Learning Cantonese: Kiwi Chow & the Children of the Revolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

You might also be interested in this other post on Kiwi Chow, Learning Cantonese: 周冠威 Kiwi Chow “How much are you willing to sacrifice for your home, Hong Kong?”.

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

Caption: 勇氣不滅 周冠威

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

Caption: 自由

因為2019年呢場運動 | 佢哋嘅勇氣 . . .

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

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

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

Caption: Freedom

Because of the protest movement in 2019 . . .

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Chanted slogan: Five Demands, Not One Less

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Caption: 連累

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

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

Footage from “Revolution of Our Times”

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

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

Caption: Implicating Others

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

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

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

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

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

Caption: 拯救

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

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

周冠威:如果《十年:自焚者》. . .

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

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

Caption: Deliverance

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

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

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

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

Caption: 勇氣

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

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

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

Caption: Bravery

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

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

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

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


● 訊息 seun3 sīk1 = a message

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

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

Grammar Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning Cantonese: The Pillar of Shame at HKU

One direct consequence of Hong Kong’s so-called “National Security” law has been the suppression of all forms of commemoration of the June Fourth Tian’anmen Massacre, a suppression that constitutes implicit denial. Just before Christmas, on 23 December, authorities at the University of Hong Kong order the dismantling and removal of the June Fourth memorial sculpture by Danish artist Jens Galschiøt. Not long after, two other universities followed suit, removing other expressions of commemoration linked to the 1989 Pro-democracy Movement and effectively betraying the aspirations of their respective student populations.

Not surprisingly, this report on the removal of the Pillar of Shame by reporter 林彥邦 Lam Yin-pong at Stand News was itself removed from the web after police raided the offices of the organization and arrested both staff and members of its board. However, at the time of writing this, a back-up version was still available on YouTube.

In Chinese, the Pillar of Shame (was) known as 國殤之柱 gwok3 sēung1 jī1 chyúh5. In Cantonese, 殤 sēung1 is not seen very often. It means “to die young” and in the compound 國殤 has the sense of “national martyr”. The connotations of the term are linked primarily with mourning rather than with shame, which is why Lam has to explain the English meaning at the end of his report.

One useful grammatical point in this video concerns a special class of verbs known as verb-object verbs. A common instance is a verb like 睇書 tái2 syū1 = “to read”, where 睇 is the verb “to see” and 書 is the noun “book”. Since aspect markers are generally attached to verbs (or co-verbs), verb-object verbs have to “split” in two when this happens. For example, when the aspect-marker for “finishing” 完 yùhn4 is added to the verb 拆彈 = “to defuse a bomb”, the aspect-marker appears between the verb and its object: 拆完彈. In another example, when the marker 埋 màaih4 (according to Intermediate Cantonese by Yip & Matthews this can mean “in addition to all the rest”) is used with the verb 報警 bou3 gíng2 = “to report (an incident) to the police”, we get 報埋警.

On the vocabulary side of things, you’ll encounter a few uses of the verb 剷 cháan2 = to shovel; to level off. In this video, it seems to have the sense of “to scrape (away)”. I have also heard it in reports of traffic accidents, where it seems to mean something like “to plough into” or perhaps “to shear”. It can also be used in soccer to denote a sliding tackle, 剷球 cháan2 kàuh4.

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

各位歡迎收睇 |《三分鐘時事杯麵》| 今集節目嘅首播日係聖誕節 | 首先祝各位聖誕平安 | 本來佳節當前 | 想講啲輕鬆啲嘅議題 | 但作爲香港人 | 去到一年最後一個禮拜 | 都仲係冇鬆口氣嘅空間

國殤之柱係丹麥雕塑家 | 高志活嘅作品 | [Caption: 國殤之柱製作者高志活] | 廿幾年嚟,一直都矗立喺 | 港大黃克競平台 | 去到 2021年12月23號凌晨| [Caption: 2021.12.23 凌晨「國殤之柱」被拆走] | 被港大校方漏夜拆走 | 其實國殤之柱一開始 | 就已經唔係好受港大校方歡迎 | 時間返到去主權移交之前

● 佳節 gāai1 jit3 = happy festival time; festival | ● 丹麥 dāan1 mahk6 = Denmark | ● 雕塑家 dīu1 sou3 gāa1 = sculptor | ● 矗立 chūk1 laahp6 = stand tall & upright | ● 凌晨 lìhng4 sàhn4 = in the small hours; before dawn | ● 漏夜 lauh6 yeh6 = the dead of night | ● 主權 jyú2 kyùhn4 = sovereignty | ● 移交 yìh4 gāau1 = to turn over; to transfer

Welcome everyone to 3-minute Noodle Current Affairs. [Because] this edition is appearing for the first time on Christmas Day, let me first of all wish you all a Safe Christmas. Given the present festival atmosphere [佳節], I had originally planned to talk about some fairly light topics, but in this last week of the year, we Hongkongers still had no space in which to take a breather [冇鬆口氣嘅空間].

The Pillar of Shame is the work of Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt.

Caption: Jens Galschiøt, Maker of the Pillar of Shame

For the past twenty years, it has stood [矗立] on the Haking Wong Podium at the University of Hong Kong, until the early hours of 23 December 2021, when it was dismantled in the dead of night by the authorities at HKU and taken away.

Caption: In the Early Hours of 23 December 2021, the Pillar of Shame is Dismantled & Removed

Right from the beginning, in actual fact, the Pillar of Shame has never really been welcomed by the authorities at HKU. [When we go back] to the time before the transfer of sovereignty . . .

1:00】最後一次六四晚會之後 | 港大學生護送國殤之柱 | 送去港大校園 | 但當時港大派保安阻止 | 拒絕開車閘,仲報埋警 | 港大學生、支持者 | 就同保安同警方對峙 | 爭執咗一輪,國殤之柱最終先入到校園 | 去到1998年9月 | 港大學生會投票通過 | 國殤之柱永久喺黃克競平台展示 | 時間去到今年嘅6月 | 有團體向警察國安處投訴 | 指控國殤之柱散播仇恨 | 可能違反國安法 | 之後港大校方就提出 | 要拆走國殤之柱 | 半年之後嘅凌晨 | 佢哋深夜喐手 | 港大校委會就解釋話 | 國殤之柱日久失修 | 可能有安全問題,亦都 [有] 法律風險 | 實際理由係咩 | 大家心中有數 | 要留意嘅| 係港大校委會主席李國章 | 12月19號立法會選舉投票日 | 佢投票嗰陣話,國殤之柱 | 嘅擁有權問題未解決

● 護送 wuh6 sung3 = to escort; to convoy | ● 阻止 jó2 jí2 = to prevent; to stop; to hold back | ● 車閘 chē1 jaahp6 = (?) traffic barrier-gate | ● 報警 bou3 gíng2 = to report (an incident) to the police | ● 對峙 deui3 chíh5 = to stand facing each other; to confront | ● 爭執 jāng1 jāp1 = to disagree; to dispute; to stick to one’s guns | ● 一輪 yāt1 lèuhn4 = roughly, “a round” | ● 永久 wíhng5 gáu2 = permanent; perpetual; everlasting | ● 展示 jín2 sih6 = to reveal; to show; to lay bare | ● 散播 saan3 bo3 = to disseminate; to spread |● 仇恨 sàuh4 hahn6 = hatred; enmity; hostility | ● 喐手 yūk1 sáu2 = to start work; to get to work; to take action | ● 日久 yaht6 gáu2 = with the passing of time | ● 失修 sāt1 sāu1 = be in bad repair; fall into disrepair | ● 心中有數 sām1 jūng1 yáuh5 sou3 = have a pretty good idea of; know fairly well | ● 投票日 tòuh4 piu3 yaht6 = polling day | ● 擁有權 yúng2 yáuh5 kyùhn4 = (?) the right of possession; ownership

. . . after the last June Fourth Candle Vigil [六四晚會], the students of HKU escorted the Pillar of Shame back to the HKU campus. However, HKU dispatched security guards to stop them, refusing to lift the road-barrier [車閘] and reporting the matter to the police as well. There was a confrontation between HKU students and their supporters with security guards and the police. It was only after arguing the matter for a while [爭執咗輪] that the Pillar of Shame finally entered the campus. In September 1998, HKU students voted in favour of the Pillar of Shame remaining permanently on display on the Haking Wong Podium. Moving along to June this year, certain groups [團體] complained to the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force, claiming that the Pillar of Shame incited hatred [散播仇恨] and that it “might contravene the National Security Law”. Afterwards, HKU indicated that it intended to remove the Pillar of Shame. Six months later, in the small hours of the night, the university took action. The HKU board explained that the Pillar of Shame had, in the passage of time, fallen into disrepair and this quite possibly was a safety issue. In addition, there were legal risks [風險]. What the real reason was is something you all have a pretty good idea about. It is worth noticing that when voting on polling day on 19 December, the chairperson of the HKU board Arthur Li Kwok-cheung said that the issue of who owned the Pillar of Shame had not yet been resolved . . .

2:00】似乎未有動作 // | 但係三日之後,港大就喐手 | 而李國章本身仲有一個禮拜就離任 | 到底係巧合 [呀],等拆完彈先至走人呢?| 港大拆完國殤之柱 | 兩日之内 | 中大搬走咗民主女神像 | 剷走嗮民主牆上面嘅文宣 | 嶺大剷走咗六四浮雕 | 同民主女神壁畫 | 噉到底又係巧合,有人驚「執輸」| 定係收到指示呢? | 港澳辦主任夏寳龍 | [Caption: 夏寳龍 | 當年超過2000間基督教堂十字架被移除] | 做浙江省委書記嘅時候 | 拆走咗2000座教堂嘅十字架或者建築 | 又係咪巧合嚟呢?| 高志活嘅國殤之柱作品 | 總共有六座 | 分別喺香港、意大利羅馬 | 墨西哥墨西哥城 | 巴西巴西利亞 | 丹麥哥本哈根同埋 | 德國柏林 | 國殤之柱英文叫做 | pillars of shame | 恥辱柱 | 當其他五座國殤之柱都安然無恙 | 香港呢一座就喺矗立咗廿三年之後 | 漏夜被人拆走咗 | 成日稱呼自己係國際城市嘅香港

● 離任 lèih4 yahm6 = to leave one’s post | ● 拆彈 chaak3 dáan2 = (?) to defuse a bomb | ● 趁勢 chān1 sai3 = to take advantage of a favourable situation | ● 剷 cháan2 = to shovel; to level off | ● 文宣 màhn4 syūn1 = (?) a written declaration | ● 浮雕 fàuh4 dīu1 = a relief sculpture | ● 執輸 jāp1 syū1 = to miss (a great opportunity) | ● 十字架 sahp6 jih6 gaa3 = crucifix |● 總共 júng2 guhng6 = in all; altogether |● 安然無恙 [ng]ōn1 yìhn4 mòuh4 yeuhng6 = safe & sound; (escape) unscathed

. . . and it seemed that no moves were yet being made. However, three days later, HKU [authorities] set to work and, a week later, Arthur Li Kwok-cheung left his post. Is that just a coincidence, only leaving when the bomb has been defused [拆彈]? Two days after HKU removed the Pillar of Shame, the Chinese University of Hong Kong took away its Goddess of Democracy and scraped away all the written declarations posted up on Democracy Wall. Lingnan University also scraped off its June Fourth relief sculpture as well as the mural of the Goddess of Democracy. Now was this just a coincidence, with people worried that they might “miss out” on “a golden opportunity”, or had they received a directive?

Caption: Xia Baolong Removed over 2000 Crosses from Churches

When he was secretary of the Zhejiang provincial party committee, Xia Baolong, [current] head of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, removed over 2000 church crosses [教堂嘅十字架] or [other] structures. Is this [another] coincidence? Jens Galschiøt’s Pillars of Shame includes a total of six pieces [located in] Hong Kong, Rome, Mexico City, Brasilia in Brazil, Copenhagen and Berlin. In English, they are known as the “Pillars of Shame” (that is, chi yuk chue in Cantonese). When the five other Pillars of Shame remain unscathed, in Hong Kong — where the Pillar of Shame stood tall for twenty-three years before being taken away in the dead of night — couldn’t people bear keeping a place for even this work of art . . .

3:00】係咪連呢一件藝術品都 [做唔落] 呢?| 又或者,拆走恥辱柱呢件事本身 | 就已經係一個恥辱 | 今個星期講到呢個先 | 節目完之前,我哋花多少少時間 | 懷愐一下,喺過去短短呢幾日 | 我哋又再失去咗啲乜嘢

● 做唔落 jouh6 mh4 lohk6 = (?) cannot bear to do cf. Sheik Cantonese: 噉做會棒打鴛鴦,我做唔落 = Doing this would break the couple apart. I cannot bear to do it | ● 懷愐 wàaih4 míhn5 = (?) to cherish the memory of; to recall

. . . despite all the talk about being “an international city”? Furthermore [又或者], to dismantle and remove a pillar of shame is itself a shameful thing. Well, that’s it for this week, but before the end of the program, let us spend a little more time recalling what more we have lost within the short space of just a few days.

《新心界》: 第八章 「唔能夠再有呢個嘅自由」

陳之一瀏覽互聯網,見到有人引述一句難忘嘅說話:歲月會提出疑問,歲月又會給出答案 。佢諗,自從香港回歸以嚟,提出嘅問題已經唔少。難道2019年將會係有答案一年?嗰日下晝喺維園草地上聚集嘅市民内心深處,或多或少、若隱若現都會有類似嘅想法。

下午一點半已經好熱,大多數遊行人士都躲喺雨傘下面,防止被太陽曬得汗流浹背,零舍難耐。維多利亞公園處處都企滿人,同時間又有一浪接一浪嘅新人不停咁湧入。阿綠覺得呢個開頭十分了不起,認為今日一定有好多人參與。等待起步時,陳之一隨便叫阿奇估一估會有幾多少示威者,阿奇就求求其其咁答:「幾多人? . . . 應該至少一百萬! . . . 一百萬,一定!」阿綠同陳之一聽佢咁誇張嘅估計都覺得相當離譜。然後,澳洲男人講到,世界上用「維多利亞」命名嘅地方實在太多。包括佢自己長大嘅澳洲維多利亞州,而其他地方如:阿根廷、加拿大、墨西哥、馬耳他、菲律賓同埋塞舌爾群島等等,都有名叫「維多利亞」嘅地方!另外,地圖集裏一共有三個維多利亞湖,四個維多利亞山(呢個時候,阿奇不經意答嘴話:係呀,紐西蘭都有㗎!),加上非洲嘅津巴布韋亦都有一個維多利亞瀑布。作為香港國際印徵嘅維多利亞港,在非洲某處竟然可以搵到佢嘅同名複製品,真係難以想像。

其實,陳之一覺得,由呢度出發其實唔太適合:終究「維多利亞」係「勝利」嘅意思,不過其實好難判斷呢次遊行最終會得出啲咩嘢結果,最終只可由時間去證明。阿一自己處理事情都由失敗出發,慢慢嘗試走進成功嘅方向。一諗到如果今次遊行能夠令示威者得償所願嘅話 . . . 突然間,佢哋注意到,附近有一班細路仔行緊過嚟,好認真咁練習嗌口號,一次又一次一齊整齊大嗌「林鄭講大話,因住甩大牙!」,周圍嘅大人都覺得十分得意。或者係呢班細路當中最調皮、最大膽嘅一隻「曳豬」,忽然將口號嘅後半部改成「因住甩嗮牙!因住甩嗮牙!」。之後四圍好多示威人士都好有節奏、好似唱歌咁嗌嚟嗌去,令大家暫時忘記當時猛烈嘅陽光、等待嘅苦悶。





阿綠對於澳洲男人嘅問題感到詫異。咁啱呢個時刻,佢哋背後傳嚟一片交談聲:「唔可以俾咁嘅惡法通過 . . . 賣咗香港 . . . 唔能夠再有呢種自由 . . . 香港就會變成同其他內地城市冇分別 . . . 」。話音未落,綠頭髮嘅女人就向兩個朋友回應話:


「係啦」阿奇出於一時衝動而插嘴話:「深圳 . . . 香港 . . . 兩個一摸一樣!不過 . . . 我唔想住喺深圳,“一國兩城”,唔該阿 Sir!」






Hong Kong: Once in a Million Years

For the past two years, Hong Kong has been repeatedly in the international spotlight. A decisive clash between civilizations is the main reason for such world interest, the Chinese desperate to make good the wrongs done to it by the British Empire in the nineteenth century, while Western nations strive to preserve a remnant of threatened democracy. But I think something else ― and potentially far more important ― is ultimately at stake.

In February this year, Hong Kong’s Stand News produced a video entitled “If Today is the Last Day of Freedom” [假如這是自由的最後一天], about a number of dangerous “criminals” facing a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. It begins with 24-year-old 鄒家成 Owen Chow, who uses his last free day to see a movie and get a new tattoo ― “If I’m put away, maybe sometimes I won’t be in control of my feelings, . . . Perhaps seeing this [tattoo] will calm me down a bit”. There’s 岑子傑 Jimmy Shum, who rolls his own cigarettes and wears rainbow shoelaces in his boots. There’s 袁嘉蔚 Tiffany Yuen, shown hugging her life-size Buzz Lightyear doll in anticipation of the loss of such comforts should she be taken into custody immediately. And then there’s 呂智恆 Hendrick Lui, one of the few individuals to be granted bail. Ironically, we see him at work on the street, encouraging passers-by to write letters to other Hong Kong democracy activists already behind bars.

These individuals are just a few of the 53 people arrested on 6 January for allegedly “conspiring to commit subversion”, a grave violation of the new National Security Law. Of these, some were released, while 47 were granted bail and told to report to their local police station on 8 April. However, at the end of February, they were contacted to report to police five weeks earlier than originally scheduled. They then appeared in court on the same day and, after a protracted hearing, most of them were denied bail and were taken into custody. At the time of writing, they are still in detention awaiting trial, scheduled now for November.

What was their offence? They had all taken part in peaceful and perfectly legal primary elections in July 2020 in an attempt to identify the strongest candidates for the Legislative Council elections planned for later in the year.

When Hong Kong reverted to the People’s Republic of China in 1997, it was written into the Basic Law of the Territory that gradual progress would be made towards granting Hongkongers the right to elect their own law-makers and even eventually their Chief Executive. However, a counterfeit system was put in place that meant most members of the legislative council were not directly elected, and that made it virtually impossible for pan-democrats to gain a majority anyway. Nevertheless, after the Million-people Protest March of 9 June 2019 and the months of demonstrations that followed, supporters of Hong Kong democracy scored a massive victory in the November 2019 district elections, and at that point a pro-democratic majority in the Legislative Council became practically thinkable. For this reason, not long after, the National Security Law was enacted and democracy was effectively criminalized. The promise of universal suffrage ― so long flouted and frustrated ― was finally openly broken.

The response from supporters of Hong Kong democracy was summed up by the writer 鄧小樺 Tang Siu Wa ― currently Chief Curator of the House of Hong Kong Literature ― who said in a video interview with Vision Times:

I hope that the international community will be able to make the Chinese people ― and make China as a whole ― regain some respect for what it means to make a promise. “One Country, Two Systems” is an international promise. Supposedly, it is a solemn promise. If a promise is being ripped to shreds, this can’t happen without any consequences, there ought to be consequences. Then all of us, [working] together, should make the people who broke their promise face up to the consequences. That’s how it ought to be.

Have you ever wondered what Hong Kong truly is? On my first trip there in 1998, my head was already filled with the usual misconceptions. The glossy Baedeker I bought to guide me on my journey only helped to cement the stereotypes: Victoria Harbour with its sky-scraping corporate architecture, and the shops of Kowloon, crowded ― just as Ainslie Meares once described it ― with groups of “jabbering tourists on their world cruise bent on buying junk”. Nothing could have been further from the truth. My small flat in the village of Cheung Shue Tan was just down the road from the pristine mountain streams and abundant wildlife of the Tai Po Kau nature reserve, and within easily travelling distance of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple in Sha Tin, where the gold-coated “diamond body” of its founder, Reverend Yuet-kai, can be seen in its glass case on the altar. Without realizing what was happening, I gradually came under the spell of the “Hong Kong Effect”.

I’ve spent the last ten years trying to clarify this phenomenon as it affects people from English-speaking countries. In a book called Hong Kong: A Moment in Time (1997), there’s a collection of one-line explanations gathered from many sources. For some people, the appeal is primarily energetic, and expressed in formulae such as “Hong Kong is all about living life to the full ― work hard, play hard, make money, spend money, nothing in moderation”. This view is often supported with evidence from fung shui, according to which the flows of ch’i concentrated in the Territory infuse this little corner with energy and vitality to a degree which perhaps nowhere else in China possesses, as Richard Gee puts it.

Other explanations build on this, suggesting the laissez-faire business attitude of the Chinese colony leads to a high degree of social autonomy which is remarkably enabling: “A unique, multi-national pin prick on the map which gives everybody a chance in life”. In some cases, Hong Kong even manages to transform people entirely, leading them to an identity they could have never have imagined for themselves back home. Take Gregory Rivers from Gympie in Queensland, who fell in love with Cantonese pop music while studying at the University of New South Wales. Eventually, he abandoned his medical degree and came to Hong Kong on a one-way ticket in 1987. He remains there to this day, having reinvented himself as 河國榮 Ho Kwok-wing, actor, singer and fluent Cantonese-speaker.

However, I think the most promising answer to the riddle is the following cryptic statement: “Hong Kong is a privilege of the twentieth century”. Privilege? Light is shed on this by 莫華德 Barbara Ward, another individual miraculously transmuted by Hong Kong. In Chinese Festivals, a book she worked on with the photographer 羅美娜Joan Law Mee Nar, she points out that contemporary, industrialised Hong Kong is also a centre of flourishing Chinese traditionalism, where the spectacular festival activities forbidden in mainland China ― including celebrations of the birthdays of the Sea Goddess Tin Hau and the Buddhist goddess of Mercy, Goon Yam ― unexpectedly live on. It may be that the profound stability of the Chinese ritual cycle facilitates Hong Kong’s high-degree of creativity, innovation and resilience, providing an optimal channel for social, environmental and technological change to happen without excessive turmoil or dislocation.

But there’s more to it than this conjunction of authentic tradition and sophisticated modernity. Another facet of Hong Kong’s privilege is that it has managed to fuse ― over more than 150 years of continuous effort ― two great but vastly different cultures. An enormous price has been paid for this in terms of human suffering, social injustice, and great divisions of wealth, opportunity and wellbeing, but the resulting hybrid is a priceless treasure, something both Eastern and Western, and at the same time neither Chinese nor Anglo-European ― an entity unique in the history of the world. To me, it is an attempt to imagine what the future could look like, beyond the self-enclosed, nation-obsessed, toxically “patriotic” states that most of us find ourselves caught up in today.

As Jan Morris reminded us in her 1998 book Hong Kong/Xiangang, China’s loss of territory to England as a result of the Opium Wars was utterly devastating. The then emperor Dao Guang, she writes, “was seen by courtiers, incredulously wandering his palace in the night, murmuring ‘impossible, impossible’, and repeatedly sighing”. Dao Guang’s lament continues to resonate loudly in the Chinese psyche, and is perfectly audible now in the People’s Republic of China. Yet, reasonable as they might seem, such claims to lost territory are questionable. The Hong Kong journalist 陳寳珣 Chan Bou-seun puts them into perspective in his novel Love Song for a Sinking Island [沒島戀曲] (2015):

Some said that Ah Cho had left Hong Kong and gone to Europe somewhere, and that he had changed his field of research to the sovereignty of nations and the constitution. He was writing a thesis on the subject of the creation and break-up of ancient Rome, with the purpose of looking into the legal principles behind why Italy did not announce that much of Europe and the Middle East was its own innate territory on the basis of the fact that these places had once been part of the Roman Empire. Over the course of history, in Europe, the Middle East and in Turkey, a succession of empires had emerged straddling a number of regions, and they had all ruled for many centuries. Why didn’t they go on carrying the historical burden of a unified nation and insist on revitalizing the territory of a Greece, a Rome, or an Ottoman Empire, instead of choosing the way of break-up and self-rule?

Here Chan suggests that the move towards “revitalization” is both imperialistic and anachronistic, for history has already shown that the time for empires is over. What 鄒家成 Owen Chow had tattooed on his right inner forearm on his last free day was the mantra Om mani padme hum in Tibetan script, a prayer for enlightenment and the cultivation of a new way of being. Rather than yearn for the past, let us continue to pray forwards for Hong Kong, neither “country” nor “system”, just an inspiring social possibility for the future that perhaps only comes to us once in a million years.

Learning Cantonese: 7.21 尋源 Seeking the Sources of 21 July

Yuen Long, c. 1960

This is neither pleasant nor easy watching, but if you are concerned about what is going on in Hong Kong then this Stand News video on the 2019 21 July Yuen Long Mob Attacks is essential viewing.

The “revised” view of the incident as a clash between protestors and pro-government forces is precisely what the video wants to challenge. This challenge involves four aspects, two of which are covered in this first part (the first 7 minutes). Firstly, there is the testimony of Mr So, who was attacked by a stick-wielding mob on his way home from work. Given the fact that he was unarmed and alone calls into question the idea that the attacks were an act of self-defence on the part of locals. Nothing about Mr So suggests that he was part of pro-Hong Kong plot to overrun Yuen Long in order to liberate [光復] it.

The second aspect is the influence of the pro-Beijing group “Safeguard Hong Kong” [守護香港]. One of the “men in white” [白衣人] was seen wearing a marshall’s token [糾察牌] on which the name of the organization was written. Also of possible relevance are the comments of 石鏡泉 Arthur Shek Kang Chuen who, at a large rally organized by Safeguard Hong Kong at Tamar Park on 20 July, urged members of the audience to find a cane rod or a length of water piping “to teach the kids a lesson” [教仔]. Also relevant here is the woman 李璧而 Sandy Li Pik Yee, the convenor of a pro-Beijing group called [珍惜群組], who led a small demonstration in Yuen Long on the night of the attacks and who, by her own admission, had worked as a marshall at Safeguard Hong Kong events. Recently, Sandy Lee also filed a complaint against Eddie Yip, the judge who sentenced seven of the men in white so far charged over the Attacks.

The third very important aspect concerns a poster allegedly circulated by protestors carrying the inflammatory wording “Capture Yuen Long and You’ll Gain the Whole Empire” [得元朗得天下]. In the second part of this video, we will see that evidence uncovered by Stand News shows that, although the origins of this poster are impossible to determine, its earliest traceable appearance was on a Weibo page called “Dust in the Wind” [風中微塵] run by a woman married to a Hong Kong policeman and known for her active support of the police force. The final aspect involves the role of certain organizations in the New Territories, especially the various Rural Committees [鄉委會] and also a “New Territories Working Group” attached to the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government 中聯辦新界工作部部長, headed by a man called 李薊貽 Li Jiyi.

I hope to post the remaining two parts in the coming weeks.

Please scroll down for my transcription (unfortunately, the remarks of both Mr So and Sandy Lee are a bit unclear, so I have transcribed the Chinese subtitles as well), English translation and notes. You can view the video here (subtitles in English and 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.


旁白:7.21 [七二一] 元朗襲擊事件兩周年 | 過去連儂牆已經空白一片 | 只係剩低每個月嘅21號 | 有大批警員駐守

蘇先生:(字幕)香港人沒有忘記7.21事件| 只係形式上不同了,不在牆上,在心中(粵語)香港人呢,都係忘記7.21呢件事 [呢] | 只係 [形式]可能 // 形式上唔同 [啦], 唔度,// 心入便咁樣

白衣人:(字幕) 不聽話就打

蘇先生:我最想知嘅唔係邊個打我 [嘛] | 我最想知嘅係點解會打 | 後邊 [邊]個 策劃成件事係點樣發生嘅

李璧而:(字幕)他們(示威者)吹得好犀利 | 說「得元朗得天下」| 整件事是爲了守護元朗 | 守護自己的家園而被迫還手 | 這就是真相(粵語) 佢哋吹得好緊要 | 話「得元朗得天下」| 成件事呢,[都係咗] 守護元朗[咋嘛] |守護自己嘅家園被迫還手 | 呢個就係真相

● 連儂牆 lìhn4 nùhng4 chèuhng4 = Lennon Wall | ● 空白一片 hūng1 baahk6 yāt1 pin3 = roughly, “completely blank” | ● 駐守 jyu3 sáu2 = to garrison; to defend | ● 策劃 chaak3 waahk6 = to plan; to plot; to scheme; to engineer | ● 家園 gāa1 yùhn4 = home; homeland | ● 還手 wàahn4 sáu2 = to strike back; to hit back; to retaliate

Voice-over: It is the second anniversary of the 21 July Yuen Long Mob Attacks. The Lennon Wall that was once here is now completely blank and the only reminder of the incident [只係剩低] is the large police presence [大批警員駐守] here on the 21st of every month.

Mr So: The people of Hong Kong haven’t forgotten the 21 July Yuen Long Attacks. It’s just that [we] remember it in a different form — not on a wall but in [our] hearts and minds.

Attacker: (Subtitles) If you disobey, we will hit you.

Mr So: What I really want to know is not who hit me. What I really want to know is why they did it, who the people were behind it were, and how it happened.

Sandy Lee Pik-yee: They (the anti-extradition protestors) were talking up things [吹] in the most exaggerated fashion, saying that if they captured Yuen Long they would then have taken all of China [得元朗得天下]. The whole incident was merely a matter of protecting Yuen Long. We were forced to protect our homeland. That is the truth of it.

【1:00】遭襲擊嘅市民: (字幕)不要打呀 | 只是放工回家呀 | 把眼鏡還給他

旁白:7.21 兩周年 | 事件由最初公認嘅白衣人襲擊市民 | 變成建制所講有「暴徒」| 帶人入元朗掀起雙方衝突 | 究竟7.21係點樣發生呢?| 白衣人背後有冇組織呢?| 「得元朗得天下」厘個消息 | 又係點嚟呢?| 立場新聞翻查當日嘅閉路電視同網絡片段 | 分析互聯網歷史數據,追尋新線索

Caption: 7.21尋源 Seeking the Sources of 21 July

旁白:做厨師嘅蘇先生 . . .

● 建制 gin3 jai3 = (a) pro-establishment or pro-Beijing (organization) | ● 掀起 hīn1 héi2 = to set off (a movement, etc.); to start | ● 翻查 fāan1 chàah4 = roughly, “to look through” | ● 追尋 jēui1 chàhm4 = to pursue; to search; to track down

People being attacked: (Subtitles) Don’t hit [us]. We’ve finished work and we’re just going back home. Give him back his glasses.

Voice-over: On the second anniversary of the 21 July Yuen Long Attacks, the incident has gone from being an attack on civilians by the men in white to what pro-Beijing groups [call] the taking of thugs into Yuen Long to provoke conflicts between the two parties [that is, pro-Beijing parties and pro-Hong Kong parties]. Why in the final analysis did 21 July happen? Was there a particular organization behind the men in white? And where did the news [concerning] the “capture of Yuen Long” come from? The Stand News [team] has looked through footage from closed-circuit TV and the internet from that day, and analyzed historical data from the internet in pursuit of fresh clues.

Mr So, who works as a chef . . .

【2:00】. . . 2019年7月21日,夜晚9點幾收工嘅時候 | 喺元朗鳳攸北街 | 被一班白衣人用藤條襲擊 | 一年後,警方先至安排認人手續 | 蘇先生兩次都認唔到

Caption: 蘇先生 | 7.21襲擊事件傷者 | Mr So | A Victim of the 21 July [Yuen Long] Mob Attacks

蘇先生: (字幕) 爲何事隔一年後才找我認人?| 一年了,甚麽記憶也衝淡了 | 怎會認到人?| 我自己嘗試過找線索找資料 | 方向是7.21(襲擊)前有一個小遊行 | 圍繞元朗行一圈 | 主題和之後的7.21襲擊都好相似 | 都是穿白色衫、手持藤條之類 (粵語)點解要隔咗一年先我認人呢?| 一年 [喇] 喎,我咩記憶都衝淡咗啦 | 唔會認得人 [吖] | 我自己我都 試過去揾一啲線索囉,揾一啲資料囉 | [主要] 方向就係因爲當時7.21之前係有一個叫做遊行仔咁樣 [啦],係呀 | 噉啊圍繞元朗繞 [轉一週] // | 其實個主題同 // 之後7.21襲擊都好相似 | 都係白色衫呀、可能攞啲,啫,藤條咁嘅嘢囉

● 藤條 tàhng4 tíu4*2= (a length of) cane | ● 認人手續 yihng6 yàhn4 sáu2 juhk6 = (?) an identity/identification parade | ● 衝淡 chūng1 daahm6/táahm5 = ① to dilute ② to water down; to weaken; to play down | ● 線索 sin3 sok3 = a clue; a thread | ● 圍繞 wàih4 yíu2 = round; around

. . . was attacked by a group of men in white wielding cane rods [藤條] some time after 9 p.m. on 21 July 2021 after work in Fung Yau Street North. A whole year went by before the police organized [two] identity parades, but on both occasions Mr So didn’t recognize any [of the participants].

Mr So: Why did a whole year go by [隔咗一年] before I was contacted about identifying suspects [認人]? A whole year! Any memories I had had begun to fade; it was unlikely that I’d recognize anyone. Off my own bat [我自己] I once tried to search for a few clues, a bit of material [UNCLEAR] the direction [of the search being] a mini-demonstration [遊行仔] that did a circuit of Yuen Long before [the] 21 July [Yuen Long Attacks]. The theme (?) of the demonstration was similar to that of the later 21 July Attacks. There were people wearing white and maybe some of them were carrying things like cane rods.

【3:00】根據鳳攸北街商戶提供嘅閉路電視片段 | 7.21當日下晝6點幾開始 | 有白衣人聚集同派口罩 | 直至8點幾,更開始有大批白衣人聚集 | 其中一支閉路電視影到 | 三分鐘内有大約二百名白衣人行過 | 差唔多8點嗰陣,仲有一個小型遊行 | 佢哋二、三十人住「保衛元朗 | 保衛家園」嘅標語同區旗遊行

蘇先生:發現咗另一個建制派人士呢 | 叫李璧而 [啦],係一個叫做「珍惜群組」嘅召集人 [啦]

旁白:蘇先生話,自己喺連登討論區 | 出貼討論呢個索,點知有網民留言 | 話有條片聽到李璧而

Gladys Hou 香港突發事故報料區


Gladys Hou Zone for the Reporting [報料] of Unexpected Incidents in Hong Kong (Screenshot from the LIHKG website)

I’m terribly worried!!! Could I please trouble you all to pass on this news: in Kai Tei in Yuen Long, there are large numbers of triad members wearing white, near the Western Rail Station, waiting to ambush protestors returning from demonstrations. They really could beat people up! This news is 100% definite. I ask you to spread [the news] widely, and tell fellow protestors [手足] to be careful and steer well clear of the area.

● 標語 bīu1 yúh5 = slogan; poster + here perhaps “a placard; a sign” (usu.  標語牌) | ● 連登討論區 Lihn4 Dāng1 tóu2 lèuhn4 kēui1 = LIHKG discussion area; meeting area | ● 嗌咪 = cf. 嗌 aai3 = to shout; to yell + 咪 māi1 = microphone (cf. 咪高峰 māi1 gōu1 fūng1)

Notes: LIHKG is a multi-category forum website based in Hong Kong. The website has gained popularity since its launch in 2016, and is often referred to as the Hong Kong version of Reddit (Wikipedia).  雞地gāi1 deih6 or Kai Tei (meaning “chicken land”) in English is located is a place in the south-east part of Yuen Long. The name derives from the fact that there was once a poultry market there that sold chickens and ducks.

Voice-over: On the basis of [根據] CCTV footage provided by traders in Fung Yau Street North, on the day of the 21 July [Yuen Long Attacks], from around 6 p.m., men dressed in white began to assemble and hand out face masks. This went on till around 8 p.m., when large numbers of men dressed in white joined those already assembled. One of the CCTV cameras recorded [影到] the approach of around 200 men dressed in white in the space of 3 minutes [三分鐘内]. At around 8 p.m., there was also a small-scale demonstration, of around 20 to 30 people. They held up placards on which was written “Defend Yuen Long, Defend Our Homeland” and Hong Kong flags as they marched.

Mr So: I came across another pro-Beijing figure by the name of Sandy Li Pik Yee. She’s the convenor of something called the Cherish Group [珍惜群組].

Voice-over: Mr So said that he posted something about this clue on a discussion forum on LIHKG. To his surprise, a netizen said that there was a video of Sandy Lee shouting [slogans] into a microphone.


旁白:而畫面見到呢一個男人 | 身上帶住「守護香港」嘅糾察牌 | 閉路電視亦見到呢個男人 | 曾經同一大班白衣人一齊出入

蘇先生:(字幕)這個人跟另一張相片中在九樓内 | 手持藤條影相的男子非常相似 | 「守護香港」糾察牌 | 我一看便記得之前一個「守護香港」集會 | 一班親政府人士在添馬公園舉辦集會 | 這些容易令人聯想,像所有東西都有關連(粵語)呢個人我原來同另一張相喺個酒樓度 | 唔知攞住藤條影相個係好似 | 「守護香港」個糾察牌 | ,我睇 . . . 記得就喺早排一個叫做「守護香港」嘅集會 [嘛] | 係一班,啫,親政府人士啦,舉行嘅集會,喺添馬公園 | 啫 // 呢啲 [咪] // 容易令人聯想到呢,[或者] 原來,啫,好似所有嘢都有關係嘅

旁白:喺7月20號守護香港大聯盟 | 攪嘅撐警集會上,石鏡泉咁講:| 屋企有藤條呀?(有 !). . .

● 糾察 gáu2 chaat3 = to maintain order at a public gathering | ● 早排 jóu2 pàaih4/páai4*2 = a while ago; a few days ago | ● 親政府人士 chān1 jing3 fú2 yàhn4 sih6 = pro-government people cf. 親 = in favour of; pro- | ● 聯想 lyùhn4 séung2 = to associate; to connect in the mind

Sandy Li Pik Yee: (Subtitles) Yuen Long’s Army of Defence, [its] Volunteer Army

Voice-over: In one moment in the footage [畫面], a man is visible wearing [身上帶住] a Safeguard Hong Kong marshall’s tag [糾察牌]. In the CCTV footage, this man was also seen coming and going with a large group of men in white.

Mr So: This man resembles a man in another photograph [taken in a] restaurant. I’m not sure [唔知] if he is the same man, the one holding a cane rod. [As for] the Safeguard Hong Kong marshall’s tag, I think [我睇] I remember a while ago there being a rally for Safeguard Hong Kong, a bunch of people who are in favour of the government, and they held this gathering in Tamar Park. These [UNCLEAR] can easily be linked up in one’s mind — it seems as if all these things are somehow connected.

Voice-over: Safeguard Hong Kong held a rally in support of police on 20 July. At this rally, Arthur Shek Kang Chuen made the following comments: “Do you have a cane rod at home? (Crowd: Yes!)

【5:00】(字幕)屋企有藤條呀?(有)| 找藤條出來!找長一點來打仔!| 屋企沒有藤條如何呀?| 我們去五金鋪,買直徑 20 毫米的水喉通 | 我們要來做什麽?教仔(粵語)石鏡泉:. . . 攞 [條] 出!揾長 // 打仔! | 屋企冇藤條點呀?| 我都去 // 間五金鋪,買條 20mm 嘅水喉通 | 我哋要 // ?[啫],教仔

旁白:石鏡泉之後撤回言論同致歉 | 表示不贊成任何暴力 | 並且事前對7.21 襲擊毫不知情 | 守護香港大聯盟回覆我哋話 | 喺7.21冇舉行任何活動 | 又話,「守護香港」字樣喺2019年嘅時候 | 「黑暴分子」都有使用 | 叫我哋問「黑暴分子」點解要策動當晚嘅暴亂

李璧而:(字幕)這牌我也有 | 在添馬公園做保安,是大型活動 (粵語)呢個牌我都有 [啦] |  呢 // 保安,// 喺添馬公園做個大型嘅活動吖嘛 | 噉呢,就係,呃 . . .

● 五金鋪 ngh5 gām1 póu3*2 = hardware store | ● 水喉通 séui2 hàuh4 tūng1 = usu. a length of metal water piping | ● 撤回 chit3 wùih4 = to retract | ● 致歉 ji3 hip3 = to apologize; to express regret | ● 毫不知情 hòuh4 bāt1 jī1 chìhng4 = completely unaware of (the facts of a case or the details of an incident) | ● 字樣 jih6 yéung6*2 = printed or written words | ● 策動 chaak3 duhng6 = to instigate; to engineer; to stir up | ● 暴亂bouh6 lyuhn6 = a riot; a rebellion; a revolt

Arthur Shek: Take out [your] cane rods, a nice long one, and beat the brats! Don’t happen to have a cane rod lying around at home? Then we’ll head off down to the hardware store and buy a length of 20mm water piping [水喉通]. What for? We want to teach those brats a lesson.

Voice-over: Arthur Shek later retracted his remarks and issued an apology, expressing [the view] that he did not condone violence of any kind, and saying that he had no prior knowledge of the 21 July Attacks. Safeguard Hong Kong responded to our questions, saying that they did not organize any activities on the day of the attacks, adding that the words “safeguard Hong Kong” were also used by “black violent elements” [黑暴分子] in 2019. They told us to go and ask those “black violent elements” why they instigated that evening’s riot [暴亂].

Sandy Li Pik Yee: I’ve got one of those tags. I worked as a marshall at the big event held at Tamar Park which was organized by . . .

【6:00】. . . (字幕)是何律師(何君堯)舉辦的 | (記者:是守護香港大聯盟舉辦的)| 是守護香港大聯盟 . . . 記錯了 | 這牌 . . . 我也有份做糾察 (粵語)何律師攪嘅嘛,噉 [因為] . . . |(記者:// 香港大聯盟攪嘅) | 啊,啊,守護香港大聯盟,係,[記錯咗, 記錯] | (係,係)| 咁樣呢,就,呃,呢個牌,我都有一份糾察 [喇]

旁白:我哋訪問到7.21白衣人襲擊前 | 喺行帶頭嘅李璧而 | 話,當日遊行係元朗一班街坊自發攪 | 同守護香港大聯盟 | 或者其他建制組織都冇關係

李璧而:(字母)這些糾察牌與當日無關,沒必要掛上 | 我不知道爲何他會掛上,我不知道 | 大家是鄰里,不能排除他 | 一起來幫忙控制秩序,不奇怪 | 7.21那晚我們一班人約在這裏 | 在這裏張貼橫額,物資放這裏 | 我看見他們預備了藤條(粵語)呢牌唔關 [嗰件事,我想話] (記者:哦)亦都冇必要掛喺度 | 噉我唔知點解佢會掛喺度呢,我唔知 [喇] // | 大家鄰里呢,當日嚟講唔係 // 佢就 | // 幫手控制個秩序,都唔奇嘅 | 7.21嗰晚呢,// 我哋呢,都成班呢,就約咗喺呢一度 | ,我哋呢,就貼橫額,喺度貼。嗱,啲物資呢,就擺 [到] 呢度嘅 | 噉 // 佢哋 // 見到佢哋呢,就係,呃,呃,預備咗啲藤條,我見到 . . .

● 自發 jih6 faa3 = spontaneous | ● 橫額 wàahng4 ngáak6*2 = horizontal hanging placard; banner; streamer | ● 鄰里 lèuhn4 léih5 = neighbour | ● 物資 maht6 jī1 = (?) goods

Sandy Li Pik Yee : . . . [Junius] Ho [Kwan-yiu], the lawyer organized. (Reporter: That event was organized by Safeguard Hong Kong.) Oh yes, Safeguard Hong Kong. My memory is playing tricks on me. Now as for this tag . . . I’ve also worked as a marshall.

Voice-over: We spoke with Sandy Li who marched at the head of the protest before the 21 July Attacks by the men in white. She said that the march held on that day was a spontaneous event organized by a residents’ group in Yuen Long and that it had no connection whatsoever with Safeguard Hong Kong or any other pro-Beijing organization.

Sandy Li Pik Yee : This tag has nothing to do with the march. There was no need to wear it here. I don’t know why he was wearing it. We are all local people. Perhaps he was helping out with the crowd control [控制秩序] — there’s nothing odd about that. On the night of 21 July, the whole lot of us gathered here, put up banners. We put them up here. Various other bits and pieces [物資] were put here. As for those [men], I saw them coming prepared with cane rods, and when I saw them . . .

【7:00】(字幕) . . . 我問,為甚麽會預備藤條?| (他們指)示威者有槌子之類的武器 | 他們被迫守衛家園 | 你們卻說他們是黑社會 | (示威者)不入元朗有怎會有此事?| 今次希望大家要明白 | 其實看看網上之前的資料 | 「得元朗得天下」. . . 嘩,真的嚇死人(粵語)我 // 點解你預備藤條嘅 | // 對方呢,話,呃,呃,嗰啲,嗰啲武器有鎚仔、有 // 吖嘛 | 佢哋被迫守衛家園 | 而你哋話佢哋,呃,咩?,呃,黑社會 | 你唔入嚟 [點] 會有嘅事呀? 係咪先?| 所以呢,今次我 [哋]希望大家要明白到呢 | 呃,其實睇翻網上呢,以前嘅網上嘅資料 | 「得元朗得天下」,嘩,真係呀嚇死人呀,真係

旁白:李璧而話,7.21前夕 | 網上流傳「得元朗得天下」嘅圖 | 佢哋知道有人要入元朗「光復」| 所以先至集合出嚟守衛元朗

李璧而:(字幕)之前(有圖)刻意放大這些字 | 令到我們都很擔心 | 因爲這張海報,他們這樣鼓吹 | 整條街都站滿白衣人 (粵語)[佢] 之前呢,[就] 刻意呢,就放大呢啲字呀 | 噉呢 // [講真呢],我都好擔心呀 | 因爲 [嗰] poster 啦,同埋佢哋咁樣吹法啦 | 呢度成條街全部白雪雪

● 預備 yuh6 beih6 = to prepare; to get ready | ● 鎚仔 chèuih4 jái2 = roughly, a little hammer | ● 係咪先 haih6 maih6 sin1 = don’t you agree with me? | ● 前夕 chìhn4 jihk6 = eve | ● 流傳 làuh4 chyùhn4 = to spread; to circulate | ● 光復 gwōng1 fuhk6 = to recover; to liberate (lost territory)

Sandy Li Pik Yee: I asked them, why have you come prepared with cane rods? They replied [that the protestors had] weapons [such as domestic hammers [UNCLEAR]. They were forced to protect their homeplace. You people, on the other hand, say they are — what was it, again? — triad gangsters. How could anything [like that] had happened if you hadn’t come [to Yuen Long], right? And so for this reason, this time I hope everyone will be clear about this. Actually, if [you] go back and look at the internet, at material on the web from before, [you’ll see an image saying] “Capture Yuen Long and You’ll Gain the Whole Empire”. This really gave [us] a terrible scare, really.

Voice-over: Sandy Li said that on the eve of 21 July, an image circulated over the net [bearing the words] “Capture Yuen Long and You’ll Gain the Whole Empire”. It was only after they learned that people wanted to come to Yuen Long to “liberate” it that they banded together to safeguard Yuen Long.

Sandy Li Pik Yee: Before, they deliberately enlarged these words. To tell you the truth I was really worried. Because of that poster, and the way they were talking things up [吹法], the streets here were just a whole mass of white [成條街全部白雪雪].

To be continued . . .

Learning Cantonese: 盡力彰顯真實民意 or “Make the True Will of the People Clearly Manifest”

● 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.

The League of Social Democrats

Learning Cantonese: 捐窿捐罅 or “Every Nook and Cranny”

Every language has its rare species, words and phrases that only crop up once in a blue moon. The last time I heard the idiom 捐窿捐罅 gyūn1 lūng1 gyūn1 laa3 was in a TVB news report in 2019. There, it was described a small robot-like device that could operate “in any nook or cranny” [噉,好處係佢可以捐窿捐罅]. But here in this recent report from HK01, it has finally come back to me again, but the context is quite different: speaking out for democracy in Hong Kong.

According to 《香港粵語大詞典》, 捐窿捐罅 means “to go into each and every corner” [走遍每一個角落] while Sheik Cantonese has “[to sneak in and out of a hole] to search high and low for a place”. When Figo Chan calls on people to 捐窿捐罅去發聲, we can guess that he wants them to make their voices heard in whatever gaps or cracks they can find . . . This certainly adds to our understanding of the nuances of the expression. Of interest too is the fact that the video subtitles write it as 瓹窿瓹罅, using the rare character 瓹 gyūn1 which means “a hole in a basin to let the water out” [盆底之去水孔].

Although this report lasts for just over a minute, it contains a number of other very interesting things, including 較早前 = (?) “a while back; some time ago” and the two 4-character phrases 秋後算賬 = “to square accounts after the Autumn harvest” and 義無反顧 = honour permits no turning back.

You can view the video here. 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.


多名民人士 | 被指前年10月1日 | 組織及參與未經批准集結 | 案件禮拜一喺區域法院開審

案中10名被告個承認一項 | 組織未經批准集結罪 | 佢哋較早前抵達法庭時候 | 已經預告會認罪

陳浩桓:希望呢,大家呢,緊無論係6月4 | 定係7月1 | 定係其他日子 | 都可以捐窿捐罅去發聲 | 可以捍衛我哋嘅自由、民主同埋公義

何俊仁:今日,政府秋後算賬 | 要將我哋係禁於牢獄 | 然後,使到市民要滅聲 | 但係,我同大家講 | 我哋唔會後悔 | 我哋絕對義無反顧


記者:曾藹豪 | 攝影:洪業銘 | 剪接:袁柏謙

● 泛民 faan3 màhn4 = pan-democratic | ● 開審 hōi1 sám2 = to hold a court hearing | ● 較早前 gaau3 jóu2 chìhn4 = ? cf. 較早時 = a while back; some time ago | ● 預告 yuh6 gou3 = to announce in advance | ● 認罪 yihng6 jeuih6 = to admit guilt | ● 嚟緊 làih4 gán2 = (forth)coming | ● 發聲 faat3 sēng1 = usu. “to make a sound”; here perhaps “to make a noise or “to make one’s voice heard” | ● 捍衛 hóhn5 waih6 = to defend; to guard; to protect | ● 公義 gūng1 yih6 = justice | ● 秋後算賬 chāu1 hauh6 syun3 jeung3 = to square accounts after the Autumn harvest, that is, wait until after a political movement is over to settle accounts with the leadership or the masses; bide one’s time to take revenge; wait until sth. is over to settle accounts with | ● 禁於牢獄 gam3 yū1 lòuh4 yuhk6 = (?) to be put in prison | ● 滅聲 miht6 sēng1 = (?) to extinguish all dissent cf. 滅 = to destroy; to extinguish | ● 義無反顧 yih6 mòuh4 fáan2 gu3 = honour permits no turning back; be duty-bound not to turn back | ● 初心 chō1 sām1 = beginner’s mind; original intention; first desire | ● 長存 chèuhng4 chyùhn4 = to live forever

A number of pan-democrats figures [泛民人士] were accused of organizing and taking part in an unauthorised assembly the year before last on 1 October. The case was heard at the District Court on Monday.

The ten people accused admitted to the charge [承認] of organizing an unauthorised assembly. Earlier, when they arrived at the court, they had already indicated that they would plead guilty.

Figo Chan: Regardless of whether it is 4 June or 1 July or any other forthcoming date, [we] hope that all of you can make a noise in any nook of cranny you are able to get into [捐窿捐罅] and that you can defend our freedom, our democracy, and our justice.

Albert Ho: Today, the government is engaged in settling political scores and will lock us up in prison. After that, dissent from ordinary people will be extinguished [滅聲]. However, I say to you all that we have no regrets and that in our case, absolutely, honour permits no turning back.

Richard Tsoi: Our original intention has not altered. Our faith will live forever.

Learning Cantonese: 2021 香港約章 Hong Kong Charter 2021

“Hongkongers are a unique community with their own distinctive culture, history, experiences and values. We shall maintain our unique identity and continue to create its timely significance to perpetuate these precious characteristics; our identity, history and cultural values shall be respected and safeguarded, in writing and in recording, to be preserved in multiple ways to counter the biased perspectives fabricated and propagated by the authorities” — these are the opening sentences of the next part of the Charter, simply entitled 香港篇 Hēung1 Góng2 Pīn1 or “Hong Kong Section”.

I will tackle the remaining two parts of the Charter (dealing with mainland China and the international community) in another post, but you can view the entire bilingual document here, together with some information on the initiators. For other help with the Chinese, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.


7.  香港人是一個獨特的共同體,擁有獨特的文化、歷史、經歷以及價值觀。我們應該維持獨特的身份認同,持續創造其時代意義,以傳承這些珍貴的特質;我們的身份丶歷史和文化價值應該受到尊重、保護,以各種方法書寫、記錄、保存,抗擊官方諱言捏造的史觀。

8.  香港人有權決定香港的前途和事務,包括民生丶政制丶憲制等改革。同時,香港人應享有民主、自主和自由的制度:民主包括由人民直接選出丶沒有篩選的政府和議會;自主包括本地事務免受中共干預;自由包括《世界人權宣言》丶《公民權利及政治權利公約》和其他國際公約內列明人民應享有的政治丶社會及經濟權利。

9.  香港政府應實行三權分立,司法丶行政及立法機關互不統屬。法治制度應以限制公權力、彰顯公義為最高原則,法官判決應合乎人權及法治的標準,另外本地最高法院應享有憲法解釋權,不受中共干預。

10.  港版國安法是侵害港人言論自由、人身安全、政治自由的惡法,理應馬上廢除。政府應停止以言入罪、釋放在囚的政治犯,並保障所有港人遊行、示威、結社、出版、言論的權利,並撤銷所有針對流亡人士的政治檢控。

11.  中共肆意侵蝕香港公民社會,破壞各個專業領域的價值、原則以及道德,逼使有良心的香港市民臣服於他們無理專橫的管治。我們呼籲市民盡量捍衛自身底線,不與政權同流合污。

12.  在中共的直接指揮和港府官員盲從上意下,警隊已淪為極權打壓市民訴求和權利的武器。警政系統必須改革,在人民充分的監督及授權下,建立真正為民服務的治安自理體系。

● 共同體 guhng6 tùhng4 tái2 = community | ● 身份認同 sān1 fán6*2 yihng6 tùhng4 = (?) identity cf. 身份 = status; identity + 認同 = to identify | ● 傳承 chyùhn4 sìhng4 = to impart & to inherit | ● 抗擊 kong3 gīk1 = to resist; to beat back | ● 諱言捏造wáih5 yìhn4 nihp6 jouh6 = ? cf. 諱言 = dare not or would not speak up + 捏造 = to fabricate; to concoct; to trump up | ● 事務 sih6 mouh6 = affairs | ● 世界人權宣言 sai3 gaai3 yàhn4 kyùhn4 syūn1 yìhn4 = the Universal Declaration of Human Rights | ● 公民權利及政治權利公約 gūng1 màhn4 kyùhn4 leih6 kahp6 jing3 jih6 kyùhn4 leih6 gūng1 yeuk3 = the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights | ● 三權分立 sāam1 kyùhn4 fān1 lahp6 = separation of powers (i.e. the legislative, executive and judicial powers) | ● 統屬 tung2 suhk6 = ① subordination ② to be subordinate | ● 公權力 gūng1 kyùhn4 leih6 = (?) public rights | ● 彰顯公義 jēung1 hín2 gūng1 yih6 = cf. 彰顯 = to bring out conspicuously + 公義 = justice | ● 解釋權 gáai2 sihk6 kyùhn4 = right to interpret | ● 理應 léih5 yīng1 = ought to; should | ● 以言入罪 yíh5 yìhn4 yahp6 jeuih6 = roughly, “to regard speaking out as a criminal offence” | ● 結社 git3 séh5 = to form an association | ● 撤銷 chit3 sīu1 = to cancel; to rescind; to revoke | ● 檢控 gím2 hung3 = to prosecute | ● 臣服於 sàhn4 fuhk6 yū1 = to submit oneself to the rule of; to acknowledge allegiance to | ● 捍衛 hóhn5 waih6 = to defend; to guard; to protect | ● 底線 dái2 sin3 = the base line; the bottom line | ● 同流合污 tùhng4 làuh4 hahp6 wū1 = wallow in the mire with sb.; to associate with an evil person | ● 上意 seuhng6 yi3 = (?) the wishes/will of those higher up  | ● 授權 sauh6 kyùhn4 = to empower; to authorize | ● 治安自理 jih6 [ng]ōn1 jih6 léih5 = ? cf. 治安 = law & order

7.  Hongkongers are a unique community with their own distinctive culture, history, experiences and values. We shall maintain our unique identity and continue to create its timely significance to perpetuate these precious characteristics; our identity, history and cultural values shall be respected and safeguarded, in writing and in recording, to be preserved in multiple ways to counter the biased perspectives fabricated and propagated by the authorities.

8.  Hongkongers shall have the right to determine the future and affairs of Hong Kong, including any social, institutional and constitutional reforms. Hongkongers shall enjoy a democratic, autonomous and free system. Democracy entails a government and legislature directly elected by the people. By autonomy, it means local affairs are free from the Chinese Communist Party’s interference. Freedom entails the provision of social and economic rights for the people as stipulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

9.  The Hong Kong government shall implement separation of powers. The judiciary, the executive and the legislature shall not be subordinate to one another. The legal system shall have restricting public power and manifesting justice as the supreme principles. The judges shall adjudicate in accordance with human rights and the rule of law. The highest court shall enjoy the power of interpretation of the constitution.

10.  The Hong Kong National Security Law is a draconian law that violates Hongkongers’ freedom of speech, freedom of the person and political freedom, and shall be repudiated immediately. The government shall stop criminalizing speeches, release all political prisoners and guarantee Hongkongers freedom of demonstration, protest, association, publication and speech. The government shall drop all charges against the political exiles.

11.  The Chinese Communist Party has been arbitrarily encroaching on Hong Kong’s civil society, destroying the values, principles and moralities of each professional sector, and forcing conscientious Hongkongers to submit to its despotic governance. We urge citizens to hold their bottom line, resist association with the Chinese Communist Party and its evil deeds.

12.  Under the Chinese Communist Party’s direct orders and the blind submission of Hong Kong officials, the police force has become an arsenal used by the totalitarian regime to oppress people’s aspirations and rights. The police system must be reformed. A democratic policing system, which truly serves the people, has to be established under the people’s supervision and with the people’s mandate.

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.

Learning Cantonese: A Letter from 胡志偉 Wu Chi Wai

Whatever its intended purpose, the current objective of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law is to rebrand democracy as “subversion” and to eliminate any genuine opposition from the political landscape, a move in accord with the increasingly authoritarian mindset.

Former Democratic Party chairperson 胡志偉 Wu Chi Wai was arrested on 6 January in connection with an alleged unauthorised assembly on 1 July 2020. He was denied bail after failing to surrender a British National (Overseas) passport to authorities and is being held at the 荔枝角收押所 Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, a maximum security institution. The following letter was written from there, and is dated 19 January. It was posted on the HK01 website here. Some background in English on Wu’s arrest can be found on the Hong Kong Free Press website here.




● 街坊 gāai1 fōng1 = neighbourhood | ● 逆境 yihk6 gíng2 = adverse circumstances; adversity | ● 强心針 kèuhng4 sām1 jām1 = (?) perhaps something like “a shot in the arm; a boost” in English cf.  强心劑 = cardiac stimulant (a medical term)| ● 愛護 oi3 wuh6 = to cherish; to treasure; to take good care of

Dear neighbourhood friends,

As I face adversity, the blessings, concern and support I have received from you all has been a real shot in the arm [强心針] and warmth [暖氣] in this frigid winter. Please allow me to thank you all for [the way] you have cherished me [對我的愛護].


● 演譯 yín2 yihk6 = usu. “deduction” but also “to interpret; to expound; to develop” & written 演繹 | ● 無言以對 mòuh4 yìhn4 yíh5 deui3 = words fail one

People act and Heaven watches. What is clearly [明明] written down in the articles of the Basic Law can be arbitrarily interpreted [so that it] leaves behind the world known to the run of common people [大衆]. [But on the subject of] who is right and who is wrong, words fail me.


● 賜予 chi3 yúh5 = to grant; to bestow | ● 應付 ying3 fuh6 = to deal with; to cope with; to handle | ● 預料 yuh6 liuh6 = to expect; to predict; to anticipate | ● 珍惜 jān1 sīk1 = to treasure; to value; to cherish | ● 親情 chān1 chìhng4 = affection (perhaps generally, more specifically, between blood relations)

Democracy has never been bestowed [on anyone]. Compared to other friends who have made many more sacrifices [付出更多的], I can cope with things, even though I am faced with not a few difficulties. Who can tell [未可預料] whether the future is likely to bring longer days without freedom as well as more losses of freedom (?). [Let us] treasure the present moment, as well as family affection, love, friendship and good health.


To [all] good people, I wish a lifetime of peace! “Add oil” to the people of Hong Kong!