Learning Cantonese: 2021 香港約章 Hong Kong Charter 2021

“Hongkongers are a unique community with their own distinctive culture, history, experiences and values. We shall maintain our unique identity and continue to create its timely significance to perpetuate these precious characteristics; our identity, history and cultural values shall be respected and safeguarded, in writing and in recording, to be preserved in multiple ways to counter the biased perspectives fabricated and propagated by the authorities” — these are the opening sentences of the next part of the Charter, simply entitled 香港篇 Hēung1 Góng2 Pīn1 or “Hong Kong Section”.

I will tackle the remaining two parts of the Charter (dealing with mainland China and the international community) in another post, but you can view the entire bilingual document here, together with some information on the initiators. For other help with the Chinese, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.


7.  香港人是一個獨特的共同體,擁有獨特的文化、歷史、經歷以及價值觀。我們應該維持獨特的身份認同,持續創造其時代意義,以傳承這些珍貴的特質;我們的身份丶歷史和文化價值應該受到尊重、保護,以各種方法書寫、記錄、保存,抗擊官方諱言捏造的史觀。

8.  香港人有權決定香港的前途和事務,包括民生丶政制丶憲制等改革。同時,香港人應享有民主、自主和自由的制度:民主包括由人民直接選出丶沒有篩選的政府和議會;自主包括本地事務免受中共干預;自由包括《世界人權宣言》丶《公民權利及政治權利公約》和其他國際公約內列明人民應享有的政治丶社會及經濟權利。

9.  香港政府應實行三權分立,司法丶行政及立法機關互不統屬。法治制度應以限制公權力、彰顯公義為最高原則,法官判決應合乎人權及法治的標準,另外本地最高法院應享有憲法解釋權,不受中共干預。

10.  港版國安法是侵害港人言論自由、人身安全、政治自由的惡法,理應馬上廢除。政府應停止以言入罪、釋放在囚的政治犯,並保障所有港人遊行、示威、結社、出版、言論的權利,並撤銷所有針對流亡人士的政治檢控。

11.  中共肆意侵蝕香港公民社會,破壞各個專業領域的價值、原則以及道德,逼使有良心的香港市民臣服於他們無理專橫的管治。我們呼籲市民盡量捍衛自身底線,不與政權同流合污。

12.  在中共的直接指揮和港府官員盲從上意下,警隊已淪為極權打壓市民訴求和權利的武器。警政系統必須改革,在人民充分的監督及授權下,建立真正為民服務的治安自理體系。

● 共同體 guhng6 tùhng4 tái2 = community | ● 身份認同 sān1 fán6*2 yihng6 tùhng4 = (?) identity cf. 身份 = status; identity + 認同 = to identify | ● 傳承 chyùhn4 sìhng4 = to impart & to inherit | ● 抗擊 kong3 gīk1 = to resist; to beat back | ● 諱言捏造wáih5 yìhn4 nihp6 jouh6 = ? cf. 諱言 = dare not or would not speak up + 捏造 = to fabricate; to concoct; to trump up | ● 事務 sih6 mouh6 = affairs | ● 世界人權宣言 sai3 gaai3 yàhn4 kyùhn4 syūn1 yìhn4 = the Universal Declaration of Human Rights | ● 公民權利及政治權利公約 gūng1 màhn4 kyùhn4 leih6 kahp6 jing3 jih6 kyùhn4 leih6 gūng1 yeuk3 = the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights | ● 三權分立 sāam1 kyùhn4 fān1 lahp6 = separation of powers (i.e. the legislative, executive and judicial powers) | ● 統屬 tung2 suhk6 = ① subordination ② to be subordinate | ● 公權力 gūng1 kyùhn4 leih6 = (?) public rights | ● 彰顯公義 jēung1 hín2 gūng1 yih6 = cf. 彰顯 = to bring out conspicuously + 公義 = justice | ● 解釋權 gáai2 sihk6 kyùhn4 = right to interpret | ● 理應 léih5 yīng1 = ought to; should | ● 以言入罪 yíh5 yìhn4 yahp6 jeuih6 = roughly, “to regard speaking out as a criminal offence” | ● 結社 git3 séh5 = to form an association | ● 撤銷 chit3 sīu1 = to cancel; to rescind; to revoke | ● 檢控 gím2 hung3 = to prosecute | ● 臣服於 sàhn4 fuhk6 yū1 = to submit oneself to the rule of; to acknowledge allegiance to | ● 捍衛 hóhn5 waih6 = to defend; to guard; to protect | ● 底線 dái2 sin3 = the base line; the bottom line | ● 同流合污 tùhng4 làuh4 hahp6 wū1 = wallow in the mire with sb.; to associate with an evil person | ● 上意 seuhng6 yi3 = (?) the wishes/will of those higher up  | ● 授權 sauh6 kyùhn4 = to empower; to authorize | ● 治安自理 jih6 [ng]ōn1 jih6 léih5 = ? cf. 治安 = law & order

7.  Hongkongers are a unique community with their own distinctive culture, history, experiences and values. We shall maintain our unique identity and continue to create its timely significance to perpetuate these precious characteristics; our identity, history and cultural values shall be respected and safeguarded, in writing and in recording, to be preserved in multiple ways to counter the biased perspectives fabricated and propagated by the authorities.

8.  Hongkongers shall have the right to determine the future and affairs of Hong Kong, including any social, institutional and constitutional reforms. Hongkongers shall enjoy a democratic, autonomous and free system. Democracy entails a government and legislature directly elected by the people. By autonomy, it means local affairs are free from the Chinese Communist Party’s interference. Freedom entails the provision of social and economic rights for the people as stipulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

9.  The Hong Kong government shall implement separation of powers. The judiciary, the executive and the legislature shall not be subordinate to one another. The legal system shall have restricting public power and manifesting justice as the supreme principles. The judges shall adjudicate in accordance with human rights and the rule of law. The highest court shall enjoy the power of interpretation of the constitution.

10.  The Hong Kong National Security Law is a draconian law that violates Hongkongers’ freedom of speech, freedom of the person and political freedom, and shall be repudiated immediately. The government shall stop criminalizing speeches, release all political prisoners and guarantee Hongkongers freedom of demonstration, protest, association, publication and speech. The government shall drop all charges against the political exiles.

11.  The Chinese Communist Party has been arbitrarily encroaching on Hong Kong’s civil society, destroying the values, principles and moralities of each professional sector, and forcing conscientious Hongkongers to submit to its despotic governance. We urge citizens to hold their bottom line, resist association with the Chinese Communist Party and its evil deeds.

12.  Under the Chinese Communist Party’s direct orders and the blind submission of Hong Kong officials, the police force has become an arsenal used by the totalitarian regime to oppress people’s aspirations and rights. The police system must be reformed. A democratic policing system, which truly serves the people, has to be established under the people’s supervision and with the people’s mandate.

Learning Cantonese: 2021 香港約章 Hong Kong Charter 2021

Recently, mainland China unilaterally terminated its “One Country, Two Systems” arrangement with Hong Kong. This, its failure to abide by the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which states that the “basic policies of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong . . . will remain unchanged for 50 years”, and its refusal to fulfil the terms of the Hong Kong Basic Law, especially Instrument 23, which envisages that “the selection of the Chief Executive and the election of all members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage will be realized in accordance with the Hong Kong Basic Law and this Decision” has caused great dismay and concern in the Special Administrative Region. In response, a group of Hongkongers now living in exile have formulated the 2021 香港約 章Hong Kong Charter 2021 in the hope of finding a way to ensure the honouring of promises made to the people of Hong Kong.

Below, you can read the first part of the Charter in Chinese and English, together with some notes on vocabulary and grammar. The English reads more like a separate version rather than a translation, and you can learn a lot about how written Chinese works by pondering the differences in the two texts.

I will tackle the remaining two parts of the Charter in another post, but you can view the entire bilingual document here, together with some information on the initiators. For other help with the Chinese, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.


1.  自1980年代中英談判起,香港人一直爭取民主制度,以期選出代表香港市民的首長以及立法機關。惟中共一黨專政本質不變,除了阻撓香港人商討香港未來,自九七主權移交後,中共更屢次破壞《中英聯合聲明》和《基本法》精神,從未兌現承諾,落實民主與自治。直至二零一九年反送中運動爆發,港人奮起爭取民主自由,卻被暴政以赤色恐怖打壓,數以萬計示威者被捕。《港區國安法》實施後,港人言論、集會自由盡失,在港者動輒被囚,被政治逼害者流亡海外;2021年中共強加的政制改革更摧毀了香港選舉僅餘的民主成份,一國兩制名存實亡。

● 以期 yíh5 kèih4 = roughly, “in the hope of”; cf. 期望 kèih4 mohng6 = hope; expectation | ● 立法機關 lahp6 faat3 gēi1 gwāan1 = legislative body | ● 惟 wàih4 = but | ● 專政本質 cf. 專政 jyūn1 jing3 = dictatorship + 本質 bún2 jāt1 = essence; nature; innate character; intrinsic quality| ● 阻撓 jó2 nàauh4 = to obstruct; to thwart; to stand in the way of | ● 主權移交 jyú2 kyùhn4 yìh4 gāau1 = transfer of sovereignty | ● 屢次 léuih5 chi3 = time & again; repeatedly | ● 兌現 deui3 yihn6 = to honour (a commitment, etc.); to fulfil; to make good | ● 暴政 bouh6 jing3 = tyranny; despotic rule | ● 赤色恐怖 chik3/chek3 sīk1 húng2 bou3 = (?) red terror | ● 數以萬計 sou3 yíh5 maahn6 gai3 = by the tens of thousands; numbering tens of thousands; cf. 計 gai3 = to number | ● 盡失jeuhn6 sāt1 = cf. 盡 = to the utmost; to the limit + 失= to lose | ● 動輒 duhng6 jip3 = easily; frequently; at every turn | ● 囚 chàuh4 = ① to imprison ② prisoner; convict | ● 逼害者 bīk1 hoih6 jé2 = cf.  迫害 bīk1 hoih6 = to persecute | ● 強加 kèuhng4 gāa1 = to impose; to force | ● 摧毀 chēui1 wái2 = to destroy; to smash; to wreck | ● 僅餘gán2 yùh4 = roughly, “(those) few remaining” | ● 名存實亡 mìhng4 chyùhn4 saht6 mòhng4 = cease to exist except in name; exist in name only

1.  Ever since the Sino-British negotiations in the 1980s, the people of Hong Kong have been striving for a democratic political system, the right to elect truly representative legislators and Chief Executive. Notwithstanding, despite barring Hongkongers to determine their future, the Chinese Communist Party, with its unchanging one-party dictatorship, has been also tightening its totalitarian grip on Hong Kong. Sino-British Joint Declaration and Basic Law have been repeatedly breached by the Chinese Communist Party after the handover in 1997, and their promises of democracy and autonomy – have never been fulfilled. Hongkongers gathered in resistance to the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement in 2019. Facing more atrocious oppression than ever, tens of thousands were arrested. After the imposition of the National Security Law, Hong Kong’s freedom of speech and assembly has been exsanguinated. Numerous Hongkongers have no choice but to leave in exile, while those remaining in their city are living with the constant fear of being politically persecuted on any day. The 2021 electoral reform imposed by the Chinese Communist Party further annihilated the democratic elements in our elections, putting the last nail in the coffin for “One Country, Two Systems”.

2.  港人的勇敢和犧牲使國際社會尤其關注香港的民主運動,國際倡議工作如雨後春荀,港人離散族群無不為建立民主香港而爭取國際盟友支持,護港抗共。在二零二一年之初,我們希望透過《香港約章》來凝聚港人國際戰線的力量,團結海外港人社群,為光復香港的長遠之路籌謀和準備。我們矢志對抗中共霸權及壓逼,爭取港人民主自由;守護並延續海內外港人的自主意志;呼籲國際社會對抗中共威權擴張,共同守護民主自由的價值。

● 倡議工作 = advocacy cf. 倡議 cheung3 yíh5 = to propose | ● 如雨後春荀 yùh4 yúh5 hauh6 chēun1 séun2 = spring up like bamboo shoots after a spring rain | ● 離散族群 lèih4 sáan2 juhk6 kwàhn4 cf. 離散 = (?) to leave & become scattered + 族群 = ethnic group | ● 盟友 màhng4 yáuh5 = ally | ● 護港抗共 wuh6 góng2 kong3 guhng6 = roughly “to protect Hong Kong and to resist the communists | ● 凝聚 yihng4 jeuih6 = ① to condense ② to crystallize | ● 社群 séh5 kwàhn4 = community; social grouping | ● 光復 gwōng1 fuhk6 = to recover (lost territory) | ● 籌謀 chàuh4 màuh4 = to devise strategies | ● 矢志 sāt1 ji3 = to pledge one’s devotion | ● 霸權 baa3 kyùhn4 = hegemony; supremacy | ● 壓逼 [ng]aat3 bīk1 = to oppress; to repress | ● 自主意志 jih6 jyú2 yi3 ji3 = cf. 自主 = act on one’s own; decide for oneself + 意志 = will | ● 威權 wāi1 kyùhn4 = authority; power | ● 擴張 kong3 jēung1 = to expand; to enlarge; to extend | ● 守護 sáu2 wuh6 = to guard; to defend

2.  With unwavering courage and altruistic sacrifices, Hongkongers have placed the Hong Kong democratic movements under the international spotlight, and Hongkongers have increasingly engaged in international political advocacy. Diasporic Hongkongers will always be garnering support from global allies, to further our cause for freedom and democracy in Hong Kong and to resist the Chinese Communist Party. With the 2021 Hong Kong Charter, we shall unite the diasporic communities, to come together at the international front, for the eventual Liberation of Hong Kong. We vow to stand against the oppression from the Chinese Communist Party, to strive for freedom and democracy in Hong Kong, to continue safeguard our determination for Hong Kong’s autonomy both locally and overseas, to advocate for international collaboration in countering the Chinese Communist Party’s global aggression, and to safeguard the universal values of freedom and democracy.​

離散港人信念 | The belief of the Diasporic Hongkongers

3.  離散港人會繼續為香港人整體福祉着想,為香港人共同利益出發。離散港人亦應善用海外的自由空間,積極發聲及倡議香港議題,尤其是因政治暴力而難以在香港發表的言論。

4. 抗爭運動應積極尋找更多盟友支持,團結更多香港人,避免派系之爭和海外運動泡沫化,將能量消耗在內部角力。

5. 離散港人發揮互助精神,協助被逼離港者在各地建立並融入在地的互助社群,匡扶個人及同儕的身心體魄,使香港精神不滅。

6.  政治倡議工作以港人利益為依歸,旨在促進香港的政治轉型,體現港人珍重的自由、自主和民主精神。

● 福祉 fūk1 jí2 = blessings | ● 善用 sihn6 yuhng6 = be good at using something | ● 發聲 faat3 sīng1/sēng1 = usu. to make a sound | ● 言論 yìhn4 leuhn6 = opinions on public affairs; expression of one’s political views | ● 團結 tyùhn4 git3 = to unite; to rally | ● 派系之爭 paai3 haih6  jī1 jāng1/jāang1 cf. = 派系 faction + 爭 = to contend | ● 泡沫化 póuh5 muht6 faa3 = (?) to turn into foam cf. 泡沫 = foam; froth | ● 角力 gok3 lihk6 = to have a trial of strength; to wrestle | ● 發揮 faat3 fāi1 = to bring into play; to give play to; to give free rein to | ● 被逼離港者 beih6 bīk1 lèih4 góng2 jé2= those who have been forced to leave Hong Kong | ● 在地 joih6 deih6 = (?) local (lit. “on the ground”) | ● 匡扶 hōng1 fùh4 = to assist | ● 同儕 tùhng4 chàaih4  = usu. “a peer” | ● 身心體魄 sān1 sām1 tái2 paak3 = ? | ● 旨在 jí2 joih6 = for the purpose of | ● 轉型 jyún2 yìhng4 = to be in transition | ● 珍重 jān1 juhng6 = to highly value; to treasure; to set great store by

Notes: The text uses some written expressions involving the co-verbs 為waih6 and 以 yíh5. Firstly, 為 . . . 着想 means “to consider (the interests of sb. or sth.)”, with the somebody or something coming after the 為: 為香港人整體福祉着想 = “to consider all that is good for the people of Hong Kong”. Secondly, 為 . . . 出發 is roughly equivalent to “to start from/proceed from”: 為香港人共同利益出發 = “to proceed from the common good of the people of Hong Kong” or even “to proceed with the common good of the Hong Kong people as our starting point”. Finally, 以 . . . 為依歸 is a similar kind of expression, and means “taking sth. as both the starting point and destination”, perhaps with the suggestion of dependence (依歸 yī1 gwāi1 can mean “to depend on”): 以港人利益為依歸 = “take the interests of the people of Hong Kong as the starting and the end point (for one’s work)”. Expressions of this kind play a big part in more formal, written Chinese and probably have their origins in Classical Chinese.

3.  The diasporic communities shall put Hongkongers at the core and work for our wellbeing, for our common interests and values. Diasporic Hongkongers shall speak what cannot be spoken in Hong Kong now, utilizing the precious freedom we have, to voice out for those silenced by the rule of terror in Hong Kong.

4.  The Hong Kong resistance shall be making allies and not enemies. Diasporic Hongkongers shall stand united and not fall into the trap of internal conflicts.

5.  Diasporic Hongkongers shall lend our helping hands to one another, facilitating the integration of other Hong Kong exiles. Having one another’s back, with the strongest will and the greatest strength, we shall perpetuate the spirits of Hong Kong resistance, until the day we see the Liberation of Hong Kong.​

6.  Hongkongers’ wellbeing and values shall be the core of our political advocacy work. We strive for Hong Kong’s democratic transformation, to realize the freedom, autonomy and democracy that were promised to Hong Kong.

Learning Cantonese: A Tuen Mun Love Story . . .

Beyond the Dream is a novel by the Hong Kong writer 蔣曉薇 Jéung2 Híu2 Mèih4. The thing that first got me interested in it was the setting: there aren’t too many books in any language set in the new town of 屯門 Tuen Mun! To me the place evokes a discordant mix: the concrete river channel that splits the town geometrically in two, the massive architecture of the MTR stations, both at Siu Hong and the terminus, the incessant traffic streaming down the vast Tuen Mun road, the shuttling, metal clatter of the light-rail trains, and towering over it all in the distance, the jagged green ridge of the Tsing Shan Mountain (Castle Peak).

In this 4-minute video put together by 文化者 The Culturist and 網上閲讀平台 the SHKP Reading Club, Jeung gives us some insight into the themes of the book, its two main characters, the young woman 葉嵐 Yihp6 Làahm4 (嵐 means “haze; vapour; mist”) and 阿樂 Aa3 Lohk6, and its subsequent transformation into a very successful film. The Chinese title 《幻愛》 is much more interesting than the English version: to me it suggests a kind of hallucinated love, the word echoing 幻想 “fantasy” (literally, “an unreal thinking”) and 幻聽 “hearing voices” (“an unreal hearing”). You can see how it might have defeated even the most determined translator . . .

The Cantonese highlight in this video is an example of the verb 㧬 [ng]úng2 = “push forward with both hands or body” — you don’t hear it that often, so every encounter is a treat! My trusty 《香港粵語大詞典》 gives two examples of its use, 㧬開度門 = to push open the door, and 㧬㧬去 = (roughly) to push and shove one another. Other treats include the word 鎅 gaai3, used both as a verb meaning “to cut” and in the compound noun 鎅刀, a kind of small knife, somewhat like a Stanley knife (at least, in some contexts); 抌 dám2, a verb with a number of meanings including “to throw away (rubbish)”; and the very Cantonese 第時 daih6 sìh4 = “in the future, another day”. Jeung also reads a passage from her novel at the 2-minute mark. Learning to understand Standard Written Chinese read aloud in Cantonese is a real challenge, and any opportunity to work on this (uneasily mastered) skill is worth taking.

You can watch the video here (Chinese subtitles only). If you want to take a look at the (rough in places) transcription, notes and English translation, please scroll down.

And if you would like to take a look at the trailer for the film with English subtitles, you can view that here.

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. You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.


蔣曉薇:呢個好糾結内心世界係 | 啫,係我去寫嘅時候我自己都覺得痛呀

● 糾結 gáu2 git3 = to entangle; to tangle together; to be in a knot

Jeung Hiu-mei: This tangled-up inner world is one that give me pain myself when I set out to write [about it].

Caption: 幻愛 | 小説作者 | 蔣曉薇 Beyond the Dream | Fiction Writer | Jeung Hiu-mei

我覺得電影其實都係主要係阿樂嘅視點嘅 | 去到我自己作爲創作嘅時候呢 | 我覺得,呃,葉嵐呢個角色呢 | 喺個電影度仲有好多發揮嘅空間 | 可能係因爲自己係女性 [㗎嘛] | 我係好容易去代入到女性嘅角度同埋視點去寫 | 好多時候,葉嵐嘅内心世界 | 佢,佢嘅過去係點樣成長㗎 | 佢同媽媽之間嗰個命運嘅連擊係點樣㗎 | 呢度我係花咗啲心思去,去諗啦,去構思啦【1:00】

● 視點 sih6 dím2 = perspective | ● 發揮嘅空間 faat3 fāi1 ge3 hūng1 gāan1 = (?) room to give free play to | ● 代入 doih6 yahp6 = (?) to put oneself into the shoes of another person | ● 連繫lìhn4 haih6 = (?) connection; link | ● 心思 sām1 sī1 = ① thought; idea ② state of mind; mood | ● 構思 kau3 sī1 = (of a writer) work out the plot of a literary work

It is my feeling that the film is in fact mainly [from] the perspective of Ah Lok. To me, as the creator [去到我自己作爲創作嘅時候呢], I think that in the role of Yip Lam there is still plenty of room in the film for development [發揮嘅空間]. Perhaps because I am a woman too, it is very easy for me to insert myself when I write into a female role and perspective. I spent a lot of time thinking about and plotting Yip Lam’s inner world — what her past was like when she was growing up, and what kind of destiny linked her and her mother together.

噉我記得喺電影裏面呢,有一幕呢,就係 | 葉嵐同阿樂呢,就喺屋企樓下撞到 Uncle Wong | 然後佢哋就觸發咗一個衝突 [喇] | 就係葉嵐,呃,啫,覺得自己好 . . .  [佢] 嘅過去好不濟好不堪 | 佢覺得自己好唔配得,呃,阿樂嘅愛 | 然後佢就㧬咗阿樂出,呃,屋企嘅 | 噉然後葉嵐瞓到半夜嘅時候就扎醒咗 | 然後佢就望住手上面嗰條紅繩 | 就,呃,鎅刀鎅,鎅斷佢 | 然後抌咗落垃圾桶 | 啫,呢一幕,呃,可能係好短 | 大概十秒八秒咁樣呢 | 噉但係,啫,我都要一個,賦予佢一個心理狀態,就係 | 佢做乜醒咗之後係要做呢件事 [嘅] 呢,咁 | 噉我就寫咗喺書裏面嘅【2:00】

● 一幕 yāt1 mohk6 = an act (in a play); perhaps here “a scene (in a film)” | ● 屋企樓下 [ng]ūk1 kéi5*2 làuh4 haah6 = lit. “downstairs of one’s home”, but in the case of a housing estate probably “outside the building one lives in” | ● 撞到 johng6 dóu3*2 = to bump into; to encounter | ● 觸發 jūk1 faat3 = to spark; to trigger | ● 不濟 bāt1 jai3 = useless | ● 不堪 bāt1 hām1 = cannot bear; unbearably; cannot stand; “have had it up to here” | ● 好唔配得阿樂嘅愛 hóu2 mh4 pui3 dāk1 Aa3 Lohk6  ge3 [ng]oi3 = not at all worthy of Ah Lok’s love  | ● 㧬 úng2 = push forward with both hands or body | ● 扎醒 jaat3 séng2 = wake up suddenly; wake up with a start; startle from sleep | ● 紅繩 hùhng4 síng4*2= a red cord/string | ● 鎅刀 gaai3 dōu1 = a knife blade, a razor blade; a paper cutter | ● dám2 = ① beat (with fist); bang; pound ② smash; shatter; stamp (a chop) ③ throw; discard; abandon | ● 賦予 fu3 yúh5 = to bestow on; to endow with; to vest with

I remember that there is a scene in the film in which Yip Lam and Ah Lok bump into Uncle Wong outside the building she lives in [屋企樓下], which sets off conflict between the pair. Yip Lam feels that she is quite . . . // in the past she was both useless and fed up [過去好不濟好不堪]. She felt that she was quite unworthy of Ah Lok’s love for her. After that, she pushes Ah Lok out of her house. After that, she suddenly wakes up at midnight and, seeing the red cord on her wrist, picks up a knife, cuts the cord and throws it in the rubbish bin. This scene may be quite brief, lasting around 8 to 10 seconds, but in it I invest her with [a certain] psychological state. Why it is that she wakes up and does this is something I wrote about in the book.

最教她無法原諒的 | 是母親任憑自己的男朋友 | 隨便進出她們的家裏 | 任由他們隨便在自己女兒的身上摸 | 並沒有及時出來保護她 | 當 Uncle Wong 的事被母親揭發 | 她以爲自己有救了 | 母親卻是狠狠地摑了她一巴掌 | 葉嵐不斷哭著 | 不是,不是這樣的 | 但母親卻不容她解釋 | 直罵她的祖宗 | 罵她的基因 | 罵她生來就注定是個便宜貨 | 她跪在地上看著母親的眼神 | 那裏只有暴戾與嫉妒 | 再沒有關懷、真誠與愛 | 佢諗返呢個過去 | 佢 [都係] 覺得佢無辦法原諒媽媽 | 所以佢就用鎅刀鎅咗嗰條手繩仔 | 媽媽答應佢同佢祈福,就係 | 第時佢哋將來會過好日子嘅一個承諾 【3:00】

● 任憑 yahm6 pàhng4 = at one’s convenience; at one’s discretion | ● 任由 yahm6 yauh4 = to allow sb. free reign; jumping over; ignoring | ● 摑 gwaak3 = to slap; to smack | ● 暴戾 bouh6 leuih6 = ruthless & tyrannical; cruel & fierce | ● 嫉妒 jaht6 dou3 = to be jealous; to envy | ● 第時 daih6 sìh4 = in the future, another day

“What she found most difficult to forgive was that her mother let her boy-friends come and go as they pleased, and put up with their touching her whenever they felt like it, never appearing in time to protect her. When her mother found out about her and Uncle Wong, she thought she would be saved, but instead her mother slapped her hard. Weeping, Yip Lam kept repeating, no, no, it’s not what you think, but her mother had no time for her explanations, cursing her ancestors, her genes, cursing that fact that she gave birth [to a child] who was destined to become cheap goods. She knelt down on the ground and looked into her mother’s eyes, but all she saw there was cruelty and jealousy. There was no more care, sincerity or love.” She thinks back over her past, and also thinks that she cannot forgive her mother. And so, she takes the knife and cuts the cord on her wrist. Her mother accepts Yip Lam’s (?) promise to pray for her, and for a future in which they can live together happily (I am not sure if I have understood this sentence correctly).

好多,呃,影迷係好錫,呃,《幻愛》呢套戯 | 噉啊因爲疫情嘅緣故呢 | 呃,啫,戲院唔開 [喇] | 噉大家得入戲院去支持啦 | 呃,知道大家係好失望啦 | 或者係好著急嘅 | 好想戲院快啲開 | 就繼續可以支持導演 | 支持成個《幻愛》嘅團隊 | 噉嗯噉我諗《幻愛》團隊除咗電影之外 | 都包括,呃,小説創作嘅一部分嘅 | 噉大家都可以,呃,花啲時間去閲讀小説嘅 | 我覺得都係一個,一個思考嚟㗎 | 你睇完之後可以之後將佢 *jeui 同電影做返一個對讀對比 | 都係一個有趣嘅經驗 [呀]

● 影迷 yíng2 màih4 = film fan | ● 緣故 yùhn4 gu3 = cause; reason | ● 著急 jeuhk6 gāp1 = to worry; to feel anxious | ● 導演 douh6 yín2 = ① to direct (a film, a [play, etc.] ② a director | ● 團隊 tyùhn4 déui6*2 = a team; perhaps in this film context, “a crew” | ● 思考 sī1 háau2 = to think deeply; to ponder over; to reflect on | ● 對讀對比deui3 duhk6 deui3 béi2 = (?) to compare and contrast the book with the film

Many film buffs are very fond of the movie Beyond the Dream. Owing to the Covid-19 situation, cinemas are not open. No one can get into a picture theatre to show their support. I know that everyone is very disappointed about this, or worried, and hopes that the cinemas reopen soon so that they can continue to be able to support the director, and support the whole crew of Beyond the Dream. Apart from the film [side of things], I think that the crew for Beyond the Dream also includes the creation of the novel, [so] everyone can spend some time reading the book. My sense is that this reading is also a kind of deep thinking about things. When you’ve finished the novel, you can make a comparison with the film version — another interesting experience.

探訪:張美珠 Jēung1 Méih5 Jyū1  | 攝影、剪接:陳昶達 Chàhn4 Chóng2 Daaht6 (Note: 昶 chóng2 = long day)

Learning Cantonese: Democracy as “Subversion”

Heartbreak and outrage for the families of the 47 individuals accused of “subversion” for taking part in a peaceful political poll. You can watch the video here (there are no subtitles), or scroll down for the transcript, English translation and notes. Since this video was first aired, four of the accused have since been granted bail, including Hendrick Lui Chi Hang.


● 劉頴匡女友 Emilia Wong

呢啲(保釋)條件基本上係已經係非常之嚴苛、苛刻,嚴格,基本上被告、啲政治犯,要遵守呢一啲保釋條件,實際上佢哋係等於,我覺係等於,社會性死亡,根本上呢,佢哋唔會喺公共領域上面存在喇,基本上係等於唔再存在個社會咁滯 // [有]嗰啲保釋條件係令到佢哋。


● 嚴苛 yìhm4 hō1 = harsh (administration of law) | ● 苛刻 hō1 hāak1 = harsh | ● 嚴格 yìhm4 gaak3 = strict; rigorous; stringent | ● 公共領域 gūng1 guhng6 líhng5 wihk6 = the public domain/sphere | ● 咁滯 gam3 jaih6 = almost, nearly | ● 政權 jing3 kyùhn4 = regime | ● 法庭嘅程序 faat3 tìhng4 = (?) the procedure of the court; court procedure | ● 夾埋 gaap3 màaih4 = ① to collude; to conspire ② to pool together | ● 遲吓 chìh4 háah5 = (?) later | ● 夠膽 gau3 dáam2 = courage; (?) to be brave enough | ● 寄予 gei3 yúh5 = to place (hope, etc.) on/in | ● 厚望 háuh5 mohng6 = great expectations | ● 撐住 chaang3 jyuh6 = to put up with; to keep up| ● 崗位 gōng1 wái6*2 = a post; a station

● Emilia Wong, girlfriend of Ventus Lau (劉頴匡 Làuh4 Wihng6 Hōng1):

Basically, these (bail) conditions are extremely harsh, stringent, strict. Having to adhere to these bail conditions basically makes the defendants — the political prisoners — in actual fact tantamount to dead in a social sense and, basically, they cannot exist anymore in the public domain. Basically, it is tantamount to their virtually [咁滯] no longer existing in society anymore. // the bail conditions have already made them.

What exactly is this regime afraid of? [Are they] afraid of dead people continuing to endanger national security? The so-called “procedure” of the court in these past four days [呢咁多日] is, from my perspective, is a piece of theatre that everyone has performed in collusion. Fundamentally it is a pre-written script. So, when you ask me if I have faith in the appeals [which will be heard] later [遲吓], I don’t have the courage to have any hopes for it, because it is nothing but play-acting. Everyone just has to keep on going. There’s nothing else one can say. We just go on at our posts, supporting both ourselves and the people nearest and dearest to us.

● 呂智恆養母 Elsa

【1:24】呢 47 個人,全部都係為我哋香港,// 香港 // 而家就係被 // 呢個政權,係將我哋香港搞壞咗 . . .


● 教導 gaau3 douh6 = to instruct; to teach; to give guidance | ● 良好 lèuhng4 hóu2 = good; well

● Elsa, foster mother of Hendrick Lui Chi Hang:

All these 47 individuals have [acted] for our Hong Kong [UNCLEAR]. Now // by this regime // has ruined this Hong Kong of ours . . .

My whole family, my husband, we have all given him proper instruction. He is a fine young man and what he has is only love, and the pursuit of justice. He is a credit to me.

● 梁國雄太太陳寶瑩


律政司提供嘅材料呢,係非常之薄弱,// 但係,令,要令到被告要係還押三個月,就話係進 // 一步證實到呢,而家嘅司法制度呢,基本喺國安法嘅之下嚟講,係完全呢,係一個我哋言論嘅保障,我哋亦都,都完全冇埋喇。我想提一點就係,好多被告,啫,佢,佢哋接受嘅嚴苛條件,係寧願[係將] 犧牲佢哋嘅言論嘅自由,自己言論嘅自由,但係法官呢,都係唔會接受,啫話呢,根本上呢,我係對於未來嘅審訊亦都係毫不樂觀嘅。

● 審訊 sám2 seun3 = ① to interrogate; to try ② a trial; a courtroom hearing| ● 出奇 chēut1 kèih4 = ① unusually; extraordinarily ② extraordinary | ● 司法制度 sī1 faat3 jai3 douh6 = the judicial system | ● 扭曲 náu2 kūk1 = to distort | ● 顛倒 dīn1 dóu2 = to turn upside down; to reverse | ● 律政司 leuht6 jing3 sī1 = Department of Justice | ● 法官 faat3 gūn1 = a judge | ● 毫不 hòuh4 bāt1 = not in the least; not at all

● Chan Po-ying (Chàhn4 Bóu2 Yìhng4), wife of “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung (Lèuhng4 Gwok3 Hùhng4):

There’s nothing extraordinary at all about the result of the trial. It’s what we expected. Because we know with the introduction [立咗] of the National Security Law, the judicial system of the whole of Hong Kong has become completely distorted, and has been turned completely upside down.

The material provided by the Department of Justice was extremely meagre // but it has caused the defendants to be detained for three months, which further proves that the present judicial system under the National Security Law has basically, has completely, is no guarantee of our freedom of speech, we have none at all now. One point I’d like to mention is that many of the defendants accepted some harsh (bail) conditions, preferring to sacrifice their freedom of speech, their own freedom of speech, but the judge couldn’t accept this, and this means that, fundamentally, I am not in the least bit optimistic about the future court trial.

● 岑敖暉太太余思朗

【2:56】警方呢,係提早咗個幾月進行呢個拘捕嘅行動呢,將 47 名被告全部帶上法庭,進行 4 日嘅審訊,而期間呢,佢哋係禁止任何家屬,係任何家屬,係一庭度旁聽,呢個係我哋權利,但係我哋冇。各被告呢,喺 4 日審訊以嚟,係冇見過、完全冇見過自己嘅親人。

另外,控方而家係要求呢,將審訊押後成 3 個月呢,去進行搜證,對所有嘅被告同所有被告家屬講呢,都係非常唔合理,唔合比例,同唔公平嘅,我喺度表示,我係非常傷心同憤怒嘅。最後呢,想呼籲大家,繼續支持佢哋。香港加油,香港人加油!

● 禁止 gam3 jí2 = to prohibit; to ban; to forbid | ● 控方 hung3 fōng1 = the prosecution; the prosecuting party | ● 押後 [ng]aat3 houh6 = to postpone; to adjourn | ● 搜證 sāu1 jing3 = cf. 搜 = to search + 證 = evidence | ● 唔合比例 mh4 hahp6 béi2 laih6 = out of (all) proportion, cf. 比例 = proportion

● Yu Si-long (Yùh4 Sī1 Lóhng5), wife of Lester Shum (Sàhm4 Ngòuh4 Fā i1)

The police carried out this arrest operation three months earlier than [originally planned], and took all 47 of the accused off to court for a trial lasting four days, during which they forbid any family member, any family member, to listen to the proceedings in Courtroom 1. This is our right, but we did not have it. Since the trial [began] four days ago, we have not been able to meet with any of the defendants, and they have not had any opportunity [完全冇] to see their own family.

Furthermore, the prosecution has demanded that the trial be adjourned for a whole three months while a search for evidence is carried out. This is totally unreasonable for the defendants as well as for their family members. It is also out of all proportion and unfair. Here I would like to say that I am extremely saddened and angry. Finally, I would like to call on everyone to continue to support them. Hong Kong Add Oil! Hongkongers Add Oil!

● 朱凱廸太太區佩芬

【3:50】呢個係一班改變香港,改變香港政治,亦都係改變香港我哋一個現狀嘅一個…香港去一個倒退政治現狀,倒退我哋言論自由一個嘅重要嘅案件,我希望世界各地,亦都希望香港人,我哋一齊去繼續關注。同埋作為一個家屬,我就好希望,呃,我哋除咗傷心、除咗憤怒之外,我哋要堅強,除咗我哋自己堅強,我哋嘅,我哋嘅丈夫,我哋嘅妻子,我哋嘅仔女,我哋嘅,呃,學生,我哋嘅朋友,啫,喺呢一個,呃,收押所裏面嘅人,嘅朋友,佢哋全部都要繼續係好堅強,同埋大家我哋而家係同坐一 [條] 船,我哋希望可以同舟共濟 . . .

● 倒退 dou3 teui3 = to go backwards; to fall back | ● 堅強 gīn1 kèuhng4 = strong; firm; staunch | ● 收押所 sāu1 [ng]aat3 só2 = reception centre (here referring to the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, where the defendants are being held), literally “place for receiving the detained” | ● 同舟共濟 tùhng4 jāu1 guhng6 jai3 = cross a river in the same boat — people in the same boat help each other

● Au Pui-fan (Āu1 Pui3 Fān1), wife of Eddie Chu (Jyū1 Hói2 Dihk6):

This is a group of . . . that is changing Hong Kong, changing Hong Kong politics, as well as changing our current situation in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is headed for a backward falling political situation, and they are pushing back [倒退] the important case of our freedom of speech. It is my hope that [people] all over the world, as well as the people of Hong Kong continue to keep a close eye on this. In addition, as a family member, I hope very much that apart from sadness and outrage, we must be strong. Apart from being strong ourselves, our, our husbands, our wives, our sons and daughters, our students, our friends — our friends inside the reception centre — all of them have to be strong. Now all of us are sitting in the same boat, [so] let us hope that we can all help each other.

我們必須在一起 | We Must Be United



● 審判 sám2 pun3 = to bring to trial; to try | ● 被告席 beih6 gou3 jihk6 = the defendant’s seat; the dock| ● 甘願 gām1 yuhn6 = willingly; readily | ● 盡一己之力 jeuhn6 yāt1 géi2 jī1 lihk6 = to do all one can cf. 一己 = “oneself” and 盡力 = “do all one can; try one’s best” | ● 水火 séui2 fó2 = extreme misery | ● 行事磊落 hàhng4 sih6 léuih5 lohk6 = (one’s) behaviour/conduct is open & upright | ● 義人 yih6 yàhn4 = ? cf. 義士 yih6 sih6 = a person who upholds justice

My friends, we are well aware that this present major political trial represents and enormous blow to us all. This is the biggest political trial in Hong Kong’s history, and the 47 individuals who stand in the dock come from different political parties and social sectors [界別]. Some are young and some are old, and some of them are unknown to one another, [but] at a time of great difficulty in Hong Kong they chose to take part in a poll for the LegCo elections and were willing to face unknowable political risks, not for the sake of fame or personal gain but in the hope of doing all they could to save our city from extreme misery. As people, they are honest, their conduct is open and upright, and as upstanding citizens [義人] they are worthy of our respect.


● 當權者 dōng1 kyùhn4 jé2 = someone who is in power; someone who holds power | ● 撲殺 pok3 saat3 = (?) to pounce on & kill off | ● 囚禁 chàuh4 gam3 = to imprison; to put in jail | ● 磨損 mòh4 syún2 = ① wear & tear ② (?) to wear down | ● 斷絕 tyúhn5 jyuht6 = to break off; to cut off; to sever | ● 懲罰 chìhng4 faht6 = to punish; to penalize | ● 歷史關口 lihk6 sí2 gwāan1 háu2 = historical juncture | ● 應對 ying3 deui3 = to reply; to answer; a response

No one could have expected that those who hold power would charge all those 47 people with “conspiracy to commit subversion” in order to crack down on [撲殺] this democracy movement. By putting [democracy supporters] in prison, [the people in charge] hope to wear down their wills, and cut them off from participation in politics, handing them the greatest penalty, while giving the people of Hong Kong the greatest warning. We stand at an important historical juncture. How we respond to this major trial, what we hold onto, what we retain, will have a decisive influence on the political development of Hong Kong as well as how future generations [後人] will come to see us.


● 真相 jān1 sēung1 = the real/true situation; the real/actual facts | ● 鏡頭 geng3 tàuh4 = ① camera lens ② a shot; a scene | ● 善用 sihn6 yuhng6 = (?) to use properly; to make proper use of | ● 時事 sìh4 sih6 = current events; current affairs | ● 懷憂 wàaih4 yāu1 = (?) to harbour worries; to worry cf.  懷 = to keep in mind; to cherish (a positive emotion); to harbour (a negative emotion) | ● 立志 lahp6 ji3 = to resolve; to be determined; to endeavour | ● 臉書 Líhm5 Syū1 = Facebook | ● 懼於 geuih6 yū1 = to fear/dread to do = | ● 評論 pìhng4 leuhn6 = a comment; a commentary; a review

What are we able to do? Journalists can record the real historical facts for us. Documentary film-makers can capture [留下] invaluable scenes for us. Those of you working in the legal profession can make proper use of your speciality to help out as much as you can. Teachers can tell their students about what is happening in Hong Kong right now. Parents must not be afraid to talk about current affairs with their children. Those engaged in study [正在讀書的] [should] endeavour to become individuals with both si seung [ideas] and lei seung [ideals]. And users of Facebook must not be afraid to share various reports and commentaries.


● 用心 yuhng6 sām1 = diligently; attentively; with concentrated attention | ● 可著力之處 hó2 jeuhk6 lihk6 jī1 chyu3 = (?) areas in which one can make an effort, cf. 著力 jeuhk6 lihk6 = to put forth effort; to exert oneself | ● 堅韌 gīn1 ngahn6 = firm & tenacious | ● 退一萬步 tēui1 yāt1 maahn6 bouh6 = even if (such and such were the case); this term appears to imply a high degree of concession | ● 不屈的姿態 bāt1 kūk1 dīk1 jī1 taai3 = ? cf. jī1 taai3 = attitude; pose + bāt1 kūk1 = unyielding; unbending| ● 砥礪 dái2 laih6 = ① to temper ② to encourage

It is my belief that, as long as we are diligent, there are areas in which each of us can exert ourselves and live our lives with a little more tenacity [堅韌]. And even if we accept that is true that we cannot make any immediate changes to the current situation, by living our lives with an unyielding attitude, we ourselves will become different. If we live our lives differently, Hong Kong will also change accordingly, and because we all live on the same patch of land, we see each other, and encourage one another.

這樣的審判,雖然對我們是難以言說的折磨,但同時也是一個重要的契機,讓政權的不義暴露於天下,讓世界更同情我們的處境,也讓我們更加團結。 我們可以傷心,可以憤怒,但不要絕望,不要放棄。我相信,這也是此刻正在受苦的四十七位朋友對我們的期望。我們要和他們一起,寫下這歷史的一頁。

● 難以言說 = nàahn4 yíh5 yìhn4 syut3 = indescribable | ● 折磨 jit3 mòh4 = to cause physical or mental suffering; to torment | ● 契機 kai3 gēi1 = turning point; juncture | ● 暴露 bouh6 louh6 = to expose; to reveal; to lay bare

Although a trial of this kind is an indescribable torment to us, at the same time it is an important turning point, exposing the government’s injustice for all to see [暴露於天下], helping the rest of the world to feel greater sympathy for our plight, and bringing us even more closely together in unity.  We are allowed to feel sadness. We are allowed to feel outrage. But we must neither despair nor give up. Our 47 friends, who are now undergoing hardships, are expecting this of us, I believe. Together with them, we must write this page of history.

Professor 周保松 Chow Po-chung

This article originally appeared on Stand News here.

“Extinction” by Woo Sai Nga, translated by Audrey Heijns

Dreams have dissolved and
dew has frozen into ice
A quiet collapse takes place
when the traffic light turns red
one steps out
but then retreats to the side of the road

Hold on to your wine glass, the world is plummeting
white bubbles suddenly well up
then vanish into thin air, you have to get closer to hear
the majestic fireworks there, and the sea waves recede
a quiet collapse takes place
when the foam explodes

hot steam, rising up
everything is over
water flows along the inner wall of the bath tub
to the bottom
to the black plughole
without stopping, and also without a sound

time practiced asceticism to become a cross-harbour tunnel
that devours trains, and every type of giant vehicle
inside there are countless black bubbles
a quiet collapse takes place
inside a railway carriage:
you, standing in black time are
watching your reversed reflection, with your own
dark eyes


〈滅〉/ 胡世雅






● Woo Sai Nga, born in Hong Kong, is a member of Fannou Poetry Society. She graduated from the Chinese Department, Baptist University of Hong Kong in 2017 and is now teaching at a secondary school. She publishes poems in literary magazines in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and has won the Youth Literary Award (青年文學獎) and the Award for Creative Writing in Chinese (中文文學創作獎) in Hong Kong. She was the leader of the workshop “Literary Convergence ⸺ May Fourth Hong Kong”, Theatre-in-Education Project (Reading and Writing), held at the Hong Kong Literature Research Centre, The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2019/20.

● Audrey Heijns, based in Hong Kong, is working at Shenzhen University. Her translations of Chinese literature have been published in literary magazines, including Het Trage Vuur, Twee Ronde, KortVerhaal, Terras, Renditions, Exchanges and Poetry International.

Hong Kong Uplift Two: Kongstories No. 100

This episode of 港故仔 Kongstories was made to commemorate the remarkable effort of making 100 consecutive videos in as many weeks. It brims with fantastic Kong-optimism and is full of words such as 恩典 yān1 dín2 = grace, 傳奇 chyùhn4 kèih4 = legendary, and 祝福 jūk1 fūk1 = a blessing, words now that possibly only the bravest, most visionary of Hongkongers would dare voice. The inspirational message is summed up in the phrases: 我哋香港人係有能力嘅 | 只要你願意,我哋每個人都可以成就傳奇 . . .

If you are not interested in the Cantonese aspects of the video, please click here to view it — the English subtitles are generally very good.

But if Cantonese is what you’re after, highlights in the language department include the structure 一 … 半 … used with measure words, which seems to convey a sense of “merely” or something like “measly” in English: 拍一條半條 = “to make a measly single video”. Also, there’s the adverb 不間斷 bāt1 gāan1 dyuhn6 = (?) “uninterrupted; without interruption” as well as a number of four-character phrases: 木口木面 muhk6 háu2 muhk6 mihn6 = pudding faced; 一事無成 yāt1 sih6 mòuh4 sìhng4 = accomplish nothing; get nowhere; and 成就傳奇 sìhng4 jauh6 chyùhn4 kèih4 = (?) to accomplish something that becomes a legend.

The episode finishes with a long list of personal names. Apart from being good practice (the list includes some less commonly seen surnames, including 霍 Fok3 and 詹 Jīm1) and you can also use these names to search for further videos in the 港故仔 Kongstories series.

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. You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.


唔收錢咁樣為香港拍片 | 拍一條半條,邊個都得 | 拍十條或者都大有人在,拍到五十條可能已經唔多 | 能夠堅持一百個星期,或者香港開埠以 | 可能只有我 | 港故仔 | 由2016年嘅7月2號開始 | 第一集《港故仔》播出之後 | 不間斷持續一百個星期 | 呢份堅毅完全體現咗香港精神 | 我哋唔係講多過做,我哋做咗先講 | 香港人係有能力、有夢想、有堅持、有作爲 | 我哋每個香港人都可以,只要我哋願意一齊為自己 | 為家庭、為香港走多一步,堅持多一啲 | 我哋嘅香港本身就係一個傳奇 | 過去呢一百個星期,我哋經歷咗好多唔同嘅恩典 | 呢一百個唔同香港嘅故仔【1:00】有希望成爲你哋嘅祝福

● 收錢 sāu1 chín4*2 = to charge (money); to take money for doing sth. | ● 拍片 paak3 pín3*2 = (?) to shoot a film; make a video | ● 開埠 hōi1 fauh6 = lit. “to open a (new) port”; generally used to refer to the English settlement of Hong Kong Island | ● 播出 bo3 chēut1 = to broadcast | ● 不間斷 bāt1 gāan1 dyuhn6 = (?) uninterrupted; without interruption | ● 堅毅 gīn1 ngaih6 = firm & persistent; with unswerving determination; with inflexible will | ● 體現 tái2 yihn6 = to embody; to incarnate; to reflect; to give expression to | ● 作爲 jok3 wàih4 = 1. deed; conduct; act 2. to accomplish; to do something worthwhile | ● 傳奇 chyùhn4 kèih4 = legend; legendary| ● 恩典 yān1 dín2 = favour; grace | ● 祝福 jūk1 fūk1 = a blessing; a benediction

當我哋香港人生活上遇上唔同嘅困難 | 可能會有失意、迷茫、困惑、痛苦嘅時候 | 但係希望你唔好放棄,唔好失去盼望 | 我哋有一百個港故仔去鼓勵你、勉勵你 | 無論你以前係咪曾經喺毒海裏邊或者係讀書唔正 | 或者係木口木面,可能而家係一事無成 | 又或者環境對你有大嘅捆 [擾] | 就算冇人明白你,好似冇人幫到你 | 我哋港故仔好想話你聽:我哋香港人係得嘅 | 我哋香港人係有能力嘅 | 只要你願意,我哋每個人都可以成就傳奇 | 只要你願意,先付出,為別人貢獻自己 | 將來有一日,你會成爲香港嘅傳奇 | 我哋每一個人嘅付出 | 就係成就【2:00】呢個香港東方之珠嘅基石

● 失意 sāt1 yi3 = to have one’s aspirations, plans, etc. thwarted | ● 盼望 paan3 mohng6 = to hope for; to long for; to look forward to | ● 勉勵 míhn5 laih6 = to encourage; to urge | ● 唔正 mh4 jeng3 = not very good | ● 木口木面 muhk6 háu2 muhk6 mihn6 = pudding faced | ● 一事無成 yāt1 sih6 mòuh4 sìhng4 = accomplish nothing; get nowhere | ● 捆擾kwan3 yíu2 = to perplex; to puzzle (subtitles have 捆綁 = usu. to bind; to tie up) | ● 成就傳奇 sìhng4 jauh6 chyùhn4 kèih4 = (?) to accomplish something that becomes a legend | ● 為別人貢獻自己 wàih4 bīt1 yàhn4 gung3 hin3 jih6 géi2 = to devote/dedicate oneself for others | ● 東方之珠 Dūng1 Fōng1 jī1 jyū1 = the Pearl of the Orient | ● 基石 = gēi1 sehk6 = foundation stone; cornerstone

我係梁淑儀 Lèuhng4 Suhk6 Yìh4 / Zoe Leung
我係文曉光 Màhn4 Híu2 Gwōng1 / Henry Man
我叫黎演樂 Làih4 Yín2 Lohk6 / Lock Lai
我係鄭淦元 Jehng6 Gam3 Yùhn4 / Ken Cheng
我叫藍全傑 Làahm4 Chyùhn4 Giht6 / Manson Lam
我就江富德 Gōng1 Fu3 Dāk1 / Kong Fu Tat
我叫陳浩源 Chàhn4 Houh6 Yùhn4 / Denial Chan
我叫做謝寳達 Jeh6 Bóu2 Daaht6 / Donald Tse
我叫黃明慧 Wòhng4 Mìhng4 Wai3 / Jennifer Wong
我叫志鵬 Fok3 Ji3 Pàahng4 / Thomas Fok
我叫黃岳永 Wòhng4 Ngohk6 Wíhng5 / Erwin Huang
我係羅孟慶 Lòh4 Máahng5 Hing3 / Jeff Law
我係張柏淳 Jēung1 Paak3 Sèuhn4 / Dennis Shun
我係阿露。何嘉露 Hòh4 Gāa1 Louh6 / I am Lu
我叫糖兄峰 (潘雲峰) Pūn1 Wàhn4 Fūng1 / I am Poon Wan Fung
我叫麥心睿 Mahk6 Sām1 Yeuih6 / I am Lesley Mak
我哋叫 The Wave
我叫詹家俊 Jīm1 Gāa1 Jeun3 / I am Wallnex Jim
我叫黃子財 Wòhng4 Jí2 Chòih4 / I am Colon Wong

香港土生土長 | 七百萬個故仔 | 成就一個香 . . . 港故仔

Learning Cantonese: Kin-man’s Bookroom, Kim Dae Jung’s Prison Writings (Part 1)

陳健民 Chan Kin-man is a very thoughtful fellow and he uses the videos collected in his 健民書房 series to illuminate Hong Kong’s current predicament by offering ideas and insights from the books he has grappled with. In this episode, he tackles the question “Why do good people suffer?” via the prison letters of Korean democracy activist 金大中 Kim Dae Jung. Along the way, he also brings in a visit to Jimmy Lai, still in detention until his forthcoming trial in April or May, Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov, and some of the ideas of the French philosopher, priest and palaeontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Chan uses plenty of sophisticated vocabulary, much of which is worth making your own. You’ll notice too that he tends to pronounce the third-person pronoun 佢 as héuih5 and is a heavy user of that common filler 即係 *je!

Please scroll down for my transcription and notes (the transcription is a bit rough in places, but the translation is pretty accurate, because I’ve been able to use the subtitles to fill in the parts I can’t hear clearly). You can view the video here (you are offered subtitles in both English and Standard Written Chinese). 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.

You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.

I will add the second part of this episode in the coming weeks . . .


各位,歡迎返到我健民書房 | 前幾日我走去探黎智英先生 | 啊,非常之,即係 *je ,深感觸嘅一次探訪啦 | 我亦都 Facebook 裏邊寫一個 post 【貼文】啦 | 啊見到一個傳媒嘅老闆 | 著住件,即係 *je ,殘舊嘅囚衣 | 坐喺個探訪室玻璃窗嘅另一面 | 當然我係有特別深嘅感觸啦 | 噉但係就覺得自己嘅生命係活喺上帝嘅恩典裏邊 | 佢亦都相信上帝對佢嘅人生自有安排嘅 | 噉,呃,好多人都話,喂,其實你一早應該要走剌 | 佢就話,佢能夠為香港做多事因爲佢留咗落 | 噉佢覺得係無怨無悔嘅 | 我覺得佢係非常之堅强呀,哈 | 噉作爲一個天主教徒我好相信呢,佢嘅信仰係支撐住佢嘅 | 但當佢一講到屋企人嗰陣時候 | 特別係覺得屋企人好擔心佢呢 | 佢就差唔多,即係 *je ,講唔到,即係 *je ,説話

● 黎智英 Làih4 Ji3 Yīng1 = Jimmy Lai Chee-ying | ● 感觸 gám2 jūk1 = thoughts & feelings; feeling (感觸 is regularly used with 深 sām1 = deep)| ● 殘舊 chàahn4 gauh6 = tattered; ragged; worn out | ● 囚衣 chàuh4 yī1 = prison clothes | ● 探訪室 taam3 fóng2 sāt = (?) visitors room | ● 恩典 yān1 dín2 = grace | ● 自有安排 jih6 yáuh5 [ng]ōn1 pàaih4 = (?) has His own arrangements | ● 無怨無悔 mòuh4 yun3 mòuh4 fui3 = have neither complaints nor regrets | ● 堅强 gīn1 kèuhng4 = strong; firm; staunch | ● 支撐 jī1 chāang1 = to prop up; to sustain; to support

Note: The grammar of the sentence 噉做爲一個天主教徒我好相信呢,佢嘅信仰係支撐住佢嘅 actually suggests that Chan Kin-man is himself a Catholic, but in actual fact the phrase 我好相信呢 is an insertion, and possibly even a form of displacement, coming between 做爲一個天主教徒 and the preposition it modifies, 佢.

Welcome all of you to my “Kin-man’s Bookroom”.  A few days ago, I paid a visit to Mr Jimmy Lai, an extremely moving, a deeply moving, visit. I also wrote a post about it on Facebook. Of course, I was deeply moved, seeing this media boss dressed in ragged prison clothes sitting on the other side of a glass window in the visitors room. He, however, felt that he lived his life in the grace of God [係活喺上帝嘅恩典裏邊]. He was also of the belief that God had made arrangements of His own [自有安排] for Lai’s existence. Many people have said that he should have left [Hong Kong] long ago, [but] to this he replied that the reason why he has been able to do so much for Hong Kong is because he stayed. He felt that he had nothing to complain of and has no regrets. My sense is that he is exceptionally strong. Since he is a Catholic, I firmly believe that his faith sustains him. However, once he began to talk about his family, and feeling in particular that his family was very worried about him, it was hard for him to go on talking [講唔到説活].

【1:00】 | 甚至流眼淚落嚟嘅 | 噉啊作爲,即係 *je ,曾經坐過監嘅人 | 即係 *je ,對於屋企人嘅内疚我係好完全理解得到嘅 | 噉啊離開咗呢個監獄之後唔夠半個鐘頭呢 | 政府就宣佈呢,用國安法繼續係加控,即係 *je ,黎智英嘅罪名嘅 | 噉佢要,即係 *je ,繼續被還押至到出年四月呢,係先至受審嘅 | 即係 *je 話,未有罪都好啦,已經要坐四五個月嘅監獄嘅 | 噉呢個就係 *jai 香港嘅情況 | 喺佢探訪之後,我係諗起,呃,一本書 | um 亦都係今日呢個健民書房同大家分享嘅 | 因爲嗰個對話好宗教性 | 咁我就諗起 um, 即係 *je ,韓國嘅民主運動嘅金大中 | 佢喺獄中裏邊呢,就寫咗好多信 | 噉啊編咗本書叫做 Prison Writings | 噉啊唔係幾好睇我當時覺得 | 因爲實在太過宗教性喇 | um ,金大中呢 . . .

● 内疚 noih6 gau3 = compunction; guilty conscience | ● 還押 wàahn4 [ng]aat3 = (?) to be remanded in custody | ● 受審 sauh6 sám2 = to stand trial; to be tried | ● 宗教性 jūng1 gaau3 sing3 = of a religious nature | ● 金大中 Gām1 Daaih6 Jūng1 = Kim Dae Jung

He even shed tears. As someone who has spent time in prison, I perfectly comprehend this feeling of guilt with regard to one’s family. Less than half an hour after leaving the prison, the government announced that they would continue to add charges against Jimmy Lai by using the National Security Law. He will remain in custody [awaiting trial] until April or May next year. Which means that, even though he has not yet been found guilty, he still has to spend four or five months in prison. This is what the situation is like in Hong Kong. After my visit to him, I thought of a book, one that I am also sharing with you all today in “Kin-man’s Bookroom”.  Because my interchange with Lai was of quite a religious nature, it made me think of Kim Dae Jung, [a figure in] Korea’s democracy movement. While he was in jail, he wrote a great many letters. These were put together in a book called Prison Writings. Not a great read I thought when I first read it because it was too religious. Now Kim Dae Jung . . .

【2:00】噉係韓國嘅,即係 *je ,民主運動嘅領袖啦 | 佢曾經有一件好傳奇嘅事情 | 就喺1973年當佢流亡去到日本呢 | 韓國嘅政府呢,竟然係派佢哋,即係 *je ,C.I.A. ,哈,佢哋嘅中央情報局呢 | 走到日本裏邊擄劫咗佢呢,係返返去,呃,即係 *je ,韓國嘅 | 而喺嗰個公海嗰度呢,甚至係將佢綁咗喺石頭度 | 諗住抌佢落海呢,就整死佢嘅 | 但係點知道呢,就美國嘅,即係 *je ,軍方呢,就一路就知道呢件事情 | 噉就派飛機喺架船嘅上空裏邊呢,係徘徊 | 噉啊一路監察住佢之後呢,呢個韓國嘅軍政府先至冇落手嘅 | 噉啊結果就送返返去,即係 *je ,韓國嘅本土嘅 | 噉但係佢喺呢個1980年嗰陣時候呢 | 因爲呢個光州嘅事件呢 | 佢係曾經被政府呢,係被,呃,控告 | 跟住就送到軍事法庭裏邊呢,告佢一個叛亂罪嘅

● 領袖 líhng5 jauh6 = leader | ● 傳奇 chyùhn4 kèih4 = as an adjective, this means “legendary”, referring to someone “unusual” [奇] whose exploits are “passed on down” [傳] through the ages | ● 中央情報局 Jūng1 Yēung1 Chìhng4 Bou3 Guhk6 = the Central Intelligence Agency | ● 擄劫 lóuh5 gip3 = (?) to abduct | ● 公海 gūng1 hói2 = the high seas | ● 丟抌 dīu1 dám2 = (?) to throw away; to discard | ● 整死 jíng2 séi2 = (?) to kill; to do away with | ● 軍方 gwān1 fōng1 = the military | ● 徘徊 pùih4 wùih4 = usu. “to pace up & down” or “to wander”, but here the context suggests “to hang around” or “to fly back and forth (overhead)” | ● 軍政府 gwān1 jing3 fú2 = a military government | ● 落手 lohk6 sáu2 = usu. “to set about”; perhaps “to lay a hand on” or “to do the deed” here | ● 本土 bún2 tóu2 = one’s native country | ● 光州嘅事件 Gwōng1 Jāu1 ge3 Sih6 Gín6*2 = the Gwangju massacre in the aftermath of the coup d’état of December Twelfth | ● 控告 hung3 gou3 = to charge; to accuse | ● 叛亂罪 buhn6 lyuhn6 jeuih6 = ? cf. 叛亂 = “armed rebellion”

Note: I cannot find a dictionary definition for the compound 擄劫. Also, remember that as a verb 整 jíng2 in Cantonese can take on a whole range of meanings, just like “to make” or “to do” in English. Only the resultative 死 (“dead”) gives the specific meaning of “to kill”.

. . . was a leader in Korea of the democracy movement. Something once happened to him which is the stuff of legends. In 1973, while he was in exile in Japan, the Korean government actually went so far as [竟然] to dispatch members of their own secret service to abduct him and take him back to Korea. [Sailing back] on the high seas, they even went so far as to tie him to a rock [將佢綁咗喺石頭度] with the intention of throwing him down [into the water] in order to kill him. But who would have guessed that the American army had all along known about this matter and so sent an aeroplane to fly back and forth above the ship to keep an eye on it and only because of this, the Korean military government did not go through with the killing.  As a result, he was sent back to his own country, Korea. However, in 1980, owing to the Gwangju Massacre, he was charged by the government and sent to [appear before] a military court, where he was accused of the crime of (?) armed rebellion [叛亂罪].

【3:00】就判佢死刑嘅 | 噉結果喺美國同埋日本嘅壓力底下呢,先至係轉咗係一個,即係 *je ,入獄嘅一個嘅,即係 *je ,嘅懲罰 | 噉啊結果,獄中裏邊呢,先係,呃,坐咗大概六個月度,五、六個月都係單獨監禁嘅 | 跟住呢,先只係正式監禁大概年幾兩年度 | 佢就離開監獄嘅 | 噉佢坐過五、六個月呢,有啲似而家,即係 *je ,黎智英個情況呢,黎智英而家都係單獨監禁緊嘅 | 佢,呃,除咗嗰次嘅監禁之外呢,1985年至到86年呢,佢亦都係被軟禁,哈 | 就唔係正正式式喺監獄裏邊呢,係被軟禁嘅 | 噉所以其實佢陸陸續續咁樣不斷咁樣係坐監呀 | 受到生命嘅威脅嘅 | 佢喺佢坐監同埋被軟件期間呢 | 佢都係容許寫信俾屋企人 | 但係都係一張紙,一個信箋嘅 | 喺一張好薄嘅紙

● 死刑 séi2 yìhng4 = the death penalty | ● 入獄 yahp6 yuhk6 = to be put in prison; to be sent to jail | ● 懲罰 chìhng4 faht6 = to punish; to penalize | ● 度 dóu2 = roughly; approximately; almost | ● 單獨監禁 dāan1 duhk6 gāam1 gam3 = (?) solitary confinement | ● 有啲似 yáuh5 dī1 chíh5 = there is something of a resemblance to | ● 軟禁 yúhn5 gam3 = to put sb. under house arrest | ● 陸陸續續 luhk6 luhk6 juhk6 juhk6 = one after another; in succession| ● 容許 yùhng4 héui1 = to tolerate; to permit; to allow | ● 信簡 seun3 gáan2 = ? cf. 簡 gáan2 = letter; note; bamboo slip (for writing on) (In Cantonese 信箋 seun3 jin3 = “letter paper” is not (generally) used, it would seem.)

Subsequently, he was given the death penalty but, under pressure from the United States and Japan, this was reduced [轉咗] to punishment by imprisonment [instead]. As a result, he was put in prison for approximately 6 months, he was in solitary confinement for 5 or 6 months, then after that, he officially went to prison for roughly two years. He spent 5 or 6 months in prison, a bit like what has happened to Jimmy Lai, who is now in solitary confinement. Apart from this spell in prison, between 1985 and 1986 [Kim Dae Jung] was put under house arrest, not officially in prison but under house arrest. So, he spent his time in one form of prison or another [不斷咁樣係坐監] and he lived in danger of his life [受到生命嘅威脅嘅]. While he was in prison and under house arrest, he was permitted to write letters to his family, but only one piece of paper, a sheet of letter paper, on a sheet of very thin paper . . .

【4:00】就寫嗮下落去,而且經過政治審查 | 所以佢信裏邊呢,其實好少係講到政治嘅問題 | 基本上咪都係講佢嘅宗教信仰呀 | 呃,講佢,即係 *je ,點樣叮囑佢啲屋企人點樣去到呢,好好,即係 *je ,過生活呀 | 教啲細路仔讀大學時報咩科呀,咁樣嘅 | 噉呢一次呢,我係佢嘅呢本書裏邊呢,就揀咗一封信呢 | 係喺1985年佢軟禁嗰陣時11月2號寫嘅 | 呢封信係,呃,我覺得係好特別嘅封信呢 | 封信個題目係 “What is This Called My Life?” ,呢個:我的生命究竟係啲咩嘢呢 |  「我嘅生命究竟係啲咩嘢呢」就係 *jai 呢封信嘅主旨嚟㗎 | 噉呢封信佢寫嘅嗰陣時佢緣起呢 | 就係佢一朝早起身嗰陣時候呢 | 佢望出去出邊嗰個花園嗰度呢 | 佢發覺呢 . . .

● 審查 sám2 chàah4 = to examine; to investigate | ● 叮囑 dīng1 jūk1 = to urge again & again; to warn; to exhort | ● 主旨 jyú2 jí2 = purport; substance; gist | ● 緣起 yùhn4 héi2 = genesis; origin | ● 出邊 chēut1 bīn1 = outside

. . . the whole of [these letters] were written down and were inspected for political content [經過政治審查]. For this reason, there is actually little discussion of political matters [in them]. Basically, the letters talk about things such as religious faith, advising his family how to go about living a good life, and instructing his children about what subjects they should take at university. Now on this occasion I have chosen one letter that was written on 2 November 1985 while he was under house arrest. This letter is one I feel to be a very special letter. It bears the title of [個題目係] “What is This Called My Life?” (sic) [Kin-man then provides a translation in Cantonese]. And “What is This Called My Life?” is the main substance [主旨] of this letter. In this letter, he writes that it all started [佢緣起] when he got up one morning and looked out at the garden outside, and discovered that . . .

【5:00】. . . 佢所種嘅花呢,除咗菊花之外呢,其他全部呢,都死 | 就好似我哋嘅呢幾日突然間天氣凍呢 | 噉花呢,都突然間就凋謝咗喇 | 佢有個好强烈嘅哀愁同埋空虛嘅感覺 | 噉佢話呢,其實一個人呢,當你被某啲吸引住呢 | 噉開始你就有種依戀嘅話呢,咁你就要承受一種,即係 *je ,分離之苦喇 | 噉你可能依戀住就係呢啲花 | 呢啲花死嗰陣時,你就有一種憂愁嘅感覺 | 如果你就依戀你屋企人嘅話 | 當你同佢哋分離 | 譬如話你坐監嘅時候呢 | 你都會承受住呢一種痛苦喇 | 佢寫呢封信陣時 | 佢話佢有好强烈嘅一種,即係 *je ,想家嘅感覺 | 好懷念住佢屋企人 | 噉所以呢封信呢,係好觸動到我嘅 | 我亦都好相信呢,就好似黎智英而家,即係 *je ,呢種嘅狀態 | 噉佢問喇,話其實我啲嘅生命係啲咩嘢呢,咁樣?| 佢話佢自己覺得佢自己嘅人生呢,係充滿咗一連串嘅厄運

● 凋謝 dīu1 jeh6 = to wither & fall | ● 哀愁 ōi1 sàuh4 = sad; sorrowful | ● 依戀 yī1 lyún2 = be reluctant to leave; to feel regret at parting from | ● 承受 sìhng4 sauh6 = to bear; to support; to endure | ● 分離之苦 fān1 lèih4 jī1 fú2 = (?) the pain of separation | ● 憂愁 yāu1 sàuh4 = sad; worried; depressed | ● 想家 séung2 gāa1 = to be homesick | ● 懷念wàaih4 nihm6  = to cherish the memory of; to think of | ● 觸動 jūk1 duhng6 = to move sb.; to stir up sb.’s feelings | ● 厄運 āk1 wahn6 = adversity; misfortune

. . . all the flowers he had planted had all died, apart from the chrysanthemums. It was like the sudden cold snap we’ve had here [in Hong Kong] in these past few days. [In response to] the sudden withering of these flowers, he had very strong feelings of sadness and regret [at the loss]. He says that actually when you feel an attraction for something then you will begin to feel a reluctance to be separated from [it]. And so, you must endure the pain of separation. You may feel reluctant to be separated from some flowers, and when they die, you then have feelings of sadness. If you feel a reluctance to be separated from your family, when you come to be separated from them, for example when you are put in prison, you will also endure a form of pain. When he wrote this letter, he said he was experiencing strong feelings of homesickness and was missing [懷念] his family. For this reason, this letter moved me very much and I can well believe that [what the letter describes] is very much like Jimmy Lai’s situation at present. [So Kim Dae Jung] asks: What actually is this human life of ours? He says that he felt that his own life was filled with a series of misfortunes.

【6:00】正我 . . . 正如我 // 所講呢,係咪,佢走過生死啦、又坐過監咁樣、又被人軟禁咁樣 | 佢話自己好似都 . . . 曾經冇好快樂咁樣生活過 | 噉咩先至係所謂快樂生活過呢 | 就係無憂無慮啦 | 可以同屋企人一齊啦,咁樣 | 佢成日都過唔到呢一種嘅生活嘅 | 噉但佢又追問呢,// 其他好多人其實生活上面都係好舒適嘅 | 亦都可以同屋企人 // 喺埋一齊嘅 | 但係係咪嗰啲人就覺得自己人生好有意義嘅,咁樣? | 佢發覺唔係 | 嗰啲人又覺得好多時候係虛度人生嘅 | 噉所以究竟,即係 *je ,佢嘅生命係咩嘢呢?| 佢冇咗其他平常人嗰種快樂 | 但係係咪佢又覺得佢自己人生冇意義呢,咁樣?  | 佢又覺得佢又唔係呀 | 佢覺得佢冇後悔嘅噃 | 如果佢話佢自己有咩嘢真真正正好難受呢 | 佢覺得第一就話佢想到佢自己 . . .

● 無憂無慮 mòuh4 yāu1 mòuh4 leuih6 = not have a care in the world | ● 舒適 syū1 sīk1 = comfortable; cosy; snug | ● 發覺 faat3 gok3 = to find; to detect; to discover | ● 虛度 hēui1 douh6 = to spend time in vain; to waste | ● 後悔 hauh6 fui3 = to regret; to repent

Note: Someone was kind enough to provide the following explanation of the use of 噃 bō1 in this segment: “I think 噃 bō1 is similar, if not identical to 喎 wō1, which is used like a filler word in English, or to express a slight level of surprise. […] And in 佢覺得佢冇後悔嘅噃, it is even more pronounced since he should, in normal sense, feel that life is meaningless and would feel regret upon reflecting on his experience, yet he feels the opposite: he thinks that he had no regrets. In this case, the 噃 is quite useful to express the contrast in a subtle manner . . .”

Just, just as I mentioned just now, didn’t I, he had been through a lot [走過生死], spending time in prison as well as being put under house arrest. He said that he had never been happy in his life. Now what is needed [咩先至] before we can call something a “happy life”? Being free from all worry, and being able to spend time with one’s family. Such a life he had never enjoyed himself, but then he goes on to ask: There are many people whose lives are very comfortable, who are able to spend time together with their families, but do those people feel that their lives have any meaning? He found that this was not the case. Much of the time, such people felt that they had lived their lives in vain. For this reason, then, what was this thing called his life, when all was said and done [究竟]? He had not had those kinds of happiness that ordinary people have, but did he feel that his own life was meaningless? No, he thought, it was not. He felt that he had no regrets. He said if there was anything that he felt to be truly [真真正正] very hard to bear, he thought firstly of his own . . .

【7:00】. . . 參與喺民主運動裏邊呢,連累咗屋企人 | 噉呢個係一個好深嘅内疚 | 第二樣嘢佢覺得人生裏邊呢,好多人呢,其實都對佢好好嘅 | 亦都咗好多幫忙佢嘅 | 但佢係冇機會呢,去到報恩 | 嗱,呢一種係連累,呃,家人同埋冇法報恩嘅感覺呢 | 係佢 . . . 如果你問佢有咩後悔呢?| 佢覺得比較難受呢 | 其實係,即係 *je ,呢一個,即係 *je ,部分 // | 噉啊佢話,佢對人生其實係一個最大,最大嘅一種嘅疑惑呢 | 就係佢見到佢點樣去就係「殺人放火金腰帶」| 見到呢,就係義人、好人呢,反而係要蒙難嘅 | 噉呢種都唔係我哋話,啊「好人有好報,即係 *je ,惡人有惡報」,唔係咁喎 | 佢見到現實人世唔係咁嘅 | 噉呢個就係佢人生裏邊呢,其實係一個最大最大一個,即係 *je ,疑惑、係個謎團嚟㗎 | 噉佢就喺呢封信裏邊講到呢,中國嘅歷史裏邊呢 . . .

● 連累 lìhn4 leuih6 = to implicate; to involve; to get sb. into trouble | ● 報恩 bou3 yān1 = to pay a debt of gratitude | ● 疑惑 yìh4 waahk6 = feel uncertain; not be convinced | ● 殺人放火金腰帶 saat3 yàhn4 fong3 fó2 gām1 yīu1 daai3 = “murderers & arsonists have their purses full of gold” cf. This is part of a longer phrase used to suggest that only the wicker prosper. The second part reads: 修橋補路冇屍骸 and seems to mean something like “those who build bridges & make roads end up as penniless skeletons (?) | ● 義人 yih6 yàhn4 = ? cf. 義士 yih6 sih6 = a person who upholds justice | ● 蒙難 mùhng4 naahn6= (of a revolutionary) be confronted by danger; fall into the clutches of the enemy | ● 謎團 màih4 tyùhn4 = doubts & suspicions

. . . participation in the democracy movement [and how it] had implicated members of his family. This was a very deep guilt. The second thing was that he felt that many people in his life had actually been very good to him and had helped him enormously, but he had never had the chance to repay his debts of gratitude. Now these feelings [connected with] the implication of family members and the failure to repay his debts of gratitude were his . . . If you asked him whether he had any regrets, what he felt quite distressed about were these [two] parts [of his experience]. He said that in fact his greatest doubts about human life had to do with seeing how “murderers and arsonists have their purses full of gold”, while those who tried to uphold justice, good people, fell into the clutches of the enemy [蒙難]. Now this is not the “good people get good things, while bad people get bad things” we often talk about, it’s not like that. He saw that life in the real world was not like that. Now this was a great doubt he had in his life, a tangled mess of doubts and misgivings [謎團]. In this letter, he goes on to talk about something in Chinese history . . .

【8:00】. . . 呃,司馬遷嘅故事 | 噉啊司馬遷大家知道係一個,即係 *je ,寫,即係 *je ,咁重要嘅中國嘅歷史學家 [啦] | 噉但係當時裏邊呢,喺漢代漢武帝嘅時期裏邊呢 | 佢因爲為咗一個人,係一個將軍,去到辯護 | 因爲呢,當時呢個將軍呢,打敗仗 [呀] | 噉啊漢武帝呢,就要,即係 *je ,要殺佢,咁樣 | 噉佢就講呢,其實唔係罪 . . . 喺佢嘅身上邊 | 因爲只有啲救兵嚟唔切嘅 | 亦都係,[係] 呢個皇帝呢,即係 *je ,暗示呀,係用人嗰陣時係用得不當 | 所以呢,佢冇足夠嘅,即係 *je ,調配呀,即係 *je ,援助呀 | 結果全部都係打 // | 其實佢已經係好勇敢 | 嗱,// 講法呢,其實令到漢武帝就係好 [喇] | [就] 話,係咪我,即係 *je ,唔識,即係 *je ,調兵遣將呢?我用錯人呢?| 啊,你正 // 諷刺緊,即係 *je ,我啫 | 之前其實已經唔係幾滿意司馬遷呢,寫佢嗰陣時候 [呢],有啲嘅伏筆呢 | 其實都喺 [度] 講緊,即係 *je , 個 . . .

● 司馬遷 Sī1 Máah5 Chīn1 = Sima Qian | ● 辯護 bihn6 wuh6 = to speak in defence of; to defend | ● 打敗仗 dáa2 baih6 jeung3 = to suffer a defeat; to be defeated in battle | ● 救兵 gau3 bīng1 = reinforcements | ● 嚟唔切 lèih4 mh4 chit3 = not arrive in time | ● 用得不當 yuhng6 dāk1 bāt1 dōng1 = used inappropriately | ● 調配 diuh6 pui3 = to allocate; to deploy | ● 援助 wùhn4 joh6 = to help; to support; to aid| ● 調兵遣將 diuh6 bīng1 hín2 jeung3 = to move troops; to deploy forces | ● 諷刺 fung3 chi3 = to satirize; to mock | ● 伏筆 fuhk6 bāt1 = usu. a hint foreshadowing later developments in a story, essay, etc.; foreshadowing

. . . the story of Sima Qian. Now as everyone knows, Sima Qian was such an important Chinese historian. However, back in those times, in the days when Han Wu Di was emperor, because he [i.e. Sima Qian] came to the defence of a certain general. Because this general had, at the that time, been defeated in battle, so, Han Wu Di wanted to have him [i.e. the general] put to death. [Sima Qian] said that the crime was not his [i.e. the general’s]. It was merely because reinforcements did not arrive on time. He also implied that this emperor made inappropriate use of army personnel [用人嗰陣時]. And so, he [i.e. the general] did not have a sufficient deployment [調配] or support. And as a result, he was defeated. As a matter of fact, he [i.e. the general] showed great courage. Now [Sima Qian’s] comments enraged Han Wu Di, who asked: Are you saying (?) that I don’t know how to deploy my forces? That I made the wrong use of personnel? You are making fun of me! In fact, before that, [Han Wu Di] had not been too pleased with Sima Qian and, when he wrote about his [i.e. Han Wu Di’s] time [as emperor], there were a few hints of things to come [in his History] in which in fact he was talking about . . .

【9:00】. . . 漢武帝嘅不是嘅 | 噉結果呢,漢武帝呢,就要判佢呢,係死刑 | 噉啊判死刑呢,又有兩個方法解方 . . . 解決方法佢哋 | 嚟呀,[你] 可以取替嘅方案就係你用好多好多錢呢,你 [都] 可以贖身嘅 | 噉但係司馬遷冇 | 第樣嘢呢,就係你可以接受個腐刑 | 所謂「腐刑」,即係 *je 腐爛」嘅「腐」呢,其實就係一個,即係 *je ,宮刑嚟㗎 | 就係呢,要進行閹割嘅 | 噉啊金大中就用呢個故事 [嚟講就話] | 嘩,對一個男士嚟講係幾咁大嘅一個羞辱,去接受呢個咁樣嘅閹割 | 而佢只不過係一個正直個人,講出一啲,即係 *je ,真相,講真話 [呢] | 結果就受到咁樣嘅,即係 *je ,報復 | 噉所以 [佢] 好人唔一定係得到好報 | 噉啊點樣,即係 *je ,解脫呢件事情呢?| 即係 *je ,對呢種嘅疑惑佢 [主要]  點樣去到,即係 *je ,解開嗰啲疑惑呢,咁?| 喺呢封信裏邊呢,就話佢曾經係受到兩個人嘅作品 . . .

● 不是 bāt1 sih6 = (noun) fault; blame | ● 死刑 séi2 yìhng4 = the death penalty | ● 贖身 suhk6 sān1 = (of slaves, prostitutes) to redeem oneself; to buy back one’s freedom | ● 腐刑 fuh6 yìhng4 = (?) cf. 宮刑 | ● 腐爛 fuh6 laahn6 = 1. decomposed; putrid 2. corrupt; rotten | ● 宮刑 gūng1 yìhng4 = castration (a punishment in ancient China) | ● 閹割 yīm1 got3 = to castrate or spay; to emasculate | ● 羞辱 sāu1 yuhk6 = 1. shame; dishonour; humiliation 2. humiliation; to put sb. to shame | ● 正直 jing3 jihk6 = honest; upright; fair-minded | ● 報復 bou3 fuhk6 = to make reprisals; to retaliate | ● 解開 gáai2 hōi1 = to untie; to undo; to get rid of

. . . Han Wu Di’s faults. The upshot was, Han Wu Di condemned him [i.e. Sima Qian] to death. Now there were two options available for avoiding the death penalty. The first way was to [offer a replacement] by giving a lot of money to buy back your life [贖身]. Sima Qian, however, did not [have lots of money]. The second option was to accept a form of punishment known as fu ying. The fu here is that fu that is used in the compound fu laan, meaning “putrid” or “rotten”. This kind of castration, the carrying out of yim got, castration. Kim Dae Jung made use of this story to say that for a man to accept such a punishment by castration was an enormous humiliation. He was no more and no less than a fair-minded man telling the truth, saying what was true. As a result, [he] was on the receiving end [受到] such a form of retaliation. And so he said good people do not necessarily get good things. And so [the question is]: how do we free ourselves from such a thing? How do we rid ourselves of such uncertainties? In this letter, he states that the writings of two people . . .

【10:00】. . . 嘅影響呢 | 係令到佢開始睇通 [咗] 啲嘢 ,得到啲啓示嘅 | 第一個呢,就係我自己大學時好鍾意睇 [嘅] 一本書嘅 | 就係《卡拉馬佐夫的弟兄們》 | 噉呢本書係杜斯妥也夫斯基寫嘅一本嘅小説,哈 | 呢本俄國小説喺我以前讀大學嘅時代裏邊係一個好流行嘅一個小説 | 好重要嘅小説 | [噉] 我話俾你聽,我讀呢本書嘅感覺係點 [呀]? | 我 [又] 讀到某啲章節嗰陣時候呢 | 我覺得我想跪低祈禱嘅,係變咗好虔誠 | 但讀到某啲章節嗰陣時,我都 [覺得] 上帝已死 | 噉根本冇上帝,[喺] 呢個世界 | 即係 *je 佢可以將你個情緒帶動到咁極端嘅 | 噉我係好鍾意呢本書嘅 | 噉佢亦都提到呢一本書對佢嘅影響 | 佢覺得呢本書裏邊嘅,嗰,嗰三兄弟裏邊 // 其中嘅大哥呢 | 最臨尾因爲同個爸爸,即係 *je,爭,爭女仔呀,哈 | 結果呢,就某個情況底下爸爸死咗 | 結果佢告呀,話佢殺死佢爸爸 | 噉呢個嘅,呃,大哥 . . .

● 啓示 kái2 sih6  = enlightenment; inspiration; revelation | ● 《卡拉馬佐夫的弟兄們》Kāa1 Lāai1 Máah5 Jo3 Fū1 Dīk1 Daih6 Hīng1 Mùhn4 = The Brothers Karamazov | ● 杜斯妥也夫斯基 Douh6 Sī1 Tóh5 Yáah5 Fū1 Sī1 Gēi1 = Fyodor Dostoyevsky | ● 俄國 Ngòh4 Gwok3 = Russia | ● 章節 jēung1 jit3 = chapters (this may be one of those words that seems to have a built-in plural sense cf. 船隻 = ships) | ● 跪低 gwaih6 dāi1 = to kneel down | ● 虔誠 kìhn4 sìhng4 = pious; devout | ● 帶動 daai3 duhng6 = to drive; to spur; to bring along | ● 最臨尾 jeui3 làhm4 méih5 = ? in the end cf. 臨尾 = final (Sheik)

Influenced him and made him able to start to see more clearly about things, and to get some illumination. The first was [a book] that I myself liked very much when I was at university, The Brothers Karamazov. This book is a novel written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This Russian novel was very popular back in those days when I was studying at university, and it was a very important one. Let me tell you what my feelings were like when I read it. Some of the chapters in it made me want to get down on my knees and pray when I read them, and I felt very pious. But other chapters in the book made me feel that God was already dead, that there was no God in this world. His narrative [佢可以講?] could drive you to [different] extremes. I like this book very much and so does [Kim Dae Jung], who refers to its influence on him. In his opinion, of the three brothers [UNCLEAR] The elder brother argues with his father in the end over a woman and, as a result, the father dies in [rather] particular circumstances. This results in the elder brother being charged with the murder of his father.

Once in a Million Years

This beautiful photograph taken by Joan Law is included in the book she did with the English scholar Barbara Ward called Chinese Festivals. Since the book dates from 1982, I imagine that the children shown in this image are probably in their late 40s or early 50s by now, and I can’t help wondering how they are celebrating the current Chinese New Year in the year 2021 . . .

They play in their own innocent way with powerful forces, with rhythms and symbols the significance of which they instinctively guess at but cannot fully grasp. And yet their game is nothing less than the regeneration of the cosmos. As Barbara Ward writes:

Morally the keynote is renewal. The old year goes, and with it go old misfortunes and old wrongs; the new year comes and brings the chance for starting afresh.

The chance of a fresh start is an invaluable thing. And yet there is a danger inherent in the idea of renewal, especially to the Chinese mind, which tends to associate it with such things as harmony, stability, unity, discipline and peaceful conformity. But do such qualities truly make for a vital world? Thomas Berry provides an answer for us in the following comment in The Great Work:

We might consider, then, that the wild and the disciplined are the two constituent forces of the universe. the expansive force and the containing force bound into a single universe and expressed in every being . . .

Only Earth became a living planet filled with those innumerable forms of geological structure and biological expression that we observe throughout the natural world. Only Earth held a creative balance between the turbulence and the discipline that are necessary for creativity. The excess of discipline suppressed the wildness of Mars. The excess of wildness overcame the discipline of Jupiter. Their creativity was lost by an excess of one over the other.

To me, the main reason why Hong Kong is a world issue and not merely an internal matter for the People’s Republic of China is because, uniquely, Hong Kong is one place ⸺ perhaps the only place ⸺ where the possibility of such an unlikely creative balance was gradually being realized. True, it has entailed great suffering over a long period of time, and countless instances of unjust and inhumane behaviour. And yet this protracted, haphazard social experiment has resulted in a priceless hybrid, in which the Chinese genius for discipline has, to some degree, fused with the Western gift for individual wildness in a way that has not happened anywhere else in the history of humankind, and is not likely to happen again in the foreseeable future.

This hybrid, in which a “creative disequilibrium” exists between wildness and discipline, represents to my way of thinking the only real option for a human renewal in the genuine meaning of the words. Discipline or wildness alone can only bring sterile repetition, disguised beneath constant consumer novelty and sensational technological innovation, in the course of which our planet is increasingly degraded to the point of absolute no return.

So next time you wish someone 出入平安 during this Chinese New Year, think to yourself the following addition: And a Joyous Creative Disequilibrium to you, too!

Learning Cantonese: Alfred Chan on Hong Kong’s Dai Pai Dong Cuisine

Even if you’re not really into food, you can still be vitally nourished by Alfred Chan in terms of your Cantonese. His video posts are of a very high quality and, apart from all the detailed discussion of flavours, portions and cooking methods, there is a satisfying amount of very useful grammar and vocabulary to be savoured. Chan has also mastered the use of background music in his presentations, and at no point does the listener to his words have to struggle against an intrusive soundtrack to hear what is being said.

On the grammar front, there are three main points to look out for. Firstly, the fairly rare aspect marker 開 hōi1 makes an appearance in the phrase 酒樓用開嘅煤氣爐, modifying the verb 用 yuhng6 = to use. One of its functions is to suggest habitual action. In Intermediate Cantonese, Yip and Matthews refer to it as showing “habitual aspect”, and give the examples 我做開呢行 = We have been in this profession for some time, and 佢用開嗰隻牌子 = He regularly uses that brand. They also note that 開 hōi1 “may have a progressive meaning, indicating continuation of an activity that has already begun”, and this is most commonly seen in the sentence-opening expression 講開 góng2 hōi1 = “Speaking of …” or “On the subject of …” (See Unit 12: Aspect Markers), a phrase regularly encountered in everyday conversation.

Secondly, you are no doubt aware that Cantonese has a number of ways of suggesting approximation. Perhaps 大約 daaih6 yeuk3, an adverb meaning “approximately; roughly”, and 左右 jó2 yauh6, usually added to the end of a phrase expressing an amount, are two of the most common ways of indicating approximation. There are others. In recent times, I have been hearing 到 dóu3*2 used for this purpose (月入都,呃,三萬到呢 = [My] monthly salary, [that was about 30,000 dollars). Alfred Chan, on the other hand, prefers another post-modifying phrase: 咁上下 gam3 seuhng6 háa6*2. You’ll hear it in the following part: 咁其他小菜呢,都應該有返咁上下 = “then other items [on the menu] should be pretty much up to scratch”. Note too the tone change for下, which is usually pronounced in the low-level tone.

Alfred also makes use 零 lèhng4, which cropped up before in the second video in the “A Postman’s Gaze” series. There it was used to modify a certain time: 8 點零鐘 = around 8 o’clock or eight-ish. Here we see it in the phrase 得返廿呀零個大牌檔 with a similar kind of -ish meaning: “only twenty or so dai pai dong’s remain”.

Thirdly, watch out for Alfred’s tendency to use 厘 nēi4*1 rather than 呢 nī1/lī1 for “this”. My impression is that 厘 tends to serve as a contraction of 呢 + 一, but this is only a working hypothesis. I am not sure whether 厘 is the correct character for this: it’s just one I have seen used for this purpose.

In vocabulary terms, there are two adjectives used which contain 身 sān1 as the second character: 乾身 gōn1 sān1 = (?) dry; and 厚身 háuh5 sān1 = (?) thick. My feeling is that these are both used in spoken Cantonese rather than in the written language. There are also a couple of examples of adjectives formed with measure words: 大張 daaih6 jēung1 = big (of a flat object) and 細隻 sai3 jek3 = small (of a squid, which normally takes the measure word 隻). These are still a bit of a mystery to me, but I point them out just so that you can keep them in mind for your own learning.

Other items worth adding to your memory bank include: 興衰 hīng1-sēui1 = the rise & fall; 當眼 dōng1 ngáahn5 = conspicuous; eye-catching; 燶 nūng = to burn; 甩皮甩骨 lāt1 pèih4 lāt1 gwāt1 = to be in bad shape; to have been knocked around; 外脆内軟 [ng]oih6 cheui3 noih6 yúhn5 = crispy on the outside and soft/tender in the middle; and 腍 nàhm = ① soft; tender; mushy ② good-tempered; kind.

You can view the video here. 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.

You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.

I received this comment from a visitor to the site that sheds more light on 乾身 and 厚身:

Hello Simon. Would like to share my point about 乾身 and 厚身

The literal meaning of 身 is “body”. As a native speaker, I think 身 can be said as the “subject to be described”, from which the adjective before 身 is the description of the subject.

Normally we use 乾身 to describe a thing/dish that is supposed to be dry or better to be done dry (e.g. fried squid, best form would be dry, crisp but not greasy outside, with a succulent and tender squid inside). Alfred said the dish was 太乾身, meaning that it is fried and the dry outside, but too dry for it compare to the ideal (i.e. inside lose too much moisture, squid becomes tough).

As for 厚身, Alfred use it to describe how the eel is being cut and presented, which it thick and so it simply means the eel was cut in thick slices.

Another interesting note is that in Cantonese, 厚身 can also be used to describe wine too. From my beginner knowledge, it means the the wine has some body to it. Interesting how the two languages used the same manner to describe abstract concepts!


Hello,大家好,我係 Alfred | 拍片嘅時候係三月中,最近呢幾日已經廿幾度 | 再唔拍間,過兩個月我應該唔肯嘅喇 | 大家睇到啦,街頭行到街尾 | 幾個鋪位坐無虛席 | 話説超過60年 | 而家已經係第三代 | 上世紀五十年代 | 佢哋朝早賣粥同豬腸粉 | 下晝就賣燒味 | 後嚟先開始做埋小炒 | 再慢慢發展成今日嘅規模 | 見證住香港大牌檔文化嘅興衰【1:00】

● 坐無虛席 joh6 mòuh4 hēui1 jihk6 = (?) not a single unoccupied seat | ● 第三代 daih6 sāam1 doih6 = the third generation | ● 燒味 sīu1 méi6*2 = siu mei (roasted meat) | ● 小炒 síu2 cháau2 = stir fry; stir fried (Sheik Cantonese) | ● 規模 kwāi1 mòuh4 = scale; scope; dimension | ● 興衰 hīng1-sēui1 = the rise & fall

Note: In the phrase 見證住, the verb “to bear witness to” is used with the aspect marker 住 jyuh6 to indicate that the initial act of witnessing is maintained over a period of time (as the English verb “bearing” suggests).

Hello, everybody, I’m Alfred. When [I] filmed this video, it was the middle of March. In the past few days, [the temperature] has already [got to] 20-odd degrees, so I won’t be filming this place [anymore] and in another two months’ time I wouldn’t be willing [我應該唔肯] to come [here]. Just take a look: from one end of the street to the other, in all the various individual shops [幾個鋪位] [that make up this restaurant] there is not an empty seat. It is said that they have been in business for more than sixty years, this being the third generation [of owners (?)] now. [Back in] the 1950s, they sold rice congee and pork cheung fan in the mornings, and siu mei roasted meat after midday. Later on, they began to do stir-frying as well, gradually developing to the scale [we see] today, and bearing witness to the rise and fall of Hong Kong’s dai pai dong culture.

講到大牌檔,首先,要睇清楚個「牌」字點寫 | 話説1921年 | 港英政府將小販分成固定小販牌照同流動小販牌照兩種 | 前者叫「大牌」,後者叫「小牌」| 相傳係因爲固定小販牌照嗰張嘢真係大張嘅 | 而且開檔嗰陣要掛喺當眼嘅地方 | 到咗50年代,政府將「大牌」同熟食檔嘅牌照合倂 | 所以就出現「大牌檔」呢個稱呼喇

● 牌照 pàaih4 jiu3 = licence plate; licence tag | ● 當眼 dōng1 ngáahn5 = (?) conspicuous; eye-catching | ● 合倂 hahp6 (?) ping3 = (?) to merge; to amalgamate | ● 稱呼 chīng1 fū1 = to call or address; a form of address (perhaps even “the name you give to sth.; what you call sth.”)

On the subject of dai pai dong’s, first of all we must be clear about [要睇清楚] how the character for pai should be written [排 or 牌]. Apparently in 1921, the British Government in Hong Kong created [分] two types of licences for hawkers, a stationary hawkers licence and a mobile hawkers licence. The former was called “a big licence”, while the latter was known as “a little licence”. They say that this was because the actual licence tag for fixed hawkers was really bigger [in physical size] and had to be displayed in a prominent place when the stall was in operation [開檔嗰陣].  [This went on] until the 1950s, when the government combined “big licences” with those for cooked food stalls, and so the term dai pai dong or “big licence stall” appeared.

睇睇餐牌,一般常見嘅平民小菜都有齊喇 | 好多選擇 | 價錢唔使我講大家睇到 | 我以前都講過,我唔太讚同「食鋪租」或者「食裝修」呢類講法 | 賣幾錢,好多時都係市場定位

● 平民小菜 pìhng4 màhn4 síu2 choi3 = everyday dishes for ordinary people | ● 有齊 yáuh5 chàih4 = to have everything

[When we] take a look at the menu, [we find that] it features all those typical, commonly seen everyday dishes for ordinary people. There’s a lot of choice. I don’t need to mention prices — you can all see for yourself. As I’ve said before, I’m not much in favour [我唔太讚同] of expressions such as “eating the shop rent” or “eating the cost of renovations”. How much something sells for in the majority of cases is determined by the market price.

Caption: 家鄉小炒王 $108 | Home-style Siu Chaau Wong

試鑊氣,梗係食小炒王啦 | 香港部分鋪頭 | 用嘅係石油氣爐 | 火力【2:00】其實唔係太猛 | 呢度用嘅係火水爐 | 條片一開始幾個 shot 大家都見到個火幾猛啦 | 有魷魚仲燶咗,不過整體算好好食 | 唔知大家知唔知 | 香港某啲連鎖酒樓,近年轉咗用電磁爐 | 因爲咁樣厨房會乾啲、靜啲、涼啲、聽聞成本仲低啲 | 但講到鑊氣 | 就梗係同呢啲火水爐或者酒樓用開嘅煤氣爐差得遠啦

● 氣爐 hei3 lòuh4 = (?) a gas oven | ● 猛 máahng5 = ? hot; fierce | ● 火水爐 fó2 séui2 lòuh4 = a paraffin stove | ● 燶 nūng = to burn | ● 連鎖酒樓 lihn4 só2 jáu2 làuh4 = a restaurant chain | ● 電磁爐 dihn6 chìh4 lòuh4 = electric induction cooktop

Note: 鑊氣 wohk6 hei3 is a difficult term to translate into English. In a recent article entitled “Pop Cantonese: Big Wok 大鑊”, Erica Fong explained it as follows: “The wok is one of the most common tools in Chinese cooking –– a large, bowl-shaped pot made especially for stir-frying. Chefs are often lauded for their mastery of wohk6 hei3 (鑊氣, “wok essence” or “wok breath”), using intense heat and flames to add that all-important smoky flavour and aroma to their dishes” (you can read the article in Zolima City Mag here).

As for 小炒王, this literally means “little fried king”, but it seems to refer to a dai pai dong style mixed stir fry with chives and squid (there’s a link to a video showing how the dish is made here). An interesting feature of this segment is the use of 嘅 ge3 to form indefinite nouns, for example 香港部分鋪頭 | 用嘅 = what is used/the thing that is used (in some Hong Kong shops) and 呢度用嘅 = what is used here/what they use here.

To try out the wok hei one of course has to eat the siu chaau wong. In some places [鋪頭] in Hong Kong, what they use is a gas stove and actually the strength of the flame is not very intense. What they use here is a paraffin stove, and as you would have seen from those shots at the beginning of this video, the strength of the flame was pretty intense. One piece of the squid was scorched [燶], but on the whole the [dish] was very tasty. I don’t know whether you’re aware of this or not, but some restaurant chains in Hong Kong have, in recent years, switched to using electric induction cooktops because in this way [因爲咁樣] kitchens are [kept] cleaner, quieter, and cooler — they also say that less capital is required. But when it comes to wok hei, [the result] is far inferior to that [obtained by] a paraffin stove or the coal gas stoves [煤氣爐] used in restaurants.

Caption: 椒鹽炸鮮魷 $98 | Salt and Pepper Deep-fried Squid

椒鹽鮮魷,厘個我覺得都係好指標性嘅食物 | 一間酒樓或者大牌檔如果做呢樣嘢做得好 | 其他小菜呢,都應該有返咁上下 | 今日厘碟睇樣都知 | 算係做得好高分 | 脆漿厚薄啱啱好 | 而且好均匀 | 咬落去,個皮又唔會話甩皮甩骨 | 調味又好惹味 | 好多地方做呢樣嘢都太淡乜味 | 唯一嘅改善空間 | 係今晚隻魷魚比較細隻,好薄肉 | 食落太乾身【3:00】| 做唔到外脆内軟嘅口感

● 指標性 jí2 bīu1 sing3 = (?) indicative| ● 高分 gōu1 fān1 = a high mark; high marks | ● 脆漿 cheui3 jēung1 = batter (for deep-drying food) | ● 均匀 gwān1 wàhn4 = even; well-distributed | ● 咬 ngáauh5 = to bite | ● 甩皮甩骨 lāt1 pèih4 lāt1 gwāt1 = to be in bad shape; to have been knocked around | ● 調味 tìuh4 meih6 = to flavour; to season (food) | ● 惹味 yéh5 meih6 = Sheik: appetizing; add flavour to food | ● 改善空間 gói2 sihn6 hūng1 gāan1 = room for improvement | ● 乾身 gōn1 sān1 = (?) dry cf. 《香港粵語大詞典》形容乾貨或事物不帶水份或水份好少的狀態 (describes dry goods or foods that have no moisture content or very little moisture content) | ● 外脆内軟 [ng]oih6 cheui3 noih6 yúhn5 = crispy on the outside and soft/tender in the middle

Salt and Pepper Deep-fried Squid is one of those dishes [食物] that I think is a real indicator [好指標性嘅] [of a restaurant’s calibre]. If a restaurant or a dai pai dong does this dish well, then other items [on the menu] should be pretty much up to scratch [有返咁上下]. This dish today just by the look of it scores a very high mark indeed [做得好高分]: the thickness of the coating is just right and very even, [so that] when you take a bite, it doesn’t, as we might say, “lose both the skin and the bones” [甩皮甩骨]. The seasoning too is very appetizing. In many other places, the taste of this dish is too bland and flavourless. The only room for improvement is that this evening the squid was rather small and the flesh thin, making it too dry when eaten, [so] failing to achieve the food texture [口感] of crispy on the outside and soft/tender inside.

大家 . . . 大家應該明白點解平時我咁少做現場收音呢 | 就係 *jai 因爲其實大部分環境呢 | 根本都係收唔到音嘅 | 特別係今日呢一度啦

● 現場 yihn6 chèuhng4 = a site; a spot; on-the-spot | ● 收音 sāu1 yām1 = (?) to record the sound of sth.

You . . . you ought to be aware by now why I rarely do on-the-spot recordings. The reason is that in most environments, as a matter of fact, that it is fundamentally impossible [收唔到音]. Especially here [in this place] today.

Caption: 銀山砵酒鱔球 $148 | Eel Balls Cooked in Silver Mountain Port Wine

厘味係銀山砵酒鱔球 | 今日條鱔都幾 | 好肥,肉質係腍得嚟有少少彈性嗰種 | 師傅切得好厚身,又唔會浄係俾啲尾位 | 份量又好足,有成十幾嚿 | 味道都係好食嘅喇 | 如果砵酒味再重少少就會仲好食啲㖭

● 銀山砵酒鱔球 Ngahn4 Saan1 Jau2 Sihn? Kauh4= (?) Eel balls cooked in Silver Mountain port wine cf. 砵酒 būt1 jáu2 = port wine| ● 肉質 yuhk6 jāt1 = the texture of meat | ● 腍 nàhm = ① soft; tender; mushy ② good-tempered; kind | ● 彈性 daahn6 sing3 = elasticity; flexibility | ● 厚身 háuh5 sān1 = (?) thick cf. 《香港粵語大詞典》厚實 = thick | ● 尾位 méih5 wéi6*2 = portions from the end; portions from the tail (of the eel, in this context)

Here we have [厘味係] eel balls cooked in Silver Mountain port wine. This evening’s eel is a very fine one, very plump and the flesh is of that kind that is tender and has a bit of spring to it [有少少彈性]. The chef [師傅] has chopped it into large portions [切得好厚身], and not just bits from the tail-end. The serve is more than enough, with over ten pieces [of eel]. The flavour is delicious. If the port-wine flavour of the dish were a little stronger, it would be even more delicious.

今日三碟餸嘅份量都好多 | 比一般酒樓例牌大 | 兩個人食非常飽 | 雖然價錢唔平 | 但份量搭救 【4:00】

● 例牌 laih6 paai4*2 = (?)  cf. Sheik [3] [n] same old stuff; usual/ordinary thing [literal] regular menu

Note: The literal meaning of 搭救is “to come to the rescue”, but it is not quite the same in Cantonese. 雖然價錢唔平,但份量搭救 basically means although the dish is quite expensive, there is a lot of food on the plate –– the quantity of the food saved the day and offset the negative side (the high price). A friend in Hong Kong provided another example: 佢唔靚女,但性格搭救, which means although she is not pretty, she has an excellent personality. On top of that, using 搭救, we put the emphasis on the positive side of something/someone while pointing out the negative side.

The portions of the three dishes today were very substantial, and more than the usual thing you get in restaurants. For two people it was extremely filling. Although not cheap, the [size of the] serves well and truly made up for it.

Caption: 撞到觀衆!| [We] Bumped into a [Regular] Viewer!

大牌檔喺好多人心目中 | 都係香港最有特色嘅飲食文化 | 據估計,全盛時期 | 香港有成 2、3百檔 | 但隨住社會發展、市民對衛生水平嘅要求提高 | 街市熟食檔同埋屋邨冬菇亭嘅出現 | 以及政府其他政策 | 而家全香港,大約都係得返廿零個大牌檔 | 環境問題同飲食文化保育其實冇衝突嘅? | 睇政府有冇心攪嘅 | 大家對大牌檔又有啲咩回憶呢?

● 全盛時期 chyùhn4 sihng6 sìh4 kèih4 = period of full time; perhaps here “in its/their heyday” | ● 街市熟食檔 gāai1 síh5 suhk6 sihk6 dong3 = (?) cooked food stall inside a wet market | ● 冬菇亭 dūng1 gū1 tìhng4 = mushroom hut; mushroom pavilion (a cluster of dining pavilions so named because of the distinctive shape of their roofs; usually found in older public housing estates) [冬菇亭香港公共屋邨独有的一種設施,正式名稱是熟食亭,是一個四方形、尖頂的小型建築物,屋頂中間有拱形排氣口。因為外形像冬菇,被人們稱為「冬菇亭」] ● 有心 yáuh5 sām1 = to have a mind to; to set one’s mind on

To many people [喺好多人心目中], dai pai dong’s are also the most characteristic feature of Hong Kong’s food culture. It is estimated that, in their heyday, there were 2-300 such stalls in Hong Kong. But with the development of society, increased demands on the part of citizens with regard to the standards of hygiene, the emergence of cooked food stalls inside wet markets and mushroom pavilions, [as well as] other government policies, only twenty or so dai pai dong’s remain in the whole of Hong Kong. But there is really no conflict between environmental concerns and the preservation of food culture. It’s only a matter of whether the government has a mind to do it or not. What memories do you have of dai pai dong’s?

Caption: 仲有罐可樂!| And a Coke thrown in as well!

下面留言分享啦 | 今日講到呢度,下條片見,bye bye

Share [your impressions] by leaving a message below. That’s all for today. I’ll see you in the next clip! Bye-bye.