Some time after recondite midnight, naked in the backyard, I confront the brilliant broad band of the whole Milky Way with the narrow scope and fibre of my nerves. Mosquitoes that feast on fingers and toes enjoy nothing of this star-time underneath the Southern Cross the way I do. For instants I come keenly to life across a tingling bodybreathscape in a silken Summer breeze that works from without physique’s long-dormant field and wakes up overcast skin to its intergalactic whorl. My blood-cells spinning in orbit from fingerprint to thumbprint, I am all the laws of physics in one place —
許寶強 Hui Po-keung, a professor at Lingnan University, was arrested earlier this month on the charge of “collusion with foreign forces”, a nebulous accusation the Chinese Communist Party regularly uses to bully anyone with the courage to act as a human being and not a tool. Actually, he was part of group that ran “612 Humanitarian Relief Fund”, a fund that helped arrested protesters pay for their legal and medical bills.
In this video from 2013, he addresses a different kind of bullying, this time associated with 恐同 or homophobia, and talks briefly about “emotional education” as a way of tackling the predicament. Generously, he suggests:
佢哋嘅焦慮同恐懼好多時係同我哋呢個社會係仲未完美有關嘅 That is, that the fears and anxieties at the root of bullying behaviour can be put down to the fact that society is still not perfect.
There are no great grammatical conundrums in Hui’s presentation, but watch out for the various structures he makes use of, including 或多或少 = to a greater or lesser extent and 唔單止 = not only. At 2:18 he employs 之所以, which means something like “the reason why”. And so 你哋之所以受排斥或者係欺凌 becomes in English “the reason why you are excluded or bullied”.
He also makes use of 到dóu3*2, a verb particle used to indicate “accomplishment or successful completion of an action” (Matthews & Yip: Cantonese, Chapter 11). So, at 0:51, you’ll hear 直接處理到 = “directly tackle” (with the implication of success in the endeavour), followed soon after by 放低到呢一種恐懼同埋焦慮嘅情緒, which means something like “to let go of this mood of fear and anxiety”.
Finally, at 2:46, you’ll hear 使到, an unusual (perhaps more literary) way of expression causation.
You can also add to your vocabulary with the following items: 女性主義者 néuih5 sing3 jyú2 yih6 jé2 = a feminist; 粗魯 chōu1 lóuh5 = rough; rude; boorish; 變體 bian3 taai3 = abnormal; anomalous; 受害者 sauh6 hoih6 jé2 = a victim; 欺凌 hēi1 lìhng4 = to bully & humiliate; and 改善 gói2 sihn6 = to improve; to ameliorate.
Please scroll down for my transcription, English translation and notes. You can view the video here (subtitles in both Standard Written Chinese and English). 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.
● 女性主義者 néuih5 sing3 jyú2 yih6 jé2 = a feminist | ● 傾向 kīng1 heung3 = a tendency; an inclination; a deviation | ● 粗魯 chōu1 lóuh5 = rough; rude; boorish | ● 大意 daaih6 yi3 = careless; negligent; inattentive | ● 細心 sai3 sām1 = careful; attentive | ● 溫柔 wān1 yàuh4 = gentle & soft | ● 變體 bin3 taai3 = abnormal; anomalous | ● 常態 sèuhng4 taai3 = normality; normal behaviour or conditions | ● 引入 yáhn5 yahp6 = ① to lead into; to draw into ② to introduce from elsewhere | ● 教師 gaau3 sī1 = a teacher | ● 恐懼 húng2 geuih6 = ① frightened ② fear; dread
Caption: Hui Po-keung | University Professor
Both feminists such as Simone de Beauvoir and Sigmund Freud — that important psychological researcher — were of the opinion that the inclination towards homosexuality was something that everyone had, to a greater or lesser extent. A man might well be . . . of course, sometimes he would be very rough or very careless, but at the same time you couldn’t rule out [排] that sometimes he could be very attentive, gentle, tender. For this reason, then it is not an abnormal phenomenon. It could even be [our] normal state.
Caption: Homosexuality is Normal
If we want to handle this issue effectively, we will at the same time have to bring in a kind of emotional education. An effective emotional education — this kind of education of the emotions, should be able to handle [this issue] directly. It might even be able to help students and teachers in schools to let go of [放低] their fears and anxieties.
● 受害者 sauh6 hoih6 jé2 = a victim | ● 欺凌 hēi1 lìhng4 = to bully & humiliate | ● 守節 sáu2 jit3 = (of a woman under feudalism) to preserve chastity after the death of her husband | ● 習俗 jaahp6 juhk6 = a custom; a convention | ● 昏迷 fān1 màih4 = a stupor; a coma | ● 反思 fáan2 sī1 = ① to recollect; to think back; to rethink profoundly ② self-examination; introspection; profound consideration
Actually, the victims [of homophobia] are not only the students who are bullied. At the same time, bullies and those who exclude others [排斥者] are themselves victims of this culture of terror or this terrified mood.
Caption: Education Both Bullies & the Bullied with Emotion
For instance, a hundred years ago when [the writer] Mr Lu Xun talked about his wish to respond to [feudal ideas about] chastity for widows — a traditional custom in China. He felt that this chastity for widows actually caused nothing but pointless suffering, as well as both violence and stupor. A hundred years on, with Hong Kong in the state that it is today, shouldn’t we be seriously thinking about [反思] whether [the way we view] homophobia is a mood [情緒] that produces suffering? If this indeed is the case, how should we positively go about handling and solving it?
Caption: 反恐同 | 思教育 | 反思
I AM ME 我係許寳強 | 我想同曾受或者係正受校園欺凌或者係排斥嘅同學講 | 你哋之所以受，呃，排斥或者係欺凌其實唔係由於你自身嘅問題，或者你自己唔好 | [更多可能]係反映排斥或者欺凌者佢哋嘅焦慮或者係恐懼 | 而佢哋嘅焦慮同恐懼好多時係同我哋呢個社會係仲未完美有關嘅 | 噉因此無論你係同志或者係非同志嘅朋友 | 我哋應該一齊去改善呢個社會狀況 | 使到欺凌同排斥唔再喺校園存在
● 曾受 chàhng4 sauh6 = roughly, “ever received/undergone” (Note: 曾 indicates “something ever having happened in the indefinite past” cf. 未 meih6 “something NEVER/NOT YET having happened in the indefinite past” | ● 正受 jing3 sauh6 = roughly, “currently in the process of receiving/undergoing” | ● 自身 jih6 sān1 = self; oneself | ● 改善 gói2 sihn6 = to improve; to ameliorate
These are the topics I am currently concerned about.
I AM ME I am Hui Po-keung. To any student who has been the subject — or is currently the subject — bullying or exclusion at school — I would like to say: the reason why you are being excluded or bullied is actually not because of anything to do with you personally [唔係由於你自身嘅問題] or because you are not any good. It more probably reflects the anxieties and fears of those doing the excluding or bullying. And most of the time, their anxieties and fears are connected to this society of ours still not being perfect. For this reason, regardless of whether you are gay or not, we should all work together to improve conditions in this society, so that bullying and exclusion in schools is stopped [唔再 … 存在].
It is not necessarily grammar or vocabulary that can make Cantonese difficult: it’s naturalness. Understandably, language tends to be idealized in textbooks and dictionaries: we are given a picture of what it should be, not what it is, just to make it learn-able. In a wonderful book on self-study I picked up in a bookshop in Sheung Shui, the writer (白取春彥Haruhiko Shiratori) memorably pointed out that people who study a language often aspire to being able to chat casually with the locals about everyday topics. This however is the Mount Everest of language learning, the almost unattainable goal. Why? Mainly because real people use language in a natural way, without regard for correct syntax, exact meanings, completeness, logic, or standard pronunciation.
This video about two painters who go out to paint from nature and, by sheer coincidence, wind up depicting the same scene illustrates this point. 黃進曦 Stephen Wong Chun-hei (an individual who often appears on this site) is his usual, lucid self. His partner-in-art 楊學德 Yeung Hok-tak, however, is a very different proposition. This is partly to do with his way of expressing himself, which tends to be choppy. He also uses quite a lot of fillers, including 咁樣, 呃, 其實, 啫係. Finally, apart from a general slurry quality, he also modifies the pronunciation of certain words, such as 嗰個 go2 go3, which becomes an indeterminate *go. In ordinary speech, you will discover other instances of such modification. For instance, 其實 becomes *kei’a; 嗰陣時 becomes *gon si; 就係 becomes *jai; 即係 becomes *je; while 咁樣 turns into *gam’eung. Another example that recently struck me in a different video was *yeje; eventually, after comparing a number of instances, I worked out that the modified phrase had to be 又或者!
One minor but interesting grammar point here involves the formation of questions with the positive and negative forms of the verb. You commonly encounter this in the cases of 有冇 = have/have not and 係咪 is/is not (咪 maih6 is a contraction of 唔係). Modal verbs made up of two characters do something special: when 可以 = “can” is combined with its negative form 唔可以, we get 可唔可以. Similarly, 應該 = “ought” turns into 應唔應該. Compound adjectives can also be handled in this way. When English words are borrowed, they receive the same treatment, often in surprising ways. So, at 1:44, Wong Chun-hei asks 係 O唔OK呢？ = “is it OK?”. Similarly in a recent video from 士多貓貓 StoreMeow, the speaker at 1:52 uses 都唔知自己呢，rea- 唔rea-dy呢 in an indirect question to mean “we didn’t know if we were ready or not”.
Probably my favourite item of Cantonese vocabulary in this presentation is the noun 宅叔 jaahk6 sūk1, which means something like “a middle-aged man who stays at home most of the time”. It is derived from 宅男 jaahk6 nàahm4, which also carries connotations of unsociability and, according to Sheik Cantonese, “watching TV and playing video games all the time” as well as not caring about personal hygiene. The female version is naturally 宅女 jaahk6 néui5*2. According to Sheik, there is a related term, 隱蔽青年 yán2 bai3 chīng1 nìhn4 = “introvert; introverted youth”. Yeung Hok-tak also makes use of this, but changes it to suit his age: 隱蔽中年, “an introverted middle-aged man”.
There are also plenty of other very noteworthy vocabulary items, including: 玩味 wuhn6 meih6 = to ponder; to ruminate; 曳 yáih5 = naughty; mischievous; 着重 jeuhk6 juhng6 = to stress; to emphasize; 構圖 kau3 tòuh4 = composition (of a picture); 類似 leuih6 chíh5 = similar; analogous; 直頭 jihk6 tàuh4 = directly, simply, completely, truly; straight head; 偏向 pīn1 heung3 = to be partial to; 刺激 chi3 gīk1 = a stimulus; 溝 kāu1 = to mix; and 驚喜 gīng1 héi2 = to be pleasantly surprised.
Please scroll down for my transcription, 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.
● 聯展 lyùhn4 jín2 = to jointly hold an exhibition | ● 寫生 sé2 sā[a]ng1 (?) = to paint from life | ● 遊走 yàuh4 jáu2 = roughly, “to wander” | ● 玩味性 wuhn6 meih6 sing3 = cf. 玩味 = to ponder; to ruminate | ● 安放 [ng]ōn1 fong3 = to lay; to place; to put in a certain place | ● 畫意 wáa2 yi3 = (?) “pictorial meaning; painterly meaning” | ● 曳 yáih5 = naughty; mischievous | ● 寫意 sé2 yi3 = ① enjoyable cf. 愜意 hip3 yi3 = be pleased; be satisfied ② freehand brushwork (in traditional Chinese painting) | ● 着重 jeuhk6 juhng6 = to stress; to emphasize
Caption: Wong Chun-hei + Yeung Hok-tak: A Joint Exhibition | Painting from Life: Its Joys and Insights [思]
Caption: A Double Perspective on “One Scene, Two Paintings”
Wong Chun-hei: [If you] look at my paintings, you will get that sense of a wandering and a pondering [玩味性] of space. [As for] Ah Tak (Yeung Hok-tak), a scene or some people he has encountered [經歷過], people around him that he has had some dealings with, may produce many different story-elements [故事性] in them [that is, “the scenes and the people”], [which he then] puts into his spaces. This is where the interest lies [有趣嘅位]. That thing I mentioned a moment ago [頭先], “pictorial meaning”, is I think not something based purely on our depiction [描寫] of the object — it is a way of talking about [certain] other things, by means of the space or the object.
Yeung Hok-tak: I am “naughtier” [曳] than Chun-hei! I take great pleasure in recording things. [If I] see a tree with some peculiarity, or something in the view that I think is very interesting, I will emphasize that particular detail [細位度].
● 消化 sīu1 faa3 = to digest | ● 經營 = usu. “to manage; to run; to engage in | ● 構圖 kau3 tòuh4= composition (of a picture) | ● 印象派 yan3 jeuhng6 paai3 = Impressionism; the Impressionist School (of artists) | ● 類似 leuih6 chíh5 = similar; analogous | ● 趣味性 cheui3 meih6 sing3 = (?) interest; delight | ● 宅叔 jaahk6 sūk1 = (?) an introverted, middle-aged man who stays at home most of the time cf. 宅男、宅女 | ● 隱蔽 yán2 baih3 = usu. concealed; covert; under cover; undercover cf. 隱蔽青年 = introverted youth | ● 重見天日 chùhng4 gin3 tīn1 yaht6 = once more see the light of day
Yeung Hok-tak: Of course, back at home I will always . . . The process that I have followed [做過] is to go and digest [the material], re-organize it, then to re-work [經營] the composition of that entire big painting.
Wong Chun-hei: When I got back home, I thought about what to do for our exhibition. Suddenly, I thought of two paintings. Once [當年], the French Impressionists Monet and Renoir went out together to paint from life, doing a lake scene. Actually, they are similar in terms of composition, but you will see [會睇得出] that in Monet’s picture, there’s more emphasis on the scene, [while] in Renoir’s picture, it’s the people who stand out [出] more. Two painters went out together [to paint], [yet] what they painted could have this interesting difference. Would it be OK to apply this same thing to me and Ah Tak? So [we] went out and had a talk about [就出嚟就傾喇] . . . about which places [邊啲地方] we could both go to together.
● 直頭 jihk6 tàuh4 = directly, simply, completely, truly; straight head | ● 新鮮感 sān1 sīn1 gám2 = a (feeling of) freshness | ● 習性 jaahp6 sing3 = habits & characteristics | ● 匿埋 nēi1 màaih4 = to hide | ● 偏向 pīn1 heung3 = to be partial to | ● 幻想 waahn6 séung2 = usu. “an illusion; a fantasy; a reverie” | ● 乾塘 gōn1 tòhng4 = literally “dried-up pond”, perhaps used figuratively to mean “a drying up of the imagination or the source of one’s inspiration” | ● 提議 tàih4 yíh5 = to propose; to suggest | ● 刺激 chi3 gīk1 = a stimulus
I’m not the type that goes out much, actually. Then all of a sudden — wow, things went completely hardcore [嘩，直頭 hardcore] and there I was out there hiking! It was a very fresh sensation [for me], because when I paint something, I do it — out of habit or because it’s my habitual nature [習性] — hidden away at home. I rarely go out to consult references. I more inclined to make things up out of my own imagination [幻想]. But this mode of doing things [呢種咁嘅形式], well I had the feeling that I had dried up. My way of thinking about things [just led to] more of the same. Now he [Wong Chun-hei] made a suggestion [to me]: “Actually, would you consider going out of doors to have a look at things? Some new stimuli from an external source [外來嘅] would possibly help you.” And so I thought . . . I thought that it might well be so. I mean, no matter where [I] went, the process of walking, or the things that [I] saw, or the problems that [I] ran into . . .
● 徹底 chit3 dái2 = thorough; thoroughgoing; complete | ● 溝 kāu1 = to mix | ● 污糟 wū1 jōu1 = dirty | ● 一度 yāt 1 douh6 = once; for a time; at one point; on one occasion | ● 為意 waih? yi3 = 在意： 留意; 放在心上。 主張： 主意，見解；也指持有某種見解 | ● 重複 chùhng4 fūk1 = to repeat; to duplicate | ● 坳 aau3 = a depression in a mountain range; level land in a mountain; 大風坳 = Quarry Pass | ● 驚喜 gīng1 héi2 = to be pleasantly surprised | ● 大潭水塘 daaih6 tàahm4 séui2 tòhng4 = the Tai Tam Reservoirs | ● 色調 sīk1 diuh6 = a tone; a hue
. . . would all be new to me. Having gone through such a first try [嘗試] this time has made me completely change some of my habitual way of doing things [習性]. Like, [I] thought: “Oh, if you mix such and such a colour with that colour, you really get an impression of “dirtiness” [有種『污糟』嘅感覺]. But before that, for a time, I wasn’t aware of this [一度都唔為意]. It is this kind of thing that has a buzz for me [刺激感], a sense of power.
Caption: The Unrepeated Landscape
Wong Chun-hei: And so, when that picture “Quarry Pass” was put on display [擺出嚟], I was actually pleasantly surprised, because on [our] two walks to the Tai Tam Reservoirs, we didn’t know what the other one was painting. That is, when we went out to paint from life, we didn’t actually look to see [what] the other [was doing], which view we had taken. As it happened, it was at Art Basel, when [our] exhibition paintings were put up for display, that [we realized we had taken] the same scene. [But] our colours were different, and the points of emphasis [重點] in our handling of the scene were different. As it turned out, this is actually the thing I wanted. On each occasion, that reaction Ah Tak had in fact . . .
● 假設 gáa2 chit3 = to suppose; to assume; to presume | ● 眼光 ngáahn5 gwōng1 = sight; foresight; insight; vision | ● 具備 geuih6 beih6 = to possess; to have; to be provided with
. . . faced as he probably was with many novel elements, was to some degree a reminder to me of certain things. Myself, I would think about how I could, on each different occasion . . . Supposing you go to the same place, you will in fact find some differences or you will observe [the place] with the freshest of gazes [最新鮮嘅一個眼光]. This I think is a quality that any person who creates or paints pictures ought to have, in fact.
Interview by Ko Cheung Video by Desmond Chan Photos courtesy of Artist
A storm-warning here gives weather sudden celebrity: like the old days the elements become something to reckon with once more, briefly. Concrete covers most of the earth, and half the indoor plants are forged from plastic. Beneath umbrellas, beneath artful perspex walkways, beneath a film that shrink-wraps each thought, we manage mostly to avoid all touch of the rain, but can’t quite help breathing it into deserted cells.
Sometimes, you have to lose yourself to find yourself. In this one-minute wonder, 徐嘉蒓 Kasen Tsui tells her story of being a child of Hong Kong, profoundly shaped by the city and yet in danger of becoming engulfed by all its darkness, a darkness she experienced at close range in her work as a journalist. And yet, through creativity — an activity that involves a sifting through of all that contradictory influence Hong Kong subjects you to — she has managed to find a way through, finding not only a path for herself but a source of positive energy and cautious optimism, something she shares with us here, in the hope that, through adversity, we can all become “real flesh and blood people”.
For more on Kasen Tsui in Chinese, you can visit her Facebook page here. You can also see her images on Instagram here.
● 賦予 fu3 yúh5 = bestow on; endow with; vest with | ● 軌跡 gwái2 jīk1 = ① locus ② orbit ③ course ④ trajectory| ● 密不可分 maht6 bāt1 hó2 fān1 = (?) cannot be separated from; inseparable | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = ① to be affected by ② to experience; to feel | ● 可憎 hó2 jāng1 = roughly, “hateful” | ● 梳理 sō1 léih5 = to organize (perhaps here “to sort through”) | ● 回饋 wùih4 gwaih6 = ① to repay ② feedback | ● 圓滿 yùhn4 múhn5 = usu. satisfactory; perhaps here “fulfilled” | ● 有血有肉 yáuh5 hyut3 yáuh5 yuhk6 = usu. lifelike; vivid? | ● 書寫 syū1 sé2 = to write | ● 劇場 kehk6 chèuhng4 = theatre | ● 自由自在 jih6 yàuh4 jih6 joih6 = leisurely & carefree; free & unrestrained | ● 對錯 deui3 cho3 = roughly, “correct or incorrect” | ● 立足 laahp6 jūk1 = ① to have a foothold somewhere ② to base oneself upon | ● 當下 dōng1 haah6 = the present instant | ● 表演創作 bíu2 yín2 chong3 jok3 = lit. “performance creativity” | ● 探尋 taam3 chàhm4 = to search for | ● 尋道 chàhm4 douh6 = (?) to seek (a way/path)
Caption: Kasen Tsui
The reason I am who I am is because this city . . .
. . . bestowed on me [my] birth, growing up and learning [學習]. The [whole] trajectory of my life is inextricably bound up with this city. I have been affected by this space . . .
. . . all the good and the bad it has brought me, parts that are loveable, and parts that are hateful. Sorting through, taking stock [沉澱], feeding back [回饋]. The city [佢] will make you more fulfilled as a person, a real flesh and blood person. I was once a journalist, and wrote many of the stories about this city. But for this reason I suffered [痛苦], because I lost [all sense of] myself.
The theatre offered me a way out, allowing me to be myself, free and unrestrained, unconcerned [不論] with “correct” and “incorrect”, [and just] sincerely being who I was.
Free and unrestrained, I create, creating with both my body and my words. I take my stand in every present instant. I am Kasen Tsui, a person searching on the path of performance creativity.