You’re only the spire. You don’t ever touch down right to the foundations. “Upwards” is a word you may often happen to take seriously. The vista seems to shape itself — flawless — all around you, its beauty one unbroken ring. “Centre” and “circumference” inevitably creep into your thoughts as well as values and, on the whole, you can’t help looking down a little. One day, when the physical temple starts to rot, belatedly you will realize just how much extraordinary emptiness exists between you and the actual — neglected — textures of the ground, textures Planet Earth always freely, openly offers.
It’s a grotesque sight, watching the Chinese government criminalize genuine democracy while trying to uphold the terms of the Basic Law by introducing a system that means only approved candidates in full support of the government can ever get to hold power.
余慧明 Winnie Yu, already in detention with another 45 or so individuals for the “crime” of participating in a perfectly peaceful and legal primary election poll in 2020, sums up the matter with her usual incisiveness:
As long as you have voices [expressing] opposition, they will be repressed without exceptions. It’s as if this [legal] action wants to tell people “You must not have any [thoughts of] resisting”. If you do, then all you can do is wind up in jail”.
And she’s right. When they come to be sentenced, most of these individuals will probably be given lengthy prison terms.
This video from the Stand News team is entitled 《假如這是自由的最後一天》 or “If Today were the Last Day of Freedom”. Please watch it if you would like to understand more clearly what is going on in Hong Kong. It’s not a video to enjoy — although it is superbly made — but certainly one to remember. The colossal tragedy both in terms of the waste of human energy and potential and downright injustice will possibly move you to tears . . . But it is a timely reminder of the difficulties democracy everywhere is facing in an increasingly authoritarian world-climate.
Please scroll down for my transcription (it’s a bit ragged, but I’ve done my best), English translation and notes. You can view the video here(you are offered subtitles in both English and Standard Written Chinese). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
Update: 鄒家成 Owen Chow was granted bail on 22 June by High Court Judge Esther Toh. The 47 national security suspects are set to appear in a committal proceeding on July 8 2021.
● 見經如見佛 gin3 gīng1 yùh4 gin3 faht6 = roughly, “seeing a passage of scripture is equivalent to seeing Buddha himself” | ● 鎮定 jan3 dihng6 = clam; cool; composed; unruffled | ● 專注 jyūn1 jyu3 = to concentrate one’s attention on; to be absorbed in | ● 紋 màhn4 = cf. 紋身 = 1. a tattoo 2. to tattoo | ● 六字大明咒 luhk6 jih6 daaih6 mìhng4 jau3 = the Six-character Great Bright Mantra | ● 唵嘛呢叭咪吽 ám2 maa3 nī1 bāa1 māi1 (?) hūng1 = (the Chinese transliteration equivalent to) Om Mane Padme Hum | ● 撇除 pit3 chèuih4 = (?) to put aside; to eliminate; to remove; the subtitles have “other than work” | ● 修身齊家 sāu1 sān1 chàih4 gāa1 = to cultivate one’s moral character & put one’s family in order | ● MK = roughly, “Mong Kok counterculture” cf. MK仔 = Mong Kok guys (young people who embrace MK counterculture) [Sheik Cantonese] | ● 老套 lóuh5 tou3 = old stuff; old ways; the same old story
Owen Chow: There’s a saying that goes “To see some scripture is the same as seeing the Buddha”. [When] I go inside, maybe sometimes my feelings won’t be stable. Or perhaps there will be times when there’s nothing I can focus my attention on, maybe. Perhaps seeing this [tattoo] will calm me down a bit, so I had a tattoo done of the Six-character Great Bright Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. If, as it happens, I am taken into custody immediately, and charged with the charge of violence, then [I] won’t be getting out [of prison] for ten years or more. [So I] wanted to get myself ready. I think whatever happens, I have to prepare myself. After I got the phone call, and found out [知道] that I only had a couple of days left, so apart from [撇除] a few work-related things I planned two things for myself: to see the film The Way We Keep Dancing and to get a tattoo done. I’ve spent more time with family and friends since 6 January. My relationship to my family has become closer. I’ve done everything I can to “cultivate my moral character & put my family in order”. Now I’m talking in cliches! A member of the Mong Kok counterculture and a cliche! At 24!
Jimmy Shum: Once when I came walking by here, she suddenly grabbed hold of me [捉住] [and asked:] “You’re Jimmy Shum, aren’t you?” Last time [after] I was detained [捉咗] for over 40 hours, when I got out the next day, the first thing I did was come and tell you [Shum refers to the woman here] “I’m back. Everything’s OK”. After that, she burst into tears again.
● 形勢 yìhng4 sai3 = situation; circumstances | ● 嚇怕 haak3 paa3 = (?) to frighten; to scare | ● 硬頂 ngaahng6 díng2 = to tough sth. out | ● 同路人 tùhng4 louh6 yàhn4 = a fellow traveller | ● 苦難 fú2 naahn6 = suffering; misery; distress
I’m inclined to think that were I frightened by the current situation, I would feel contempt for myself. To make myself into someone I [could] admire, I just have to tough it out. All the people in the world who are struggling for democracy are our fellow travellers. The suffering that we have been through is actually of no consequence [微不足道]. I am about to lose my freedom, and I have [this weird feeling] in my heart. I don’t want the people nearest to me to have to suddenly confront this.
Tiffany Yuen: If something does happen [to me], I won’t be able to watch this video. And then, I should wear this jacket tomorrow, because it will be cold. This jacket has no cords [繩] on it, so no one has to cut anything off it, cut any waistbands or anything like that. Now him, every night I fall asleep holding him in my arms. In prison, I won’t be able to hold him. Tonight is the last night we will hug, if something really does happen. I hope everything will be OK. Thank you! As far as the people of this neighbourhood are concerned, I am still very young. The most important thing is that they trust me to handle their problems or those of the whole area in a mature fashion. (Speaks to cat) Are you wanting to have a sleep, hmm? Why do you look so cute [咁冧]? You’ll have to look after yourself. You know that, don’t you?
● 鞋帶 hàaih4 daai3*2 = ? | ● 素色 sou3 sīk1 = roughly, “plain” | ● 襟著 kām1 jeuk3 = roughly, “durable” (of clothing), meaning that you can wear it for a long time before it wears out | ● 牽掛 hīn1 gwaa3 = a worry; a concern
Lee Chi-yung: It’s a bit different from the plain style I usually prefer. As long as they wear well, then it’s better than having to buy a new pair every one or two years. Actually, from the last time when I had the experience of spending the night [in detention], if my shoes had shoelaces in them, they [佢] would have made me remove the laces. It’s hard to walk in shoes without shoelaces. That’s why I wanted to but that [new] pair. Although a lot of people view recent developments as being unfair to me, no one could have foreseen that things would turn out like this. I have no concerns. My relations will keep an eye on my mother, and my daughter is no longer with us.
● 在囚 joih6 chàuh4 = in prison | ● 手足 sáu2 jūk1 = brothers (perhaps with the sense of “brothers in arms”) | ● 頂住 díng2 jyuh6 = to withstand; to shore up; to keep pushing against; to hang in there | ● 清算 chīng1 syun3 = to settle accounts; to expose & criticize | ● 心願 sām1 yuhn6 = cherished desire; aspiration; wish; dream
Hendrick Lui: Ah, you can write a letter to our brothers and sisters in prison, yes. [Tomorrow? What about tomorrow?] You could say that there is a group of people at the forefront and they are hanging in there. Again and again [不斷], some have made [significant personal] sacrifices, while others have been forced to leave Hong Kong. So, the squaring of [political] accounts with us, [a group of] 50 plus people, was just a bit slower in coming. I am more fortunate than a lot of other people. At least I can say goodbye to the people important to me. Or do the things I really wanted to do, some of them, yes. (Passer-by: “Will you collect the letters every week?”) Yes, you can take it home and write your letter first. Because in the coming days . . . After this Sunday, I don’t know whether I’ll have the chance to come out again. But our team will continue to do all they can.
● 伍健偉 | Lucifer Ng Kin-wai | 20,525 Votes【5:47】
伍健偉：都希望喺最後嘅時間裏邊 | 去同街坊打招呼 [啦，係啦] | Gives instructions to a person on the street：一路行到幼稚園嗰條路 //) 【6:00】 | 啫 ，[譬如] // 上庭、還押 | 都係要剪頭髮嘅 [嘛] | 噉梗係 . . . 剪個好睇少少嘅入去呀，係咪？ | 同埋到時上到庭都靚仔啲吖嘛
● 年少無知 nìhn4 síu2 mòu4 jī1 = young and foolish/ignorant | ● 誇下咗海口 kwāa1 haah6 jó2 hói2 háu2 = ? cf. the subtitles have “made a huge promise”| ● 名份 mìhng4 fahn6 = a person’s status
Lucifer Ng Kin-wai: In this last bit of time I have, [I] hope to go and speak with the people of my neighbourhood. (Gives instructions: “Take that road that goes all the way to the kindergarten . . .”) If I have to in court or into detention, your hair gets cut short. So, of course I’ll get my hair cut a bit smarter-looking and go inside, won’t I? And then to boot, when I make my appearance in court, I’ll look handsome, of course.
Reporter: Now [that you are] counting down the free time you have left, what are you feeling?
Lucifer Ng Kin-wai: I tend to want . . . one more hour. Every time another hour goes by, I think: tomorrow’s getting a bit closer. . . I wish I could have another hour. Me, in the past, when I was young and foolish, I made a huge promise, that when I turned 25 I would marry her, we would get married. Of course, back in those days, I’m talking about 2019, I lacked the courage at a time like this to give that kind of status to her [that is, “wife of a criminal”]. When you think that for 10 or 20 years, you might only be able to see the husband you have just married on the other side of a pane of glass. Apart from saying “I’m sorry”, I don’t know what else to say.
● 度數 douh6 sou3 = number of degrees; reading | ● 規劃 kwāi1 waahk6 = 1. a programme; a plan 2. to map out a plan | ● 見證 gin3 jing3 = to witness
Ventus Lau: Because if [I] am taken into detention, then actually no glasses which have any metal in them can be worn. However, I am very short-sighted, so if they don’t let me wear my glasses, then I most probably [應該] wouldn’t even be able to see where I was going. I feel bad for my girl-friend [都唔好意思]. I mean, other guys, a normal guy, should as he heads for thirty be thinking about how he is going to plan his future. // seeing that I won’t have the status of a free individual, I won’t be there to witness the spectacle of Hongkongers taking to the streets again. This is quite a cause for regret.
● 宗旨 jūng1 jí2 = an aim; a purpose | ● 遺憾 wàih4 hahm6 = a regret; a pity | ● 快必 faai3 bīt1 = “Fast Beat”, nickname of Tam Tak-chi cf. 慢必 or “Slow Beat”, Raymond Chan’s nickname; 必 renders the English “beat” here | ● 收押 sāu1 [ng]aat3 = to take into custody; to detain
Raymond Chan Chi-chuen: In fact, playing volleyball is something we do every week. Because of the virus, it’s already been several months since we stopped. Despite the fact that I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, my aim is not to let the terror affect my day-to-day life. But there is one thing I didn’t manage to do — I didn’t get to visit my mum. I spoke with her on Thursday, before this thing happened. And so I didn’t get the chance to see her. [I] feel some regret about that. But I’m more worried about the people near to me. Some of our supporters felt very upset and sad — some even wept — the last time when “Fast Beat” (Taam Tak-chi) was detained, and they might be this time now that I could be taken into custody. [Please] don’t be too sad because we have lost our freedom for a certain time. It’s not as if we are going to die or anything. As long as our hearts don’t die, as long as the hearts of the Hong Kong people do not die, then we still have a chance.
● 一律 yāt1 leuht6 = all; without exception| ● 反抗 fáan2 kong3 = to revolt; to resist | ● 淪 lèuhn4 = 1. to sink 2. to fall; to be reduced to | ● 無名無姓 mòuh4 mìhng4 mòuh4 sing3 = lit. “no personal name no surname (?) = complete nobody; a person of no consequence| ● 勞力 lòuh4 lihk6 = usu. (n.) labour | ● 戰線 jin3 sin3 = battle line; battlefront; front | ● 無怨無悔 mòuh4 yun3 mòuh4 fui3 = roughly, “no complaints & no regrets”
Winnie Yu: As long as you have voices [expressing] opposition, they will be repressed without exceptions. It’s as if this [legal] action wants to tell people “You must not have any [thoughts of] resisting”. If you do, then all you can do is wind up in jail”. These [people] are what are known as “non-entities”. I feel that I have done my utmost and, with the greatest [possible] effort, gone and tried different battlefronts. This is what you could call having no complaints and no regrets.
David: Ah, usually, when you catch the lift up to the first floor, you want it to get there more quickly. When just now when [we] came up, [I] wanted it to go slower. I don’t know why. I don’t know whether that feeling . . . What I can’t handle is [the fact that] someone close to you, someone who has been there with you [同你行] for a year, suddenly, perhaps tomorrow, will not be there for you to go on sharing ideas with [再繼續交流], maybe for several years.
● 内疚 noih6 gau3 = compunction; a guilty conscience | ● 心痛 sām1 tung3 = to feel sad | ● 寧願 nihng4 yuhn6 = would rather; better
Ivan: I’ve had a guilty conscience about this all along. It’s as if [I] pushed you to the front [推咗你出嚟]. It’s very sad. As well, I really don’t want it to be like this. I would rather it be me who was in trouble [有啲咩事] rather than it be you, actually, really.
Winnie Yu: Because, actually, over the past year we really have put a lot of time into the union, so we never had much of a chance to have a good talk, to really get to know one another [了解到大家]. And now at this point in time, [I] actually don’t know whether [we] will still have the chance to say everything that we want to say, everything that is in our hearts. If I’m lucky, I will still have the opportunity afterwards, but if things don’t go my way, it may be that . . . I don’t know how many years it will be before [we can] meet again. And then, after so many years, actually, no one knows if it will change, or what it will be like. However, just like Ivan said, I believe that no one of us ought to forget this time when we were all fighters together.
If you’ve ever wondered why the Chinese character 藍 làahm4 meaning “blue” is written with the “grass” element, then now you know: it all goes back to indigo!
Actually, in the useful book Analysis of Chinese Characters (1934), the authors point out that the other part of the character is 監 gāam, “to watch” and that it is used purely to indicate the pronunciation (?), so “consequently has no logical explanation”. But after you’ve watched this video from Apple Daily, you’ll understand that it takes three days to dye garments properly with indigo, and that watchfulness is vital — 仲不時要 check 住染液嘅活躍程度, that is “you also have to check the dyeing liquid often for its degree of activeness”.
I first came across Indigo 11.50 in a story in the Zolima City Mag. This is how Christopher Dewolf introduces its founder:
“Five years ago, Max To was working as a cameraman when he began suffering from lower back pain. He took a long break in Taiwan, where he came across a traditional indigo dyeing workshop. That inspired him to return to Hong Kong, where he and three friends turned his family’s abandoned ancestral home into something similar.”
You can see beautiful examples of indigo-dyed clothing and accessories on Indigo 11.50’s Facebook page here.
There are no terribly difficult grammatical issues in the voice-over. There’s one instance of the fairly uncommon final particle 噃 bō1, which is similar, if not identical to 喎 wō1, but tends to indicate a slight level of surprise (contrary to expectations). You’ll also come across an example of a common particle of quantification, 嗮 saai3, placed after verbs. It neatly conveys the meaning of “all” in 只會啲人就會搬嗮出去 = then [everyone] will all move out.
As for the vocabulary, here’s just a brief sample: 質感 jāt1 gám2 = ① texture ② (of works of art) a feeling of reality; 祖屋 jóu2 ūk1 = ancestral home; 橡筋 jeuhng6 gān1 = rubber band; 溝成 kāu1 sìhng4 = roughly, “to mix (so as to form)”; and 節省 jit3 sáang2 = to economize; to save; to use sparingly.
Please scroll down for my transcription, English translation and notes. You can view the video here(subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
● 手作玩意 sáu2 jok3 wuhn6 yi3 = roughly “handicraft” Note: the term 玩意 means “thing; plaything” | ● 祖屋 jóu2 ūk1 = ancestral home | ● 藍染物 làahm4 yíhm5 maht6 = (?) indigo plants (lit. “blue dyeing crops”) | ● 四周圍 sei3 jāu1 wàih4 = all around | ● 門簾 mùhn4 lím4*2 = (?) door-curtain
Reporter: A trip to Taiwan last year brought Max into contact with indigo-dyeing. There, he discovered, indigo-dyeing was a simple handicraft [手作玩意] for primary school students. Later, he discovered that the natural environment all around his mother’s ancestral home was very suited to (?) the development of indigo. And so, he decided to bring this thing [that is, the art of indigo dyeing] back to Hong Kong, holding workshops from Tuesday to Sunday. He teaches people how to do [整] [small] handkerchiefs and door curtains. Actually, the dyeing process is not that complicated.
● 橡筋 jeuhng6 gān1 = rubber band | ● 滲透 sām1 tàuh4 = to permeate; to seep | ● 紥 jaat3 = to tie; to bind
Lee Ka-man (designer): All we have to do is use our fingers to get a piece of fabric ready [整起]. To make this, a sort of horn-shaped part [角位], you grab hold of one part [of the cloth] — this is the width you want for [your] circles. Then, [you] use a rubber band to begin to tie up that part [嗰個位], a part that will say undyed [留白]. The liquid dye will not seep inside. The other parts will turn blue.
● 細緻 sai3 ji3 = delicate; fine | ● 步驟 bouh6 jaauh6 = a step; a move; a measure
Lee Ka-man: The circle-pattern made by this [kind of] tying is rather large, [while] this one is finer. The reason lies in this: that this [was done] using a rubber band to do the tying up. Now if you want to make [紥出] a finer design, then you might like to choose sewing [the part with] thread to do this step.
● 無毒 mòuh4 duhk6 = (?) non-poisonous | ● 事前 sih6 chìhn4 = before the event; in advance; beforehand | ● 準備功夫 jéun2 beih6 gūng1 fū1 = roughly, “preparatory work” | ● 藍泥 làahm4 nàih4 = roughly, “indigo-plant mush” cf. 泥 = mashed vegetable or fruit | ● 原材料 yùhn4 chòih4 líu6*2 = raw & processed materials | ● 色素 sīk1 sou3 = pigment | ● 石灰 sehk6 fūi1 = lime | ● 溝成 kāu1 sìhng4 = roughly, “to mix (so as to form)” | ● 現階段 yihn6 gāai1 dyuhn6 = roughly, “the current stage/phase” | ● 善用 sihn6 yuhng6 = be good at using something
Reporter: If one wishes to make non-poisonous natural indigo clothing or other products, actually a lot of preparatory work is necessary beforehand. Indigo-mush is one of the materials used in the dyeing liquid [染液] and is composed of pigment from the indigo plant mixed with powdered lime. In [this] current phase, Max orders it from Taiwan, but he is good at using the excellent natural environment [好山好水] here, and has planted different kinds of indigo. His objective is to plant a thousand plants in the hope that, after three years, [he] will be able to produce his own home-made natural dyes.
● 酸鹼 syūn1 gáan2 = ? Note: 鹼 is alkali or soda |● 不時 bāt1 sìh4 = frequently; often | ● 活躍程度 wuht6 yeuhk6 douh6 = roughly, “degree of activeness” | ● 化學劑 faa3 hohk6 jāi1 = roughly, “chemical agent” | ● 熒光劑 yìhng4 gwōng1 jāi1 = ? cf. 熒光 = fluorescent + 劑 = a preparation; an agent
Reporter: With regard to the dyeing liquid, it is made up of these materials. When the alkali/soda [酸鹼度] you mix in [reaches] 11.5 degrees, [you] then have to [boil the material] for three days, and [you] also have to check the dyeing liquid often for its degree of activeness. As for the fabric, this must be first washed in water [to get rid of] chemical agents and fluorescent agents before it can be dyed. He tells everyone about all the other steps in the process [每一方面].
Caption: 藍泥、木灰水、米酒、蔗糖 | Indigo-plant Mush, Wood-ash in Water [木灰水], Rice Wine, Cane Sugar
● 柴火chàaih4 fó2 = firewood | ● 節省 jit3 sáang2 = to economize; to save; to use sparingly | ● 能源 nàhng4 yùhn4 = the sources of energy; energy resources | ● 歸隱 gwāi1 yán2 = to return to one’s hometown & live in seclusion | ● 田園 tìhn4 yùhn4 = fields & gardens; countryside | ● 充實 chūng1 saht6 = substantial; rich
Reporter: Apart from saving on gas, by using firewood to boil the liquid, one can naturally obtain [取之自然] wood-ash, another ingredient of the dyeing liquid. [When] Max returned to his home village in seclusion from the world, his family was at first opposed [to the idea] and friends had no idea what he was up to, but he [himself] felt that [such a way of life] was very rewarding [好充實].
● 遺忘 wàih4 mòhng4 = to forget | ● 荒廢 fōng1 fai3 = to leave uncultivated; to lie waste
Max To: If a village is forgotten, the longer it goes on, then [everyone] will all move out. In the end, the village will lie waste, abandoned [荒廢]. This is something I don’t want to see happen to my own village. It is only for this reason that I am working so hard at such things. I want the world to know [令到大家開始知道] what things of value this village possesses.
A cold wind. Standing ovation in the trees — Autumn’s moon-dry rustle of leaf on leaf on leaf. Thunder in the chill brick bridge when trains pass larger than life overhead, white-hot catenary sparks sizzling fresh air with the stink of electric scorch. Then pin-drop quiet, plump as moss, and moss universally shock-absorbing all than could never be green back into greenest tactile patch-working clumps.
The incredible fusion of Chinese and Western culture in Hong Kong leads to some unexpected consequences. “What woman doesn’t want to wear a pure white Western-style wedding dress when she gets married?”, declares Winnie Lam of 冠南華 Koon Nam Wah, a company devoted to the creation of bridal wear. But as Barbara Ward points out in her book on Chinese festivals: “white is the traditional mourning colour in China and no Hong Kong bride would risk wearing anything so unlucky all the time. So at the wedding feast in the evening, when bride and groom circulate among the many round tables to toast and be toasted by their guests, she wears traditional red.”
Partly for this reason, and partly owing to tradition, the Chinese 裙褂 kwàhn4 gwáa3*2 outfit, which is made up of a long skirt and a jacket, continues to be very popular to this day. The intricate embroidery featured on the garment is also richly symbolic and so meant to bring blessings and good fortune to the newlyweds who, by the way, are referred to in this Kongstories video as 新人 sān1 yàhn4 or “new people”.
Since they voice-over is scripted, there is a conspicuous absence of initial and final particles. In addition, some of the vocabulary is quite literary. The main point of grammatical interest is the various uses of the aspect marker 咗 jó2. In Complete Cantonese, Hugh Baker notes that its basic function is “to show that the action has been completed” but, needless to say, the situation is a bit more complex in practice. Although I am still regularly bamboozled by 咗 jó2, it can help if you can also think of it as the realization of a certain action (has it actually taken place?). Something of the meaning is present in the English past perfect tense as opposed to the simple past tense: “Have you seen him?” is primarily asking about realization, I think, rather than completion.
As usual, there’s plenty of wonderful vocabulary. In the names of the two people featured in the video, the 臻 jēun1 in Tommy To’s Chinese name means “to attain to a high level”, while the 卓 cheuk3 in Winnie Lam’s name means “prominent; outstanding”. Oh, for a deeply meaningful Chinese name!
Other vocabulary includes 出嫁 chēut1 gaa3 = (of a woman) to get married (but watch out for 出家 chēut1 gāa1, which means “to become a monk or nun”!); 湮沒 yān1 muht6 = to fall into oblivion; 樞紐 syū1 náu2/láu2= a pivot; a hub; 輝煌 fāi1 wòhng4 = brilliant; splendid; glorious; 老土 lóuh5 tóu2 = old-fashioned; out of date; 睇小 tái2 síu2 = to underestimate; 排擠 pàaih4 jāi1 = to push aside; to ostracize; 任意 yahm6 yi3 = arbitrarily; 尺吋 chek3 chyun3 = measurement; 獨一無二 duhk6 yāt1 mòuh4 yih6 = unique; one of a kind.
Please scroll down for my transcription, English translation and notes. You can view the video here(you are offered subtitles in both English and Standard Written Chinese). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
● 出嫁 chēut1 gaa3 = (of a woman) to get married; to marry | ● 婚紗 fān1 sāa1 = a wedding dress | ● 裙褂 kwàhn4 gwáa3*2 = wedding dress | ● 產物 cháan2 maht6 = an outcome; a result; a product | ● 文革 Màhn4 Gaak3 = the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) | ● 一時 yāt1 sìh4 = a period of time | ● 湮沒 yān1 muht6 = to fall into oblivion; to be neglected | ● 洪流 hùhng4 làuh4 = mighty torrent; powerful current
Tommy To: When a girl gets married, wearing a [Western-style, white] wedding dress is the happiest part of it [最開心]. When it comes to the traditional Chinese kwan gwa wedding gowns, mostly this is a decision taken by the older generation. When all is said and done [畢竟], traditional Chinese kwan gwa wedding gowns seem to be the product of an earlier era there to satisfy elder family members [老一輩]. Due to the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 70s, the Dragon and Phoenix kwan gwa popular in China fell into to oblivion [with?] the feudal system in [that] mighty torrent of history . . .
● 樞紐 syū1 náu2/láu2= a pivot; a hub; a centre | ● 後世hauh6 sai3 = ① later ages ② later generations | ● 嫁娶 gaa3 chéui2 = marriage | ● 輝煌 fāi1 wòhng4 = brilliant; splendid; glorious | ● 始於 chí2 yū1 = roughly, “to come into being” | ● 存留 chyùhn4 làuh4 = to persist
. . . making the people of mainland China strangers to kwan gwa wedding gowns. Hong Kong has become the one and only centre enabling [俾] later generations to know that there was once this glorious page in the wedding culture of China. It started off in Guangzhou, and persists [存留] [here] in Hong Kong.
● 金融風暴 gām1 yùhng4 fūng1 bō1 = financial crisis | ● 大受影響 daaih6 sauh6 yíng2 héung2 = to be greatly influenced by | ● 老土 lóuh5 tóu2 = old-fashioned; out of date; traditional; unsophisticated; rustic; not hip; uncool | ● 當初 dōng1 chō1 = originally; at the outset; at that time | ● 睇小 tái2 síu2 = to underestimate; to look down on | ● 排擠 pàaih4 jāi1 = to push aside; to ostracize
Winnie Lam: In 1997, I wound up my own personal business. During the financial crisis, my family’s kwan gwa wedding gown business was greatly affected. [Because of this, and because] my father and mother were both getting on, that year they expressed the hope [佢哋希望] that I would go back and give them a hand. It had never occurred to me to take over the family business. Kwan gwa? The very word sounded terribly old-fashioned. What woman doesn’t want to wear a pure white Western-style wedding dress when she gets married? But my family needed me, so I steeled myself and went into a line of business that even I thought was well past its use-by date [過時]. At the outset, from knowing nothing and being looked down and excluded by the other employees, I gradually came to win approval [被肯定] .
● 忽略 fāt1 leuhk6 = to neglect; to overlook; to lose sight of | ● 祝福 jūk1 fūk1 = blessings; best wishes | ● 寓意 yuh6 yi3 = implied meaning; implication | ● 任意 yahm6 yi3 = arbitrarily; wilfully | ● 尺吋 chek3 chyun3 = measurement; dimension; size | ● 成品 sìhng4 bán2 = end product; finished product | ● 獨一無二 duhk6 yāt1 mòuh4 yih6 = unique; one of a kind | ● 新人 sān1 yàhn4 = newlywed (esp. a new bride) | ● 賀禮 hoh6 láih5 = a gift (as a token of congratulations) | ● 單 dāan1 = classifier for “a case” or “a matter” cf. 宗 jūng1 in Standard Written Chinese | ● 誠心 sìhng4 sām1 = sincere desire; wholeheartedness | ● 道謝 douh6 jeh6 = to express one’s thanks; to thank | ● 傳承 chyùhn4 sìhng4 = to inherit & pass on; to pass down
Many people only see the beauty of Western wedding gowns, overlooking the meaning of blessing behind the traditional Chinese kwan gwa. They don’t realize that the dimensions cannot be changed at will as with Western-style gowns: to change an inch would ruin the design. Every finished product is unique, and is the greatest gift of congratulations one can give to the bride. What makes [me] happy about the kwan gwa business is not just doing a job [for a customer] [做成一單生意] but also the sincere thanks [I get] from the newlyweds. I hope the generation after me will inherit and pass on [this tradition].
我叫林卓怡，我叫陶衍臻：香港土生土長 | 七百萬嘅故仔成就一個香 | 港故仔
My name is Winnie Lam Cheuk-yi, and I am Tommy To Hin-chun. We are both born and bred in Hong Kong. Seven million stories go to make up [成就] one [of the] Hong . . . Kong Stories.
I filled my pockets with the weight of a day’s long pain and trudged to the edge of a barnacled pier — not to throw myself off but to kill myself thought by thought by thought to the end of time. I failed in the freeze, as the chill sun set, hopelessly unable to see what I meant, and marooned in that zone between iced and unthawed, where all I could do was to find in myself one thought at a time — and thought by thought to the dead-end of time — a single good reason to come back to life once more. I failed, but in the freeze of twilit sea air and in the canvas quiet of so much intricate natural noise I realized, with my hands, that pockets could never be filled by that sort of emptiness, and that dusk in a way can be another kind of dawn — if you’re lucky — and that home, if you want one, must be built out of nothing with hard-heart-felt questions and barn-nail thinking, thought by thought to the end.
● 奮力 fáhn5 lihk6 = do all one can; spare no effort | ● 抵抗 dái2 kong3 = to resist; to stand up to | ● 社會民主連線 (or 社民連) Séh5 Wúi6*2 Màhn4 Jyú2 Lìhn4 Sin3 = The League of Social Democrats | ● 回應 wùih4 ying3 = to respond | ● 決議文 kyut3 yíh5 màhn4 = resolution | ● 提名權 tàih4 mìhng4 kyùhn4 = roughly, “the right to nominate (oneself as an election candidate)” | ● 剝奪 mōk1 dyuht6 = to deprive; to expropriate; to strip | ● 變相 bin3 seung3 = in a disguised form; covert | ● 廢除 fai3 chèuih4 = to abolish; to annul; to repeal | ● 公平公正 gūng1 pìhng4 gūng1 jing3 = roughly “fair & impartial” | ● 壓制 [ng]aat3 jai3 = to suppress; to stifle; to inhibit | ● 憑良心 pàhng4 lèuhng4 sām1 = roughly, “relying on the goodness of one’s heart” or perhaps “in good faith” | ● 彰顯 jēung1 hín2 = to bring out conspicuously; to manifest; to make evident
Do All You Can to Resist | Up Until [the Day of] Victory
— Resolution of the League of Social Democrats in Response to Changes in the Hong Kong Political Situation in 2021 —
Under the present circumstances, in which the right of citizens to nominate themselves as candidates in elections has been seriously stripped away and, to all extents and purposes, abolished, and in which Hong Kong has lost a fair and just electoral system, the League of Social Democrats will not take part in the 2021 elections either for the Election Committee or for the Legislative Council. Moreover, given that the right to vote has not been completely suppressed, the League of Social Democrats would like to call on members of the general public to actively express their views in good faith by means of these various elections and to do all they can to make the true will of the people clearly manifest.
● It is the day of the Cantonese Speaking Contest in May 2019, and 陳之一Chan Chi-yat tries to get himself into the right frame of mind by organizing breakfast at one of his favourite eating places, 德興粥麵店 Tak Hing Restaurant in Sha Tin. There, with his friends Ah Luk, the New Zealander Ah Ki and Ah Luk’s daughter Fu-cheui, he introduces them to the Second Music of Hong Kong, an Anthem to Progress only a confident international city could choose as its “theme-song”. Afterwards, they make their way to Central for a visit to the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road, followed by a simple lunch at a well-known dai pai dong, 勝香園 Shing Heung Yuen in Mei Lun Street.
Is love possible in an imperfect world, or must we turn to illusions to fulfil our yearnings? In this wonderful video by The Official Curry, we are treated to an exploration of this question, accompanied by images from the recent film 《幻愛》or “Hallucinatory Love” based on the novel by 蔣曉薇 Jeung Hiu-mei (but known in English by the title Beyond the Dream), together with a haunting-mesmerizing soundtrack.
The key words in the voice-over are “perfection” [完美 yùhn4 méih5], “love” [愛 ngoi3] and “hallucination” [幻覺 waahn6 gok3]. The last of these gave me a bit of trouble when in the English translation. Although basically a psychologically term in Cantonese, 幻覺 also seems to a have a more general application akin to the word “illusion” in English. Partly for this reason — and also to avoid too much repetition in the translation — I have used both “hallucination” and “illusion” for the one Cantonese noun. Bear in mind as you read that “illusion” here may carry a hint of “ill” in it . . .
There’s an interesting pronunciation issue too in this video. As Yip and Matthews point out in Basic Cantonese, the low falling tone “can often be recognized by a ‘creaky’ voice quality as the pitch reaches the bottom of the speaker’s voice range” (12). This phenomenon is particularly noticeable in the voice-over: listen out for it in words such as the often-repeated 完美 yùhn4 méih5, as well as 同時 tùhng4 sih4, 人 yàhn4, and 為 wàih4. But just to make life interesting, there seems to be a similar creakiness with 自己, officially pronounced as jih6 géi2. I can’t say why this is.
With regard to grammar, you won’t find anything too troubling or terrifying! One rather rare feature is the use of the expression 好比 hóu2 béi2, which means something like “could be compared to”. This crops up in the sentence 你就好比一個數學世界入便嘅正號去追求完美 = “You are comparable to a plus sign in a mathematical world heading off in search of perfection”. You’ll also notice some interesting uses of the aspect marker 住 jyuh6 to suggest an on-going after-effect: 缺乏住愛 = “to lack love”; 互相抵觸住 = “to be in conflict with one another”; 幻覺嚟拯救住你 = “being saved by illusions” (that is, “saved” as an on-going state”). The nuance expressed by 住 jyuh6 seems to lend itself to on-going states, but it takes a while to get the hang of it. Finally, the resultative 得一乾二净 makes an appearance in this video, with 一乾二净 (literally “one-dry-two-clean”) suggesting something comparable to “completely; utterly” in English. Typically, it is used with verbs of forgetting, but here it crops up with 蠶食 chàahm4 sihk6 = “to nibble”, in other words, the kind of eating [食] done by a silk-worm [蠶] (hence the presence of the two insect radicals 虫 at the bottom of the character!) . . .
Needless to say, there’s also plenty of useful vocabulary to expand your range: 驅使 kēui1 sí2 = to prompt; to urge; 抵觸 dái2 jūk1 = to conflict with; to contradict; 洗牌 sái2 páai4*2 = to shuffle cards; 抛棄 pāau1 hei3 = to abandon; 渴望 hot3 mohng6 = to thirst for; to long for; to yearn for; and 困局 kwan3 guhk6 = a predicament.
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.
● 終老 jūng1 lóuh5 = live out one’s years | ● 伴侶 buhn6 léuih5 = a companion; mate; partner | ● 不確定性 bāt1 kok3 dihng6 sing3 = roughly, “indefiniteness”; perhaps even here “indeterminacy” cf. 確定 = definite | ● 爭執 jāng1 jāp1 = to disagree; to argue | ● 永恆 wíhng5 hàhng4 = eternal; perpetual | ● 追求 jēui1 kàuh4 = to seek; to pursue | ● 幻覺 waahn6 gok3 = hallucination | ● 驅使 kēui1 sí2 = to prompt; to urge; to spur on | ● 言語 yìhn4 yúh5 = spoken language; speech | ● 嘗試 sèuhng4 si3 = to attempt; to try
The majority [of people] in the world hope that there could be a companion out there with whom they could live out their years. But owing to the indefiniteness [不確定性] of people, many unfortunate things get done: we argue, split up, get divorced. [These] things are happening every day, and they clearly tell us that love is not eternal, because human beings are imperfect. By nature, however, we are made to seek perfection [追求完美], and so we set off in pursuit of love. By the same token, however, the world is far from perfect and lacking in love. Love, it would seem, is an expression of perfection in real life. When are hallucinations or illusions real, and when are they unreal? According to most definitions, what exists in the actual world is real, while what [only] appears in the mind is false, a hallucination. Although some illusions do not exist in the space of reality [現實空間], they impel [驅使] people to give expression to their feelings, to speech, to actions. Hallucinations can attempt to make themselves [嘗試成爲] a part of reality . . .
● 造就 jouh6 jauh6 = to bring up; to train | ● 物種 maht6 júng2 = species | ● 抵觸 dái2 jūk1 = to conflict with; to contradict | ● 源自於 yùhn4 jih6 yū1 = roughly, “to originate from; to have (its) origins in | ● 真心 jān1 sām1 = wholehearted; heartfelt; sincere | ● 成就 sìhng4 jauh6 = to achieve; to accomplish | ● 一輪 yāt1 lèuhn4 = roughly, “a round” | ● 洗牌 sái2 páai4*2 = to shuffle cards | ● 重回 chùhng4 wùih4 = to return to | ● 平衡點 pìhng4 hàhng4 dím2 = cf. 平衡 = balance; equilibrium + 點 = point | ● 各自 gok3 jih6 = each; respective | ● 事物 sih6 maht6 = thing; object | ● 制定 jai3 dihng6 = to draw up; to formulate
. . . so that people’s experience can become perfect. At the same time, however, because human imperfection conditions [造就] all those behaviours [designed to] seek perfection, they are imperfect like people — this species which is by nature imperfect — and conflicts between people arise. His [that is, Ah Lok’s] hallucinations have their origins in his hope that there is someone who loves him, because it is only when someone gives him wholehearted love that he his world can get closer to perfection [可以變得更完美]. At the same time, [it means that] there is no need for him to live his life [過得] in pain and loneliness. But human beings are imperfect by nature, and this initially makes Yip Lan get close to Ah Lok without having a genuine liking for him. Although after this flawed beginning [she] achieves love, it is not a love the two of them both acknowledge and, in the end, it stops being love [變得不愛]. After a reshuffling of the cards [重新洗牌], the world goes back to that pivot-point [平衡點] of imperfection. Viewed from a different perspective, one could also say that, in order to obtain perfection, people have formulated different understandings of the thing, perfection (?).
● 妥協 tóh5 hip3 = to come to terms; to compromise | ● 整體 jíng2 tái2 = whole; entirety | ● 眼中 ngáahn5 jūng1 = lit. “in one’s eyes”, that is, “the way one sees/views sth. (in one’s mind)” | ● 大世界 daaih6 sai3 gaai3 = (?) the world at large (but perhaps with the implication of “the big wide world”, a world beyond one’s own personal sphere) | ● 抛棄 pāau1 hei3 = to abandon; to forsake; to cast aside | ● 白眼 baahk6 ngáahn5 = a supercilious look cf. 返白眼 = to roll one’s eyes | ● 渴望 hot3 mohng6 = to thirst for; to long for; to yearn for
Thus, by making compromises, one obtains an inner [psychological] balance. Nevertheless, in terms of the world or the bigger picture [整體] there is always [始終] this lack of true perfection, of true love. The perfection you see in your mind’s eye may be what other people think of as imperfection, [while] the love you see in your mind’s eye may be exactly what other people see as agony. And so, if you wish to live in the big wide world, the thing you can do [你可以做嘅] is to choose to accept [this state of affairs], or not accept this world that has neither love nor perfection in it. If you do accept it [接受嘅話], since no one is willing to love you, the only thing you have control over is yourself. You can try and make yourself more perfect, and to make yourself love yourself. You will always [永遠] be right there by your side, and whatever it is you feel like doing, you can keep yourself company in doing it together. Even less [你更加] can you abandon yourself. It is perfectly natural for people to give you disapproving looks, but because you have [already] accepted [the fact that] they are imperfect and without love, you will be even less inclined to long for love and perfection from them [喺佢哋當中].
● 困局 kwan3 guhk6 = a predicament; plight; dilemma | ● 正號 jing3 houh6 = a plus sign (+) | ● 負號 fuh6 houh6 = a minus sign | ● 正負得負 jing3 fuh6 dāk1 fuh6 = ? | ● 蠶食 chàahm4 sihk6 = to nibble | ● 何必 hòh4 bīt1 = there is no need; why; why is it necessary (used to form rhetorical questions)
If you don’t compromise, then there will be this predicament: the real world won’t change to fit in with you. All you can do then is to get help from illusions to re-establish a new world you can give your acceptance to [令到你接受]. You are comparable to a plus sign in a mathematical world heading off to find perfection: the world being an eternal minus sign lacking in love, in the end a positive multiplied by a negative [always] gives a negative [正負得負] and you’re liable to be nibbled away by a minus sign till there is nothing left. Finally, all you can do is rely on the absolute perfection of the plus sign [UNCLEAR], that is, being saved by illusions. But [by then] you have already lost control of yourself, so what’s the point of a refusing a love you couldn’t accept [anyway]? And so for this reason, there is no good or bad in anything. The crucial thing is: Can you accept that you have a mental illness? Can you accept the experiences you once had, experiences like those Yip Lam was subjected to? Can you accept yourself?