In this magical one-minute deleted scene from周冠威 Kiwi Chow’s 2019 film 《幻愛》(literally “hallucinated love”, but officially rendered into English as “Beyond the Dream”), the two main characters try to get to know one another. 阿樂 Ah Lok, who has suffered from a mental breakdown that causes him to have hallucinations, is all sweetness and circumspection, while the psychologist 葉嵐 Yip Lam (the character 嵐 is pronounced làahm4 and means “haze; vapour; mist”) is the prickly one — having been damaged herself as a child, she strives to find security in her professional persona . . .
The Cantonese word for “porcupine” is 箭豬 jin3 jyū1 or “arrow pig”. And it is true that the spines can really stab (㓤 gāt1 in Cantonese). Martin Booth describes his encounter with one in Chapter 7 of his Hong Kong memoir, Gweilo:
The porcupine stopped at the roadside and faced me. Now that I could see it clearly, it was huge, three feet long and bulky. Its nose was blunt, like a beaver’s, its quills black and white. It shivered. The quills rattled. Then it was off, running clumsily down Harlech Road and into the twilight. It was only later that a Chinese friend of my mother’s told me that porcupines could kill a leopard cat with their quills.
Needless to add that, in the end, Yip Lam’s expert armour is no match for Ah Lok’s sincerity or for the purity of his affection.
● 輔導 fuh6 douh6 = to give guidance in study or coaching; to coach; to counsel | ● 清晰 chīng1 sīk1 = distinct; clear | ● 親密chān1 maht6 = close; intimate | ● 箭豬 jin3 jyū1 = a porcupine | ● 㓤 gāt1 (or 拮) = to stab; to pierce; to prick
Note: Yip and Matthews refer to 嚫 chān1 as an adversative particle. It is added to verbs and means “to one’s misfortune, whether physical or psychological” (Intermediate Cantonese: 79). Yip Lan adds it to the verb 㓤 gāt1 to give the sense of “stabbing” or “jabbing”, with the clear implication that hurt is inflicted.
Ah Lok: When you are counselling, it’s as if you become a different person.
Yip Lam: I prefer the me [I am] when I am counselling. I can be very clear when analyzing [other] people’s problems, when I am not in that role [呢個身份 = lit. “this status”], sometimes I don’t know what is going on in my head [想點]. I like the feeling I have [when] seeing a client more than the feeling I have [when] seeing friends.
Ah Lok: You like to help people, but you’re afraid of getting to close to them.
Yip Lam: [I’m] just like a porcupine: if I get too close I can jab the other person [對方].
What is the relation of place to personality? In this video, writer 蔣曉薇 Chiang Hiu-mei speaks at length of her feelings for Tuen Mun, a new town “developed” in the 1970s. She argues that the relative isolation from both business and fashion pressures can result in a more independent character, one with a rhythm and speed all of its own.
The best proof of this is in Chiang’s writing. The novel she talks about here, a literary adaption of Kiwi Chow’s film Beyond the Dream, is a finely-paced love story about a young man who falls in love first with a hallucination and then with a psychologist who resembles his imaginary lover. Her most recent book, 《秋鯨擱淺》(roughly, “The Stranding of Autumn Whales”), takes the mass beaching of 400 whales in New Zealand as a metaphor for the current predicament of the people of Hong Kong and sees in the human effort to save these marine mammals a ray of hope for a Hong Kong renaissance.
There are some splendid vocabulary items for, if you’re keen to improve your Cantonese: 氣質 hei3 jāt1 = ① temperament; disposition ② qualities; makings; 餵貓 wai3 māau1 = to feed a cat; 甜蜜 tìhm4 maht6 = sweet; happy; 願景 yuhn6 gíng2 = an aspiration; 零用錢 lìhng4 yuhng6 chín4*2 = pocket money; 養份 yéuhng5 fahn6 = nutrient; and 時尚 sìh4 seuhng6 = ① fashion; fad ② fashionable.
You can watch the video here. If you are interested, you can also look at these two other posts on Chiang Hiu-mei:
● 塑造 sou3 jouh6 = to mould; to model | ● 氣質 hei3 jāt1 = ① temperament; disposition ② qualities; makings | ● 步伐 bouh6 faht6 = a step; a pace| ● 繆思 màuh4 sī1 = a muse | ● 發掘 faat3 gwaht6 = to excavate; to unearth; to explore | ● 投射 tàuh4 seh6 = ① to project (a ray of light) ② to cast | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = to experience; to feel | ● 心聲 sām1 sēng1 (or sīng1) = heartfelt wishes; aspiration; thinking
Note: The 中 used in 寫中我嘅心聲 is pronounced in the mid-level tone (jung3). It is added to verbs to express the idea of “hit (a target); fit exactly”. In this example, it is added to the verb 寫 sé2 (to write) = “writing in a way that captures (a person’s heartfelt wishes)”.
Chiang Hiu-mei: Actually, this place really shapes a person’s qualities, yes. You go at your own pace, [with] your own rhythm.
Caption: My Muses | Green Mountains & Blue Seas — the Writer Chiang Hiu-mei
Reporter: The film Beyond the Dream is set in Tuen Mun and uncovers many moving scenes in the local community there. The author of the novel version of the film Chiang Hiu-mei also grew up in Tuen Mun. She has cast many [of her] personal memories and experiences of Tuen Mun into [the novel] she created.
Chiang Hiu-mei: You write about Tuen Mun . . . my most intimate memories [are bound up with this place]. I put a great number of my personal feelings about things [好多自己個人嘅感受] and experiences into [the book]. When people I went to high-school with read the book, they laughed and said: “You have really captured [寫中] my innermost wishes”. Yes, our first chapter [describes] how Ah Lok arranges to meet Yip Lam and waits for her at Tuen Mun Pier. I put my own feelings into [this scene]. In it, there [are certain things] . . .
● 驚訝 gīng1 ngaah6 = surprised; amazed; astonished; astounded | ● 餵貓 wai3 māau1 = to feed a cat | ● 撩 lìuh4 = to tease; to tantalize; to provoke (Sheik) | 挨 āai1 = to lean against | ● 直接嘅反應 jihk6 jip3 ge3 fáan2 ying3 = an immediate reaction | ● 糖水 tòhng4 séui2 = a dessert soup such as red bean soup or almond paste soup | ● 甜蜜 tìhm4 maht6 = sweet; happy | ● 開名 hōi1 méng2 = (?) to mention sth. by name
. . . such as, first of all, the surprise city people feel when they come to Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal — how come boats leave from here to go to Macao? The second thing is that when Ah Lok was waiting for Yip Lam, he fed the cats and tried to make them come to him [撩貓]. Now this is something you see all the time. Because, in the film, Yan Yan is an imaginary person who only exists in Ah Lok’s mind, the time [spent on this] in the film is limited. When you see Ah Lok with Yan Yan, they are leaning against the railing [of a housing estate] — I think it’s like that: as I recall, he leans against the railing and strokes her. They are the main ways the dating scenes are done. Or he goes to meet her at the light rail [station]. So [in the book], what would Ah Lok and Yan Yan do when they were dating? What would they do in downtown Tuen Men? My immediate response was: they would go and have dessert soup [together]. Such things are very sweet. I then thought that the most famous place in Tuen Mun for dessert soup is the shop in the Melody Gardens Estate. In the novel, I didn’t mention the name.
● 屋苑 ūk1 yún2 = housing complex | ● 象徵 jeuhng6 jīng1 = to symbolize; to signify; to stand for | ● 小康 síu2 hōng1 = comparatively well-off; comfortably well-off | ● 寄願 gei3 yuhn6 = (?) to make a wish | ● 新市鎮 sān1 síh5 jan3 = a new town | ● 願景 yuhn6 gíng2 = an aspiration | ● 刮入嚟 gwaat3 yahp6 làih4 = (of wind) to blow in | ● 抹 maat3 = to wipe | ● 小點滴 síu2 dím2 dīk1 = usu. “a tidbit” | ● 清靜 chīng1 jihng6 = peace & quiet
Reporter: Melody Gardens was the first non-public housing complex in the vicinity of the Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal. You could call it a symbol of the comparatively well-off [lifestyle] in this district.
Chiang Hiu-mei: When I was a little girl, I live in the Melody Gardens housing complex. To me, the name [美樂 Mei Lok in Cantonese] is a very pretty one: both “fine” [美好 mei hou] and “happy” [快樂 fai lok]. It is a wish for a new town. There is an aspiration of this kind in this place. Our apartment copped it badly [屋企係最慘嘅] when there was a typhoon. This was because the living room faced the sea. When the wind blew in, the whole living room would be flooded. Now the house . . . Mum and Dad wouldn’t get any sleep, but my little brother and I would be beside ourselves because we could play in the water and wipe down the floor. These are some of the very special and very happy memories. But life in fact is those very simple [but] fortunate bits and pieces [小點滴]. After school, my classmates and I would come down to Butterfly Beach. Here, it was more peaceful and quieter. In addition, there was plenty of wide-open space. For this reason, sometimes on the weekends when I had nothing to do . . .
● 市中心 síh5 jūng1 sām1 = city centre; downtown | ● 零用錢 lìhng4 yuhng6 chín4*2 = pocket money | ● 腳行 geuk3 hàahng4 = (?) to go on foot | ● 養份 yéuhng5 fahn6 = nutrient | ● 連結 lìhn4 git3 = to connect | ● 切割 chit3 got3 = to cut | ● 意象 yi3 jeuhng6 = image | ● 觀察 gūn1 chaat3 = to observe; to watch
. . . and didn’t want to stay at home, I would come here and read, I would. That is, I bring some books here and look at the sea for a while, read for a while. Actually, I didn’t go into town because the light-rail ticket cost four dollars, [which made it] eight dollars to get there and back. I didn’t have the money, back then. I only got thirty dollars’ pocket money a month, if I remember correctly [好似]. So, if I wanted to go out [落街], I would to places nearby that I could walk to. But this district, I mean Tuen Mun, nurtured me in many ways, especially with regard to that connection between human beings and the natural world, because [nature] was just nearby. You could walk to the sea in five minutes. [We] were very close to the sky[, too]. The sky was so wide, so spacious — it wasn’t chopped up by all these tall buildings. I like to write about the sea: it has so many images [meaning unclear]. Perhaps this is because I saw it a lot when I was little and looked at it a lot. Or perhaps it was simply just a matter of going down [to the beach] for some exercise, to jog, or to take a walk or stroll. The thing I really looked at most of all . . .
● 大媽舞 daaih6 māa1 móuh5 = “dancing aunties”, middle-aged women who dance in Tuen Mun Park and “who regularly blast songs through loudspeakers and dance suggestively while skimpily dressed” | ● 污名 wū1 mìhng4 = stigma | ● 污煙瘴氣 wū1 yīn1 jeung3 hei3 = ? cf. 瘴煙毒霧 = clouds of pestilential vapour; miasmal clouds| ● 閒適 haahn6 sīk1 = leisurely & comfortable | ● 自成一體 jih6 sìhng4 yāt1 tái2 = (?) separate; self-contained | ● 老土 lóuh5 tóu2 = old-fashioned; out of date; traditional; unsophisticated; rustic; not hip; uncool + 土tóu2 on its own has the same meaning | ● 潮流 chìuh4 làuh4 = trend; popularity | ● 時尚 sìh4 seuhng6 = ① fashion; fad ② fashionable | ● 鄉下妹hēung1 háa6*2mūi6*1 (?) = roughly, “a country girl” | ● 定位 dihng6 wái6*2 = (指人生追求) niche (one’s position in life) | ● 諗返轉頭 nám2 fāan1 jyun3 tàuh4 = with hindsight
. . . was the sea. In Tuen Mun Park, there are the “dancing aunties”. They have given the place a bad name, made it sleazy and unpleasant [你搞到污煙瘴氣]. However, go a bit further away [再入啲嘅地方] [and you have] places such as Tuen Mun Pier. There’s not much there, but it remains leisurely and comfortable, a tucked away corner [好角落], with a feeling of being a little world in its own right. When I was younger, I was very out of touch with the fashion. Especially when we all went out . . . when you were walking with your university friends in Tsim Sha Tsui or Causeway Bay, [you] felt very with it, wearing the latest fashions, but you were probably still very uncool, an unsophisticated girl from the country. But when you were older and had found your place in the world [自己揾到自己定位], perhaps, with hindsight, this place was somewhere that could really mould a person’s character. Yes, indeed!
And this character is . . . not such a commercialized one. It doesn’t go chasing after trends and there is no need to be at the forefront [of things]. You walk at your own pace and you have a rhythm all of your own.
In six sweet minutes, the Hong Kong poet 廖偉棠 Liu Wai-tong talks poetry, giving you the many benefits of his long years as a writer. One of my favourite moments comes when he asks
我哋（嘅）語言點樣從一個美麗嘅事物 | 慢慢變成咗我哋日常中我哋只係將佢作為種工具嚟使用呢？
which means, roughly, “Why has our language gone from being such a beautiful thing to a mere tool we make use of in our daily lives?” Perhaps that sentence alone will be enough to start you thinking along poetic lines . . .
From the Cantonese perspective, there is plenty of vocabulary to take away from Liu’s video. Items include 覺悟 gok3 ngh6 = ① come to realize ② consciousness; 歸結 gwāi1 git3 = to sum up; to put in a nutshell; 獨一無二 duhk6 yāt1 mòuh4 yih6 = unique; unparalleled; unmatched; 瘋狂 fūng1 kòhng4 = ① insane ② frenzied; unbridled; 打磨 dáa2 mòh4 = to polish; to burnish; to shine; 素材 sou3 chòih4 = source material (of literature & art); 外星人 ngoih6 sīng1 yàhn4 = a person from outer space; an extra-terrestrial being; an alien; and 習以為常 jaahp6 yíh5 wàih4 sèuhng4 = be used to sth.; be accustomed to sth.
You can watch the video here (the subtitles are, for a nice change, in Cantonese!). For my transcription, notes and very unpoetical English translation, please see below.
● 覺悟 gok3 ngh6 = ① come to realize ② consciousness | ● 解答 gáai2 daap3 = to answer | ● 要素 yiu3 sou3 = essential factor; key element | ● 歸結 gwāi1 git3 = to sum up; to put in a nutshell | ● 先驗 sīn1 yihm6 = a priori | ● 超驗 chīu1 yihm6 = transcendental | ● 指向 jí2 heung3 = (?) to point at; to refer to | ● 交織 gāau1 jīk1 = to intertwine; to interweave; to mingle | ● 挖掘 waat3 gwaht6 = to excavate; to unearth
Caption: Liu Wai-tong | Poets on Poetry
Hello, everyone. I am Liu Wai-tong. I am very happy to be able to share with you here today some of the things I have come to realize [覺悟] about poetry. Actually, what I mainly wish to give you answers to are three common questions about poetry.
Caption: What are the elements of a good poem?
The first question is about what the key elements of a poem are. Actually, there are many answers to this question. As far as I am concerned, it can be summed up by three key elements: that which is prior to experience, experience [itself] and that which transcends experience. This makes it sound like a philosophical issue, but actually, for a poet, that which precedes experience refers to feelings. Because the feelings of a poet are interwoven with the many different feelings of the whole of humanity in its development through history, when we write poetry, we are valuing, treasuring and excavating the sources of our own feeling.
By means of this excavation, we can attain to a kind of collective emotion [共情] with our readers, with other poets [同行] and with artists [working in different media]. With regard to experience, this is extremely important. Living here in this world, we might have spent a dozen or so years — or several decades — meeting with both many, many unique [experiences of our own] as well as feelings common to other people in [this] city as a whole, or in this period of time. What we have to do is — from the perspective of reason — to salvage something belonging to our collective wisdom from [all this]. This wisdom can be something extremely minor, or it can be something extremely major, but it has to be able to make our readers — including ourselves — discover when reading the poem something of the “imagination” in it, about how to conduct our future [lives] [or] how to face our destinies.
● 瘋狂 fūng1 kòhng4 = ① insane ② frenzied; unbridled | ● 理喻 léih5 yuh6 = to reason with cf. 不可理喻 bāt1 hó2 léih5 yuh6 = be impervious to reason; won’t listen to reason | ● 打造 dáa2 jouh6 = to make | ● 功利 gūng1 leih6 = utility; material gin | ● 打磨 dáa2 mòh4 = to polish; to burnish; to shine | ● 變形 bin3 yìhng4 = be out of shape; become deformed | ● 組合 jóu2 hahp6 = to make up; to compose; to constitute | ● 構造 kau3 jouh6 = a structure; a construction | ● 嘗試 sèuhng4 si3 = to attempt; to try
[My] third point about that which transcends experience refers to the language of the poem. We all tend to think that the language of poetry is a bit like madness [瘋狂] or something that doesn’t listen to reason. Actually, the language of poetry is just like the making of a work of visual art. By polishing, deforming, reconstituting and structuring everyday language — a language that has become numb, utilitarian, instrumental — [we can let] it lead us to a discovery of the secret of language. Why has our language gone from being such a beautiful thing to a mere tool we make use of in our daily lives? When we have discovered this secret, we can try to create a unique poetic language belonging to us [alone], one that leads our readers — or we ourselves — to come to know the world in a new way. A poem that achieves this third element is an extremely good poem.
● 困惑 kwan3 waahk6 = perplexed; puzzled | ● 素材 sou3 chòih4 = source material (of literature & art) | ● 慨嘆 koi3 taan3 = to sigh with regret | ● 無所不在 mòuh4 só2 bāt1 joih6 = omnipresent; ubiquitous | ● 外星人 ngoih6 sīng1 yàhn4 = a person from outer space; an extra-terrestrial being; an alien | ● 考古學家 háau2 gú2 hohk6 gāa1 = archaeologist | ● 習以為常 jaahp6 yíh5 wàih4 sèuhng4 = be used to sth.; be accustomed to sth.
Caption: Where can we find the material for writing poetry?
About this second point, we feel constantly feel perplexed. How do we go about gathering the material with which to write our poems? We live in this extremely busy and seemingly unpoetic metropolis and we spend our days sighing with regret and wondering whether we should (as the poet 辛棄疾 Xin Qiji once wrote) “for to compose new verses”, feign our “sorrow and woe”. It is not really like this at all. Poetic meaning is everywhere to be found. All we need do is to find material in this city or in this contemporary life equivalent to what was called “poetic meaning” in bygone times. How do we find such material? We must forever maintain our curiosity. And we must be always imagining ourselves to be . . . for instance “I am a person from another planet who has just arrived on Earth” or “I am an archaeologist from the future”. In this way, in the life that we have already grown accustomed to, we will think: “Hey, this . . .
● 共鳴 guhng6 mìhng4 = ① to resonate ② to respond sympathetically | ● 化學反應 faa3 hohk6 fáan2 ying3 = a chemical reaction | ● 調度 diuh6 douh6 = to dispatch | ● 磨練 mòh4 lihn6 = to practise hard; self-discipline | 手藝 sáu2 ngaih6 = craftmanship | ● 工藝人 gūng1 ngaih6 yàhn4 = craftsman
. . . is something special, and that is something special, too. At the same time, we will be extremely open-minded. We will allow many of the elements of this world to enter inside us, including elements of reality and emotional elements. Now these things can strike a chord with us or [create] what we could call a chemical reaction. Because I am extremely sensitive, I maintain this sensitivity of mine and dispatch [調度] this kind of reaction by means of language. This actually is poetry.
Caption: What can we do to improve our writing?
My final point is about something we would all like to know: how to go about improving our writing. The most fundamental thing of all is to read and write widely as well as to read and write attentively, constantly polishing our craft, just like any craftsperson, who constantly works hard at their discipline [手藝]. What things that our fellow poets are doing could we try to do better? What things can we do that others aren’t doing [yet]?
Note: Pound actually said: “Don’t imagine that the art of poetry is any simpler than the art of music, or that you can please the expert before you have spent at least as much effort on the art of verse as the average piano teacher spends on the art of music.”
In the things people do, what other options do I think there might be? All these things are ways to give our poetry the chance to find a break-through. Of course, throughout this process of searching, we must constantly work on our own poetic art. Ezra Pound once said something that was very interesting: “If your knowledge of poetry and your practice of the poetic art are inferior to a high-school music teacher’s knowledge of music, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.” How should we go about this? We should be bear in mind that, when we are writing poetry, we are exercising a profession, even if — in our real lives — we have other professions and other [forms of] living. We should view our creativity with a professional regard. Only then we can make progress, making demands on ourselves with the help of poems that [fly] higher than our own.
【6:00】「我幾時可以追得上佢？」| 咁樣就係一個不斷進步嘅過程 | 多謝大家！
● 追得上 jēui1 dāk1 seuhng6 = to catch up to
“When can we reach the same level as [such poems]?” Such is the process of a constant improvement. Thank you!
Here’s a wonderful new addition to your Cantonese vocabulary: 片石仔 pín2 sehk6 jái2, which means “to skim stones”. Actually, if you watch to the end, you will realize that there is a difference between “stone skimming” and “stone skipping”, something that I have been blissfully ignorant of my entire life . . .
The speaker 何岳 Ho Ngok laughs at himself for taking stone-skimming so seriously, but I guess there is an abiding fascination with the simple magic of making a stone glide across water without (immediately) sinking. Hence the fascination with the angle at which the stone hits the water, and the way it spins over liquid surfaces. And, as Ah Ngok makes clear, even the selection of the stones used in the sport goes a long way to determining success.
Ah Ngok skims his Cantonese with equal facility, his passion for the subject leading him to some rather colourful turns of phrase, including 屎窟痕 sí2 fāt1 hàhn4 (literally, “[with] an “itchy arsehole”), which means something like “not able to sit still”! Listen out too for 達人 daaht6 yàhn4 = expert; 心得 sām1 dāk1 = what one has learned from work, study, etc.; 講究 góng2 gau3 = be particular about; pay attention to (perhaps even “be fussy about”); 有朝一日 yáuh5 jīu1 yāt1 yaht6 = one day; some day (indicating a hope for the future); 消耗 sīu1 hou3 = to complete; to use up; to deplete; to expend; and 得心應手 dāk1 sām1 ying3 sáu2 = for one’s hands to work in perfect coordination with what one wishes to do. Oh, and the 岳 ngohk6 in the speaker’s name means “high mountain” and is sometimes written as 嶽.
You can watch the video here (it has very partial subtitles in Chinese only). My transcription, vocabulary notes and translation follow below.
● 奧義 ou3 yih6 = roughly, “inner meaning” | ● 高手 gōu1 sáu2 = past master; master-hand; ace | ● 達人 daaht6 yàhn4 = expert [Sheik = 專家，佼佼者，精通於某樣事物的人 = expert; someone who is above the average or outstanding; a person with a good command of something] | ● 心得 sām1 dāk1 = what one has learned from work, study, etc. | ● 抌 dám = ① to beat (with fist); to bang; to pound ② to smash; to shatter; to stamp (a chop) ③ to throw; to discard; to abandon | ● 屎窟痕 sí2 fāt1 hàhn4 = not able to sit still (lit. “itchy arsehole”)
Note: 齋 jāai1 is frequently used in Cantonese with verbs to indicate that the action is done in a plain or unadorned manner. The last time we came across it was in the Kongstories video on the musician Grace Yu: 但係有幾多個學上唔係浄係齋彈冇靈魂 | 而係尋找到屬於佢獨特嘅聲音同埋生命力嘅呢？= “But how many of these students are looking for a voice that belongs to them alone and a vitality, rather than merely going through the motions devoid of soul”. Here, 齋 jāai1 is added to 彈 tàahn4 (to play a stringed musical instrument) to suggest a superficial playing or a going through the motions. I’ve also heard 齋聽 jāai1 tēng1 = “to listen (to a conversation) without contributing to it in any way”.
Caption: Skipping Stones | The Inner Complexities [奧義] Are Beyond the Average | A Hong Kong Adept Hopes To Be Able To Organize Local Competitions
Voice-over: Probably everyone has had a go at skipping stones. It turns out that there are many elite performers [高手] who practice conscientiously and take part in competitions. Hong Kong has one outstanding exponent [達人] who has competed in Japan and who often pops up on various programs sharing what he has learnt about skimming stones.
Caption: An Outstanding Exponent of Stone-skimming | Ah Ngok
Ho Ngok: My name is Ho Ngok. In April 2019, in the course of my work (I work as a wedding photographer), I went down to the sea at Nai Chung. Both my boss and I noticed some interesting-looking stones there so we [started] throwing them into the sea. Actually, at that time, we were skimming stones. We weren’t just chucking them into the water [齋抌] but trying to make them skip. After this one [time] of skipping stones, I couldn’t sit still and wanted to see whether there were people in other parts of the world who could really do this well. And so I looked on YouTube.
● 一整日 yāt1 jíng2 yaht6 = one whole day | ● 講究 góng2 gau3 = be particular about; pay attention to (perhaps even “be fussy about”) | ● 無聊 mòuh4 lìuh4 = ① bored ② senseless; silly; stupid | ● 釐定 lèih4 dihng6 = (?) to rectify; to formulate (rules, etc.) | ● 準則 jéun2 jāk1 = a norm; standard; criterion
Voice-over: Every week, Ho Ngok spends roughly one whole day on practising. He is very particular about everything, from choosing the right geographical location [地理環境], to the stones [he uses] and all the movements [involved].
Ho Ngok: Probably I am very conscientious about [skimming stones] because I don’t think of it as being a frivolous activity. If it were frivolous, then I would go about it in a very laid-back way. This reason is that I could see where there was room to practise, room to practise and room to make improvements. Especially when you have watched people overseas — then you . . . you will interested to figure out how they manage to do it.
Caption: Formulating Rules for Success
Voice-over: How do you go about formulating the rules [釐定] for success in stone skipping? As it turns out, the posture [you use to throw the stone] is not one of the criteria.
Ho Ngok: There’s not much discussion at all about posture in stone-skimming. There’s nothing to say, because everyone’s posture is different. For that reason, when it comes to so-called “success”, it is the angle at which your stone hits [入] the water [which matters]. That is, it is the most critical thing that needs to be talked about. If the angle at which the stone hits the water is not good [唔靚], [even if] your stone is rotating wonderfully well [好勁], if it is too flat when it touches the water . . .
● 以 . . . 計分 yíh5 . . . gai3 fān1 = roughly, “to calculate points according to” | ● 彈跳次數 daahn6 tiu3 chi3 sou3 = the number of skips | ● 失誤 sāt1 ngh6 = a fault; muff | ● 吸取 kāp1 chéui2 = to absorb; to draw | ● 有朝一日 yáuh5 jīu1 yāt1 yaht6 = one day; some day (indicating a hope for the future)
. . . then you are not doing it right. [The stone] has to be inclined at a bit of an angle. Usually, the standard for the angle of inclination is between 10 and 20 degrees. It is only when you [throw the stone] onto the water like this that it is able to more advance. If [your angle] is too flat, it will skip a couple of times and then sink.
Voice-over: Ho Ngok also mentioned [the fact] that scoring for stone-skimming is based either on distance or on the number of skips.
Caption: Distance or Skips
He himself prefers distance competitions. The reason is that it is easy to make a mistake if you try to make the stone skip (rather than skim along the surface) [有人手失誤]. He has been to Japan to compete, and thinks that [the sport] is more widespread in Japan than in Hong Kong, [since] there are competitions there involving people from all over the nation. When the covid pandemic is over, he hopes to visit various different countries to get more experience and to organize [舉辦] a competition in Hong Kong. However, [on this subject] he mentioned that it is difficult to get everyone involved.
Ho Ngok: I am saying this to remind myself as well as others. Actually, first of all, stone-skimming is not something that you can immediately join in. It’s is not something for everyone (?). It can [not?] be made into a sport, because the environment has a big influence on it. People involved in other sports come and join in.
● 棚 pàahng4 = usu. “shed; shack; hut” | ● 湧 yúng2 = to gush; to surge | ● 篩選 sāi1 syún2 = to screen | ● 消耗 sīu1 hou3 = to complete; to use up; to deplete; to expend | ● 扁身 bín2 sān1 = (?) flat[-bodied] | ● 浪潮 lohng6 chìuh4 = wave, tide, trend | ● 得心應手 dāk1 sām1 ying3 sáu2 = for one’s hands to work in perfect coordination with what one wishes to do
Note: The word 身 sān1 = “body” is sometimes added after adjectives. We came across this in Alfred Chan’s video on fried food, in which both 乾身 gōn1 sān1 = “dry” (?) and 厚身 háuh5 sān1 = “thick” (?) are used. Here, the reporter makes use of 扁身 bín2 sān1 = “flat[-bodied]”. This use of 身 sān1 only seems to occur in colloquial, spoken Cantonese.
Ho Ngok: They can come and skim stones for interest’s sake, that’s fine. Because every time they watch us picking up [stones], they might even join in this with us. But if you talk about a whole bunch of people coming down in droves [湧] to skim stones, the problem is that they don’t understand the natural environment. They might even throw heaps of other kinds of stones [into the water], stones that haven’t been [properly] selected and this can really do a lot of damage.
Voice-over: He said that you need different stones for different [kinds of] tides [浪潮], but the main thing is that flat[-bodied] stones are best. When next we do some stone-skimming, we should go on-line and have a good look at the information there [so that] as a matter of course [our stone-skipping skills] will improve.
Buddhist monks and nuns play an active role in Hong Kong society and some of them, such as the subject of this video, are frequently seen on YouTube. 常霖法師 The Venerable Chang Lin (the Mandarin pronunciation is conventionally used; in Cantonese, it becomes Sèuhng4 Làhm4 Faat3 Sī1) has been very active in recent times, partly on account of his having been a very successful photographer in Hong Kong before becoming a Buddhist monk, a process referred to as 出家 chēut gāa in Cantonese, which literally means to “go out of the family”. In this piece, he provides a very simple introduction to zen as 身心合一 sān1 sām1 hahp6 yāt1, a unity of body and mind, and contrasts it with our usual state of 人在心不在 yàhn4 joih6 sām1 bāt1 joih6, that is “physically present but otherwise absent”. He then goes on to relate zen to his practice as a photographer.
The video already has English subtitles, so you can go ahead and watch the video here. If you’re interested in the Cantonese details, please take a look at my transcription, notes and more literal translation below. Some of the vocabulary worth taking on board includes 三日三夜 sāam1 yaht6 sāam1 yeh6 = roughly, “till the cows come home”; 體驗 tái2 yihm6 = to learn though one’s personal experience; 療癒 lìuh4 yuh6 = to heal; 斑駁 bāan1 bok3 = mottled; motley; 攝影 sip3 yíng2 = photography; to take a photograph; and 定律 dihng6 leuht6 = (natural) law.
I once heard a radio interview with another prominent monk, 衍空法師 the Venerable Yan Kong. Although he had a successful career and a happy marriage, his interest in Buddhism eventually led him to make the decision to 出家 chēut gāa, and finally he had to break the news to his wife. In an extraordinary twist, his wife announced in response that she would become a Buddhist nun, joining him in the spiritual realm, even as they left one another in the secular world . . .
● 平衡 pìhng4 hàhng4 = balance; equilibrium | ● 人在心不在 yàhn4 joih6 sām1 bāt1 joih6 = roughly, “physically present but mentally absent” | ● 身心合一 sān1 sām1 hahp6 yāt1 = roughly, “unity of body & mind” | ● 刻意 hāk1 yi3 = often “painstakingly” but also “deliberately; on purpose” | ● 三日三夜 sāam1 yaht6 sāam1 yeh6 = roughly, “till the cows come home” (lit. “three days & three nights”) | ● 體驗 tái2 yihm6 = to learn though one’s personal experience | ● 適當 sīk1 dong3 = suitable; proper; appropriate
The Venerable Changlin: The reason why people tend to have so much trouble and why so many problems crop up is actually because they have lost their balance. What causes people to lose their balance most easily is because their mind wanders off [人在心不在]. If our minds and our bodies work as one, then we feel free and easy, comfortable [自在]. You feel free and at ease when you are happy, and so you don’t have to go out of your way so much to seek happiness; when you are unhappy, you can also be at ease, which means that you won’t feel much in the way of unhappiness.
You could talk about the word “zen” until the cows come home. Zen is a personal experience: you really have to experience it yourself before you can really understand it. A simple description of zen goes like this: doing the appropriate thing at the appropriate time. You could also put it like this: being in the moment. And so for this reason . . .
● 療癒 lìuh4 yuh6 = to heal | ● 繁忙 fàahn4 mòhng4 = busy | ● 鼓勵 gú2 laih6 = to encourage to urge | ● 釋放 sīk1 fong3 = to release; to set free | ● 歲月 seui3 yuht6 = years | ● 斑駁 bāan1 bok3 = mottled; motley | ● 畫家 wáa6*2 gāa1 = painter; artist
. . . it is the same thing as being completely the same as nature. For example, if the sun happens to be shining warmly, that tree [over there] won’t say “I think this is awful! Gosh, it’s so sunny and hot!” or when it rains “Oh no! Why is it always raining?” It wouldn’t do anything like that. It is whatever it is in the moment.
Nature has the capacity to heal. If we generally feel ourselves to be busy in the city, affected by many different things, then I encourage you to go out into nature and take a walk. There you can find release for yourself comparatively easily as well as becoming mindful [心在] and at ease.
I prefer taking photos of the traces left by time — blotches and stains. To me, most of the time I don’t see such things as stains. I see them as works of art, as if they were paintings. [In this case,] however, nature is the painter. When I take my photographs, I don’t have anything . . .
● 空白 hūng1 baahk6 = a blank space | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = to experience; to feel | ● 相機 seung3 [or séung3*2] gei1 = camera | ● 出書 chēut1 syū1 = to put out a book | ● 純粹 sèuhn4 seuih6 = pure; unadulterated | ● 攝影 sip3 yíng2 = photography; to take a photograph | ● 透明 tau3 mìhng4 = transparent | ● 膠片gāau1 pín3*2 = usu. “film”; here perhaps “a piece of plastic” | ● 日曬雨淋 yaht6 saai3 yúh5 làhm4 = be exposed to the sun and the rain
. . . in my mind, but it’s not just a total blank. What I mean is that I’m still experiencing my surroundings at that time. For instance, if I see something and feel moved by it, I will get out my camera and take a photo of it. But when I am photographing it, I am not thinking [to myself]: “I could use this photo to express such-and-such. I could add some words to accompany it [as a caption], or I could put out a book or hold an exhibition.” None of these things occurs to me. I am simply in the moment, putting myself 100% into the feeling.
The special thing about this exhibition is that my photographic works have been printed on transparent sheets of plastic, very large sheets of transparent plastic. When you’re enjoying one of the works, you can look through the plastic at the surrounding natural environment. This exhibition is exposed to the sun and the rain. That is, it has been set up [擺] outdoors. So for this reason . . .
● 響應 héung2 ying3 = to respond; to answer | ● 定律 dihng6 leuht6 = (natural) law | ● 成、住、壞、空 sìhng4 jyuh6 waaih6 hūng1 = to come into being, to abide, to run down, to become empty
. . . it again responds to that law of nature: all things come into being, abide, run down, and become empty. Together we experience the works in this exhibition in a natural environment that is always constantly changing.
If you too are married to running, you will love this video about 葛行輝 Stanley Got and his passion for tung kan paau or “running to work”. This notion, first popularized by the Japanese runner-writer 關家良一Ryōichi Sekiya, gets an extra twist in a Hong Kong setting when Got realizes he can run from Sha Tin to Kowloon where he works as the boss of a clothing store, taking in some diverse mountain wilderness along the way.
If you happened to be married to Cantonese rather than athletics, you will enjoy Got’s humorous, engaging manner and vivid turns of phrase, including 合二為一 hahp6 yìh4 wàih4 yāt1 = (?) to take several things and make them into one thing; 奇妙之旅 kèih4 miuh6 jī1 léuih5 = roughly, “a marvellous journey”; 千方百計 chīn1 fōng1 baak3 gai3 = in a thousand and one ways; and 樂在其中 lohk6 joih6 kèih4 jūng1 = overwhelmed with joy; overjoyed.
The marriage of image and music is another inspiring aspect of this video: at times they meld in a powerfully evocative way.
You can watch the video here(subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). For my transcription, vocabulary notes and translation, please see below.
● 呼喚 fū1 wuhn6 = to call to (e.g. “Our country is calling us” [祖國在呼喚我們]) | ● 追求 jēui1 kàuh4 = to seek; to pursue | ● 信念 seun3 nihm6 = faith; belief; conviction
Voice-over: Do we run in response to the call of the body, for the sake of recovering a life we have missed, or in order to discover a new [sense of] self? On the wide running track, we have our different pursuits [追求] and we move towards different destinations, but the faith is the same . . .
Caption: 有種信念叫跑 | There is one kind of faith called “running”
● 環節 wàahn4 jit3 = link; segment | ● 育 yuhk6 = to educate; to cultivate; to nurture; the addition of 成 sìhng4 here perhaps indicates result, that is, to instruct someone so that they are able to do sth. successfully (one meaning of 成 is “to accomplish; to succeed”) | ● 攻略 gūng1 leuhk6 = ① to attack & seize ② a tactic | ● 名人賽 = (?) a master in a particular sport, cf. 美國名人賽， The Masters/ Masters Tournament | ● 真誠 jān1 sìhng4 = sincere; genuine; true
Voice-over: There will be three segments [環節] in each our programs: “You Run”, stories about running and how it can change your life; “He/She Runs”, tactics to educate a single male runner [about how to be able to run well]; and “I Run”, in which masters in the 5-kilometre run truly share [some of their secrets]. Three, Two, One: Go!
● 整裝待發 jíng2 jōng1 doih6 faat3 = be ready to set out; fully equipped & waiting to set out (意思是整理好行装，等待出发。出自陶菊隐《北洋军阀统治时期史话》) | ● 急不及待 gāp1 bāt1 kahp6 doih6 = to impatient to wait; extremely anxious | ● 奔馳 bān1 chìh4 = to run quickly; to speed | ● 追逐 jēui1 juhk6 = ① to pursue; to chase ② to seek; to quest | ● 撲面 pok3 mihn6 = cf. 迎面 yìhng4 mihn6 = head-on; in one’s face; perhaps here “oncoming” | ● 另類 lihng6 leuih6 = ① alternative (that is, “far out; way out”) ② nonconformist | ● 起步 hei2 bouh6 = ① to start to move ② to start to do sth. | ● 通勤跑 tūng1 kàhn4 páu2 = running to work (a Japanese term)
Voice-over: The starting point for any day begins with the rising of the sun. In order to go forth to meet [迎接] our busy lives, we pack our bags and head out [整裝待發], already dashing anxiously [towards?] the starting line, either to go to work or get to school. Running has become something normal [日常] to us. While everyone is racing against time [追逐時間], there are those who leave behind the oncoming crowds, choosing an altogether different [另類] means of getting underway [起步途徑]: running to work.
● 日語漢字 Yaht6 yúh5 hon3 jih6 = approx. a Japanese word [日語] written in Chinese characters [漢字] | ● 主管 jyú2 gún2 = ① be responsible for; be in charge of ② the person in charge | ● 店長 dim3 jéung2 = store supervisor; manager | ● 河畔 hòh4 buhn6 (the standard reading)/búhn5 (a variant reading) = river bank; riverside | ● 發掘 faat3 gwaht6 = to excavate; to unearth; to explore | ● 穿越 chyūn1 yuht6 = to pass though; to cut across |● 直達 jihk6 daaht6 = usu. through; non-stop
Note: He is called Got Hang Fai in English | 關家良一Ryōichi Sekiya is a Japanese ultramarathon and marathon runner from Sagamihara, Kanagawa.
Voice-over: Tung kan paau is a Japanese word written in Chinese characters, used in a book written by Ryōichi Sekiya, and means “running to work”. In charge of a clothing shop, Got Hang Fai goes by the nickname “Store Supervisor Stanley”. In 2009, he fell in love with running, and would go for a training run [練跑] along the [Shing Mun] River in Sha Tin every morning. In recent years, he became even more passionate about mountain running, and managed to figure out [發掘] a route [that enabled him] to run to work, passing through mountain forests all the way to Kowloon.
● 發覺 faat3 gok3 = to find; to detect; to discover | ● 沙田坳 Sāa1 Tìhn4 Aau3 = Sha Tin Pass | ● 獅子亭 Sī1 Jí2 Tìhng4 = Sha Tin Lions Pavilion | ● 落山 lohk6 sāan1 = (?) to go down a mountain | ● 應付 ying3 fuh6 = to deal with; to cope with; to handle
Got Hang Fai: Last year, I started to go out hiking with people and became a bit more familiar with some of the mountain routes. I found that, from Sha Tin [喺沙田], if I followed the mountain road that went out to Kowloon, it was very quick. Going all the way down the mountain from the Lions Pavilion at Sha Tin Pass, I’d get to Kowloon. This shortcut wasn’t very far [out of my way (?)]. As long as you knew how to handle going up the mountain, it was OK. A few months ago roughly, after I’d started to explore this route, I [began] running to work.
葛行輝：噉我而家呢，就係 *jai 跑步同埋返工呢，係合二為一 | 我反而呢，就多咗啲時間
● 合二為一 hahp6 yìh4 wàih4 yāt1 = (?) to combine; to take several things and make them into one thing
Got Hang Fai: Now, I have turned running and going to work into one and the same thing [合而為一]. But as it turns out, I have a bit more time [for other things].
● 奇妙之旅 kèih4 miuh6 jī1 léuih5 = roughly, “a marvellous journey” | ● 飽覽 báau2 láahm5 = to look intensively; to feast one’s eyes on | ● 鬧市 naauh6 síh5 = the bustling city
Got Hang Fai: On this route of mine, there are ordinary level roads [平路] as well as mountain roads. However, in terms of training [訓練方面], it’s not as unvarying [單一] as running on an ordinary level road [平路]. In our everyday lives, or at work, [our] environments don’t usually have such a lot of variation [大上大落]. You can treat this as a marvellous journey — in these ten kilometres, you pass through an urban centre [城市], go halfway up a mountain, feast your eyes on a complete view of Kowloon, then you go down the mountain and run back into the bustling city. I mean, in around an hour, you experience both the busy city [鬧市] and complete peace, and the process is really quite pleasant.
● 礙 ngoih6 = to hinder; to obstruct; to be in the way of
Got Hang Fai: For instance, when it rains, going out is not very convenient, but when it comes to running, the rain is not much of a bother [冇乜大礙]. On a fine day when you run, you get all wet with sweat [濕], and on a rainy day you get wet too, the only difference being that your shoes don’t get wet on a clear day, while on a rainy day they do — that’s all there is to it [咁解啫].
● 恆常 hàhng4 sèuhng4 = ? cf. 恆 = ① permanent; lasting ② perseverance & 常 = constant; invariable | ● 修練 sāu1 lihn6 = ? (cf. 修煉 sāu1 lihn6 = (of Taoists) to practise asceticism) | ● 克服 hāk1 fuhk6 = to surmount; to overcome; to conquer| ● 惰性 doh6 sing3 = inertia | ● 好逸惡勞 hou3 yaht6 wu3 lòuh4 = love ease & hate work
Got Hang Fai: You can say that running is in fact a type of sporting activity, [but] if you persevere with running [係恆常跑] actually I think it’s a spiritual practice [修練], because you have to overcome your own set of inertias [自己一啲嘅惰性], as well as some negative moods. Human beings love ease and hate work, [so] you have to set a few different goals in the process to keep me running and so that I won’t stop.
● 山巒 sāan1 lyùhn4 = a chain of mountains | ● 歷程 lihk6 chìhng4 = a course; a career | ● 寫照 sé2 jiu3 = portrait; portraiture | ● 極限 gihk6 haahn6 = the limit; the maximum | ● 無形間 mòuh4 yìhng4 gāan1 = (?) imperceptibly; virtually | ● 屏障 pìhng4 jeung3 = protective screen (perhaps “barrier” in this context)
Voice-over: [In] the undulations of a chain of mountains, there are highs and lows, an exact portrait of the long-distance-running career of the store supervisor. In the contest — one with many challenges [挑戰多過] — to go beyond his own limits, imperceptibly a barrier was built [between him and his running].
● 路跑 louh6 páu2 = roughly, “road running” (as opposed to mountain running) | ● 渴望 hot3 mohng6 = to thirst for; to long for; to yean for | ● 鳴槍 mìhng4 chēung1 = to fire a shot (here, used to signal the start of a running race) | ● 衝線 chung1 sin3 = to breast the tape (that is, at the finishing line) | ● 厭惡 yim3 wu3 = to detest; to abhor; to abominate
Got Hang Fai: I [unclear] ran road races. [After] several years I felt that the more I ran, the less I had an impetus [動力]. At that time when I was taking part in races, gradually I came to feel that there was pressure [on me]. When I first started, it wasn’t like that. When I first began running, I longed to hear the sound of the starter pistol, and at that instant when the shot was fired, I was really extremely hopeful about what [my] time would be like after breasting the tape at the finishing-line. This went on until on one occasion [直到有一次], during that time before the race began [嗰陣時], as I waited for the starting gun to be fired, a thought popped into my head about having to run another 42 kilometres, and I felt a tinge of loathing for racing. From that year onwards, I didn’t run in races [anymore].
● 認定 yihng6 dihng6 = to firmly believe; to maintain; hold | ● 終身伴侶 jūng1 sān1 buhn6 léuih5 = a lifelong companion (referring to one’s husband or wife) | ● 千方百計 chīn1 fōng1 baak3 gai3 = in a thousand and one ways; by every possible means; by hook or by crook | ● 維繫 wàih4 haih6 = to hold together; to maintain | ● 跑全馬 páau2 chyùhn4 máah5 = (?) to run a full marathon cf. 全程馬拉松 | ● 到手 dou3 sau2 = in one’s hands; in one’s possession | ● 動力 duhng6 lihk6 = motive/driving force; impetus | ● 包裝 bāau1 jōng1 = a pack; a package | ● 樂在其中 lohk6 joih6 kèih4 jūng1 = overwhelmed with joy; overjoyed | ● 合而為一 hahp6 yìh4 wàih4 yāt1 = (?) combine into one
Got Hang Fai: Look, my feeling is that running is like getting married to someone. If you genuinely believe that running will be your lifelong companion, then you must maintain your relationship to it by every possible means. When I first started running, in that first one or two years, it was like the honey-moon period when you first start going out with someone — [I] was so happy. In addition, my objective was very clear: I wanted to run a full marathon. Afterwards, it as if you have got married — you have got your hands on what you wanted [到咗手]. But without you even realizing it, you discover that you don’t really have enough impetus to maintain the fire [團火] that you seemed to have all along before for running.
Voice-over: A morning class [一場早課] [helps] the store manager to get himself into the right frame of mind for work [整理好工作狀態] and although he has changed out of his running gear, he nevertheless carries his passion for running into the work space, infecting the people he works with.
● 紮紮跳 jaat3 jaat3 tiu3= the act of jumping around | ● 師奶 sī1 nāai5*1 = middle-aged woman; married woman; housewife | ● 體能 tái2 nàhng4 = physical strength | ● 半推半就 bun3 tēui1 bun3 jauh6 = yield but with a show of reluctance
Now I do all kinds of sports. The boss taught me all of them. When I was a student, I used to be very active [紮紮跳], but after I got married, basically I didn’t move. I didn’t move. (Got Hang Fai: For 20 years she didn’t move.) [Right,] I didn’t move for 20 years, not an inch. But right now I’m doing physical strength . . . (self corrects) I’m learning about physical strength, running [跑吓班], even doing some hiking, signing up for a running group [跑吓班]. And all thanks to the boss. That is . . . he . . . he . . . he sort of half pushed me and half helped me [半推半就] (Got Han Fai: No I didn’t! You did it by yourself.) Half . . . no, that’s not it . . . I . . . that is . . . that is . . . no, but . . . (Got Hang Fai: I just said a few things to [encourage] you, but it could have happened if you hadn’t been willing.)
Joanna：On my way to walk, I saw the boss. I said: “Why are you carrying your running shoes to work, slung over your shoulders like that [孭]?” He said: I finish my run before I come to work. And so I said: “If I’m so fat, would I be able to lose weight?” And he said: “You could try walking first, otherwise it would be a nuisance if you hurt a leg.”
Got Hang Fai: Previously, she didn’t have the courage to do any hill-climbing, afraid that she’d have a fall [落山]. Actually, her physical strength was inadequate. And yet she was always talking about her friends and how they went out hill-climbing. She was always going on about it, so I knew that she really wanted to give it a try. I knew about an elementary class in mountaineering [where she could learn] some hill-climbing techniques. If you grasp the techniques for climbing and going down hills, then your confidence will increase. That is, you can step outside [the limitations of] your own circle, and broaden your world. Now if you are willing to take the first step, then your world will be a bigger one. Isn’t that right?
● 攀山越 pāan1 sāan1 yuht6 líhng5 = cf. 翻山越嶺 = to cross over mountain after mountain | ● 强健體魄 kèuhng4 gihn6 tái2 paak3 = ? cf. 體魄强健 = be physically strong; have a strong constitution | ● 山賽 sāan1 choi3 = lit. “mountain contest; mountain competition” | ● 資格 jī1 gaak3 = qualifications | ● 放眼世界 fong3 ngáahn5 sai3 gaai3 = to have the whole world in view
Voice-over: Often, you have to scale mountain after mountain to reach some beautiful scenery and to be able to appreciate it in person. This store supervisor constantly trains his physical strength, to the point where he was qualified to participate in marathons held overseas or mountain competitions [山賽]. He made use of sporting events to get a whole view of the world.
● 退落職場 teui3 lohk6 jīk1 chèuhng4 = to withdraw from the work arena | ● 有氣有力 yáuh5 hei3 yáuh5 lihk6 = (?) strong cf. 有氣無力 = weak | ● 操山 chōu1 sāan1 = (?) to walk mountain trails | ● 慢跑 maahn6 páau2 = jogging; to jog | ● 觀光 gūn1 gwōng1 = to go sightseeing; visit; tour | ● 環遊世界 wàahn4 yàuh4 sai3 gaai3 = to travel the world
Got Hang Fai: Look, I am now 57 and what’s coming . . . when I’ve turned 60. I have to think about withdrawing from the work arena and about my life when I’ve retired. The first [priority] is that I stay healthy. You can only keep active if you’ve strong. So now at the moment, I’m thinking that trail walking [操山] is a good option. I can go back to doing some of the things I’d really like to do. For example, I’d like to be a back-packer, I mean, [combining] jogging with sight-seeing. It’d be a lot of fun. After I’ve turned sixty, I could really go and travel round the world in this way.
“A fat girl singer. I think this is revolutionary in itself!” says 林二汶 Lam Eman in this short video challenging both gender and body stereotypes. Although she was bullied at school for the way she looked, and was called all kinds of terrible names (she shares some of these in her presentation), ultimately, she had the last laugh, becoming successful in the duo at17 in the early 2000s, and then continuing as a celebrated solo artist. If you’re interested, I’ve also added a rough translation of one of her songs, 《我變成我》, with music by 盧凱彤 Ellen Loo and lyrics by the inimitable 周耀輝 Chow Yiu Fai. Give it a listen: any song that uses the words 哲學 jit3 hohk6 (philosophy) and 美學 meih5 hohk6 (aesthetics; the study of beauty) in it must be considered out of the ordinary . . .
You can watch the video here (it has subtitles in both English and Standard Written Chinese).
● 發育 faat3 yuhk6 = growth; development | ● 發肉 faat3 yuhk6 = lit. “to put on flesh/meat” | ● 奶王包 náaih5 wòhng4 bāau1 = usu. “steamed creamy custard bun” | ● 世紀巨乳 sai3 géi2 geuih6 yúh5 = (the most) enormous breasts of the century | ● 水塘 séui2 tòhng4 = usu. “a pool; a pond” | ● 死肥婆 séi2 fèih4 pòh4 = an insult for an overweight woman | ● 具畫面 cf. 具 geuih6 = to possess + 畫面 waah6 mín62 = scene | ● 出街 cheut1 gaai1 = to go out (to town, shopping, etc.) | ● 去街 heui3 gaai1 = 出街 | ● 建立gihn6 laahp6 = to build; to establish; to set up | ● 自信心 jih6 seun3 sām1 = self-confidence | ● 革命性 gaak3 mihng6 sing3 = revolutionary | ● 嗮士 sāai31 sí62 = size | ● 形狀 yìhng4 johng6 = form; appearance; shape | ● 標準靚女 bīu1 jéun2 leng3 léui25 = a standard pretty girl
Caption: Lam Eman | Singer, columnist
Dear Lam Eman,
You were in middle school now, and everyone was going through a growth spurt [發育 faat yuk]. You put on weight [發肉 faat yuk], much more than other people did. You were called a lot of names: “creamy custard bun breasts”, “boobs of the century”, “wobbling titties” and “rotten fatty” — very picturesque names, these. Do you still remember that boy? He was the first boy to ask you to go out with him. On that day, he asked: “Hey, why don’t you go out with me?” Before I had time to give him an answer, and was only just turning around, he added said at once: “In your dreams!”
The fact I was plump as a little girl, and also had an elder brother who was very clever, affected my ability to establish any self-confidence when I was younger. A fat girl singer. I think this is revolutionary in itself! I’ve actually managed to sing for ten years, when everyone else is desperately trying to be a size zero. But I know that there are many large girls out there, as well as girls with body shapes that don’t fit the typical “pretty girl” standard.
I AM ME 我係林二汶 | 你選擇令到呢啲經驗去教你成為一個更加好嘅人 | 你唔叫佢哋做傷痕 | 你叫佢哋做徽章 | 呢一生，呢啲就係你嘅徽章
● 啓發 kái2 faat3 = to arouse; to inspire; to enlighten | ● 入行 yahp6 hòhng4 = to enter the profession | ● 驕傲 gīu1 ngouh6 = ① arrogant; conceited ② be proud; take pride in | ● 傷痕sēung1 hàhn4 = a scar; a bruise | ● 徽章 fāi1 jēung1 = usu. “a badge”
I’m sure that they have gained some inspiration. The fact that I got into the music industry is very significant.
But you never thought that all those very difficult days, days that you must not forget, could make you into the kind of person that people respect. You must be proud of yourself, because you never ever gave up. Never for one minute.
I AM ME. I am Lam Eman. You chose to let these experiences teach you how to become a better person. You don’t call them “scars”. You call them “medals”. These are the medals you will wear throughout your life.
Here are the lyrics for 《我變成我》. You can find the MV here . . .
錯的對 對的錯 | Down-wrong rights, and down-right wrongs 為了太多太多歪理願意學 | Because of too much illogic, I was willing to learn 然後學到識説謊 | Later, I learned just enough to tell lies 我的殼 我的角 | My thorns, my horns 為了太多太多經濟及數學 | Too much economics & too much mathematics 然後學到想正常過 | Taught me to want to lead a normal life
幾多工作 | The more work I do 幾多操控著我 | The more it takes control of me 難道沒法不説謊 | Is there really no way not to tell lies? 一刻閃過 | In a lightning flash 想學掂行掂過 | I wanted to learn how to walk right on by 寧願讓我不正常過 | Preferring to let myself live a non-normal life
歡呼 存在過 | Hooray! I’ve managed to exist 記住沉默容易容易沉默過 | Just remember: keeping quiet makes it easy to go along quietly 從未這麽感覺我 | I’ve never felt myself this way before 一身 存在過 | Without help, by myself I’ve existed 記住麻木容易容易麻木過 Just remember: keeping numb makes it easy to go along numbly 從未像這刻敏銳過 | I’ve never been so sensitive as I feel right now
過一秒 老一秒 | Another second, another second older 問我那些那些一秒便脫落 | Each second asks me about my these & those, then falls away 靈魂熱到想脫光 | My soul is so hot it wants to shed light (or “strip itself bare”) 我的世 我的界 | All my uni- and all my -verse 被我那些那些統統改變過 | Have been transformed utterly by all my these & those 時候遇到想變成我 | What time brings I want to turn it into me
歡呼 存在過 | Hooray! I’ve managed to exist 記住沉默容易容易沉默過 | Remember: silence is easy, it’s easy to get by being silent 從未這麽感覺我 | I have never felt myself this way before 一身 存在過 | Without help, by myself I’ve existed 記住麻木容易容易麻木過 | Remember: numbness is easy, it’s easy to get by being numb 從未像這刻敏銳過 | I’ve never been so sensitive as I feel right now
歡呼 誰是我 | Hooray — so this who is me 記住明白然後承認誰是我 | Remember: when I’ve understood then I’ll acknowledge who I am 從未這麽感覺我 | I have never felt myself this way before 一刻 存在過 | For an instant I’ve existed 記住凝望時代時代凝望我 | Remember: as you look at the times, the times look back at you 從未像這刻敏銳過 | I’ve never been so sensitive as I feel right now
喜歡哲學 | I’m fond of philosophy 喜歡思索更多 | I’m fond of more and more thoughts 來吧！在這刻變成我 Come on! I want to become me in this moment
喜歡美學 | I’m fond of aesthetics 喜歡風格更多 | I’m fond of more and more styles 來吧！在這刻變成我 | Come on! I want to become me in this moment
時候遇到想變成我 | What time brings I want to turn it into me
黃宇軒 Sampson Wong and 曾梓洋 Eric Tsang made their first “When in Doubt” walking video back in October 2020 and since then have gone from strength to strength. In their work, they combine urban geography with beautiful (don’t take your eyes off what’s happening in the background) images accompanied by a powerful piano soundtrack — at times the fusion is breathtakingly powerful and expresses with verve something of Hong Kong’s elusive city spirit. Recently, they have been experimenting with an added element, conversation, and this led me to transcribe the following video which shows Sampson and his friend Sammy walking through Kai Tak in search of the Kai Tak River. Throughout their journey, Sampson muses on the theme of 重組自然 or “reworking nature”. After finding the Kai Tak River, he comments:
我哋而家呢，見到嘅啟德河、新蒲崗嘅呢一段呢，其實都經歷過個咁樣嘅過程。原本呢，居民呢，未必咁留意到佢嘅存在。喺過去十幾年呢，各方嘅努力之下呢，重新將佢變為咗新蒲崗呢一帶呢，特別靚嘅一個城市景觀。經過美化啦、活化啦，同埋潔淨之後呢，大家都越嚟越鍾意呢條河。 The section of the Kai Tak River which we now see in San Po Kong did in fact undergo this same kind of process. Once upon a time, the residents of the area didn’t necessarily take much notice of its existence. Over the past ten or more years, thanks to the efforts of various parties, it has been transformed into a particularly beautiful part of the urban landscape in San Po Kong. After being beautified, brought back to life and cleaned up, this river is now liked by an ever-increasing number of people.
I still remember the first time I saw a “When in Doubt” video. It featured 石硤尾 Shek Kip Mei and when, after slowly winding his way through the Nam Shan Estate, Sampson reaches Tai Hung Sai Street, my heart nearly skipped a beat as he mooched along past the 彩龍大酒樓 Lucky Dragon restaurant, whose takeaway outlet round the back I visited frequently for lunch back in 2013. There’s something exhilarating about reconnecting with a place in this way, especially when you haven’t seen it for a long time. I felt the same in the video on 屯門Tuen Mun, when special guest Chong Suen strolls past the river channel in the vicinity of Tuen Tsz Wai. How many times have I done the same thing!
You can enjoy the Kai Tak video here. Follow the link to their channel and you can discover more of these walks for yourself. Even in places you might not be familiar with, you will still discover moments of the Hong Kong mystique, when music, image and the rhythm of movement come together in synergy — or perhaps even a sensuous “syn-energy”. You can also read up on the creation of the series in a Zolima Citymag article by Christopher Dewolf entitled “Sampson Wants You to Take a Walk“.
● 嘗試 sèuhng4 si3 = to try | ● 元素 yùhn4 sou3 = an element | ● 混凝土 wahn6 yìhng4 tóu2 = concrete (building material) | ● 事物 sih6 maht6 = a thing | ● 重組 chùhng4 jóu2 = to restructure; to reorganize
I’m Sampson, from “When in Doubt, Take a Walk”. In most of the walking videos on our channel there is usually one person walking around here and there. Nobody speaks. But this time we would like to try something new.
Caption: When in Doubt, Take a Walk
I arranged to go out for a walk with Sammy with the intention of going from Kai Tak to San Po Kong.
We are always saying that in a city nothing is unnatural, because even the most artificial things made by humans make use of natural elements. For example, the concrete used in construction comes in fact from natural things. So for this reason, from the perspective of urban research, we tend to say that the city is reworking nature, changing elements from the natural world into arrangements that we like, into the things we see in our city.
● 河流 hòh4 làuh4 = a river | ● 大興土木 daaih6 hīng1 tóu2 muhk6 = go in for large-scale construction | ● 圍板 wàih4 báan2 = (?) temporary fencing (used for construction sites) | ● 圍 wàih4 = to enclose
Usually, we may perhaps think that Kai Tak is a high-density area, with a lot of people and a lot of buildings, but when we were out walking and if we looked carefully, there were in fact trees everywhere, planted in different ways. Other elements that everyone always talks about as appearing in cities are bodies of water and rivers. In Hong Kong, we talk more about the sea. When I went to Kai Tak, what I really wanted to find was the northern section of the Kai Tak River, which was somewhere here. But because just recently there is a lot of construction work going on in Kai Tak, the view of the river is generally blocked by temporary fencing. On this occasion, I took Sammy to look through the little holes in the fencing . . .
● 窿仔 lūng1 jái2 = a small hole | ● 第時 daih6 sìh4 = in the future, another day | ● 觀察 gūn1 chaat3 = to observe; to watch; to survey | ● 引導 yáhn5 douh6 = to guide; to lead
. . . and we found that we could see the Kai Tak River. One day, it will become the most important scenic spot in this area. At this point in time, many people may not be aware of this section of the Kai Tak River on the northern side of Kai Tak. When we looked through the holes in the fencing on that day, we found that many like-minded people were taking a look with us. They too discovered that here they could see the Kai Tak River. Sometimes, observing a city is like this. When you start looking at things, this can lead others to look, too. Others can be led to look at things in the city that were once invisible, just because you started to look at them.
● 形體 yìhng4 tái2 = 1. shape (of a person’s body) 2. form & structure| ● 資源 jī1 yùhn4 = resources | ● 覆蓋 fūk1 goi3 = to cover | ● 著名 jyu3 mìhng4 = famous; celebrated; well-known | ● 景觀 gíng2 gūn1 = a landscape | ● 美化 méih5 faa3 = to beautify | ● 活化 wuht6 faa3 = (?) to vivify; to inject life into (a place)
Water exists in the city in all kinds of different forms and is one of the objectives of our observation. From Kai Tak to San Po Kong, we can get to the southern section of the Kai Tak River in San Po Kong. This river really has a lot to teach us. This is because more than ten years ago cities all over the world began to think that rivers ought to be a treasured resource and should no longer be covered over. For instance, there is the very famous example of the Cheonggyecheon River in South Korea, a river which originally no one like and which people wanted to cover over. Now, it has been opened up again to become a landscape everyone has seen. The section of the Kai Tak River which we now see in San Po Kong did in fact undergo this same kind of process. Once upon a time, the residents of the area didn’t necessarily take much notice of its existence. Over the past ten or more years, thanks to the efforts of various parties, it has been transformed into a particularly beautiful part of the urban landscape in San Po Kong. After being beautified, brought back to life and cleaned up, this river is now liked by an ever-increasing number of people. In the old days, the river linked the local community . . .
● 連結 lìhn4 git3 = to connect | ● 打水 dáa2 séui2 = to fetch water| ● 話唔定 waah6 mh4 dihng6 = perhaps; maybe | ● 聚集 jeuih6 jaahp6 = to gather; to assemble | ● 街坊 gāai1 fōng1 = neighbourhood | ● 相遇 sēung1 yuh6 = to meet each other | ● 榆木 yùh4 syuh6 = elm | ● 盛開 sihng6 hōi1 = in full bloom
. . . in very functional ways. A long time ago, people would wash their clothes in it and fetch water, but an urban river in today’s world may perhaps, as a scenic landscape, have another function of bringing together the local people.
On this walk with Sammy, it was the season for the elm trees to flower and we encountered several very beautiful elm trees. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed them. On this walk, we came across a lot of plants, animals and birds. In addition, by observing water, we passed along the Kai Tak River.
Finally, we arrived at the Choi Hung Road Sports Centre.
● 噴水池 pan3 séui2 chìh4 = a fountain | ● 觀賞 gūn1 séung2 = to enjoy; to admire (a view) | ● 旅程 léuih5 chìhng4 = a journey | ● 切入點 chit3 yahp6 dím2 = (?) entry point | ● 急劇 gāp1 kehk6 = drastic | ● 周圍 jāu1 wàih4 = around; round; about
. . . and in the vicinity of the park, we came across a fountain that I really like. When I was introducing this place to Sammy, I also mentioned that, apart from the fountain, which was one element that was admired in this area, there were many excellent public spaces, which many people used for relaxation. After dark, we went on walking a bit longer, bringing an end to this journey of ours. If you have never been to Kai Tak or San Po Kong, I recommend that you follow the route we took. You can use “City and Nature” as your entry point. In addition, you can also pay attention to the public spaces and parks in this area. You can observe Kai Tak, this area in the midst of drastic change. You can also take a look at the old district of San Po Kong. In addition to having a good look around in accordance with out topic “City and Nature”, you can also find some scenery that you think is interesting. I hope you will come to this area for a walk, then afterwards tell us what you liked.
許寶強 Hui Po-keung, a professor at Lingnan University, was arrested earlier this month on the charge of “collusion with foreign forces”, a nebulous accusation the Chinese Communist Party regularly uses to bully anyone with the courage to act as a human being and not a tool. Actually, he was part of group that ran “612 Humanitarian Relief Fund”, a fund that helped arrested protesters pay for their legal and medical bills.
In this video from 2013, he addresses a different kind of bullying, this time associated with 恐同 or homophobia, and talks briefly about “emotional education” as a way of tackling the predicament. Generously, he suggests:
佢哋嘅焦慮同恐懼好多時係同我哋呢個社會係仲未完美有關嘅 That is, that the fears and anxieties at the root of bullying behaviour can be put down to the fact that society is still not perfect.
There are no great grammatical conundrums in Hui’s presentation, but watch out for the various structures he makes use of, including 或多或少 = to a greater or lesser extent and 唔單止 = not only. At 2:18 he employs 之所以, which means something like “the reason why”. And so 你哋之所以受排斥或者係欺凌 becomes in English “the reason why you are excluded or bullied”.
He also makes use of 到dóu3*2, a verb particle used to indicate “accomplishment or successful completion of an action” (Matthews & Yip: Cantonese, Chapter 11). So, at 0:51, you’ll hear 直接處理到 = “directly tackle” (with the implication of success in the endeavour), followed soon after by 放低到呢一種恐懼同埋焦慮嘅情緒, which means something like “to let go of this mood of fear and anxiety”.
Finally, at 2:46, you’ll hear 使到, an unusual (perhaps more literary) way of expression causation.
You can also add to your vocabulary with the following items: 女性主義者 néuih5 sing3 jyú2 yih6 jé2 = a feminist; 粗魯 chōu1 lóuh5 = rough; rude; boorish; 變體 bian3 taai3 = abnormal; anomalous; 受害者 sauh6 hoih6 jé2 = a victim; 欺凌 hēi1 lìhng4 = to bully & humiliate; and 改善 gói2 sihn6 = to improve; to ameliorate.
Please scroll down for my transcription, English translation and notes. You can view the video here (subtitles in both Standard Written Chinese and English). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
● 女性主義者 néuih5 sing3 jyú2 yih6 jé2 = a feminist | ● 傾向 kīng1 heung3 = a tendency; an inclination; a deviation | ● 粗魯 chōu1 lóuh5 = rough; rude; boorish | ● 大意 daaih6 yi3 = careless; negligent; inattentive | ● 細心 sai3 sām1 = careful; attentive | ● 溫柔 wān1 yàuh4 = gentle & soft | ● 變體 bin3 taai3 = abnormal; anomalous | ● 常態 sèuhng4 taai3 = normality; normal behaviour or conditions | ● 引入 yáhn5 yahp6 = ① to lead into; to draw into ② to introduce from elsewhere | ● 教師 gaau3 sī1 = a teacher | ● 恐懼 húng2 geuih6 = ① frightened ② fear; dread
Caption: Hui Po-keung | University Professor
Both feminists such as Simone de Beauvoir and Sigmund Freud — that important psychological researcher — were of the opinion that the inclination towards homosexuality was something that everyone had, to a greater or lesser extent. A man might well be . . . of course, sometimes he would be very rough or very careless, but at the same time you couldn’t rule out [排] that sometimes he could be very attentive, gentle, tender. For this reason, then it is not an abnormal phenomenon. It could even be [our] normal state.
Caption: Homosexuality is Normal
If we want to handle this issue effectively, we will at the same time have to bring in a kind of emotional education. An effective emotional education — this kind of education of the emotions, should be able to handle [this issue] directly. It might even be able to help students and teachers in schools to let go of [放低] their fears and anxieties.
● 受害者 sauh6 hoih6 jé2 = a victim | ● 欺凌 hēi1 lìhng4 = to bully & humiliate | ● 守節 sáu2 jit3 = (of a woman under feudalism) to preserve chastity after the death of her husband | ● 習俗 jaahp6 juhk6 = a custom; a convention | ● 昏迷 fān1 màih4 = a stupor; a coma | ● 反思 fáan2 sī1 = ① to recollect; to think back; to rethink profoundly ② self-examination; introspection; profound consideration
Actually, the victims [of homophobia] are not only the students who are bullied. At the same time, bullies and those who exclude others [排斥者] are themselves victims of this culture of terror or this terrified mood.
Caption: Education Both Bullies & the Bullied with Emotion
For instance, a hundred years ago when [the writer] Mr Lu Xun talked about his wish to respond to [feudal ideas about] chastity for widows — a traditional custom in China. He felt that this chastity for widows actually caused nothing but pointless suffering, as well as both violence and stupor. A hundred years on, with Hong Kong in the state that it is today, shouldn’t we be seriously thinking about [反思] whether [the way we view] homophobia is a mood [情緒] that produces suffering? If this indeed is the case, how should we positively go about handling and solving it?
Caption: 反恐同 | 思教育 | 反思
I AM ME 我係許寳強 | 我想同曾受或者係正受校園欺凌或者係排斥嘅同學講 | 你哋之所以受，呃，排斥或者係欺凌其實唔係由於你自身嘅問題，或者你自己唔好 | [更多可能]係反映排斥或者欺凌者佢哋嘅焦慮或者係恐懼 | 而佢哋嘅焦慮同恐懼好多時係同我哋呢個社會係仲未完美有關嘅 | 噉因此無論你係同志或者係非同志嘅朋友 | 我哋應該一齊去改善呢個社會狀況 | 使到欺凌同排斥唔再喺校園存在
● 曾受 chàhng4 sauh6 = roughly, “ever received/undergone” (Note: 曾 indicates “something ever having happened in the indefinite past” cf. 未 meih6 “something NEVER/NOT YET having happened in the indefinite past” | ● 正受 jing3 sauh6 = roughly, “currently in the process of receiving/undergoing” | ● 自身 jih6 sān1 = self; oneself | ● 改善 gói2 sihn6 = to improve; to ameliorate
These are the topics I am currently concerned about.
I AM ME I am Hui Po-keung. To any student who has been the subject — or is currently the subject — bullying or exclusion at school — I would like to say: the reason why you are being excluded or bullied is actually not because of anything to do with you personally [唔係由於你自身嘅問題] or because you are not any good. It more probably reflects the anxieties and fears of those doing the excluding or bullying. And most of the time, their anxieties and fears are connected to this society of ours still not being perfect. For this reason, regardless of whether you are gay or not, we should all work together to improve conditions in this society, so that bullying and exclusion in schools is stopped [唔再 … 存在].