The Hong Kong lyric-writer 王樂儀 Yvette Lok Yee Wong says some beautiful things in this Ming Pao video about staying strong in difficult times, and finds in songs a way of dealing with trauma. In the end, she says, [我哋] 長期好似受苦難咁樣 | 其實我哋係要慢慢重建翻自己應有嘅一個生活 — that is, “We can’t go on suffering endlessly. Actually, we must slowly rebuild the lives each of us ought to have.”
One feature of Wong’s speech is her code-switching. She often inserts an English word into her Cantonese, words such as “vague”, “term”, “mindset”, “career” and “build up”. Most unusual is her fondness for the adverb “exactly”. Perhaps this adds emphasis, because at 4:12, in the phrase 我嘅意思其實係佢唔exactly係完全輕盈嘅姿態 = “what I meant in fact wasn’t exactly a completely graceful attitude”, we see both the Cantonese word 完全 yùhn4 chyùhn4 = “completely” employed in tandem with “exactly”.
Another feature is the use of the aspect marker 翻 fāan1. It crops up in the following places:
1:05: 佢 [係] trigger你去搵翻你本身有嘅一啲 | 反叛嘅元素、慾望、渴求
3:38: 我而家開始提自己 | 係咪可以遠離翻嗰一堆嘅情緒
The first example, used with the verb 搵 wán2 = “to look for” makes perfect sense. Perhaps in contrast to 搵到 = “to find”, 搵翻 suggests that you find something that you once had. In other words, the aspect marker implies a kind of recovery, perhaps like “to re-find” or “to find all over again” in English.
This sense is always fairly obvious in the third example, where the verb is 重建 chuhng4 gin3 = “to rebuild”. Again, 翻 supports the idea of recovery. The second instance may seem a little less obvious: 係咪可以遠離翻嗰一堆嘅情緒 = “whether I can move away again from that jumble of moods”. As an English speaker, my initial feeling was that the aspect maker seemed unnecessary in this case, but I guess it underlines the fact that it is possible to achieve a healthy distance between our general mental state and the negative emotions that can threaten to overwhelm it.
Finally, Wong uses some interesting structural words in her presentation. Firstly, there is 唔淨止 for “not only” at 3:30, instead of the more commonly seen 唔單止; and then at 4:25 there is 未至於, used in the phrase 原來佢未至於破壞你嘅生活嘅 = “as it turns out, it has not yet gone so far as to ruin your life”. These are the kinds of structures that are worth committing to memory.
Just a note about the captions. Throughout the video, there are captions quoting relevant phrases from Wong’s lyrics. I haven’t translated these, mainly because of the difficulty: they are all short poems in their own right.
Please scroll down for my transcription (my apologies, it’s very patchy in places), English translation and notes. 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.
王樂儀：我梗係鍾意香港啦 | 我喺呢個地方可以俾到嘅嘢 | 係會多好多 | 噉因此我去荷蘭嘅時候 | 啲同學問我之後會唔會留喺嗰度 | 我已經話唔會 | 特別就係呢兩年嘅事 | 我點都一定會留喺度嘅
Caption: 傳承 | 創新
Caption: 王樂儀 | 填詞人 | 作品《我心中尚未崩壞的部分》《地球來的人》《美麗新世界》等
王樂儀：我係真係幸運嘅 | 因為一開頭第一個機會 | 就已經係個詞人俾我 | 啫係已經係，耀輝好好咁樣 | 去邀請我 | 所以我會好珍惜而家有嘅一啲機會嘅 | 《我變成我》嗰首歌 | 佢寫俾林二汶 | 覺得嗰首歌 | exactly 就係 我對佢嘅嗰個感覺囉 | 唔係教你做人 | 係教你變成你自己 | 覺得自己係一個好vague（虛無）嘅term（字詞）啦
● 傳承 chyùhn4 sìhng4 = to inherit & pass on | ● 填詞人 tìhn4 chìh4 yàhn4 = (?) lyric writer; a lyricist (lit. “a person who fills in the words to fit a given tune”) | ● 崩壞 bāng1 waaih6 = roughly, “to fall apart”
Yvette Lok Yee Wong: Of course, I’m fond of Hong Kong! I have so much more to give in this place. It’s for this reason that, when I went to Holland, other students studying with me asked if I would stay on afterwards. [I’d] already said that there was no way I would. Especially because of what has happened over the past two years. Whatever happens I will definitely remain here.
Caption: Inheritance of the Old, Creation of the New
Caption: Yvette Wong Lok Yee | Lyric Writer | Works [include] “The Part of My Heart that Has Not Fallen Apart”, “People from the Earth”, “Beautiful New World”
Yvette Lok Yee Wong: I really am very fortunate, because I got my opportunity right at the beginning, given to me by pop lyric writer. Chow Yiu-fai was very good to me. He invited me. And so I will treasure the opportunities that I have now. He wrote the song “People Like Us” for Eman Lam and those feelings are exactly what I feel about him. [He] doesn’t teach you how to become a person. He teaches you how to become yourself. Although “self” is a vague term . . .
【1:00】但係係講緊原來佢教你無論你變成點都好 | 你 feel 到嗰個係你自己| 同埋 (inaudible) trigger你去搵翻你本身有嘅一啲 | 反叛嘅因素、慾望、渴求 | 啫，教你去認識或者開始行到 . . . 去一個你想行嘅路呀 | 啫，我覺得呢個係一個重大嘅影響 | 同埋點樣去識得溫暖其他人 | 啫，我，我覺得我係一個比較唔係好識得同人溝通嘅人呀 | 啫，大人唔係好鼓勵你去講自己嘅心事或者情感嘅東西㗎 | 噉但係佢就每次都會好相信你呢啲嘢 | 係有價值 | 啫，我哋成日都話，啊，你要開一個肉麻嘅群組 | 要講一啲好肉麻嘅嘢 | 啫，肉麻係有價值嘅 | 其實我頭嗰幾年呢，我係 | 有啲，呃，開始質疑自己叫唔叫做一個詞人嘅 | 因為冇嗰個 mindset（想法）| 噉係去到後期約咗一個前輩
● 反叛 fáan2 buhn6 = to rebel; to revolt | ● 渴求 hot3 kàuh4 = to yearn for; to crave | ● 溫暖 wān1 nyúhn5 = (adj.) warm | ● 肉麻 yuhk6 màah4 = ugly; disgusting; corny; annoying | ● 群組 kwàhn4 jóu2 = the groups of contacts in your email account; groups of members in a forum or a community | ● 後期 hauh6 kèih4 = later stage; later period | ● 前輩 chìhn4 bui3 = senior (person); elder; to older generation
. . . as it turns out [原來], what he taught me that, regardless of what you become, you feel that whatever that is is yourself. He triggers you to find things that are part of you [你本身有] — rebellious elements, desires, yearnings. That is, [he] teaches you to go and recognize and to begin to walk a path you yourself would want to take. I think this is a major influence. Another thing is how to know how to give warmth to other people. I don’t think I am a very good communicator. Adults don’t encourage you to talk about what was on your mind or what you were feeling, but on every occasion he believed that the things you did had value. We are always saying that you have to set up a community for the corny/disgusting [肉麻嘅群組] to say corny/disgusting things. Corny/disgusting things can have a value. In the years when I was starting out, I had my suspicions about whether I could be called a lyric writer, because I didn’t have that mindset. It was not until later on, when I arranged to meet a person from the older generation . . .
【2:00】. . . 出嚟 | 食個 tea，跟住佢就話，啊，香港好少女詞人 | 你要加油呀咁樣 | 嗰下嗰個鼓勵突然間令我覺得：啊，係喎 | 我係一個詞人喎，咁樣 | 都係喺嗰個位先至突然間好似有啲責任咁樣
Caption: 學習輕盈面對 | 沉重日常
我梗係鍾意香港啦 | 我覺得我喺呢個地方可以做嘅嘢 | 或者可以俾到嘅嘢 | 係會多好多 | 噉因此我去荷蘭嘅時候 | 啲同學問我之後會唔會留喺嗰度| 我已經話唔會 | 其實佢哋都覺得我好傻㗎喇咁樣 | 啫，因為嗰個career可能會明顯啲或者會好啲呀咁 | 噉但係我好早已經話我會返嚟 | 啫，噉特別就係呢兩年嘅事 | 我點都一定會留喺度嘅 | 就算撇除呢啲嘢 | 我都係，呃，對於身邊嘅人嘅一啲陪伴 | 啫，譬如有時會諗，呃，入面嘅朋友
● 詞人 chìh4 yàhn4 = cf. 填詞人 tìhn4 chìh4 yàhn4 | ● 沉重 chàhm4 chúhng5 (?) = serious; critical | ● 撇除 pit3 chèuih4 = to eliminate; to remove; minus | ● 陪伴 pùih4 buhn6 = to accompany; to keep sb. company
. . . [UNCLEAR] he said, “Hong Kong has very few female lyric-writers, so you must go for it [你要加油]. In that moment of encouragement suddenly made me think “Oh, that’s right. I am a lyric writer. And with that position there seem to be, all of a sudden, some responsibilities [that go with it].
Caption: Learning to Face the Serious Everyday with Grace
Yvette Lok Yee Wong: Of course, I’m fond of Hong Kong! I have some much more to give in this place. It’s for this reason that, when I went to Holland, other students studying with me asked if I would stay on afterwards. Because [I’d] already said that there was no way I would, they thought I was foolish. That’s because any career would clearly be better. But a long time back I had said that I would come back [to Hong Kong]. Especially because of what has happened over the past two years. Whatever happens I will definitely remain here. And apart from these considerations [呢啲嘢], I am company for the people nearest me. For instance, I sometimes think, about friends inside.
【3:00】佢哋出咗嚟會見到邊個呢？ | 上年更加嚴重嘅 | 寫乜都會關連啫係自己嗰一啲情緒或者壓力事㗎啦 | 就算寫愛情都係啲好唔簡單嘅嘢 | 但係呢，我今年開始多咗個自覺 | 就係其實，呃，我哋嘅生活 | 唔淨止要將自己變成受難者囉 | 啫，我 . . . 我哋嘅生活應該都仲可以有好多樂趣嘅咁 | 所以我 . . . 我而家開始提自己 | 係咪可以遠離返嗰一堆嘅情緒 | 啫，當然有佢嘅作用啦，啲作品 | 啫，譬如C AllStar佢《集合吧地球保衛隊》| 跟住，呃，《留下來的人》| 噉可能你每日咁樣聽 | 你容易去抵抗而家，啫，我哋每個人喺個時代裏面嘅處境嘅
● 自覺 jih6 gok3 = a conscious(ness); an awareness | ● 受難者 sauh6 naahn6 jé2 = a victim (of a calamity) | ● 集合 jaahp6 hahp6 = to gather; to assemble; to call together | ● 保衛隊 bóu2 waih6 déui6*2 = roughly, “a team that defends/safeguards (sth.)
When they get out, who will they be able to see? Last year was more serious. The things that I wrote were all connected with moods of mine or pressures. Even if [I] wrote about love, there was nothing simple about it. This year, however, I am starting to have a new awareness about how, in fact, our lives are not just about turning into victims. My . . . our lives should still be able to have a lot of joy in them. And so for this reason I . . . I have now started to remind myself whether I can move away again [遠離翻] from that jumble of moods. Of course, these songs [作品] have their effects. For example, C All Star’s “Come Together, Defenders of the World” and then “The Man who Stayed”. Perhaps if you listened to them every day, you [could] easily resist the plight that every one of us is facing at this time.
【4:00】就係我哋唔可以長期好似受苦難咁樣 | 其實我哋係要慢慢重建返自己應有嘅一個生活 | 啫，譬如你頭先提起《輕盈》| 我嘅意思其實係佢唔 exactly 係完全輕盈嘅姿態 | 而係你點樣去做一啲好沉重嘅事嘅時候 | 將佢變成日常 | 你其實會容易啲去堅持囉 | 原來佢未至於破壞你嘅生活嘅 | 其實係你點樣慢慢 build up 自己嘅意志力 | 你 . . . 當你越 . . . 有越強大嘅意志嘅時候 | 呢啲嘢其實係可以好輕可咁樣去面對
● 苦難 fú2 naahn6 = suffering; misery; distress | ● 重建 chùhng4 gin3 = to rebuild; to re-establish | ● 姿態 jī1 taai3 = an attitude; a stance | ● 未至於 meih6 ji3 yū1 = roughly, “has not yet gone so far as to” | ● 意志力 yi3 ji3 lihk6 = will-power
We can’t go on suffering endlessly [長期]. Actually, we must slowly rebuild the lives each of us ought to have. For instance, in the song “Grace” I mentioned before, what I meant in fact wasn’t exactly a completely graceful attitude but how to transform the doing of certain very serious things into something commonplace. In fact, you will [then be able] to persevere more easily. As it turns out, it [that is, one of the “very serious things”] has not yet gone so far as to ruin your life. It’s actually about how to build up your will-power. When you . . . you have a stronger will, then these things can in fact be faced with a great lightness.