Hong Kong Footpath: Interview in Cantonese with Kwan Chuk-fai (Part 1)

RTHK Hong Kong Footpath Gwaan Jak-fai Image

Among his many roles, 關則輝 Mr. Kwan Chuk-fai is currently Chairman of the Community Investment and Inclusion Fund (Labour and Welfare Bureau), a position which indicates something of his concern for social justice. In this interview with Candy 車淑梅 Chea Shuk Mui, he says some interesting things about the shape of a human life, and the need in one’s later years “to build for significance” rather than to stay rigidly focused on personal success. He even talks about the meaning of life:

噉中間叫乜嘢呢,係叫做 build for significance ,啫話有啲咩重要呢,有啲咩係我認為人生嘅, 咦,佢意義喺邊度呢?咩叫快樂呢?會問多好多呢啲嘅。噉你會諗吓,我點樣回饋社會呢?點樣去幫身邊嘅人呢?Ah 有啲咩我應該多做呢?咁樣。好啦,七十五歲以後呢,其實基本上你係留低一個人生嘅軌跡啦,嗄。 啲人諗起,呀呢個人,拜拜咗之後,其實我印象對佢係咩嘅呢咁樣。呢個係一個,啫你留低啲乜嘢精神面貌呀,嗄。噉我覺得呢, 人生係,都係約略咁樣嘅 . . .

So what is the middle stage called? It is called “build for significance”, which involves what I think is important, in what I think the meaning of human life resides. What is that thing called “happiness”? Lots of questions like this tend to get asked. And so you will begin to wonder about what you can do to give something back to society. About how you can help the people close to you. About what should do more of. Things like that. So that, OK, when you reach the age of 75, you have left a kind of track in life. When you’ve said bye-bye and shuffled off, people will think back and say to themselves, this is the impression I had of him. It’s a question of what kind of “spiritual appearance” you will leave behind you. And this is roughly what I think human existence is about.

There is plenty here for the learner of Cantonese. There are a couple of uses of that versatile aspect maker 住 jyuh6, as well as the final particle 噃 bo3. In terms of the vocabulary, you will hear the verb 湊 chau3 used in two different ways, as well as an unusual expression based on the English word “level”, 升「呢」sīng1 lē1. Other items of interest include 涉獵 sip3 lihp6 = (?) to dabble in, 司儀 sī1 yìh4 = master of ceremonies, 祖屋 jóu2 ngūk1 = ancestral home, and 均真 gwān1 jān1 = fair and just, as well as the four-character phrases 成家立室 sìhng4 gāa1 laahp6 sāt1 = to get married and establish a home, and 洗滌心靈 sái2 dihk6 sām1 lìhng4 = to cleanse one’s soul

Be sure to use the Sheik Cantonese website to check any item in this text: you can find their on-line Cantonese dictionary here. I will try to add more to the transcription in the coming weeks. In the meantime, any corrections or suggestions are welcome! This material is invaluable for learners of Cantonese, and it would be terrific if we could make it absolutely perfect.

To hear the interview, please click here.

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車淑梅:佢係海陸大公關,佢係社會投資共享基金委員會主席關則輝

Part 1A【1:42】

車淑梅:一個人,又或者一個嘅機構,甚至乎一個政府是否成功呢,我相信公關嗰個嘅能力是否夠強係非常非常之重要嘅。噉今日呢,呢位嘉賓,嗄 . . .【2:00】好犀利呀,嗄 . . . 噉多年嚟,大家都睇住佢,海陸空三軍,佢都係曾經涉獵過嘅,可以話呢,海陸空嘅大公關。而家呢,就係社會投資共享基金委員會嘅主席啦 , 咁 ,佢亦都係香港公共關係專業人員協會嘅會員喎, 仲係呢,就喺恆隆地產集團傳訊及投 . . . 記者關係嘅董事嚟㗎。我想大家已經知道佢係邊位喇。冇錯,係我哋嘅大公關關則輝先生,早晨!

●  公關 gūng1 gwāan1 = public relations
● 海陸空三軍 hói2 luhk6 hūng1 sāam1 gwān1 = the navy, the army and the air force; it seems that 陸海空三軍 is also used. I am not sure what the phrase means in this context; perhaps it goes with the verb 涉獵 sip3 lihp6 to suggest that he has tried a lot of different kinds of work.
● 涉獵 sip3 lihp6 = (?) to dabble in; to dip into (not always with a negative connotation)
● 踏腳石 daahp6 geuk3 sehk6 = stepping stone

關則輝: 早晨,淑梅姐!

車淑梅:早晨,你好,嘩,識咗你真係幾十年喇。

關則輝:嘩,好耐囉!

車淑梅:係呀。以前識你嗰陣你啱啱喺 ICAC 裏邊 ah工作嘅。

關則輝:係呀,我記得仲同淑梅姐都有一啲機會合作呢,喺啲活動裏邊呢,你當時已經係金牌司儀嚟啦喎!

● 金牌司儀 gām1 pàaih4 sī1 yìh4 = gold-medal MC (master of ceremonies)

車淑梅:係,係呀,當時你亦都係非常之咁出色一位嘅社區關係主任呢。【3:00】(關則輝:冇錯)當時係咪你第一份工呢,ICAC ?

關則輝:Ah 都唔係第一份工,但係好早期我工作嘅時候,嗄。

車淑梅:都未做呢個海陸空三軍大公關 . . . 嗄?

關則輝:未開始(laughs)。

車淑梅:嗱,其實呢,你一直一直呢,係好忙嘅,好多事情要做呀。無論係,啫,工作方面呀,又或者做義工方面呀,又或者係家庭方面呀,因為成日Facebook 裏邊見到你湊住你九十二嵗嘅媽媽呢,四周圍去食嘢嘅喎。嘩,呢啲時間點樣分配 . . . 關則輝先生?

● 湊 chau3 = to look after; to raise (a child). The addition of the aspect marker 住 here may add an idiomatic meaning, or may contribute the sense of continuity associated with this particular marker.
● 四周圍 sei3 jāu1 wài4 = on all sides; (?) all over the place (Most of these expressions, such as 四圍 and 周圍 mean “all around”, but here the context suggests “going out for meals, here, there and everywhere”.

關則輝:呀,其實呢個 . . . 呢樣嘢,其實香港人好忙呢,(車淑梅:係)但係我覺得呢,如果你有興趣做嘅呢,你一定要揾到時間嘅喎,所以而家我譬如我會用三份之一嘅假期呢,會去探我内地一啲資助嘅學生啦。

車淑梅:你啲仔仔女女,係咪呀?。

關則輝:係呀。我會去家訪呀。去好多,好多時間去探佢哋呢 (車淑梅:係)最近甚至去廣西去「飲」啦。同大家分享吓。(車淑梅:好呀)去一條村裏邊,點樣煮一餐,四百幾人一齊去食嘅飯呢咁樣。

去廣西去「飲」

車淑梅:係。嘩,犀利。【4:00】嗱,係幾耐開始呀,幾耐之前開始㗎,呢一個嘅,啫 ,幫内地啲學生同埋呢個嘅,兩個禮拜倒又要寫封信 . . . 呢嗰個習慣,啫,都幾難得喎!

● In this context, my consultant on this text points out that 倒 dou3 = is equivalent to 左右 = more or less.

關則輝:其實呢,呢樣嘢呢 . . . 好特別呀,我呢,睇過美國一個教授呢,佢講,將人生呢,分成三個部分。噉呢位教授叫 Peter Drucker,D-R-U-C-K-E-R。噉呢,就係成年去到四十五歲。佢呢,呢個階段呢,英文呢,係叫做 build for success,啫話你會去創造條件,而係好成功嘅你想係可能讀書啦、大學啦,你會係買屋啦、結婚啦、生仔啦、升職啦咁樣,你係為自己將來呢,創造條件嘅喎。噉 ah 跟住中場呢,就唔好似足球咁樣,十五分鐘就 bi bi 又嚟過咁短嘅。佢係四十五到七十五歲嘅(車淑梅:嘩)好長嘅(車淑梅:Ah-ah)。噉中間叫乜嘢呢,係叫做 build  for significance ,啫話有啲咩重要呢,【5:00】有啲咩係我認為人生嘅, 咦,佢意義喺邊度呢?咩叫快樂呢?會問多好多呢啲嘅。噉你會諗吓,我點樣回饋社會呢?點樣去幫身邊嘅人呢?Ah 有啲咩我應該多做呢?咁樣。好啦,七十五歲以後呢,其實基本上你係留低一個人生嘅軌跡啦,嗄。 啲人諗起,呀呢個人,拜拜咗之後,其實我印象對佢係咩嘅呢咁樣。呢個係一個,啫你留低啲乜嘢精神面貌呀,嗄。噉我覺得呢, 人生係,都係約略咁樣嘅 . . .

● 中場 jūng1 chèuhng cf. 中場休息 = intermission; half-time
● 回饋 wùih4 gwaih6 = to repay; to give back cf. Chan Siu-chi in her interview where she pronounces this same verb wùih4 kwáih5.
● 軌跡 gwái2 jīk = track; orbit; course
● 精神面貌 jīng1 sàhn4 mihn6 maauh6 = (?) one’s “spiritual appearance/face”; how one is as a person
● 約略 yeuk3 leuhk6 = (?) roughly

車淑梅:你嚟咗第二嘅階段啦。(關則輝:第二嘅階段好長㗎,嗄)入嚟就 即刻諗吓,喂,我要,啫,嗄,揾啲嘢要,要,嗄,做做啦噃咁。

Note: According to some information I once came across, 噃 bo3 has three basic functions, indicating exhortation [叮囑]; advising [勸告]; and affirming [肯定]. These functions are respectively demonstrated in three simple examples: 你唔好唔記得噃!= Don’t you forget! 咪飲咁多酒噃!= Don’t drink so much alcohol! 我記得唔係咁噃!= As I recall, it wasn’t like that!

關則輝:係。噉我就喺工作上慢慢都穩定啦 。噉我大概十年前呢,就認為將教育呢,係我嘅一個志業。 噉我不如都諗吓,香港嘅教育都好普及啦,但内地嘅教育呢,好多嘅山村嘅學生呢,佢條件好好,但係可惜呢,佢内地起碼九年免費教育。【6:00】噉去到高一、高二、高三 Form Four Five Six 呢即係香港等同呢,就要自費嘅。

● 志業 ji3 yihp6 = (?) aspiration cf. 志願 ji3 yuhn6

車淑梅:好多都未機會再上呢?

關則輝:係呀。好多,啫,山村裏邊比較窮苦嘅學生呢,因而呢,就係從此走唔出個大山。噉我因而呢就係資助啲學生讀高中。噉住宿啦、教育啦、學 . . . 書薄費啊、校服呀咁樣。其實呢,我就支持一個叫做「培苗行動」。噉呀係一位修女校長喺1993年嘅時候呢成立嘅。噉係一個非常之好嘅組織,不談宗教,不談政治,只談教育。噉我而家都有幾十嘅學生呢,係喺咁多年裏邊呢,因而咁樣呢,有機會讀高中。(車淑梅:係。)噉高中呢,係入大學嘅踏腳石。噉佢因而就會好努力㗎啦,就唔駛叫佢㗎啦,佢自動就會盡力呢,考呢,啫,考好個高考,啫等如香港啲嘢嘅DSE 嘞 。(車淑梅:係)然後就入大學。噉所以呢,我而家呢,又有好多大學生呢,更多呢,係而家畢左業啦。【7:00】(車淑梅:Mm。)有好多呢, 係做咗老師啦。

Note: Firstly, in 噉我因而呢就係, 就係 sounds as if is pronounced *jai. Secondly, Kwan uses two different listing particles in 噉住宿啦、教育啦、學 . . . 書薄費呀, switching from 啦 to 呀. This suggests that they may be interchangeable in certain situations.

● 培苗行動 Pùih4 Mìuh4 Hàhng4 Duhng6 = China Care Fund (See their website at: http://www.chinacarefund.org/zh/) The expression 培苗 literally means “to nurture seedlings”.
● 修女校長 sāu1 néui5*2 haauh jéung2 = A school principal who also happens to be a nun.

Note: The verb 談 tàahm4 = to talk; to converse; to speak. 不談宗教,不談政治,只談教育 = We don’t discuss religion. We don’t discuss politics. We only talk about education.

● 踏腳石 daahp6 geuk3 sehk6 = stepping stone

車淑梅:嘩!噉同埋有好多呢,都已經,啫,有準備成家立室啦咁樣,組織家庭呢,所以呢,就早前呢,冇幾耐之前呢喎,返咗去廣西嗰度呢,去飲喜酒。嗰個叫太平鎮,係咪?

● 成家立室 sìhng4 gāa1 laahp6 sāt1 = to get married and establish a home
● 飲喜酒 yám2 héi2 jáu2 = to attend a wedding banquet (literally, “to drink the joyous wine”)

關則輝:係。Eh 其實呢,我呢位呢,係我第一個學生。Ah 我當年十年前呢,佢係高一嘅學生 Form Four 中四學生呢,好努力嘅一個女仔。噉我特別資助多女仔嘅,因為女仔喺農村呢,個條件係相對呢,冇咁好。噉有機會都可能俾女仔讀多啲書咁樣。噉我好開心,佢真係當我親人一樣呀(車淑梅:係)噉佢結婚就話要邀請我去「飲」,去 . . .

車淑梅:噉以前你都見過嘅?

關則輝:Eh 都有見過嘅。我一路保持聯絡(車淑梅:係啦,係啦。)佢都係我學生。

車淑梅:今次嘅心情就唔同呢!

關則輝:好唔同啦!(車淑梅:係咪呀,外父? . . . 哈哈)係呀,好開心呢,淑梅姐。Eh [unclear] 我第一次升「呢」啦,做外父啦 【8:00】噉我又高鐵,又動車,又坐大巴,又要小車先至入到呢條村,喺廣西籐縣太平鎮呢個地方。好特別一樣嘢呢,我哋去飲呢,平時有好多時去酒樓呀,或者喺一啲嘅酒店裏邊㖭呀,但我今次呢,佢哋係好傳統嘅,喺佢自己男家嘅一條村裏邊嘅祖屋側邊,同埋祖屋裏邊(車淑梅:係,嘩)享用嘅。噉而裏邊特別呢,係全家全村總動員係去煮嘅喎。就唔係呢,去酒家咁訂滿嗮十幾多圍(酒席)咁樣,佢哋用一個流水式嘅方式呢,又譬如有八張枱。噉邊啲親友嚟到,湊夠十個就食㗎喇(車淑梅、關則輝:laughter)。

● 升「呢」sīng1 lē1 = to go up a level (Here 「呢」lē 1 = le-vel)
● 祖屋 jóu2 ngūk1 = ancestral home
● 流水式 làuh4 séui2 sīk1 = (?) in the manner of [式] an assembly line [流水缐]

Note: We have already seen the verb 湊 chau3 used with the meaning of “to look after; to raise (a child)”. Here, we see another side to its range, the verbal meaning of “to gather together; to pool; to collect”. With the addition of a particle expressing result in 湊夠, we get “to gather enough (people)”

關則輝:我一路好開心見證住佢哋,人生一個階段呢,由簡單嘅求學開始,到中學到大學,都好多人生嘅階段呢,【9:00】我哋都成爲一個朋友,呢個係一個終生嘅朋友呀, 因為地域阻隔,青海,我常去,十幾次呀, 我會認識佢屋企人呢(車淑梅:Mm。)噉所以每一次去家訪都係一個我認爲係洗滌心靈嘅,嘅經驗嚟㗎。

● The verb 見證 gin3 jing3 = to witness; to bear witness. In the phrase 好開心見證住佢哋 = “happy to witness them”, the aspect marker 住 jyuh6 is tacked on. With very physical actions such as 掛 gwaa3 = to hang, the addition of 住 suggests that what was hung up remains hanging after the initial act that got it into this state in the first place. The implication with 見證 also suggests something of this: after witnessing (a marriage), one stays a witness forever after.
● 求學 kàuh4 hohk6 = to attend school; seek knowledge
● 地域阻隔 deih6 wihk6 jó2 gaak3 = region + to obstruct (This suggests “[of a place] difficult to get to”, but this doesn’t make much sense in the context of the passage.)
● 洗滌心靈 sái2 dihk6 sām1 lìhng4 = to cleanse one’s soul

車淑梅:有啲咩,啫係,特別嘅故事呢?

關則輝:好多呢!我一次去青海嘅一個男仔,我男同學嘅屋企。佢,佢嘅名叫郭興毅 (unclear) 生日嘅,(unclear)噉去到嘅時候呢,ah 見到佢爸爸,見到佢媽媽,個爸爸呢,一見到我呢,就握手喇,雙眼通紅,雙眼通紅,好激動。噉原來佢後尾同我講,佢話,雖然我文化程度唔高,你每次寫信俾我嘅仔呢,我仔都交啲信俾我睇嘅。我都每一次都有所感受,我好開心你一路 ah 睇住我仔成長。噉佢自己話,個文化程度唔高,【10:00】但係佢從佢同我分享佢個做生意,亦都以誠信係啱嘞,我以前 喺廉政公署做㗎嘛。最緊要嘅係講誠信,從來都係講係以最均真,最公道去做我生意,我點樣去對我家人、對我朋友。呢啲其實我喺佢身上學到嘢呀。

● 誠信 sìhng4 seun3 = genuine; honest; in good faith
● 均真 gwān1 jān1 = fair and just; strictly according to the rules; by the book

TO BE CONTINUED!

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