Learning Cantonese: 黃進曦 Stephen Wong Chun Hei’s “Watching the Waves”

噉其實喺我嘅諗法裏邊呢 | 就係其實因爲喺,呃,而家香港都係處於疫情裏邊呢 | 噉喺一種比較,呃,嚴峻嘅 | 一種社會嘅氣氛地下呢 | 其實我就係想大家都會可以好似 | 我安排嘅呢啲小嘅角色咁樣 | 喺一大浪嘅嗰種壓迫感底下 | 其實係應該可以好似一架船咁樣呢 | 喺一個大浪裏邊游走 | 係好靈巧咁樣呢,喺度穿梭喺一啲大浪嘅嗰種翻騰嘅形勢底下 . . . 」

Art, says the people behind the Under the Bridge Art Project, should be a force in “connecting the community and comforting people”. In a worked entitled “Watching Waves”, landscape painter 黃進曦 Stephen Wong Jeun Hei sets out to do precisely this, encouraging Hongkongers to steer a course through the treacherous contemporary situation with the help of dexterity and faith.

Whoever worked as the sound technician for this video knew exactly what she was doing: Wong’s eloquent flow of speech comes through with great clarity, making it a delight to listen to. And the atmospheric piano soundtrack chosen to accompany his words complements it beautifully, without ever once drowning them out.

The grammar of the voice-over is straightforward, but there are a few points worth noting. Firstly, Wong uses the sentence-final double particle 嚟㗎 lèih4 gaa3 on several occasions to suggest emphasize something is, perhaps with a hint of “and this is what something is in essence”. He uses it first to define who he is for viewers — 我係一個風景畫家嚟㗎 = “I am a landscape painter” — and later to characterize his artwork “Watching Waves” — 係一個大浪嘅一個風景嚟㗎 = “is a vista with huge waves in it”.

Secondly, transformation in Cantonese is often handled by means of 做 jouh6 to form a link between the verb and the outcome of the transformation. For instance, “the spray magically transforming into birds” is expressed as 幻化咗做一啲雀仔, where 幻化 is the verb and 一啲雀仔 refers to the result of the change. I’ve noticed too that the idea of translation form one language into another is often rendered as 譯做.

In the vocabulary department, there are some wonderful things, especially an appearance by the verbs 冚埋 kám2 màaih4 = “to cover” and 搲 wé2 = “to seize” (although it has a number of other meanings as well). Other items for any Cantonese learner’s vocabulary list are: 情景 chìhng4 gíng2 = scene; 兇險 hūng1 hím2 = in a very dangerous state; critical; 仔細 jí2 sai3 = careful; 浪花 lohng6 fāa1 = spray (literally, “wave flowers”); 嚴峻 yìhm4 jeun3 = stern; severe; rigorous; grim; and the four-character phrase 屹立不倒 ngaht6 lahp6 bāt1 dóu2 = roughly, “to stand firm; to stand tall & unwavering”.

Please scroll down if you want the transcription, notes and English translation. Otherwise, you can view the video here (subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). Since it is a YouTube video, 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.

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

我係黃進曦 | 我係一個風景畫家嚟㗎 | 今次呢,「橋裝龍匯」呢一個 project 呢 | 我係兩條橋墩柱上面呢 | 其實我設計一個大浪嘅情景 [啦] | 噉每條柱呢,都係一個大浪嘅一個風景嚟㗎 | 噉但係呢,呃,大家睇嘅時候呢 | 其實應該會 . . .

● 橋墩 kìuh4 dán2 = bridge pier; an earthen or stone structure under a bridge | ● 情景 chìhng4 gíng2 = scene; sight; circumstances

My name is Stephen Wong Chun Hei. I am a landscape painter. On this occasion, for the “Under The Bridge Art Project: Once Upon A Dragon Interchange” project, I have designed scenes [depicting] huge waves on two pillars [representing] bridge pylons. Each pylon features [係] a vista with huge waves in it. However, when people look at [the work], they really ought to be able . . .

【1:00】. . . 感受到個大浪嗰種壓迫感啦 | 又或者一種兇險嘅感覺啦 | 噉啊裏邊呢,呃,除咗嗰大浪之外呢 | 其實如果大家睇仔細少少呢 | 係應該會見呢,會有一船仔呀 | 會有一啲 | 呃,小島呀,上面有一樖吹歪咗嘅樹呀 | 甚至乎呢,你會見到喺個大浪嗰個頂嗰度呢 | 嗰啲浪花濺起嘅時候呢 | 又會幻化咗做一啲雀仔嘅 | 噉其實喺我嘅諗法裏邊呢 | 就係其實因爲 [喺],呃,而家香港都係處於疫情裏邊呢 | 噉喺一種比較,呃,嚴峻嘅 | 一種社會嘅氣氛地下呢 | 其實我就係 *jai 想大家都會可以好似 | 我安排嘅呢啲小嘅角色咁樣 | 喺一大浪嘅嗰種壓迫感底下 | 其實係應該可以好似一架船咁樣呢 | 喺一個大浪裏邊游走 | 係好靈巧咁樣呢,喺度穿梭喺一啲 . . .

● 壓迫 [ng]aat3 bīk1 = to oppress; to repress | ● 兇險 hūng1 hím2 = in a very dangerous state; critical | ● 仔細 jí2 sai3 = careful; attentive | ● 吹歪 chēui1 mé2 = cf. 吹 = to blow + 歪 = askew; crooked | ● 頂 déng2 = the top (part); here, “the crest (of a wave)” | ● 浪花 lohng6 fāa1 = spray | ● 濺起 jin3 (chín2?)  héi2 = to splash (up) Note: Someone has commented in a forum on the Sheik Cantonese website about the colloquial pronunciation of 濺: “On reflection, I suspect chín2 is a pronunciation specific to HK, created by analogy from 淺.” | ● 幻化 waahn6 faa3 = to change magically | ● 嚴峻 yìhm4 jeun3 = stern; severe; rigorous; grim | ● 游走 yàuh4 jáu2 = roughly, “to swim away from” | ● 靈巧 lìhng4 háau2 = dextrous; nimble; skilful; ingenious | ● 穿梭 chyūn1 sō1 = to shuttle back & forth

. . . to get a sense of the oppressiveness of that huge wave, or a feeling of being in a very dangerous state. In [these paintings], apart from the huge waves, if you look more carefully, you should be able to see some small boats [一啲船仔], some small islands with a tree on [each one], bent crooked by the wind, and you should even be able to see, on the crest of the wave, when they spray splashes up, the spray magically transforming into birds. Actually, in my conception [of these images], now Hong Kong is in a situation where there is an epidemic and in this rather severe atmosphere, I really wanted people to be able to [act] like the small roles [小嘅角色] I have arranged [in my work] — oppressed by that enormous wave, like a boat, [they] ought to be able to move out of the way of the wave, and with great ingenuity, shuttle in and out [穿梭] . . .

【2:00】. . . 大浪嘅嗰種翻騰嘅形勢底下 [喇] | 又或者呢,可以好似飛鳥咁樣呢 | 當個大浪埋你嘅時候 | 反而呢,係令到你更加有力量去跳躍起[喇] | 甚至乎呢,又好似喺一啲小島上面嘅嗰樖樹咁呢 | 嚟堅守住自己一啲嘅信念 | 噉你就可以搲緊,呃 | 一啲令到你可以企得穩嘅泥土 [啦] | 噉就可以屹立不倒喇 | 噉呢一啲呢,都係我自己覺得 | 喺疫情裏邊大家有一種,呃,可能好無助啦 | 又或者係覺得聽日都唔知 | 有冇辦法計算到嗰個大家嘅命運點一樣呢,可能係 | 如果大家都係好似我安排呢件作品裏邊 | 我頭先講嘅 | 有呢一種信念底下呢 | 其實應該係可以令大家 | 安心一啲去一齊面對呢一個疫情

● 翻騰 fāan1 tàhng4 = to seethe; to rise; to churn | ● 形勢 yìhng4 sai3 = situation; circumstances | ● 冚埋 kám2 màaih4 = roughly, to cover completely; to engulf” | ● 跳躍 tiu3 yeuhk6 = to jump; to leap; to bound | ● 堅守 = gīn1 sáu2 = to stick to; to hold fast to; to stand fast | ● 信念 seun3 nihm6 = faith; belief; conviction | ● 搲 wé2 = to seize | ● 泥土 nàih4/làih4 tóu2 = earth; soil | ● 屹立不倒 ngaht6 lahp6 bāt1 dóu2 = roughly, “to stand firm; to stand tall & unwavering” | ● 安心 = ōn1 sām1 = feel at ease; be relieved; to set one’s mind at rest

. . . of the seething aspect [嗰種翻騰嘅形勢] of the waves, or like flying birds you should — as the wave comes crashing down — gain a greater strength to jump out [from underneath], or even like the trees [growing] on those small islands, you should hold fast to your own beliefs. You should be able to grab hold of some earth that will enable you to stand firm, to stand tall. All these things, I get the feeling, are present at a time where there is an epidemic and everyone possibly feels a sense of helplessness or feels that they have no way of calculating just what their fate might be like tomorrow, perhaps [I’m not sure if I have understood the previous sentence correctly]. If everyone has faith in the way I have arranged it in this work, as I said just now, then this ought to be able to help us all to feel a bit more at ease [安心一啲] in facing this epidemic together.

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