whatever Chinese text that happens to be on your screen.
The design is so clever because it makes use of existing tools. It looks up pronunciations not in a dictionary but in the database of an input method, Rime Cantonese. This input method is based on Rime, an infinitely extensible platform for various Chinese input methods that has become a cradle for imaginative new designs, such as combo jyutping.
The extension finds words in the database, then injects the corresponding jyutping romanisation on top of each character. This way, it mitigates potential problems such as a character having multiple pronunciations (一字多音 jat1 zi6 do1 jam1). For example, the title of the Wikipedia article in the opening image says waak6 waa2 instead of waa2 waa2.
If you’re seeing a page full of Ruby characters for the first time, it can look rather intimidating. The way I recommend reading a page like this—supposing you have acquired some knowledge of Chinese characters—is to focus on the characters first. The increased spacing actually makes the text easier on the eye and helps with focusing on recognising individual characters.
Upon discovering unknown words or characters, you can proceed to read the transliteration, and look it up or write it down somewhere.
The Quick Review
I’ve already said what I love about it, so here are some problems.
For one, Inject Jyutping‘s jyutping lookup isn’t perfect. Taking the opening screenshot as an example again, while the extension was able to transliterate waak6 waa2 correctly, it failed to infer which pronunciation of 畫 it should be when in isolation (which is completely understandable).
There are more potential errors like this, to take it with a grain of salt and trust what you’ve studied.
I would also recommend the developers add an additional feature to separate sentences into words, like Glossika does. Since texts in the Chinese script don’t use spaces, it may sometimes be challenging for learners to tell words apart. Since the extension already looks up entire words in a database, instead of individual characters, it might create an additional option to add more spacing between words, to make the Chinese writing easier to parse.