Learning Cantonese: A Letter from 胡志偉 Wu Chi Wai

Whatever its intended purpose, the current objective of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law is to rebrand democracy as “subversion” and to eliminate any genuine opposition from the political landscape, a move in accord with the increasingly authoritarian mindset.

Former Democratic Party chairperson 胡志偉 Wu Chi Wai was arrested on 6 January in connection with an alleged unauthorised assembly on 1 July 2020. He was denied bail after failing to surrender a British National (Overseas) passport to authorities and is being held at the 荔枝角收押所 Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, a maximum security institution. The following letter was written from there, and is dated 19 January. It was posted on the HK01 website here. Some background in English on Wu’s arrest can be found on the Hong Kong Free Press website here.

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各位街坊好朋友:

面對逆境,大家的一聲祝福、關心、支持都是强心針,都係寒冬中的暖氣,請讓我在此感激大家對我的愛護。

● 街坊 gāai1 fōng1 = neighbourhood | ● 逆境 yihk6 gíng2 = adverse circumstances; adversity | ● 强心針 kèuhng4 sām1 jām1 = (?) perhaps something like “a shot in the arm; a boost” in English cf.  强心劑 = cardiac stimulant (a medical term)| ● 愛護 oi3 wuh6 = to cherish; to treasure; to take good care of

Dear neighbourhood friends,

As I face adversity, the blessings, concern and support I have received from you all has been a real shot in the arm [强心針] and warmth [暖氣] in this frigid winter. Please allow me to thank you all for [the way] you have cherished me [對我的愛護].

人在做,天在看,明明是寫在基本法的條文,但卻可以任意演譯,離開了大衆認知的世界,誰是誰非,實在無言以對。

● 演譯 yín2 yihk6 = usu. “deduction” but also “to interpret; to expound; to develop” & written 演繹 | ● 無言以對 mòuh4 yìhn4 yíh5 deui3 = words fail one

People act and Heaven watches. What is clearly [明明] written down in the articles of the Basic Law can be arbitrarily interpreted [so that it] leaves behind the world known to the run of common people [大衆]. [But on the subject of] who is right and who is wrong, words fail me.

民主從來不是賜予,對比其他付出更多的朋友,我面對的困難儘管不少,但仍能應付。只是未來可會有更長和更多失去自由的日子,便未可預料。珍惜當下,珍惜擁有的親情、愛情、友情、健康。

● 賜予 chi3 yúh5 = to grant; to bestow | ● 應付 ying3 fuh6 = to deal with; to cope with; to handle | ● 預料 yuh6 liuh6 = to expect; to predict; to anticipate | ● 珍惜 jān1 sīk1 = to treasure; to value; to cherish | ● 親情 chān1 chìhng4 = affection (perhaps generally, more specifically, between blood relations)

Democracy has never been bestowed [on anyone]. Compared to other friends who have made many more sacrifices [付出更多的], I can cope with things, even though I am faced with not a few difficulties. Who can tell [未可預料] whether the future is likely to bring longer days without freedom as well as more losses of freedom (?). [Let us] treasure the present moment, as well as family affection, love, friendship and good health.

願好人一生平安!香港人加油!

To [all] good people, I wish a lifetime of peace! “Add oil” to the people of Hong Kong!

Learning Cantonese: 宋亦希 Sung Yik-hei and the Protection of Romer’s Tree Frog


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There are some wonderful people in Hong Kong working to uphold the rights of the natural world. In this video from RTHK, another in the series entitled 《生態人》 or People of the Environment, we are introduced to 宋亦希 Dr Sung Yik-hei, an Assistant Professor of the Science Unit at Lingnan University. Sung, an expert on the 大頭龜Big-headed Turtle, helped to discover a new species of gecko, and is also doing work to help preserve a unique species of Hong Kong frog, 盧氏小樹蛙 Romer’s Tree Frog. In addition, he is passionate about educating future generations about the vital importance of accurate ecological knowledge.

Most of the grammar in this presentation is fairly straightforward, and shouldn’t cause you too many problems. There is, however, an interesting use of the aspect marker use of 咗 jó2 in the phrase 將呢啲溫室蟾去移除咗 for a future action which has not yet been realized. There is a discussion of this in Colloquial Cantonese, Chapter 9 (1997): “Sometimes when we ask people to do a favour we can use the aspect marker -jó2 with the verb to indicate anticipation of some action being completed soon. This use is not unlike the notion of ‘getting something done’ in English.”

As you watch the video, listen out for the following worth-getting-to-know vocabulary items: 緊連 gán2 lìhn4 = (?) to adjoin; 體型 tái2 yìhng4 = type of build or figure; 蝌蚪 fō1 dáu2 = a tadpole; 白蟻 baahk6 ngáih5 = a white ant; termite; 奇妙 kèih4 miuh6 = marvellous; wonderful; intriguing; 氣餒 hei3 néuih5 = to become dejected; to be discouraged; to lose heart; and 灌輸 gun3 syū1 = to instil into; to inculcate; to imbue with.

There is also some very relevant vocabulary to do with the idea of being enlightened or inspired to do something. In the first instance, the reporter uses the phrase 佢對保育議題嘅啓蒙, in which 啓蒙 kái2 mùhng4 = “to enlighten” is spoken. A bit later, Sung uses the verb 啓發kái2 faat3 = to rouse; to inspire; to enlighten while, right at the end, he employs 開啓 hōi1 kái2 = usually “to open”; also “to inaugurate” in the statement 大學先有機會真係去野外接觸動物 | 先令到我開啓咗做到呢啲生態研究呀 = It wasn’t till I went to university that I really had the chance to go into the wild and get a taste of [it]. Only then did I open to the idea [開啓] of doing this ecological research. At one point, he also uses a more figurative expression to indicate this idea of being inspired to do something. The expression is 著咗個燈膽, which literally means “to switch on the light-bulb”, equivalent to the English “a light went on inside my head”.

This video has recently (September 2021) been removed from the RTHK website. However, you can listen to the audio here:


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Caption: 一次夜探 | A Night Visit

宋亦希:我哋今晚就嚟到呢一個地方呢 | 噉呢度其實都幾近市區嘅 | 噉但係你會見到周圍都會有樹林

Sung Yik-hei: I have come here tonight, a place that is quite [幾] close to an urban district, but as you can see there is forest in the vicinity.

Caption: 受訪者在野外收集樣本作科研用途,觀衆切勿模仿 | The subject of this interview is collecting specimens in the wild for the use of scientific research. Viewers must not do the same.

宋亦希:雖然喺馬路附近

Sung Yik-hei: Although [such forest] is close to a road.

記者:嶺南大學科學教研組助理教授宋亦希 | 今日嚟到呢個緊連市區嘅小樹林 | 最主要目的係尋找兩種青蛙

● 緊連 gán2 lìhn4 = (?) to adjoin (lit. “to closely connect”) | ● 尋找 chàhm4 jáau2 = to seek; to look for

Reporter: Sung Yik-hei, Assistant Professor of the Science Unit at Lingnan University has come to this small [patch of] forest adjoining an urban district today, the main objective being to find two kinds of frog.

宋亦希:呢度地方呢,其實有我哋香港特有一種青蛙 | 就係 *jai 叫盧氏小樹蛙嘅分佈

● 盧氏小樹蛙 lòuh4 sih6 síu2 syuh6 wāa1 = Romer’s Tree Frog | ● 分佈 fān1 bou3 = to be distributed (over an area); be dispersed

Sung Yik-hei: Actually, here in this place, in fact, a kind of frog unique to Hong Kong called Romer’s Tree Frog is dispersed [分佈]

Caption: 宋亦希:嶺南大學科學教研組助理教授| Sung Yik-Hei: Assistant Professor, Science Unit, Lingnan University

宋亦希:喺幾年前呢 | 就發現咗呢度其實有一種外來種叫做溫室蟾 | 我哋一路呢,都會擔心 | 呢種溫室蟾呢,因爲佢同盧氏小樹蛙嘅體型好似呀 | 食嘅嘢或者佢哋生活嘅,呃, 需求呢,好相似,佢哋會競爭 | 今日嚟呢,就會觀察吓啦,睇吓究竟譬如呢兩種佢哋今日個數量或者密度 | 會係點樣 | 都會,呃,採少少樣本啦 | 揾啲青蛙返去做一啲實驗 | 噉睇吓佢哋之間個競爭係究竟有幾大 【1:00】

● 外來種 ngoih6 lòih4 júng2 = (?) a foreign species; an introduced species | ● 溫室蟾 wān1 sāt 1 sìhm4 = 溫室蟾 = Greenhouse Toad, Eleutherodactylus planirostris | ● 體型 tái2 yìhng4 = type of build or figure | ● 需求 sēui1 kàuh4 = a requirement; a demand | ● 相似 sēung1 chíh5 = to resemble; to be similar to | ● 競爭 jihng6 jāng1 = to compete; competition | ● 密度 maht6 douh6 = density; thickness

Sung Yik-hei: Several years ago, a kind of foreign species was, in fact, discovered here, the Greenhouse Toad. All along, we have been worried that this Greenhouse Toad is competing with Romer’s Tree Frog because their body-type [體型] is similar as well as their food and living requirements. [My] coming here today is to do a bit of investigation to see whether what their numbers and density [密度] are like [係點樣] today. I will also collect a few samples and take a few frogs back to the laboratory. Then [I] will take a look at just how big the competition between them is.

記者:捉到隻

Reporter: You have caught one.

宋亦希:噉呢隻就係 *jai 溫室蟾喇 | 佢嘅體型好細嘅 | 佢係嚟自中美洲譬如巴拿馬附近嘅國家嘅 | 估計呢,佢係透過一啲盆栽嚟到香港嘅 | 可能會係成隻青蛙啦,或者佢係好特別嘅,佢係冇一個蝌蚪期嘅 | 蛋呢,直接可以變青蛙仔嘅 | 佢哋可能係生咗啲蛋啲盆栽度呢 | 佢唔一定要需要水嘅 | 所以只要比較潮濕嘅泥 | 噉佢嗰啲蛋呢,就已經可以變到青蛙仔喇 | 噉如果第日我哋真係發現到呢種 | 溫室蟾同埋盧氏小樹蛙係競爭係好大呢 | 可能我哋要投入一啲資源 | 主動要將呢啲溫室蟾去移除咗| 而減低咗對我哋嘅特有種呢,盧氏小樹蛙嘅傷害嘅

● 中美洲 jūng1 méih5 jāu1 = Central America | ● 巴拿馬 bāa1 nàah4 máah5 = Panama | ● 盆栽 pùhn4 jōi1 = potted plants | ● 蝌蚪 fō1 dáu2 = a tadpole | ● 資源 jī1 yùhn4 = natural resources; resources | ● 移除 yìh4 chuèih4 = (?) to move or to eliminate | ● 傷害 sēung1 hoih6 = to injure; to harm; to hurt

Note: 仔 jái2 is a common diminutive suffix. We see it in 青蛙仔 = “little frog; froglet”

Sung Yik-hei: This one is a Greenhouse Toad. Its body-type is very small. It comes from Central America, from the countries in the vicinity of Panama. People have conjectured [估計呢] that they came to Hong Kong in potted plants, possibly as adult frogs or . . .  They are very special in that they do not go through [冇] a tadpole-stage. Their eggs can turn into little frogs directly [that is, without an intermediary stage]. Perhaps they laid an egg in a potted plant, they don’t necessarily need water, and so all they need is some moist dirt [潮濕嘅泥]. Those eggs of theirs may have already turned into froglets. If we discover that there is a lot of competition between this Greenhouse Toad and Romer’s Tree Frog, then possibly we will commit some funding resources to actively remove these toads in order to reduce the harm [done] to our very own tree frog.

記者:尋蛙係主要目的 | 不過細心留意就會發現 | 呢個窄長嘅小樹林 | 本身住咗好多其他生物

● 窄長 jaak3 chèuhng4 = long & narrow

Reporter: The main objective is looking for frogs. However, pay careful attention and [you] will discover that [in] this long, narrow [strip] of little forest, many other creatures exist.

宋亦希:譬如呢啲地方呢,你一睇呢,就會有好多白蟻呀 | 喺泥嗰啲嘅動物呢,個密度其實幾高呀 | 有可能係令到一個咁近市區 . . . 【2:00】嘅地方呢 | 都可以有咁多唔同物種可以喺度生存到囉 | 可以講香港其實都係個生物多樣性好高嘅地方囉 | 即使只*je 係一個近市區嘅地方

● 白蟻 baahk6 ngáih5 = white ant; termite | ● 生物多樣性 sāang1 maht6 dō1 yeuhng6 sing3 = (?) bio-diversity

Sung Yik-hei: This place, for example: take one look and you’ll see all these termites. As for the animals in this soil, the density is actually quite high. There is the possibility that it will enable a place close to an urban area to support [有] so many different species, [species which are] able to exist here. It can be said that Hong Kong is also, in fact, a place with a very high bio-diversity, even if it is only a place near an urban area (?).

記者:呢一次夜探,對而家嘅宋亦希而言 | 係一次好尋常嘅考察 | 不過同樣嘅事喺佢讀大學一年級嘅時候 | 卻標示佢對保育議題嘅啓蒙

● 夜探 yeh6 taam3 = (?) night visit | ● 尋常 chàhm4 sèuhng4 = ordinary; usual; common | ● 年級 nìhn4 kāp1 = grade; year | ● 啓蒙 kái2 mùhng4 = to enlighten; to free someone from prejudice or superstition

Reporter: For Sung Yik-hei, this night visit [夜探] is a perfectly ordinary investigation, but the same experience [事] during his years at university meant [a kind of] enlightenment [for him] with regard to the issue of environmental protection.

宋亦希:大學呢,一年級嘅時候呢,有一次機會呢,就係,呃,去海南島做交流咁樣 | 去到差唔多旅程嘅最後一晚呀 | 去睇青蛙呀,睇蛇呀,去蛇咁樣 | 嗰晚嗰啲呢, 就見到好多唔同種嘅青蛙,見到好多蛇呢,就好似 | 好似著咗個燈膽咁| 啓發到我除咗對室内入便動物嘅興趣之外呢 | 發現咗原來喺大自然,其實,觀察佢哋呢 | 嗰個感覺係更加奇妙、更加開心囉

● 旅程 léuih5 chìhng4 = route; itinerary; journey | ● 著燈膽 jeuhk6 dāng1 dáam2 = lit. to light the lamp/electric bulb (the subtitles have 燃起我的興趣 = to ignite my interest) | ● 啓發kái2 faat3 = to rouse; to inspire; to enlighten | ● 奇妙 kèih4 miuh6 = marvellous; wonderful; intriguing

Sung Yik-hei: At uni, during my first year, I had the chance to go to the island of Hainan on exchange. On just about the final evening of the trip [旅程], we went to look at frogs, at snakes, and to search for snakes. On that night, I saw many different kinds of frogs and I saw lots and lots of snakes and if was like a light went on [in my head] and I was switched on [啓發] [to the notion that] apart from being interested in animals you can keep indoors [室内入便嘅動物], I discovered that the feeling I got observing them [ = animals] out in nature was more wonderful, more enjoyable.

記者:宋亦希研究唔少爬蟲、兩類 | 但係佢至愛嘅,都係大頭龜同埋其他龜類 | 一直研究【3:00】咗一 *jaa 十幾年 | 不過呢條路並唔順暢

● 至 ji3 = extremely; very; to indicate the superlative degree; the most | ● 大頭龜 daaih6 tàuh4 gwāi1 = Big-headed Turtle (Platysternon megacephalum) | ● 順暢 seuhn6 cheung3 = smooth; unhindered

Reporter: Sung Yik-hei researches a number of different reptiles and amphibians, but the ones he loves the most are the Big-headed Turtle as well as other kinds of turtle. He has been researching [them] continuously for more than ten years, but this road has not been a smooth one by any means.

宋亦希:其實,氣餒嘅時候都好多嘅 | 尤其是做淡水龜都非常之氣餒嘅 | 我做咗十年以上嘅呢調查,其實都見到有一啲種群不停咁樣跌緊 | 好少會話有啲,有啲好消息出現嘅 | 學術界 research 就希望可以繼續做喇 | 另外,就希望啲研究真係可以幫到保育 | 噉但係另一個方面就一定係教育喇 | 只不過通常好多人都會擔心究竟個速度可唔可以追得上先 | 噉但係你唔做就一定辦法 *mou aan faat 知道喇 | 噉所以都會一,嗯, 一路繼續做囉

● 氣餒 hei3 néuih5 = to become dejected; to be discouraged; to lose heart | ● 淡水 táahm5 séui2 = fresh water | ● 種群 júng2 kwàhn4 = ? cf. 族群juhk6 kwàhn4= (?) group (of animals belonging to the same species) | ● 學術界 hohk6 seuht6 gaai3 = the academic world

Sung Yik-hei: In fact, there were many times when [I felt] discouraged, especially [in the case of] doing [research on] freshwater turtles [I felt] extremely discouraged. [In] the investigation I carried out for more than ten years, what we saw in fact was that some groups [種群] continuously declined. Very rarely, alas, did any good news appear. [I] hope that I can continue to do my academic research; in addition, I hope that these research [projects] can really help with preservation. But another aspect is most certainly [一定] education. It’s just that much of the time [通常] people are apt to worry whether the speed [of decline] can be caught up with or not [可唔可以追得上]. But if you don’t do [both research and education (?)], then you will never have any way of knowing. So, for this reason, [I] will go on doing [these things].

宋亦希:今日我哋嚟呢個九龍仔公園係睇啲咩動物啊?

Sung Yik-hei: Now what animals have we come to see today at Kowloon Tsai Park?

細路仔:雀仔!

Children: Birds!

宋亦希:今日我哋就帶咗一班,呃,幼稚園嘅小朋友呢啦,噉就嚟到公園哪 | 雖然呢個唔係完全嘅譬如郊野公園之類嘅 | 大自然 | 其實就算喺市區附近嘅綠色嘅環境呢 | 嘅生態價值呢,都唔錯嘅 | 噉我哋今日主要嚟睇【4:00】係雀仔啦 | 其中一個原因就係其實雀仔比較容易接觸啦 | 比較大隻啦,又易睇 | 就算喺公園入便呢,係咁近市區嘅地方呢 | 其實都有好多唔同品種呀

● 郊野公園 gāau1 yéh5 gūng1 yún4*2 = country park | ● 生態價值 sāang1 taai3 gaa3 jihk6 = ecological value | ● 接觸 jip3 jūk1 = to contact; to come into contact with; perhaps in this context “to come across”

Note: There is an instance here of a special kind of adjectives found in Cantonese, made up of an adjective + the relevant measure word. Here 大 daaih6 = “big” is combined with the measure word used for birds, 隻 jek3 to give 大隻. I don’t know much about them, but my impression is that such adjectives are not used before nouns, and may almost have something of the indefinite noun about them (“big ones”). Another example can be found in the final part, where Sung Yik-hei uses 細個 sai3 go3 = “small” to refer to children. Here, though, he also uses 細細個, which is an idiom meaning “as a small child; when one was little/a child”, etc.

Sung Yik-hei: We have brought this class of kindergarten children to Kowloon Tsai Park. Although this is not exactly a place as natural as, say, a country park, it counts as a green environment close to an urban centre. The ecological value is not too bad. Today, what we have mainly come to see is birds. One reason for this is that birds are actually quite easy to come into contact with, quite large in [terms of size], and easy to see. Even though [we] are in a park, a place close to an urban area, there are actually many different species.

細路仔:我見到喇

Child: I saw [it].

宋亦希:好,我哋企過嚟呢邊呀 | 好,下一個呀 | 希望可以俾到小朋友,尤其是幼稚園 | 佢哋越細個接觸到生物多樣性啦、生態呢 | 會覺得呢個可能係對佢哋最大影響呀 | 第一個就係希望可以帶佢哋去野外就接觸一下大自然呢 | 第二就了解其實原來香港咁近市區嘅地方 | 都可以有高嘅生態嘅 | 第三,就係希望越細 | 已經可以灌輸到啲正確嘅環保嘅概念俾佢哋 | 其實,我都係,呃,土生土長香港人 | 我哋教育其實以前都冇乜機會,呃, 啫係,接觸到大自然呀 | 大學先有機會真係去野外接觸動物 | 先令到我開啓咗做到呢啲生態研究呀,或者接觸大自然嘅機會 | 如果小朋友呢,細細個 | 已經有機會接觸到呢啲綠色啦、大自然呢 | 我覺得呢個可能係一個比較重要 | 可能令到我哋個環境教育呢,可以做得更加好,更有效嘅一個方法囉

● 灌輸 gun3 syū1 = to instil into; to inculcate; to imbue with | ● 土生土長 tóu2 sāng1 tóu2 jéung2 = born and bred | ● 開啓 hōi1 kái2 = usually “to open”; also “to inaugurate”

Note: The example here of 更加好,更有效 = better, more effective demonstrates the kind of constant stylistic micro-adjustments (here between the comparative adjective markers 更加 and its shortened form 更) that Cantonese makes for the sake of rhythmic balance and completeness. I do not know whether it is even possible to formulate any guidelines about this aspect of the language . . .

Sung Yik-hei: Good, now step to one side. Next, please. [I] hope to give to children, especially [those] at kindergarten . . . The younger they are when they come into contact with bio-diversity and ecology, I think that this may be the biggest influence on them. Firstly, I hope to take them into the wild to come into contact with the natural world. The second thing is to understand that those places in Hong Kong close to urban areas can have a high [level of] ecology. Thirdly, I hope that while they are [still] young [於細], I can imbue them with some correct environmental concepts. In actual fact, I am a Hongkonger, born and bred, and there was never much opportunity actually in our education to come into contact with the natural world. It wasn’t till I went to university that I really had the chance to go into the wild and get a taste of [it] [去野外接觸]. Only then did I open to the idea [(?)] of doing this ecological research. Perhaps the opportunity of coming into contact with the natural world, if one is still a child . . . if one is still little, and has already had some contact with the green [綠色], with nature, then I think this could be quite important, and could be a way to do a better and more effective job with our environmental education.

Related Material:

Ocean Park video on Romer’s Tree Frog in Cantonese (8 January 2015)
Article on Dr Sung Yik-hei in English (18 May 2017)
RTHK video in the People of the Environment series on 劉彥芹 Anthony Lau Yin-Kun and the Hong Kong Newt (I have provided a transcript & an English translation for this)

Hong Kong Uplift . . .

I think the whole world could do with some 香港精神 Hong Kong Spirit right now.

I stumbled across this video when looking for material on the American fantasy writer 娥蘇拉 • 勒瑰恩 Ursula le Guin. The contents is out of date, but the spirit never dies . . . Never.

The video I hope will leave you feeling a little less inhuman and a good deal more life-like.

You can find it on the Oh Readly Facebook page here!

《新心界》: 第六章 : 「已經消失嘅過去,是永遠不可挽回」

* * *

呢一晚,孚翠一個人蒲吧飲酒,飲到好夜先返屋企。佢好希望阿綠已經瞓著咗,如果唔係,俾佢阿媽見到自己又飲大咗兩杯,佢就會覺得無地自容。

一步入住所大門,就見到屋内漆黑一片,孚翠當堂放心落嚟,認為佢阿媽嗎一早就著。但冇耐,佢就聽到阿綠用略帶醉意嘅聲音同佢打招呼。初時,孚翠好想求其揾個藉口衝入自己間房,匿埋唔理佢阿媽,但係嗰把聲今日零舎和藹仁慈,對於呢排萬事失意嘅孚翠嚟講,簡直無法抗拒,其實佢心底裏都渴望得到媽咪嘅一點點安慰。因此,佢喺半推半就下,硬住頭皮尋找嗰把聲音嘅源頭,向著黑蚊蚊嘅客廳行過去。

阿綠一個人坐喺飯廳嘅餐枱前面,枱上燃點蠟燭,燭光照出母親臉上嘅神色,同嗰把温柔嘅聲音完全吻合。孚翠暗暗感到唔對路,佢隨即就注意到枱上有隻酒杯、同埋半空嘅酒瓶。見到呢個情景,佢就知道自己今晚飲醉酒,係唔會受到阿綠嘅任何責備。貓貓蛾鬼此時正坐喺餐枱上面,好似駱駝般將四肢同條尾收喺身軀下,眼神明顯十分友善,一路咕咕、咕咕咁叫。當阿綠見到阿女嘅時候,就用手勢示意要孚翠坐低陪佢一陣。

「阿媽,你做乜一個人坐喺度?好夜囉喎!」孚翠覺得莫名其妙,出於關心,於是細細聲咁問。

「女呀!我 . . . 」阿綠情緒忽然變得好激動,講唔到落去。此刻,孚翠就開始擔心母親係咪收到啲乜嘢壞消息嗰心不期然囉囉攣起嚟。

阿綠好似識得讀心術咁已經估到阿翠嘅想法,立即搖搖頭,補充一句話:「你唔使擔心!係好事嘅,絕對唔係壞事。放心,哈!」

孚翠越聽就越擔心,難道母親真係遭受嚴重嘅精神打擊。

「阿翠呀:多謝你 . . . 」阿綠簡單但充滿感激咁講。

孚翠意識到母親向自己「多謝」嗰一刻,佢就更加迷茫,只好耐心等待母親進一步嘅解釋。

阿綠忽然又猶豫不決,其實佢真係唔知點樣開口講落去。靜咗一陣,就問孚翠想唔想飲酒?當阿綠正準備企起身去厨房攞酒杯俾孚翠嘅時候,孚翠已經不經不覺拎起阿綠隻酒杯,當堂飲一啖。

「飲勝 . . . 」阿綠忍唔住開玩笑講。

孚翠霎時間作出任何反應,但係冇耐就明白到自己頭先唔覺意拎錯阿媽杯酒嚟飲,於是向母親點頭微笑。

「阿翠,今次真係塞翁失馬呀!上次,當你打爛阿婆幅自畫像時,我真係好傷心。但係裱畫公司今日突然來電,話我知幅畫裏面藏有一個包裹,而包裹入面又擺咗你阿婆生前寫俾我嘅信,係一封好重要嘅信。就係話,你嗰晚打爛幅畫畢竟係有意思嘅,唔係嘅話啦,我就永遠冇可能收到你阿婆寫俾我嘅呢封遺書 . . . 」,講到呢度,阿綠啲情緒又波動起嚟。

阿綠已經冇法再講落去,只好將枱面上嘅紙張推到孚翠面前。呢封一定係葛艷芊寫嘅信,孚翠拎起信嚟,慢慢讀出聲:

我親愛嘅女兒:

你終於能夠讀到呢封信,我真係滿懷安慰﹗

本來好複雜嘅一件事情,我諗而家已經變得簡單:係呀,相裏面嘅男人係我最愛嘅一個人,同時亦係你嘅生父。或者世界上冇人會明白我,但係我好希望你今後會仔細閲讀我呢兩本筆記,藉此將我哋嘅靈魂拉近。

我可以肯定:我唔係一個衰人。我咁做都係為咗享受每一個女人應有嘅權利。

我最誠摯嘅願望就係你都能夠做到呢一點﹗

祝你萬事如意!

葛艷芊

睇完封信之後,兩個女人都默不作聲,但各自嘅眼下面都出現一條條閃閃發光嘅銀澤淚痕。蛾鬼亦喐都唔喐,好似一隻獅身人面嘅斯芬克斯靜哋望住佢哋。喺佢哋旁邊嘅墻上,就係曾經掛住葛艷芊自畫像嘅位置。喺暗淡嘅光下,可以見到一個又整齊又潔白嘅長方形,比墻面周圍嘅顔色更加潔白,更加真實。呢個長方形就仿如一個可以回望過去嘅窗口,卻偏偏被一塊白色窗簾布遮擋,意味著:已經消失嘅過去,是永遠不可挽回。

Learning Cantonese: The Taoist Classic of Purity

You may be familiar with major Taoist classics such as the Tao Te Ching or Chuang Tzu, but there are many others which are less well known, especially in English translation. One of them is the 《清靜經》 or “Classic of Purity”, a short text of 391 Chinese characters. In this brief overview created by Taoist TV, we are introduced to the main message of the Classic: the more we reduce unnecessary wants and desires, the more we are able to reconnect with our original nature.

The video opens with a discussion of the character 靜 jihng6. The written form suggests that the meaning has a lot to do with 爭, meaning “to contend; to vie; to strive”, or its absence. Three compound words are used containing 靜: 靜止 jihng6 jí2 = “static”, 寧靜 nìhng4 jihng6 = “tranquil”, and finally 清靜 chīng1 jihng6, a word that usually means “peace and quiet” in the contemporary language, but which seems to carry connotations of “purity” in this Taoist context, and “mental stillness”.

There are some memorable grammatical moments in this video presentation. The first involves the potential structure 得到 dāk1 dóu2, added to verbs to suggest ability to do sth. successfully (here, 得 dāk 1 means “to be able”): 買得到 = “to be able to buy; to manage to buy” (my sense is that the English “to manage to do sth.” can often be handled by means of 得到). There is also an example of the more idiomatic 買得起 máaih5 dāk1 héi2, another kind of potential structure which means “to be able to afford”. What we get in the video, though, is the negative “to be unable to afford”, expressed by 買唔起. In the following passage, we encounter these structures in close proximity: 諗吓買唔買 | 買唔起又會唔開心 | 即使買得到 . . . (“When we consider whether to buy it or not, we are liable to feel unhappy if we cannot afford it. And even if are able to buy it . . .”)

There is also plenty in this presentation to give your vocabulary a real boost: 物質嘅世界 maht6 jāt1 ge3 sai3 gaai3 = the material/physical world; 無窮無盡 mòuh4 kùhng4 mòuh4 jeuhn6 = inexhaustible; 恍惚 fóng2 fāt1 = ① in a trance- absentminded ② dimly; faintly; seemingly; 妄想 móhng5 séung2 = a vain hope; wishful thinking | ● 貪求 tāam1 kàuh4 = to seek (sth. pleasurable); to covet; 過眼雲煙 gwo3 ngáahn5 wàhn4 yīn1 = as transient as a fleeting cloud; 復古 fuhk6 gú2 = to restore ancient ways; retro-styled; 衣食住行 yī1-sihk6-jyuh6-hàhng4 = food, clothing, shelter and transportation — basic necessities of life; and 逐樣逐樣 juhk6 yeuhng6 juhk6 yeuhng6 = item by item; one by one.

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.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

有冇諗過,乜係靜?| 一樣嘢,停,可以形容為靜止 | 完全冇聲音,可以話係寧靜 | 但係,何謂清靜呢?

● 靜止 jihng6 jí2 = static; motionless; at a standstill | ● 寧靜 nìhng4 jihng6 = peaceful; tranquil; quiet | ● 何謂 hòh4 waih6 = what is meant by? what is the meaning of? | ● 清靜 chīng1 jihng6 = quiet

Have [you] ever wondered what jing (to be still, quiet, calm, etc.) is? When a thing comes to a stop and does not move, it can be described as jing ji or “motionless”, and when there is a complete absence of sound, it can be said to be ning jing or “tranquil”. But what is meant by ching jing or “purity”?

道教一部非常之重要經典,叫做《清靜經》| 全稱:《太上老君說常清靜妙經》| 呢部經典,只有三百九十一個字,入便最主要嘅内容 | 就係 *jai日常生活中成日會遇到嘅——煩惱

● 經典 gīng1 dín2 = ① classics  ② scriptures (Measure word: 部 bouh6) | ● 《清靜經》Chīng1 Jihng6 Gīng1 = The Classic of Purity | ● 《太上老君說常清靜妙經》Taai3 Seuhng6 Lóuh5 Gwān1 Syut3 Sèuhng4 Chīng1 Jihng6 Miuh6 Gīng1 = The Wondrous Scripture of Constant Clarity and Stillness, as Spoken by the Most High Lord Lao | ● 煩惱 fàahn4 nóuh5 = to be vexed; to be worried; to fret

Note: The noun 内容 noih6 yùhng4 usually means “contents”, but the Cantonese use often calls for something else in English: here, important “element” or “theme” or “subject matter” would be perhaps more natural.

An extremely important Taoist text [經典] is the Classic of Purity or The Wondrous Scripture of Constant Clarity and Stillness, as Spoken by the Most High Lord Lao, to give it its full title. This classic is only 391 words [字] long, and the most import subject matter in it concerns [就係] something we are always meeting with in our everyday lives: vexation.

到底人點解會有多煩惱呢?| 我哋要點樣先至可以回復清靜呢?

Why do people have so much vexation? What must we do [我哋要點樣] before we can restore [our] purity?

點解我會用回復清靜形容呢?| 《清靜經》嘅經文中提到 | 當我哋一出世嘅時候,我哋嘅元神、心神係處於一種清靜嘅境界 | 但係好可惜,當我哋慢慢長大 | 我哋嘅視覺、聽覺、嗅覺、味覺、觸覺,令我哋接觸到物質嘅世界 【1:00】| 亦都因爲咁樣,產生咗對事物無窮無盡嘅慾望

● 元神 yùhn4 sàhn4  = (?) original spirit | ● 心神 sām1 sàhn4 = usu. ① a mood; the state of mind ② attention | ● 嗅覺 chau3 gok3 = the sense of smell | ● 物質嘅世界 maht6 jāt1 ge3 sai3 gaai3 = the material/physical world | ● 無窮無盡 mòuh4 kùhng4 mòuh4 jeuhn6 = inexhaustible | ● 慾望 yuhk6 mohng6 = a desire; a wish

Note: According to Sheik Cantonese, in the noun 嗅覺 chau3 gok3, 嗅 is always pronounced chau3, but the colloquial reading hung3 is used for this character in other contexts.

Why would I use “restore our purity” to describe [this situation]? In the Classic of Purity it states that from the moment we are born [一出世], our original spirit [元神] and our state of mind [心神] exist [處於] in a realm [境界] of purity, but unfortunately as we gradually grow older, our sense of sight, of hearing, of smell, of taste and of touch bring us into contact with [令我哋接觸到] the material world and, accordingly [亦都因爲咁樣], give rise to endless desires.

我哋雙眼,見到件好,好新款嘅衫 | 我哋買嘢嘅慾念亦都由此而起喇 | 諗買唔買 | 買唔起又會唔開心 | 即使買得到,過咗幾耐,我哋可能又會見到另一件又新款又靚嘅衫 | 一個念頭接住一個念頭 | 亦都係一個慾望接住一個慾望,永無止境

● 慾念 yuhk6 nihm6 = a desire; a longing; a craving | ● 念頭 nihm6 tàuh4 = ① thought, idea ② intention | ● 止境 jí2 gíng2 = an end; a limit

When our eyes see a beautiful item of clothing in the latest fashion, our desire to buy things arises as a result. When we consider whether to buy it or not, we are liable to feel unhappy if we cannot afford it. And even if are able to buy it, before too long [過咗冇幾耐] we will probably see yet another beautiful item of clothing in the latest fashion. One thought is followed by another, and one desire is followed by another, forever without an end.

咁樣,我哋嘅「心」又點樣可以安靜落嚟呢?| 而心神恍惚,元神受到干擾,咁樣元神又點可以「清」呢?

● 干擾 gōn1 yíu2 = to disturb; to interfere; to obstruct | ● 恍惚 fóng2 fāt1 = ① in a trance; absentminded ② dimly; faintly; seemingly

Given this [咁樣], how can our heart-mind become calm [安靜落嚟]? And [when our] state of mind is trance-like [恍惚] and our original spirit is disturbed, how can our original spirit become pure [清]?

呢部《清靜經》就係指出,如果想做到心神清靜一都唔難嘅 | 因爲只不過係回復到心神本來嘅狀態 | 只要我哋肯去除妄想、貪求 | 自自然然,煩惱呢,亦都會相應咁消失 | 我哋要明白,道家認爲世界萬事萬物都冇一個絕對嘅標準

● 去除 heui3 chèuih4 = to get rid of; to remove | ● 妄想 móhng5 séung2 = a vain hope; wishful thinking | ● 貪求 tāam1 kàuh4 = to seek (sth. pleasurable); to covet| ● 相應 sēung1 ying3 = corresponding; relevant; here, the sense seems to be “correspondingly; in equal measure”

This work, the Classic of Purity, points out that if you wish to achieve purity of mind, it is not in the least bit difficult. This is because it is simply [a matter of] restoring the mind’s [心神] original state. Just as long as we are willing to get rid of wishful thinking and covetousness, vexation will also decrease correspondingly, as a matter of course [自自然然]. What we have to understand is that Taoism believes [認爲] there is no one absolute standard for anything in this world [世界萬事萬物].

我哋重視嘅價值,又或者係人哋對我哋嘅評價 | 其實【2:00】只不過係過眼雲煙 | 呢一刻,你認爲係新款嘅,過咗一排,就會成爲舊款 | 而某一日,你所曾經丟嘅舊款 | 又會因爲復古而再次興返

● 重視 juhng6 sih6 = to attach importance to; to think highly of; to value| ● 評價 pìhng4 gaa3 = to appraise; to evaluate | ● 過眼雲煙 gwo3 ngáahn5 wàhn4 yīn1 = as transient as a fleeting cloud | ● 過咗一排 gwo3 jó2 yāt1 pàaih4/páai4*2 = (?) after a while (a matter of years is implied by the context) | ● 舊款 gauh6 fún2 = an outdated fashion, model or design | ● 丟抌 dīu1 dám2 = (?) to throw away; to discard | ● 復古 fuhk6 gú2 = to restore ancient ways; retro-styled

Note: The verb 興 hīng1 is used in Cantonese to mean “popular” or “fashionable”. With the addition of the aspect marker 返 fāan, we get the sense of something coming back into fashion after a period of neglect.

Values that we consider important, or [other] peoples’ appraisal of us, are actually nothing more than fleeting clouds, transient [by nature]. What you think of as the latest style in this moment will, after a time, become outdated, but one day, all the outdated [clothes] you once threw away will come back into fashion because of a revival of retro fashions [復古].

唔單止係 *jai 衣食住行呢啲物質 | 人與人之間嘅相處,亦都係一樣,呢一刻其他人可能因爲想巴結你,而將你捧到天上 | 但係下一刻呢,可能佢哋會因爲更大嘅利益,而將你拉返落嚟

● 衣食住行 yī1-sihk6-jyuh6-hàhng4 = food, clothing, shelter and transportation — basic necessities of life; the bare necessities of everyday life | ● 物質 maht6 jāt1 = matter; substance; material | ● 巴結 bāa1 git3 = to curry favour with; perhaps “to suck up to” is closer to contemporary English | ● 捧到天上 púng2 dou3 tīn1 seuhng6 = to praise sb. to the skies

It isn’t [just a matter of] material things [such as] food, clothing, shelter and transportation. The way people relate to one another [人與人之間嘅相處 = lit. “the getting on between person and person”] is the same. One moment, others are singing your praises, perhaps in order to get something from you, but in the next moment they pull you back down, probably for some even greater benefit.

最後,你會明白,我哋日日夜夜追求嘅名譽、權力同埋財富 | 都唔可以安定我哋嘅心神 | 如果我哋識得將逐樣逐樣咁放低 | 我哋嘅心神就可以慢慢咁回復清靜 | 咁樣,我哋同「大道」嘅距離就會又再近一步喇

● 名譽 mìhng4 yuh6 = fame; reputation | ● 安定 [ng]ōn1 dihng6 = ① stable; quiet; settled ② to stabilize | ● 逐樣逐樣 juhk6 yeuhng6 juhk6 yeuhng6 = item by item; one by one

In the end, you will come to understand that we can never settle the mind [安定 . . . 心神] by going after fame, power and wealth day and night. If we know how to put [such pursuits] aside, one by one, our mind may gradually regain [its] purity, and, in this way [咁樣], the distance between us and the Great Tao will get smaller, too.

Related Material on this site:

● Learning Cantonese: The Story of Gun Yam
Pak Tai, True Soldier of the North

Learning Cantonese: Unthinking Hong Kong’s Democracy

The recent arrest of 53 people connected with the democratic movement continues the sustained effort to establish an authoritarian style of government in Hong Kong and to criminalize dissent of any kind.

In July 2020, 戴耀廷 Benny Tai and others organized a primary election for people associated with the democratic camp. Identifying the most popular candidates, he hoped, would enable the democrats to win a majority of seats in the Legislative Council (click here to see a brief report on this by HK01). According to the Secretary for Security 李家超John Lee Ka-chiu, himself a former policeman, these primary elections constituted “a malicious plan to paralyse the SAR government”. The man largely responsible for implementing the National Security Law in Hong Kong, 李桂華Steve Li Kwai-wah used the phrase “to bring our government to a complete standstill” with regard to the primaries and then compared Tai’s actions to that of a person intending to commit robbery. The idea that a government is not a fixed entity but one that evolves in response to the wishes of the people it governs is absent from both views.

You can view the HK01 video by an unnamed reporter here, but scroll down if you want the Cantonese transcript, notes and translation. For interest’s sake, I have also added the official English translation of Article 22 of the National Security Law dealing with “subversion” [顛覆國家政權罪]. 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.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

李家超(保安侷局長):. . . 涉嫌顛覆國家政權罪活躍份子 | 圖謀以一個歹毒嘅計劃 | 去癱瘓特區政府 | 如果呢個歹毒嘅計劃得逞嘅話 | 而香港亦都可能要再經歷過一個萬劫不復嘅深淵

● 活躍份子 = active element; activist| ● 圖謀 = to plot; to scheme; to conspire | ● 歹毒 = malicious | ● 得逞 = (pejorative) to have one’s way; to succeed; to prevail | ● 萬劫不復 = beyond redemption; never to be recovered or restored | ● 深淵 = abyss

John Lee Ka-chiu (Secretary for Security): . . . activists suspected of the crime of subverting state power and plotting with a malicious plan to paralyze the SAR government. Had this malicious plot succeeded, Hong Kong could possibly have experienced yet another abyss, never to be recovered from (?).

記者:警方國安處派出過千個警員 | 拘捕 53 個發起或者參與 | 舊年35+民主派初選嘅人士 | 話佢哋涉嫌干犯《港區國安法》廿二條 | 顛覆國家政權罪 | (Democrats chanting slogans) | 民主派唔同板塊見記者 | 批評係濫捕

● 發起 = to start; to launch | ● 「35+民主派初選」= The 35+ Primaries for the Democrats | ● 干犯 = to offend; to encroach upon; to break (the law) | ● 板塊 = main parts; sector | ● 濫捕 = (?) to arrest people excessively/indiscriminately

Reporter: The police Office for Safeguarding National Security dispatched over a thousand police officers and arrested 53 individuals who had initiated or taken part in last year’s 35+ Primaries for the Democrats, claiming [話] that they were under suspicion of having violated Article 22 of the National Security Law, [dealing with] subversion. (Democrats chanting slogans.) Members from the democratic groups [民主派唔同板塊] criticized [the action] as “an excessive use of arrests” [濫捕] during a meeting with the press.

羅健熙(民主黨主席):初選係任何陣營裏邊可以自由進行嘅事 | 每一個陣營或者每一個政黨,要做一個初選 | 去揀一啲人選出嚟係【1:00】非常之合理、非常之正常 | 完全任何不妥當嘅事情 | 可以 [UNCLEAR]「生案白造」| 話係會危害國家安全嘅話呢 | 國安法成爲「萬能 key」之後 | 大家見到嘅就會係白色恐怖

● 初選 = a primary election | ● 生案白造 saang1 on1 baahk6 jouh6 = to fabricate; to cook up a story; to make up without evidence | ● 危害 = to harm; to jeopardize; to endanger | ● 萬能 key (or 萬能鑰匙) maahn6 nahng4 (yeuhk6 sih4) = a master key; a skeleton key; a passkey | ● 白色恐怖 = white terror

Lo Kin-hei (Chairperson of the Hong Kong Democrats): Primary elections are something that any (political) camp can freely undertake. Any camp or any party having to do a primary election to choose candidates is perfectly reasonable, perfectly normal, something completely devoid of anything inappropriate. To cook up some story and say that it jeopardizes national security. After the National Security Law became a master key, what we have all seen is white terror.

李桂華(國安處高級警司):. . . 係咪唔人初選呢,做呢啲咁呢?| 大家都知道 | 初選係其他嘅國家都會 [UNCLEAR] 嘅 | 但係呢啲嘅運動呢,通常呢,去到嚟選擇啲合適嘅人選呢 | 同埋選擇啲適當嘅人選去參加佢哋嘅議會 | 但係正正我哋今次依個呢,並非如此 | 佢哋係只有一個目標 | 希望能夠令到我哋嘅政府停擺 | 有一個人揸車去打劫 | 揸車冇問題嘅 | 但係佢諗 [UNCLEAR] 去打劫 | [UNCLEAR] | 咁就係犯法嘅

● 人選 = a candidate | ● 並非如此 = not at all like this | ● 停擺 = (of a pendulum) to come to a standstill; stop | ● 打劫 = to rob; to plunder; to loot

Steve Li Kwai-wah (Senior Superintendent of the National Security Division): . . . is it that we aren’t letting people hold primary elections? As everyone knows, primary elections are also held in other countries, but such events [運動] are usually for the selection of suitable candidates and the choosing of desirable candidates to become members of parliament [參加佢哋嘅議會]. But this is not what we have in this instance. They only have one aim: to bring our government to a complete standstill. [If] a person drives off in a car to commit robbery, the driving of the car is no problem, but if that person was doing so in order to rob someone, for this reason it is against the law.

黃浩銘(社民運主席):即係而家唔係我攞支槍去打劫 | 係個政府俾張支票【2:00】人民 | 我要民意代表入去兌現張支票 | 去運用《基本法》一早已經寫落嚟 | 咁多年嚟都冇人挑戰過嘅權力 | 我哋今日入去到啲錢 | [UNCLEAR] 你同我哋講話我哋係打劫

● 兌現 = to cash (a cheque) | ● 挑戰 = to challenge

Raphael Wong (Chairperson of the League of Social Democrats): I mean, now it’s not me grabbing a gun and [heading off] to commit robbery but a cheque issued [俾咗] by the government to the people. What we want is for the representatives of the will of the people [民意代表] to go and cash the cheque, to use what was written down in the Basic Law right from the start [一早], a right that for ever so many years no one has ever challenged. But at this time (?) when we want to go and get our money, you tell us that we are committing robbery.

梁家傑(公民黨主席):李桂華或者,呃,李家超嗰啲呢,將佢嗰啲,呃,文章呀,係無限上綱,咁樣呢 | 我覺得係完全不容於我哋個普通法嘅 | 即係只係檢控一啲刑事作爲、行爲嘅一個法制呢

● 無限 = infinite; limitless; boundless | ●上綱 = to raise to the higher plane of principle; elevate an issue to the level of principle | ● 不容 = not tolerate; not allow; not brook | ● 檢控 = to prosecute | ● 作爲 = conduct; a deed; an action 法制 = legal institution; legal system; legality

Alan Leong Kah-kit (Chairperson of the Civic Party): Steve Li Kwai-wah [and (?)] John Lee Ka-chiu have been elevating without limit his [that is, Benny Tai’s] essays to the level of principle. In my view, this is not allowed under our common law in any shape or form [完全]. It is merely a legality for prosecuting [certain] criminal acts or behaviours.

[A list of some of the major people arrested is given. For the list in English, see this report on the Hong Kong Free Press website]

記者:警方話唔排除仲有進一步拘捕行動

Reporter: The police say they do not rule out [the possibility] of further arrests.

The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Part 2 Subversion

Article 22 A person who organises, plans, commits or participates in any of the following acts by force or threat of force or other unlawful means with a view to subverting the State power shall be guilty of an offence:

(1) overthrowing or undermining the basic system of the People’s Republic of China established by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China;
(2) overthrowing the body of central power of the People’s Republic of China or the body of power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region;
(3) seriously interfering in, disrupting, or undermining the performance of duties and functions in accordance with the law by the body of central power of the People’s Republic of China or the body of power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; or
(4) attacking or damaging the premises and facilities used by the body of power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to perform its duties and functions, rendering it incapable of performing its normal duties and functions.

A person who is a principal offender or a person who commits an offence of a grave nature shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or fixed-term imprisonment of not less than ten years; a person who actively participates in the offence shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than ten years; and other participants shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, short-term detention or restriction.

Transaction, Little Bourke Street

But there he was, kissing
the footpath with his knees, precisely
motionless
against the stop-start traffic’s kick-the-curb impatience
beside the heart-lifting red
and blue, and green
of the patterned Chinese memorial gateway —
Earth’s short arch to Heaven —
near Russell Street.
Steeply bent over a basin half-filled with kitchen water,
as predictably chill
Melbourne rain began to spit through storey-tall gaps
in the sky-line, his intensity
tingled
the low-key atmosphere, but it wasn’t the touch of the rain
he needed: the coins
submerged in his liquid offering spelt a different,
more drastic prayer, here
drowning
far out the white-hot-shortness of debt.

Learning Cantonese: Lennon Banners Kick off in 2021!

The Lennon Walls that appeared as a spontaneous form of protest across Hong Kong were dismantled in the latter half of 2020, but on Day 1 of 2021 they have come back to us in a new form: the Lennon Banner. The one featured in the photograph bears the words 釋放政治犯 (“Release Political Prisoners”) and references the Lennon Walls with its orange and purple post-it note squares.

The report, from 劉錦華 Làuh4 Gám2 Wàah4 at HK01 provides some of the background to the banners. As one of the councillors of the Kwai Tsing District said in a speech, the main thing is 並指希望藉行動表達過去一年港人雖受打壓,但依然人心不死的訊息 — to express the message that the will of the people will never die, despite the repression Hongkongers have endured over the past year.

For the original report and extra photographs of the Lennon Banners, just click here.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

民間人權陣線今日(1日)發起多區巡遊,向公眾展示早前在各區收集簽名及字句的「連儂布」。當中葵青區民主派議員亦響應活動,於葵涌廣場外聲援12港人。

● 發起 faat3 héi2 = to start; to launch | ● 巡遊 chèuhn4 yàuh4 = usu. to make an inspection circuit | ● 連儂布 Lìhn4 Nùhng4 Bou3 = a Lennon (Fabric) Banner cf. Lennon Wall | ● 響應 héung2 ying3 = to respond; to answer | ● 聲援 sīng1 wùhn4 = to express support for; to support

Today (1 January) the Civil Human Rights Front launched a kind of touring protest [巡遊] in many districts, to display to the public [inscribed] “Lennon Banners”, [featuring] signatures and short written messages [字句] previously collected in a number of districts. As part of this [當中], democratic councillors in the Kwai Tsing District also responded with an action, expressing support for the 12 Hong Kongers at the Kwai Chung Plaza.

多名葵青區議員輪流發言,呼籲市民繼續關注在囚及流亡外地的港人,並要求中國釋放所有政治犯,並指希望藉行動表達過去一年港人雖受打壓,但依然人心不死的訊息。

● 輪流 lèuhn4 láu4*2 = to take turns; to do sth. in turn | ● 在囚 joih6 chàuh4 = (?) in prison; imprisoned | ● 人心不死 yàhn4 sām1 bāt1 séi2 = (?) the will of the people will never die | ● 訊息 seun3 sīk1 = message

Quite a number of councillors in the Kwai Tsing District took it in turns to make speeches, calling on citizens to continue to be concerned about Hong Kong people in prison or in exile, and called on China to release all political prisoners. They also hoped that, by means of this action, they could express the message that the will of the people will never die, despite the repression Hongkongers have endured over the past year.

在多個葵青區議員展示「連儂布」活動期間,有三輛衝鋒車及十多名警員在附近戒備及觀察,惟警員未有干擾活動進行。

展示 jín2 sih6 = to display | ● 衝鋒車 chūng1 fūng1 chē1 = (?) assault vehicle | ● 戒備 gaai3 beih6 = to be on standby; to guard; to be on guard

While councillors in the Kwai Tsing District were displaying the “Lennon Banner”, three assault vehicles and more than ten police officers were on stand-by in the vicinity, observing [proceedings]. However, they did not interfere with the carrying out of the action.

葵青區議會主席單仲偕表示,葵青區民主派議員將繼續關注在港或香港以外在囚的政治犯的權益。單仲偕又呼籲市民向612基金捐贈,指基金現時只剩下千餘萬,未必能應付尚未完成審判的案件,呼籲市民積極支持基金。

單仲偕 Sihn6 Juhng6 Gāai1 = Sin Chung-kai | ● 權益 kyùhn4 yīk1 = rights and interests | ● 612基金 is short for 612人道支援基金 yàhn4 douh6 jī1 wùhn4 gēi1 gām1 = 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund | ● 捐贈 gyūn1 jahng6 = to contribute (as a gift); to donate | ● 審判 sám2 pun3 = to bring to trial; to try

Chairperson of the Kwai Tsing District Council Sin Chung-kai said that democratic councillors of the District will continue to show concern for the rights and interests of political prisoners in jail in Hong Kong or abroad. Sin also appealed to citizens to donate to the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, saying that at present the Fund had only ten and a bit million [Hong Kong] dollars left [in it], and could not necessarily cover [應付] cases the hearing of which had not yet been completed. He called on citizens to actively support the Fund.

葵青區議員梁錦威表示,多個葵青區民主派區議員在聖誕節前後,於大窩口,青衣,葵涌等地收集市民的說話,以製成該「連儂布」,並於今日元旦日展示。十二港人案日前由內地法院作判決,當中兩名未成年港人不獲起訴,梁錦威表示即使如此,他們依然坐了130日「冤枉監」, 呼籲市民繼續關注在內地在囚的其餘10名港人,又指如果市民不作關注,難以想像他們會受到什麼對待。

● 梁錦威 Lèuhng4 Gám2 Wāi1= Leung Kam Wai (Simon) | ● 日前 yaht6 chìhn4 = a few days ago; the other day | ● 不獲起訴 bāt1 wohk6 héi2 sou3 = cf. 起訴 = to bring an action against sb.; to prosecute | ●「冤枉監」yūn1 wóng2 gāam1 = ? cf. 冤枉 = to treat unjustly

Leung Kam Wai, a Kwai Tsing District councillor, said that many democratic councillors in the Kwai Tsing District had, during the Christmas period [在聖誕節前後], collected comments from residents in Tai Wo Hau, Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung in order to make this “Lennon Banner”, and had put it on display on New Year’s Day. A few days ago, the Twelve Hongkongers had been sentenced by a Mainland court, [but] no action was brought against two of them who are under-aged. Despite this being the case, Leung Kam Wai said, they still had to spend 130 days in “unjust imprisonment” [「冤枉監」] and he appealed to citizens to continue to be concerned about the other ten Hong Kong people [still] in prison on the Mainland. He also added that, if local residents take no interest [in this case], it won’t bear thinking about [難以想像] how they might be treated.

另一葵青區議員張文龍亦呼籲港人繼續關注在囚政治犯。張認為犯法的應該是政府而非政治犯,因為政府沒有按照基本法賦予港人人權。而追求民主自由不應是犯法的行為,而是與生俱來的人權。張又指,希望在囚的政治犯可以於新一年有更好的處境,而非被剝奪權利。

張文龍 Chēung1 Màhn4 Lùhng4 = Cheung Man-lung (Dennis) | ● 與生俱來 yúh5 sāng1 kēui1 lòih4 = to be born with; inherent; innate | ● 處境 chú2 gíng2 = unfavourable situation; plight | ● 剝奪 mōk1 dyuht6 = to deprive; to expropriate; to strip

Cheung Man-lung, another Kwai Tsing District councillor, appealed to the people of Hong Kong to go on showing concern for political prisoners. In Cheung’s opinion, the law-breakers should be the government and not the political prisoners, since the government has not given Hong Kong people their human rights in accordance with the Basic Law. Moreover, the pursuit of democracy and freedom should not be [regarded as] criminal behaviour but as a natural human right. Cheung also expressed the hope that political prisoners might find themselves in a less unfavourable situation in the new year rather than be stripped of their rights.