Combining 19 consonants with no consonant, total consonants is 20. Refer to HKU’s (http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-can/syllables.htm) and Cantonese Culture Promotion Society’s (http://www.cantoneseculture.com/page_CantoneseStandardTable/index.aspx) for the list: (b,p,m…).
In HKU’s listing of vowels, ordered in alphabetical manner, total is 56 but in Cantonese Culture Promotion Society’s listing, total is 53. It is more trustworthy in Cantonese Culture Promotion Society’s explanation. The HKU’s additions are the 調, 舐, and 夾 and they are in their appropriate syllables.
53×20=1060 total syllables and with the 9 tones that would yield the total of 9540 possible cantonese words, a little less than 10,000. The 9540 is a little over estimate as the particular finals (p,t,k) will be unique and so instead of 9 tones, there are actually 3 tones for some particular vowels. But it is ok, we know the maximum ways of producing the sound in cantonese and to speak cantonese, this is just the maximum. For the 1060 syllables and adjusting proper tones, you will be ready to go. Furthermore, out of 1060, there are no chinese word to link to the sound, so the numbers is lot less.
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