令我成為創作人嘅天花板 (Martin Booth)


當我哋行入銀行轉彎上樓梯嗰陣,阿媽就話俾我知:「其實呢個先至係後門。正門,即係呢間銀行用嘅正式地址,係喺位於對面嘅。」

呢句說話聽起嚟好荒謬,於是我就話我唔明白。

阿媽跟住答:「呢件事同風水有關。正門一定要面對山,背向大海,咁樣可以確保海龍入唔到嚟,又可以防止啲錢往海洋嘅方向流出去。」

佢呢個解釋更加令我一頭霧水。

銀行大堂嘅空間非常之廣闊,連人談話嘅聲音都會被佢壓低。一排排巨大嘅深啡色正方形大理石柱支撐住個天花板,真係何其壯觀!天花板係筒形穹頂式嘅,上面嵌有一大片馬賽克。馬賽克中央有一個精美嘅金黃星形圖像,而周圍係一片蔚藍色作為星形圖像嘅背景,起到襯托嘅效果。穹頂四圍嘅馬賽克塑造咗唔同嘅人物,佢哋代表各種事業——工藝也好,其他行業也好,無論係東方定係西方都有,樣樣俱全。我每次見到呢個天花板,都會被深深震撼。由頂纜車落去天星碼頭返屋企嘅時候,我通常會刻意兜一段路,經過呢間銀行,目的就係為咗可以享受到滙豐馬賽克所散發嘅微光。

有一次同阿爸一齊去銀行,我語氣隆重咁話俾佢知,我已經定下決心成為創作人。

「你呢個咁荒謬嘅念頭究竟喺邊度嚟㗎?」佢驚叫一聲,同時繼續喺櫃面搬弄本支票簿。

我望住天花板上面嘅馬賽克話:「嗰樣嘢。」

佢冇𩓥高個頭。

「噉你死咗條心啦!做藝術家肯定發唔達㗎。」

我反駁一句:「生活嘅富足唔單止同金錢有關嘅。」

交咗張支票俾銀行職員之後,佢就另轉身,好簡明扼要咁話:「緊係唔係啦!咁樣諗嘅人一定好鬼死蠢!」

我話:「其實係媽咪話我聽㗎!」

佢即刻答話:「係呀——不過佢冇必要成日返工去賺錢囉。」

等到佢將攞到嘅紙幣放咗入銀包,我就勸佢:「你望吓頭頂啦!」

佢毫不在意咁向上瞄咗一下,之後好冷淡咁補充:「犀利喎」。

出咗銀行,行返去泊咗喺皇后像廣場架車嗰陣,我一路沈思緊,突然間靈機一觸:「創造穹頂馬賽克嘅嗰個藝術家一定賺咗好多錢。」

我爸爸話:「係呀,跟住用嗮全部錢嚟飲酒,之後成世人再冇創造過任何其他作品。」

我深知爸爸係一個經驗豐富嘅紅杜松子酒飲者,所以聽到呢段説話,我覺得實在太荒唐喇!不過,嗰刻我仲忍得住冇俾反應——我已經差唔多學識幾時可以講嘢,幾時應該合埋把口。正如爸爸成日鍾意講,我已經掌握到「收皮」嘅技能。

原文:Martin Booth, Gweilo (2004)

Learning Cantonese: 許寶強 Hui Po-keung on Educating the Bullies


許寶強 Hui Po-keung, a professor at Lingnan University, was arrested earlier this month on the charge of “collusion with foreign forces”, a nebulous accusation the Chinese Communist Party regularly uses to bully anyone with the courage to act as a human being and not a tool. Actually, he was part of group that ran “612 Humanitarian Relief Fund”, a fund that helped arrested protesters pay for their legal and medical bills.

In this video from 2013, he addresses a different kind of bullying, this time associated with 恐同 or homophobia, and talks briefly about “emotional education” as a way of tackling the predicament. Generously, he suggests:

佢哋嘅焦慮同恐懼好多時係同我哋呢個社會係仲未完美有關嘅
That is, that the fears and anxieties at the root of bullying behaviour can be put down to the fact that society is still not perfect.

There are no great grammatical conundrums in Hui’s presentation, but watch out for the various structures he makes use of, including 或多或少 = to a greater or lesser extent and 唔單止 = not only. At 2:18 he employs 之所以, which means something like “the reason why”. And so 你哋之所以受排斥或者係欺凌 becomes in English “the reason why you are excluded or bullied”.

He also makes use of 到dóu3*2, a verb particle used to indicate “accomplishment or successful completion of an action” (Matthews & Yip: Cantonese, Chapter 11). So, at 0:51, you’ll hear 直接處理到 = “directly tackle” (with the implication of success in the endeavour), followed soon after by 放低到呢一種恐懼同埋焦慮嘅情緒, which means something like “to let go of this mood of fear and anxiety”.

Finally, at 2:46, you’ll hear 使到, an unusual (perhaps more literary) way of expression causation.

You can also add to your vocabulary with the following items: 女性主義者 néuih5 sing3 jyú2 yih6 jé2 = a feminist; 粗魯 chōu1 lóuh5 = rough; rude; boorish; 變體 bian3 taai3 = abnormal; anomalous; 受害者 sauh6 hoih6 jé2 = a victim; 欺凌 hēi1 lìhng4 = to bully & humiliate; and 改善 gói2 sihn6 = to improve; to ameliorate.

Please scroll down for my transcription, English translation and notes. You can view the video here (subtitles in both Standard Written Chinese and English). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.


Caption: 許寶強 | 大學教授

西蒙波娃等等嘅女性主義者 | 或者係佛洛依德,呃,呢一種嘅重要嘅心理學家嘅研究呢 | 佢哋會覺得同性戀嘅傾向呢,或多或少每個人都有一啲嘅 | 啫,一個男生可能會,呃,當然有時會好粗魯或者係好大意 [呢] | 但係同時亦都冇得排(除)佢有啲時候可能好細心、好溫柔嘅 | 噉因此佢唔係一個變體嘅現象,甚至可能係一個常態

Caption: 同性戀是常態

如果要,啫,有效處理呢個問題呢 | 我哋可能同時要,呃,引入一種,呃,情感嘅教育 [啦] | 有效嘅情感嘅教育 | 呢種情感教育呢,應該會,呃,能夠,呃,直接處理到 | 甚至呢,可以,呃,幫助我哋嘅教師或者學生喺學校裏邊呢,係放低到呢一種恐懼同埋焦慮嘅情緒

● 女性主義者 néuih5 sing3 jyú2 yih6 jé2 = a feminist | ● 傾向 kīng1 heung3 = a tendency; an inclination; a deviation | ● 粗魯 chōu1 lóuh5 = rough; rude; boorish | ● 大意 daaih6 yi3 = careless; negligent; inattentive | ● 細心 sai3 sām1 = careful; attentive | ● 溫柔 wān1 yàuh4 = gentle & soft | ● 變體 bin3 taai3 = abnormal; anomalous | ● 常態 sèuhng4 taai3 = normality; normal behaviour or conditions | ● 引入 yáhn5 yahp6 = ① to lead into; to draw into ② to introduce from elsewhere | ● 教師 gaau3 sī1 = a teacher | ● 恐懼 húng2 geuih6 = ① frightened ② fear; dread

Caption: Hui Po-keung | University Professor

Both feminists such as Simone de Beauvoir and Sigmund Freud — that important psychological researcher — were of the opinion that the inclination towards homosexuality was something that everyone had, to a greater or lesser extent. A man might well be . . . of course, sometimes he would be very rough or very careless, but at the same time you couldn’t rule out [排] that sometimes he could be very attentive, gentle, tender. For this reason, then it is not an abnormal phenomenon. It could even be [our] normal state.

Caption: Homosexuality is Normal

If we want to handle this issue effectively, we will at the same time have to bring in a kind of emotional education. An effective emotional education — this kind of education of the emotions, should be able to handle [this issue] directly. It might even be able to help students and teachers in schools to let go of [放低] their fears and anxieties.

【1:00】其實受害者唔單止係被欺凌嘅同學呢 | 同時係欺凌者或者係,呃,呢一種,呃,排斥者呢,本身其實都係呢一種恐懼文化或者恐懼情緒嘅受害者 [嚟㗎]

Caption: 以情感教育欺凌與被欺凌雙方

譬如一百年前魯迅先生都曾經講過 | 當佢,呃,針對回應呢個,呃,守節呢一種所謂中國傳統嘅習俗嘅時候呢 | 佢有咁嘅願望呢 | 佢就覺得呢一種守節呢,其實只不過會令人哋產生各種冇意義一啲嘅痛苦啦 | 亦都產生一啲各種嘅暴力或者係,呃,昏迷嘅 | 噉,呃,一百年之後呢,我哋喺今日嘅香港狀況裏邊呢 | 係咪都應該反思吓我哋對呢個恐同現象係咪都係一種造成痛苦嘅一啲,呃,情緒呢?| 如果係嘅話,我哋需要點樣去,呃,正面處理或者係解決呢?

● 受害者 sauh6 hoih6 jé2 = a victim | ● 欺凌 hēi1 lìhng4 = to bully & humiliate | ● 守節 sáu2 jit3 = (of a woman under feudalism) to preserve chastity after the death of her husband | ● 習俗 jaahp6 juhk6 = a custom; a convention | ● 昏迷 fān1 màih4 = a stupor; a coma | ● 反思 fáan2 sī1 = ① to recollect; to think back; to rethink profoundly ② self-examination; introspection; profound consideration

Actually, the victims [of homophobia] are not only the students who are bullied. At the same time, bullies and those who exclude others [排斥者] are themselves victims of this culture of terror or this terrified mood.

Caption: Education Both Bullies & the Bullied with Emotion

For instance, a hundred years ago when [the writer] Mr Lu Xun talked about his wish to respond to [feudal ideas about] chastity for widows — a traditional custom in China. He felt that this chastity for widows actually caused nothing but pointless suffering, as well as both violence and stupor. A hundred years on, with Hong Kong in the state that it is today, shouldn’t we be seriously thinking about [反思] whether [the way we view] homophobia is a mood [情緒] that produces suffering? If this indeed is the case, how should we positively go about handling and solving it?

【2:00】噉呢個係我而家關心一啲議題

Caption: 反恐同 | 思教育 | 反思

I AM ME 我係許寳強 | 我想同曾受或者係正受校園欺凌或者係排斥嘅同學講 | 你哋之所以受,呃,排斥或者係欺凌其實唔係由於你自身嘅問題,或者你自己唔好 | [更多可能]係反映排斥或者欺凌者佢哋嘅焦慮或者係恐懼 | 而佢哋嘅焦慮同恐懼好多時係同我哋呢個社會係仲未完美有關嘅 | 噉因此無論你係同志或者係非同志嘅朋友 | 我哋應該一齊去改善呢個社會狀況 | 使到欺凌同排斥唔再喺校園存在

● 曾受 chàhng4 sauh6 = roughly, “ever received/undergone” (Note: 曾 indicates “something ever having happened in the indefinite past” cf. 未 meih6 “something NEVER/NOT YET having happened in the indefinite past” | ● 正受 jing3 sauh6 = roughly, “currently in the process of receiving/undergoing” | ● 自身 jih6 sān1 = self; oneself | ● 改善 gói2 sihn6 = to improve; to ameliorate

These are the topics I am currently concerned about.

Caption: Oppose [反] Homophobia | Think [思] about Education | Rethink Profoundly [反思]

I AM ME I am Hui Po-keung. To any student who has been the subject — or is currently the subject — bullying or exclusion at school — I would like to say: the reason why you are being excluded or bullied is actually not because of anything to do with you personally [唔係由於你自身嘅問題] or because you are not any good. It more probably reflects the anxieties and fears of those doing the excluding or bullying. And most of the time, their anxieties and fears are connected to this society of ours still not being perfect. For this reason, regardless of whether you are gay or not, we should all work together to improve conditions in this society, so that bullying and exclusion in schools is stopped [唔再 … 存在].

一次荷蘭天體主義嘅體驗


我想花少少時間,同大家分享我點樣透過裸體主義,去同自然界建立聯繫。但係,首先等我介紹吓自己。我係一位男性,喺呢個美麗無比嘅星球上,到而家已經度過咗接近五十八年。我一直最喜歡嘅係戶外活動,尤其係喺森林入面。我原來從事銷售工作,不過當我四十幾歲嘅時候,事業上發生咗啲轉變,於是就轉行去咗做園藝家。去到而家,我最鍾意嘅仍然係戶外活動,抱住友善嘅心態,同大自然緊密合作。

我對裸體嘅熱愛係由幾時開始嘅呢?自細細個以嚟,我一路都好喜歡赤身裸體。記得當年有一段好長嘅時間,由於父母對裸體主義呢個概念完全唔熟悉,我一路都感到好困惑。有時我會喺屋企剝光豬,但係大多時我都會走入樹林裏邊,搵個有安全感又靜嘅地方除嗮啲衫。之後到我二十出頭,同朋友一齊去游水嘅時候,每次落水,我會確保周圍冇其他人睇到,然後就除咗條泳褲。當時我非常之享受喺水入便赤身裸體同埋感受湖水帶俾身體嘅清涼感。不過,呢種經驗往往令我覺得自己一方面蠱靈精怪,另一方面同其他人好唔一樣。

大約五十歲嘅時候,我開始喺大自然裏邊做一啲短路程嘅徒步旅行。雖說我好享受,但係同時都唔係冇心理壓力㗎。我好想赤裸身體,但又唔想打擾到人。有一日,我咁啱發現咗一個好靚、好偏僻嘅地方,可以話係一個理想嘅游泳場所。入水之後,一股輕鬆暢快嘅感覺慢慢湧上心頭。喺涼快嘅湖入面游水,獨自一人身處樹木茂密嘅環境,我見到魚狗之類嘅雀仔喺身邊飛嚟飛去,近在咫尺。不過,就算我闖入咗佢哋嘅生存空間,啲雀鳥仍然好似一啲都唔介意咁。遇到呢種情況,我越嚟越覺得自己唔再係一個過客,而係達到咗天人合一嘅境界。逐漸地,我對自己嘅裸體變得更加自在,於是就放膽去一啲路程更長嘅徒步旅行。

大約兩年前,我哋兩夫婦搬到鄉下嘅一間小屋,而呢間屋有個細細嘅農場。一出門,行幾分鐘路之後,就會到達附近嘅一笪樹林。 當時,我亦都開始閱讀更多有關天體主義嘅資料,仲成為咗荷蘭天體主義聯合會嘅成員,從而更加深入呢個主題。好可惜,當我老婆喺度嘅時候,佢絕對唔會接受我喺戶外赤身裸體;屋内佢好勉強咁接受得到,不過範圍狹窄,只局限於睡房同埋沖涼房之内。所以,我唯有一個人暗中去摸索,慢慢諗辦法。後尾我會好早起身,赤身裸體咁行過我哋嘅花園,享受冬天冰冷嘅雨水同埋風暴,又或者夏天嘅溫暖微風。今朝早,當個天仲未光嗰陣,我赤身行到附近樹林嘅一個池塘。每逢颳風落雨,我都唔使擔心會撞到其他人。到達池塘之後,我就踏入冰冷嘅水,喺塘入面游咗一陣,游完就上嚟返屋企。嗰種感覺真係好爽呀!我甚至唔記得咗自己係一線不掛。

成身赤裸嘅時候,連遇上滂沱大雨我都唔會介意——我出世時身穿嘅「生日服裝」會保護我,同時亦都可以避免衣服被淋濕嘅麻煩。真正出人意表嘅係,面對寒冷多雨嘅情況,裸身嘅反應同着衫嘅時候係好唔同。當我行過一條佈滿泥濘嘅林徑嗰時,我一滴都唔擔心對鞋會被啲泥整污糟,甚至好享受雙腳沾滿爛泥嘅感覺。於是我越嚟越堅信,人類本來就應該以裸體呢種狀態生活。有可能嘅話,請你都出去試吓,親自體驗我感受到嘅呢種自信同力量。例如下次到森林散步,不如開始試吓赤腳行啦。你所體驗到嘅一定會令你萬分驚訝。

圖片:Rockwell Kent

Learning Cantonese: Wong Chun-hei and Yeung Hok-tak, Partners-in-Art


It is not necessarily grammar or vocabulary that can make Cantonese difficult: it’s naturalness. Understandably, language tends to be idealized in textbooks and dictionaries: we are given a picture of what it should be, not what it is, just to make it learn-able. In a wonderful book on self-study I picked up in a bookshop in Sheung Shui, the writer (白取春彥Haruhiko Shiratori) memorably pointed out that people who study a language often aspire to being able to chat casually with the locals about everyday topics. This however is the Mount Everest of language learning, the almost unattainable goal. Why? Mainly because real people use language in a natural way, without regard for correct syntax, exact meanings, completeness, logic, or standard pronunciation.

This video about two painters who go out to paint from nature and, by sheer coincidence, wind up depicting the same scene illustrates this point. 黃進曦 Stephen Wong Chun-hei (an individual who often appears on this site) is his usual, lucid self. His partner-in-art 楊學德 Yeung Hok-tak, however, is a very different proposition. This is partly to do with his way of expressing himself, which tends to be choppy. He also uses quite a lot of fillers, including 咁樣, 呃, 其實, 啫係. Finally, apart from a general slurry quality, he also modifies the pronunciation of certain words, such as 嗰個 go2 go3, which becomes an indeterminate *go. In ordinary speech, you will discover other instances of such modification. For instance, 其實 becomes *kei’a; 嗰陣時 becomes *gon si; 就係 becomes *jai; 即係 becomes *je; while 咁樣 turns into *gam’eung. Another example that recently struck me in a different video was *yeje; eventually, after comparing a number of instances, I worked out that the modified phrase had to be 又或者!

One minor but interesting grammar point here involves the formation of questions with the positive and negative forms of the verb. You commonly encounter this in the cases of 有冇 = have/have not and 係咪 is/is not (咪 maih6 is a contraction of 唔係). Modal verbs made up of two characters do something special: when 可以 = “can” is combined with its negative form 唔可以, we get 可唔可以. Similarly, 應該 = “ought” turns into 應唔應該. Compound adjectives can also be handled in this way. When English words are borrowed, they receive the same treatment, often in surprising ways. So, at 1:44, Wong Chun-hei asks 係 O唔OK呢? = “is it OK?”. Similarly in a recent video from 士多貓貓 StoreMeow, the speaker at 1:52 uses 都唔知自己呢,rea- 唔rea-dy呢 in an indirect question to mean “we didn’t know if we were ready or not”.

Probably my favourite item of Cantonese vocabulary in this presentation is the noun 宅叔 jaahk6 sūk1, which means something like “a middle-aged man who stays at home most of the time”. It is derived from 宅男 jaahk6 nàahm4, which also carries connotations of unsociability and, according to Sheik Cantonese, “watching TV and playing video games all the time” as well as not caring about personal hygiene. The female version is naturally 宅女 jaahk6 néui5*2. According to Sheik, there is a related term, 隱蔽青年 yán2 bai3 chīng1 nìhn4 = “introvert; introverted youth”. Yeung Hok-tak also makes use of this, but changes it to suit his age: 隱蔽中年, “an introverted middle-aged man”.

There are also plenty of other very noteworthy vocabulary items, including: 玩味 wuhn6 meih6 = to ponder; to ruminate; 曳 yáih5 = naughty; mischievous; 着重 jeuhk6 juhng6 = to stress; to emphasize; 構圖 kau3 tòuh4 = composition (of a picture); 類似 leuih6 chíh5 = similar; analogous; 直頭 jihk6 tàuh4 = directly, simply, completely, truly; straight head; 偏向 pīn1 heung3 = to be partial to; 刺激 chi3 gīk1 = a stimulus; 溝 kāu1 = to mix; and 驚喜 gīng1 héi2 = to be pleasantly surprised.

Please scroll down for my transcription, English translation and notes. You can view the video here (subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.


Caption: 黃進曦 x 楊學德聯展 | 寫生樂與思

Caption: 「一景兩畫」雙視野

黃進曦:睇我嘅作品係會有嗰種遊走嘅感覺嘅 | 呃,空間嘅一個 . . . 一種 . . . 一種玩味性嘅 . . . 有興趣嘅 | 呃,阿 . . . 阿德可能佢對於一啲情景 | 或者一啲經歷過一啲人物 | 喺 . . . 喺佢身邊經過佢會產生好多故事性 | 喺裏邊去安放翻喺嗰個空間裏邊 | 噉呢個先至係,呃,有趣嘅位 | 啫,啫,頭先講「畫意」嗰樣嘢我覺得係 . . . 就係基於我哋唔係想純碎描寫嗰個對象 | 而係透過嗰個空間或者嗰個對象去講緊一啲另外嘅嘢

楊學德:我比進曦更「曳」呀,哈哈 | 但係我好寫意地去 . . . 去記錄啲嘢嘅,啊 | 見到樖樹好特別呀, 見到嗰個景有某一點係我覺得係好 . . . 好有趣嘅 | 我 . . . 我會着重嗰啲細位度囉

● 聯展 lyùhn4 jín2 = to jointly hold an exhibition | ● 寫生 sé2 sā[a]ng1 (?) = to paint from life | ● 遊走 yàuh4 jáu2 = roughly, “to wander” | ● 玩味性 wuhn6 meih6 sing3 = cf. 玩味 = to ponder; to ruminate | ● 安放 [ng]ōn1 fong3 = to lay; to place; to put in a certain place | ● 畫意 wáa2 yi3 = (?) “pictorial meaning; painterly meaning” | ● 曳 yáih5 = naughty; mischievous | ● 寫意 sé2 yi3 = ① enjoyable cf. 愜意 hip3 yi3 = be pleased; be satisfied ② freehand brushwork (in traditional Chinese painting) | ● 着重 jeuhk6 juhng6 = to stress; to emphasize

Caption: Wong Chun-hei + Yeung Hok-tak: A Joint Exhibition | Painting from Life: Its Joys and Insights [思]

Caption: A Double Perspective on “One Scene, Two Paintings”

Wong Chun-hei: [If you] look at my paintings, you will get that sense of a wandering and a pondering [玩味性] of space. [As for] Ah Tak (Yeung Hok-tak), a scene or some people he has encountered [經歷過], people around him that he has had some dealings with, may produce many different story-elements [故事性] in them [that is, “the scenes and the people”], [which he then] puts into his spaces. This is where the interest lies [有趣嘅位]. That thing I mentioned a moment ago [頭先], “pictorial meaning”, is I think not something based purely on our depiction [描寫] of the object — it is a way of talking about [certain] other things, by means of the space or the object.

Yeung Hok-tak: I am “naughtier” [曳] than Chun-hei! I take great pleasure in recording things. [If I] see a tree with some peculiarity, or something in the view that I think is very interesting, I will emphasize that particular detail [細位度].

【1:00】當然我都會返去都亦都會 . . . 我做過個過程就係,又係去消化重新組合 | 再去經營幅 . . . 成幅大畫嗰個 . . . 嗰個 . . . 嗰個構圖嘅

黃進曦:我返屋企諗我哋嘅展覽做乜 | 突然間諗起兩幅畫 | 當年,呃,法國印象派 | Monet 同埋 Renoir 佢 . . . 佢哋兩個人一齊出去寫生,畫一個湖景嘅 | 其實個構圖好類似呀 | 但係呢,你會睇得出 Monet 嗰張係個景係重啲嘅 | Renoir 嗰張呢,就係個人物係出啲嘅 | 兩個畫家一齊出去 | 畫出嚟嘅嘢係可以有呢一種趣味性嘅分別 | 如果將呢樣嘢擺喺我同阿德身上面 | 係 O 唔 OK呢?| 就出嚟就傾喇 . . . 就係,傾吓有冇邊啲地方係大家一齊想去嘅

Caption: 宅叔自然初體驗

楊學德:「隱蔽中 . . . 中年」忽然間,啫係,呢個重見天日嗰啲呢

● 消化 sīu1 faa3 = to digest | ● 經營 = usu. “to manage; to run; to engage in | ● 構圖 kau3 tòuh4= composition (of a picture) | ● 印象派 yan3 jeuhng6 paai3 = Impressionism; the Impressionist School (of artists) | ● 類似 leuih6 chíh5 = similar; analogous | ● 趣味性 cheui3 meih6 sing3 = (?) interest; delight | ● 宅叔 jaahk6 sūk1 = (?) an introverted, middle-aged man who stays at home most of the time cf. 宅男、宅女 | ● 隱蔽 yán2 baih3 = usu. concealed; covert; under cover; undercover cf. 隱蔽青年 = introverted youth | ● 重見天日 chùhng4 gin3 tīn1 yaht6 = once more see the light of day

Yeung Hok-tak: Of course, back at home I will always . . . The process that I have followed [做過] is to go and digest [the material], re-organize it, then to re-work [經營] the composition of that entire big painting.

Wong Chun-hei: When I got back home, I thought about what to do for our exhibition. Suddenly, I thought of two paintings. Once [當年], the French Impressionists Monet and Renoir went out together to paint from life, doing a lake scene. Actually, they are similar in terms of composition, but you will see [會睇得出] that in Monet’s picture, there’s more emphasis on the scene, [while] in Renoir’s picture, it’s the people who stand out [出] more. Two painters went out together [to paint], [yet] what they painted could have this interesting difference. Would it be OK to apply this same thing to me and Ah Tak? So [we] went out and had a talk about [就出嚟就傾喇] . . . about which places [邊啲地方] we could both go to together.

【2:00】我唔出街㗎嘛,其實 ,啊 . . . 噉忽然間,嘩,直頭 | hardcore | 到要走去行山喎,咁 | 係好有 . . . 好有新鮮感 | 因為我畫嘢呢,嗰個習慣,或者習性呢,就係匿埋做嘢咁樣嘅 | 我其實比較少去參考啲 . . . 呃,reference 呀 | 啫係,我係偏向幻想嗰邊多啲嘅 | 但係呢種咁嘅形式 | 覺得自己好似有啲乾塘咁嘅感覺 | 諗嘢嗰個思維都係 . . . 都係嗰啲嘢 | 而噉佢 . . . 佢都,啫係,都提議話:「其實,你會唔會,啫係,考慮吓,呃,出去外邊睇吓嘢咁| 啫,有啲外來嘅新嘅刺激呢 | 可能會幫到你咁」 | 噉我 . . . 我就 . . . 啊,都覺得都可能係咁 | 啫係,無論去嗰個地方 | 呃,嗰個行嗰個嘅過程呀,或者見到嘅事物呀 | 或者會遇到嘅問題咁

● 直頭 jihk6 tàuh4 = directly, simply, completely, truly; straight head | ● 新鮮感 sān1 sīn1 gám2 = a (feeling of) freshness | ● 習性 jaahp6 sing3 = habits & characteristics | ● 匿埋 nēi1 màaih4 = to hide | ● 偏向 pīn1 heung3 = to be partial to | ● 幻想 waahn6 séung2 = usu. “an illusion; a fantasy; a reverie” | ● 乾塘 gōn1 tòhng4 = literally “dried-up pond”, perhaps used figuratively to mean “a drying up of the imagination or the source of one’s inspiration” | ● 提議 tàih4 yíh5 = to propose; to suggest | ● 刺激 chi3 gīk1 = a stimulus

I’m not the type that goes out much, actually. Then all of a sudden — wow, things went completely hardcore [嘩,直頭 hardcore] and there I was out there hiking! It was a very fresh sensation [for me], because when I paint something, I do it — out of habit or because it’s my habitual nature [習性] — hidden away at home. I rarely go out to consult references. I more inclined to make things up out of my own imagination [幻想]. But this mode of doing things [呢種咁嘅形式], well I had the feeling that I had dried up. My way of thinking about things [just led to] more of the same. Now he [Wong Chun-hei] made a suggestion [to me]: “Actually, would you consider going out of doors to have a look at things? Some new stimuli from an external source [外來嘅] would possibly help you.” And so I thought . . . I thought that it might well be so. I mean, no matter where [I] went, the process of walking, or the things that [I] saw, or the problems that [I] ran into . . .

【3:00】都 . . . 都對我嚟講係新嘅 | 經過咁樣呢次咁嘅嘗試 | 令我,呃,好徹底地改變咗某啲習性咁樣囉 | 啫係,覺得:「咦,原來用咁嘅色去溝咁嘅色 | 其實真係會有種『污糟』嘅感覺」| 但係之前一度都唔為意 | 覺得咁樣有種刺激感或者有一種力量感㗎嘛

Caption: 沒有重複的風景

黃進曦:所以啱啱「大風坳」嗰張畫擺出嚟嘅時候 | 其實我覺得咪好驚喜囉 | 啫 . . . 啫係,因為行完兩次大潭水塘 | 唔知道對方畫乜嘅 | 啫,我 . . . 我哋去 . . . 去寫生嘅時候其實冇望對方 | 攞咗咩景 | 啱啱 Art Basel 嗰陣時大家做完件出品擺出嚟嘅時候就 | 原來攞嘅景係一樣 | 無論色調唔同啦 | 畫面經營嘅重點又唔同 | 呃,啱啱嗰次就其實都幾做到我想要嘅嗰樣嘢嘅,其實 | 每一次其實阿德佢 . . .

● 徹底 chit3 dái2 = thorough; thoroughgoing; complete | ● 溝 kāu1 = to mix | ● 污糟 wū1 jōu1 = dirty | ● 一度 yāt 1 douh6 = once; for a time; at one point; on one occasion | ● 為意 waih? yi3 = 在意: 留意; 放在心上。 主張: 主意,見解;也指持有某種見解 | ● 重複 chùhng4 fūk1 = to repeat; to duplicate | ● 坳 aau3 = a depression in a mountain range; level land in a mountain; 大風坳 = Quarry Pass | ● 驚喜 gīng1 héi2 = to be pleasantly surprised | ● 大潭水塘 daaih6 tàahm4 séui2 tòhng4 = the Tai Tam Reservoirs | ● 色調 sīk1 diuh6 = a tone; a hue

. . . would all be new to me. Having gone through such a first try [嘗試] this time has made me completely change some of my habitual way of doing things [習性]. Like, [I] thought: “Oh, if you mix such and such a colour with that colour, you really get an impression of “dirtiness” [有種『污糟』嘅感覺]. But before that, for a time, I wasn’t aware of this [一度都唔為意]. It is this kind of thing that has a buzz for me [刺激感], a sense of power.

Caption: The Unrepeated Landscape

Wong Chun-hei: And so, when that picture “Quarry Pass” was put on display [擺出嚟], I was actually pleasantly surprised, because on [our] two walks to the Tai Tam Reservoirs, we didn’t know what the other one was painting. That is, when we went out to paint from life, we didn’t actually look to see [what] the other [was doing], which view we had taken. As it happened, it was at Art Basel, when [our] exhibition paintings were put up for display, that [we realized we had taken] the same scene. [But] our colours were different, and the points of emphasis [重點] in our handling of the scene were different. As it turned out, this is actually the thing I wanted. On each occasion, that reaction Ah Tak had in fact . . .

【4:00】. . . 可能面對好多新鮮嘅嘢嗰種反應呢 | 係某程度提醒翻我一啲嘢嘅 | 我自己會 . . . 會去諗 | 就係點樣可以 | 喺每一次 . . . 假設都係去同一個地方 | 但係其實你搵嘅一啲唔同嘅嘢,或者你都係用一個最新鮮嘅一個眼光嚟到去觀察呢 | 噉呢個我覺得呢一個係作為一個創作嘅,或者畫畫嘅人其實應該具備嘅一種 . . . 一種質素嚟嘅

● 假設 gáa2 chit3 = to suppose; to assume; to presume | ● 眼光 ngáahn5 gwōng1 = sight; foresight; insight; vision | ● 具備 geuih6 beih6 = to possess; to have; to be provided with

. . . faced as he probably was with many novel elements, was to some degree a reminder to me of certain things. Myself, I would think about how I could, on each different occasion . . . Supposing you go to the same place, you will in fact find some differences or you will observe [the place] with the freshest of gazes [最新鮮嘅一個眼光]. This I think is a quality that any person who creates or paints pictures ought to have, in fact.

Interview by Ko Cheung
Video by Desmond Chan
Photos courtesy of Artist

One-minute Wonderful Short Cantonese Videos: Kasen Tsui’s Hong Kong

Sometimes, you have to lose yourself to find yourself. In this one-minute wonder, 徐嘉蒓 Kasen Tsui tells her story of being a child of Hong Kong, profoundly shaped by the city and yet in danger of becoming engulfed by all its darkness, a darkness she experienced at close range in her work as a journalist. And yet, through creativity — an activity that involves a sifting through of all that contradictory influence Hong Kong subjects you to — she has managed to find a way through, finding not only a path for herself but a source of positive energy and cautious optimism, something she shares with us here, in the hope that, through adversity, we can all become “real flesh and blood people”.

For more on Kasen Tsui in Chinese, you can visit her Facebook page here. You can also see her images on Instagram here.


Caption: 徐嘉蒓

我之所以係我 | 係因為呢個城市 . . .

Caption: 城市

. . . 賦予我出生、成長、學習 | 我嘅生命軌跡 | 同呢個城市密不可分 | 感受呢個空間

Caption: 空間

帶俾我嘅一切好與壞 | 可愛之處、可憎之處 | 梳理、沉澱、回饋 | 佢會令你成爲更圓滿嘅人 | 有血有肉嘅人 | 我曾經係一個記者 | 書寫過呢個城市好多故事 | 但亦因此而痛苦 | 因為我失去咗自己

Caption: 痛苦

劇場係一個出口 | 我可以自由自在咁做自己 | 不論對錯 | 真誠咁做自己

Caption: 自由

自由自在咁創造 | 用身體同文字創作 | 立足每一個當下 | 我係徐嘉蒓 | 一個正喺表演創作路上探尋嘅人

Caption: 尋道 | 探尋

● 賦予 fu3 yúh5 = bestow on; endow with; vest with | ● 軌跡 gwái2 jīk1 = ① locus ② orbit ③ course ④ trajectory| ● 密不可分 maht6 bāt1 hó2 fān1 = (?) cannot be separated from; inseparable | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = ① to be affected by ② to experience; to feel | ● 可憎 hó2 jāng1 = roughly, “hateful” | ● 梳理 sō1 léih5 = to organize (perhaps here “to sort through”) | ● 回饋 wùih4 gwaih6 = ① to repay ② feedback | ● 圓滿 yùhn4 múhn5 = usu. satisfactory; perhaps here “fulfilled” | ● 有血有肉 yáuh5 hyut3 yáuh5 yuhk6 = usu. lifelike; vivid? | ● 書寫 syū1 sé2 = to write | ● 劇場 kehk6 chèuhng4 = theatre | ● 自由自在 jih6 yàuh4 jih6 joih6 = leisurely & carefree; free & unrestrained | ● 對錯 deui3 cho3 = roughly, “correct or incorrect” | ● 立足 laahp6 jūk1 = ① to have a foothold somewhere ② to base oneself upon | ● 當下 dōng1 haah6 = the present instant | ● 表演創作 bíu2 yín2 chong3 jok3 = lit. “performance creativity” | ● 探尋 taam3 chàhm4 = to search for | ● 尋道 chàhm4 douh6 = (?) to seek (a way/path)

Caption: Kasen Tsui

The reason I am who I am is because this city . . .

Caption: City

. . . bestowed on me [my] birth, growing up and learning [學習]. The [whole] trajectory of my life is inextricably bound up with this city. I have been affected by this space . . .

Caption: Space

. . . all the good and the bad it has brought me, parts that are loveable, and parts that are hateful. Sorting through, taking stock [沉澱], feeding back [回饋]. The city [佢] will make you more fulfilled as a person, a real flesh and blood person. I was once a journalist, and wrote many of the stories about this city. But for this reason I suffered [痛苦], because I lost [all sense of] myself.

Caption: Suffering

The theatre offered me a way out, allowing me to be myself, free and unrestrained, unconcerned [不論] with “correct” and “incorrect”, [and just] sincerely being who I was.

Caption: Freedom

Free and unrestrained, I create, creating with both my body and my words. I take my stand in every present instant. I am Kasen Tsui, a person searching on the path of performance creativity.

Caption: Seeking a Way | Searching

Learning Cantonese: Wan Chai in Words and Sketches


In the 1950s, when Francis Ommanney first visited Wan Chai in the 1950s, he described it as a sailors’ town:

By day, the whole place wears a drab, hangoverish look, like parts of Paris on Sunday morning. Some of the streets are lined with food stalls and washing flutters from upper windows. Children tumble all over the arcaded pavements and relieve themselves unashamedly in the gutters. But by night these same streets blossom with flowers of neon advertising innumerable bars, big and little, and the liberty boats arriving at the waterfront jetties pour forth their crowds of hungry males. (“Joes”, Fragrant Harbour: A Private View of Hong Kong)

A recent book on Wan Chai made me see Wan Chai in a different light. It was written by 柴宇瀚 Chàih4 Yúh5-hohn6, and is richly illustrated with drawings by urban sketch artist who goes under the name 彭啤 Pàahng4 Bē1, with the character 啤 — well-known for its use in Cantonese words for “beer” — possibly meant to stand in for the English animal-word “bear”. One feature of Wan Chai they emphasize is the large Japanese population that gathered there, even before the Second World War. The other highlight concerns the 街角樓 gāai1 gok3 làuh4 or “corner buildings”, sharply-angled apartment blocks designed to fit with Wan Chai’s rather labyrinthine streetscape.

There is little to trouble you by way of grammar in this video, but I’ve included a few brief notes at the end of the transcription for anyone interested. The main focus this time is vocabulary. Firstly, there is one use of the Cantonese verb 髹上 yāu1 seuhng6, meaning “to apply paint”, but used only for houses and buildings, without any artistic connotations.

The second thing is the noun 肉眼 yuhk6 ngáahn5. Literally it means “meat eye”, but it is used much like the English “naked eye”, often in the negative sense of something being invisible to the naked eye. In this story, it is applied to the subtly curved lines of one of the corner buildings. At 1:27, Chai Yu-hon declares: 從肉眼去睇,係成一條直線咁樣 | 但係其實佢係一座弧形大廈 = to “the naked eye, it [looks as if it is built] in a straight line, but actually it is a large curved building”.

Finally, there is the noun 縮影 sūk1 yíng2 = “miniature”. Chai uses it in a very characteristic way when, at 3:32, he says 雖然灣仔好細,但係灣仔正正係香港嘅縮影 = “although Wan Chai is very small, it just happens to be [the whole] of Hong Kong in miniature”. In other words, Wan Chai is a “microcosm” of Hong Kong, expressive of the whole despite its diminutive extent.

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.


柴宇瀚:灣仔係香港十八區入面面積最細嘅地方 | 但係生活範圍就係好廣闊 | 反映咗灣仔與眾不同嘅特色

Caption: 灣仔的新舊交替:歷史與速寫下的當年今日

Caption: 柴宇瀚 | 《灣仔畫當年》作者

我係柴宇瀚 | 一直以嚟,我都好鍾意香港 | 尤其是係啲特色建築 | 喺《灣仔畫當年》入面,亦都記錄咗好多 | 灣仔特有嘅建築同埋故事 | 而我選擇灣仔嘅原因 | 最主要係因為四個字 | 「新舊交替」 | 以前跑馬地河水會沿住運河 | 流向維多利亞港 | 運河好似鵝頸咁樣 | 所以啲人就會叫佢做鵝頸澗,又稱鵝澗

● 範圍 faahn6 wàih4 = scope; limits; range | ● 與眾不同 yúh5 jung3 bāt1 tùhng4 = out of the ordinary | ● 新舊交替 sān1 gauh6 gāau1 tai3 = cf. 新舊 = the new & the old + 交替 = alternately; in turns | ● 速寫 chūk1 se2 = to sketch | ● 特有 dahk6 yáuh5 = peculiar; characteristic | ● 河水 hòh4 séui2 = a river; river water | ● 運河 wahn6 hòh4 = a canal | ● 鵝頸 ngòh4 géng2 = goose neck | ● 澗 gaan3 = a ravine; a gully

Chai Yu-hon: Of the eighteen districts of Hong Kong, Wan Chai is the smallest in terms of size. However, its range of lifestyles [生活範圍] is very broad, a reflection of Wan Chai’s unusual features.

Caption: Wan Chai’s Mingling of Old & New: Those Years Today in History & Sketches

Caption: Chai Yu-hon | Co-author of A Depiction of Wan Chai in Those Years

My name is Chai Yu-hon, and all along [一直以嚟] I have really liked Hong Kong, especially special examples of the architecture. In my book A Depiction of Wan Chai in Those Years, I have made a written record of many of the characteristic buildings and stories of Wan Chai. The reason why I chose Wan Chai is mainly because of the four characters — san gau gaau tai (“a mingling of old and new”). Formerly, the river in Happy Valley used to flow down through the canal [跑馬地河水會沿住運河] and out into Victoria Harbour. The canal was shaped like a goose’s neck, so people used to call it “Goose-neck Gully” or “Goose Gully”.

【1:00】喺1920年年代,灣仔填海 | 鵝澗就變咗暗渠喇 | 第二次世界大戰之前 | 灣仔就已經大約有一千個日本人喺呢一度 | 而景星大廈附近亦都有小東京嘅稱號 | 景星大廈嘅位置 | 曾經興建咗日本人嘅醫院,馬島醫院 | 景星大廈有趣嘅地方係 ,從肉眼去睇,係成一條直線咁樣 | 但係其實佢係一座弧形大廈 | 綠屋喺1916年建成 | 樓高四層,而家係二級歷史建築 | 以前由於個外牆係髹上咗綠色,所以會叫佢做綠屋 | 其後隨住政府嘅發展同埋保育計劃 | 綠屋先後變成咗動漫基地

● 暗渠 am3 kèuih4 = a hidden drain or sewer | ● 第二次世界大戰 daih6 yih6 chi3 sai3 gaai3 daaih6 jin3 = the Second World War | ● 東京 dūng1 gīng1 = Tokyo | ● 稱號 ching1 houh6 = a title; a name; a designation | ● 肉眼 yuhk6 ngáahn5 = the naked eye | ● 直線 jihk6 sin3 = a straight line | ● 弧形 wùh4 yìhng4 = an arc; a curve | ● 二級歷史建築 yih6 kāp1 lihk6 si2 gin3 juhk6 = Grade II Historic Building | ● 髹上 yāu1 seuhng6 = to paint; to apply paint | ● 保育 bóu2 yuhk6 = usu. “to rear” | ● 動漫基地duhng6 maahn6 gēi1 deih6 = animation & cartoon base (or perhaps “hub”)

In the 1920s, land reclamation was carried out in Wan Chai and Goose Gully became an underground drain. Before the Second World War, there were already about a thousand Japanese people [living] here, and the [area] near the King Sing Mansion [apartment building] was known as Little Tokyo. In the vicinity of the King Sing Mansion [景星大廈嘅位置], a hospital was once built for Japanese people, the Ma Tou Hospital [馬島醫院]. The interesting thing about the King Sing Mansion is that, to the naked eye, it [looks as if it is built] in a straight line, but actually it is a large curved building [一座弧形大廈]. The Green House [綠屋] was completed in 1916 and is four stories high. These days, it is [classified as] a Grade II Historic Building. Back when it was first built [以前], it was called the Green House because its exterior walls were painted green. It was only later that the Green House was turned into [變成] an animation & cartoon base, in accordance with [隨住] the government’s development and heritage protection [保育] plans . . .

【2:00】同埋而家嘅茂蘿街7號 | 灣仔有唔少嘅街角樓 | 部份係圓角設計 | 部份係銳角設計 | 厘啲嘅實際係香港1950年代嘅主要建築特色 | 灣仔大樓係一座九十度轉角嘅大廈 | 喺1959年落成 | 我啲企喺遠處嗰度厘度睇 | 就可以睇到九十度轉角嘅設計喇

彭啤: 速寫嘅重點在於勾勒景物嘅特徵 | 等觀眾可以一眼認出你畫 [嘅究竟邊一度] | 我係彭啤,係一位城市速寫畫家

Caption: 彭啤 | 城市速寫畫家 | 《灣仔畫當年》作者

喺《灣仔畫當年》入便,大大小小嘅畫作都係出自我嘅手筆

● 茂蘿街 mauh6 lòh4 gāai1 = Mallory Street | ● 街角樓 gāai1 gok3 làuh4 = corner house | ● 圓角 yùhn4 gok3 = (?) a rounded angle | ● 銳角 yeuih6 gok3 = an acute angle | ● 轉角 jyun3 gok3 = a corner | ● 落成 lohk6 sìhng4 = to be completed (usu. of a building) | ● 重點 juhng6 dím2 = ① emphasis ② with the focus on | ● 勾勒 ngāu1 la[a]hk6 = to sketch; to outline | ● 特徵 dahk6 jīng1 = a characteristic | ● 手筆 sáu2 bāt1 = ① (written or drawn in one’s own) hand ② a skill

. . . and becoming what is now 7 Mallory Street. There are many corner buildings [街角樓] in Wan Chai, some with a rounded angle, some with a sharp angle. In fact, [corner buildings] were a major feature in the architecture [主要建築特色] of Hong Kong in the 1950s. The Wan Chai Building [灣仔大樓] is a large [apartment] block with a ninety-degree angle completed in 1959. [If] we look at it from a distant [vantage point], we can see the ninety-degree corner design.

Caption: Pang Be: Urban Sketch Artist | Co-author of A Depiction of Wan Chai in Those Years

Pang Be: In [the book] A Depiction of Wan Chai in Those Years, the artworks, large and small, were all done by me.

【3:00】完成每一幅畫嘅時間通常都會唔同嘅 | 就好似我畫綠屋咁樣 | 就大概用咗一個多鐘嘅時間 | 我亦會根據唔同建築嘅結構同特色 | 去決定由咩角度去記錄低佢嘅 | 例如景星大廈喺個斜坡上便 | 我畫嘅時候都係會希望突出呢一點 | 於是我揀就喺斜坡下便向上望 | 用一啲微妙嘅弧線去展現佢嘅弧型大廈嘅特徵

柴宇瀚:雖然灣仔好細,但係灣仔正正係香港嘅縮影

彭啤: 由海岸線嘅變遷、建築物嘅變化 | 華洋共處嘅生活習慣 | 喺灣仔都可以追尋到歷史嘅蛛絲馬跡 | 而呢啲嘅痕跡亦都成爲我嘅速寫靈感 | 所以我哋都希望將呢一啲嘅感受放喺書入便 | 分享俾更多人認識

● 結構 git3 kau3 = a structure | ● 斜坡 che3 bō1 = a slope | ● 突出 daht6 chēut1 = to stress; to emphasize (perhaps here “to accentuate”) | ● 微妙 mèih4 miuh6 = delicate; subtle | ● 展現 jín2 yihn6 = to display; to unfold before one’s eyes | ● 弧型 wùh4 yìhng4 = (in) the form of an arc; arc-shaped | ● 縮影 sūk1 yíng2 = miniature | ● 變遷 bin3 chīn1 = (n.) change | ● 華洋共處 wàah4 yèuhng guhng6 chyú2 = roughly, “the co-existence of Chinese and foreign” | ● 追尋 jēui1 chàhm4 = to pursue | ● 蛛絲馬跡 jyū1 sī1 máah5 jīk1 = clues | ● 痕跡 hàhn4 jīk1 = a trace | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = an experience

The time it takes to finish a sketch generally varies. In the case of my drawing of the Green House, it took more than an hour [to do], roughly. I decide from which angle to record [a building] on the basis of the different architectural structures and characteristics. For instance, the King Sing Mansion is [situated] on a slope. When I sketched it, it was this point that I hoped to accentuate [突出]. And so I chose [a location] at the bottom of the slope [斜坡下便] looking up [towards the building] and, with subtle curving lines, unfolded its characteristic as an arc-shaped apartment building.

Chai Yu-hon: Although Wan Chai is very small, it just happens to be [the whole] of Hong Kong in miniature.

Pang Be: From alterations to the coastline, architectural changes, and the co-existence of Chinese and foreign life-habits, historical clues can be tracked down in Wan Chai. Now, these traces serve as the inspiration for my sketches. For this reason, we hope to put these experiences into a book and to share them with more people, who can come to know of them [認識].


Grammar Notes

A. The modal (or auxiliary) verb 會 wúih5 generally indicates a high degree of likelihood. It is added verbs much in the same way as “may” and “will” are in English. In this video however, which contains a fair amount of historical detail, 會 is used to talk about what was habitually done in the past:

0:47: 以前跑馬地河水會沿住運河 = formerly, the river in Happy Valley used to flow down through the canal
0:54: 運河好似鵝頸咁樣 | 所以啲人就會叫佢做鵝頸澗,又稱鵝澗 = the canal was shaped like a goose’s neck, so people used to call it “Goose-neck Gully” or “Goose Gully”
1:48: 以前由於個外牆係髹上咗綠色,所以會叫佢做綠屋 = back when it was first built, it was called the Green House because its exterior walls were painted green

Also prominent here is the use of 會 to speak about how one normally goes about things. 彭啤 Pàahng4 Bē1 uses it three times in connection with what you might call his “artistic practice”:

3:00: 完成每一幅畫嘅時間通常都會唔同嘅 = the time it takes to finish a sketch generally varies
3:08: 我亦會根據唔同建築嘅結構同特色 | 去決定由咩角度去記錄低佢嘅 = I decide from which angle to record [a building] on the basis of the different architectural structures and characteristics
3:17: 我畫嘅時候都係會希望突出呢一點 = when I sketched it, it was this point that I hoped to accentuate (this is perhaps a slightly different use — the artist seems to want to say that he hopes to accentuate the special feature of every building he sketches, but he transfers this sense to the one particular instance of drawing the building on the slope)

B. In Cantonese, there are several ways of expressing what an English-speaker thinks of as “from”. The most common (and totally counterintuitive) way is to employ that popular general verb of location, 喺 hái2. However, there are other options to keep in mind. The first of these is 由 yàuh4. It crops up twice in the video:

3:08: 我亦會根據唔同建築嘅結構同特色 | 去決定由咩角度去記錄低佢嘅
3:37: 由海岸線嘅變遷、建築物嘅變化 | 華洋共處嘅生活習慣 | 喺灣仔都可以追尋到歷史嘅蛛絲馬跡

In the first example, 由咩角度 means “from what angle”. In the second long sentence, it actually links up with the verb 追尋 jēui1 chàhm4 (“to pursue”) to express the idea of the source certain historical clues about Wan Chai. In English, this roughly corresponds to “clues can be found from changes to the coastline, etc.”

Another option is 從 chuhng4. This tends to be literary and, as is often the case, enters the spoken language only in certain fixed expressions and more figurative usages. 柴宇瀚 Chàih4 Yúh5-hohn6 uses it with the noun 肉眼, “the naked eye”:

1:28: 從肉眼去睇,係成一條直線咁樣 = to the naked eye, it [looks as if it is built] in a straight line (or “seen with the naked eye”)

Note too that 由 yàuh4 occurs in the moderately common expression 由於 yàuh4 yū1. This helpful structural element means something like “owing to; thanks to; as a result of; due to”. There is one instance of it in this presentation:

1:48: 以前由於個外牆係髹上咗綠色,所以會叫佢做綠屋 = it was called the Green House because [or “owing to the fact that/due to the fact that/on account of the fact that”] its exterior walls were painted green

C. Finally, a couple of minor points worth sharing. In Cantonese, 將 jēung is frequently used to deal with too much congestion around the main verb. Typically, this happens when both a direct object and a location figure in what one wants to say. To relieve the congestion, the object is moved, appearing before the verb with 將 jēung introducing it, just to let the world know what is going on. Here’s a perfect example, from the last sentence in the video:

所以我哋都希望將呢一啲嘅感受放喺書入便 = and so we hope to put these experiences into a book

Here, 呢一啲嘅感受 (“these experiences”) is moved in front of the verb 放 fong3 (“to put”), which has to be followed by the location expression 喺書入便 (“in[to the] book”).

Another point to watch out for is the use of 以嚟 yíh5 lèih4 to indicate periods of time extending from some time in the past up to the time of speaking. It appears at 0:27, where 柴宇瀚 Chàih4 Yúh5-hohn6 says: 我係柴宇瀚 | 一直以嚟,我都好鍾意香港 = “my name is Chai Yu-hon, and all along [一直以嚟] I have really liked Hong Kong”.

You’ll often see it added to time expressions to make meanings such as “for the past x months” or “over the last x years”, always with the suggestion that the period of time extends right up to the present moment (and is very likely to continue on into the future).

Learning Cantonese: Kiwi Chow & the Children of the Revolution


On 16 July 2021, Stand News announced that Kiwi Chow had made a secret documentary about the 2019 protest movement entitled Revolution of Our Times [時代革命]. The idea came from a business person who had seen Ten Years, and wanted Chow to make a high-quality documentary that would “help Hong Kong tell her story to the world” [以助香港向世界訴說她的故事]. Although personally terrified by the violence of the clashes between police and protestors, Chow bought a film camera and began work in May 2019, before the ground-breaking million-person march. He filmed and edited in secret for two years, in the course of which he was drenched by one of the “special-use crowd-control vehicles” (that is, water-cannon trucks that the Hong Kong police had purchased and that sometimes sprayed something referred to as 催淚水劑, a kind of liquid tear-gas) as well as being hit on the helmet by a rubber bullet. The film follows seven different individuals involved in the anti-extradition protests, both frontline fighters as well as members of the so-called 和理非 wo-lei-fei, that is “peaceful, reasonable, non-violent” activists and is two and a half hours long. Although a trailer is available on YouTube, the film itself can never be screened in Hong Kong in the foreseeable future. Dissent is now a crime there.

The CUHK campus in Sha Tin features extensively in the video. It was here, in November 2019, that the so-called “Siege of the Chinese University of Hong Kong” took place. During the siege students occupied the campus and attempted to facilitate a general strike by disrupting traffic flows, throwing objects onto the train tracks near University Station as well as onto the Tolo Highway. The police, naturally, inevitably prevailed, and large numbers of students were arrested. It is for this reason that Chow reacts so strongly to his return there in the video. As he says, 而家好似 [走緊] 喺我啲傷口當中 = “Walking along [this particular road at CUHK] now is like walking into my wounds”. The experience was obviously visceral for him.

The aspect marker 咗 jó2 is used in this video quite a bit, so I have added a note on this at the end. 咗 is described as a “perfective” marker, which allies it with the perfect tenses in English. As opposed to the past tense (I did), the perfect tense (I have done) is more concerned with the realization or actualization of an action. If you ask someone “Have you done it?”, your main interest is not “when” but “whether” the matter has been accomplished. The perfect can therefore also be used to talk about future possible actualization, and so we have “I will have done” in English. My experience suggests to me that certain verbs in Cantonese tend to attract 咗. Often such verbs are absolute in meaning. For example, 失 sāt1 = “to lose” admits of no degree. You can’t partially lose something. Nevertheless, there are uses of 咗 jó2 that still seem elusive to me, and my note is merely a sketch. I hope to fill it out one day in a more detailed post.

The video also contains a rich store of vocabulary items, with a special emphasis on film. These include: 預告片 yuh6 gou3 pín3*2 = a (movie) trailer; 心裏準備 sām1 léuih5 jéun2 beih6 = be psychologically prepared; be mentally ready; 連累 lìhn4 leuih6 = to implicate; to involve; to get sb. into trouble;生命導師 sāng1 mihng6 douh6 sī1 = a life coach; and 膠子彈 gāau1 jí2 dáan62 = a rubber bullet.

In recent news, it was announced that a plan for synchronized screenings [全球同步嘅反映計劃] of Revolution of Our Times had been planned for 1-10 April. This means that some of you may be lucky enough to see the documentary in the near future.

Please scroll down for my transcription, English translation and notes. You can view the video here (subtitles in Standard Written Chinese and Japanese). 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 be interested in this other post on Kiwi Chow, Learning Cantonese: 周冠威 Kiwi Chow “How much are you willing to sacrifice for your home, Hong Kong?”.


[ … ] 我見到就喺地上便 | 我伸一隻手,我就掂到佢嘅 | 警察就壓住佢 | 佢好痛苦 | 佢眼神同我四目交流 | 我做唔到呀,我冇辦法幫佢 | 或者我只能夠幫佢, 只係 | 幫佢記錄 | 我好似唔係有勇氣先行出嚟 | 係行出嚟先生出勇氣

Caption: 勇氣不滅 周冠威

Caption: 法國康城影展宣佈 | 特別放映紀錄片《時代革命》| 周冠威是唯一具名的製作人

Caption: 自由

因為2019年呢場運動 | 佢哋嘅勇氣 . . .

● 掂到 dim3 dóu3*2 = to reach cf. 掂 = to touch | ● 壓 [ng]aat3 = (?) to push down; to hold down | ● 眼神 ngáahn5 sàhn4 = the expression in one’s eyes | ● 不滅 bāt1 miht6 = (?) indestructible | ● 法國康城影展 faat3 gwok3 hōng1 sìhng4 yíng2 jín2 = Cannes Film Festival (the Cantonese is something more like “film exhibition of the French city of Cannes [康 = kāng1 in Mandarin]) | ● 特別放映 dahk6 biht6 fong3 yíng2 = special screening| ● 具名 geuih6 mìhng4 = to put one’s name to a document, etc.; to affix one’s signature

I saw a protestor on the ground. I could reach out and touch him with my hand. The police were pressing down on him. He was in a lot of pain. When our eyes met, there was this exchange of looks between us [同我四目交流]. There was nothing I could do to help him. Or rather, the only thing I could do to help him was to make a record. I didn’t go out into the streets because I was brave. I became brave after getting out there.

Captions: Kiwi Chow Kwun-wai: A Bravery that Can Never Be Destroyed | The Cannes Film Festival announced a special screening of the documentary Revolution of Our Times | Kiwi Chow was the only individual personally named as a maker of the film

Caption: Freedom

Because of the protest movement in 2019 . . .

【1:00】. . . 佢哋犧牲 | [Caption: 電影導演 | 著有《十年:自焚者》、《患愛》、《時代革命》] | 為香港將來嘅美好而打拼 | 呢一樣嘢係交流嚟㗎 | 吸收咗呢場運動嘅勇氣 | 我想走出嚟 | (五大訴求,缺一不可)| 而當我攞起咗呢個責任 | 決定行出嚟嘅時候 | 我就應該行到底嘅

《時代革命》預告片

旁白:香港實行唔到民主嘅話呢 | 冇可能維持到香港嘅自由同法治 | 其實我只係爭取一樣嘢嘅 | 就係自由

周冠威:我應該開明呀 | 我應該負翻我嘅責任 | 曾經有一個人 | 佢為我去諗 | 呃,「你匿名啦」| 如果真係要查嘅話| 我俾名你」 | 喺53個民主派人士被拘捕當日 | 佢就同我講 | 「我願意為你坐監」| 啊,我聽完我覺得好恐怖,呢件事 | 亦都有收到恐嚇嘅電話 | 啫,叫我「即刻離開」

犧牲 hēi1 sāng1 = to sacrifice | ● 打拼 dáa2 píng2 = to go all out; to struggle to get ahead | ● 到底 dou3 dái2 = to the end; to the finish (cf. English “to see sth. through”) | ● 預告片 yuh6 gou3 pín3*2 = a (movie) trailer | ● 開明 hōi1 mìhng4 = usu. “enlightened”; here “under one’s own name; openly” ≠ 匿名 | ● 匿名 nīk1 mìhng4 [LISTEN!] = anonymous| ● 恐嚇 húng2 haak3 = to intimidate; to threaten

. . . their courage and their personal sacrifices . . .

Caption: Film director Kiwi Chow | Director of Ten Years: The Self-immolator, Beyond the Dream and Revolution of Our Times

. . . in the struggle for a beautiful future for Hong Kong. This thing is a form of exchange [呢一樣嘢係交流嚟㗎]. I absorbed the bravery of this protest movement and this made me want to go out and film it.

Chanted slogan: Five Demands, Not One Less

And when I took on this responsibility and decided to go out and make a film, I had to see it through to the end.

Footage from “Revolution of Our Times”: If democracy is not realized in Hong Kong | It will be impossible to maintain freedom and the rule of law here | In fact, I strive for one thing and one thing only | Freedom

Kiwi Chow: I had to put my name on the film. I had to assume my responsibility. There was someone concerned about me who once said: “Go on, remain anonymous. If there really is an investigation into the making of the film, use my name instead.” On the day the 53 democrats were arrested [in February 2021], this person said to me: “I would be willing to go to prison in your place”. How terrible, I thought, when I heard this. I also received a threatening phone-call, telling me to leave at once.

【2:00】「As soon as possible」| 我尋找呢個自由嘅方法 | 就係出名 | 我唔俾恐懼控制我嘅心靈 | 嗱,我講嘅自由唔係我肉身嘅自由 | 我冇犯法 | 我喺基本法長久以嚟喺香港嘅法例 | 係冇犯法 | 更何況呢個紀錄片嘅拍攝 | 係國安法之前 | 當然我有心裏準備會成爲政治犯而坐監 | 如果咁樣嘅話 | 國安法都去拘捕我嘅時候 | 我係完完全全係一個政治犯 | 而我覺得政治犯係 | 一個政權嘅自我羞辱 | 我哋有一個好大嘅信念 [吖嘛],係咪 | 啫,你追隨耶穌基督先至有自由 | 嗰個自由係真實嘅自由

我出名,我留喺呢一度 | 留喺我想留喺嘅香港嘅時候 | 呢個係我自己自由嘅選擇

尋找 chàhm4 jáau2 = to seek; to look for | ● 肉身 yuhk6 sān1 = a mortal body | ● 心裏準備 sām1 léuih5 jéun2 beih6 = be psychologically prepared; be mentally ready | ● 羞辱 sāu1 yuhk6 = 1. shame; dishonour; humiliation 2. to humiliate; to put sb. to shame | ● 信念 seun3 nihm6 = faith; belief; conviction | ● 追隨 jēui1 chèuih4 = to follow

“As soon as possible”. The way I seek freedom is to make my name public. I don’t let terror control my soul. Now the freedom I’m talking about is not the freedom of the body. I haven’t broken the law. According to the Basic Law, the law we’ve had in Hong Kong for a long time, I have not broken the law. What’s more, the filming of this documentary film was done before the National Security Law came into force. Of course, I have prepared myself mentally to become a political prisoner. If this happens, when I am arrested under the National Security Law, I will be a political criminal, completely and utterly. But in my view a political criminal is the self-humiliation of those who hold power. We have a great deal of faith that you can only be free if you follow Jesus Christ — that freedom is the true freedom.

I have gone public, and I remain in here Hong Kong, and my remaining here in Hong Kong, the place where I want to stay, is something I do so of my own free choice.

【3:00】《時代革命》預告片

旁白:佢哋覺得抗爭先至 [可以實現] 自由 | 當我決定 [走出去] 嗰刻 | 我要撇除嗮其他嘅身份 | 作為學生 | 作為我阿爸阿媽呢個仔 | 我嘅身份呢,只有 | 即時 […] 命地行出嚟嘅抗爭者

周冠威:我仔6歲大呀 | 噉我問佢,我拍呢個紀錄片 | 但係都可以離開香港 | 避免被拘禁嘅風險 | 爸爸被拉去坐監 | 會好長時間見唔到爸爸 | 佢同我講 | 「爸爸,唔好走啦 | 我哋一齊留翻香港 | 將香港變翻美麗嘅香港」

Caption: 連累

整個拍攝《時代革命》呢個紀錄片 | 我係有一個 moment 想放棄嘅 | 中文大學之後 | 呃,我身體有好多嘅反應 | 我嘅大便係黑色啦

● 撇除 pit3 chèuih4 = (?) to put aside; to leave aside | ● 拘禁 kēui1 gam3 = to take into custody | ● 連累 lìhn4 leuih6 = to implicate; to involve; to get sb. into trouble | ● 放棄 fong3 hei3 = to abandon; to give up; to renounce | ● 大便 daaih6 bihn6 = human excrement

Footage from “Revolution of Our Times”

Voice-over: They thought that freedom could only be realized through resistance. When I made up my mind to go out onto the streets. I had to put any other identities I had aside — that of a student, that of a son of a mother and father. The only identity I had was that of a protestor, ready to give my all in the streets at a moment’s notice.

Kiwi Chow: My son is 6 years old this year. I asked him [what he thought about] us leaving Hong Kong to avoid the risk of arrest because of this documentary I had made. “If Daddy was arrested and sent to prison, it might well be [會] you wouldn’t see him for a very long time”. In reply, he said to me: “Let’s not leave, Daddy. We’ll stay here in Hong Kong together and make Hong Kong a beautiful Hong Kong.”

Caption: Implicating Others

During the whole filming of the documentary Revolution of Our Times, there was one moment when I wanted to give up. After what happened at CUHK, I had various physical reactions. My shit turned black.

【4:00】更加令我恐怖嘅係 | 呃,我影響咗屋企人 | 我太太有咳、我太太有濕疹 | 但我太太當其時係有BB | 佢係懷住身孕 | 係唯一次我有想過放棄 | 因為我連累咗佢哋 | 我好驚我嘅BB有事 | 好痛苦,其實當其時係好驚 | 但係掉轉返我諗翻起 | 噉啲手足呢?| 最怕連累人嘅 | 多謝太太 [呀],多謝我屋企呀 | 啫,佢哋 . . . 同我連成一體呀 | 佢哋跟住我嘅決定 | 啫,我嘅信仰係連死都唔怕 | 所以《十年:自焚者》嗰個對白 | 佢亦都我嘅信念 | 啫,我唔睇得唔得 | 我會唔會招致連累 | 我會唔會招致苦難 | 甚至會招致死亡

● 咳 kāt1 = a cough | ● 濕疹 sāp1 chán2 = eczema | ● 身孕 sān1 yahn6 = pregnancy | ● 掉轉返 diuh6 jyun3 fāan1 = cf. 調轉頭 = 1. to turn around (in direction) 2. on the contrary | ● 連成一體 lìhn4 sìhng4 yāt1 tái2 = roughly, “to come together (or “pull together”) as one” | ● 信仰 seun3 yéuhng5 = faith; belief; conviction | ● 對白 deui3 baahk6 = a dialogue | ● 招致 jīu1 ji3 = to incur; to bring about; to lead to| ● 苦難 fú2 naahn6 = suffering; misery; distress

But what frightened me even more was that I was affecting the rest of my family. My wife developed a cough as well as eczema, and at the time she was pregnant. She was going to have another baby. That was the only time I considered stopping, because I was implicating them. I was really worried that something would happen to the baby. It was painful, very painful at the time. But then on the other hand [掉轉返] I thought, “But what about those protestors?” The thing I feared most was implicating others. I’m very grateful to my wife, my whole family. They came together with me in this. They followed me in my decision. My faith is to fear nothing, not even death. And so the self-immolator’s dialogue in Ten Years is also what I believe: As a person, I’m not concerned whether something is OK or not, whether it will lead to other people becoming implicated, whether it will bring about suffering or even death.

【5:00】我睇嘅,唔係呢 [啲] 效果 | 唔係得唔得 | 我睇嘅係啱定唔啱 | 其實冇話連唔連累 [ … ] | 反而有一份平安喺當中

Caption: 拯救

梗係唔捨得啦!| 我拍戲梗係唔捨得啦,哈 | 我淨係識得拍戲 [嘅咋] | [咩都] 唔識 | 我鍾意學習 | 但係學校係迫我考試 | 所以我曾經喺中學階段 | 有閃過係想自殺嘅 | 噉但係某程度上係電影救咗我 | 學校、屋企唔會教我乜嘢叫做愛 | 但電影教我 | 電影就好似我個生命導師咁樣 | 噉我就同電影 | 去下咗一個浪漫嘅諾言 | 我終身追隨電影

Award ceremony announcement: 今年最佳電影得獎者係 . . . | 《十年》

周冠威:如果《十年:自焚者》. . .

● 效果 haauh6 gwó2 = an effect; a result | ● 拯救 chíng2 gau3 = to save; to rescue; to deliver | ● 閃過 sím2 gwo3 = roughly, “to flash (through one’s mind); to cross one’s mind” | ● 自殺 jih6 saat3 = to commit suicide; to take one’s own life | ● 生命導師 sāng1 mihng6 douh6 sī1 = a life coach | ● 浪漫 lohng6 maahn6 = Romantic | ● 諾言 nohk6 yìhn4 = a promise (Chow uses the “lazy pronunciation” 諾 lohk6 here.) | ● 得獎者 dāk1 jéung2 jé2 = roughly, “the recipient/winner of a prize”

What I’m concerned with is not these outcomes. It’s not a matter of whether something is OK or not. It’s a matter of whether it is the right thing to do. Actually, it’s not a question of implicating others. However, there is a peace [of mind] in this.

Caption: Deliverance

Of course, I was unwilling to give up the film! Of course, I couldn’t give up the making of the film! It’s the only thing I know how to do. I can’t do anything else. I enjoy studying. But my school forced me to take exams. For this reason, once during my high-school years, I thought about committing suicide. But to a certain extent film saved me. Neither school nor home could teach me what love was. It was film that taught me. Film is like a life coach to me. So between film and myself, I made the romantic promise that I would pursue film to the end of my life.

Award ceremony announcement: The winner of this year’s award for Best Film is . . . Ten Years

Kiwi Chow: If Ten Years: The Self-immolator . . .

【6:00】係一個 . . . 我嘅電影事業嘅自焚行為嘅話 | 呢個紀錄片《時代革命》| 係我得着自由嘅行為

Caption: 勇氣

呃,我對中文大學嘅記憶 | 而家都係全部充斥住2019年嘅畫面 | 行咗好多次嘅,呢一條路都喺當日 | 而家好似 [走緊] 喺我啲傷口當中 | 過到去嘅,係咪? | 通常訪問完之後 | 攝影師都要我行嚟行去 | […] 影啲鏡頭 | 但你帶我嚟呢個地方 | 實在太過分 | 我本身當然驚啦,哈 | 我唔係一個戰地記者 [啦] | 甚至紀錄片都係我第一次拍攝

● 勇氣 yúhng5 hei3 = courage; nerve | ● 充斥 chūng1 chīk1 = to flood; to congest; to be full of; to be replete with | ● 傷口 sēung1 háu2 = a wound; a cut | ● 鏡頭 geng3 tàuh4 = 1. camera lens 2. a scene; a shot | ● 戰地記者 jin3 deih6 gei3 jé2 = war correspondent

. . . was my own act of self-immolation in terms of my film career, then the documentary Revolution of Our Times was the act by which I obtained my freedom.

Caption: Bravery

My memories of CUHK are now completely filled with scenes from 2019. Back then I walked along this road many times. Walking along it now is like walking into my wounds. You want me to walk across the bridge? Usually when an interview has finished, the camera person usually asks me to walk around a bit for a bit of [extra] footage, but you bringing me here to this place is really too much. When I was filming of course I was very scared. I am not a war-zone reporter, and this was the first documentary I’d ever made.

【7:00】有一句説話就係 | 啲「手足」幫我擋子彈 | 當我第一次喺現場嘅時候 | 我就 physical [感到] 佢哋喺我前邊 | 砰!砰!砰!| [佢哋] 幫我擋子彈 | 我感受到佢哋嘅勇氣 | 感受到佢哋嘅抵擋 | 噉呢 [種] 抵擋好似都幫到我一齊抵擋 | 最危險我覺得係一次中膠子彈 | 一次再一次嘅受傷 | 最後都過渡,最後都治療咗 | 我自己諗,呢個過程 | 我好似唔係有勇氣先行出嚟 | 係行出嚟先生出勇氣 | 我諗同政權講嘅其實 […] | 你唔能夠借助我去傳遞恐懼 | 你只能夠借助我 | 去強調 [ … ] 香港人幾咁有勇氣 | 我希望如果 | 假設我一日被拘捕嘅話

● 擋 dóng2 = to keep off; to ward off; to block | ● 砰 pīng1 = bang; thump cf. 嘭paahng4 = bang (I am not sure what the right character should be for “bang” here!) | ● 抵擋 dái2 dóng2 = to keep out; to ward off; to check; to withstand | ● 膠子彈 gāau1 jí2 dáan6*2= a rubber bullet | ● 過渡 gwo3 douh6 = usu. “to transit”; here, perhaps, “to get through (a difficult experience)” | ● 治療 jih6 lìuh4 = to treat; to cure | ● 借助 je3 joh6 = have the aid of; draw support from | ● 傳遞 chyùhn4 daih6 = to transmit; to deliver; to transfer | ● 假設 gáa2 chit3 = to suppose; to assume; to presume

There’s a phrase that goes “my fellow protestors shielded me from the bullets”. The first time I was out there on the scene, physically I could feel these other protestors in front of me. Bang, bang, bang! They shielded me from the bullets. I sensed their courage, their protection. This shielding seemed to help shield me with them. The most dangerous thing I think was being hit by a rubber bullet one time. One wound after another. In the end you get through it, you are healed. And so I thought: In this process, It’s not as if I went out into the streets because I was brave. I only became brave after getting out there. What I’d like to say to those in power is: You can’t use me to spread terror. The only thing you can use me for is to underline how brave the Hongkong people are. If one day I am arrested, my hope is that . . .

【8:00】帶俾人嘅訊息係呢一樣

● 訊息 seun3 sīk1 = a message

. . . this is the message that will be conveyed to others

記者 | Reporter:莫坤菱
影像製作 Video Production:劉子康
美術設計 Design: Joyce Lo


Grammar Notes

In this video, Kiwi Chow gives the aspect marker 咗 jó2 a good work-out, so I thought it might be worth reviewing its main uses. Generally speaking, 咗 is added to a verb to indicate “perfectiveness”, something akin to “completion” but also linked to “actual realization”. Cantonese does have a verb particle 完 yuhn4, which indicates completion perfectly well, a factor that we should keep in mind when approaching 咗. Yip and Matthews make the point that adverbs “such as 已經 yíh5 gīng1 ‘already’, 啱啱 ngāam1 ngāam1 ‘just’ and 頭先 tàuh4 sīn1 ‘just now’ also favour jo2” (93). Their idea of favourable “contexts” favourable to the use of 咗 should be kept in mind: as with other aspect markers, it helps to try and recognize the kinds of typical situations in which 咗 is used, rather than relying on some cast-iron grammatical rule.

One of these common contexts is when the verb is followed by a number and a measure-word (or some other equivalent mode of quantification). During the 2019 protests, the Hong Kong police purchased three new water-cannon trucks. This was conveyed by a TVB report as: 警方一共買咗三架「水炮車」 = “The police have bought a total of three water canon trucks”. A friend of mine, reporting on her latest culinary exploits, wrote in an email: 今晚煮咗一個日本甜品,日文叫大學芋,英文candied sweet potato! In the phrase “last night [I] cooked a Japanese dessert”, the quantification 一個 provides the favourable conditions for the use of 咗. The time it takes to do something can also function as a kind of quantification. So, in a report about a giant lizard on the loose in a housing estate in Tuen Mun, we were told 警方到場用咗大約十五分鐘捕足蜥蜴並帶走。= “After arriving at the scene, police took approximately fifteen minutes to catch the lizard and [並] take it away.” Here, the time expression 大約十五分鐘 quantifies the verb, and so 咗 is added. It is not added to the second verb 帶走.

We can find similar instances in Kiwi Chow’s comments. Firstly, at 5:40 he makes the memorable statement 去下咗一個浪漫嘅諾言 | 我終身追隨電影 = “I made the romantic promise that I would pursue film to the end of my life”. Here, the quantification 一個 is used in the phrase meaning “a romantic promise”. A bit later on, at 6:12, he talks about how many times he walked along a certain campus road at CUHK: 呃,我對中文大學嘅記憶 | 而家都係全部充斥住2019年嘅畫面 | 行咗好多次嘅 = “my memories of CUHK are now completely filled with scenes from 2019. Back then I walked along this road many times”. In this case, 好多次 hóu2 dō1 chi3 (“very many times”) provides the conditions favourable to the addition of 咗.

Another common context, fairly easy to spot, involves a kind of clause a bit similar to the English “after doing something”. Perhaps the most important remark made in the video uses this kind of structure. At 1:07, Chow says 吸收咗呢場運動嘅勇氣 | 我想走出嚟 = “having absorbed the bravery of this protest movement, I wanted to go out and film it”. Here, 咗 is added to the verb 吸收 kap1 sau1 = to absorb to indicate that the absorbing has been realized. This realization of the first verb paves the way to the main clause. Chow goes on to use this structure a second time in 而當我攞起咗呢個責任 | 決定行出嚟嘅時候 | 我就應該行到底嘅, where it means something like “and with my taking up/assuming of this responsibility.” In such instances, the realization of the first action serves as a precondition for the second.

A more subtle context seems to involve the specific meaning of the verb: I get the impression that there are certain verbs which tend to go with 咗 because realization or actualization is somehow integral to their meaning. After 4:01, Kiwi Chow uses 咗 twice in the following sentences:

更加令我恐怖嘅係 | 呃,我影響咗屋企人 = but what frightened me even more was that I was influencing/affecting the rest of my family

係唯一次我有想過放棄 | 因為我連累咗佢哋 = that was the only time I considered stopping, because I was implicating/making it hard them

The two verbs in question are 影響 ying2 heung2 and 連累 lihn4 leuih6? and with the addition of 咗, Chow indicates that he had influence and implicated his family members.

Learning Cantonese: Sou Hak, Private Detective of the Self


We all have split or splintered personalities according to 素黑 Sou Hak. To live well, we must acknowledge this essentially fractured state and then learn the art (as she states elsewhere) of becoming “private detectives of our own selves” who — like Jane Marple or Lieutenant Columbo — manage to get a clearer idea of what we actually are by careful observation and fiercely logical deduction.

Sou Hak has explored this process in a recent book of hers provocatively titled 《也許你真的不如你所想那樣》 (Perhaps You Really Aren’t Who You Think You Are). But it’s not anger she want to provoke but clear-sighted recognition. Without self-knowledge, she asserts, 分裂容易令人哋痛苦 | 人有必要辨認出自己 | 其中一個目的係減低痛苦 | 包括自己同埋因爲自己而導致別人嘅痛苦 = “to the self in every present moment, fragmentation easily causes pain, and one of the goals of having to see yourself clearly is to reduce [this] pain, both your own and the pain you cause to others because of what you are”. In other words, the detective work we need to do on ourselves is not just for our own good: others may benefit from it, too.

In the presentation, you’ll come across some small but intriguing grammatical issues, including the use of 透 tau3 after verbs to indicate the result of the action; a couple of instances of that very common double sentence-final particle 嚟㗎 lèih4 gaa3; three uses of 相 sēung1 as the first element in compound verbs, expressing the idea of “each other; one another”; as well as two common aspect markers, 翻 fāan1 and 緊 gán2. You can read all about it after the transcription — if you’re aspiring to Canto-connoisseurship!

Because she reads quite a bit from her book, a lot of the vocabulary is fairly literary, but since there are no hard and fast boundaries in language between formal and informal, why not accept the challenge and make the following items your own: 道德責任 douh6 dāk1 jaak3 yahm6 = a moral responsibility; 軟弱 yúhn5 yeuhk6 = weak; feeble; flabby; 前後一致 chìhn4 hauh6 yāt1 ji3 = roughly, “consistent from start to finish”; 腦結構 nóuh5 git3 kāu1 = roughly, “the structure of the brain”; 混亂不安 wahn6 lyuhn6 bāt1 [ng]ōn1 = roughly, “confused & uneasy”; 重建 chùhng4 gin3 = to rebuild; to re-establish; and 脫離 tyut3 lèih4 = to separate oneself from; to break away from.

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.


Caption: 人為什麽害怕面對真實的自己?

Caption: 素黑 | 療癒作家 | 《也許你真的不如你所想那樣》作者

人有必要辨認出自己 | 好多人表面上想睇透自己嘅心 | 更加了解自己嘅「本性」| 知道真正想要乜嘢 | 做乜嘢 | 真係走到大門前邊呢 | 偏偏又唔敢舉步行入去喎 | 有啲人又想睇通自己 | 有啲人又好怕睇透 | 人點解咁驚面對真實嘅自己嘅呢?| 其中一個原因 | 係驚睇清楚之後唔能夠再逃避 | 必須面對同埋承擔 | 有道德責任需要改善自己 | 「面對」其實係好沉重嘅擔子嚟㗎 | 有人害怕承擔唔起 | 有人唔願意負責任 | 怕辛苦、怕付出、怕努力 | 軟弱嘅人好難醫治嘅 | 懶惰嘅人係冇得救嘅 | 你都知道㗎

● 辨認 bihn6 yihng6 = to identify; to recognize | ● 本性 bún2 sing3 = natural instincts; nature; inherent quality | ● 舉步 géui2 bouh6 = cf. 舉步維艱 = have difficulty moving forward | ● 逃避 tòuh4 beih6 = to escape; to evade; to shirk | ● 道德責任 douh6 dāk1 jaak3 yahm6 = a moral responsibility | ● 擔子 daam3 jí2 = a load; a burden | ● 軟弱 yúhn5 yeuhk6 = weak; feeble; flabby

Note: The discourse marker 偏偏 pīn1 pīn1 is mainly used in writing. It indicates (according to my trusty A Chinese-English Dictionary) that reality just happens turns out the opposite of what one hoped for or expected [表示事實跟所希望或期待的恰恰相反]. Sou Hak’s meaning here is that just when someone gets to the gateway

Caption: Why Are People Afraid to Face their True Selves?

Caption: Sou Hak | Therapist & Writer| Author of Perhaps You Really Aren’t Who You Think You Are

People have a need to recognize who they are. Superficially, a great many people would like to look clearly into their own minds in order to get a better understanding of their “[essential] nature”. They want to know what they really want, and what they really want to do. But when in truth they get to the main gate [of themselves], they don’t dare step through. Some people would like to know themselves [睇通自己], but at the same time they’re afraid to. Why are people so afraid to face their true selves? One reason is that they are worried they could no longer go on evading themselves if they were they to see themselves clearly — they would have to face up to themselves and bear the responsibility. One has a moral responsibility to improve oneself. “Facing up [to oneself]” is in fact a very heavy burden to bear. Some people are afraid that they won’t be able to bear [such] a burden. Some people just don’t want the responsibility, unwilling [怕] to take the trouble, to make an effort, to strive. Weak people heal with great difficulty. Lazy people are beyond all saving [冇得救]. You too know this.

【1:00】你會問 | 我應該係一個最清楚自己嘅人嚟㗎 | 點解仲會睇唔透自己嘅? | 呢度我想講一個關鍵詞:就係「分裂」| 人好複雜嘅 | 有好多嘅分裂嘅自己合湊而成 | 冇一個前後一致、完整嘅你 | 呢一個你喺度努力 | 嗰個你又喺度退縮 | 另一個你又好善良 | 再又一個你 [又一種] 僞裝 | 分裂其實冇好唔好嘅 | 只係一個正常嘅腦結構現象 | 當人遇到難關 | 或者需要選擇嘅時候 | 嗰啲分裂嘅自己就會蠢蠢出場 | 令到人陷入咗混亂不安嘅狀態 | 當想像、慾望同埋期望相融嘅時候 | 你會對自己感到肯定同埋自滿 | 而當想像、慾望同埋期望相冲嘅時候 | 你會對自己感到陌生 | 你愈係無法自己整合自己嘅分裂

分裂 fān1 liht6 = to split; to divide; to break up | ● 合湊而成 hahp6 chau3 yìh4 sìhng4 = (?) made by combining different parts/pieces | ● 前後一致 chìhn4 hauh6 yāt1 ji3 = roughly, “consistent from start to finish” | ● 退縮 teui3 sūk1 = to shrink back; to flinch; to cower | ● 僞裝 ngaih6 jōng1 = to pretend; to feign | ● 腦結構 nóuh5 git3 kāu1 = roughly, “the structure of the brain” | ● 蠢蠢出場 chéun2 chéun2 chēut1 chèuhng4 = cf. 蠢蠢欲動 = ready and excited to have a go | ● 陷入 haahm6 yahp6 = to sink into; to be caught in | ● 混亂不安 wahn6 lyuhn6 bāt1 [ng]ōn1 = roughly, “confused & uneasy” | ● 自滿 jih6 múhn5 = usu. “complacent; self-satisfied” | ● 相沖/衝 sēung1 chūng1 = (of two or more things) to clash; to collide | ● 愈 yuh6 = to surpass cf. 愈 … 愈 = the more … the more ● 整合 jíng2 hahp6 = to reorganize & consolidate

You may well ask: “Surely I should be the person who knows what I am [better than anyone else]. Why can’t see clearly into myself [睇唔透自己]? At this point, I would like to mention the key-word “fragmentation”. People are very complicated, made up of many fragments of self. There is no overriding consistency [前後一致] in you, or a complete you. This you is striving [to do its best], [while] that you holds back. Another you is very good, while there is another you who pretends [有一種僞裝]. In itself, there is nothing good or bad about [this] fragmentation — it is merely a phenomenon of normal brain structure [正常嘅腦結構現象]. Whenever a person encounters difficulties, or needs to make a choice, these fragmented selves are liable to make trouble [會蠢蠢出場], plunging you into a state of confusion. When imagination, desire and expectations are integrated, you will feel a sense of affirmation and self-satisfaction, but when imagination, desire and expectations conflict with one another [相沖], you feel like a stranger to yourself. The greater your inability to reorganize & consolidate yourself by yourself . . .


【2:00】你愈係混亂 | 每一刻嘅你都係喺度變動嘅自己 | 你唔係要搵翻或者做翻你自己 | 而係去「辨認出」自己 | 每一個當刻嘅自己 | 分裂容易令人哋痛苦 | 人有必要辨認出自己 | 其中一個目的係減低痛苦 | 包括自己同埋因爲自己而導致別人嘅痛苦 | 認出當下呢一個你 | 呢一啲嘅你 | 喺度做緊乜 | 想緊乜 | 怕乜嘢,愛乜嘢 | 嘗試喺分裂嘅自己中平衡情緒、慾望同埋行為 | 呢啲能夠令你同埋別人舒服一啲 | 認清楚自己之後 | 重建一個整合同埋清晰嘅「自己」圖像係非常之重要嘅 | 能夠幫你成長 | 脫離困境 | 搵到喜悅同埋樂活嘅方向

● 變動 bin3 duhng6 = to change | ● 導致 douh6 ji3 = to lead to; to bring about; to result in | ● 平衡 pìhng4 hàhng4 = balance; equilibrium | ● 重建 chùhng4 gin3 = to rebuild; to re-establish | ● 清晰 chīng1 sīk1 = distinct; clear | ● 圖像 tòuh4 jeuhng6 = a picture; an image | ● 脫離 tyut3 lèih4 = to separate oneself from; to break away from | ● 喜悅 héi2 yuht6 = happy; joyous | ● 樂活 lohk6 wuht6 = (?) lifestyles of health & sustainability (LOHAS)

. . . the more confused you become. In every moment, you are a changing self. You are not trying to recover yourself or be yourself; you are evolving a self [變寅出自己]. To the self in every present moment, fragmentation easily causes pain, and one of the goals of having to see yourself clearly is to reduce [this] pain, both your own and the pain you cause to others because of what you are. Recognize the you you are at this moment — these various you’s — and what they are doing, what they are thinking, what they are afraid of, what they are in love with, and try to balance out your moods, desires and actions among these fragmented selves. These [responses] can bring you, and those around you [同埋別人], some relief. After you’ve seen into yourself clearly, rebuilding a reorganized, consolidated and distinct [清晰] self-image [「自己」圖像] is extremely important, enabling you to grow, to break away from difficult situations, and to find a joyous, healthy and sustainable life-direction [搵到喜悅同埋樂活嘅方向].

【3:00】當你有能力睇透自己嘅表裏 | 同眾多嘅分裂嘅自己相處、整合、平衡同埋協調好 | 你先至係你自己 | 你唔係嚟睇我 | 你係睇你自己 | 同自己相認

● 表裏 bíu2 léuih5 = the outside & the inside; one’s outward show & inner thoughts | ● 眾多 jung3 dō1 = multitudinous; numerous | ● 相處 sēung1 chyú2 = to get along with one another | ● 協調 hip3 tìuh4 = to co-ordinate; to harmonize

It is only when you have the ability to see into yourself, inside and out, and [can] live with, consolidate, balance and coordinate all these multifarious fragment-selves that you can be who you are. [Then], you won’t come and see me; you will see into yourself and recognized what you see [同自己相認].


Grammar Notes

A. As Yip and Matthews point out, Cantonese has an extensive repertoire of resultative particles which are added to (usually monosyllabic) verbs to describe the extent or consequence of an action (Basic Cantonese: 89). Examples include 錯 cho3 = “wrongly”; 好 hóu2 = “complete”; 明 mìhng4 = “clear”; and 壞 waaih6 = “bad; broken”. You’ll regularly encounter verbs using these particles such as 攪錯 gáau2 cho3 = “to make the wrong choice” and 做好 jouh6 hóu2 = to finish up (doing)”.

Next time you pay a visit to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple near Sha Tin, watch out for a small Buddhist establishment near a stream about half way up the hill. On it you will see the words: 看破放下自在, very roughly meaning = “See through [this world]. Put down [your burdens]. Be at ease”. Here, 看破 is another example of a verb + resultative particle, in which 看 hon3 = “to see” and 破po3 = “to break (through)”. If your seeing breaks through what you think of as reality, then you’re on your way to Buddhist enlightenment.

In Sou Hak’s presentation, she uses another resultative particle with a similar meaning: 透 tau3. In Cantonese, 透 is encountered all the time in 透過 tau3 gwo3 = “by means of”, but one of its basic meanings is “to penetrate; to pass through”. At 0:06, she uses it for the first time in 好多人表面上想睇透自己嘅心 = “superficially, a great many people would like to look clearly into their own minds”, putting 透 with the common verb 睇 tái2 to express the idea of “seeing into something” or “looking deeply into (oneself)”. She says it again it 0:24 in 有啲人又好怕睇透 = “they are afraid to see into themselves”, and then goes to use it again at 1:06 in a potential construction: 點解仲會睇唔透自己嘅?Since potential constructions express inability or potential to do something, 睇唔透 = “cannot see into (one’s mind)”. To express ability in this case, we would use 睇得透 = “can see into (one’s mind)”. This may seem a little obscure, but although 可以 and 能夠 are the verbs routinely used to mean “to be able” in Cantonese, 得 also has this sense in certain limited situations, reflected in the fact that 得 to this day means “OK” or (as Martin Booth reports) “can do!”.

Just to make life interesting, Sou Hak expresses more or less the same thing with two other different resultative particles. At 0:21 she uses 有啲人又想睇通自己, in which 通 tūng1 = “open; through”. For this reason, the Chinese for “old China hand” is 中國通, suggesting that the person knows China “through and through”. At 0:33 she also declares 係驚睇清楚之後唔能夠再逃避, making use of the common adjective 清楚 chīng1 chó2 = “clear” as the resultative particle (in my experiences, bi-syllabic resultatives are rare). This pops up again at 2:58 with a different verb: 認清楚 = “to recognize clearly”.

B. The double particle 嚟㗎 lèih4 gaa3 can be added to sentences and questions that are based a kind of equation: “A = B” or Does “A = B?”. My impression is that it is used to indicate permanent or defining characteristics (rather than transitory or incidental ones). Sou Hak uses 嚟㗎 in the following situations:

0:44 「面對」其實係好沉重嘅擔子嚟㗎
1:00 你會問 | 我應該係一個最清楚自己嘅人嚟㗎 | 點解仲會睇唔透自己嘅?

In the first example, she basically says “facing up [to oneself] is in fact a very heavy burden”. The double particle is added to indicate that the speaker sees the “burdensomeness” as part and parcel of the act of confrontation. In the second example, too, we also get the feeling that a kind of universal truth is being suggested: “Surely I should be the person who knows what I am [better than anyone else]”. Here are some other examples (including a question) I have collected. Note that they all contain the verb 係 haih6, which functions as a kind of “equal” sign:

呢架係二手車嚟㗎。 = This car is second-hand. (Sheik Cantonese)
點算呀?呢度係邊度嚟㗎?= Now what are we going to do? Where is this place? (Context: the speaker has been forced to get off a minibus in the middle of nowhere.) (Current Colloquial Cantonese)
噉呢一本係佢最新嘅詩集嚟㗎 = Now this book is his latest collection of poems. (《亂世講書》: 字裏光影)
其實受害者唔單止係被欺凌嘅同學呢 | 同時係欺凌者或者係,呃,呢一種,呃,排斥者呢,本身其實都係呢一種恐懼文化或者恐懼情緒嘅受害者嚟㗎 = Actually, the victims [of homophobia] are not only the students who are bullied. At the same time, bullies and those who exclude others [排斥者] are themselves victims of this culture of terror or this terrified mood. (I am ME! 我係許寶強)
觀塘海濱長廊對出尋晚開始有大批死魚喺海面嗰度漂浮。唔少係烏頭嚟㗎
= Just next to the Kwun Tong Promenade, a large number of dead fish were [seen] floating on the surface from yesterday evening. Many of them were grey mullet. (TVB)
我諗無論你哋有意定冇意 | 歌都係一個記錄嚟㗎喇 = Whether intentionally or unintentionally, I think songs are a documentation (達明一派 30 年前唱香港的命 黃耀明:我哋需要新嘅香港)

None of these examples is negative, but my search for new examples might turn up a negative eventually.

C. The character 相 sēung1 often combines with a verb to indicate mutuality. Sou Hak uses it three times, and these examples should make its usage clear:

1:44 當想像、慾望同埋期望相融嘅時候 | 你會對自己感到肯定同埋自滿 | 而當想像、慾望同埋期望相衝嘅時候 | 你會對自己感到陌生
3:07 當你有能力睇透自己嘅表裏 | 同眾多嘅分裂嘅自己相處、整合、平衡同埋協調好

In the first case, 相 is added to 融 yùhng4 = “to blend; to fuse” to indicate that imagination, desire and expectations all “blend together” or become integrated. Later in the same sentence, Sou Hak presents the opposite scenario through 相冲 sēung1 chūng1 [also written as 相衝]. Here, 冲 means “to clash”, so the addition of 相 highlights the idea that the three elements are in conflict with one another. In the final example, the verb used is 處 chyú2 = “to get along with” (but remember, 處 can also be pronounced as chyu3 or syu3 with a different set of meanings!). 相處 is one of the most commonly encountered 相 + VERB compounds, with 同眾多嘅分裂嘅自己相處 = “and [can] live with all these multifarious fragment-selves”. As far as I can see, 相 can be used for a mutual relationship involving two subjects only, or it can refer (as is the case here) with the relationship between more than two entities.

D. A few final points. Firstly, there’s a very good example of the 冇得 + VERB structure which seems to add weight to the view that it indicates absolute (“not for love nor money”) and universal (covering all modes of ability, including physical capacity, know-how, permission, the presence of favourable or adverse conditions, etc.) inability. So at 0:58, when Sou Hak says 懶惰嘅人係冇得救嘅 = “lazy people cannot be saved”, she means: NO WAY! NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! NOT BY YOU NOR BY ANYBODY ELSE!

Secondly, there are a couple of noteworthy uses of the aspect marker 翻 fāan1. Basically, this is added to verbs to indicate that the action is repeated. However, it can be extended in other ways, one of which is to indicate “recovery”. At 1:45, Sou Hak makes use of it twice in the phrase 每一刻嘅你都係喺度變動嘅自己 | 你唔係要搵翻或者做翻你自己 = “you are not trying to recover yourself or be yourself”, my sense is that 翻 suggests a going back to some kind of previous state. The second example 做翻你自己 could literally be translated as “do-back your self”. There’s also an illuminating use of the aspect marker 緊 gán2, essentially used to indicate the you are “in the middle” of doing something. In the fragment 認出當下呢一個你 | 呢一啲嘅你 | 喺度做緊乜 | 想緊乜 | 怕乜嘢,愛乜嘢 at 2:32, 緊 is added to the active verbs 做 and 想 to mean “what you are doing” and “what you are thinking”. The essential significance here, consolidated by the addition of 喺度 hái2 douh6 is “what you are doing right at this moment”. What Sou Hak goes on to say after this has more to do with long term states, so she says 怕乜嘢,愛乜嘢 = “what you are afraid of and what you love/are drawn to” without 緊, since states by definition involve duration.

Learning Cantonese: Popsong as Prophecy with Wong Yiu-ming


Singer 黃耀明 Wong Yiu-ming, together with guitarist 劉以達 Tats Lau, formed the band 達明一派 Tat Ming Pair in 1985, a name inspired by the final character of their personal names. They are described as “an experimental Cantopop duo” and are also credited with making the first local concept album in the history of popular music in Hong Kong. Although officially disbanding in 1991, Tat Ming Pair continue to reunite periodically with new songs and concerts, some of which has upset the fragile-hearted censors so much that streaming of their music has been blocked in the Mainland.

In this four-minute video — which premiered on Stand News not long before it was closed down by the National Security Department for honest reporting (otherwise known as “subversion”) — Wong reflects on the role of popular music in the documentation of an era and on his commitment to living the life he has grown accustomed to, which means 我有咩,就想講咩嘢 = “saying whatever happens to be on my mind” . . .

There is some interesting grammar worth delving into in this interview, including those impossible sentence-final particles that drive even the most level-headed and conscientious of learners wild with frustration, especially the Terrible Trio of 喇 laa3, 啦 lāa1 and 囉 lō1! At best, I think all you can really do is try to identify typical situations in which these particles occur as you go on collecting and reflecting on concrete examples. Wong also uses 中 jung3 as a result particle, and employs the structure 有得/冇得 + VERB. You can find my discussion after the transcription, if you’re interested.

As for vocabulary, Wong gives us the chance to learn the four-character phrase 一廂情願 yāt1 sēung1 chìhng4 yuhn6 = “one’s own wishful thinking”, something we should all be checking ourselves for. You would also do well to commit the following to memory: 荒謬 fōng1 mauh6 = “absurd; preposterous”; 失戀 sāt1 lyún2 = be disappointed in a love affair; 變遷 bin3 chīn1 = changes; viscissitudes; 願望 yuhn6 mohng6 = a desire; a wish; an aspiration | 感受 gám2 sauh6 = ① to be affected by ② to experience; to feel; and 光復 gwōng1 fuhk6 = to recover; to liberate.

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.


你做唱片嘅時候 | 你更梗係希望做好咗張唱片,吓 | 噉而我諗有時咁啱呢 | 佢裏邊講嘅嘢係 timeless(永恆)嘅 | 係幾時都講得中 | 我唔知道我哋有一啲歌 | 係咪有一種 timelessness(永恆的特質),吓 | 抑或係都唔好彩 | 我哋 . . . 我哋嘅歌講咗嗰啲嘢 | 只係香港呢個宿命一路不斷不斷咁樣喺度循環,吓 | 噉咁啱就撞正喇,吓

Caption: 30 年前的預言 | 黃耀明

歌詞:但請不要為我憂愁 | 蝴蝶總比沙丘永久 | 但請相信我的荒謬 | 縱使真的不想遠走 | (達明一派《愛彌留》

你開始嘅時候其實你冇目的 | 你只係想有人幫你出一首歌、出唱片 | 有得玩 | 後來你發覺你遇到好多嘅事情 | 然後你可以將佢變成你音樂嘅一部分

● 永恆 wíhng5 hàhng4 = eternal; perpetual | ● 宿命 sūk1 mihng6 = predestination; fatality | ● 循環 chèuhn4 wàahn4 = to circulate; to cycle | ● 撞正 johng6 jeng3 = to collide head-on with; head-on collision | ● 預言 yuh6 yìhn4 = ① to foretell ② a prediction | ● 憂愁 yāu1 sàuh4 = sad; worried; depressed | ● 荒謬 fōng1 mauh6 = absurd; preposterous

When you make a record, even more, of course, you hope to make the record well [做好咗張唱片]. Now I think sometimes just be chance, the things said in it [that is, the record] are timeless, valid for any time [講得中]. I don’t whether any of our songs have this timeless quality. Or perhaps it’s just unlucky: what we talk about in our songs is merely the destiny [宿命] of Hong Kong, a destiny that is repeating itself over and over again and which we have collided with head-on, just by accident.

Caption: A Prediction from 30 Years Ago | Wong Yiu-ming

Lyrics: Please don’t worry about me | Butterflies last longer than sand dunes | Please believe my absurdities | Even if I don’t want to go very far away from here (“Oi Nei Lau”, by Tat Ming Pair)

When you first start out, you have no real aim. You just want someone to put out a song for you, to put out a record[ing], to have a bit of fun [有得玩]. Later, you realize that a lot of the things you come across in your life can go on to become a part of your music.

【1:00】覺得好似搵到一個 | 呃,表達自己嘅工具啦

有時你想音樂純粹啲,吓 | 但係其實冇乜嘢係純粹或者唔純粹 | 你主要嘅目的就係要抗爭 | 咁咪寫啲抗爭嘅歌出嚟囉 | 啫,譬如《榮光》(《願榮光歸香港》)咁樣| 如果我哋仲有呢一個嘅平台 | 呢一個工具嘅時候 | 呃,我都希望 | 至少有部分我哋嘅歌可以,啫,變成 | 為大家發聲嘅一部分喇 | 尤其是而家 | 大家好似做好多嘅行動 | 都係會好危險咁樣 | 創作又或者藝術嗰度可能冇咁危險,吓 | 啫,或者我哋一廂情願咁諗,吓 | 我諗無論你哋有意定冇意 | 歌都係一個記錄嚟㗎喇 | a documentation of 你嘅失戀 | 抑或係個時代嘅變遷,吓 | 《意難平》係一個 personal 啲嘅一個記錄囉 | 而《神經》係一個社會性啲嘅,呃,記錄囉

● 純粹 sèuhn4 seuih6 = pure; unadulterated| ● 發聲 faat3 sēng1 = (?) to speak up; to speak out| ● 一廂情願 yāt1 sēung1 chìhng4 yuhn6 = one’s own wishful thinking | ● 失戀 sāt1 lyún2 = be disappointed in a love affair | ● 變遷 bin3 chīn1 = changes; viscissitudes

I think it’s like having found a tool with which to express yourself.

Sometimes, you [may] think that music is more pure, but it’s not really a question of purity. [If] your main objective is struggle, then you write songs about struggle, like for example [the song] “Glory to Hong Kong” [《願榮光歸香港》)] While we still have this platform, this tool, my hope is that at least some of our songs can become a part of [our] speaking out on behalf of everyone. Especially now, [when] people are doing engaged in all kinds of actions [做好多嘅行動] that could be very dangerous. Creativity or art is maybe not so dangerous, or perhaps that’s just wishful thinking on our part. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, I think [music] is a documentation — of your failed love affair or of the changes of an age. [The album] Fallen Angel [《意難平》] is a more personal document, while Nerve [《神經》] is a more social kind of documentation.

【2:00】吊詭嘅地方就係話 | 我 . . . 我哋就係用呢兩張唱片 | 嚟回應呢一個時代

歌詞:(Heard but not shown on screen) 賣掉舊夢跟舊愁 |賣掉伴著我的憂 | 代換了新愛才來渡以後 | 賣掉痛苦買美酒(達明一派《四季交易會》

Caption: 達明一派11月舉行演唱會 | 將完整演出 | 《意難平》和《神經》兩張專輯

譬如《四季交易會》| 係一個 | 一切都可以買賣嘅一個社會,吓 | 本來有享受嘅自由你都可以賣咗佢嘅 ,吓 | 因為你想得到另一啲嘢

歌詞:賣掉寂寞的自由 | 賣掉願望和感受 | 賣掉了所有 來期待以後 | 賣掉理想買借口

Captions: 1989.05.27 民主歌聲獻中華 | 2014.11.12 雨傘活動 | 2019.06.04 六四晚會 | 2019.07.21 反修例遊行 | 2019.12.08 民陣國際人權日遊行

要希望自己繼續 | 你一向習慣嘅生活方式 | 而我一向習慣嘅就係 | 我有咩,就想講咩嘢

● 吊詭 diu3 gwái2 = (?) paradoxical | ● 回應 wùih4 ying3 = to respond | ● 舊愁 gauh6 sàuh4 = roughly, “old worries” | ● 代換 doih6 wuhn6 = (?) to substitute | ● 交易會 gāau1 yihk6 wúi6*2 = trade fair | ● 專輯 jyūn1 chāp1 = (music) album; LP | ● 寂寞 jihk6 mohk6 = lonely; lonesome | ● 願望 yuhn6 mohng6 = a desire; a wish; an aspiration | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = ① to be affected by ② to experience; to feel

Where it gets paradoxical [吊詭嘅地方] is that it is with these two albums that we responded to these times [呢一個時代].

Lyrics: Sell off old dreams and old cares | Sell off the worry that keeps me company | Getting by, finding a replacement new love | Selling pain & buying up fine wines (“The Four Seasons Trade Fair” by Tat Ming Pair)

Caption: Tat Ming Pair Will Do Concerts in November | Performing Every Song from the Albums Fallen Angel & Nerve

For instance, “The Four Seasons Trade Fair” is [about] a society in which everything can be bought and sold. The freedom you used to enjoy can also be sold because you want to get some other things [for it].

Lyrics: Sell off lonesome freedom | Sell off aspirations & experiences | And when everything is sold off, look forward to what comes next | Selling ideals & buying up excuses

Captions: 27 May 1989: Offering Democracy & Song to China | 12 November 2014: The Umbrella Movement | 4 June 2019: June 4 Candlelight Vigil | 21 July 2019: Anti-extradition Bill Demonstration | 8 December 2019: Civil Human Rights March for Internal Human Rights Day

You would like to hope that [要希望] you can continue the way of life you’ve grown accustomed to, and what I am accustomed to is saying whatever happens to be on my mind.

【3:00】五年前敢講嘅嘢或者敢唱嘅歌 | 希望我而家都繼續係 . . . 繼續做呢件事

歌詞:抑鬱於天空的火焰下 | 大地靜默無説話 | 風吹起紫色的煙和霞 | 百姓瑟縮於惶恐下 | (達明一派《天問》

其實我都唔知道嗰陣時嘅香港 | 係咪需要光復嘅 | 亦都唔係需要返翻去,呃,九七前嘅香港 | 我唔會enjoy(享受),啫,被人殖民 | 只不過話,我哋有好多成長嘅元素 | 係喺嗰個咁奇怪嘅社會狀況裏邊 | 我覺得得到好多有趣嘅嘢囉 | 甚至有趣過而家啦 | 我覺得我哋需要有一個新嘅香港

● 霞 hàah4 = rosy clouds; morning or evening glow | ● 瑟縮 sāt1 sūk1 = to curl up with cold; to cower | ● 惶恐 wòhng4 húng2 = terrified | ● 光復 gwōng1 fuhk6 = to recover; to liberate | ● 殖民 jihk6 màhn4 = to establish a colony; to colonize

I hope now I will continue to talk and sing about the things I dared to talk and sing about five years ago.

Lyrics: Depression beneath the flames in the sky | The Earth is silent, not saying a word | A wind blows up a purple-coloured mist and glow | The people cower in the face of terror (“Heavenly Questions” by Tat Ming Pair)

Actually, I have no idea whether the Hong Kong of those days needs to be recovered or not. Or whether [we] need to go back to the Hong Kong of pre-1997 days. I don’t enjoy being colonized by others. Nevertheless [只不過話], there are many elements in our growing up in this bizarre social situation that have given us, I feel, many interesting things, even more interesting than today [甚至有趣過而家啦]. I think we need a new Hong Kong . . .

【4:00】 但係需要光呀 | 香港而家係好黑暗 | 可能真係,吓 | 啫,我哋需要更多 . . . 更多嘅光射入嚟喇

● 黑暗 hāk1 am3 = dark | ● 射入嚟 seh6 yahp6 lèih4 = to shine into

. . . but it needs light. Hong Kong is now very dark. Perhaps what we really need more of is . . . is for more light to shine in.


Grammar Notes

Typically, 喇 laa3 is used to indicate that something has already happened and to report change. I saw a simple example recently: 凍嗮喇 = “(the food) has gone completely cold”. When something new happens, 喇is also often used to mark the change in situation. At 0:27, Wong says 噉咁啱就撞正喇 = “we have collided with head-on”. You will routinely find 喇 used in if-clauses to indicate what new situation will emerge if certain conditions are met. For instance, at 1:21 , Wong says “if we still have this platform, this tool …” and goes on to finish with the new situation: 至少有部分我哋嘅歌可以,啫,變成 | 為大家發聲嘅一部分喇 = “my hope is that at least some of our songs can become a part of [our] speaking out on behalf of everyone” (unfortunately, the sentence itself is a bit complex). Finally, 喇 can be used prospectively, in circumstances where you want a new situation to emerge. Tsang Yuen-lam describes this usage as “It is time to”, and notes that it should not be used when speaking to “superiors”. This prospective usage is possibly at work when Wong declares in his final sentence 我哋需要更多 . . . 更多嘅光射入嚟喇 = “what we really need more of is . . . is for more light to shine in”. According to Colloquial Cantonese (168), 喇 can be added to negative imperatives formed with 唔好 mh4 hóu2 and the expression 唔使 mh4 sái2 = “there is no need to: 天氣轉熱。唔使着太多衫喇。 = “The weather is getting hotter. There’s no need to wear too many clothes”.

Note too that 喇 regularly fuses with that other common sentence-final particle 㗎 gaa3 to form 㗎喇. This often suggests that the speaker has everything under control, perhaps reflected by the prevalence of “no problem” in Hong Kong English (at least according to Martin Booth).

啦 lāa1 is routinely used to mark the items in a list (呀 aa3 is also used for this purpose). It is also commonly used with proposals and suggestions, often formed in Cantonese with the opening expression 不如 bāt1 yùh4 = why don’t (we)…; how about … In material on Cantonese, it is often suggested that 啦 also serves as a more “animated” version of 喇 laa3, conveying the fact the speaker is more enthusiastic or personally engaged in what is being said. This also connects with the idea that 喇/啦 can be used to express that enigmatic quality called “CRS” (current relevant status). I think there is some truth in the hypothesis that 啦 in particular is used (subjectively) by speakers to “book-mark” certain parts of a conservation as “worthy of note”, but by nature it seems very hard to pin down. When Wong says at 3:53 我覺得得到好多有趣嘅嘢囉 | 甚至有趣過而家啦 = “(our growing up in this bizarre social situation that has given us,) I feel, many interesting things, even more interesting than today”, he may be using 啦 for this reason. Or it may be that by using啦 lāa1, Wong wants to indicate that his remarks are to be taken as his personal suggestion/opinion rather than categorically asserted fact.

囉 lō1 is used to suggest that what is being said should be obvious to the listener. As we have seen on several occasions in these posts, is regularly used with 咪 maih6 to express “an obvious conclusion”. Tsang Yuen-lam adds a bit more detail when she states that it is used for “giving suggestions that the speaker thinks are obvious” (157). Wong uses it at 1:16 in 你主要嘅目的就係要抗爭 | 咁咪寫啲抗爭嘅歌出嚟囉 = “[if] your main objective is struggle, then write songs about struggle”. Tsang gives three other uses for 囉 lō1: (1) pointing out something that the speaker thinks is obvious; (2) refuting someone (obviously you are wrong); and (3) expressing unwillingness or discontent. Perhaps the first additional use explains why Wong uses 囉 lō1 twice at 1:50 in 《意難平》係一個 personal 啲嘅一個記錄囉 | 而《神經》係一個社會性啲嘅,呃,記錄囉 = “[The album] Fallen Angel [《意難平》] is a more personal document, while Nerve [《神經》] is a more social kind of documentation”.

Bear in mind, however, that 囉 can also be pronounced lo3 and lòh4, with other shades of meaning . . .

Two other points are worth mentioning. Firstly, when pronounced in the mid-level tone rather than the high-level tone, 中 jung3 means approximately “to hit; to fit exactly”. It is often added to verbs to indicate the result of an action. When a high-school student was shot by police in Tsuen Wan during the 2019 protests, TV reports described the event by using (警方)亦都喺荃灣開過槍 | 射中一個示威者, with 射 seh6 meaning “to shoot” and 中 indicating a hit. Note too that 中籤者 jung3 chīm1 jé2 refers to “someone who has won the lottery. At 0:13, Wong uses it with the verb 講 góng2 = to speak. Adding 中 jung3 seems to give the meaning of “hitting the nail on the head” or “saying something that is spot on”:

佢裏邊講嘅嘢係 timeless(永恆)嘅 | 係幾時都講得中

There is also one occurrence of the structure 有得 + VERB. I am yet to find any good discussion of this in the literature, but it seems to be linked to (absolute) ability (得 dāk1 = to be able). It may be, too, that there is an impersonal quality implied: what can or can’t be done has more to do with the situation than it has with any individual capability. At 0:55, Wong makes use of 有得玩, suggesting roughly “enabling one to have a good time”:

你開始嘅時候其實你冇目的 | 你只係想有人幫你出一首歌、出唱片 | 有得玩

Other examples from my own experience include 根本佢係冇得選擇 = “basically, he has not choice (is unable to make any choice)” and (from Sheik Cantonese) 佢淨係鍾意著紅色裙,冇得解嘅。 = “She only loves to wear red dresses, which can’t be explained.”

Learning Cantonese: Hong Kong Newts and their Underwater Plant Nurseries

Photograph: 香港大埔滘:香港瘰螈 Hong Kong Newt, Tai Po Kau, Hong Kong (Thomas Brown on Flickr, 2011)


The wonderful 劉善茗 Lau Sin-ming at RTHK has narrated a whole series of 5-minute videos on Hong Kong’s natural environment, each of them featuring extraordinary camera work. At the risk of appearing to be something of a 瘰螈迷 ló2 yùhn4 màih4 (“Hong Kong newt nut”), I have transcribed the following clip, entitled 石菖蒲幫一把 or “Sweet Flag Lends a Helping Hand”, about the newt’s life-cycle.

The “sweet flag” in the title is a species of water plant, called 石菖蒲 sehk6 chēung1 pòuh4 in Cantonese. You don’t come across the character 菖 very often, but here’s your chance to master it. (Actually, in Chinese terms, it’s quite straightforward: just add the grass radical 艹 to the character 昌 chēung1 = “prosperous; flourishing” and Bob’s your uncle.)

You won’t find anything too curly in the grammar, but there are some minor points worth keeping in mind. The auxiliary verb 會 wúih5 crops up a lot. It basically indicates high likelihood (or predictability) of something happening, and this often extends to notions of “what tends to happen” or “what habitually happens” in a particular situation. How this is handled in English is really quite tricky and only adds to the difficulty of learning to use 會 appropriately. Take the idea of a regular activity like drinking coffee. In the past: I used to drink/I would drink (every morning). In the present: I drink coffee (every morning). In the future: (when I go to Italy) I will drink coffee (every morning). In Cantonese, life is much simpler, at least for present and future actions (I still need to do more work on the use of 會 in the past). Here are some relatively simple examples from the voice-over:

0:31: 佢哋部分嘅葉浸喺溪水裏面 = some of their leaves (tend to/have a tendency to) grow down into the water
3:28: 有啲時候佢哋好心急咁用口撕開抱卵嘅葉 = Sometimes, with their mouths, they anxiously tear open . . .
3:49: 一種可能性係瘰螈食同類嘅卵 = one possibility is that the Hong Kong newt eats (or “has the tendency to eat”) its own eggs

Also interesting is the use of 到 dóu3*2 as a verbal particle to indicate success in an action. (One of the basic meanings of 到 dou3 is “to arrive; to reach”.) English sometimes uses different verbs. For instance, the verbs “to look for” and “to find” are both 搵 wán2 in Cantonese, but since the latter suggests success in the activity (once you “find something, you no longer need to “look for” it), it usually expressed as 搵到. Sometimes, it seems to convey a sense of “managing to do sth.” Here are some examples from the last section of the video, where 到 appears five times:

發現到有啲卵受到刺狀真菌感染 = we find that some of the eggs have been infected … (infection has occurred)
但係受到本能驅使 | 為繁衍下一代付出最大嘅努力 = they are driven by instinct to go to great lengths … (lit. “[they have] received the urgings of instinct”)

Don’t confuse this use with 到 dou3 is commonly seen with location expressions, especially where movement from A to B is involved. For example, it appears at 3:04 in 雌性瘰螈慢慢咁爬到佢啲已經抱卵嘅石菖蒲上面 = “the female newts climb slowly up onto the leaves of sweet flag” and then at 4:06 甚至會蔓延到去旁邊健康嘅卵 = “could even spread to the adjacent healthy eggs”.

There is also an abundance of useful vocabulary. Apart from all the biological terminology, listen out for 育嬰室 yuhk6 yīng1 sāt1 = nursery; 腹大便便 fūk1 daaih6 bihn6 bihn6 = pot-bellied; big-bellied; 四處摸索 sei3 chyúh5 mó2 sok3 = to feel about all around; and 撕開 sī1 hōi1 = to rip open. You’ll also hear the Cantonese word for “jelly”, obviously borrowed from English — 啫喱 jē1 léi1*2 as well as the common verb 喐 yūk1 = to move.

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). 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.

Other posts on the Hong Kong newt:
● “Cantonese Podcasts: Hong Kong Newts
● “The Good News about Hong Kong Newts


Caption: 石菖蒲幫一把

旁白:入夜之後,森林裏面嘅瘰螈就開始產卵 |瘰螈嘅繁殖 | 其實同一種喺溪邊嘅植物有緊密嘅關係 | 石菖蒲,正名金錢菖 | 佢強而有力嘅根 | 令到佢哋可以抓緊溪邊嘅石頭,喺上面生長 | 佢哋部分嘅葉會浸喺溪水裏面 | 厘啲位置就係瘰螈最佳嘅育嬰室

腹大便便嘅雌瘰螈 | 會爬去石菖蒲葉上四處摸索

● 石菖蒲 sehk6 chēung1 pòuh4 = grassy-leaved sweet flag (Acorus gramineus) | ● 產卵 cháan2 léuhn5/léun2 = to lay eggs; to spawn | ● 繁殖 fàahn4 jihk6 = to breed; to reproduce | ● 正名 jing3 mìhng4 = roughly, “proper name” | ● 抓緊 jáau2 gán2 = roughly, “gripping onto; clutching onto” | ● 育嬰室 yuhk6 yīng1 sāt1 = nursery | ● 腹大便便 fūk1 daaih6 bihn6 bihn6 = cf. 大腹便便 = pot-bellied; big-bellied | ● 雌 chī1 = female | ● 四處 sei3 chyúh5 = all around; in all directions; everywhere | ● 摸索 mó2 sok3 = to grope; to feel about; to fumble

Caption: Sweet Flag Lends a Helping Hand

Voice-over: After nightfall, the forest Hong Kong newts begin to lay their eggs. The reproductive [cycle] of Hong Kong newts is closely entwined with a plant [that grows] by the side of streams — sek cheong pou or [to give it its] proper name, kam chin cheong [both names refer to Acorus gramineus]. Its strong and powerful roots enable them to grip onto stones by the side of streams and to grow on their surface. Some of their leaves grow down into the water. These places [that is, in the leaves dangling down into the water] make a most excellent nursery for the Hong Kong newt.

With her heavy, swollen belly, a female newt climbs onto the leaves of the sweet flag plant groping about in all over.

【1:00】佢哋會喺兩塊葉中間扭動身體 | 喺葉中間產卵 | 由於卵有黏性好強嘅啫喱外層 | 雌瘰螈產卵之後,會用手腳輕輕咁擠壓兩片葉 | 令到有片葉黏住,對喺裏面嘅卵子造成保護

● 扭動 náu2 duhng6 = to wriggle | ● 黏性 nìhm4 sing3 = stickiness; viscidity; viscosity | ● 啫喱 jē1 léi1*2 = jelly | ● 外層 [ng]oih6 chàhng4 = roughly, “outer layer” | ● 擠壓 jāi1 ngaat3 = to extrude; (?) to squeeze | ● 卵子 léun2 ji2 = ovum; egg

They twist about between two leaves, laying their eggs. After the female newt has laid her eggs, she uses her arms and legs to squeeze the two leaves lightly together. Because the eggs have a very sticky jelly-like outer layer, this causes the two leaves to stick together, creating protection for the eggs within.

【2:00】產完卵之後,雌瘰螈就游走去休息

日光再照到溪流 | 已經忙咗一整晚嘅瘰螈大家族仍然喺度休息 | 只係輕微咁喐一下 ,又或者喐都唔喐 | 直至到秋日嘅太陽開始猛熱 | 瘰螈嘅身體開始暖和起嚟 , 活動就開始

● 大家族 daaih6 gāa1 juhk6 = (?) big family; big clan | ● 喐 yūk1 = to move | ● 秋日 chāu1 yaht6 = an Autumn day| ● 猛熱 máahng5 yiht6 = roughly, “fiercely hot” | ● 暖和 nyúhn5 wòh4 = warm; nice and warm

Once the eggs have been laid, the female newt swims off to have a rest.

When the sun lights up the stream again, the big family of newts is still taking it easy, have worked the whole night through. They just move a little bit, or not at all, until the sun on this Autumn day begins to grow intense and the bodies of the newts begin to warm up and [their] activity gets underway.

【3:00】雌性瘰螈慢慢咁爬到佢啲已經抱卵嘅石菖蒲上面 | 佢哋嘅育嬰室,四處咁聞一下卵 | 好似進行巡視咁 | 有啲時候佢哋會好心急咁用口撕開抱卵嘅葉 | 並且嘗試將某啲卵咬走 | 究竟佢喺度做緊咩?| 一種可能性係瘰螈會食同類嘅卵 | 原因可能係喺水裏面嘅食物不足 | 或者增強自己後代嘅存活率

● 抱卵 póuh5 léun2 = (?) to nurse (eggs) | ● 巡視 chèuhn4 sih6 = to make an inspection tour; to tour | ● 撕開 sī1 hōi1 = to rip open | ● 咬 ngáauh5 = to bite | ● 存活率 chyùhn4 wuht6 léut6*2 = (?) survival rate

The female newts climb slowly up onto the leaves of sweet flag, their nursery, which are already holding their eggs [抱卵]. They sniff the eggs all over, as if carrying out [some kind of] inspection. Sometimes, with their mouths, they anxiously tear open the leaves where their eggs have been laid and also try to bite away certain eggs. What exactly are they doing? One possibility is that the Hong Kong newt eats its own eggs, perhaps because there is not enough food in the water, or that this increases the survival rate [存活率] of the next generation.

【4:00】所謂同類相食現象 | 但係當我哋翻開石菖蒲嘅葉嘅時候 | 發現到有啲卵受到刺狀真菌感染 | 可能係有啲卵子生產嘅時候未受精 | 變成死卵 | 真菌入侵,甚至會蔓延到去旁邊健康嘅卵 | 所以另外一種可能性係 | 瘰螈為咗保護健康嘅卵,唔受到真菌傷害 | 佢哋會為卵子做定期嘅婦科檢查 | 將受感染嘅卵子咬走 | 確保健康嘅卵減小感染機會 | 瘰螈外表冷定定 | 但係受到本能驅使 | 為繁衍下一代付出最大嘅努力 | 確保卵能夠孵化出健康嘅瘰螈蝌蚪

● 刺狀真菌 chi3 johng6 jān1 kwán2 = (?) a kind of echinate fungus | ● 受精 sauh6 jīng1 = to be fertilized | ● 死卵 séi2 léun2 = (?) unfertilized egg (lit. “a dead egg”) | ● 蔓延 maahn6 yìhn4 = to spread; to extend | ● 婦科 fúh5 fō1 = (department of) gynaecology | ● 冷定定 láahng5 dehng6 dehng6 = cool(ly) [I think this is right, but I’m not entirely sure] | ● 驅使 kēui1 sí2 = to prompt; to urge; to spur on | ●繁衍 fàahn4 hín2 = to multiply; to increase gradually in number or quantity| ● 孵化 fū1 faa3 = hatching; incubation

[This is] what is called the phenomenon of “eating one’s own kind”. However, when we open up [翻開] the leaves of sweet flag, we find that some of the eggs have been infected with a kind of echinate fungus [刺狀真菌]. It is possible that some of the eggs were not fertilized at the time they were laid, [thus] becoming infertile eggs [死卵]. The incursion of the fungus could even spread to the adjacent healthy eggs. For this reason, another possibility is that in order to protect the health of the eggs and to avoid [唔受到] be affected by fungus, the Hong Kong newts carry out gynaecological examinations of the eggs at regular intervals and remove infected eggs by biting them away [咬走], [thereby] ensuring that the chance of healthy eggs becoming infected is reduced. [Although] the newts seem cool and calm [冷定定 (?)], they are driven by instinct to go to great lengths [付出最大嘅努力] for the sake of the reproduction of the next generation [繁衍下一代], ensuring that the eggs can incubate healthy newt-tadpoles.