蔣勳 Chiang Hsün on Covid-19 (Learning How to Be Alone in Togetherness with Oneself)

For Taiwanese writer 蔣勳 Chiang Hsün, covid-19 may just be a warning to get back in touch, not with each other as we are constantly doing, but with our neglected selves — 活得很豐富 | 跟自己對話, to live much more richly in dialogue with ourselves . . .

This video from 天下雜誌 in Taiwan is in Mandarin, so I can’t guarantee the accuracy of the transcription, but Chiang’s ideas, expressed eloquently and incisively, seemed very worthy of translation into English in the hope  of reaching a still wider audience.

Please scroll down for the transcription, English translation and notes. You can see the video here. And if you wish to check anything in the transcription or find the Cantonese pronunciation, please make use of the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

You can find many videos featuring Chiang Hsün on the internet, and quite a few of them have English subtitles. I recommend this one entitled, 最簡單的生活,就是富足 Chiang Hsun: Being Rich is Having the Simplest Life.


真的人類文明有時好難講 | 就是一個大災難的來臨 | 也許是救贖 | 新冠肺炎發生的時候 | 我反而覺得 | 是不是這個東西在逼我們 | 重新回到一個很純粹的個人 | 就是你不得不保持距離了 | 不能群聚之後 | 你有沒有機會 | 還是活得很豐富 | 跟自己對話

● 群聚 = living in groups; gregarious; social

True human civilization is sometimes difficult to talk about. The arrival of a disaster on a huge scale may be a kind of redemption. When covid-19 [first] happened, I felt that perhaps this thing was trying to force us to return once more to a very pure individual self [個人]. Now you have no choice but to maintain a certain distance. After it is no longer possible to gather socially, might you not then have the opportunity to live much more richly in dialogue with yourself?

Caption: 蔣勳:學會孤獨和自己在一起 | Chiang Hsün: Learning How to Be Alone in Togetherness with Oneself

如果我們從小 | 在比較華人的社會長大 | 然後受到儒家比較強的影響 | 非常非常不容易有孤獨感 | 那麽在漢字當中 | 「獨」跟「獨」 | 都是非常負面的意義 | 可是孤獨這兩個字 | 如果我們從西方的文字的根源來看 | 它是 solitude | 它的字根是 s-o-l | 就「太陽」| 【1:00】我就感覺到 | 兩個文化的差異很大 | 那我覺得當然 | 各有利弊 | 所以我後來對這個孤獨的定義是說 | 跟自己在一起 | 那其實張愛玲也講過 | 因爲我想她也受到西方的教育 | 隱私是不存在的 | 在華人世界 | 她說如果早上起來 | 你不把門打開 | 好像就表示你在家裏做壞事 | 我們不太容易有 | 把自己躲起來 | 跟自己對話的那個部分 | 君君、臣臣、父父、子子 | 你在這個社會裏 | 都是相對的 | 可是有時候真的好希望自己一個人 | 然後覺得一個人的那種豐富 | 對向内探索 | 自己存在的意義 | 或者價值的東西 | 儒家從來沒有探討這個 | 就是我個人要去面對 | 所有生命裏的磨難 | 我怎麽去挑戰這些東西 | 孤獨地去面對它 | 而不是群體面對 | 這個病毒【2:00】是不是一個 | 非常神奇的預告?| 對於人類過度地接觸的頻繁 | 對於人類過度地物質消耗 | 對於人類過度地 | 所有的這種社交 | 或者應酬的一個 | 最大最大的一個警告

● 儒家 = the Confucianists; the Confucian school| ● 根源 = a source; an origin; a root | ● 字根 = literally “word root”, roughly “the root of the word; etymology”| ● 各有利弊 = each one has its advantages and disadvantages (or “its pros & cons””) | ● 隱私 = one’s secrets; private matters one wants to hide | ● 相對 = relative | ● 探討 = to inquire into; to probe into | ● 磨難 = a tribulation; a hardship; suffering | ● 群體 = colony (a biological term); a group | ● 預告 = advance notice; a herald | ● 頻繁 = frequently; often | ● 物質消耗 = roughly, “material consumption” | ● 社交 = social contact | ● 應酬 = to have social intercourse with | ● 警告 = to warn; to caution; to admonish

If, from an early age, you grow up in a fairly Chinese kind of society, and are then subject to a fairly strong influence from Confucian culture, then it is extremely difficult to have a feeling of aloneness [孤獨感]. The two characters 獨 and 獨 that make up the word for “alone” in Chinese both carry an extremely negative meaning. But the word for 孤獨, if we look at it in terms of the etymology of Western writing, is “solitude”, the root of which is “sol”, the Latin word for “sun” [1:00]. In my view, the differences between the two cultures are considerable [很大], and I think that, of course, each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, so later my definition of this [word] “solitude” was “a being together with oneself”. In actual fact, [the writer] Eileen Chang has also spoken about this. The reason being, I think, that she received a Western-style education. Secrets do not exist in the Chinese world. She said that if you get up in the morning and do not open your door, people would get the idea [好像就表示] that you are doing something you shouldn’t be doing inside. To hide ourselves away and to hold a dialogue with ourselves — that part is not so easy for us [as Chinese people]. Rulers, ministers, fathers, sons — in this society your [position] is relative [to those of others]. Sometimes, however, we long to be on your own, and then to feel that richness in being alone. Exploring your inner world, the meaning of your own existence or things like values — these are things that Confucianism has never inquired into. That is, I have to face all these tribulations of human existence on my own. How do I challenge [挑戰] such things, face to face with them on my own and not as part of a group? Is this virus [2:00] an extremely mysterious [kind of] advance notice about the excessive frequency of contact between human beings [接觸的頻繁]? About the excessive material consumption of human beings? Or the greatest possible warning [最大最大的一個警告] about the excessiveness of all types of social contact or social interaction between human beings

Caption: 從倫敦囘台隔離中找到安靜 | The Tranquillity I Found in Quarantine after Coming back to Taiwan from London?

三月十號 | 大概從倫敦逃回來的 | 因爲其實一大堆的計劃 | 倫敦這樣一個城市 | 我住在那個 London Bridge 倫敦橋旁邊 | 門口全部每天聽到 | 意大利遊客講話 | 西班牙遊客講話 | 那個時候那兩個國家 | 已經非常嚴重 | 可是我所有的英國朋友 | 都覺得沒有問題 | 然後我偶然戴口罩 | 就會被他們笑 | 我説三月十號 | 我覺得不對了 | 有點像逃回來一樣 | 那些英國朋友 | 最後跟我吃飯都在笑我說 | 大驚小怪 | 現在他們有時候寫信給你就說 |你真是先知 | 可是我就想說【3:00】| 這個病毒是不是來 | 警告所有人的自大

● 逃 = to run away; to escape; to flee | ● 大驚小怪 = be surprised or alarmed at sth. perfectly normal; make a fuss | ● 先知 = ① a person of foresight ② a prophet | ● 自大 = self-important; arrogant

On the tenth of March, [I] practically [大概] fled back [逃回來] [here] from London. Because actually I had a whole heap of plans. London is such a city. I lived near London Bridge, and everyday all [the voices that I] heard were of tourists speaking Italian or Spanish. At that time, [the covid-19 situation] in those two countries was already extremely serious. However, none of my English friends felt that there was any problem. Afterwards, I would occasionally wear a face-mask and they would laugh at me. As I said [我説] on the tenth of March I thought that things weren’t right — it was a bit like I was escaping. Towards the end [最後], when eating with those English friends of mine, they’d laugh at me and saying I was making an unnecessary fuss. Now, sometimes they write to me and say: Wow! You really are a person of foresight. But the thing I want to say is [3:00]: Has this virus come along to warn all human beings against being [too] self-important?

我反而是三月十號以後 | 回到台灣 | 忽然沉靜下來 | 那,過,過了幾天 | 區公所就打電話來說 | 因為要追溯隔離 | 那,所以那兩個禮拜當中 | 我也覺得很棒就是 | 你被强迫 | 你就是在家裏 | 然後你會發現 | 好久沒有翻的書又翻出來 | 好久沒有聽的音樂又拿出來聽 | 然後好久沒有自己 | 好好去把黃瓜切成細細的絲 | 欸,我就覺得,欸,好有趣 | 好久沒有做這些事了 | 可是 | 為什麽不可以回來 | 回來跟自己在一起 | 我也很想問很多朋友說 | 你有多久沒有跟自己在一起 | 甚至到最後 | 會不會害怕跟自己在一起

● 區公所 = district office | ● 追溯 = to trace back; to date from | ● 隔離 = to keep apart; to isolate; to segregate | ● 强迫 = to force; to compel; to coerce | ● 翻 = ? cf. 翻閲 = to leaf through | ● 絲 = a threadlike thing; a sliver

However, after 10 March, I returned to Taiwan and suddenly clamed right down. Then, after a few days, the district office rang, because they needed to track me down about staying in quarantine [要追溯隔離]. Now during those two weeks, what I thought was really wonderful was that you were forced to stay at home. Suddenly, you discovered books you hadn’t looked at for ages you read through again, and music you hadn’t listened to for a long time, you got out and listened to. Then [然後], you went and cut up a cucumber yourself into very fine slices, something you hadn’t done for a long time. Hey, I thought, this is interesting. It’s been ages since I have done any of these things. But why is it that we can’t go back, go back to being with ourselves? I would really like to go and ask a lot of my friends the question: How long have you been away from yourself? And even perhaps: Could it be that you are afraid to be with yourself?

Caption: 爲什麽要這麽快 | 能不能慢下來反省 How Do Things Have To be So Fast? | Can [We] Slow Down and Reflect?

你就可以有彈性地去思考說 | 我們的文明其實好脆弱 【4:00】| 一切東西 | 是不是應該要 | 踩一下刹車 | 就是什麽要這麽快 | 可不可以更慢一點 | 為什麽是一定跟人的接觸 | 而不能夠自己孤獨地去| 處理自己的這個空間 | 所以那十四天對我好重要 | 好久沒有整理的東西 | 我去整理了 | 然後忽然發現抽屜裏便 | 其實有那種 | 堆了好久的老照片 | 好珍貴 | 我父親二十五歲的一張照片 | 我發現它後面好工整地小字 | 講哪一年他在做什麽做什麽 | 而我在想 | 欸,我都沒有對照片做這樣的注記 | 可是因爲他們東西很少 | 可是你知道 | 現在手機裏的照片 | 簡直不知道怎麽辦 | 我的學生跟我說 | 嘩,簡直濫 | 因為你隨時都在拍 | 本來以爲是記更多的東西 | 記錄更多東西 | 最後很可能是 | 反而變成零 | 我覺得人類 | 在這一次的事件當中 | 其實可以做好多好多的反省 | 好有趣喔 【5:00】| 你如果從料理來講 | 好多東西的消失 | 大概是我們不自覺 | 比如説我們去小火慢慢 | 燉一個菜的燉 | 還有我曾經交了學費 | 去跟天香樓的保師傅學的叫做 | 蔥開煟麵的煟 | 最小最小的火 | 去把所有的湯底煮四十八個小時 | 用這個湯底 | 來下麵的麵叫做煟麵 | 將來當然不會存在 | 因爲誰要去花怎麽多的時間 | 而且你能夠吃得出 | 煟麵跟泡麵不同嗎?| 如果吃不出來 | 它當然就不存在 | 大家都不愿意做 | 比較長久的耐煩的事 |  可是很有趣 | 新冠肺炎 | 我好多朋友跟我 mail | 跟我隔離的時候 | 然後跟我 What’s App | 我才發現 | 欸,他們就開始做菜了 | 而且開始做時間很長的菜 | 我忽然覺得好有趣喔 | 因爲他多久都在外食 | 他根本已經很久沒有在厨房裏【6:00】| 他又開始做 | 自己又重新做這個東西

● 刹車 = to brake | ● 工整 = carefully & neatly done | ● 注記 = (?) to annotate; to add a note| ● 泛濫 = literally “to spread unchecked”; perhaps sth. like “to be out of control” | ● 料理 = ① to cook ② cuisine| ● 不自覺 = unconscious; unaware | ● 燉 = to stew | ● 蔥開煟麵 = (?) slow-stewed noodles with scallions and dried shrimps | ● 煟 = to cook over a slow fire; to stew; to simmer| ● 泡麵 = (?) instant noodles | ● 湯底 = (?) soup base| ● 耐煩 = patient

You can reflect on things flexibly and say that our civilization is actually very fragile [4:00]. Shouldn’t we perhaps put on the brakes as far as everything is concerned. I mean, why does everything have to be so fast? Could things be a little bit slower? Why is it that our contact has to be with other people, and that we can’t go and deal with this space called the self on our own? And so, those fourteen days [I spent in quarantine] were very important to me. Things that I hadn’t put in order for ages I went and put in order. Later, out of the blue [忽然], I discovered all these old photographs stacked away in a draw, very precious [photographs]. There was one of my father at the age of twenty-five and, on the back — in very neat, small handwriting — he had written [講] the year [in which it was taken] and the things he was doing then. I have never made any notes [注記] on the photographs [I have taken]. Perhaps it was because they had so few material possessions [東西很少], but you know, [we] have so many images on our mobile phones that [we] simply wouldn’t know where to start. [One of] my students said: “It’s completely out of control” [簡直泛濫], because you’re always taking snaps”. [We] tend think of it as making a record of more things, of recording more things, but in the end maybe all we wind up with is zero, however. My sense is that, [faced with] the event [of covid-19], [we] human beings can do a whole lot of soul-searching. It’s very interesting [5:00].  Take cooking, for instance [你如果從料理來講]. Many things are disappearing that we aren’t even aware of. For example, to cook food slowly, to dun it, the dun used in “to dun a meal”. I once paid to learn how to wei food, the wei used in the dish called “slow-stewed noodles with scallions and dried shrimps”, with Master Bao, a chef at the Tien Hsiang Lo Restaurant [in Taipei]. Using the lowest possible heat, you cook all [the ingredients] in the soup base [湯底] for forty-eight hours. When you cook the noodles [下麵] in this soup base, this is called wei mian or “slow-stewed noodles”. This [way of cooking] will no longer exist in the future, because who is going to spend that much time? What’s more, could you taste the difference [能夠吃得出] between slow-stewed noodles and instant noodles? If you can’t taste the difference, then naturally it will not survive. No one is willing to do things that a rather time-consuming [比較長久的] and [require] patience. But what is interesting is that [with] covid-19, when friends emailed me or, during quarantine, or later when they got in touch through What’s App, I discovered that they have begun to cook again, making things that require a lot of time. All of sudden I realized how very interesting this was. Because for ages they had eaten takeaways; they hadn’t gone near their own kitchens for a very long time [6:00]. They had begun to do this, they had started over again.

Caption: 做孤獨的自己與自己對話 | A Lone Self in Dialogue with Itself

這一次的流行病 | 也許是一個方法吧 | 就是逼迫你靜下來 | 而且沒完沒了 | 你現在根本不知道什麽時候結束 | 它也許是 | 重新去救人類回來 | 重新去開始發現說 | 我幹嘛要真麽急 | 我在想説 | 每個人回來做孤獨的自己 | 也許是一個起點 | 重新再去建立 | 自己跟這個地球的對話 | 或者跟自己的對話 | 跟時間的對話 | 或者跟 . . . 歷史的對話

● 流行病 = epidemic disease | ● 逼迫 = to force; to compel; to coerce

Perhaps this epidemic is a means: it is forcing you to calm down. What’s more, it goes on and on, now we have no way of knowing of when it will end. Perhaps it will save humanity once again, helping us to start to realize just why we are in such a hurry. What I’d like to say is: let us go back [每個人回來] to being alone with ourselves. This may be a starting point to go an re-establish a dialogue between ourselves and the Planet, or with ourselves, or with time, or history.


You couldn’t stand it ―
crawling hour after hour
down the famished tunnel of your hunger
mostly for a mouthful of dust.
At first sight,
do I rightly get under that skin
you are absolutely certain
never to wriggle out of? Legless,
lipless, no browed,
ruthless ― my denudity
creepily never fails to unnerve.
Of course, I am poison’s
Greatest Living Treasure
and venomously adverbs
every single move I make
to the point where
I, alone, am the sinuous hairline crack
that fractures and flaws
even the most generous “Love
of Nature”. Slithering
or coiled, I bring you lightning
Sudden Death, and am always
prepared to pull ― despite
decades of cautious caretaking ―
just that light from under your feet.

Hong Kong Flow

“Highest good is like water [上善若水],” it says in Chapter VIII of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, and it is a wonderful thing to read the phrase quoted again here, 2500 years later, in the 創刊宣言 or “Publication Manifesto” of a new Hong Kong magazine called 《如水》[Flow HK].

The purpose of Flow HK is 通過歷史論述、理論框架以及對未來路線的思考,我們希望連結每位參與這場光復運動的香港兒女,為他們作思想充權 — that is, “By means of discussions of history, theoretical frameworks, and a consideration of future ways to proceed, we hope to connect with every daughter and son of Hong Kong who is taking part in this movement to liberate Hong Kong and to empower them intellectually”, and anyone concerned for the fate of Hong Kong will be stirred by the words 在每個漆黑無聲的夜晚,不要忘記還有人從未放棄心中所有 — “In every pitch-black night in which nothing stirs, one must not forget that there are still individuals who have never given up on what they hold dear in their hearts”.

The theme of the first issue is 絆 buhn6, a verb that usually means “to trip up”, and which occurs in the compound 絆石 or “stumbling block”. It seems like a fairly reasonable place to set out from. For more information, you can visit the Flow HK website here.

Please scroll down for the Manifesto with an English translation and notes. If you wish to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.


《創刊宣言》| Publication Manifesto


● 共同體 guhng6 tùhng4 tái2 = community | ● 傀儡 faai3 léuih5 = a puppet; a stooge | ● 日益趨厲 yaht6 yīk1 chēui1 laih6 = gets fiercer by the day | ● 不計其數 bāt1 gai3 kèih4 sou3 = countless; innumerable | ● 強行 kéuhng5 hàhng4 = to force | ● 威權 wāi1 kyùhn4 = authority; power | ● 收窄 sāu1 jaak3 = to narrow | ● 歷史試煉 lihk6 sí2 si3 lihn6 = (?) an historical test/trial | ● 流散於各方 làuh4 saan3 yū1 gok3 fōng1 = to scatter in all directions | ● 維繫 wàih4 haih6 = to hold together | ● 承傳 sìhng4 chyùhn4  = (?) to inherit & to impart cf. 傳承 chyùhn4 sìhng4 = to impart & to inherit

We live in the best, and the worst, of times. Over the course of the past resistance, we have seen the boundless possibilities of the Hong Kong people, and this has also enabled us to have some fond imaginings about the Hong Kong community. However, the repression carried out by the Chinese Communist Party and its puppet authorities [政權] in Hong Kong is getting fiercer by the day, and the number of those who have bled or who have been charged with a criminal offence because of their resistance or their political views is too numerous to count. In the wake of the Chinese Communist Party’s forcing of the passage of the National Security Law, Hong Kong has now truly entered an era of authoritarian rule [威權時代], and even though many acts of resistance opposing totalitarian power have been initiated among the common people [民間], the space of freedom for people in Hong Kong is constantly being narrowed down. Faced with this unprecedented historical test, we (people who have left Hong Kong and now live in various countries around the world) are determined to try and hold together this unique community [made up] of Hongkongers, in the hope that we can impart and hand on the sparks of resistance.


● 焗促不安 guhk6 chūk1 bāt1 ōn1 = cf. 局促不安 = feel ill at ease | ● 重新思索 chùhng4 sān1 sī1 sok3 = roughly, “to rethink” (cf. 思索 = to ponder; to think deeply) | ● 初心 chō1 sām1 = one’s original intention (Sheik Cantonese: 初心 is a Japanese term that means “beginner’s mind”) | ● 取其義 chéui2 kèih4 yih6 = roughly, “to take as its meaning” | ● 靈巧 lìhng4 háau2 = dextrous; nimble; skilful; ingenious | ● 強權 kèuhng4 kyùhn4 = power; might | ● 甚或 sahm6 waahk6 = even; (go) so far as to | ● 擴散 kong3 saan3 = to spread; to diffuse | ● 通澈 tūng1 chit3 = ? (cf. 通徹to understand thoroughly) | ● 容器 yùhng4 hei3 = container; vessel | ● 地緣 deih6 yùhn6 = relations formed through geographical links; geo- (as a prefix) | ● 格局 gaak3 guhk6 = a pattern; setup; structure | ● 論述 leuhn6 seuht6 = to discuss; to expound

In such an uneasy political environment, we can rethink the “original intentions” of the movement: “to be like water” [如水]. “To be like water” means that when the water goes into a cup or glass, it takes the form of the cup/glass, and when it goes into a jug [壺] it adopts the shape of a jug. The reason why the anti-extradition movement was able to achieve a breakthrough was precisely because activists [抗爭者] were able to respond with ingenuity to the tactics of those in power, just like water — capable of being both firm and stable [堅穩], and flowing like water, and even able to evaporate and vanish away into thin air [擴散而去]. But following on from the constant escalation in repression on the part of the regime, if we wish to go on in the spirit of being like water, we must first gain a thorough understanding of our containers, that is, the state of affairs in which we find ourselves and the global setup [世界格局]. Whose discourse is it that constitutes the Hong Kong and the Hongkongers we are to have in our minds? To what extent is our “common knowledge” saturated with the mindset [意識] of a Chinese communist colonial Hong Kong?


● 清空心智 chīng1 hūng1 sām1 ji3 = (?) to empty one’s mind | ● 審視 sám2 sih6 = to examine; to scrutinize | ● 未圓之處 meih6 yùhn4 jī1 chyu3 = roughly, “those places which are not satisfactory” | ● 摒棄 bing3 hei3 = to discard; to reject; to throw away; to abandon | ● 考證 háau2 jing3 = usu. textual criticism; textual research | ● 拷問 hāau1 mahn6 = usu. “to torture” (?) to interrogate

If we wish to be like water, we must first empty our minds and scrutinize ourselves for blind spots and imperfections [未圓之處]. That does not mean that we should try to go beyond history or set aside all the old intellectual frameworks. The opposite is true: we must once again examine [考證] history, criticize the utterances [論述] of the existing power structure, and establish our own discourse about this community, in order to reflect on future possible ways forward. Where does the long river of Hong Kong first begin to flow, and in which direction ought it to flow [next]? This is how the present era interrogates [拷問] us.


● 知所進退 jī1 só2 jeun3 teui3 = roughly, “know when to advance and when to retreat” | ● 任 yahm6 = to let; to allow; to give free rein to | ● 單一規範 dāan1 yāt1 kwāi1 faahn6 = roughly, “a single standard/norm” | ● 鐵則 tit3 jāk1 = an iron rule | ● 束縛 chūk1 bok3 = to tie; to bind up; to fetter | ● 奉為圭臬 fuhng6 wàih4 gwāi1 yiht6 = hold up as a model | ● 相左的異議 sēung1 jó2 dīk1 yih6 yíh5 = lit.  相左 = conflict with each other + 異議 = objection; dissent| ● 送葬 sung3 jong3 = to take part in a funeral procession; to attend a funeral | ● 合作基礎 hahp6 jok3 gēi1 chó2 = a foundation/basis for co-operation | ● 攜手 kwàih4 sáu2 = ① hand in hand ② to co-operate | ● jaahk6 = to benefit | ● 川流不息 chyūn1 làuh4 bāt1 sīk1 = flowing past in an endless stream; never-ending | ● 對撞契合 deui3 johng6 kai3 hahp6 = lit. 對撞 = colliding + 契合 = to agree with; to tally with

When unable to flow, water becomes turbid; when able to flow, it is never stagnant. If, during key moments in the days to come, we wish to be able to be like water — knowing when to advance and when to retreat — we cannot allow any single norm [單一規範] to become an iron rule with which to limit ourselves. When those holding power hold up telling lies as a model, as a matter of course [往往] they brutally obliterate any views that object to their own, and take part in the funeral for the possibility of the development of freedom among the people. If collective movements are to succeed, it is indispensable for public groups to seek out bases for co-operation and directions for development. Highest good is like water — only as long as we put ourselves to one side in the course of the revolution and advance hand in hand can we benefit the community we so deeply love. At the same time, it is only as long as we are willing to positively discuss issues affecting this community together that the vitality of the Hong Kong community can be maintained, providing intellectual nutrition to future movements.


● 政治寒冬 jing3 jih6 hòhn4 dūng1 = roughly, “a severe political Winter” | ● 剛強 gōng1 kèuhng4 = firm; staunch; unyielding | ● 不屈 bāt wāt1 = unyielding; unbending | ● 破除 po3 chèuih4 = to do away with; to get rid of; to eradicate; to break with | ● 夢魘 muhng6 yím2 = nightmare | ● 辯論 bihn6 leuhn6 = to argue; to debate | ● 抹殺 mut3 saat3 = to remove from evidence; to expunge; to suppress; to wipe out, to obliterate (also written 抹煞) | ● 建構 gin3 kau3 = to construct | ● 整合 jíng2 hahp6 = to reorganize & consolidate | ● 面向 mihn6 heung3 = ① to turn in the direction of; to face ② be geared to the needs of; to cater to | ● 論述 leuhn6 seuht6 = to discuss; to expound | ● 連結 lìhn4 git3 = to connect | ● 作思想充權jok3 sī1 séung2 chōng1 kyùhn4 = (?) to carry out ideological/intellectual empowerment | ● 弘揚 wàhng4 yèuhng4 = to develop & expand

Faced with this severe political Winter, Hongkongers must be flexible like water, and they must also be staunch like water, striving to do away with the Chinese nightmare. When political power obliterates all space for public debate, we cannot choose silence, we Hong Kong people who are scattered abroad as well as those who deeply love Hong Kong. We have decided to make use of those spaces for freedom outside of Hong Kong to construct and maintain a medium for the public discussion of Hong Kong, as well as to reorganize and consolidate discussions geared to [面向] [issues such as] politics, history, society and culture for Hongkongers inside and outside Hong Kong. By means of discussions of history, theoretical frameworks, and a consideration of future ways to proceed [未來路線], we hope to connect with every daughter and son of Hong Kong who is taking part in this movement to liberate Hong Kong and to empower them intellectually. In the course of human history, we would like to develop and amplify the voice of Hongkongers in their quest for freedom, as well as let the world come to see Hong Kong.


● 轉捩點 jyún2 liht6 dím2 = turning point | ● 失根的浮萍 sāt1 gān1 dīk1 fàuh4 pìhng4 = roughly, “duckweed which has lost its roots/identity” | ● 白白流逝 baahk6 baahk6 làuh4 saih6 = 白白 = in vain; to no purpose; for nothing + 流逝 = (of time) to pass; to elapse | ● 漆黑 chāt1 hāk1/hāak1 = pitch-dark; pitch-black | ● 心中所有 sām1 jūng1 só2 yáuh5 = roughly, “that which is in one’s heart/mind” | ● 憑藉 pàhng4 jihk6 = to rely on; to depend on | ● 夙願 sūk1 yuhn6 = a long-cherished wish | ● 跨 kwāa1 = to cut across; to go beyond | ● 呼聲 fū1 sēng1 = a cry; a voice | ● 召喚 jiuh6 wuhn6 = to call; to summon  | ● 挺身而出 tíhng5 sān1 yìh4 chēut1 = step forward bravely; come out boldly | ● 不負 bāt1 fuh6 = (?) not to betray | ● 獨裁暴政 duhk6 choih4 bouh6 jing3 = cf. 獨裁 = dictatorship + 暴政 = tyranny; despotic rule | ● 破土而出 po3 tóu2 yìh4 chēut1 = (of a seedling) break through the soil | ● 遊子 yàuh4 jí2 = a person travelling or residing in a place far away from home | ● 解困 gáai2 kwan3 = to resolve difficulties | ● 希冀 hēi1 kei3 = to hope for; to wish for; to aspire to

Notes: ① The expression 是故 has the meaning of “for this reason” in Standard Written Chinese. ② I’m not exactly sure what 勢要 sai3 yiu3 means in the phrase 勢要讓獨裁暴政在這代終結. Usually, 勢 refers to “momentum” or “tendency”; it can also mean “state of affairs; circumstances”.

History is now at a turning point, and a revolution in thought is in the process of taking place. Hong Kong is the Hong Kong that belongs to the Hong Kong people — we have no wish to become [like] floating duckweed that has lost its roots, and for this reason we will absolutely not allow Hong Kong to slip out of our hands to no purpose. In every pitch-black night in which nothing stirs, one must not forget that there are still individuals who have never given up on what they hold dear in their hearts [心中所有]. Before the coming of the dawn, we will keep one another company through the long night, and with written words give expression to both our faith and our perseverance, providing in the darkness of night a basis for our common hopes. The striving for democracy and freedom is the long-cherished wish of Hongkongers cutting across a number of generations, and we are convinced that the pursuit of determining our own fate is something that History calls on us to do [追求命運自主是歷史的呼聲]. History is summoning us, so we must come out boldly, not betray the age, and continue the momentum [勢要] by which dictatorship and tyranny is coming to an end in this era. We look forward to the fruits of democracy breaking through the soil of Hong Kong, [so that] those residing far from home may return, and those in difficulty may resolve them [so that] together Hongkongers can build a beautiful new Hong Kong, as soon as possible. This is our shared aspiration.

Gordon T. Bellchambers’s Fear of Dying

Yes, there’s the pain — sick, illegible — no body ever imagines in advance and the erosion by stealth of all my existence tangled in minute detail. These two, however, are wholly innocent. Not so the agony of what mortifies me now — endless distressful memories of all the life I did wrong: flimsy gestures and each half-hearted “yes”; the self-punishing good that was only drabness; dead reckoning of a day’s long imponderables; harshness when I could have been kind; faces I looked into blankly as I fiddled with my cuff links; words I could never bring myself to believe in fully; mindscapes, landscapes that escaped me forever, marred by chronic inattention . . . It is these I relive with what’s left of my nerve, replays that cut to the quick worse than physical suffering or any blanket dread of death —

self-managed joyless misgiving.

Learning Cantonese: Strengthening the Innermost Heart (Kongstories 99)

The title of this video from Kongstories means something like “that little kid isn’t slow”, and refers to the treasures hidden inside every human being, even those dealing with some form of serious disability. As 馮惠芳 Nancy Fung puts it towards the end of the presentation: 總有一日可以追尋自己嘅夢想,踏上屬於自己嘅舞台, or “One day you will be able to go chasing after your own dreams, and step out onto a stage that belongs to you and you alone”.

You can take a lot of heart from this video, and the English subtitles make it very accessible, even if you’re not interested in the Cantonese. Michelle Li’s comment — 每日嘅生活就係强壯内心嘅過程 = every day is a process of strengthening one’s noi sam, one’s innermost being — is something than lingers in the mind for a long time . . .

For those of you who are language learners, however, there is nothing too challenging about the grammar in this video, but there are some very nice turns of phrase that are well worth trying to make your own, such as 過目不忘 to have a great memory (and its opposite, 過目即忘); 喐嚟喐去 = to move back and forward; to be unable to sit still (using the specifically Cantonese verb 喐 yūk1); 局限自己 = to limit oneself; 擴闊自己嘅世界 = to broaden one’s world; to expand one’s horizons; 接納 = to accept (a person as they are, without conditions); 渡過難關 = to go through a difficult period in one’s life; and 總有一日 = one day (in the future); the time will come that.

Please scroll down for my transcription and notes. You can view the video here (you are offered subtitles in both English and Standard Written Chinese). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.


Title: 小孩不苯 | The Little Kid Isn’t Slow

馮惠芳:我同一般家庭一樣,有兩個仔 | 但唯一唔同就係大仔 Wilson 有學習障礙 | 簡單嚟講,人讀書就係過目不忘 | // 就係過目即忘 | 所以細細個要佢讀書真係好辛苦 | 因爲佢成日喐嚟喐去 | 要比一般人用多好多時間佢先可以記得到啲嘢 | 但好彩我發現佢由細到大都好鍾意音樂 | 所以我就諗,不如用音樂嘅拍子去幫佢背書 | 結果呢個方法有得 | 順理成章,音樂就成爲佢嘅生日一部分 | 印象最深刻就有一次,我帶 Wilson 上音樂班 | 個老師同佢上完一堂就講:你叫你仔仔返去啦,唔好再帶佢嚟 | 時間【1:00】, 嘥錢,教完佢一次,佢下一秒又唔記得喇 | 呢句説話我記到而家,但我同 Wilson 講,佢唔教 | 呢就自己練習 | 只要肯心機咁練習,世上嘢難倒你 | 俾心機一定得

● 過目不忘 gwo3 muhk6 bāt1 mòhng4 = to have a great memory; to not forget stuff that has passed by one’s eyes | ● 喐 yūk1 = to move | ● 拍子 paak3 jí2 = (musical) beat; time | ● 順理成章 seuhn6 léih5 sìhng4 jēung1 = ① follow as a logical course ② follow as a matter of course | ● 嘥 sāai = ① waste; squander; ruin ② wasteful; extravagant ③ miss; let go; lose (a chance) | ● 心機 sām1 gēi1 = ① mood; frame of mind; feeling ② energy; effort; patience | ● 難倒 nàahn4 dóu2 = to daunt; perhaps also “to be put off doing (sth. difficult)

麥妙玲:劉理盈一出世嘅時候,我只能夠用「震驚」嚟形容 | 因爲我從來冇諗過 | [平時] 喺街上邊見到嘅唐氏綜合症 | 會發生自己嘅女身上 | 所以我將佢嘅名改做「盈」| 希望佢人生可以經歷好多嘅恩典 | 當初佢出嚟跳舞嘅時候 | 見到佢聽到音樂,有得跳舞就好開心 | 但到之後,佢學得幾好,要去考試 | 我開始怕,我怕佢失敗 | 怕佢做唔到,怕佢企唔返身 | 但後來我諗深一層【2:00】,人人都有失敗嘅可能性 | 點解我要抹煞佢成功嘅可能性呢?

● 震驚 jan3 gīng1 = to shock; to amaze; to astonish | ● 唐氏綜合症 Tòhng4 sih6 jūng1 hahp6 jing3 = Downs syndrome | ● 恩典 yān1 dín2 = favour; grace | ● 失敗 sāt1 baih6 = ① to be defeated ② to fail | ● 企唔返身 kéih5 mh5 fāan1 sān1 = (?) to get back on one’s feet | ● 抹煞 mut3 saat3 = to remove from evidence; to expunge; to suppress; to wipe out, to obliterate (also written 抹殺)

李苑峰:對於我嚟講,我唯一嘅願望係我嘅仔 | 梓鍵可以好似其他小朋友咁 | 擁有童心,開心快樂咁成長,咁樣就已經好滿足 | 梓鍵佢細細個就被診斷有杜興氏肌肉營養不良症 | 隨住年齡增長,佢嘅肌肉就會慢慢退化 | 你上年見到佢,佢仲可以行行走走 | 但係到咗今年,佢就已經行唔到喇 | 雖然佢而家行唔到,但都唔等於要局限自己 | 只要佢想,無論係跑步定係要游水 | 只要係我能力範圍之内,都會盡力做到 | 希望佢可以見識更多,擴闊自己嘅世界 | 每日嘅生活就係强壯内心嘅過程 | 我相信,只要我同梓鍵一齊 | 就有能力、堅强【3:00】、勇敢去面對生命中嘅困難

● 願望 yuhn6 mohng6 = a desire; wish; aspiration | ● 童心 tùhng4 sām1 = childishness; playfulness | ● 診斷 chán2 dyun3 = to diagnose | ● 杜興氏肌肉營養不良症 Douh6 sih6 gēi1 yuhk6 bāt1 lèuhng4 jing3 = Duchenne muscular dystrophy | ● 退化 teui3 faa3 = 1. degeneration 2. to degenerate; to deteriorate | ● 上年 seuhng6 nín4*2 = (over the) past year| ● 行行走走 hàahng4 hàahng4 jáu2 jáu2 = (?) to walk around | ● 等於 dáng2 yū1 = equal to; equivalent to | ● 局限 guhk6 haahn6 = to limit; to confine | ● 範圍 faahn6 wàih4 = scope; limits; range | ● 見識 gin3 sīk1 = experience; knowledge; sensibleness | ● 擴闊 kong3 fut3 = to broaden | ● 强壯 kèuhng4 jong3 = strong; sturdy; robust | ● 堅强 gīn1 kèuhng4 = strong; sturdy; staunch

麥妙玲:我覺得,就算佢係唐氏,都阻礙唔到佢實現自己嘅夢想 | 做家長嘅只可以好似放風箏咁,喺適當嘅時候就要識得放手 | 好多困難都係自己俾自己 | 就好似搭地鐵嘅時候,怕人哋望到阿女 | 但其實要人哋接納佢,首先係要自己接納佢先 | 呢個心態上嘅轉變就好似當你渡過難關之後 | 回頭一看就會發現呢個嘅經歷會令你嘅生命更加精彩

● 阻礙 jó2 ngoih6 = to hinder; to block; to impede | ● 放風箏 fong3 fūng1 jāng1 = to fly a kite | ● 放手 fong3 sáu2 = to let go; to let go one’s hold | ● 接納 jip3 naahp6/laahp6 = 1. to admit (into an organization) 2. to accept | ● 轉變 jyún2 bin3 = to change; to transform | ● 渡過難關 douh6 gwo3 nàahn4 gwāan1 = tide over a difficulty; pull through | ● 回頭一看 wùih4 tàuh4 yāt1 hon3 = turn around and look | ● 精彩 jīng1 chói2 = brilliant; splendid; wonderful

馮惠芳:佢就日練夜練,有時日頭返工,夜晚練習 | 佢終於可以完整咁彈 // 首《真的愛你》俾我聽 | 我覺得上帝喺每個人嘅生命裏面都有一個計劃 | 無論本身你有咩困難【4:00】,只要你肯努力 | 總有一日可以追尋自己嘅夢想,踏上屬於自己嘅舞台

● 日頭 yaht6 táu4*2= the sun; daytime | ● 完整 yùhn4 jíng2 = complete; integrated; intact | ● 追尋 jēui1 chàhm4 = to pursue; to search; to track down

我叫馮惠芳 | 我叫李苑峰 | 我叫麥妙玲 | 香港土生土長,七百萬個故仔成就一個香 . . . 港故仔

Learning Cantonese: Thierry Chow, the Fung Shui Designer

In a recent post about the Hong Kong Charter, I used a photo of a small temple taken outside of Tuen Mun in a place called 紫田村 Tsz Tin Tsuen, literally “Purple Fields Village”. On the lintel, there is a stone plaque engraved with the characters 神人共樂, or “Spirits and People Enjoying Themselves Together”. This very unexpected notion is echoed in the arcane study of fung shui, a central concept of which is summed up in the expression 天人感應, which means something like “the mutual responding of the natural/spiritual and the human realms”. I have a feeling that ideas such as this may offer us some hope in finding a more satisfying relationship with the Earth. Perhaps a century ago, you could still see whole villages organized according to fung shui principles in Hong Kong’s New Territories, and it must have been an exquisitely beautiful sight, and one now virtually unimaginable after around half a century of cynical “development”.

In this video, we meet Thierry Chow (in Cantonese, 周亦彤 Jāu1 Yihk6 Tùhng4) who works as both a fung shui master and an interior designer. As a microcosm of the universe, our living spaces can also be affected by the way vital energy or 氣 hei3 (or 正面嘅能量 jing3 mihn6 ge3 nàhng4 leuhng6 = positive energy) moves through it, and Chow’s job is to maximize the beneficial flows for the sake of health, wellbeing and good luck: in work, study or romance!

For those of you who are Cantonese learners, the highlight of this video is the use of a rare word in the opening sentence, 直頭 jihk6 tàuh4 = “directly, simply, completely, truly; straight head”. People often use it to emphasize the point they are making. Another example provided by a friend is 佢直頭係我個杯茶!, meaning “She’s exactly my type!” There’s also an interesting use of the aspect marker 返 fāan1 with the verb 平衡, “to balance” — 其實最緊要都係去平衡返自己嗰個心靈呀, neatly expressing the idea of restoring or regaining one’s balance. In the same segment, there is also a good example of express the notion of using something for a particular purpose. The phrase 用紅酒一啲木箱去做嘅架 uses yuhng6, the verb “to use” to introduce the thing that is employed, and then 嚟 or 去 to express the purpose: “to take red-wine crates and make them into shelving”. It’s a very common and useful structure. Oh, and the character 彤 tùhng4 used in Thierry Chow’s Chinese name means “red; vermilion” and there is a noun 彤雲 tùhng4 wàhn4 which means “red clouds” or “dark clouds”.

On the subject of fung shui (sometimes spelt “feng shui” in line with Mandarin romanization), there is a wonderful textbook written by Lee Siu Lun called A Feng Shui Master: Learning Cantonese through Stories. You can see more about the book at the Greenwood Press website here. In it you’ll find the following astonishing comment:

He hopes that this fung shui tomb can make his business prosper, and make his descendants prosper and become rich too. (p.19)

This idea of connecting extended prosperity to the correct siting of an ancestor’s grave was traditionally one of the most important aspects of fung shui practice.

Please scroll down for my transcription and notes. You can view the video here (you are offered subtitles in both English and Standard Written Chinese). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.


我係 Thierry,係一個風水設計師 | 風水我覺得直頭係中國古時室内設計 | 令到一個人可以有正面能量 | 地方呢,就位於呢個柴灣區 | 樓底呢,四米,士就係一千六百呎嘅 | ,風水角度去睇呢,一個地方最緊要就舒服啦 | 記得其實裝飾就比較簡陋少少 | 因爲佢呢度好 high ceiling 嘅 | 第一下經決定我要好多自然光 | 加窗簾啦 | 我同我老公都好鍾意自然嘅陽光 | 個情緒上係會比較好嘅 | 一入門口呢,可以坐同埋著鞋嘅地方啦 | 噉嗰個位呢 | 我哋就掛咗啲畫喺度 | 放咗一個魚缸嘅 | 魚缸係水 | 噉水呢,財

● 直頭 jihk6 tauh4 = directly, simply, completely, truly; straight head | ●室内設計 sāt1 noih6 chit3 gai3 = interior designer | ● 正面嘅能量 jing3 mihn6 ge3 nàhng4 leuhng6 = positive energy | ● 樓底 làuh4 dái2 = the height between floor and ceiling | ● 裝飾 jōng1 sik1 = ① to decorate ② ornament (perhaps “interior decoration” or “décor” is implied here) | ● 簡陋 gáan2 lauh6 = simple & crude; basic | ● 第一下 = (?) right from the first moment

【1:00 】噉再入到去呢,就會見到一間 kitchen | 空間都係比較 open 嘅 | 個牆上面呢,我哋就用紅酒一啲木箱去做嘅架嘅 | 我呢度九十 percent 嘅傢俬都係二手、朋友唔要我就拎咗返嚟咁樣嘅 | 植物啦、花草啦、啲木嘅傢俬都係木嘅元素 | 可以提升一個人嘅工作運 | 或者係讀書運嘅 | 噉另外就係植物呢,係清潔空氣呀 | 提升一個人個精神呀 | 所以我屋企都好多植物嘅| 右手邊 [UNCLEAR] 我個工作室啦 | 朝頭早我通常都會花少少時間去冥想 | 最近都有一個就係 *jai 叫做 Mercury retrograde | 但個人可能會比較 sensitive 呀 | 其實最緊要都係去平衡返自己嗰個心靈呀 | 因爲佢樓底高啦,加一個閣樓嘅啦 | 可以行樓梯上去|  噉如果想休息就可以喺上面休息

● 木箱 muhk6 sēung1 = wooden box; wooden crate | ● 朝頭早 = morning | ● 冥想 mìhng4 séung2 = this really means “deep thought”, but is often used with the sense of “(spiritual) meditation” | ● 閣樓 gok3 láu4*2 = attic; loft; garret; mezzanine floor

【2:00】窗邊嗰度呢,就有張梳化 | 最嗰個位可以望到出面個海 | 跟住 呢,亦都可以 *hoi 見到就係我啲衫 | 八十 percent 都係二手衫 | 唔同嘅顔色其實可以帶自己唔同嘅情緒啦 | 幾隻顔色都係比較旺桃花嘅 | 譬如係一啲比較紅色少少嘅衫啦 | 好紅嘅都 OK 嘅 | 我會每個星期,我都會安排起碼一至兩日 | 就真係乜都唔做,休息 | 自己有個安穩嘅開始先至可以幫到人 | 個習慣就係譬如我每三個月我就會大清掃一次 | 係有啲負能量嘅嘢呢 | 噉我嗰啲我就會可能整走呀 | 選擇會擺一啲 . . .

● 二手衫 yih6 sáu2 sāam1 = second-hand clothes | ● 旺桃花 mohng6 tòuh4 fāa1 = good luck in romance | ● 安穩 ōn1 wán2 = smooth & steady | ● 大清掃 daaih6 chīng1 sou3= to have a big clean-up

【3:00】. . . 係有一啲好正面能量嘅嘢嘅 | 一對嘅獅子頭 | 中國人嗰個傳統上,代表喜慶啲嘅嘢啦 | 噉而,即係 *je ,有時可能會唔會話覺得突然間運氣差 | 噉會唔會都喺室内都會調動一啲嘢呢 | 有時,室内係可以反應自己嘅習慣、自己個性格啦 | 噉所以呢樣嘢係可以喺室内裏邊去調整返囉

● 喜慶 héi2 hing3 = ① joyous ② festive occasion | ● 調整 tìuh4 jíng2 = to adjust; to regulate; to revise

Dancer at Sanya

I squirm in my seat, convinced I know
exactly what to expect: the show starts
with a man blowing folk-tunes on a leaf.
In her pink, sequinned costume
she could have lost heart
in this troupe forced on tourists.
Not so. I’m forced
to sit up in my seat at once
by the awareness she projects
to the ends of her human body.
Not a cell seems to sleep,
and when she orbits away from my gaze
I still feel the concentration of her face
staring at me in her hands, in her feet,
in the effortless torsion of her spine:

     Watch me if you can thoroughly, she dares.
     Match me this aliveness with your own!

Even the dismal clapping of the crowd
cannot drown her dancing from my nerves.


Recently, I’ve been enjoying Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, an inspiring book for anyone who finds most of their happiness in living comes from trying every day just to make something a little bit beautiful. Her emphasis on discipline and the importance of making art for love rather than money are two aspects that certainly struck a true chord with me . . .

She ends the book with a section entitled “Divinity”, comprising a single anecdote about the sacred temple dances of Bali. The following paragraphs helped me make sense of the incident described in Dancer at Sanya”, in which profane and sacred collide disconcertingly:

They decided that they would make up some new dances that were not sacred, and they would perform only these certified “divinity-free” dances for the tourists at the resorts. The sacred dances would be returned to the temples and would be reserved for religious ceremonies only.

And that is exactly what they did. They did it easily, too, with no drama and no trauma. Adapting gestures and steps from the old sacred dances, they devised what were essentially gibberish dances, and commenced performing these nonsense gyrations at the tourist resorts for money . . .

The thing is, over the next few years, those silly new meaningless dances became increasingly refined. The young boys and girls grew into them, and, working with a new sense of freedom and innovation, they gradually transformed the performances into something quite magnificent. In fact, the dances were becoming rather transcendent. In another example of an inadvertent séance, it appeared that those Balinese dancers — despite all their best efforts to be unspiritual — were unwittingly calling down Big Magic from the heavens, anyhow. Right there by the swimming pool.

There’s actually quite a good deal of material on-line about Balinese dancing. If you’re curious, you can take a look here. And here’s some Gilbert on Big Magic.

Learning Cantonese: On Hating and Despising Philosophy with 豬文 Chu Man

A group of young philosophers associated with the group 好青年荼毒室 or (approximately) “Studio for the Corruption of the Very Young” has been very active in recent times on YouTube, and one of its more eloquent members, a man by the name of 豬文 Jyū1 Màhn4 (yes, 豬 means “pig”) looks set to become a kind of Socrates of Hong Kong, opening everything up to question at a time when more and more options are being very firmly screwed down.

In this 10-minute, he tries to get to the bottom of why philosophy has such a low standing in contemporary society, but in the end comes out passionately in favour of his chosen discipline, closing with the idiom: 你哋走寳 — “you’re missing out on a real treasure!”

So, here’s your chance to enjoy an extended intelligent discourse on ideas in Cantonese, with the added bonus of Cantonese subtitles as well! The grammar is fairly straightforward, the only novelty being the expression 唔似得 mh4 chíh5 dāk1, which seems to be the negative version of the very common 好似 hou2 chíh5 = “to be like; to be similar”. Another interesting feature is the shortening of certain compound words, which both clips one element and removes most of the emphasis. Listen out for the following examples: 咁樣 (*gam’eung); 究竟 (*gau’ing, geung); 可以 (*ho’i); 佢哋 (*keui’ei); 好似好 (*houchou); 就會 (*jeui); and 只係 (*jei) — occasionally too the word for philosophy itself, 哲學 jit3 hohk6, sounds more like the abbreviated *ji’ok . . .

Last but not least, you’ll notice that 豬文 pronounces 鞏固 gúng2 gu3 = “to consolidate” as *gwóng gu. In another piece I’ve been working on about fung shui and interior design, the speaker pronounces 魚缸 yùh4 gōng1 = “fish tank” as yùh4 *gwōng1. I was under the impression that the usual tendency was to remove the “w” — common words such as 廣 gwóng2 and 國 gwok3 are often pronounced as góng2 and gok3, making life (all that more vastly) difficult for the learner listener. This opposing tendency is something I can’t recall ever reading about. No doubt it’s there just to keep us on our toes . . .

Please scroll down if you want the transcription, notes and English translation. Otherwise, you can view the video here. Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.


有冇試過呢,喺條街度 | 問人哋鍾唔鍾意睇書呀?| 或者你哋冇試過喺條街度同人講 | 你最鍾意睇哲學呀?| 你哋有冇試過同朋友講,你最鍾意嘅團體係好青年荼毒室呀?| 唔知當你咁樣同啲朋友嘅時候 | 俾咗啲咩反應你呢?| 雖然通常睇得呢條片嘅你呢 | 應該都對哲學有啲興趣 | 你先會嚟睇呢條咁嘅片嘅 |但係事實上呢 | 喺個社會入便大多數嘅人呢 | 都係非常非常鄙視哲學厘個學科嘅 | 噉今日我就希望同大家討論一下 | 究竟哲學點解會落得如此嘅下場呢 | 究竟佢係咪抵死嘅喇 | Caption: 荼毒青年 | 係好耐之前呢,荼毒室啱啱成立嘅時候呢 | 其實就有一個計劃叫做哲學樹洞 | 就係 *jai 俾各咁多嘅室友呢,去隨意咁樣擺低佢 | 心目中困惑咗好耐嘅哲學問題 | 噉曾經呢,就收到一個 . . .  位好青年室友 . . .

● 團體 tyùhn4 tái2 = organization; group; team | ● 好青年荼毒室 hóu2 chīng1 nìhn4? tòuh4 duhk6 sāt1 = approx. “Studio for the Corruption of the Very Young” cf. 荼毒 = to afflict with great suffering; to torment | ● 鄙視 péi2 sih6 = to despise; to disdain; to look down upon | ● 學科 hohk6 fō1 = branch of learning; course; subject; discipline | ● 如此 yùh4 chí2 = so; such; in this way; like that | ● 下場 haah6 chèuhng4 = end; fate; perhaps even “where someone/something winds up” | ● 抵死 dái2 séi2 = ① serve one right; deserve the punishment; have it coming ② funny and sarcastic; naughty and witty | ● 樹洞 syuh6 duhng6 = a hole (or hollow) in a tree | ● 隨意 chèuih4 yi3 = at will; as one pleases | ● 困惑 kwan3 waahk6 = perplexed; puzzled

Have you ever tried to ask random strangers [人哋] on the street: “Do you like to read?” Or, have you ever tried telling people: “My favourite reading is philosophy”? Have you ever tried to tell your friends that your favourite organization is the Studio for the Corruption of the Very Young? And what I wonder [唔知] was the response you got when you talked to your friends like that? If you are watching this video [?], you are watching it because you ought to be someone with some interest in philosophy; however, for the most part [雖然通常], in actual fact, the majority of people in society despise this discipline of philosophy intensely [非常非常]. Today, I hope to discuss with you why it is that philosophy has come to such a pass [落得如此嘅下場] and whether it serves philosophy right. [Caption: Corrupt the Youth] A long time ago, just after the Studio for Corruption had been established, there was a plan for what was called “The Philosophy Hollow Tree” [哲學樹洞], to give members of the group to set down [?] as they wished any philosophical questions that had been troubling them for a long time. Now, a question was received from a young member of the group . . .

【1:00】. . . K 嘅問題 | 佢就問:究竟點解哲學 | 會淪爲好多人眼中嘅低等學問?| 聽到呢個問題嘅時候呢 | 我就起一位哲學家 Bernard Williams [呀] | 其實曾經寫過一篇文章叫做 | On Hating and Despising Philosophy | 去討論呢個問題 | [噉今日] 呢條片呢,我就會講 Williams 同我自己嘅一啲諗法 | 去答 | 究竟點解哲學會落得如此嘅下場?| 我諗啲人憎哲學呢個學科呢,其中一個最簡單 [係] 香港社會嘅理由就係 | ,揾唔到食吖嘛,乞食科嚟㗎嘛 | 噉我哋好青年荼毒室都成日自嘲 | 我哋揾唔到食 [啦] | 噉我估其中一個令啲人咁憎哲學呢個學科嘅理由 | 就係因爲揾唔到錢 [呢] | 但我諗呢個理由係咪,即係 *je,完全係能夠説明 | 點解哲學咁黑人憎呢? | 我估唔係呀 | 因爲事實上呢,有好多人呢 | 都唔會同時討厭其他嗰啲乞食科嘅 | ,可能其他人文學科啦、或者啲純自然科學嘅學科

● 淪 lèuhn4 = to fall; to be reduced to | ● 眼中 ngáahn5 jūng1 = (?) in the eyes of; in the minds of | ● 低等 dāi1 dáng2 = low-grade | ● 如此 yùh4 chí2 = so; such; in this way; like this | ● 落得下場 lohk6 dāk1 haah6 chèuhng4 = come to a particular end; meet with a particular fate | ● 理由 léih5 yàuh4 = reason; ground; argument | ● 乞食科 hāt1 sīhk6 fō1 = literally 乞食 = “to beg for food” + 科 = “area of study”, so “an area of study that does not lead to highly-paid employment”  | ● 自嘲 jih6 jāau1 = (?) to ridicule oneself; to send oneself up | ● 黑人憎 cf. 乞人憎 hāt1 yàhn4 jāng1 = despicable; detestable; contemptible; annoying | ● 人文學科 yàhn4 màhn4 hohk6 fō1 = the humanities

. . . by the name of K. K. asked: “Why is it that philosophy has, in the eyes of many people, become a low-grade knowledge?” When I heard this question, it reminded me of the philosopher Bernard Williams. [He] once write an essay entitled “On Hating and Despising Philosophy” to discuss this topic. In this video, I would like to say a few words about the views of Williams and myself in answer to why philosophy has come to such a pass. I think the simplest reason why the discipline of philosophy is hated by people in Hong Kong society is because it doesn’t pay the bills [揾唔到食] and is a hat sik fo, an area of study that does not lead to highly-paid employment. We here at the Studio for Corruption are forever laughing at ourselves about not being able to find a job. I guess another reason why people hate philosophy so much because it doesn’t earn much money. However, I wonder whether this reason fully explains why philosophy is so detestable. I don’t think it does, because in actual fact there are many people who do not detest other hat sik fo. So, possibly there are other [subjects in] the humanities or pure science subjects . . .

【2:00】其實可能出到社會呢 | 都未必有相應嘅職業可以俾佢申請嘅 | 噉其實呢啲學科呢,其實都係唔好到食嘅 | 噉事實上嗰啲好憎哲學嘅人又未必 | 同時憎呢啲學科 | 噉如果你純碎用揾唔到錢嚟解釋呢個現象嘅話呢 | 我覺得係唔足夠嘅 | 噉所以呢,我覺得第二個反對哲學呢個學科嘅理由呢 | 就係佢缺乏可能對世界嘅好奇心 | 可能呢,呢啲人呢,未必真係咁金錢至上 | 咁功利覺得一定要揾到錢嘅學科 | 先係一個好學科 | 但佢覺得呢,哲學探討嘅問題呢 | 實在太過奇怪 | 太過離地 | 例如我哋會探[討] | 究竟世界嘅本貌係啲咩呢 | 究竟呢個世界有冇因果關係嘅呢 | 心靈係咪,即係 *je,獨立於物質而存在嘅呢 | 可能好多人呢,聽到呢啲問題呢 | 都摸不著頭腦,究竟你想講乜呀?| 可能佢人生入便根本 | 從來都冇對呢啲問題 | 產生過任何困惑同埋好奇心 | 噉如果佢對呢啲問題完全都冇興趣嘅話 . . .

● 憎 jāng1 = to hate; to detest; to abhor | ● 純碎sèuhn4 seui3 = pure; unadulterated | ● 缺乏 kyuht3 faht6 = to be short of; to lack; to be wanting in | ● 金錢至上 gām1 chín4*2 ji3 seuhng6 = money above all else | ● 功利 gūng1 leih6 = utility; material gain | ● 離地 lèih4 deih6 = to lose touch; to be out of step | ● 本貌 bún2 maauh6 = lit. “original appearance, that is “what something really looks like” | ● 因果關係 yān1 gwó2 gwāan1 haih6 = causality | ● 獨立於 duhk6 laahp6 yū1 = independent of | ● 摸不著頭腦 mó2 bāt1 jeuhk6 tàuh4 nóuh5 = cannot make head or tail of sth; be totally at a loss; be bewildered | ● 困惑 kwan3 waahk6 = perplexed; puzzled

In actual fact [MEANING UNCLEAR] there is not necessarily a corresponding profession to which a person can apply to. Actually, it is not easy to find a job in any of these subject areas. The reality is, those people who really hate philosophy do not necessarily hate these other disciplines. If you use finding a way to earn money pure and simple as the explanation of this phenomenon, I don’t think it is sufficient. For this reason, my feeling is that the second reason for opposing the study of philosophy is that the person may be lacking in curiosity about the world. It may be that these people don’t necessarily [rate] money above all else or are utilitarian enough to think that the only good subject areas are those which must [help you] earn money. However, such a person thinks that the questions discussed in philosophy are really exceedingly bizarre and out of touch [with reality]. For instance, we could talk about what the true appearance of the world actually is. Or whether causality exists in this world. Or whether the soul exists independently of matter. It may be that when many people here these questions, they are bewildered: “What on earth are you talking about?” Perhaps they have never felt the least perplexity or curiosity about such questions in their lives. If such a person [佢] does not have the slightest interest in such questions . . .

【3:00】. . . 佢自然就唔會對哲學有任何熱誠 [呢] | 但呢個解釋呢,仍然都係未足夠 [嘅] | 點解呢?| 因爲我哋可以 *hoi 再問嘅嘛 | 點解嗰啲人會對呢啲問題咁興趣呢?| 覺得呢啲問題係咁無聊、咁離地呢?| 係咪真 [係] 純碎因爲 | 佢缺乏對個世界好奇呢?| 有冇啲更深層次嘅理由 | 去解釋佢哋嘅冷漠呢? | 噉其中一個解釋可能係咁嘅 | 點解嗰啲人會對哲學問題咁冷漠呢? | 就係因爲佢哋會話 | 哈,你睇吓哲學歷史 | 幾千年嚟都冇進步過嘅 | 詏嚟詏去,鬧嚟鬧去 | 根本就冇任何結論產生到出嚟 | 幾千年前,蘇格拉底討論咩公義 | 咩美,咩真理 | 到而家呢一刻 | 哲學界好似仲係探討緊呢啲問題咁樣 | 甚至可能有一啲所謂哲學上最大嘅醜聞 | 就係我哋根本仲未回應到 | 笛卡兒提出幾嘅嗰啲懷疑論嘅質疑 | 究竟世界係咪客觀哋存在嘅呢? | 我哋有冇對個世界嘅知識嘅呢?

● 熱誠 yiht6 sìhng4 = warm & sincere; cordial | ● 無聊 mòuh4 lìuh4 = ① boring; bored ② nonsense; rubbish | ● 冷漠 láahng5 mohk6 = cold & detached; unconcerned | ● 拗 is a variant of variant of 詏 aau3 = to argue; to dispute; to contradict | ● 蘇格拉底 Sōu1 Gaak3 Lāai1 Dái2 = Socrates | ● 公義 gūng1 yih6 = righteousness; justice | ● 到而家呢一刻 dao3 yìh4 gāa1 nī1 yāt1 hāak1 = (?) right up to this present moment | ● 醜聞 cháu2 màhn4 = scandal | ● 笛卡兒 Dehk6 Kāa1 Yìh4 = René Descartes; also written 笛卡爾 Dehk6 Kāa1 Yíh5 | ● 懷疑論 wàaih4 yìh4 leuhn6 = skepticism | ● 客觀哋 haak3 gūn1 déi6*2 = objectively; 客觀嘅 = “objective” is used in the next segment

. . . then naturally he or she will not have any warm feelings towards philosophy. But this explanation is still inadequate. Why? Because again we can ask: Why is it that those people have no interest in philosophy and think that these questions are boring or out of touch [with reality]? Is it really purely [純碎] because they lack curiosity about the world? Could there be a deeper reason that explains their indifference [冷漠]?  An explanation for this might be that the reason these people show no concern for these philosophical questions is that they are liable to say: “Hah! Just take a look at the history of philosophy. In the past few thousand years, there has been no progress! [Philosophers] have argued back and forth, caused trouble here and there, but have basically reached no conclusions. Over the past few thousand years, the justice [公義], beauty and truth discussed by Socrates are the same issues still being investigated today in the world of philosophy. And even worse, there is that great scandal of philosophy that we have no yet responded to those doubts raised by René Descartes’ skepticism about whether the world actually has an objective existence. Do we have knowledge about the world?

 【4:00】有冇可能獲得對個世界客觀嘅了解嘅呢? | 似乎哲學家討論咗咁耐 | 咁多年嚟,咁多咁聰明嘅人 | 咁多咁偉大嘅心靈 | 去思考呢啲問題 | 都一路俾唔到個答案我哋 | 噉好可能呢啲印象呢 | 就提供咗個理由俾我哋相信一樣就係 | 唉,其實哲學問題 | 嘈嚟嘈去,嘈幾千年 | 都冇任何進展、冇任何答案嘅 | 噉我哋仲講嚟做乜呢?| 更加麻煩嘅係 | 如果我哋其他學科 | 同哲學呢個學科做對比嘅時候 | 一比較呢,傷害就出嚟喇 | 你諗吓自然科學進步咗幾多 | 帶領咗我哋認識咗個世界多幾多 | 你諗吓以前可能我哋會覺得 | 懷孕 // 生子係一件好神秘嘅事 | 我哋要透過宗教一啲非自然嘅解釋 | 先能夠了解到呢件事點解會出現 | 但你諗吓,我哋而家現代人 | 都已經唔會再覺得 | 懷孕生子係有任何神秘嘅地方 | 因爲自然科學已經帶領我哋 . . .

● 進展 jeun3 jín2 = to make progress; to make headway | ● 做對比 jouh6 deui3 béi2 = to contrast | ● 傷害 sēung1 hoih6 = to injure; to harm; to hurt | ● 帶領 daai3 líhng5 = to lead; to guide | ● 懷孕 wàaih4 yahn6 = to be pregnant

Is it possible to obtain an objective understanding of this world? It would seem that philosophers have discussed [such questions] for a long time — [over] so many years, so many intelligent human beings, so many great souls have thought about these questions but have never been able to give us any answers. Now quite possibly this impression provides us with a reason for believing one thing: philosophical questions have been argued back and forth for thousands of years without any headway being made or any answers [being found], so what’s the point of going on talking about them? Even more bothersome is [that fact] that, if we contrast philosophy with other disciplines, the harm [to philosophy] emerges at once. Think of how much the natural sciences have advanced, leading us to a knowledge [認識] of the world that is so much greater [than it was before]. Think for a moment how once we probably would have thought of pregnancy [and] giving birth as a very mysterious business, and would have only been able to comprehend how such a thing could be by means of the non-natural explanations of religion. But think how we modern people no longer feel that there is anything the least bit mysterious about getting pregnant and giving birth, the reason being that the natural sciences have led us . . .

【5:00】. . . 好好咁樣了解到呢個現象 | 成個 mechanism 究竟係點樣出現嘅 | 噉所以呢,好多人就會覺得 | 唉,其實哲學嗰啲問題都係冇答案嘅喇 | 我哋討論咗幾千年,人生有咩意義? | 世界嘅公義係點呀?心靈存唔存在?| 呢啲咁嘅問題根本就係冇答案嘅 | 我哋一路仲喺度俾咁多心機 | 去研究一啲冇答案嘅問題 | 唔係就係 *jai 徒勞無功 [啦]?| 所以哲學唔係值得被人鄙視 [囉]?| 要回應呢個對哲學嘅質疑呢,當然係好麻煩呀 | 但我估有一個好簡單,最直接嘅回應嘅 | 個回應係咩?| 就係啱啱講到哲學好似討論咗好多年 | 都係冇答案咁樣 | 噉所以呢,呢個問題就注定係冇答案嘅 | 佢好似咁樣做咗個推論 | 但個問題係 | 呢個立場本身正正就係一個哲學嘅立場 | 就係相信嗰啲問題係冇答案 | 唔值得我哋去討論 | 當你要 argue for 呢個咁嘅立場嘅時候 | 好吊詭哋,你已經進入咗 . . .

● 心機 sām1 gēi1 = energy; effort; patience| ● 徒勞無功 tòuh4 lòuh4 mòuh4 gūng1 = make a futile effort; work to no avail | ● 注定 jyu3 dihng6 = be doomed; be destined | ● 推論 tēui1 leuhn6 = an inference; a deduction | ● 唔值得 mh4 jihk6 dāk1 = not worth | ● 吊詭 diu3 gwái2 = (?) a paradox

. . . to a proper understanding of this phenomenon, how the whole mechanism comes into being [出現]. And so for this reason, many people have the feeling that there are no answers to those philosophical questions. We have been talking about them for thousands of years — What is the meaning of a human life? Wherein lies justice in this world? Does the soul exist? Basically, there is no answer to these questions. Is it not futile to be still putting in so much effort to investigate questions for which there are no answers? And so, doesn’t philosophy deserve to be despised? To have to respond to such doubts about philosophy is of course very tedious, but I get the feeling [估] that there is a very simple and direct way to respond. What is the response? Just now it was said that philosophy has apparently been discussing questions for so many years to which there are no answers, and so for this reason such [questions] are doomed to remain unanswered. Someone, it seems, has made such an inference. But the interesting thing [問題] is, this kind of standpoint is itself precisely a philosophical standpoint, that is, believing that those questions have no answers and are not worth our discussing them. When you have to argue for a standpoint of this kind — paradoxically — you have already entered . . .

【6:00】. . . 哲學嘅領域 | 已經進行緊哲學討論呢 | 所以如果你要用呢個理由去批評哲學呢 | 其實你有個理論負擔 | 其實你要提供論證説明 | 點解其實嗰啲問題係冇答案 | 係唔值得我哋探討 | 而呢件事呢,正正係需要一個哲學嘅論證 | 呢個立場本身正正係一個哲學嘅立場 | 噉順住呢個討論呢 | 其實我哋可以進入到第四個討厭哲學嘅理由 [呀] | 第四個討厭哲學嘅理由呢 | 係牽涉到哲學嘅方法論嘅 | 好多人認爲呢 | 哲學討論問題嘅時候呢 | 只不過喺度吹水 | 因爲佢一來唔似得自然科學咁樣 | 係牽涉到經驗觀察啦 | 二來又唔係好似數學咁樣 | 牽涉到一啲好嚴謹嘅計算 | 好似喺度用一啲 | 所謂思想實驗呀、概念區分呀 | 呢啲咁嘅方法呢,去討論哲學問題 | 噉呢,啲人就覺得呢樣嘢呢 | 係非常之唔紥實嘅 | 但我對呢個質疑嘅回應 | 同我啱啱嘅質疑都係一樣嘅 | 就係呢個正正就係牽涉到哲學應該點樣做嘅問題

● 領域 líhng5 wihk6 = a field; sphere; domain; realm | ● 論證 leuhn6 jing3 = a demonstration; proof| ● 説明 syut3 mìhng4 = ① to explain; to show ② explanation; direction; caption | ● 探討 taam3 tóu2 = to inquire into; to probe into | ● 順住 seuhn6 jyuh6 = along | ● 討厭 tóu2 yim3 = to dislike; to loathe; to be disgusted with | ● 方法論 fōng1 faat3 leuhn6 = methodology | ● 一來 … 二來 …  yāt1 lòih4 … yih6 lòih4 = firstly … secondly … | ● 唔似得 mh4 chíh5 dāk1 = (?) unlike; cf. 好似 hou2 chíh5 = to be like; to be similar | ● 牽涉 hīn1 sip3 = to involve; to drag in | ● 吹水 chēui1 seui2 = to talk rubbish/nonsense | ● 嚴謹 yìhm4 gán2 = rigorous; strict | ● 紥實 jaat3 saht6 = ① sturdy; strong ② solid; sound; down-to-earth | ● 質疑 jāt1 yìh4 = to call into question; to query

. . . the realm of philosophy, and are engaging in a philosophical discussion. And so for this reason, if you wish to criticize philosophy on this basis [理由], then in fact you have a theoretical responsibility: actually, you must provide proofs and explanations [to show] why those questions do not in fact have an answer, and are not worth our investigation. This matter requires a philosophical demonstration. This standpoint is in itself precisely a philosophical position. Now following on from [順住] this discussion, we can proceed to the fourth reason for detesting philosophy. The fourth reason for detesting philosophy involves the methodology of philosophy. A lot of people think that when philosophy discusses a question it is [doing] nothing more than talking nonsense. This is firstly because, unlike the natural sciences, it does not involve experience and observation, and secondly, unlike mathematics, it does involve making any rigorous calculations. It seems that there [in philosophy] one makes use of methods such as what are called “thought experiments” and conceptual distinctions to talk about philosophical questions. Some people feel that such things [that is, “thought experiments” and conceptual distinctions] are extremely unsound. My response to such doubts, however, is that — like my [own] doubt from before — it precisely involves the issue of how philosophy is to be done . . .

【7:00】哲學嘅方法論問題 | 其實已經轉入到所謂 metaphilosophy 嘅領域 | 就係 *jai 哲學哋反省哲學應該點樣進行 | 其實當代或者一直以嚟呢 | 都有好多呢啲咁嘅哲學討論嘅 | 就係哲學家都會諗返自己 | 究竟而家做緊嘢係有冇用嘅呢?係有冇效嘅呢?| 例如現代嘅分析哲學成日會用到思想實驗 | 而其實好多英美嘅哲學家 | 都會後設一部討論 | 究竟 *geung 思想實驗係咪一個鞏固 *gwong gu 嘅好嘅方法 | 去令到我哋逼近個世界 | 所以都係嗰句呢 | 如果你要批評哲學嘅方法論 | 係唔夠嚴謹、係唔紥實 | 只係一班唔知做乜咁樣喺度吹水嘅話呢 | 其實你已經需要一啲哲學論證 | 去支持你嘅立場 | 你咁樣講已經 welcome to philosophy | 噉 [呢] 呢條片我最後一個想討論嘅諗法呢 | 都非常得意嘅 | 嗰啲人呢,其實嚴謹而言呢,唔係批評緊哲學 | 而係批評緊現代嘅學院哲學 | 佢哋會點諗呢?| 佢哋會覺得 // 以前 . . .

● 例如 laih6 yùh4 = for instance; for example | ● 思想實驗 sī1 séung2 saht6 yìhm4 = thought experiment | ● 後設 hauh6 chit3 = cf. chit = ② to work out 3. given; suppose; if | ● 鞏固 gúng2 gu3 = to consolidate; to strengthen | ● 逼近③ bīk1 gahn6 = to press on towards; to close in on; to approach; to draw near | ● 嚴謹而言 yìhm4 gán2 yìh4 yìhn4= strictly speaking

. . . as well as the issue of philosophical method, in fact, the domain of what is called “metaphilosophy”, that is, reflecting philosophically on how philosophy should be carried out. Actually, for most of the contemporary age [當代或者一直以嚟], there have been many such philosophical discussions, [in which] philosophers reflect on themselves and whether what they are doing has any use, whether it is effective or not. For instance, modern analytical philosophy is always using thought experiments, and many English and American philosophers often add a discussion at the end of their writings (?) [都會後設一部討論], wondering whether thought experiments are a good way to consolidate [their arguments], enabling us to get closer to the world. For this reason, we come back to that same old phrase again [所以都係嗰句呢]: if you wish to criticize philosophy’s methods as not being rigorous enough, as being out of touch, as being the idle talk of a bunch of people who have no idea what they are doing, then in fact you are in need of some philosophical proofs to support your standpoint. You have already [reached the point] of “Welcome to Philosophy”. The final idea I would like to discuss in this video is very interesting. Those people [who claim to detest philosophy] are not criticizing philosophy [per se] but instead modern academic philosophy. What would they think this? They are liable to feel that // in the past . . .

【8:00】. . . 嗰啲偉大嘅哲學家,可能蘇格拉底、可能孔子、或者耶穌咁樣 | 佢哋真真實實咁樣呢,影響咗好多好多人嘅生命 | 而家嘅所謂哲學研究 | 只不過係一堆象牙塔嘅學者 | 喺度玩緊學術遊戲 | 玩緊啲概念嘅遊戲 | 喺度討論啲不著邊際嘅問題 | 而象牙塔以外 | 真實嘅社會、真實嘅世界 | 根本就冇人會 care 嗰啲人點樣諗 | 噉所以簡單講呢,呢種批評呢 | 係批評緊現代哲學嘅墮落 | 佢已經喪失咗古典時期 | 種哲學嘅影響力 | 嗰種哲學可以走進每一個人嘅生命 | 真真實實咁樣影響每一個人嘅嗰種力量 | 現代哲學只係淪爲一啲文字嘅遊戲 | 噉我喺呢條片開始提到 Williams 個篇文呢 | 都討論過呢個問題 | 佢話呢,其實拍拉圖呢 | 係第一個强調哲學應該走進生命嘅人 | 但佢話最攪笑嘅、最吊詭係 | 哲學正正喺拍拉圖嘅手上變得非常之離地 | 例如拍拉圖自己創立嘅拍拉圖學院

● 象牙塔 jeuhng6 ngàah4 taap3 = ivory tower | ● 學術遊戲 hohk6 seuht6 yàuh4 hei3 = (?) academic game | ● 不著邊際 bāt1 jeuhk6 bīn1 jai3 = neither here nor there; irrelevant | ● 墮落 doh6 lohk6 = to degenerate; to sink low | ● 淪 lèuhn4 = to fall; to be reduced to | ● 拍拉圖 Paak3 Lāai1 Tòuh4 = Plato

. . . those great philosophers, Socrates perhaps, or Confucius, or Jesus have had a real impact on the lives of many, many people. What is called “philosophical research” these days [means] nothing more than a bunch [堆, lit. “heap”] of scholars in ivory towers playing academic games, playing games with concepts, or talking about issues that have nothing to do with anything [不著邊際]. They basically don’t care what people think beyond the ivory tower, in real society, in the real world. So, to put it simply, this kind of criticism is a criticism of the degeneration of modern philosophy. It has lost the philosophical influence of the classical era, [an era when] that kind of philosophy could make its way into the lives of every single individual, and was that kind a force that could a genuine influence on everyone. Modern philosophy has degenerated into a play with words [一啲文字嘅遊戲]. At the beginning of this video, I mentioned the essay by Bernard Williams, who also talked about this issue. He says that in actual fact Plato was the first person to say that philosophy should play a part in people’s lives [走進生命], but the most ridiculous and paradoxical thing was, in the hands of Plato, philosophy became something extremely remote from ordinary life [非常之離地]. By way of an example, at the academy which he established, Plato . . .

【9:00】據説呢,個門口上面呢,就掛住一個牌 | 就寫住:唔識幾何學嘅人呢,係唔可以入嚟嘅 | 所以攪笑嘅係拍拉圖明明 | 强調哲學應該要走進每一個人嘅生命 | 回應我哋人生入面一啲最基本嘅問題 | 但另一方面呢,佢就令到哲學非常專業化 | 高度嘅學術化 | 就令到一般人呢,好難親近 | 因爲至少呢,你要識得幾何學,你先可以走入哲學家嘅世界 | 面對呢個批評呢,我自己呢,有兩個諗法嘅 | 第一個諗法呢,就係 *jai | 我認爲的而且確呢,現代嘅學術環境呢 | 係會令到有大量毫無意義嘅學術論文所產生咗出嚟 | 真係有好多呢,喺度玩緊概念或者文字遊戲 | 噉我以我自己為例呢 | 我成日都講,我自己 // 真係唔係好鍾意攪學術嘅 | 但我覺得呢個 | 唔係哲學喺現代社會特有嘅問題 | 而其實係成個大環境 | 高等教育界或者學術界嘅一啲制度上嘅問題 | 噉啊 . . .

● 據説 geui3 syut3 = it is said; they say; allegedly | ● 幾何學 géi2 hòh4 hohk6 = geometry | ● 專業化 jyūn1 yihp6 faa3 = specialization | ● 親近 chān1 gahn6 = to be close to; to be on intimate terms with | ● 的而且確 dīk1 yìh4 ché2 kok3 = indeed; really | ● 毫無意義 hòuh4 mòuh4 yi3 yih6 = (?) totally meaningless| ● 大環境 daaih6 wàahn4 gíng2 = (?) a bigger/broader context | ● 高等教育界 gōu1 dáng2 gaau3 yuhk6 gaai3 = roughly, “the world of higher education”

. . . it is said, above the door they hung up a sign on which it was written “Those Who Do Not Know Geometry Cannot Enter Here”. And so, what is so ridiculous is that Plato obviously emphasized that philosophy should play a part [走進 = to go into; to enter] in every person’s life and respond to the fundamental questions in our human lives, but on the other hand he caused philosophy to become extremely specialized and highly academic, so that ordinary people could not feel close to it, the reason being that — at the very least — you had to have an understanding of geometry before you could enter the world of philosophy. Faced with this criticism, I myself have two ideas. The first idea is that I think that it is true [的而且確] that the modern academic environment can lead to the production of a large volume of completely meaningless academic dissertations, and there really are a large number [of individuals] who are engaged in playing conceptual or linguistic games. Let me use myself as an example. I’m always going on about how I really don’t like academic pursuits [攪學術] very much, but it is my feeling that this is not a problem particular to philosophy in modern society but one [that involves] a bigger context [大環境]. Systemic problems in the world of higher education or academia . . .

【10:00】. . . 其實就唔係完全係哲學呢個學科要面對嘅問題 | 我曾幾何時呢,啱啱入咗哲學系嘅時候呢 | 都好心急,好希望哲學快啲回應到 | 我人生嘅一啲基本嘅問題 | 例如死亡究竟點樣影響我哋人生啦 | 人生究竟有啲咩意義啦 | 我一路都好渴求呢啲答案 | 希望哲學家呢,可以話到俾我聽 | 噉當我抱住呢個咁嘅期待同埋渴求去入哲學系嘅時候呢 | 我開頭呢,老實講,其實都係好失望嘅 | 我當時嘅感覺呢,exactly 就好似啱啱對哲學嘅嗰啲批評者所講咁 | 就係 *jai,哈,點解你哋呢啲咁嘅哲學家或者學者 | 好似好巴閉、好似好勁 | 但係講嚟講去都冇真係回應到 | 我心目中 [又或者] 我人生入便呢 [啲] 最真實嘅疑惑嘅 | 點解你仲未答我人生有啲咩意義嘅?| 噉但係我讀得哲學越多 [啦],我就慢慢發現呢 | 其實只不過我當初太心急 | 因爲其實我哋當然每一個人生命入便 | 都有啲好真實嘅困惑 | 好希望哲學家去回答佢哋

● 曾幾何時 chàhng4 géi2 hòh4 sìh4 = before long; not long after | ● 渴求 hot3 kàuh4 = to yearn for | ● 期待 kèih4 doih6 = to expect; to await; to look forward to | ● 開頭 hōi1 tàuh4 = to begin; to start (intransitive verb) | ● 巴閉 bāa1 bai3 = ① arrogant; flashy; showy; fussy; noisy ② impressive; high and mighty| ● 勁 gehng6 = strong; powerful; vigorous; sturdy | ● 當初 dōng1 chō1 = originally; at the outset; in the first place; at that time

. . . In fact, this is not something that the discipline of philosophy [alone] faces. Not long after I became a student [入咗 = entered] in a philosophy department, I was eager and hoping that philosophy would soon provide answers [回應到] to the fundamental questions of my life. For instance, how does death affect our lives as human beings [我哋人生 = our human lives]? What is the meaning of life? I was yearning for answers [to these questions], hoping that philosophers could tell me [話到俾我聽]. When I became a student of philosophy, full of [抱住 = to hold in one’s arms; to cherish] such expectations and yearnings, at first, to tell you the truth, I was in fact very disappointed. My feelings at that time were exactly like those people who are critical of philosophy, that is, “Huh! Why is that that philosophers and scholars like you — [even though] you seem so impressive and so forceful — have not really answered the very real perplexities in my mind and in my life, [despite all] the talking back and forth. Why haven’t you answered me about what the meaning of my life is. However, the more I studied philosophy, I gradually came to realize [發現 = to discover] that it was just that I was too impatient when I began [當初]. Because in fact naturally in the life of every [single] one of us, there are some very real [sources of] perplexity which we hope the philosophers can provide answers to [去回答].

【11:00】但個問題就係 | 呢啲問題本身實在太過難答 [喇] | 我哋唔能夠期望有一個好簡單嘅答案 | 例如人生有咩意義呢個問題 | 乍看好似好 *houchou 簡單 | 但你越問落去就挖出一啲好離地嘅問題 | 例如究竟人係啲咩呢? | 世界係咩嚟㗎呢? | 人同世界嘅關係邊度呢? | 人類究竟可以知道幾多嘢呢? | 人類嘅語言點樣同個世界連擊起嚟呢 | 其實呢堆問題睇落好離地 | 但當你從一個好在地 | 嘅人生意義,呢個哲學問題出發 | 你無何避免哋一路問落去 | 就會 *jeui 問到一啲咁高度抽象 | 咁離地嘅哲學問題 | 所以我個意思係 | 如果你對呢啲咁在地嘅哲學問題 | 有一種好真熾嘅渴求嘅話呢 | 你唔能夠期望有一個好即食嘅答案俾到你 | 你應該有耐性慢慢一步一步咁樣思考 | 而唔應該拒絕嗰啲睇落好似好離地 | 同你人生唔相干嘅 | 形上學問題啦 . . .

● 難答 nàahn4 daap3 = difficult to answer | ● 期望 kèih4 mohng6 = a hope; an expectation; here, 期望 clearly works as a verb | ● 乍看 jaa3 hon3 = at first glance (cf. 驟眼睇 jaauh6 ngáahn5 tái2) | ● 挖出 waat3 chēut1 = to dig [out]; to excavate | ● 連繫lìhn4 haih6 = (?) connection; link | ● 睇落 tái2 lohk6 = come across as; seem; appear; look like; look as if | ● 在地 joih6 deih6 = (?) on the ground; down-to-earth | ● 真熾 jan1 chi3 = ? (I am not sure if this is what 豬文 Jyu Man says here. The subtitles have 熱熾 yiht6 chi3, which is not in my dictionaries either! But the basic meaning of 熾 is “flaming; ablaze”). | ● 即食 jīk1 sihk6 = fast food | ● 相干 sēung1 gōn1 = have to do with; be concerned with

But the problem [問題] is, these questions are in themselves real too difficult to answer. We can’t expect there to be a very simply-obvious answer. For instance, the question “What is the meaning of life?” seems quite simple at first, but the more you go into it [越問落去 = the more one asks down (into it)], you dig up some very “off the wall” [離地] issues, such as “What really is a human being?” “What is this world?” “Where does the link between people and the world reside?” “How much can human beings actually know?” “How do human languages link up with the world?” Actually, this pile of questions is seemingly very remote from everyday concerns [離地], but when start out from a very down-to-earth [在地] philosophical question about the meaning of human life, inevitably as you go on making inquiries you will end up asking [就會問到] some highly abstract, “off the wall” philosophical questions. For this reason, what I mean is that if you have a burning desire [to understand] such down-to-earth philosophical questions, you can’t expect [唔能夠期望] there to be a fast-food answer for you. You should think things through slowly, with patience, step by step, and you shouldn’t refuse those seemingly remote and metaphysical questions that have no bearing on your life . . .

【12:00】. . . 知識論問題或者語言哲學嘅問題 | 所以簡單講,我覺得哲學離地呢 | 唔係因爲佢匿埋喺個象牙塔度故作高深 | 而係其實嗰啲哲學問題本身真係好複雜 | 佢冇辦法唔咁樣去討論嗰啲問題 | 噉如果你一心只係 *jei 想追求一種人生嘅慰藉 | 好可能呢,你應該去書局買本 | 「讓你過得幸福快樂嘅十個要訣」呢啲書 | 而唔係買一本哲學書 | 噉所以其實呢條片講到尾呢,想做啲咩呢? | 就係話俾嗰啲討厭哲學嘅人聽 | 其實係你哋唔識貨 | 你哋走寳 [喇] | 拜拜

● 知識論 jī1 sīk1 leuhn6 = epistemology; a theory of knowledge | ● 匿埋 nēi1 màaih4 = to hide | ● 故作高深 gu3 jok3 gōu1 sām1 = pretend to be erudite & profound | ● 慰藉 wai3 jihk6 = to console | ● 書局 syū1 gúk6*2 = bookstore; bookshop | ● 要訣 yiu3 kyut3 = tricks of the trade | ● 識貨 sīk1 fo3 = be able to tell good from bad; know what’s what | ● 走寳 jáu2 bóu2 = miss out on something good

. . . nor those questions to do with epistemology or the philosophy of language. For this reason, to put it simply, I think that philosophy is remote from everyday life [離地] not because it hides itself away in an ivory tower pretending to be erudite and profound but actually because philosophical questions are by nature very complex. [Philosophy] cannot discuss such questions in any other way. Now if you are bent on searching out some kind of consolation for your life, you would probably be better off going to a bookstore to buy a book such as Ten Secrets for a More Fortunate, Happier You, not a book on philosophy. In the final analysis, then, what does this video want to achieve [想做啲咩呢]? To tell you people who despise philosophy that you don’t know what’s what, and that you’re missing out on a real treasure. Good-bye.

Learning Cantonese: 2021 香港約章 Hong Kong Charter 2021

“Hongkongers are a unique community with their own distinctive culture, history, experiences and values. We shall maintain our unique identity and continue to create its timely significance to perpetuate these precious characteristics; our identity, history and cultural values shall be respected and safeguarded, in writing and in recording, to be preserved in multiple ways to counter the biased perspectives fabricated and propagated by the authorities” — these are the opening sentences of the next part of the Charter, simply entitled 香港篇 Hēung1 Góng2 Pīn1 or “Hong Kong Section”.

I will tackle the remaining two parts of the Charter (dealing with mainland China and the international community) in another post, but you can view the entire bilingual document here, together with some information on the initiators. For other help with the Chinese, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.


7.  香港人是一個獨特的共同體,擁有獨特的文化、歷史、經歷以及價值觀。我們應該維持獨特的身份認同,持續創造其時代意義,以傳承這些珍貴的特質;我們的身份丶歷史和文化價值應該受到尊重、保護,以各種方法書寫、記錄、保存,抗擊官方諱言捏造的史觀。

8.  香港人有權決定香港的前途和事務,包括民生丶政制丶憲制等改革。同時,香港人應享有民主、自主和自由的制度:民主包括由人民直接選出丶沒有篩選的政府和議會;自主包括本地事務免受中共干預;自由包括《世界人權宣言》丶《公民權利及政治權利公約》和其他國際公約內列明人民應享有的政治丶社會及經濟權利。

9.  香港政府應實行三權分立,司法丶行政及立法機關互不統屬。法治制度應以限制公權力、彰顯公義為最高原則,法官判決應合乎人權及法治的標準,另外本地最高法院應享有憲法解釋權,不受中共干預。

10.  港版國安法是侵害港人言論自由、人身安全、政治自由的惡法,理應馬上廢除。政府應停止以言入罪、釋放在囚的政治犯,並保障所有港人遊行、示威、結社、出版、言論的權利,並撤銷所有針對流亡人士的政治檢控。

11.  中共肆意侵蝕香港公民社會,破壞各個專業領域的價值、原則以及道德,逼使有良心的香港市民臣服於他們無理專橫的管治。我們呼籲市民盡量捍衛自身底線,不與政權同流合污。

12.  在中共的直接指揮和港府官員盲從上意下,警隊已淪為極權打壓市民訴求和權利的武器。警政系統必須改革,在人民充分的監督及授權下,建立真正為民服務的治安自理體系。

● 共同體 guhng6 tùhng4 tái2 = community | ● 身份認同 sān1 fán6*2 yihng6 tùhng4 = (?) identity cf. 身份 = status; identity + 認同 = to identify | ● 傳承 chyùhn4 sìhng4 = to impart & to inherit | ● 抗擊 kong3 gīk1 = to resist; to beat back | ● 諱言捏造wáih5 yìhn4 nihp6 jouh6 = ? cf. 諱言 = dare not or would not speak up + 捏造 = to fabricate; to concoct; to trump up | ● 事務 sih6 mouh6 = affairs | ● 世界人權宣言 sai3 gaai3 yàhn4 kyùhn4 syūn1 yìhn4 = the Universal Declaration of Human Rights | ● 公民權利及政治權利公約 gūng1 màhn4 kyùhn4 leih6 kahp6 jing3 jih6 kyùhn4 leih6 gūng1 yeuk3 = the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights | ● 三權分立 sāam1 kyùhn4 fān1 lahp6 = separation of powers (i.e. the legislative, executive and judicial powers) | ● 統屬 tung2 suhk6 = ① subordination ② to be subordinate | ● 公權力 gūng1 kyùhn4 leih6 = (?) public rights | ● 彰顯公義 jēung1 hín2 gūng1 yih6 = cf. 彰顯 = to bring out conspicuously + 公義 = justice | ● 解釋權 gáai2 sihk6 kyùhn4 = right to interpret | ● 理應 léih5 yīng1 = ought to; should | ● 以言入罪 yíh5 yìhn4 yahp6 jeuih6 = roughly, “to regard speaking out as a criminal offence” | ● 結社 git3 séh5 = to form an association | ● 撤銷 chit3 sīu1 = to cancel; to rescind; to revoke | ● 檢控 gím2 hung3 = to prosecute | ● 臣服於 sàhn4 fuhk6 yū1 = to submit oneself to the rule of; to acknowledge allegiance to | ● 捍衛 hóhn5 waih6 = to defend; to guard; to protect | ● 底線 dái2 sin3 = the base line; the bottom line | ● 同流合污 tùhng4 làuh4 hahp6 wū1 = wallow in the mire with sb.; to associate with an evil person | ● 上意 seuhng6 yi3 = (?) the wishes/will of those higher up  | ● 授權 sauh6 kyùhn4 = to empower; to authorize | ● 治安自理 jih6 [ng]ōn1 jih6 léih5 = ? cf. 治安 = law & order

7.  Hongkongers are a unique community with their own distinctive culture, history, experiences and values. We shall maintain our unique identity and continue to create its timely significance to perpetuate these precious characteristics; our identity, history and cultural values shall be respected and safeguarded, in writing and in recording, to be preserved in multiple ways to counter the biased perspectives fabricated and propagated by the authorities.

8.  Hongkongers shall have the right to determine the future and affairs of Hong Kong, including any social, institutional and constitutional reforms. Hongkongers shall enjoy a democratic, autonomous and free system. Democracy entails a government and legislature directly elected by the people. By autonomy, it means local affairs are free from the Chinese Communist Party’s interference. Freedom entails the provision of social and economic rights for the people as stipulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

9.  The Hong Kong government shall implement separation of powers. The judiciary, the executive and the legislature shall not be subordinate to one another. The legal system shall have restricting public power and manifesting justice as the supreme principles. The judges shall adjudicate in accordance with human rights and the rule of law. The highest court shall enjoy the power of interpretation of the constitution.

10.  The Hong Kong National Security Law is a draconian law that violates Hongkongers’ freedom of speech, freedom of the person and political freedom, and shall be repudiated immediately. The government shall stop criminalizing speeches, release all political prisoners and guarantee Hongkongers freedom of demonstration, protest, association, publication and speech. The government shall drop all charges against the political exiles.

11.  The Chinese Communist Party has been arbitrarily encroaching on Hong Kong’s civil society, destroying the values, principles and moralities of each professional sector, and forcing conscientious Hongkongers to submit to its despotic governance. We urge citizens to hold their bottom line, resist association with the Chinese Communist Party and its evil deeds.

12.  Under the Chinese Communist Party’s direct orders and the blind submission of Hong Kong officials, the police force has become an arsenal used by the totalitarian regime to oppress people’s aspirations and rights. The police system must be reformed. A democratic policing system, which truly serves the people, has to be established under the people’s supervision and with the people’s mandate.