Art, says the people behind the Under the Bridge Art Project, should be a force in “connecting the community and comforting people”. In a worked entitled “Watching Waves”, landscape painter 黃進曦 Stephen Wong Jeun Hei sets out to do precisely this, encouraging Hongkongers to steer a course through the treacherous contemporary situation with the help of dexterity and faith.
Whoever worked as the sound technician for this video knew exactly what she was doing: Wong’s eloquent flow of speech comes through with great clarity, making it a delight to listen to. And the atmospheric piano soundtrack chosen to accompany his words complements it beautifully, without ever once drowning them out.
The grammar of the voice-over is straightforward, but there are a few points worth noting. Firstly, Wong uses the sentence-final double particle 嚟㗎 lèih4 gaa3 on several occasions to suggest emphasize something is, perhaps with a hint of “and this is what something is in essence”. He uses it first to define who he is for viewers — 我係一個風景畫家嚟㗎 = “I am a landscape painter” — and later to characterize his artwork “Watching Waves” — 係一個大浪嘅一個風景嚟㗎 = “is a vista with huge waves in it”.
Secondly, transformation in Cantonese is often handled by means of 做 jouh6 to form a link between the verb and the outcome of the transformation. For instance, “the spray magically transforming into birds” is expressed as 幻化咗做一啲雀仔, where 幻化 is the verb and 一啲雀仔 refers to the result of the change. I’ve noticed too that the idea of translation form one language into another is often rendered as 譯做.
In the vocabulary department, there are some wonderful things, especially an appearance by the verbs 冚埋 kám2 màaih4 = “to cover” and 搲 wé2 = “to seize” (although it has a number of other meanings as well). Other items for any Cantonese learner’s vocabulary list are: 情景 chìhng4 gíng2 = scene; 兇險 hūng1 hím2 = in a very dangerous state; critical; 仔細 jí2 sai3 = careful; 浪花 lohng6 fāa1 = spray (literally, “wave flowers”); 嚴峻 yìhm4 jeun3 = stern; severe; rigorous; grim; and the four-character phrase 屹立不倒 ngaht6 lahp6 bāt1 dóu2 = roughly, “to stand firm; to stand tall & unwavering”.
Please scroll down if you want the transcription, notes and English translation. Otherwise, you can view the video here(subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
● 橋墩 kìuh4 dán2 = bridge pier; an earthen or stone structure under a bridge | ● 情景 chìhng4 gíng2 = scene; sight; circumstances
My name is Stephen Wong Chun Hei. I am a landscape painter. On this occasion, for the “Under The Bridge Art Project: Once Upon A Dragon Interchange” project, I have designed scenes [depicting] huge waves on two pillars [representing] bridge pylons. Each pylon features [係] a vista with huge waves in it. However, when people look at [the work], they really ought to be able . . .
● 壓迫 [ng]aat3 bīk1 = to oppress; to repress | ● 兇險 hūng1 hím2 = in a very dangerous state; critical | ● 仔細 jí2 sai3 = careful; attentive | ● 吹歪 chēui1 mé2 = cf. 吹 = to blow + 歪 = askew; crooked | ● 頂 déng2 = the top (part); here, “the crest (of a wave)” | ● 浪花 lohng6 fāa1 = spray | ● 濺起 jin3 (chín2?) héi2 = to splash (up) Note: Someone has commented in a forum on the Sheik Cantonese website about the colloquial pronunciation of 濺: “On reflection, I suspect chín2 is a pronunciation specific to HK, created by analogy from 淺.” | ● 幻化 waahn6 faa3 = to change magically | ● 嚴峻 yìhm4 jeun3 = stern; severe; rigorous; grim | ● 游走 yàuh4 jáu2 = roughly, “to swim away from” | ● 靈巧 lìhng4 háau2 = dextrous; nimble; skilful; ingenious | ● 穿梭 chyūn1 sō1 = to shuttle back & forth
. . . to get a sense of the oppressiveness of that huge wave, or a feeling of being in a very dangerous state. In [these paintings], apart from the huge waves, if you look more carefully, you should be able to see some small boats [一啲船仔], some small islands with a tree on [each one], bent crooked by the wind, and you should even be able to see, on the crest of the wave, when they spray splashes up, the spray magically transforming into birds. Actually, in my conception [of these images], now Hong Kong is in a situation where there is an epidemic and in this rather severe atmosphere, I really wanted people to be able to [act] like the small roles [小嘅角色] I have arranged [in my work] — oppressed by that enormous wave, like a boat, [they] ought to be able to move out of the way of the wave, and with great ingenuity, shuttle in and out [穿梭] . . .
● 翻騰 fāan1 tàhng4 = to seethe; to rise; to churn | ● 形勢 yìhng4 sai3 = situation; circumstances | ● 冚埋 kám2 màaih4 = roughly, to cover completely; to engulf” | ● 跳躍 tiu3 yeuhk6 = to jump; to leap; to bound | ● 堅守 = gīn1 sáu2 = to stick to; to hold fast to; to stand fast | ● 信念 seun3 nihm6 = faith; belief; conviction | ● 搲 wé2 = to seize | ● 泥土 nàih4/làih4 tóu2 = earth; soil | ● 屹立不倒 ngaht6 lahp6 bāt1 dóu2 = roughly, “to stand firm; to stand tall & unwavering” | ● 安心 = ōn1 sām1 = feel at ease; be relieved; to set one’s mind at rest
. . . of the seething aspect [嗰種翻騰嘅形勢] of the waves, or like flying birds you should — as the wave comes crashing down — gain a greater strength to jump out [from underneath], or even like the trees [growing] on those small islands, you should hold fast to your own beliefs. You should be able to grab hold of some earth that will enable you to stand firm, to stand tall. All these things, I get the feeling, are present at a time where there is an epidemic and everyone possibly feels a sense of helplessness or feels that they have no way of calculating just what their fate might be like tomorrow, perhaps [I’m not sure if I have understood the previous sentence correctly]. If everyone has faith in the way I have arranged it in this work, as I said just now, then this ought to be able to help us all to feel a bit more at ease [安心一啲] in facing this epidemic together.
My only close encounter with a Hong Kong nun is something I have never forgotten. I saw her on two or three separate occasions at Tai Po Market MTR station in the late 1990s. She would stand in a corner of the concourse at peak hour, sounding at regular intervals a small metal bowl she held in the palm of one hand. It was a beautiful gesture: a timely reminder to slow down and pay a little more attention to where we were and what we were doing. I’d like to think that not a few of the people who rushed on past her at the time, later in a sudden flash of recollection and understanding, got to thinking about that almost invisible woman dressed in grey.
I was reminded of the nun by several recent encounters in the pages of my Hong Kong books. The first, dating from the early 1950s, is described by Martin Booth in Gweilo, and happened when he was only eight years old. The setting is Ngong Ping, on Lantau Island:
There came a soft shuffling sound from over my shoulder. I turned to find myself being observed by two Buddhist nuns. They wore grey, long-sleeved, ankle-length habits and their heads were shaven, so it was quite impossible to judge their ages. Around their necks hung simple necklaces of wooden beads. Not sure what to do, and heedful of Mr Borrie’s warning, I stood up and stepped back on the path. They watched me go, impassive looks upon their faces. I sensed that perhaps they were young and wanted to talk to me, this strange, small gweilo from the other world of which they occasionally heard talk but had not seen for many years, nor perhaps ever would again. (“Hiking to Buddha”)
The visit to Ngong Ping left a profound impression on Booth, and he returns to the episode in both his novel Hiroshima Joe (1985) and in a section of his Hong Kong notebook, The Dragon and the Pearl (1994), where he tries to reconcile his idyllic memories of his stay in the monastery — marked by austere accommodation and timeless ritual — with the changes time has brought, particularly the colossal Buddha statue, said to have cost some HK$60 million. However, in neither of these alternate accounts does he mention that pair of silent nuns.
G.S.P. Heywood came to Hong Kong in 1932 to work at the Royal Observatory. His book Rambles in Hong Kong (1938), is his very romantic love-letter to the countryside of the Territory. His encounter with nuns took place in Lam Tsuen, at the Ling Wan Nunnery near Kwun Yam Hill:
Some way to your left as you come down from the pass into the Pat Heung valley is a nunnery, standing in a wooded defile under the great rocky shoulder named Kwun Yam, the “Goddess of Mercy”. The white buildings, with their garden and lily-pond, were once hidden away amongst the trees, and had a wonderful air of quietness and serenity. One hot summer day, as I was passing by, the nuns courteously hailed me in, and provided me with water to wash in and tea to drink.
When I was refreshed they showed me round some of the buildings, of which they had good reason to be proud, for they were beautifully kept. I saw the temple, with its altar and images, and the reading room, and a belfry up in a tower, where an old nun sat with a great book open in front of her and every now and then chimed a deep-toned bell which hung from the roof above.
Many of the trees are now gone, and the belfry is only an empty shell; though some of the charm of the place has been lost, the nuns are still there, cheerful and kindly as ever. (“Lam Tsun, Pat Heung, and Ping Shan”)
Here as in the Booth passage there is a quiet, nostalgic comparison being made between Heywood’s early visit to the nunnery sometime before the Japanese invasion in 1941 and a later one after the war, during which many of the sheltering trees had been cleared for firewood and the belfry had been damaged. Heywood himself had also suffered terribly during those difficult years as an internee in a Japanese prison camp, so those pre-war memories must have carried particularly poignant overtones for him.
An American, Christopher Rand first went to China in 1943 and later based himself in Hong Kong. By accounts, he was a great walker, and once wrote “I have theories about why one should do it — that it is good for the health, is conducive to thought, makes one able to observe things close at hand, etc. — and I think all these arguments are sound, but the main point is simply that I enjoy walking; I feel calm and happy while doing it.” His 1952 book Hong Kong: The Island Between focuses on the complex political issues concerning mainland China, but it ends with a light-hearted, lyrical sketch of Lantau Island where he spent a few months. He was actually staying in a place quite close to Ngong Ping when he had the following experience:
I never saw a wheeled conveyance on Lantao — not even a wheelbarrow. The fastest human you saw was a man or woman shuffling at the Chinese jogtrot, perhaps with a loaded shoulder-pole. Often you would see little figures like that far away on a hillside path. The paths were now level, now steep and flagstoned like dragons’ backs — gracefully curved, and at times appearing to hang out over thin air. Most people you met on the paths were good at walking downhill in the fast, bent-kneed fashion of mountaineers. Sometimes when going uphill you would overtake a little shaven-head nun or lay sister with two big bags of rice on her pole-ends. You could hear the hard breathing as you passed.
Sometimes it was so still you could hear water dripping hundreds of yards below. One of the nicest sounds was of nuns’ chatter combined with a splashing brook and wind in near-by trees. Most of the mountain’s convents were in a hillside area called Lok Wu, and when I walked on a slope that happened to face this, a mile or so away, I could often hear the nuns there talking intimately. (“Lantao”)
These three encounters by a trio of writers quietly suggest that the Hong Kong Buddhist nun lives life at a slower speed than the rest of us, unobtrusive, and closer to the natural rhythms of the world, and consequently capable of an unexpected and powerful intimacy. Here, by way of a conclusion, is the tiny poem I wrote as a fragile tribute to my own encounter:
At Tai Po Market Station, the Buddhist nun performs still-points with her gong in the avalanche of peak hour.
I stand at the back of the boat, letting the scene do most of the thinking for me. The jagged coast with its rugged panorama won’t let go, but the engines chant only the chance of a wide-opening sea. Absentmindedly I watch waves break on inaccessible shores — over and over — so many waves — and only the one, short, four-letter word, in English, for them all. Particular trees rarely distinguish themselves. What covers these Hong Kong hills is a lush self-centreless green drawing equally from water, land, and sky a sane amalgam, staunch in the name of growth and complemented by rock’s gaunt bone, rich in its way with echoes and undergalaxies of life, but still forever-stranger to this animate animal whirl — look, here it comes now: flat chat billow-bellowing out of Big Indigo with my very own NEXT DEEP BREATH.
Pan was a rural god in ancient Greek belief, and an embodiment of the spirit of Nature. I think he would be proud of his contemporary incarnation in Hong Kong, 劉善鵬 Làuh4 Sihn6 Pàahng6, an environmental manager who goes by the English name of Pan, an able and self-deprecating fellow who likes to refer to himself as 煎 Pan or “Frying Pan”!
In this video, part of RTHK’s fascinating “Hong Kong Ecologists” series, we get an overview of the work that The Conservancy Association is doing in a place near 上水 Sheung Shui called 塱原 Long Yuen, a stretch of freshwater wetlands that grows rice and other crops as well as providing a habitat to a large number of birds and frogs. Management of this region, soon to become an environmental park, obviously involves a delicate balancing between the needs of agriculture and ecology.
The most interesting grammatical feature of Pan’s speech is his frequent use of the aspect marker 翻 fāan1 which, as I mentioned in my last post, often appears in unexpected contexts. Although the basic meaning is “again”, it often implies that an action has resumed after an interruption. This meaning is suggested in 喺〇九年都喺塱原種翻稻米 = “In 2009, we also planted a rice crop in Long Yuen again”. Sometimes, it seems to imply “restoration”, a taking back of things to an earlier state, as in 噉希望去維持翻塱原你原本好多嘅啲水田嘅環境 = “in the hope that [we] can preserve the place and bring back a large number of these paddy-field environments to the way they used to be”. Pan also uses it with verbs such as 調查 = to survey, 反映 = to reflect, 介紹 = to introduce and 關注 = to show concern for, suggesting that it has various other nuances that serious learners might like to ponder!
As for the vocabulary, there’s a delightful instance of the verb 抰 yéung2, which Sheik Cantonese defines as ① to unwrap; to display; to uncover ② to shake off; to jerk; to flick. The last time I came across it was in a Buddhistdoor interview with Queenie Chu, who used 抰走 to refer to flicking an insect off her clothing rather than squashing it. Here in 會成籃擺落去抰走啲泥沙、昆蟲呀咁先攞去賣嘅, it indicates the removal of soil and insects from basket loads of plants before they are taken off to market to sell.
Other items include: 現存 yihn6 chyùhn4 = extant; in stock; 農作物 nùhng4 jok3 maht6 = crops; 產卵 cháan2 léun2 / léuhn5 = to lay eggs; to spawn; 數據 sou3 geui3 = data; 求偶 kàuh4 ngáuh5 = (?) to look for a mate; 西洋菜 sāi1 yèuhng4 choi3 = watercress; 逗留 dauh6 làuh4 = to stop (at a place); 石屎森林 sehk6 sí2 sām1 làhm4 = a concrete jungle; 體驗活動 tái2 yihm6 wuht6 duhng6 = roughly, “activities for learning through practical experience”; 陣間 jahn6 gaan1 = soon; in a moment; in a while; 講解 góng2 gáai2 = to explain; 下旬 haah6 chèuhn4 = the last ten-day period of a month; 收割 sāu1 got3 = to reap; to harvest; to gather in.
Unfortunately, just as I was finalizing the text for this post, the video was removed from YouTube and the RTHK website.
● 公頃 gūng1 kíng2 = a hectare | ● 現存 yihn6 chyùhn4 = extant; in stock | ● 完整 yùhn4 jíng2 = complete; integrated; intact | ● 農耕 nùhng4 gāang1/gāng1 = (?) to cultivate | ● 連接 lìhn4 jip3 = to join; to link | ● 長春社 Chèuhng4 Chēun1 Séh5 = The Conservancy Association | ● 不時 bāt1 sìh4 = frequently; often
Reporter: With an area of approximate 50 hectares, Long Yuen — which is located in North District of Hong Kong’s New Territories — is Hong Kong’s largest and most complete [最完整] fresh-water agricultural wetland [淡水農耕濕地]. It is made up of over 400 linked plots of farmland. Such a large place obviously [方當] requires administrative personnel. One of these is Lau Sin-pang, who is from [嚟自] the Conservancy Association. Apart from keeping in frequent communication with the farmers, he also conducts ecological surveys and, by means of different kinds of activities, introduce this place to the general public and to children.
Caption: 劉善鵬，長春社助理保育經理 | Lau Sin-pang, Assistant Environmental Manager with the Conservancy Association
● 香港觀鳥會 Hēung1 Góng2 Gūn1 Níuh5 Wúi6*2 = the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society | ● 生境 sāng1 gíng2 = habitat | ● 維持 wàih4 chìh4 = to keep; to maintain; to preserve | ● 水田 séui2 tìhn4 = paddy field | ● 引入 yáhn5 yahp6 = to lead into; to draw into | ● 農作物 nùhng4 jok3 maht6 = crops | ● 慈菇 chìh4 gū1 = arrowhead, katniss (Sagittaria sagittifolia) | ● 馬蹄 máah5 tái4*2/tàih4 = water chestnut | ● 稻米 douh6 máih5 = rice (crop) | ● 棲息 chāi1 sīk1 = to perch; to dwell | ● 保護對象 bóu2 wuh6 deui3 jeuhng6 = roughly, “the object of protection [efforts]” | ● 家族 gāa1 juhk6 = a clan; a family | ● 使用 sái2/sí2 yuhng6 = to make use; to use; to employ | ● 產卵 cháan2 léun2 / léuhn5 = to lay eggs; to spawn Note: According to Sheik Cantonese, léun2 is the standard reading for the character 卵, while léuhn5 is a variant | ● 繁殖 fàahn4 jihk6 = to breed; to reproduce
Lau Sin-pang: My name is Chin Pan (“Frying Pan”). I have been working in Long Yuen for roughly ten years. The organization I work for, the Conservancy Association, together with the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, has been working together in Long Yuen with the local farmers since 2005. Together we have been doing some environmental management. This includes preserving some of the paddy fields. It also involves introducing [引入] some new paddy-field crops such as arrowhead [慈菇] and water chestnut. In 2009, we also planted a rice crop in Long Yuen again, in the hope that [we] can preserve the place and bring back a large number of these paddy-field environments to the way they used to be. Creatures of various kinds [動物] could then inhabit this place. In fact, there are two main kinds of creatures that are the object of protection [efforts] here in Long Yuen. First of all, birds. The other big family [大嘅家族] that [we] hope to protect are the frogs. As it turns out [原來], frogs make use of fresh-water wetlands for breeding. Now although these fields are under cultivation, there are many creatures inhabiting [棲息] them. [According to] the latest bird figures, there are 316 [different] kinds. This is more than 60% of the sum total for Hong Kong.
記者：作為管理員，煎 Pan 佢哋當然要知道喺厘塊土地上面生活緊嘅 | 除咗人以外，仲有咩動物 | 佢哋嘅數量有冇多到？| 厘啲數據可以話係佢哋嘅成績表 | 今晚佢就進行緊青蛙生態調查
● 數據 sou3 geui3 = data | ● 成績表 sìhng4 jīk1 bíu2 = ① school/academic report; student report card; school record ② table of results/scores
Reporter: As a manager, Chin Pan and his team [煎 Pan 佢哋] naturally need to know what is living here on this patch of ground. Apart from human beings, what other creatures are there and have their quantities increased? You could say that such data is their table of results. This evening, he is doing and environmental survey of frogs.
● 成效 sìhng4 haauh6 = an effect; a result | ● 雄性 hùhng4 sing3 = male | ● 求偶 kàuh4 ngáuh5 = (?) to look for a mate | ● 憑 pàhng4 = to go by; to base on; to take as a basis | ● 發覺 faat3 gok3 = to find; to detect; to discover | ● 微小 mèih4 síu2 = small; little | ● 洗菜池 sái2 choi3 chìh4 = roughly, “a pool for washing vegetables in” | ● 通菜 tūng1 choi3 = water spinach; Chinese spinach (also known as 蕹菜 ung3 choi3 and 翁菜 yūng1 choi3 | ● 西洋菜 sāi1 yèuhng4 choi3 = watercress | ● 抰走 yéung2 jáu2 = roughly, “to shake off” | ● 泥沙 nàih4 sāa1 = silt; soil; earth | ● 蝌蚪 fō1 dáu2 = a tadpole
Jin Pan: We will conduct a survey [to find out] whether the objects [of our protection efforts] [對象] are making use of the habitats we are managing. This patch of land is probably a rice paddy. We will find out [揾到] whether the numbers of certain species have gone up or down. This reflects whether in fact our fields are effective [有冇成效], in terms of the environment. A characteristic of frogs is that, in Summer, especially after a heavy shower of rain, the males will call in order to find a mate. On the basis of the sound, we judge the number of frogs on that piece of land and what species there are, because different frogs have different calls. Quite interestingly, we have found that that Long Yuen is basically [原來] an agricultural environment [and] many of the micro-habitats [within it] turn out to be agricultural facilities [設施], for instance, washing pools for vegetables. After the farmers have harvested [their] water spinach or [their] cress, they tip whole basket-loads [of vegetables into the ponds] to get rid of the dirt before taking them off to sell. We have found that as it turns out in Summer lots and lots of frogs will go into these ponds to reproduce, and there are lots of tadpoles. This is quite surprising. As it transpires, a habitat has been made for these creatures to make use of.
● 熄燈 sīk1 dāng1 = to put out the light; to turn off the light | ● 靜止 jihng6 jí2 = static; motionless; at a standstill | ● 澤蛙 jaahk6 wāa1 = literally, “pond frog” | ● 逗留 dauh6 làuh4 = to stop (at a place)
Jin Pan: We make a record based on? what we hear. First off all, we turn off our torch [熄燈]. Lamp-light has a [real] influence on frogs. [Then] we want to [想] stand still to allow [等] the frogs to get used to the night environment. Then we start to make a record. Just for the moment, [there is] a pond frog. We stay around for maybe for five minutes, listening out for what kinds of frog-calls there are.
● 落種lohk6 júng2 = (?) to plant seeds | ● 牽涉 hīn1 sip3 = to involve; to concern; to drag in | ● 石屎森林 sehk6 sí2 sām1 làhm4 = a concrete jungle | ● 體驗活動 tái2 yihm6 wuht6 duhng6 = roughly, “activities for learning through practical experience” | ● 陣間 jahn6 gaan1 = soon; in a moment; in a while | ● 落田 lohk6 tìhn4 = (?) to go into the fields | ● 除草 chèuih4 chó2 = weeding
Reporter: From planting to harvest, rice involves a large amount of human effort. Jin Pan and his team [煎 Pan 佢哋] conduct different kinds of hands-on activities [體驗活動] at different times for small children as well as adults from “the concrete jungle”, enabling everyone [who participates] to better understand the special features of the paddy fields. (Jin Pan speaks) Land cultivated for farming [農田] can provide many [different] spaces for a large number of birds and animals. Here they can live and have babies. In a moment, we will go down into the fields to do some weeding work.
● 講解 góng2 gáai2 = to explain | ● 休閒 yāu1 hàahn4 = ① to lie fallow ② to be not working; to have leisure; to be idle
Jin Pan: I can take that, such a big [piece of] dirt. By means of educational activities, we bring the children [down] here. [I] provide some explanation about some of the functions of the fields. Firstly, [it’s about] food: there are things to eat in the fields! The second thing is that it’s great fun: the fields are a fun, leisurely place. Thirdly, and the thing we feel is more important, is that we can introduce [children] to some small creatures such as birds and frogs. This enables them to learn that in the normal process of producing food, spaces are also provided for the creatures to live in.
● 秋收 chāu1 sāu1 = the Autumn harvest | ● 收成 sāu1 sìhng4 = a harvest; a crop | ● 豐收 fūng1 sāu1 = a bumper harvest
Jin Pan: Now, in November, that’s right, we [have] the Autumn harvest. Today we have spent half [our] morning harvesting a field. This year it has been very fine, this field. Our harvest has been a small bumper harvest.
Long caption: 塱原已於2019年12月下旬成為政府土地。由於塱原擁有生態價值，塱原濕地將會經過為期約三年的改善工程后，成為自然生態公園。
● 下旬 haah6 chèuhn4 = the last ten-day period of a month| ● 為期 wàih4 kèih4 = (to be completed) by a definite date
At the end of December 2019, Long Yuen became government land. Due to the fact that Long Yuen possesses ecological value, The Long Yuen Wetlands will become a Nature and Ecology Park after undergoing improvement works lasting approximately three years.
● 動用 duhng6 yuhng6 = to put to use; to employ; to draw on | ● 大朋友 daaih6 pàhng4 yáuh5 = adults (lit. “big friend”); I suspect that this is a humorous invention based on the word for “child”, 小朋友 (lit. “little friend”) | ● 收割 sāu1 got3 = to reap; to harvest; to gather in
Jin Pan: The process of growing rice is really quite interesting. You have to draw on a large number of people and “engage” many members of the public to take part. And so, [we] see so many “big friends” [that is, “adults”] as well as children come [out] today to help with the reaping. In the process [從中], we can give an introduction to what rice is, why it is planted — oh, so growing rice has a lot of ecological [aspects] to it! So that’s why Hong Kong’s history and culture is like that! We hope that more people will pay attention to our green environments and look out for them more.
Hong Kong writer 蔣曉薇 Jeung Hiu-mei’s new novel 《秋鯨擱淺》has been attracting widespread attention in recent months. The title roughly translates as “the beaching of Autumn whales”, and this image of Hong Kong (as it used to be) as a stranded whale seems to have captured the imagination of a number of commentators. In this video from Ming Pao’s 《文化後浪》 (roughly, “Cultural Successors”) series, she discusses the issues that arise from the novel, the big question being: is there any possibility that some form of intervention could rescue the Hong Kong from its life-threatening predicament?
There are three grammatical points that are worthy of the Cantonese learner’s attention. Firstly, there is a good example of the final particle 囉 lō1. According to Yuen-lam Tsang’s helpful guide Basic Sentence-final Particles in Hong Kong Cantonese (Greenwood Press 2020), the main function of 囉 lō1 is to inform the listener that what is being said is obvious and natural. When it is paired with 咪 maih6, we get what Yip and Matthews call “an obvious conclusion” (Intermediate Cantonese). Thus, 噉我咪執筆去寫囉 means something like “and so I picked up my pen and wrote”.
The second point involves住 jyuh6, a widely used aspect marker that indicates that the effects of a particular (one-off) action persist over an extended period of time. Jeung uses it in 係一個傷口裏面滲透住一啲東西出嚟嘅 = “some things that came seeping out from a wound”; 你面對住變化嘅時候 = “when we face up to changes”; and the classic use of with the wearing of clothing, since once the clothing is put on in a single act, it remains in that state (until another act comes along to change it): 好似披戴住一啲你好喜歡嘅作家佢哋嘅身影 = “it is like wrapping the images of the writers you really like around your shoulders”.
Thirdly, another aspect marker 翻 fāan1 is used on several occasions. Its basic meaning involves repetition or reconnection, but you often come across instances that seem a little counterintuitive! For example, the phrase 我都想寫翻發生喺香港嘅故事 seems to suggest getting stories that happen in real life (back) into writing. There’s also 呢個作品只不過係我想呈現翻當下香港一個離開或者留低擱淺嘅狀態, in which the marker indicates that the writer wants to “re-present” a certain condition affecting Hong Kong in her novel. In both cases here, there is a sense of transfer or translation from one realm to another.
As usual, there is plenty of useful vocabulary to take away from this video: 滲透 sām1 tau3 = to permeate; to seep; 無助 mòuh4 joh6 = helpless; 氛圍 fān1 wàih4 = atmosphere; 命題 mihng6 tàih4 = a proposition; statement; thesis; 手牽手 sáu2 hīn1 sáu2 = hand in hand; 挽救 wáahn5 gau3 = to save; to remedy; to rescue; 出身 chēut1 sān1 = one’s previous experience or occupation; 影視 yíng2 sih6 = film & television; 呢一輩 nī1 yāt1 bui3 = this generation; and 根基 gān1 gēi1 = a foundation; a basis.
Please scroll down for my transcription (again, it’s a bit ragged in places), English translation and notes. You can view the video here(subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
● 灌溉 gun3 koi3 = usu. “to irrigate” | ● 脈絡傳承 mahk6 lok3 chyùhn4 sìhng4 = (?) to carry on in the same vein or tradition
I too would like to write about the streets here. I too would like to write the stories that have happened here in Hong Kong. So, I picked up my pen and wrote them, as if I were carrying on in the same tradition [好似一個脈絡傳承].
Caption: 用寫作留住香港 | To Stay in Hong Kong by Means of Writing
● 滲透 sām1 tau3 = to permeate; to seep | ● 焦慮 jīu1 leuih6 = feel anxious; have worries & misgivings | ● 無助 mòuh4 joh6 = helpless | ● 無力感 mòuh4 lihk6 gám2 = helplessness; perhaps also “powerlessness” | ● 正視 jing3 sih6 = to face up to (a difficult situation; reality)
When I first began to create, it actually felt to me like a wound out of which things came seeping. The wound was due to what I had been through; it also partly originated from changes in society. When you confront the changes, then there are in fact many misgivings, helplessness, powerlessness. However, writing can give [you] the ability to face up to [such things] anew. What exactly what is the source of one’s terror? Why does one feel so anxious about certain [一啲] changes?
● 悲哀 bēi1 ōi1 = grieved; sorrowful | ● 命題 mihng6 tàih4 = a proposition; statement; thesis | ● 源於 yùhn4 yū1 = to originate from; to stem from | ● 掙扎 jāng1 jaat3 = to struggle | ● 背負 bui3 fuh6 = to bear; to carry on the back
(Jeung Hiu-mei reads a passage from her novel) “[In] this world, there are times of sorrow. There are also times of beauty. This was the fine thing they were in the process of doing on the bodies of the whales (?), giving the beached whales sone small hope.” The original proposition was to do with staying, leaving and the state in-between the two. It also had its origins in a very great struggle. Why had so many people close to [me] left? To probe even more deeply into this issue, I asked myself whether I wanted to leave. [Assuming] that it were no easy matter, what are the things one would have to bear if one chose to leave?
● 尊重 jyūn1 juhng6 = to respect; to value; to esteem | ● 呈現 chìhng4 yìhn6 = to present (a certain appearance); to appear; to emerge | ● 當下 dōng1 haah6 = ① instantly; immediately; at once ② that very moment | ● 水漲 séui2 jeung3 = (of water) to rise; to go up | ● 時機 sìh4 gēi1 = an opportunity; an opportune moment | ● 外在 ngoih6 joih6 = external; extrinsic | ● 人為 yàhn4 wàih4 = artificial; human-made | ● 落返 lohk6 fāan1 = (?) to go back (into the sea) | ● 手牽手 sáu2 hīn1 sáu2 = hand in hand | ● 挽救 wáahn5 gau3 = to save; to remedy; to rescue | ● 付出 fuh6 chēut1 = to pay; to expend; in some contexts, it suggests “the effort you put into something” | ● 意願 yi3 yuhn6 = a wish; a desire; an aspiration | ● 無比 mòuh4 béi2 = incomparable; unparalleled; matchless | ● 信念 seun3 nihm6 = faith; belief; conviction
So, I went and asked myself this question in my writing. I respect each individual’s answer. This work is nothing more than my own wish to present that state of being stranded between leaving or staying in Hong Kong at this moment. At times of feeling stranded, [you] have no energy to go on [走落去], nor do [you] know how to go on. I can’t ever see a way forward. For instance, when a whale is beached, what it really needs is for the level of the water to rise [水漲呢個時機], so that it can return to the sea. It also needs some external force, I mean, I human-made effort to enable it to return to the sea. I mean, I think we’re all waiting for such a moment [when the sea-level rises], but who knows whether we can wait long enough for it to happen [等唔等到唔知嘅]. But my feeling is that the human-made effort is very important, that kind of output of energy [付出] where people go hand in hand to try together to save lives. That aspiration [according to which] one feels one can still save some lives at the present moment is of incomparable importance. At a time of being stranded, this belief is of incomparable importance.
Caption: 香港文學建構本土 | Hong Kong Literature Constructs One’s Native Place
● 出身 chēut1 sān1 = one’s previous experience or occupation | ● 影視 yíng2 sih6 = film & television | ● 本土bún2 tóu2 = one’s native land | ● 承傳 sìhng4 chyùhn4 = to inherit and pass on (Note: Subtitles have 傳承) | ● 呢一輩 nī1 yāt1 bui3 = this generation
I started out [出身] as a reader of literature. I read modern literature. Once you begin to read Hong Kong literature, you will find that the things that it writes about are [part of] your life [too]. In reading a large amount [of literature] or in watching some works for film and television, a local identity of a kind [一種本土嘅身份] is established, and gradually you come to discover — when you have read a lot — that one day you [yourself] get the desire to inherit this memory [that is, of Hong Kong] and to hand it on to others. This generation I belong to naturally has its own memories, too. I don’t stop there at the memories of Dung Cheung-kai or Hon Lai-chu or Chan Wai. My generation has its voices, too. I have my memories of the city, I have my experiences, and I too would like to write about the streets here. I too would like to write the stories that have happened here in Hong Kong. So, I picked up my pen and wrote them, as if I were carrying on in one and the same tradition [好似一個脈絡傳承]. It’s not right to break [this tradition] off. If we break off in our memories, our writings, then you have to [UNCLEAR] the voices of their memories of this city . . .
● 肩負 gīn1 fuh6 = to take on; to undertake; to shoulder; to bear | ● 披戴 pēi1 daai3 = (?) to wear draped over (or wrapped around) one’s shoulders | ● 身影 sān1 yíng2 = a person’s silhouette; form; figure | ● 承擔 sìhng4 dāam1 = to bear; to undertake; to assume | ● 擔子 daam3 jí2 = load; burden | ● 根基 gān1 gēi1 = a foundation; a basis
. . . and go and write the stories of this city. The things you have to shoulder are more numerous. It’s like wrapping the forms of your favourite writers around your shoulders, them as well as their [sense of] social responsibility, what they undertook in terms of literature, the literary roles they assumed. It’s as if this load has fallen to you [to shoulder]. You too have the responsibility to go and write, to express [yourself], to take over and pass on the foundation of a Hong Kong literature they took such pains to establish.
It’s a grotesque sight, watching the Chinese government criminalize genuine democracy while trying to uphold the terms of the Basic Law by introducing a system that means only approved candidates in full support of the government can ever get to hold power.
余慧明 Winnie Yu, already in detention with another 45 or so individuals for the “crime” of participating in a perfectly peaceful and legal primary election poll in 2020, sums up the matter with her usual incisiveness:
As long as you have voices [expressing] opposition, they will be repressed without exceptions. It’s as if this [legal] action wants to tell people “You must not have any [thoughts of] resisting”. If you do, then all you can do is wind up in jail”.
And she’s right. When they come to be sentenced, most of these individuals will probably be given lengthy prison terms.
This video from the Stand News team is entitled 《假如這是自由的最後一天》 or “If Today were the Last Day of Freedom”. Please watch it if you would like to understand more clearly what is going on in Hong Kong. It’s not a video to enjoy — although it is superbly made — but certainly one to remember. The colossal tragedy both in terms of the waste of human energy and potential and downright injustice will possibly move you to tears . . . But it is a timely reminder of the difficulties democracy everywhere is facing in an increasingly authoritarian world-climate.
Please scroll down for my transcription (it’s a bit ragged, but I’ve done my best), English translation and notes. 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.
Update: 鄒家成 Owen Chow was granted bail on 22 June by High Court Judge Esther Toh. The 47 national security suspects are set to appear in a committal proceeding on July 8 2021.
● 見經如見佛 gin3 gīng1 yùh4 gin3 faht6 = roughly, “seeing a passage of scripture is equivalent to seeing Buddha himself” | ● 鎮定 jan3 dihng6 = clam; cool; composed; unruffled | ● 專注 jyūn1 jyu3 = to concentrate one’s attention on; to be absorbed in | ● 紋 màhn4 = cf. 紋身 = 1. a tattoo 2. to tattoo | ● 六字大明咒 luhk6 jih6 daaih6 mìhng4 jau3 = the Six-character Great Bright Mantra | ● 唵嘛呢叭咪吽 ám2 maa3 nī1 bāa1 māi1 (?) hūng1 = (the Chinese transliteration equivalent to) Om Mane Padme Hum | ● 撇除 pit3 chèuih4 = (?) to put aside; to eliminate; to remove; the subtitles have “other than work” | ● 修身齊家 sāu1 sān1 chàih4 gāa1 = to cultivate one’s moral character & put one’s family in order | ● MK = roughly, “Mong Kok counterculture” cf. MK仔 = Mong Kok guys (young people who embrace MK counterculture) [Sheik Cantonese] | ● 老套 lóuh5 tou3 = old stuff; old ways; the same old story
Owen Chow: There’s a saying that goes “To see some scripture is the same as seeing the Buddha”. [When] I go inside, maybe sometimes my feelings won’t be stable. Or perhaps there will be times when there’s nothing I can focus my attention on, maybe. Perhaps seeing this [tattoo] will calm me down a bit, so I had a tattoo done of the Six-character Great Bright Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. If, as it happens, I am taken into custody immediately, and charged with the charge of violence, then [I] won’t be getting out [of prison] for ten years or more. [So I] wanted to get myself ready. I think whatever happens, I have to prepare myself. After I got the phone call, and found out [知道] that I only had a couple of days left, so apart from [撇除] a few work-related things I planned two things for myself: to see the film The Way We Keep Dancing and to get a tattoo done. I’ve spent more time with family and friends since 6 January. My relationship to my family has become closer. I’ve done everything I can to “cultivate my moral character & put my family in order”. Now I’m talking in cliches! A member of the Mong Kok counterculture and a cliche! At 24!
Jimmy Shum: Once when I came walking by here, she suddenly grabbed hold of me [捉住] [and asked:] “You’re Jimmy Shum, aren’t you?” Last time [after] I was detained [捉咗] for over 40 hours, when I got out the next day, the first thing I did was come and tell you [Shum refers to the woman here] “I’m back. Everything’s OK”. After that, she burst into tears again.
● 形勢 yìhng4 sai3 = situation; circumstances | ● 嚇怕 haak3 paa3 = (?) to frighten; to scare | ● 硬頂 ngaahng6 díng2 = to tough sth. out | ● 同路人 tùhng4 louh6 yàhn4 = a fellow traveller | ● 苦難 fú2 naahn6 = suffering; misery; distress
I’m inclined to think that were I frightened by the current situation, I would feel contempt for myself. To make myself into someone I [could] admire, I just have to tough it out. All the people in the world who are struggling for democracy are our fellow travellers. The suffering that we have been through is actually of no consequence [微不足道]. I am about to lose my freedom, and I have [this weird feeling] in my heart. I don’t want the people nearest to me to have to suddenly confront this.
Tiffany Yuen: If something does happen [to me], I won’t be able to watch this video. And then, I should wear this jacket tomorrow, because it will be cold. This jacket has no cords [繩] on it, so no one has to cut anything off it, cut any waistbands or anything like that. Now him, every night I fall asleep holding him in my arms. In prison, I won’t be able to hold him. Tonight is the last night we will hug, if something really does happen. I hope everything will be OK. Thank you! As far as the people of this neighbourhood are concerned, I am still very young. The most important thing is that they trust me to handle their problems or those of the whole area in a mature fashion. (Speaks to cat) Are you wanting to have a sleep, hmm? Why do you look so cute [咁冧]? You’ll have to look after yourself. You know that, don’t you?
● 鞋帶 hàaih4 daai3*2 = ? | ● 素色 sou3 sīk1 = roughly, “plain” | ● 襟著 kām1 jeuk3 = roughly, “durable” (of clothing), meaning that you can wear it for a long time before it wears out | ● 牽掛 hīn1 gwaa3 = a worry; a concern
Lee Chi-yung: It’s a bit different from the plain style I usually prefer. As long as they wear well, then it’s better than having to buy a new pair every one or two years. Actually, from the last time when I had the experience of spending the night [in detention], if my shoes had shoelaces in them, they [佢] would have made me remove the laces. It’s hard to walk in shoes without shoelaces. That’s why I wanted to but that [new] pair. Although a lot of people view recent developments as being unfair to me, no one could have foreseen that things would turn out like this. I have no concerns. My relations will keep an eye on my mother, and my daughter is no longer with us.
● 在囚 joih6 chàuh4 = in prison | ● 手足 sáu2 jūk1 = brothers (perhaps with the sense of “brothers in arms”) | ● 頂住 díng2 jyuh6 = to withstand; to shore up; to keep pushing against; to hang in there | ● 清算 chīng1 syun3 = to settle accounts; to expose & criticize | ● 心願 sām1 yuhn6 = cherished desire; aspiration; wish; dream
Hendrick Lui: Ah, you can write a letter to our brothers and sisters in prison, yes. [Tomorrow? What about tomorrow?] You could say that there is a group of people at the forefront and they are hanging in there. Again and again [不斷], some have made [significant personal] sacrifices, while others have been forced to leave Hong Kong. So, the squaring of [political] accounts with us, [a group of] 50 plus people, was just a bit slower in coming. I am more fortunate than a lot of other people. At least I can say goodbye to the people important to me. Or do the things I really wanted to do, some of them, yes. (Passer-by: “Will you collect the letters every week?”) Yes, you can take it home and write your letter first. Because in the coming days . . . After this Sunday, I don’t know whether I’ll have the chance to come out again. But our team will continue to do all they can.
● 伍健偉 | Lucifer Ng Kin-wai | 20,525 Votes【5:47】
伍健偉：都希望喺最後嘅時間裏邊 | 去同街坊打招呼 [啦，係啦] | Gives instructions to a person on the street：一路行到幼稚園嗰條路 //) 【6:00】 | 啫 ，[譬如] // 上庭、還押 | 都係要剪頭髮嘅 [嘛] | 噉梗係 . . . 剪個好睇少少嘅入去呀，係咪？ | 同埋到時上到庭都靚仔啲吖嘛
● 年少無知 nìhn4 síu2 mòu4 jī1 = young and foolish/ignorant | ● 誇下咗海口 kwāa1 haah6 jó2 hói2 háu2 = ? cf. the subtitles have “made a huge promise”| ● 名份 mìhng4 fahn6 = a person’s status
Lucifer Ng Kin-wai: In this last bit of time I have, [I] hope to go and speak with the people of my neighbourhood. (Gives instructions: “Take that road that goes all the way to the kindergarten . . .”) If I have to in court or into detention, your hair gets cut short. So, of course I’ll get my hair cut a bit smarter-looking and go inside, won’t I? And then to boot, when I make my appearance in court, I’ll look handsome, of course.
Reporter: Now [that you are] counting down the free time you have left, what are you feeling?
Lucifer Ng Kin-wai: I tend to want . . . one more hour. Every time another hour goes by, I think: tomorrow’s getting a bit closer. . . I wish I could have another hour. Me, in the past, when I was young and foolish, I made a huge promise, that when I turned 25 I would marry her, we would get married. Of course, back in those days, I’m talking about 2019, I lacked the courage at a time like this to give that kind of status to her [that is, “wife of a criminal”]. When you think that for 10 or 20 years, you might only be able to see the husband you have just married on the other side of a pane of glass. Apart from saying “I’m sorry”, I don’t know what else to say.
● 度數 douh6 sou3 = number of degrees; reading | ● 規劃 kwāi1 waahk6 = 1. a programme; a plan 2. to map out a plan | ● 見證 gin3 jing3 = to witness
Ventus Lau: Because if [I] am taken into detention, then actually no glasses which have any metal in them can be worn. However, I am very short-sighted, so if they don’t let me wear my glasses, then I most probably [應該] wouldn’t even be able to see where I was going. I feel bad for my girl-friend [都唔好意思]. I mean, other guys, a normal guy, should as he heads for thirty be thinking about how he is going to plan his future. // seeing that I won’t have the status of a free individual, I won’t be there to witness the spectacle of Hongkongers taking to the streets again. This is quite a cause for regret.
● 宗旨 jūng1 jí2 = an aim; a purpose | ● 遺憾 wàih4 hahm6 = a regret; a pity | ● 快必 faai3 bīt1 = “Fast Beat”, nickname of Tam Tak-chi cf. 慢必 or “Slow Beat”, Raymond Chan’s nickname; 必 renders the English “beat” here | ● 收押 sāu1 [ng]aat3 = to take into custody; to detain
Raymond Chan Chi-chuen: In fact, playing volleyball is something we do every week. Because of the virus, it’s already been several months since we stopped. Despite the fact that I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, my aim is not to let the terror affect my day-to-day life. But there is one thing I didn’t manage to do — I didn’t get to visit my mum. I spoke with her on Thursday, before this thing happened. And so I didn’t get the chance to see her. [I] feel some regret about that. But I’m more worried about the people near to me. Some of our supporters felt very upset and sad — some even wept — the last time when “Fast Beat” (Taam Tak-chi) was detained, and they might be this time now that I could be taken into custody. [Please] don’t be too sad because we have lost our freedom for a certain time. It’s not as if we are going to die or anything. As long as our hearts don’t die, as long as the hearts of the Hong Kong people do not die, then we still have a chance.
● 一律 yāt1 leuht6 = all; without exception| ● 反抗 fáan2 kong3 = to revolt; to resist | ● 淪 lèuhn4 = 1. to sink 2. to fall; to be reduced to | ● 無名無姓 mòuh4 mìhng4 mòuh4 sing3 = lit. “no personal name no surname (?) = complete nobody; a person of no consequence| ● 勞力 lòuh4 lihk6 = usu. (n.) labour | ● 戰線 jin3 sin3 = battle line; battlefront; front | ● 無怨無悔 mòuh4 yun3 mòuh4 fui3 = roughly, “no complaints & no regrets”
Winnie Yu: As long as you have voices [expressing] opposition, they will be repressed without exceptions. It’s as if this [legal] action wants to tell people “You must not have any [thoughts of] resisting”. If you do, then all you can do is wind up in jail”. These [people] are what are known as “non-entities”. I feel that I have done my utmost and, with the greatest [possible] effort, gone and tried different battlefronts. This is what you could call having no complaints and no regrets.
David: Ah, usually, when you catch the lift up to the first floor, you want it to get there more quickly. When just now when [we] came up, [I] wanted it to go slower. I don’t know why. I don’t know whether that feeling . . . What I can’t handle is [the fact that] someone close to you, someone who has been there with you [同你行] for a year, suddenly, perhaps tomorrow, will not be there for you to go on sharing ideas with [再繼續交流], maybe for several years.
● 内疚 noih6 gau3 = compunction; a guilty conscience | ● 心痛 sām1 tung3 = to feel sad | ● 寧願 nihng4 yuhn6 = would rather; better
Ivan: I’ve had a guilty conscience about this all along. It’s as if [I] pushed you to the front [推咗你出嚟]. It’s very sad. As well, I really don’t want it to be like this. I would rather it be me who was in trouble [有啲咩事] rather than it be you, actually, really.
Winnie Yu: Because, actually, over the past year we really have put a lot of time into the union, so we never had much of a chance to have a good talk, to really get to know one another [了解到大家]. And now at this point in time, [I] actually don’t know whether [we] will still have the chance to say everything that we want to say, everything that is in our hearts. If I’m lucky, I will still have the opportunity afterwards, but if things don’t go my way, it may be that . . . I don’t know how many years it will be before [we can] meet again. And then, after so many years, actually, no one knows if it will change, or what it will be like. However, just like Ivan said, I believe that no one of us ought to forget this time when we were all fighters together.
If you’ve ever wondered why the Chinese character 藍 làahm4 meaning “blue” is written with the “grass” element, then now you know: it all goes back to indigo!
Actually, in the useful book Analysis of Chinese Characters (1934), the authors point out that the other part of the character is 監 gāam, “to watch” and that it is used purely to indicate the pronunciation (?), so “consequently has no logical explanation”. But after you’ve watched this video from Apple Daily, you’ll understand that it takes three days to dye garments properly with indigo, and that watchfulness is vital — 仲不時要 check 住染液嘅活躍程度, that is “you also have to check the dyeing liquid often for its degree of activeness”.
I first came across Indigo 11.50 in a story in the Zolima City Mag. This is how Christopher Dewolf introduces its founder:
“Five years ago, Max To was working as a cameraman when he began suffering from lower back pain. He took a long break in Taiwan, where he came across a traditional indigo dyeing workshop. That inspired him to return to Hong Kong, where he and three friends turned his family’s abandoned ancestral home into something similar.”
You can see beautiful examples of indigo-dyed clothing and accessories on Indigo 11.50’s Facebook page here.
There are no terribly difficult grammatical issues in the voice-over. There’s one instance of the fairly uncommon final particle 噃 bō1, which is similar, if not identical to 喎 wō1, but tends to indicate a slight level of surprise (contrary to expectations). You’ll also come across an example of a common particle of quantification, 嗮 saai3, placed after verbs. It neatly conveys the meaning of “all” in 只會啲人就會搬嗮出去 = then [everyone] will all move out.
As for the vocabulary, here’s just a brief sample: 質感 jāt1 gám2 = ① texture ② (of works of art) a feeling of reality; 祖屋 jóu2 ūk1 = ancestral home; 橡筋 jeuhng6 gān1 = rubber band; 溝成 kāu1 sìhng4 = roughly, “to mix (so as to form)”; and 節省 jit3 sáang2 = to economize; to save; to use sparingly.
Please scroll down for my transcription, English translation and notes. You can view the video here(subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
● 手作玩意 sáu2 jok3 wuhn6 yi3 = roughly “handicraft” Note: the term 玩意 means “thing; plaything” | ● 祖屋 jóu2 ūk1 = ancestral home | ● 藍染物 làahm4 yíhm5 maht6 = (?) indigo plants (lit. “blue dyeing crops”) | ● 四周圍 sei3 jāu1 wàih4 = all around | ● 門簾 mùhn4 lím4*2 = (?) door-curtain
Reporter: A trip to Taiwan last year brought Max into contact with indigo-dyeing. There, he discovered, indigo-dyeing was a simple handicraft [手作玩意] for primary school students. Later, he discovered that the natural environment all around his mother’s ancestral home was very suited to (?) the development of indigo. And so, he decided to bring this thing [that is, the art of indigo dyeing] back to Hong Kong, holding workshops from Tuesday to Sunday. He teaches people how to do [整] [small] handkerchiefs and door curtains. Actually, the dyeing process is not that complicated.
● 橡筋 jeuhng6 gān1 = rubber band | ● 滲透 sām1 tàuh4 = to permeate; to seep | ● 紥 jaat3 = to tie; to bind
Lee Ka-man (designer): All we have to do is use our fingers to get a piece of fabric ready [整起]. To make this, a sort of horn-shaped part [角位], you grab hold of one part [of the cloth] — this is the width you want for [your] circles. Then, [you] use a rubber band to begin to tie up that part [嗰個位], a part that will say undyed [留白]. The liquid dye will not seep inside. The other parts will turn blue.
● 細緻 sai3 ji3 = delicate; fine | ● 步驟 bouh6 jaauh6 = a step; a move; a measure
Lee Ka-man: The circle-pattern made by this [kind of] tying is rather large, [while] this one is finer. The reason lies in this: that this [was done] using a rubber band to do the tying up. Now if you want to make [紥出] a finer design, then you might like to choose sewing [the part with] thread to do this step.
● 無毒 mòuh4 duhk6 = (?) non-poisonous | ● 事前 sih6 chìhn4 = before the event; in advance; beforehand | ● 準備功夫 jéun2 beih6 gūng1 fū1 = roughly, “preparatory work” | ● 藍泥 làahm4 nàih4 = roughly, “indigo-plant mush” cf. 泥 = mashed vegetable or fruit | ● 原材料 yùhn4 chòih4 líu6*2 = raw & processed materials | ● 色素 sīk1 sou3 = pigment | ● 石灰 sehk6 fūi1 = lime | ● 溝成 kāu1 sìhng4 = roughly, “to mix (so as to form)” | ● 現階段 yihn6 gāai1 dyuhn6 = roughly, “the current stage/phase” | ● 善用 sihn6 yuhng6 = be good at using something
Reporter: If one wishes to make non-poisonous natural indigo clothing or other products, actually a lot of preparatory work is necessary beforehand. Indigo-mush is one of the materials used in the dyeing liquid [染液] and is composed of pigment from the indigo plant mixed with powdered lime. In [this] current phase, Max orders it from Taiwan, but he is good at using the excellent natural environment [好山好水] here, and has planted different kinds of indigo. His objective is to plant a thousand plants in the hope that, after three years, [he] will be able to produce his own home-made natural dyes.
● 酸鹼 syūn1 gáan2 = ? Note: 鹼 is alkali or soda |● 不時 bāt1 sìh4 = frequently; often | ● 活躍程度 wuht6 yeuhk6 douh6 = roughly, “degree of activeness” | ● 化學劑 faa3 hohk6 jāi1 = roughly, “chemical agent” | ● 熒光劑 yìhng4 gwōng1 jāi1 = ? cf. 熒光 = fluorescent + 劑 = a preparation; an agent
Reporter: With regard to the dyeing liquid, it is made up of these materials. When the alkali/soda [酸鹼度] you mix in [reaches] 11.5 degrees, [you] then have to [boil the material] for three days, and [you] also have to check the dyeing liquid often for its degree of activeness. As for the fabric, this must be first washed in water [to get rid of] chemical agents and fluorescent agents before it can be dyed. He tells everyone about all the other steps in the process [每一方面].
Caption: 藍泥、木灰水、米酒、蔗糖 | Indigo-plant Mush, Wood-ash in Water [木灰水], Rice Wine, Cane Sugar
● 柴火chàaih4 fó2 = firewood | ● 節省 jit3 sáang2 = to economize; to save; to use sparingly | ● 能源 nàhng4 yùhn4 = the sources of energy; energy resources | ● 歸隱 gwāi1 yán2 = to return to one’s hometown & live in seclusion | ● 田園 tìhn4 yùhn4 = fields & gardens; countryside | ● 充實 chūng1 saht6 = substantial; rich
Reporter: Apart from saving on gas, by using firewood to boil the liquid, one can naturally obtain [取之自然] wood-ash, another ingredient of the dyeing liquid. [When] Max returned to his home village in seclusion from the world, his family was at first opposed [to the idea] and friends had no idea what he was up to, but he [himself] felt that [such a way of life] was very rewarding [好充實].
● 遺忘 wàih4 mòhng4 = to forget | ● 荒廢 fōng1 fai3 = to leave uncultivated; to lie waste
Max To: If a village is forgotten, the longer it goes on, then [everyone] will all move out. In the end, the village will lie waste, abandoned [荒廢]. This is something I don’t want to see happen to my own village. It is only for this reason that I am working so hard at such things. I want the world to know [令到大家開始知道] what things of value this village possesses.
“Highest good is like water [上善若水],” it says in Chapter VIII of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, and it is a wonderful thing to read the phrase quoted again here, 2500 years later, in the 創刊宣言 or “Publication Manifesto” of a new Hong Kong magazine called 《如水》[Flow HK].
The purpose of Flow HK is 通過歷史論述、理論框架以及對未來路線的思考，我們希望連結每位參與這場光復運動的香港兒女，為他們作思想充權 — that is, “By means of discussions of history, theoretical frameworks, and a consideration of future ways to proceed, we hope to connect with every daughter and son of Hong Kong who is taking part in this movement to liberate Hong Kong and to empower them intellectually”, and anyone concerned for the fate of Hong Kong will be stirred by the words 在每個漆黑無聲的夜晚，不要忘記還有人從未放棄心中所有 — “In every pitch-black night in which nothing stirs, one must not forget that there are still individuals who have never given up on what they hold dear in their hearts”.
The theme of the first issue is 絆 buhn6, a verb that usually means “to trip up”, and which occurs in the compound 絆腳石 or “stumbling block”. It seems like a fairly reasonable place to set out from. For more information, you can visit the Flow HK website here.
Please scroll down for the Manifesto with an English translation and notes. If you wish to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
● 共同體 guhng6 tùhng4 tái2 = community | ● 傀儡 faai3 léuih5 = a puppet; a stooge | ● 日益趨厲 yaht6 yīk1 chēui1 laih6 = gets fiercer by the day | ● 不計其數 bāt1 gai3 kèih4 sou3 = countless; innumerable | ● 強行 kéuhng5 hàhng4 = to force | ● 威權 wāi1 kyùhn4 = authority; power | ● 收窄 sāu1 jaak3 = to narrow | ● 歷史試煉 lihk6 sí2 si3 lihn6 = (?) an historical test/trial | ● 流散於各方 làuh4 saan3 yū1 gok3 fōng1 = to scatter in all directions | ● 維繫 wàih4 haih6 = to hold together | ● 承傳 sìhng4 chyùhn4 = (?) to inherit & to impart cf. 傳承 chyùhn4 sìhng4 = to impart & to inherit
We live in the best, and the worst, of times. Over the course of the past resistance, we have seen the boundless possibilities of the Hong Kong people, and this has also enabled us to have some fond imaginings about the Hong Kong community. However, the repression carried out by the Chinese Communist Party and its puppet authorities [政權] in Hong Kong is getting fiercer by the day, and the number of those who have bled or who have been charged with a criminal offence because of their resistance or their political views is too numerous to count. In the wake of the Chinese Communist Party’s forcing of the passage of the National Security Law, Hong Kong has now truly entered an era of authoritarian rule [威權時代], and even though many acts of resistance opposing totalitarian power have been initiated among the common people [民間], the space of freedom for people in Hong Kong is constantly being narrowed down. Faced with this unprecedented historical test, we (people who have left Hong Kong and now live in various countries around the world) are determined to try and hold together this unique community [made up] of Hongkongers, in the hope that we can impart and hand on the sparks of resistance.
● 焗促不安 guhk6 chūk1 bāt1 ōn1 = cf. 局促不安 = feel ill at ease | ● 重新思索 chùhng4 sān1 sī1 sok3 = roughly, “to rethink” (cf. 思索 = to ponder; to think deeply) | ● 初心 chō1 sām1 = one’s original intention (Sheik Cantonese: 初心 is a Japanese term that means “beginner’s mind”) | ● 取其義 chéui2 kèih4 yih6 = roughly, “to take as its meaning” | ● 靈巧 lìhng4 háau2 = dextrous; nimble; skilful; ingenious | ● 強權 kèuhng4 kyùhn4 = power; might | ● 甚或 sahm6 waahk6 = even; (go) so far as to | ● 擴散 kong3 saan3 = to spread; to diffuse | ● 通澈 tūng1 chit3 = ? (cf. 通徹to understand thoroughly) | ● 容器 yùhng4 hei3 = container; vessel | ● 地緣 deih6 yùhn6 = relations formed through geographical links; geo- (as a prefix) | ● 格局 gaak3 guhk6 = a pattern; setup; structure | ● 論述 leuhn6 seuht6 = to discuss; to expound
In such an uneasy political environment, we can rethink the “original intentions” of the movement: “to be like water” [如水]. “To be like water” means that when the water goes into a cup or glass, it takes the form of the cup/glass, and when it goes into a jug [壺] it adopts the shape of a jug. The reason why the anti-extradition movement was able to achieve a breakthrough was precisely because activists [抗爭者] were able to respond with ingenuity to the tactics of those in power, just like water — capable of being both firm and stable [堅穩], and flowing like water, and even able to evaporate and vanish away into thin air [擴散而去]. But following on from the constant escalation in repression on the part of the regime, if we wish to go on in the spirit of being like water, we must first gain a thorough understanding of our containers, that is, the state of affairs in which we find ourselves and the global setup [世界格局]. Whose discourse is it that constitutes the Hong Kong and the Hongkongers we are to have in our minds? To what extent is our “common knowledge” saturated with the mindset [意識] of a Chinese communist colonial Hong Kong?
● 清空心智 chīng1 hūng1 sām1 ji3 = (?) to empty one’s mind | ● 審視 sám2 sih6 = to examine; to scrutinize | ● 未圓之處 meih6 yùhn4 jī1 chyu3 = roughly, “those places which are not satisfactory” | ● 摒棄 bing3 hei3 = to discard; to reject; to throw away; to abandon | ● 考證 háau2 jing3 = usu. textual criticism; textual research | ● 拷問 hāau1 mahn6 = usu. “to torture” (?) to interrogate
If we wish to be like water, we must first empty our minds and scrutinize ourselves for blind spots and imperfections [未圓之處]. That does not mean that we should try to go beyond history or set aside all the old intellectual frameworks. The opposite is true: we must once again examine [考證] history, criticize the utterances [論述] of the existing power structure, and establish our own discourse about this community, in order to reflect on future possible ways forward. Where does the long river of Hong Kong first begin to flow, and in which direction ought it to flow [next]? This is how the present era interrogates [拷問] us.
● 知所進退 jī1 só2 jeun3 teui3 = roughly, “know when to advance and when to retreat” | ● 任 yahm6 = to let; to allow; to give free rein to | ● 單一規範 dāan1 yāt1 kwāi1 faahn6 = roughly, “a single standard/norm” | ● 鐵則 tit3 jāk1 = an iron rule | ● 束縛 chūk1 bok3 = to tie; to bind up; to fetter | ● 奉為圭臬 fuhng6 wàih4 gwāi1 yiht6 = hold up as a model | ● 相左的異議 sēung1 jó2 dīk1 yih6 yíh5 = lit. 相左 = conflict with each other + 異議 = objection; dissent| ● 送葬 sung3 jong3 = to take part in a funeral procession; to attend a funeral | ● 合作基礎 hahp6 jok3 gēi1 chó2 = a foundation/basis for co-operation | ● 攜手 kwàih4 sáu2 = ① hand in hand ② to co-operate | ● 澤 jaahk6 = to benefit | ● 川流不息 chyūn1 làuh4 bāt1 sīk1 = flowing past in an endless stream; never-ending | ● 對撞契合 deui3 johng6 kai3 hahp6 = lit. 對撞 = colliding + 契合 = to agree with; to tally with
When unable to flow, water becomes turbid; when able to flow, it is never stagnant. If, during key moments in the days to come, we wish to be able to be like water — knowing when to advance and when to retreat — we cannot allow any single norm [單一規範] to become an iron rule with which to limit ourselves. When those holding power hold up telling lies as a model, as a matter of course [往往] they brutally obliterate any views that object to their own, and take part in the funeral for the possibility of the development of freedom among the people. If collective movements are to succeed, it is indispensable for public groups to seek out bases for co-operation and directions for development. Highest good is like water — only as long as we put ourselves to one side in the course of the revolution and advance hand in hand can we benefit the community we so deeply love. At the same time, it is only as long as we are willing to positively discuss issues affecting this community together that the vitality of the Hong Kong community can be maintained, providing intellectual nutrition to future movements.
● 政治寒冬 jing3 jih6 hòhn4 dūng1 = roughly, “a severe political Winter” | ● 剛強 gōng1 kèuhng4 = firm; staunch; unyielding | ● 不屈 bāt wāt1 = unyielding; unbending | ● 破除 po3 chèuih4 = to do away with; to get rid of; to eradicate; to break with | ● 夢魘 muhng6 yím2 = nightmare | ● 辯論 bihn6 leuhn6 = to argue; to debate | ● 抹殺 mut3 saat3 = to remove from evidence; to expunge; to suppress; to wipe out, to obliterate (also written 抹煞) | ● 建構 gin3 kau3 = to construct | ● 整合 jíng2 hahp6 = to reorganize & consolidate | ● 面向 mihn6 heung3 = ① to turn in the direction of; to face ② be geared to the needs of; to cater to | ● 論述 leuhn6 seuht6 = to discuss; to expound | ● 連結 lìhn4 git3 = to connect | ● 作思想充權jok3 sī1 séung2 chōng1 kyùhn4 = (?) to carry out ideological/intellectual empowerment | ● 弘揚 wàhng4 yèuhng4 = to develop & expand
Faced with this severe political Winter, Hongkongers must be flexible like water, and they must also be staunch like water, striving to do away with the Chinese nightmare. When political power obliterates all space for public debate, we cannot choose silence, we Hong Kong people who are scattered abroad as well as those who deeply love Hong Kong. We have decided to make use of those spaces for freedom outside of Hong Kong to construct and maintain a medium for the public discussion of Hong Kong, as well as to reorganize and consolidate discussions geared to [面向] [issues such as] politics, history, society and culture for Hongkongers inside and outside Hong Kong. By means of discussions of history, theoretical frameworks, and a consideration of future ways to proceed [未來路線], we hope to connect with every daughter and son of Hong Kong who is taking part in this movement to liberate Hong Kong and to empower them intellectually. In the course of human history, we would like to develop and amplify the voice of Hongkongers in their quest for freedom, as well as let the world come to see Hong Kong.
● 轉捩點 jyún2 liht6 dím2 = turning point | ● 失根的浮萍 sāt1 gān1 dīk1 fàuh4 pìhng4 = roughly, “duckweed which has lost its roots/identity” | ● 白白流逝 baahk6 baahk6 làuh4 saih6 = 白白 = in vain; to no purpose; for nothing + 流逝 = (of time) to pass; to elapse | ● 漆黑 chāt1 hāk1/hāak1 = pitch-dark; pitch-black | ● 心中所有 sām1 jūng1 só2 yáuh5 = roughly, “that which is in one’s heart/mind” | ● 憑藉 pàhng4 jihk6 = to rely on; to depend on | ● 夙願 sūk1 yuhn6 = a long-cherished wish | ● 跨 kwāa1 = to cut across; to go beyond | ● 呼聲 fū1 sēng1 = a cry; a voice | ● 召喚 jiuh6 wuhn6 = to call; to summon | ● 挺身而出 tíhng5 sān1 yìh4 chēut1 = step forward bravely; come out boldly | ● 不負 bāt1 fuh6 = (?) not to betray | ● 獨裁暴政 duhk6 choih4 bouh6 jing3 = cf. 獨裁 = dictatorship + 暴政 = tyranny; despotic rule | ● 破土而出 po3 tóu2 yìh4 chēut1 = (of a seedling) break through the soil | ● 遊子 yàuh4 jí2 = a person travelling or residing in a place far away from home | ● 解困 gáai2 kwan3 = to resolve difficulties | ● 希冀 hēi1 kei3 = to hope for; to wish for; to aspire to
Notes: ① The expression 是故 has the meaning of “for this reason” in Standard Written Chinese. ② I’m not exactly sure what 勢要 sai3 yiu3 means in the phrase 勢要讓獨裁暴政在這代終結. Usually, 勢 refers to “momentum” or “tendency”; it can also mean “state of affairs; circumstances”.
History is now at a turning point, and a revolution in thought is in the process of taking place. Hong Kong is the Hong Kong that belongs to the Hong Kong people — we have no wish to become [like] floating duckweed that has lost its roots, and for this reason we will absolutely not allow Hong Kong to slip out of our hands to no purpose. In every pitch-black night in which nothing stirs, one must not forget that there are still individuals who have never given up on what they hold dear in their hearts [心中所有]. Before the coming of the dawn, we will keep one another company through the long night, and with written words give expression to both our faith and our perseverance, providing in the darkness of night a basis for our common hopes. The striving for democracy and freedom is the long-cherished wish of Hongkongers cutting across a number of generations, and we are convinced that the pursuit of determining our own fate is something that History calls on us to do [追求命運自主是歷史的呼聲]. History is summoning us, so we must come out boldly, not betray the age, and continue the momentum [勢要] by which dictatorship and tyranny is coming to an end in this era. We look forward to the fruits of democracy breaking through the soil of Hong Kong, [so that] those residing far from home may return, and those in difficulty may resolve them [so that] together Hongkongers can build a beautiful new Hong Kong, as soon as possible. This is our shared aspiration.
“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.
● 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.
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.
● 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”.
● 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.
● 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.