One-minute Wonderful Short Cantonese Videos: I Am a Porcupine!

In this magical one-minute deleted scene from周冠威 Kiwi Chow’s 2019 film 《幻愛》(literally “hallucinated love”, but officially rendered into English as “Beyond the Dream”), the two main characters try to get to know one another. 阿樂 Ah Lok, who has suffered from a mental breakdown that causes him to have hallucinations, is all sweetness and circumspection, while the psychologist 葉嵐 Yip Lam (the character 嵐 is pronounced làahm4 and means “haze; vapour; mist”) is the prickly one — having been damaged herself as a child, she strives to find security in her professional persona . . .

The Cantonese word for “porcupine” is 箭豬 jin3 jyū1 or “arrow pig”. And it is true that the spines can really stab (㓤 gāt1 in Cantonese). Martin Booth describes his encounter with one in Chapter 7 of his Hong Kong memoir, Gweilo:

The porcupine stopped at the roadside and faced me. Now that I could see it clearly, it was huge, three feet long and bulky. Its nose was blunt, like a beaver’s, its quills black and white. It shivered. The quills rattled. Then it was off, running clumsily down Harlech Road and into the twilight. It was only later that a Chinese friend of my mother’s told me that porcupines could kill a leopard cat with their quills.

Needless to add that, in the end, Yip Lam’s expert armour is no match for Ah Lok’s sincerity or for the purity of his affection.

You can watch the video here

阿樂:你輔導嘅時候呢 | 好似變咗另一個人咁喎

葉嵐:我其實鍾意輔導時嘅我多啲 | 幫人分析問題 | 我可以好清晰 | 但係冇咗呢個身份 | 有時我都唔知自己 *je 想點 | 我鍾意見 client 嘅感覺 | 多過見朋友

阿樂:你好鍾意幫人 | 但係你會怕同人太親密

葉嵐:好似隻箭豬咁 | 行得太近會㓤嚫對方


● 輔導 fuh6 douh6 = to give guidance in study or coaching; to coach; to counsel | ● 清晰 chīng1 sīk1 = distinct; clear | ● 親密chān1 maht6 = close; intimate | ● 箭豬 jin3 jyū1 = a porcupine | ● 㓤 gāt1 (or 拮) = to stab; to pierce; to prick

Note: Yip and Matthews refer to 嚫 chān1 as an adversative particle. It is added to verbs and means “to one’s misfortune, whether physical or psychological” (Intermediate Cantonese: 79). Yip Lan adds it to the verb 㓤 gāt1 to give the sense of “stabbing” or “jabbing”, with the clear implication that hurt is inflicted.

Ah Lok: When you are counselling, it’s as if you become a different person.

Yip Lam: I prefer the me [I am] when I am counselling. I can be very clear when analyzing [other] people’s problems, when I am not in that role [呢個身份 = lit. “this status”], sometimes I don’t know what is going on in my head [想點]. I like the feeling I have [when] seeing a client more than the feeling I have [when] seeing friends.

Ah Lok: You like to help people, but you’re afraid of getting to close to them.

Yip Lam: [I’m] just like a porcupine: if I get too close I can jab the other person [對方].

Ah Lok: But aren’t you afraid being with me?

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