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Cantonese Colloquial

Cantonese Colloquial (Kwóng-tung wâ), is spoken in Hong Kong and the neighbouring area of Canton in China, and by the Hong King diaspora. It is written in Chinese script, and can also be written in a romanised form.


John Morrison Chalmers (1825-1899) was a Scottish Protestant missionary and translator in China. Chalmers served with the Congregational London Missionary Society (LMS) and during the late Qing Dynasty China. He wrote several works on the Chinese language. Chalmers developed the basis of a romanisation system for Cantonese. This rendered the language in phonetic characters using the Latin alphabet instead of Chinese characters. It used nine diacritic markers to represent tones. In 1888 this was completed and agreed by a group of missionaries for Christian literature, and called Standard Romanisation

In 1894 the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) produced the Gospel of Mark in Cantonese Colloquial in Romanised form, and in 1906 the Bible Society, produced the whole New Testament in Romanised form. By 1914, it had become well established in Hong Kong and Canton. It is the foundation of the current system of Romanisation used by the Hong Kong Government, although the tone markers are not always used today.

Bible 1915

In 1915 the whole Bible in Cantonese Colloquial (Kwóng-tung wâ) was prepared in romanised form. The new edition in of the revised Chinese Colloquial Bible was produced by W.E.H. Hipwell and K.I. Hipwell, with the help of H.F. North. It was printed for the Shanghai office of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS).

In Cantonese Colloquial was called: Shìng-King San-Yeukₒ Ts‘uēn shue. In English it was called: The New Testament in Cantonese Colloquial.

It was printed in 1915 by the Fukuin Printing Co., Ltd., in Yokohama, Japan for the British and Foreign Bible Society in Shanghai.

Digital Edition

The Cantonese Colloquial Bible was digitised for the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) with the help of MissionAssist in 2019, as a project to mark the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Union Version .

British & Foreign Bible Society


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