Learning Cantonese: Chilly New Year’s Eve Predicted for Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Observatory is forecasting a very cold New Year’s Eve for December 31, and not just because of the chilling political events of recent months . . .

This brief 40-second report — put together by the reporter 邱靖汶 Yāu1 Jihng6 Mahn6 at HK01 on 22 December — is jammed-packed with useful things and is especially accessible due to the absence of any intrusive musical accompaniment. In it, you’ll hear three different expressions for “New Year’s Eve”: 除夕chèuih4 jihk6, 大除夕 daaih6 chèuih4 jihk6 and 除夕夜 chèuih4 jihk6 yeh6! Another piece of relevant vocabulary is 倒數 dou3 sóu2, which refers to the “countdown” people like to do to the first moment of the New Year.

Because the report is largely based on weather forecasting, the modal verb 會 wúih5 gets used to predict the high likelihood that something will happen (although this “high likelihood” can be downplayed by the addition of other expressions, e.g. 可能就會有啲唔同呀 = it will probably by different). There is also an instance of 嚟 lèih4 to create an open time expression (7年嚟 = in the past seven years) and an interesting use of the aspect marker 返 fāan1 in 數返 sóu2 fāan1, “(?) to count back to (a time in the past)”.

Apart from grammar, there’s also a surprising amount of readily useful vocabulary, including: 感受 gám2 sauh6 = to experience; 短暫 dyún2 jaahm6 = of short duration; 乾燥 gōn1 chou3 = dry; 嚴峻 yìhm4 jeun3 = stern; as well as the Cantonese verb “to celebrate”, 興祝 hing3 jūk1. The expression 暖粒粒 nyúhn5 lāp1 lāp1 also makes an appearance. I once saw this on a billboard in Tuen Mun which said: 暖粒粒過聖誕 (lit. “warmly spend/celebrate Christmas”) which inclines me to the belief that it can mean something more than “warm in temperature”.

You can view the video here, but scroll down if you want the Cantonese transcript, notes and translation. 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.

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仲有九日就到大除夕 | 不過今年倒數感受 | 可能就會有唔同呀 | 天文台預測,12 月 31 號除夕嘅氣溫 | 會跌到 10 度 | 係跌到得返攝氏 10度 | 上水、屯門等等嘅地方低至 9度 | 有機會成爲 7 年 | 最低溫嘅除夕夜 | 而最凍嘅除夕就要數返 [20]12 年 | 7.1 度嘅紀錄低溫 | 除夕日間短暫時間會有陽光 | 天氣乾燥 | 早晚寒冷 | 天氣凍,大家過節嘅時候不忘要 | 多啲關心長者同埋長期病患 | 疫情嚴峻 | 除夕夜都係避免外出興祝 | 屋企暖粒粒咁樣倒數 | 迎接 2021 年

● 大除夕 daaih6 chèuih4 jihk6 = (?) New Year’s Eve | ● 倒數 dou3 sóu2 = to do the countdown (to the first moment of the New Year) | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = ① to be affected by ② to experience; to feel | ● 預測 yuh6 chāak1 = to calculate; to forecast | ● 除夕夜 chèuih4 jihk6 yeh6 = New Year’s Eve | ● 數返 sóu2 fāan1 = (?) to count back to (a time in the past) | ● 紀錄 géi2 luhk6 = to take notes; to record | ● 短暫 dyún2 jaahm6 = of short duration; transient; brief | ● 乾燥 gōn1 chou3 = ① dry; arid ② dull; uninteresting | ● 早晚 jóu2 máahn5 = morning & evening (perhaps here with the implication “before the sun comes up & after it has gone down) | ● 過節 gwo3 jit3 = to celebrate a festival cf. 興祝 | ● 長期病患 chèuhng4 kèih4 behng6 waahn6 = 長期 over a long period of time; long-term +  病患 (?) to suffer from an illness| ● 嚴峻 yìhm4 jeun3 = stern; severe; rigorous; grim | ● 興祝 hing3 jūk1 = to celebrate (Current Colloquial Cantonese: 5) cf. 過節 gwo3 jit3 | ● 暖粒粒 nyúhn5 lāp1 lāp1 = warm in temperature (Sheik Cantonese) | ● 迎接 yìhng4 jip3 = to meet; to welcome; to greet (in this context, perhaps “to see in (the New Year)” is also possible

There are still nine days to go to New Year’s Eve, but the experience might be a bit different for this year’s Countdown. The Hong Kong Observatory is forecasting that the temperature on 31 December will drop to 10 degrees, only getting up [(?) 得返] to 10 degrees Celsius. In places such as Sheung Shui and Tuen Mun, it will go down to 9 degrees. There is a chance that it will be the coldest New Year’s Eve in the past seven years. For that [而最凍嘅除夕], one has to count back to the year 2012, [which had] a recorded lowest temperature of 7.1 degrees. In the daytime on 31 December [除夕日間], there will be brief periods of sunshine, it will be dry, and it will be cold in the morning and in the evening. When the weather is cold, don’t forget to give the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses [(?) 長期病患] extra care. [Since] the virus situation is looking grim [嚴峻], avoid going out to celebrate on New Year’s Eve. [Instead], do the countdown to welcome in 2021 at home [where you will be] warm and cosy.

Learning Cantonese: Lesley Mak on Wonton Noodles

Please do you best to put up with the disco soundtrack: the pain inflicted by the music is a small price to pay for the clear speech, special vocabulary (and English subtitles) you will encounter in episode No.90 of the Kong Stories series.

Lesley Mak, or 麥心睿 Mahk6 Sām1 Yeuih6 in Cantonese, runs the Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop in Jordan. Her specialty is wonton noodles, and one of the delights of this video is her use of the word 細蓉 sai3 yúng2, an insider’s term.《香港粵語大詞典》defines it as: 飲食行業術語 (“a trade term used in the hospitality industry”). You might get special treatment if you use it next time your order these prawn dumplings with 麵 noodles in clear soup. Actually, 蓉 is indispensable in another, horticultural context: it forms part of the compound 芙蓉 fùh4 yúng2 = 1. hibiscus 2. lotus.

In this episode, Mak makes several references to nostalgia or 懷舊 wàaih4 gauh6. This links with her use of the expression 難以忘懷 nàahn4 yíh5 mòhng4 wàaih4 = “hard to get out of one’s mind” and the noun 情懷chìhng4 wàaih4 = “feelings; thoughts & feelings” (observe how the character 懷 crops up again here). I sense that 情懷 doesn’t have to refer to specifically nostalgic feelings, but that it often does so.

Also of interest are the expressions 街頭街尾 gāai1 tàuh4 gāai1 méih5 = from one end of the street to the other; 後巷 hauh6 hóng6*2 = back alley; 早排 jóu2 pàaih4/páai4*2 = a while ago; a few days ago (cf. 呢排,近排 and 最排); and 心血 sām1 hyut3 = painstaking care/effort.

By the way, the character 睿 yeuih6 in Lesley Mak’s name has the meaning of “farsighted”. It’s not a very common character, but you do see it occasionally, particularly in the compound 睿智 yeuih6 ji3 = “wise and farsighted”.

Finally, I am guessing that 綠寳橙汁 luhk6 bóu2 cháang2 jāp1 is the beverage Martin Booth mentions in the following passage from his novel The Iron Tree:

‘Please,’ he went on. ‘Sit down. Take the weight off.’ That is a phrase he picked up as he did mart. ‘You wan’ a beer, soft drink? San Mig? Green Spot orange?’ Then he looked up and recognized me.

You can view the video here, but scroll down if you want the Cantonese transcript, notes and translation. Since it is on YouTube, 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.

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Caption: 麥文記 | Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop

麥心睿:我鍾意懷舊 | 黑白相、聽舊歌、細蓉、飲綠寳橙汁 | 種種懷舊事物都令我好難以忘懷

● 懷舊 wàaih4 gauh6 = to remember old times or past acquaintances (usu. with kindly thoughts) | ● 細蓉 sai3 yúng2 = another word meaning “wonton noodles” | ● 綠寳橙汁 luhk6 bóu2 cháang2 jāp1 = Green Spot orange | ● 難以忘懷 nàahn4 yíh5 mòhng4 wàaih4 = cf. 忘懷 to forget; to dismiss from one’s mind

Lesley Mak: I like remembering the past. Black and white photos, listening to old songs, wonton noodles, drinking Green Spot orange. All these various nostalgic things, I find it hard to get them out of my head.

舊時擔挑托麵嘅年代 | 一個仙可以食到一碗雲吞麵 | 而家已經再呢支歌仔唱喇

● 擔挑托麵 dāam1 tīu1 tok3 mihn6 = ? | ● 仙 sīn1 = cent

Note: 1. I am not sure about the exact meaning of 仙 sīn1 and whether it is still used to refer to money in Hong Kong. The implication here is that it was a fairly small sum to pay. 2. 已經再冇呢支歌仔唱喇 (if I have got it right) appears to be an idiom meaning “those days are over” or “gone are the days”.

[In] the old days, at the time when hawkers carried around their noodles on shoulder poles [擔挑托麵], you could buy a bowl of wonton noodles for one cent [一個仙], but this little song [歌仔] is no longer sung.

爸爸媽媽四十年代中期走難到香港 | 然後,喺後巷賣雲吞麵維生 | 我4歲開始已經喺鋪頭幫手包雲吞 | 食雲吞麵由細食到大到而家都未厭 【1:00】

● 走難 jáu2 naahn6 = (?) to flee from a dangerous situation | ● 後巷 hauh6 hóng6*2 = back alley | ● 維生 wàih4 sāng1 = to subsist; to eke out a living; to keep body and soul together | ● 未厭 meih6 yim3 = have not yet got sick/tired of cf.  厭 = be fed up with; be bored with; be tired of

Note: When the character 難 (usu. nàahn4) is pronounced in the low-level tone as naahn6, it means “a calamity; a disaster; an adversity” or the verb “to take to task; to blame”.

My mother and father fled to Hong Kong in the middle of the 1940s. Later, they made a living selling wonton noodles in a back alley. I was already helping in the shop making wontons [包雲吞] when I was four. I have been eating wonton noodles all my life and am not yet tired of them.

舊時嘅佐敦街頭街尾都佈滿霓虹燈招牌,但係因爲種種嘅原因 | 早排霓虹燈招牌仿佛就結束咗一個歷史任務 | 告別佐敦

● 街頭街尾 gāai1 tàuh4 gāai1 méih5 = from one end of the street to the other (lit. “street head street tail”) | ● 佈滿 bou3 múhn5 = (?) to be covered all over with | ● 霓虹燈招牌 ngàih4 hùhng4 dāng1 jīu1 pàaih4 = neon sign | ● 早排 jóu2 pàaih4/páai4*2 = a while ago; a few days ago; perhaps here “previously” | ● 仿佛 fóng2 fāt1 = seem; as if | ● 告別 gou3 biht6 = to leave; to part from

Back in the old days, Jordan Road was covered in neon signs from one end to the other but, for various reasons, the neon signs of previous times seemed to have completed an historical mission and have left Jordan.

我期望以後麥文記可以做到等於雲吞麵嘅代表 | 代表香港歷史嘅一部分 | 見證香港情懷 | 等爸爸媽媽嘅心血長流 | 令香港人嘅故事傳留

● 見證 gin3 jing3 = (?) to witness; to bear witness | ● 情懷 chìhng4 wàaih4 = feelings; thoughts & feelings | ● 心血長流 sām1 hyut3 chèuhng4 làuh4 = (?) long continue to be effective (with regard to the painstaking efforts of people who have gone before) cf. 心血 = painstaking care/effort | ● 傳留 chyùhn4 làuh4 = (?) to be handed down/passed on (to later generations)

Note: Here, in the phrase 等爸爸媽媽嘅心血長流, 等 dáng2 is used with the sense of “to let; to allow; to make”, a colloquial equivalent of the written or formal 讓 yeuhng6. On the other hand, 等於 means “to be equivalent to”.

It is my hope that the Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop might become [可以做到] an emblem [代表] of wonton noodles, of a part of Hong Kong’s history, bearing witness to [certain] Hong Kong feelings, and enabling the painstaking efforts of my mother and father to go on bearing fruit [心血長流], so that the story of the Hong Kong people is handed on [to future generations].

我叫麥心睿,香港土生土長,七百萬個故仔成就一個香 . . . 港故仔

My name is Lesley Mak, born and bred in Hong Kong. Seven million stories go to make up [成就] one [of the] Hong . . . Kong Stories.

《新心界》: 第六章 : 「内部光輝」

•  「心界」| Soundtrack

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新界對於陳之一嚟講就好似磁石咁,絶對冇法抗拒,但佢又冇法向其他人解釋呢種力量嘅所在。儘管呢個問題佢都諗咗好耐,只能得出唯一但仍然模糊嘅結論:内部光」。

離開聯和墟後,佢就一直往粉嶺東邊麻笏河行過去。經過安全街嘅時候,佢出於好奇心,不自覺停下腳步,睇睇一架好大好長嘅貨車,向某間公司嘅入口慢慢倒車入去,而為咗幫助司機順利倒車,司機嘅友人用一條鐵通用力敲打路旁嘅欄杆,透過打擊嘅節奏、聲音傳達相當有用嘅信息俾司機,令佢能夠順利泊好貨車。不過,呢種洪亮嘅金屬撞擊嘈音,就一直停留喺陳之一嘅雙耳中,嗡嗡作響。

好可惜,麻笏河早被香港嘅城市規劃師「規劃」了,牢牢困於大量石屎之中,樣貌同明渠差唔多,同樣係雨後會流動著混濁嘅污水,已經喪失河流應有嘅活力同埋自發性。為此,外國人低聲毒罵上古治水嘅大禹,因爲由大禹開始,華夏文明就特別重視治水嘅技巧,去到二十世紀下半葉,隨著現代科技嘅昌明,「蕞爾小島」之居民對於淹沒嘅憂慮得到充分嘅表現。想必過去香港人係飽受水浸帶嚟痛苦,因此而家嘅防洪熱情,真係做得太過火,所謂嘅建設,其實正正糟蹋、蹂躪緊大自然啦!不過,諗到呢度一點,陳之一見到兩隻小白鷺,非常悠閑咁飛過嚟,其後喺有垃圾但冇青草嘅假「河畔」上,充滿氣質又優雅地尋覓食物。

麻笏河另一邊係粉嶺,過河後就踏入龍躍頭一帶,市區由此驟然退去,跟住可以察覺到新界原有嘅田園風情。喺崇謙堂附近,外國男人不慌不忙咁行過一大笪荒廢嘅土地,因為早就冇人耕種,所以已經被各種雜草徹底侵佔,包括假向日葵、黃色野菊、同埋馨氣撲鼻嘅薑花。另外偶爾又可以見到一簇一簇生長出嚟但一啲都唔搶眼嘅矮細野草,譬如狸尾豆、黃毛苦草、梵天花同埋史氏千里光等等。呢一片雜草王國對途人展現出,自然界連最微不足道嘅地方都有充裕嚟創造力:縱然其外貌顯得十分混亂,表面上缺乏秩序,但其中仍然存著一種强烈嘅美感,令到陳之一暫時忘記鄰近市鎮入面嘅高樓大廈,同時忍唔住思考一下,點解人爲嘅紊亂難以保存嗰種内在美?注意到四月份薄弱嘅陽光投射到植物嘅葉面上時,陳之一特別欣賞類彌漫活力嗰嬌嫩光芒。

到達麻笏圍鄉村,佢又一次中途停低,目的係睇吓十八世紀興建嘅門樓同埋門楣上嘅紅砂岩石匾。呢嚿石額刻有「欝葱」二字,照指示牌為遊客提供嘅簡略解釋,「欝(同『鬱』)葱」即係寓意草木茂盛之地。陳之一特別鍾意呢塊紅砂岩嘅顔色,唔係紅色,又唔算係淺啡色,而係一種落日般嘅橙黃色,呢隻顔色將石頭嘅光輝同光亮擁有嘅石質融爲一體,效果真係非常之優美、溫柔。

其後,陳之一就繼續前往老圍(「門高迎紫氣,圍老得淳風」)隔離嘅龍躍頭天后宮,接近廟宇嗰一刻,就聽到近處有人攞著掃把,好從容咁掃地嘅聲音:一次又一次喺鋪滿瀝青嘅前院上面掃過去,就好似南丫島東澳灣嘅海浪,不停向平滑嘅沙灘上拍打過嚟,沙沙作響,產生一種類似催眠曲嘅效果,好容易讓人掃回一童年時代嘅回憶。到埗寺廟嘅時候,佢就發現掃地嘅係一個年輕女人,而其揮舞嘅大掃把同人差唔多一樣高!同女清潔工人寒暄幾句之後,陳之一就心懷期望邁過天后宮嘅門檻。

此刻,廟門内嗰種獨特嘅寧靜係可以觸摸得到嘅,依外國人睇,呢一種充滿和諧嘅謐靜唔單止係所謂聲學上嘅現象,而更加係可以用肉體感覺到嘅一種感受。因此,雖然前院掃地刷刷嘅摩擦聲一路尾隨進入廟中,但係呢類輕微嘅嘈音根本無法破壞廟内嘅强烈謐靜。呢間廟宇屋頂設有天井,所以裏面嘅光缐都比較明亮。不過當陳之一行到廟堂深處嘅時候,亮度就變得較為幽暗,令到祭壇上紅色電燈泡發射出嘅光芒就更加耀眼。燈泡側邊擺放著幾個豐滿甜橙作為祭品,佢就好似落山嘅太陽咁略略發出幾綫暗光。陳之一抬頭望望一刻,就見到上面掛著一個個螺旋式向下垂嘅塔型盤香,好像一排排由煙霧鑄成嘅無聲鬼鐘般,若隱若現,在濃厚煙霧之間,半透明左右搖曳。

不過,今次吸引陳之一目光嘅唔係天后元君,而係左邊嘅嗰幅青磚墻。佢讀書時得知,香港常見嘅青磚頭係同稻田有奇妙關連:厡來稻田中慢慢淤積嘅青色黏土,就係製造青磚嘅基本原料,用呢種咁有生命力嘅泥土嚟興建寺廟、寓所等建築物,真係係一種順天而行嘅行為﹗另外,因爲呢間廟宇左側屋頂鑿有天井,所以天晴有陽光嘅時間,廟内呢一幅青磚墻就間唔中被太陽曬到。奇怪嘅係,廟内真係有一種植物能夠喺青磚墻上繁盛咁生長出嚟,品種好似屬於蕨類,而且生長得尤其茂盛,彷如過去稻田肥沃嘅淤泥,到而家都仲保留本有嘅養份,完全概括「欝葱」嘅意義。除咗陳之一外,佢就係天后宮中唯一賦有活力嘅生物。呢一個事實令到當時醉於遐想嘅葉公,面容上露出一絲笑意。

挨晚行返麻笏河嗰一刻,外國人路過一座供奉土地公嘅神壇,座神壇恰好都係用磚頭砌成嘅,後面又種植唔少樹木,話唔定係麻笏圍過去擁有一片風水林嘅殘跡。雖然外貌極爲樸素,但係祭壇上面擺放著一個做得零舍精緻嘅土地公雕塑。經過歲月嘅流逝,土地公身穿嘅紅色長袍已經褪色,但頂帽條邊就保存部分原有嘅天藍色,不過土地公面上嘅臉色一啲都變,表情非常之安詳,凡人都會覺得土地公相當平易近人。

太陽經已落山,樹林隨之不斷傳嚟幽幽嘅蜥蟀鳴叫聲,同陳之一略微憂傷嘅心情完全相符,而西邊嘅晚霞將祭壇中每一塊磚頭隱藏嘅火焰都充分釋放出嚟,致使陳之一眼前都係一片濃艷嘅粉紅色,亮刺刺嘅光令到男人根本睜不開雙眼。

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阿綠順利去到大埔嘉福裱畫公司,喺出面嘅櫃檯前等老細匡囗全由後面嘅工作間行出嚟。櫃枱非常配合周圍環境嘅裝修,又現代又開揚,照明亦非常光亮,將雪白墻上嘅幾幅畫照得特別耀眼。阿綠不能不注意到匡老闆使用嘅畫框都係超級豪華,但係被鑲嵌嘅「藝術品」就極度平庸。當諗到呢一點之際,左邊嘅側門突然打開,隨後匡囗全同綠頭髮嘅發暗家一面揮手,一面打招呼。阿綠即刻尾隨老細進入後邊嘅工作間,一步入工作間,光缐即刻暗淡下去,整體氣氛亦好似由當代回到過去,工作間嘅環境又亂又雜又殘舊,空氣裏面充滿著膠水同木屑嘅氣味,令到阿綠霎時無法適應。

行到一大張工作枱前,匡老闆就順手埋開關,頭上嘅大燈就立刻投下光缐,將面嘅物件照亮:左邊放著原有嘅舊畫框,顯得零舍赤裸,一絲不掛咁;而右邊脫框嘅自畫像背面,一眼望落去就好唔舒服。畫背面貼有一大塊經已發黃嘅報紙,上面貼滿膠紙,貼得非常之實,而報紙中間擳出嚟嘅部分十分凸出,紙下面好似收藏咗啲嘢,好明顯有人曾經將一樣蓄意插入去。

去到呢個時候,匡老闆就向阿綠解釋佢工作上嘅困難:「你睇,呢邊嘅廢紙已經同你幅畫融成一體,如果用刀鎅開,就有可能會破壞幅畫。不過,假如唔鎅開,幅畫將來就容易變形。你考慮一下啦?」

面對兩難,阿綠真係猶豫不決,佢冇法即刻回答匡師傅。佢諗下唸下,呆呆咁望住嗰塊倒轉嘅舊報紙,莫名其妙咁發白日夢。

突然間,女人大聲講出一聲「甴!」。

「咩話,你?」嘉福裱畫公司嘅老細唔知點反應,只能擘大個口。

「呢度呀!你睇先,老闆!」阿綠向報紙上指一指,喺兩行黑麻麻嘅字體之間,果真有人用鉛筆寫低兩個暗淡嘅“甴”字,如果唔留心睇,都法睇出。等匡老細望到之後,阿綠就向佢進一步解釋:「呢啲字係我阿媽親手寫嘅!我細細個唔知點解成日會將“曱甴”講成“甴甴”,屋企人於是照樣叫我做“甴甴”,不過外人唔會咁樣叫我。另外,為咗鼓勵我認字讀書,我媽咪鍾意由報紙、雜誌撕下一啲文章,叫我用紅筆喺自己學識嘅字上畫個圈,佢就會用鉛筆寫低一啲笑話。佢想透過呢種方法增加我讀書嘅樂趣。我阿媽樣做一定有目的:報紙下面一定收埋咗佢想留我嘅嘢。匡師傅,你一定要鎅開呢幅畫上面嘅報紙。」

聽到阿綠堅定嘅語氣,匡囗全便去攞一把特用嘅刀,刀刃又細長又尖銳, 同醫生使用嘅解剖刀十分相似。匡老闆警告阿綠要企後啲,俾多啲空間佢執行重要任務。於是,佢極爲小心咁開始喺隆起嘅地方下刀。喺成個過程當中,阿綠都好心急,一直忍住啖氣。雖然呢次「手術」並未涉及到任何人體部位,但係阿綠個心為早就離世嘅母親,悄悄一滴一滴咁流緊鮮血。媽!

鎅好之後,匡老闆盯住阿綠幾秒鐘,就用兩隻手指慢慢捏出入面嘅藏物。又係一堆紙!不過,呢次嘅紙係平滑嘅,上面亦都印有一彩色圖片。匡師傅頗爲隆重咁將呢堆紙遞俾甚為緊張嘅阿綠,匡師傅好似懷有期望咁,好想睇一睇佢點將第二個謎團解開。

接到手上嗰一刻,阿綠心裏隱隱產生幻覺,感覺自己嘅一生轉瞬間停止,然後就置身於一段時間嘅時間當中,知覺就全部集中喺手指同光滑紙張之間嘅接觸感。對於母親留俾佢嘅遺物,佢好懷疑自己有足夠嘅心理準備去面對?經過一番猶疑之後,佢就手喐人唔喐咁將外層嗰堆紙慢慢拆開。居然係一個小包裹,而小包裹係由一條綠色嘅絲帶捆埋一齊,個纈打得特別實。初睄一眼,阿綠就留意到最上面係一信封,信封上面寫著「公主收」五個字,下面放著兩本筆記簿,大小唔同,厚薄又有唔同。阿綠就試圖開個纈,但係打得太死,加上佢心情太過緊張,解極都解唔開。匡師傅見狀就十分靈巧咁用手上把刀將絲帶割斷,絲帶隨即跌在工作枱上面。喺呢種毫無時間嘅時間下,阿綠以慢鏡頭嘅速度將手上嘅物品擺放枱側邊,然後再伸手拿起信封。好奇怪,信封冇被封死,信封頭只不過被攝入信封内,唔使一秒鐘,就可以將信封裏面嘅嘢抽出嚟。

去到呢個時刻,阿綠面前出現咗一張黑白相,相入面嘅人就係年輕時代嘅母親葛艷芊,隔離又有一個後生男人,用右手親暱咁搭喺母親嘅膊頭上面,兩人嘅表情睇嚟係非常和諧、自在。阿綠深深咁倒吸一啖氣。好明顯,嗰個男人並唔係自己嘅爸爸。此時,匡囗全注意到阿綠對手開始發抖,與此同時,臉色亦變得蒼白。因此,老闆忽然用一種果斷嘅語氣,勸阿綠唔好喺度再睇私人嘢,勸佢返自己屋企,心情冷靜啲先至繼續睇。阿綠彷如一個聽話嘅細路女,即刻將張相、封信同埋其他嘢執好,在思維混亂嘅情況下離開嘉福裱畫公司。

“The Original Inexhaustible Fund of Buoyancy”

Whatever the Doctor orders, is there any cure
for crying out loud? Where
the po social face
wonders under control, the force of her features lives
with a distinct livelihood of its own,
owning up to everything feeling,
and not toning down for shame what captures
her imagitation.
A ray of hope
or a stingray
of doubt — these never take second place
to cool schooled composure, and when —
again for crying out loud — she is bigger
than World Protocol, tears
streaming down her cheeks
and embarrassment singe-ing her singing nerves,
she remains single in that vivid affirmation,
sparkle-arkle-arkling at us all.


Photograph: Evette Kwok (2020)

Learning Cantonese: On Meditation

The Hong Kong Buddhist monk 常霖法師 Master Changlin (or Sèuhng4 Làhm4 in Cantonese) has made numerous videos in Cantonese, many of them in an interview format. He trained as a designer before he found Zen, and this shows in the quality of his productions. I have chosen this one partly for its colloquial unscripted tone, partly for its brevity, and partly because it uses a verb that I had never heard before, 寒背 hòhn4 bui3. There is a definition of it in 《香港粵語大詞典》, where it is explained as 輕微的駝背 = to be slightly hunchbacked; to hunch one’s back slightly. There is also an instance of another (rare) verb in 𩓥高頭 ngohk6 gōu1 tàuh4 = to lift up one’s head.

You can view the video here. Since it is on YouTube, 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.

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千人禪修 | 安心 ● 心安 Zen Practice for All: Pacify the Mind & the Mind Will Be Peaceful

常霖法師:啊,靜坐呢,就唔係一定要禪堂裏邊 | 喺日常生活裏邊 | 應該隨時隨地都可以做得到 | 譬如話喺我而家一張嘅梳化 | 噉,呃,可以盤腿坐 | 亦都可以放坐 | 重點呢,| 就係話身體要首先要平衡同埋放鬆 | 呃,坐喺度嘅時候要平衡嘅關係呢 | 所以我哋要坐得直 | 坐得直呢,但係就唔係話等於要好用力樣撐住自己,唔係嘅 | 呃,就咁樣輕輕鬆鬆坐直就 *a 得喇 | 有陣時,有人係習慣咗佢有少少寒背咁啦 | 其實 *kei’a 咁樣呢,就會令到你個頸呀、呃腰呀,啲地方呢,都會有個壓力喺度嘅 | 噉所以呢,點樣先至叫做直呢?| 噉其實有一個方法 | 就係話我哋兩隻*a 手放喺個膝頭嗰度 | 然後個身【1:00】輕輕向前 | 跟住慢慢坐返起

● 禪堂 sìhm4 tòhng4 = (?) Zen meditation hall | + 隨時隨地 chèuih4 sìh4 chèuih4 deih6 = at any time, in any place | + 盤腿坐 pùhn4 téui2 chóh5 = to sit cross-legged | + 撐住自己 chāang1 jyuh6 jih6 géi2 = (?) to prop oneself up | + 寒背 hòhn4 bui3 = (?) to hunch the back [slightly]

Note: There is a tone change in 梳化: sō1 fáa3*2

Master Seung Lam: Ah, meditation, is not [something that is] necessarily [done] in a meditation hall. In daily life, [Caption: At any time and in any place] one should be able to do it at any time and in any place. For example, on such a sofa [as this], we can cross out legs or put them flat on the floor [放腳坐]. The important thing [Caption: 常霖法師Master Changlin] is that the body must be first of all balanced [平衡] and relaxed [Caption: Balanced & Relaxed] . When sitting, [because] of the need for balance [要平衡], we have to sit up straight [Caption: Sit up Straight without Strain]. Sitting up straight, however, does not mean [唔係話等於] propping yourself up with a great deal of effort, no.  Sit up straight in a relaxed, easy manner [輕輕鬆鬆] and that will do the trick [就得㗎喇]. Sometimes, there are people who have got into the habit of hunching their backs a little. Actually, [doing it] this way puts pressure on places such as your neck and your lower back [腰]. So, what does it take for it to be called “straight”? Well, actually there is a technique: we place our two hands on our knees, then we incline ourselves [個身輕輕向前] [Caption: Push the Body Forward then Sit up Straight] forward a little, then we sit up again.

噉你去到一個位嘅時候, 你一放鬆呢,其實就係最平衡嘅位置嚟㗎喇 | 噉啊要注意一樣就係個頭呢 | 感覺上你嗰條頸好似掂到衣領咁 | 嗱,好多人呢,就係話,你,感覺掂衣領,你就會𩓥高頭㗎喇喎 | 噉又唔平衡喇 | 所以呢,我哋係掂到衣領,但然後個下巴收返 | 咁呃啱啱好喇 | 跟住落呢,我哋個眼呢 | 就係話正前下方四十五度 | 噉你可以瞌埋 | 亦都可以微微張開都得 | 噉至於對手呢 | 就係一般情況你就咁樣放喺 | 嗰個膝頭嗰度 | 呃或者大腿其實 *kei’a 都 OK 嘅 | 噉啊如果係盤膝打坐嘅話呢 | 就最好將兩隻 *a手係放喺腹部嘅前邊 | 噉我哋就可以開始㗎喇

 ● 衣領 yī1 léhng5 = a collar (on an item of clothing) | + 𩓥高頭 ngohk6 gōu1 tàuh4 = to lift up one’s head | + 瞌埋眼 or 䁯埋眼 hāp1 màih4 ngáahn5 = to close the eyes | + 微微張開 = to open slightly | + 腹部 fūk1 bouh6 = midriff; abdomen

Note: In the case of the verb 打坐 = “to meditate”, 坐 is pronounced joh6 rather than the usual chóh5.

When you reach a spot and relax straight away, then this is the most balanced position. One thing to pay attention to is the head. It should feel [感覺上] [Caption: The Neck Touches Lightly against the Collar] as if your neck is pressing against [掂到] your collar. Now, many people think this means [就係話,你,感覺掂衣領] lifting your head up high, but this is not balanced. And so, we keep [our necks] in contact with the collar, but then we draw our chin back in [個下巴收返]. Then everything is just right. Next of all, on the subject of our eyes, [Caption: Eyes Look down Slightly] we look straight ahead and down at an angle of 45 degrees. You can close them or you can keep them slightly open if you want. As for your hands, in most situations you place them [放] like this, there on the knee. Or it’s OK actually to put them on the thighs, too. If you meditate with your legs crossed, then it’s best to put your hands in front of you lower belly. Now we can make a start.

首先呢,開始嘅時候 | 你要感受一下自己嘅身體 【2:00】| 有冇係完全放鬆呢 | 如果你係覺得,咦,嗰啲頸呀、膊頭呀,呢啲位係比較緊嘅話 | 其實你係可以用力縮起 | 再放返 | 樣你就會覺得係成個人,啊,鬆咗喇咁 | 噉於是呢,我哋就開始 | 靜靜哋 | 注意自己嘅呼吸喇

● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = 1. to be affected by 2. to experience; to feel | + 膊頭 bok3 tàuh4 = shoulder | + 縮起 sūk1 héi2 = perhaps “to hunch” or “to lift by drawing in”; the usual meaning of 縮 is “to contract; to shrink” | + 靜靜哋 jihng6 jíng6*2 déi6*2 = quietly

First of all, when starting, you must experience your own body for a moment or two. Is it completely relaxed? If you think [to yourself], Huh? There’s quite a bit of tightness [緊] in places like my neck, in my shoulders, then you use a bit of effort and lift your shoulders, then put them back [down]. That way you will feel that the whole of you is relaxed. And then, we make a start, quietly observing our own breath [Caption: Observe the Breath].

嗱,喺個過程裏邊呢 |我建議大家呢,就係 *jai 用鼻嚟呼吸 | 因爲如果用口呼吸嘅話 | 好容易就會口乾呀,就會唔舒服 | 噉所以呢,用鼻呼吸嘅意思呢,就係話 | 感受一下個空氣由個鼻孔入到去 | 落到肺部,再落到腹部 | 然後再呼返出嚟 | 嗱,喺個過程裏邊呢,我哋係自然哋做嘅 | 係唔需要話好刻意哋 | 吸深啲呀、吸長啲時間呀咁 | 係唔需要嘅 【3:00】| 我哋只係好自然哋吸 | 吸到落腹部再呼返出嚟 | 依一種呢,喺中國人嚟講呢,就叫做丹田呼吸 | 噉啊所以喺個過程裏邊呢,我哋只係注意自己嘅呼吸嘅啫 | 但係 *dai 當然好多時我哋會好多念頭走出嚟 | 噉啊念頭出嚟嘅時候呢,你千祈唔好話,啊,唔准諗,唔好諗咁 | 因爲呢,當你一呢啲壓力個念頭嘅時候,個念頭就會干擾你好多 | 我哋只要做嘅只不過係話,我哋只係一路注意自己嘅呼吸 | 但係呢,有念頭出嚟我哋唔理佢 | 旁邊有啲雜音我哋唔好理佢 | 我哋只係返返去同一個動作 | 就係話一路感受自己嘅呼吸嘅啫 | 嗱,呢一種呢,個目的呢,其實就係話,要提升我哋嘅覺察能力 | 噉所以呢,又唔好瞌眼瞓 | 啊,依一樣嘢,如果大家係持續咁樣練習【4:00】呢,係對大家一定會有幫助嘅 | 噉我哋而家一齊試 | 開始啦喎

● 鼻孔 beih6 húng2 = nostril | + 刻意 = hāk1 yi3 = usually “painstaking”; the implication is that a lot of effort is exerted | + 丹田 dāan1 tìhn4 = the pubic region; a specialist term used in tai chi & chi gung, often written as dan tian | + 走出嚟 = jáu2 chēut1 làih4 = to come out; to emerge | + 雜音 jaahp6 yām1 = noise | + 阻止 jó2 jí2 = to prevent; to stop; to hold back | + 干擾 gōn1 yíu2 = to disturb; to interfere; to obstruct | + 覺察力 gok3 chaat3 lihk6 = (?) awareness; perceptiveness | + 瞌眼瞓 hāp1 ngáahn5 fan3 = to doze off

Note: 1. The frequent use of 係 haih6 in this video in places where there is already a main verb is really conspicuous:

啊,靜坐呢,就唔係一定要喺禪堂裏邊嘅
噉有陣時,有啲人係習慣咗佢有少少寒背咁啦
噉啊如果係盤膝打坐嘅話呢 | 就最好將兩隻手係放喺腹部嘅前邊
如果你係覺得,咦,嗰啲頸呀、膊頭呀,呢啲位係比較緊嘅話
如果大家係持續咁樣練習呢,係對大家一定會有幫助嘅

What strikes me is that 係 tends to be used in places where either a kind of general statement is being made (“some people have the habit of hunching their backs a bit”) or it is used in hypothetical situations, especially with 如果if-clauses. In both cases, the implied verb-tense does not really express present time, and there is certainly no hint of on-going action. So perhaps 係 haih6 (possibly under the influence of English in Hong Kong) can be used to mark this kind of timeless present, as a kind of counterpart to 緊 -gán2 for present actions in the process of occurring. That said, the use of 係 together with 嘅 may also be done to indicate special emphasis: 就唔係一定要喺禪堂裏邊嘅 = meditation is not necessarily done in a meditation hall (that is, it may be done in other places as well). 2. Something interesting is going on with the various uses of 落到 and 到落 in this passage. In Cantonese, both 到 dou3 and 落 lohk6, apart from being verbs in their own right, are used to connect a verb to its final location, with 落 having the more specialized meaning of downward movement. In phrases such as 落到肺部, 落 serves as the main verb “to fall”, while 到 dou3 adds the connection to the location 肺部 = lungs. However, in 吸到落腹部, 吸 kap1 is the main verb (to breathe in), while both 到 dou3 and 落 lohk6 are used to introduce the location. There is a similar example in Unit 3 of the textbook About Hong Kong: 半山區有自動電梯駁到落中環,日曬雨淋都唔怕 = “Escalators connect Mid-Levels to Central and people don’t need to worry about too much sunshine or getting caught in the rain”. Perhaps 到落 conveys both (extended) connection and downward motion (?).

In the process [Caption: Breathe through Your Nose], I suggest that everyone breathe through their nose, because if you breathe through your mouth, it will easily become dry and uncomfortable. And so for that reason, by breathing through one’s nose I mean fear the air entering through your nostrils, falling to the lungs, then again to the lower belly, then [flowing] back out. In the process, we do things naturally, [Caption: Natural Breathing] we don’t push ourselves [刻意] to breathe more deeply or for a longer amount of time, no that’s unnecessary. All we have to do is breathe in quite naturally, breathing in [right] down to the lower abdomen, then out again. To the Chinese, this way is called “dan tian breathing” [Caption: Dan Tian Breathing]. And so, in the process, the only thing we have to do is observe our own breathing. However, of course, much of the time, many mental events [念頭] emerge [走出嚟] in our [minds]. When such mental events occur, whatever you do, don’t say [to yourself]: Thinking isn’t allowed. I mustn’t think! [Caption: Do Not Try and Stop Mental Events]. Because as soon as you put pressure on the mental event, it will really disturb you. All we need to do is just observe the breath the whole time [一路], nothing more. But if something crops up in the mind [有念頭出嚟], we pay no attention to it. If there is noise somewhere nearby [旁邊], don’t pay any attention to it. We just do the same movement over and over, that is, we just experience our own breathing. Now by this means, what it really boils down to in fact [其實就係話], is wanting to raise [要提升] our perceptiveness. And so, don’t doze off. If you can persevere in your practice of this [Caption: Sustained Practising], it will definitely be of help to you. Let’s have a try now, everyone together. Let’s make a start.