Learning Cantonese: Democracy as “Subversion”

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

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

● 劉頴匡女友 Emilia Wong

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

究竟呢個政權係怕啲乜呀?怕啲死人會繼續危害國家安全。呢多日嘅所謂嘅法庭嘅程序,喺我角度,係大家夾埋演咗套戲呀。根本係原先寫好咗嘅劇本。所以你話遲吓嘅上訴有冇信心,我係唔會夠膽寄予任何嘅厚望,因為我覺得都只係一場戲呀,哈。大家撐住呀,,都冇乜嘢可以講,大家就係繼續喺自己嘅崗位撐住自己,撐住身邊嘅人。

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

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

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

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

● 呂智恆養母 Elsa

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

我哋一家人,我先生、我哋都好好咁樣教導佢。佢係一個良好嘅青年,只係有,係有愛,同埋尋求公義嘅,我以佢為榮。

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

● Elsa, foster mother of Hendrick Lui Chi Hang:

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

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

● 梁國雄太太陳寶瑩

【1:56】審訊嘅結果係一啲都唔出奇,我係預料之內㗎喇。因為我哋知道,而家國安法立咗之後嚟講,成個香港嘅司法制度已經完全係扭曲、完全係顛倒嘅。

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

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

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

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

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

● 岑敖暉太太余思朗

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

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

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

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

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

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

● 朱凱廸太太區佩芬

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

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

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

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

我們必須在一起 | We Must Be United

各位朋友,我很明白當下這場政治大審判,對我們每個人都是巨大打擊。

這是香港史上最大規模的政治審判,站在被告席的四十七人,來自不同政黨不同界別,有年長有年輕,有些甚至彼此並不認識,他們在香港最艱難的時候,選擇參與立法會初選,甘願承受不可知的政治風險,不為名不為利,只望盡一己之力,救我城於水火。他們為人正直,行事磊落,是值得我們敬重的義人。

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

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

沒有人能料到,當權者為了撲殺這場民主運動,竟將四十七人全部控以「顛覆國家政權」罪,希望通過囚禁他們的肉身,磨損他們的意志,斷絕他們的政治參與,從而給他們最大的懲罰,也給所有香港人最大的警告。我們站在重要的歷史關口。我們如何應對這場大審判,我們守著甚麼,留下甚麼,絕對會影響香港的政治發展,也會影響後人如何看待我們。

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

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

我們可以做些什麼?做記者的,為我們記下歷史真相;拍紀錄片的,為我們留下珍貴鏡頭;從事法律的,善用你的專業儘量幫忙;做老師的,告訴學生香港正在發生甚麼;為人父母的,不要害怕和孩子討論時事;正在讀書的,不懷憂不逃避,立志做個有思想有理想的人;用臉書的,不要懼於分享各種報導和評論。

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

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

我相信,只要用心,每個人都有可著力之處,都可以活得堅韌一點。退一萬步,即使我們真的不能即時改變現實甚麼,但我們用一種不屈的姿態活著,我們自己就會不一樣。我們活得不一樣,香港就會跟著不一樣,因為我們活在同一片土地,我們看見彼此,互相砥礪。

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

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

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

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

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

Professor 周保松 Chow Po-chung

This article originally appeared on Stand News here.

Learning Cantonese: Dickson Chan and Welcome to My World!

Within a week of his life, Dickson Chan went from earning 30,000 dollars a month as a banker to delivering takeaways meals for Foodpanda. In this Apple Daily video from January this year, we follow him in his efforts to bounce back from his disappointment.

He is a challenging speaker for Cantonese learners, using dislocated syntax in places as well some very intense code-switching that includes not only the use of “last day” as a verb but short English linking expressions such as “so far” and “and then”. This serves as a reminder that sometimes when we come across new things in Cantonese, occasionally it turns out to be English in a slightly unexpected context!

Apart from his speech habits, Dickson employs some noteworthy grammar. One segment contains an instance of the structure 冇得 móuh5 dāk1. The Chinese scholar 彭小川Peng Xiaochuan devotes a chapter to this structure in her book 《广州话助词研究》(2010) and identifies six different meanings, but of these the most common are to express (1) the objective possibility of an action [行为的客观可能性] and (2) reasonable permission or otherwise to realize a certain verb-action [情理上允许不允许实现某种动作行为]. However, please keep in mind that she writes specially about the Cantonese of Guangdong province, and so some of her conclusions may not apply to Hong Kong Cantonese. When Dickson uses it in 我唔摺埋架單車 | 就冇得入閘 it roughly means “I couldn’t go through the turnstiles unless I folded up my bike”.

We’re also treated to another instance of the aspect marker 開 hōi1. I talked about this in the post on Alfred Chan, as an indicator of habitual action, and here it is again in 以前冇洗開車呀, meaning “in the past, when [I] wasn’t in the habit of washing cars”. As I mentioned in the Alfred Chan post, Yip and Matthews present a basic introduction to this marker in Intermediate Cantonese, and give the examples 我哋做開呢行 = We have been in this profession for some time, and 佢用開嗰隻牌子 = He regularly uses that brand.

You might also enjoy this clip for the musical soundtrack: they’ve done a brilliant job of matching sound to image here.

Apart from the banking terminology, you’ll hear the following vocabulary items: 幻想 waahn6 séung2 = illusion; fantasy; 長命斜 chèuhng4 mehng6 che3 = a steep slope; 騰空 tàhng4 hūng1 = (?) to leave space to do sth.; 遜於 seun3 yū1 = inferior to; and 孭鑊 mē1 wohk6 = take the blame for the fault of others; bear the responsibility of sth. gone wrong.

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

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

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

我都曾經有過,即係 *je,希望 | 或者幻想 | 可以係,即係 *je,仲有嘅彎轉 | 仲有份工手囉 | 頭嗰一兩日都會有諗 | 點解係我啊,咁樣 | 但係 *daai 既然過兩日都係我喇 | 咁不如就唔好諗啦,做啦,咁樣 | Caption 疫情下的 ibank 人 | 我係喺銀行入便做金融法規範疇嘅工作 | 喺11月初啦,公司就同我講話,呃,即係 *je,有個解雇嘅通知 | 噉然後就,一個星期之後,就已經 last day 咗 | 呃,我失咗業之後呢,除咗我就送外賣之外呢 | 我都有幫人洗車啦 | 同埋幫人砌電腦啊

● 幻想 waahn6 séung2 = illusion; fantasy | ● 法規 faat3 kwāi1 = laws & regulations | ● 解雇 gáai2 gu3 = to discharge; to dismiss; to fire | ● 外賣 [ng]oih6 maaih6 = ① to provide a takeout service ② takeaway; carryout | ● 砌電腦 chai3 dihn6 nóuh5 = (?) to put a computer together from parts

Note: In verb-object verbs such as 失業 sāt1 yihp6 = “to lose one’s job; to become unemployed”, aspect markers such as jó2 come between the two parts rather than at the end of the verb: 失咗業 = lost my job; became unemployed.

Once I entertained the hope, or the fantasy, that there might be another turn [of luck], that I might get my hands on another job. For the first one or two days, I was constantly thinking “Why me?”, But since, after one or two days, it was still me, [I said to myself] “Don’t think [about it] any more. Do something!” | Caption: An ibank Worker during the Time of Covid-19 | I work in a bank in the area [範疇] of financial laws and regulations. At the start of November, the company told me that there was a notice to dismiss staff. After that, one week later, it was my last day. After I became unemployed, in addition to collecting and delivering takeaway meals, I washed cars for people and helped them take apart computers and put them together again [砌電腦].

【1:00】烏溪沙去馬鞍山呢 | 基本上係全馬鞍山最 beep 條路嚟㗎 | 隔條長命斜啦 | 踩上去都要兩三個字啦 | 搭馬鐵都要一個站 | 啱喺馬鐵站長俾人趕 | 話我唔摺埋架單車 | 就得入閘 | 噉呃,焗住唔入囉 | 因爲我,攞咗嘢食喇嘛 | 噉攞咗嘢食點摺埋?| 好,我今次好彩喇 | 可以直接喺利安邨執到個麥當勞 | 噉即係喺隔籬啫 | 首先我哋睇吓今日賺到幾多錢先 | 唔錯喎!| 兩個鐘有138,都 | 最好試過賺百五蚊 | 即係 *je,約莫  77蚊一個鐘 | 試過最差嘅話5,50蚊一個鐘㗎咋,圍返開 | 50蚊一個鐘就真係低喇 | 平均每個星期呢,都 around 做十個鐘到嘅 | 噉有平日盡量騰空返呢 . . .

● 隔 gaak3 = to separate; to partition; to stand or lie between | ● 長命斜 chèuhng4 mehng6 che3 = a steep slope (Sheik Cantonese) | ● 站長 jaahm6 jéung2 = a station master | ● 摺埋 jip3 màaih4 = to fold up | ● 焗住 guhk6 jyuh6 = 《香港粵語大詞典》 gives the meaning as (在別無選擇情況之下被迫;逼迫, that is to be forced (when there is no other alternative)(p. 234) | ● 約莫 yeuk3 mók6*2 = about, around, approximately, roughly | ● 平均 pìhng4 gwān1 = average | ● 平日 pìhng4 yaht6 = usu. “an average/ordinary day” but sometimes also “a working day” as opposed to a day off | ● 騰空 tàhng4 hūng1 = (?) to leave space to do sth.

Native-speaker’s comment: It is difficult to find an equivalent term for 圍返開, in English. I would say it is the action of “to divide (something)” (in most cases it is about mathematical calculations). For example, often in a conversation, we would say “今晚餐飯總共400蚊,我哋有四個人,圍返開每人100蚊”, which means “Dinner tonight cost us 400 dollars. We have four people in total. After splitting the bill, each of us should pay 100 dollars.” However, in the video, I think we need not express the action. We can simply say: An hourly (implied that you divided the total wage on that particular day into hourly wage) wage of 50 dollars is pretty low.

Note: Firstly, the beeped out word is almost certainly 閪 hāi1, better known to many people in the form 自由閪.  (Please feel free to explore all the meanings of this word through the Sheik on-line dictionary.) Secondly, this segment contains an instance of the structure 冇得 móuh5 dāk1, which generally seems to indicate absolute inability [ADD note from Chinese scholar]. And so, 我唔摺埋架單車 | 就冇得入閘 means roughly “I couldn’t go through the turnstiles unless I folded up my bike”. I am (still) wondering whether the use of 冇得 occurs in situations where (a) the prohibition is very strong; and (2) no one (or no particular factor) is being blamed for the inability. Thirdly, after reviewing all the ways of expressing “approximately; roughly” in the introduction to Alfred Chan’s video on dai pai dong’s in Hong Kong, I come across a new one: 約莫 yeuk3 mók6*2 (note the changed tone)! Incidentally, in this segment, Dickson Chan also uses another less common terms for approximations in the phrase 都 around 做十個鐘到嘅, where dóu3*2 is used (I don’t know whether this is the accepted writing). Finally, there’s a couple of uses of 試過 si3 gwo3 towards the end. In ordinary situations, this is just the verb “to try” followed by the experiential aspect marker 過gwo3, but it can take an idiomatic meaning close to the more formal 曾经 chahng4 ging1 = “to have had experience of something”, sometimes reduced in English to a mere “ever”. For this reason, 最好試過賺百五蚊 does NOT mean that Dickson “tried to earn 150 dollars” but that he “once earned” such a princely sum.

The road from Wu Kai Sha to Ma On Shan is the most [beep!] road. A steep slope separates [隔] [the two places]. On the bike [踩上去] it takes [a good (都)] 10 to 15 minutes. By MTR it is a trip of one station. Just now, I was turned away by [俾人趕] the station master at the Ma On Shan MTR Station, who said that I couldn’t go through the turnstiles unless I folded up my bike. Having no choice, I did not enter the station [局住唔入囉], the reason being that I had picked up some food. Why should I fold up the bike when I was carrying food? Good stuff! Today we are in luck. I can go straight to the Lei On Estate to collect a McDonalds. It’s just nearby. First of all, let’s have a look at how much we’ve earned today. Not bad! 138 dollars for two hours [here, 都 dōu1 is dislocated to the end of the sentence]. [My] best ever was 150 dollars, that is, about 77 dollars for an hour [while] [my] worst was only 5-, 50 for an hour. What amounts when divided up to a wage of 50 dollars in an hour has really been the lowest. On average every week I do around ten hours, and try to leave has much time free during work-days . . .

【2:00】. . . 唔報更係因爲 | 萬一如果有 interview 嘅时候 | 噉我可以即刻去 | 比起之前我嘅收入 | 都同之前我諗會接近相差十倍嘅 | 呃,我哋金融法規呢一個範疇呢 | 其實相對哋都比較係所謂「鐵飯碗」呢,銀行入便 | 月入都,呃,三萬到啦 | 因爲,呃,金融法規本身 | 係,即係 *je,因應好多金監管機構嘅要求去設立嘅 | 噉所以基本上都唔會話大規模去裁員嘅 | 嗯,我公司如果根據啱啱上季嘅業績呢 | 其實都係有賺嘅 | 不過就遜於預期呢 | 全球都炒一千個呢 | 但係香港就冇一個實數話炒幾多 | 噉所以其實都好,好彷徨 | 會唔知道下一步 next step 應該要做啲乜 | 因爲都相信自己 | 會冇咁快揾到工嘅 | 噉就 . . .

● 報更 bou3 gāang1 = (?) to let someone know that one is available to do a certain shift | ● 相差 sēung1 chāa1 = to differ | ● 鐵飯碗 tit3 faahn6 wún2 = an “iron rice bowl”, that is, a secure job | ● 月入 yuht6 yahp6 = monthly income | ● 因應 yān1 ying3 = ① to cope with ② to adapt oneself to | ● 金監管機構 gām1 gāam1 gún2 gēi1 kau3 = (?) institutions that supervise financial matters | ● 大規模 daaih6 kwāi1 mòuh4 = on a large scale | ● 裁員 chòih4 yùhn4 = to cut down the number of persons employed; to reduce staff; to retrench staff | ● 上季 seuhng6 gwai3 = the previous quarter | ● 業績 yihp6 jīk1 = outstanding achievement | ● 遜於 seun3 yū1 = inferior to | ● 彷徨 pòhng4 wòhng4 = to feel utterly lost; not knowing what to do; to disorientated and anxious

. . . not putting my name down for any shifts [報更] just in case an interview [comes up]. That way I can head off at the earliest possible time [即刻]. Compared to what I previously used to get paid, I think I earn nearly ten times less [相差十倍] than before. Our field of financial regulation is a relatively secure one, an “iron rice bowl” as they say, in a bank. [My] monthly wage was around 30,000 dollars. This is because, in itself [本身], financial regulation was established to deal with all the demands made by the many [different] financial institutions that play a supervisory role. For this reason, basically there would be no talk of any large-scale reduction of staff. According to the figures [業績] of the quarter that has just finished, my company made money, but this was inferior to the predicted [earnings]. Across the globe, [they] have fired a thousand workers, but there is no actual figure for how many people have been fired in Hong Kong. For that reason, [I] feel in fact quite at a loss, and I don’t know what my next step should be, because I believe that I won’t be able to find another job so quickly. And then . . .

【3:00】. . . 變咗會覺得乜都要做住先 | 佢哋通知我係星期一 | 噉星期二我就登記咗 Foodpanda | 跟住星期三就同我講可以上去裝備 | 呃,最主要因爲冇咗一個固定嘅收入呢 | 噉係靠呢份 ,即係 *je,所謂糧啦 | 或者老底啦,或者賠嘅錢呢 | 其實係冇乜安全感嘅 | 因爲我呢個 moment 被人裁出嚟 | 我都唔會知我係唔係,即係 *je,要等幾耐㗎嘛 | so far 失業之後,都 reach out 過十零個 headhunter 啦 | 呃,我諗 send 都有 send 咗四、五十份 CV 呀 | 即係 *je,一個月内 | 噉有四份工都有見過嘅 | 當時我啱啱一收到公司電話呢 | 就已經同屋企人講咗話有呢個,即係 *je,消息 | 噉屋企人都震驚喇 | 但係又好似都見怪不怪啦 | 因爲都,嗯 . . .

● 攞裝備 ló2 jōng1 beih6 = to get the equipment | ● 老底 lóuh5 dái2 = usu. “basic salary”, but it may also refer to the money Dickson saved/earned from his original job as an ibanker | ● 賠 pùih4 = to compensate; to pay for | ● 震驚 jan3 gīng1 = to shock; to amaze; to astonish | ● 見怪不怪 gin3 gwaai3 bāt1 gwaai3 = not be surprised by anything unusual

Note: Dickson uses another approximation expression 零 lèhng4 in this segment, which is added after numbers somewhat like the English -ish: 都 reach out 過十零個 he-hunter 啦 = I have been in touch with 10 or so head-hunters.

. . . I felt that first of all I must do anything. They notified me on a Monday. On Tuesday I registered with Foodpanda. After that, they told me that I could come and collect the [necessary] equipment. Because I don’t have a fixed source of income, the most important thing is that, frankly speaking, I don’t have a strong sense of security relying on the so-called basic salary I earned from this foodpanda job or the compensation offered by my previous company.. Because I was retrenched at a moment [like this], clearly I don’t have any way of knowing how long I will have to wait [to find another position]. So far, after I became unemployed, I have been in touch with [Dickson uses the English “reach out”] to 10 or so head-hunters and I think I have sent out 40 or 50 CVs in a month. I have had interviews for four jobs. The moment after I got the phone call from the company, I told my family that there was this news. They were shocked, but by the same token they didn’t make a big fuss about it [見怪不怪]. This was because . . .

【4:00】. . . 我相信我唔係疫情之下唯一嘅受害者啦 | 噉我自己都唔介意去被人知道 | 我當刻係被人炒 | 對於面子 | 我自己更加重要嘅就係希望得到人哋嘅支持 | 喺 Facebook 公開講咗之後 | 亦都好多好好嘅朋友譬如佢哋會介紹一臨時工、散工我 | 一開頭其實有啲難開口嘅 | 𢯎朋友俾車我洗 | 絕對有啲難開口嘅 | 因爲,呃,當個身份對調咗 | 如果我揾人嚟洗車嘅人 | 你洗花咗或者洗得唔乾净 | 我可以嘈人哋㗎嘛 | 噉如果而家我幫個朋友洗 | 噉洗得唔好、唔滿意 | 或者有啲咩嘢譬如整花咗嘅 | 噉其實係自己孭鑊㗎喎 | 以前冇洗開車呀 | 以前,呃,俾錢人嚟幫我洗 | 而家,呃,收錢幫人洗 | 有乜感想? | 辛苦 | 但係 . . . 都係一個必要時嘅收入

● 當刻 dōng1 hāak1 = approx. “at that time (in the past)” | ● 介意 gaai3 yi3 = to take offence; to mind | ● 臨時工 làhm4 sìh4 gūng1 = casual labourer; temporary worker | ● 散工 sáan2 gūng1 = 1. casual labourer; odd-jobber; odd hands; journeyman. 2. odd job; short-term job; day labour; intermittent/recurring job; short-term labour; freelance work | ● 𢯎 [ng]āau1 = usu. “to scratch” but here with the idiomatic meaning of “to beg; to request; to entreat” (the subtitles have 求 kàuh4) | ● 對調 deui3 diuh6 = to exchange; to swap | ● 洗花 sái2 fāa1= to leave marks or stains when one washes sth. | ● 嘈 chou4 = usu. noisy; clamorous; booming, but 《香港粵語大詞典》 also adds the meaning of 爭吵 = to quarrel; to wrangle (p.591) | ● 孭鑊 mē1 wohk6 = take the blame for the fault of others; bear the responsibility of sth. gone wrong | ● 感想 gám2 séung2 = thoughts; impressions; reflections | ● 必要時 bīt1 yiu3 sìh4 = if necessary; if need be; if the need arises; should it be necessary

Note: Firstly, in this segment, the verb 幫 bōng1 is used quite a bit, but instead of serving as a full verb meaning “to help”, it functions instead as a co-verb expressing the sense of “on behalf of; for”. Examples include 如果而家我幫個朋友洗 = “if now I wash a car for a friend” and 俾錢人嚟幫我洗 = “pay money to people to come and wash [my car] for me”. As is usual with co-verbs, they appear before the main verb in which they work in tandem. Secondly, another interesting point here are the verbs 洗花 and 整花 in the context of car-washing. Here, 花 fāa1 has the meaning of both “anything resembling of flower” and “blurry; dim” and suggests a mark or smudge made by washing. The subtitles have 抹花 maa3 fāa1 = to wipe or rub a mark. Thirdly, I can’t see any real difference between the words 臨時工 and 散工. They both seem to refer to an odd job.

I don’t think I am the only person to suffer during [the outbreak of] Covid-19. Me, I don’t mind if other people know that now I have been given the sack. As for “face”, to me what is more important is the hope of gaining support from people. After I went public on Facebook, many many very good friends also told me about, for instance, some casual work [opportunities] and odd jobs. At first, I did indeed find it a bit hard to open my mouth [and tell people what had happened], to ask friends to let me wash their car, it was a bit hard to do that, absolutely. The reason being that when your status suffers a reversal [對調], if I found someone to wash my car, and you left marks on it, I left it dirty, I would be capable of kicking up a fuss [嘈]. Now [when] I wash a car for a friend, I have to take the blame if I don’t do a good job, or he’s not satisfied, or there are marks left on the car, for instance. Before I started washing cars, I would pay others to wash my car. Now I take money to wash other people’s cars. What do I think about that? It’s painful, but it is also a necessary source of income.

【5:00】記者:自尊心個關其實點過呢 | Dickson Chan: 嗯,當諗到冇錢嘅時候 | 都咩自尊都唔緊要 | 噉我都會係,即係 *je,好 friendly 樣同人講呀 | 呃,,你架車,即係 *je,使唔使幫手洗呀咁樣啦 | 咁樣跟住就話 | 唉,你知啦,我而家冇工開 | 噉,即係 *je,俾個機會呀,老細 | 因爲冇咗一個叫做固定嘅工作喇 | 咁所以喺,呃,消費上個消費習慣係都會改變咗好多嘅 | 就譬如好似啱啱失業之前嗰個星期啦 | 噉其實我都係啱啱先,即係 *je,都會同朋友喺蘇豪區食飯呀 | 跟住就去酒吧度可能飲吓嘢 chill 吓咁樣 | 以往,即係 *je,準時返工 | 準時放工 | 噉 and then 可能會諗去邊度玩 | 去邊度食嘢 | 而家個心態係會 | 我嘅目標:想做到幾多張單 | 噉我 . . .

● 過關 gwo3 gwaan1 = pass a barrier; go through an ordeal; perhaps more colloquially “to get through a difficult time/experience” | ● 自尊 jih6 jyūn1 = self-respect; self-esteem | ● 老細 lóuh5 sai3 = boss; chief; manager; employer; owner | ● 啱啱先 ngāam1 ngāam1 sīn1 = just now; a moment ago; not that long ago (the shorter 啱先 is also used)

Reporter: How did you deal with the issue of self-respect? Dickson Chan: Um, when I think that I don’t have any money self-respect isn’t important. In a very friendly manner, I would say to people: “Hey, your car, do you need anyone to wash it?” And then I would add: “You know, I don’t have a job now, so give me this opportunity, boss”. Because I no longer had a regular job, in terms of consuming things my consumer habits changed drastically. For instance, in the week just before I became unemployed, I had just been to Soho for a meal with friends, and then we went off to a bar for a drink and to chill. In the past, I would go to work on time and finish on time, and then perhaps think about where to go to have a good time and where to go for a meal. Now my attitude is: my aim is to do a certain number of orders [做到幾多張單]. I . . .

【6:00】. . .  踩快囉,行快啲囉 | 當做完之後,我就 OK ,噉我今日就返屋企食飯 | 會想慳返啲錢。噉所以唔會諗咁多,即係 *je,呃,不必要嘅開支喇 | 噉變咗其實個人諗嘢都會簡單咗 | 以前有啲,即係 *je,覺得 | 食好著好就個人就開心喇 | 被人裁員之後啦 | 呃,個心態會唔同咗 | 而家會更加重視人與人之間嘅關係喇 | 當你有事嘅時候 | 始終都係需要身邊,呃,你,即係 *je,建立好嘅人際關係 | 去幫你過渡 | 噉就算你話,我譬如而家咁樣 | 我自己一個去,呃,即係 *je,外賣啦 | 自己一個去洗車啦咁樣 | 噉都係其實有朋友教我送餐攻略 | 都係一樣有朋友肯俾架車我洗

● 慳返 hāan1 fāan1 = to save money, time or effort | ● 開支 hōi1 jī1 = ① to pay (expenses) ② expenses; expenditure; spending | ● 重視 juhng6 sih6 = to attach importance to; to take sth. seriously; to value | ● 人際關係 yàhn4 jai3 gwāan1 haih6 = interpersonal relationships | ● 過渡 gwo3 douh6 = transition; interim | ● 送餐 sung3 chāan1 = (?) to deliver meals| ● 攻略 gūng1 leuhk6 = tactic; perhaps also “strategy”

. . . ride a bit faster, walk a bit faster, and when I’ve finished, I [think] OK, and today (?) I will go back home and eat there. I will want to save some money. And so I won’t have so much to think about unnecessary expenses. And so, a person’s thinking gets simpler. Before, [I] tended to think [有啲,即係,覺得] eating well and wearing good clothes was enough to make you happy. After being retrenched, the state of mind is different, and now [I] attach more importance to my relationships with other people. When you meet with a problem [當你有事嘅時候], you are always going to need to establish good relationships with the people around you to help you get through things. So even if you say to yourself I’ll go off on my own and find [a job delivering] takeaways, actually it was a friend who taught me this strategy, just as friends are willing to let me wash their cars.

Caption: 感謝在逆境中勇往直前的你們 | 香港人加油

● 逆境 yihk6 gíng2 = adverse circumstances; adversity | ● 勇往直前 yúhng5 wóhng5 jihk6 chìhn4 = to march forward courageously; to advance bravely

With gratitude to all of you who advance bravely in the face of adversity | Hongkongers, “Add Oil”

採訪: 文睿芳 | 攝影:倫星楊 | 剪接:倫星楊 | 監製:王秋婷

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

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

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

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

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

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

〈滅〉/ 胡世雅

夢境已溶解
露水成冰
一場安寧的崩塌
發生在紅燈亮起時
一隻腳踏出去
又收回來

拿穩酒杯,世界高高墜落
白沫猛然湧起
然後幻滅,你要湊近聽
那裏有盛大煙火,及海浪回退
一場安寧的崩塌,就發生在
泡沫爆破時

霧氣,騰騰湧升
甚麼也過去了
水沿著浴缸内壁
流向底部
流向黑色排水口
不息,而無聲

時間修煉成海底隧道
吞食列車,與所有龐型車輛
內裏有無數顆黑色氣泡
一場安寧的崩塌
就發生在車廂內部:
你,站在黑色的時間
看見倒影,自己
黑色的眼睛

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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

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

Storm on the Ng Tung River 梧桐河

The river shivers in its concrete canal,
ludicrously rain-drenched. The surging current
swollen by drains is offset by single
stock-still birds. Their statue is prayer
their hunger prays
to the Gods of Wildlife and Fisheries.
I know I wish I knew how to stand like that:
out of my depth for an unknown good,
intent on the flow of concentration,
and with only the eyes in the back of my head living.

Photograph: 香港沙田萬佛寺 Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple, Sha Tin, Hong Kong (2017)

Hong Kong Uplift Two: Kongstories No. 100

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

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

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

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

Remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary. You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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

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

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

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

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

香港土生土長 | 七百萬個故仔 | 成就一個香 . . . 港故仔

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

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

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

Please scroll down for my transcription and notes (the transcription is a bit rough in places, but the translation is pretty accurate, because I’ve been able to use the subtitles to fill in the parts I can’t hear clearly). You can view the video here (you are offered subtitles in both English and Standard Written Chinese). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

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

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

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once in a Million Years

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Athletic Nude

FOR A BOXER WITH BASHFUL FISTS


The muscle he draws you with
threatens to turn on you.

In the beauty of a male contour
violence placidly looks the other way.

In the blinking of an eyelid,
what seduced you with its pleasure

now summons all its power
through the biceps and the triceps

of a rage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can view the video here. Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

下面留言分享啦 | 今日講到呢度,下條片見,bye bye

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