Learning Cantonese: Long Yuen’s Modern Pan

噉從中我哋都可以介紹翻,即係, 咦, 稻米係咩嚟啦 | 點解要種米啦 |  咦,原來中間有好多生態㗎喎 | 香港嘅歷史文化原來係咁㗎喎 | 噉希望多啲人去關注翻、留翻住我哋一啲嘅綠色嘅環境

Pan was a rural god in ancient Greek belief, and an embodiment of the spirit of Nature. I think he would be proud of his contemporary incarnation in Hong Kong, 劉善鵬 Làuh4 Sihn6 Pàahng6, an environmental manager who goes by the English name of Pan, an able and self-deprecating fellow who likes to refer to himself as 煎 Pan or “Frying Pan”!

In this video, part of RTHK’s fascinating “Hong Kong Ecologists” series, we get an overview of the work that The Conservancy Association is doing in a place near 上水 Sheung Shui called 塱原 Long Yuen, a stretch of freshwater wetlands that grows rice and other crops as well as providing a habitat to a large number of birds and frogs. Management of this region, soon to become an environmental park, obviously involves a delicate balancing between the needs of agriculture and ecology.

The most interesting grammatical feature of Pan’s speech is his frequent use of the aspect marker 翻 fāan1 which, as I mentioned in my last post, often appears in unexpected contexts. Although the basic meaning is “again”, it often implies that an action has resumed after an interruption. This meaning is suggested in 喺〇九年都喺塱原種翻稻米 = “In 2009, we also planted a rice crop in Long Yuen again”. Sometimes, it seems to imply “restoration”, a taking back of things to an earlier state, as in 噉希望去維持翻塱原你原本好多嘅啲水田嘅環境 = “in the hope that [we] can preserve the place and bring back a large number of these paddy-field environments to the way they used to be”. Pan also uses it with verbs such as 調查 = to survey, 反映 = to reflect, 介紹 = to introduce and 關注 = to show concern for, suggesting that it has various other nuances that serious learners might like to ponder!

As for the vocabulary, there’s a delightful instance of the verb 抰 yéung2, which Sheik Cantonese defines as ① to unwrap; to display; to uncover ② to shake off; to jerk; to flick. The last time I came across it was in a Buddhistdoor interview with Queenie Chu, who used 抰走 to refer to flicking an insect off her clothing rather than squashing it. Here in 會成籃擺落去抰走啲泥沙、昆蟲呀咁先攞去賣嘅, it indicates the removal of soil and insects from basket loads of plants before they are taken off to market to sell.

Other items include: 現存 yihn6 chyùhn4 = extant; in stock; 農作物 nùhng4 jok3 maht6 = crops; 產卵 cháan2 léun2 / léuhn5 = to lay eggs; to spawn; 數據 sou3 geui3 = data; 求偶 kàuh4 ngáuh5 = (?) to look for a mate; 西洋菜 sāi1 yèuhng4 choi3 = watercress; 逗留 dauh6 làuh4 = to stop (at a place); 石屎森林 sehk6 sí2 sām1 làhm4 = a concrete jungle; 體驗活動 tái2 yihm6 wuht6 duhng6 = roughly, “activities for learning through practical experience”; 陣間 jahn6 gaan1 = soon; in a moment; in a while; 講解 góng2 gáai2 = to explain; 下旬 haah6 chèuhn4 = the last ten-day period of a month; 收割 sāu1 got3 = to reap; to harvest; to gather in.

Unfortunately, just as I was finalizing the text for this post, the video was removed from YouTube and the RTHK website.

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.


記者:面積大約五十公頃塱原 | 位於香港新界北區 | 係香港現存最大片、最完整嘅 | 淡水農耕濕地 | 由四百幾塊農地連接組成 | 大嘅地方當然需要有管理員 | 自長春社嘅劉善鵬,就係其中一位管理員 | 除要不時同農夫溝通 | 都會進行一生態調查 | 又會透過唔同嘅活動 | 向公衆同埋小朋友介紹呢個地方

● 公頃 gūng1 kíng2 = a hectare | ● 現存 yihn6 chyùhn4 = extant; in stock | ● 完整 yùhn4 jíng2 = complete; integrated; intact | ● 農耕 nùhng4 gāang1/gāng1 = (?) to cultivate | ● 連接 lìhn4 jip3 = to join; to link | ● 長春社 Chèuhng4 Chēun1 Séh5 = The Conservancy Association | ● 不時 bāt1 sìh4 = frequently; often

Reporter: With an area of approximate 50 hectares, Long Yuen — which is located in North District of Hong Kong’s New Territories — is Hong Kong’s largest and most complete [最完整] fresh-water agricultural wetland [淡水農耕濕地]. It is made up of over 400 linked plots of farmland. Such a large place obviously [方當] requires administrative personnel. One of these is Lau Sin-pang, who is from [嚟自] the Conservancy Association. Apart from keeping in frequent communication with the farmers, he also conducts ecological surveys and, by means of different kinds of activities, introduce this place to the general public and to children.

Caption: 劉善鵬,長春社助理保育經理 | Lau Sin-pang, Assistant Environmental Manager with the Conservancy Association

劉善鵬:我叫煎 Pan 呀 | 塱原度做咗大概差唔多十年喇 | 我長春社同香港觀鳥會 | 〇五年開始就嚟到塱原同當地嘅農夫去合作 | 噉一齊去做一啲生境管理 | 噉包括係去維持一啲水田啦,噉同埋引入一啲新嘅水田農作物 | 例如慈菇、馬蹄 | 喺〇九年都喺塱原種【1:00】翻稻米 | 噉希望去維持翻塱原你原本好多嘅啲水田嘅環境 | 噉啲動物就可以喺度息 | 塱原其實主要有兩大類嘅保育對象啦 | 第一類就雀仔 | 仲一個大嘅家族希望去保護就係青蛙 | 噉原來青蛙佢哋會使用淡水濕地去產卵去繁殖嘅 | 噉雖然話佢係農田 | 噉但係上面去棲息嘅生物其實都幾多嘅 | 最新嘅雀仔數字都有三百一十六種 | 噉其實都超過,呃,香港總數嘅六十個 percent

● 香港觀鳥會 Hēung1 Góng2 Gūn1 Níuh5 Wúi6*2 = the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society | ● 生境 sāng1 gíng2 = habitat | ● 維持 wàih4 chìh4 = to keep; to maintain; to preserve | ● 水田 séui2 tìhn4 = paddy field | ● 引入 yáhn5 yahp6 = to lead into; to draw into | ● 農作物 nùhng4 jok3 maht6 = crops | ● 慈菇 chìh4 gū1 = arrowhead, katniss (Sagittaria sagittifolia) | ● 馬蹄 máah5 tái4*2/tàih4 = water chestnut | ● 稻米 douh6 máih5 = rice (crop) | ● 棲息 chāi1 sīk1 = to perch; to dwell | ● 保護對象 bóu2 wuh6 deui3 jeuhng6 = roughly, “the object of protection [efforts]” | ● 家族 gāa1 juhk6 = a clan; a family | ● 使用 sái2/sí2 yuhng6 = to make use; to use; to employ | ● 產卵 cháan2 léun2 / léuhn5 = to lay eggs; to spawn Note: According to Sheik Cantonese, léun2 is the standard reading for the character 卵, while léuhn5 is a variant | ● 繁殖 fàahn4 jihk6 = to breed; to reproduce

Lau Sin-pang: My name is Chin Pan (“Frying Pan”). I have been working in Long Yuen for roughly ten years. The organization I work for, the Conservancy Association, together with the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, has been working together in Long Yuen with the local farmers since 2005. Together we have been doing some environmental management. This includes preserving some of the paddy fields. It also involves introducing [引入] some new paddy-field crops such as arrowhead [慈菇] and water chestnut. In 2009, we also planted a rice crop in Long Yuen again, in the hope that [we] can preserve the place and bring back a large number of these paddy-field environments to the way they used to be. Creatures of various kinds [動物] could then inhabit this place. In fact, there are two main kinds of creatures that are the object of protection [efforts] here in Long Yuen. First of all, birds. The other big family [大嘅家族] that [we] hope to protect are the frogs. As it turns out [原來], frogs make use of fresh-water wetlands for breeding. Now although these fields are under cultivation, there are many creatures inhabiting [棲息] them. [According to] the latest bird figures, there are 316 [different] kinds. This is more than 60% of the sum total for Hong Kong.

記者:作為管理員,煎 Pan 佢哋當然要知道喺厘塊土地上面生活緊嘅 | 除咗人以外,仲有咩動物 | 佢哋嘅數量有冇多到?| 厘啲數據可以話係佢哋嘅成績表 | 今晚佢就進行緊青蛙生態調查

● 數據 sou3 geui3 = data | ● 成績表 sìhng4 jīk1 bíu2 = ① school/academic report; student report card; school record ② table of results/scores

Reporter: As a manager, Chin Pan and his team [煎 Pan 佢哋] naturally need to know what is living here on this patch of ground. Apart from human beings, what other creatures are there and have their quantities increased? You could say that such data is their table of results. This evening, he is doing and environmental survey of frogs.

劉善鵬:噉我哋都會去調查翻我哋嘅對象到底有冇使用我哋嘅管理嘅生境啦 | 呢塊田可能米田 | 我哋會到幾多個品種或者個數量係多定係少嘅 | 反映翻其實到底我哋嘅田係有冇【2:00】成效呢,對於個生態 | 青蛙有個特性 | 就係呢,佢哋夏天,尤其是落完大雨之後啦 | 雄性嘅青蛙係會求偶會叫嘅 | 噉我哋會憑聲音呢,去判斷嗰塊田嘅青蛙嘅多少啦 | 品種呢,因為唔同青蛙叫嗰,呃,聲音都唔同嘅個品種 | 幾有趣嘅,我哋,呃,發覺呢,呃,原來塱原一個農耕嘅環境呢 | 好多嘅微小嘅生境呢,都係一啲農耕嘅設施 | 例如洗菜池啦 | 噉啲農夫收割完啲通菜、西洋菜呢 | 會成籃擺落去抰走啲泥沙、昆蟲呀咁先去賣嘅 | 我哋發覺原來夏天呢 | 都好多青蛙會走落去繁殖,咁會好多蝌蚪嘅 | 你都幾意外地 | 原來都係製造咗一個生境呢啲嘅生物去使用囉

● 成效 sìhng4 haauh6 = an effect; a result | ● 雄性 hùhng4 sing3 = male | ● 求偶 kàuh4 ngáuh5 = (?) to look for a mate | ● 憑 pàhng4 = to go by; to base on; to take as a basis | ● 發覺 faat3 gok3 = to find; to detect; to discover | ● 微小 mèih4 síu2 = small; little | ● 洗菜池 sái2 choi3 chìh4 = roughly, “a pool for washing vegetables in” | ● 通菜 tūng1 choi3 = water spinach; Chinese spinach (also known as 蕹菜 ung3 choi3 and 翁菜 yūng1 choi3 | ● 西洋菜 sāi1 yèuhng4 choi3 = watercress | ● 抰走 yéung2 jáu2 = roughly, “to shake off”  | ● 泥沙 nàih4 sāa1 = silt; soil; earth | ● 蝌蚪 fō1 dáu2 = a tadpole

Jin Pan: We will conduct a survey [to find out] whether the objects [of our protection efforts] [對象] are making use of the habitats we are managing. This patch of land is probably a rice paddy. We will find out [揾到] whether the numbers of certain species have gone up or down. This reflects whether in fact our fields are effective [有冇成效], in terms of the environment. A characteristic of frogs is that, in Summer, especially after a heavy shower of rain, the males will call in order to find a mate. On the basis of the sound, we judge the number of frogs on that piece of land and what species there are, because different frogs have different calls. Quite interestingly, we have found that that Long Yuen is basically [原來] an agricultural environment [and] many of the micro-habitats [within it] turn out to be agricultural facilities [設施], for instance, washing pools for vegetables. After the farmers have harvested [their] water spinach or [their] cress, they tip whole basket-loads [of vegetables into the ponds] to get rid of the dirt before taking them off to sell. We have found that as it turns out in Summer lots and lots of frogs will go into these ponds to reproduce, and there are lots of tadpoles. This is quite surprising. As it transpires, a habitat has been made for these creatures to make use of.

劉善鵬:噉我哋會做聽聲去做一個,呃,記錄嘅 | 噉首先其實我哋第一樣我哋會熄燈啦 | 燈呢,對於青蛙都有影響嘅 | 噉我哋想靜止咗 | 等啲青蛙習慣咗個黑夜嘅環境 | 就開始做記錄 | 噉啊暫時一種澤蛙啦 | 噉我哋會再逗留【3:00】可能五分鐘 | 噉啊聽吓,有啲咩青蛙叫囉

● 熄燈 sīk1 dāng1 = to put out the light; to turn off the light | ● 靜止 jihng6 jí2 = static; motionless; at a standstill | ● 澤蛙 jaahk6 wāa1 = literally, “pond frog” | ● 逗留 dauh6 làuh4 = to stop (at a place)

Jin Pan: We make a record based on? what we hear. First off all, we turn off our torch [熄燈]. Lamp-light has a [real] influence on frogs. [Then] we want to [想] stand still to allow [等] the frogs to get used to the night environment.  Then we start to make a record. Just for the moment, [there is] a pond frog. We stay around for maybe for five minutes, listening out for what kinds of frog-calls there are.

記者:稻米由落種到收割都牽涉到大量人力 | 煎 Pan 佢哋喺唔同時段 | 會同小朋友同埋「石屎森林」中嘅大人 | 舉行唔同嘅體驗活動 | 等大家可以更加了解水田嘅特性 | 農田呢,可以俾到個空間呢好多雀仔、好多動物呢 | 可以喺度生活甚至生 BB 嘅 | 噉我哋陣間呢,會落田呢,就會做一個,呃,除草嘅工作

● 落種lohk6 júng2 = (?) to plant seeds | ● 牽涉 hīn1 sip3 = to involve; to concern; to drag in | ● 石屎森林 sehk6 sí2 sām1 làhm4 = a concrete jungle | ● 體驗活動 tái2 yihm6 wuht6 duhng6 = roughly, “activities for learning through practical experience” | ● 陣間 jahn6 gaan1 = soon; in a moment; in a while | ● 落田 lohk6 tìhn4 = (?) to go into the fields | ● 除草 chèuih4 chó2 = weeding

Reporter: From planting to harvest, rice involves a large amount of human effort. Jin Pan and his team [煎 Pan 佢哋] conduct different kinds of hands-on activities [體驗活動] at different times for small children as well as adults from “the concrete jungle”, enabling everyone [who participates] to better understand the special features of the paddy fields. (Jin Pan speaks) Land cultivated for farming [農田] can provide many [different] spaces for a large number of birds and animals. Here they can live and have babies. In a moment, we will go down into the fields to do some weeding work.

劉善鵬:咁大個泥俾我有得放 | 透過教育嘅活動啦,咁帶啲小朋友過嚟呢 | 噉講解呢,農田上面嘅一啲嘅功能啦,我叫 | 噉第一樣嘢就食物啦,咦,農田有食物喎 | 噉第二樣嘢,就,,原來今日玩得好開心 | 農田係一個開心、休嘅地方嚟嘅 【4:00】| 噉第三樣嘢,我哋就覺得就重要啲呢,就係 | 我哋會介紹一啲小動物俾佢聽啦,呃,雀仔啦、青蛙啦 | 噉 就等佢知道,咦,原來平時食物製造出嚟嘅過程呢咁  | 原來都提供到一個空間俾啲動物住

● 講解 góng2 gáai2 = to explain | ● 休閒 yāu1 hàahn4 = ① to lie fallow ② to be not working; to have leisure; to be idle

Jin Pan: I can take that, such a big [piece of] dirt. By means of educational activities, we bring the children [down] here. [I] provide some explanation about some of the functions of the fields. Firstly, [it’s about] food: there are things to eat in the fields! The second thing is that it’s great fun: the fields are a fun, leisurely place. Thirdly, and the thing we feel is more important, is that we can introduce [children] to some small creatures such as birds and frogs. This enables them to learn that in the normal process of producing food, spaces are also provided for the creatures to live in.

劉善鵬:而家十一月,係啦, 噉我哋秋收啦 | 噉我哋今日呢,用咗半朝時間呢,噉就收咗塊田啦咁樣 | 今年好呀,啲田。我哋收成都有少少豐收

● 秋收 chāu1 sāu1 = the Autumn harvest | ● 收成 sāu1 sìhng4 = a harvest; a crop | ● 豐收 fūng1 sāu1 = a bumper harvest

Jin Pan: Now, in November, that’s right, we [have] the Autumn harvest. Today we have spent half [our] morning harvesting a field. This year it has been very fine, this field. Our harvest has been a small bumper harvest.

Long caption: 塱原已於2019年12月下旬成為政府土地。由於塱原擁有生態價值,塱原濕地將會經過期約三年的改善工程后,成為自然生態公園。

● 下旬 haah6 chèuhn4 = the last ten-day period of a month| ● 為期 wàih4 kèih4 = (to be completed) by a definite date

At the end of December 2019, Long Yuen became government land. Due to the fact that Long Yuen possesses ecological value, The Long Yuen Wetlands will become a Nature and Ecology Park after undergoing improvement works lasting approximately three years.

劉善鵬:種米嗰個過程其實幾有趣呢 | 呃,要動用到好多人呀 | engage 到多啲嘅公衆參與啦 | 所以今日見到,咦,好多大朋友、小朋友啦,都過嚟 | 幫手收割 | 噉從中我哋都可以介紹翻,即係 *je, 咦, 稻米係咩嚟啦 | 點解要種米啦 |  咦,原來中間有好多生態㗎喎 | 香港嘅歷史文化原來係咁㗎喎 | 噉希望多啲人去關注翻、留翻住我哋一啲嘅綠色嘅環境

● 動用 duhng6 yuhng6 = to put to use; to employ; to draw on | ● 大朋友 daaih6 pàhng4 yáuh5 = adults (lit. “big friend”); I suspect that this is a humorous invention based on the word for “child”, 小朋友 (lit. “little friend”) | ● 收割 sāu1 got3 = to reap; to harvest; to gather in

Jin Pan: The process of growing rice is really quite interesting. You have to draw on a large number of people and “engage” many members of the public to take part. And so, [we] see so many “big friends” [that is, “adults”] as well as children come [out] today to help with the reaping. In the process [從中], we can give an introduction to what rice is, why it is planted — oh, so growing rice has a lot of ecological [aspects] to it! So that’s why Hong Kong’s history and culture is like that! We hope that more people will pay attention to our green environments and look out for them more.

7 thoughts on “Learning Cantonese: Long Yuen’s Modern Pan

  1. I am curious why you prefer to use Yale romanization instead of Jyutping. I thought Cantonese learners in Hong Kong are all using Jyutping now. For typing, I’d say Jyutping is easier.


    1. Dear Editor Devil: I use a modified Yale because (a) it was the first romanization I learnt; (b) I much prefer “j” & “y” to “z” & “j”; (c) I think a romanization should try and incorporate the tones; Yale certainly helps me to remember them! But let me ask you a question in return: Have you ever considered writing in Cantonese rather than Standard Written Chinese? 加油!


      1. I see. I don’t like “j” either. It’s very confusing. I can write in Cantonese. In fact, I would like to mix some Cantonese with Chinese writing. I don’t think I am writing in Standard Written Chinese. In Standard Written Chinese, “這人” is not accepted. But in Taiwan, “這人” is okay.


      2. I think you expect my writing is in 100% Cantonese characters. In fact, Cantonese writing is not my native written language. I am able to adapt Cantonese expressions and vocabularies in my Chinese writing. Chinese is my native written language while Cantonese in my native spoken language. That makes Hongkongers so special. Our brains are trained in this way since we were a kid.


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