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.


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.

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