Zolima City Mag’s “Alleyway Haircuts”

“Alleyway Haircuts” is another short documentary video in Zolima City Mag’s wonderful “Forgotten Icons” series.

After seeing Wong Kar-wai’s film Fallen Angels as part of a film course, Mark Lau abandoned cinema studies and instead took over his father’s barber shop in Wan Chai. This is his story.

For the grammatically-minded, the video contains several exciting moments. Two terms that are often translated as “even” in English get used. The first of these, 甚至乎 sahm6 ji3 fuh4 = “even; go so far as to” is used in the line 甚至乎引申到係一個知己囉 and indicates a sense of surprise on the speaker’s part, or that what one is saying might fall beyond the usual range of the listener’s expectations.

The other “even” is expressed by the structure 連 lìhn4 . . . 都 dōu1 and is also concerned with expectations (in comparisons it has to do with reaching an expected standard). It appears in the phrase 傳統嘅理髮師連乞兒都不如 = a traditional barber is not even as good as a beggar.

The second item of interest is the aspect marker 返 fāan1. 返 fāan1 in its own right means “to return”, and this hints at the fact that it functions somewhat like this re– in English, suggesting return, repetition and perhaps even resumption in the case of an action that has been broken off. In the three examples found in Mark Lau’s presentation, the first means “to take a second look”, the second means “to see again (after a certain interval of time)”, while the third ⸺ “to take on” ⸺ implies a kind of resumption, since Lau had been actively discouraged from taking over his father’s business:

跟住再細查之下,見返,啊,原來就係自己屋企嘅地方
喺個電影裏面見返原來自己好親切嘅地方
不斷去追求好囉
去到接手返屋企嘅事業

There may be cases where 返 fāan1 as an aspect marker creates an idiomatic meaning, in the same way as 住 jyuh6 sometimes does.

Finally, the mystery final particle 囉 lō1 is used quite frequently by the speaker. Consider the following instances:

鄰居呀,一個朋友呀咁嘅態度囉,喺度
甚至乎引申到係一個知己囉
而唔係話去到嗰個位就 stop 咗,停咗喺度囉
因為咁好似係遺忘咗上一代留落嚟嘅嘢咁樣樣囉

According to Yip and Matthews, 囉 “gives a suggestion that what is said should be obvious”, and can be used with the word 咪 maih6 = “then” to indicate “an obvious conclusion” (Intermediate Cantonese, Unit 23). The Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary has various definitions, including “[final particle] showing argumentative mood or making emphasis” and “[final particle] expressing a changed condition”. Certainly, in all the examples quoted from this video, the speaker is making claims that might invite disagreement. My working hypothesis here is that it is used “to soften the force” (?) of strongly asserted arguments: look, I really think this is the case, but you may wish to disagree . . . However, I need to do a lot more work on this question.

This video lasts for 2:45 minutes. Scroll down for the Cantonese transcription and notes. To watch the video (with English and Standard Chinese subtitles), click here

To check anything in the transcription and for standard jyutping romanization, please refer to the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

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

我叫劉家成,噉我英文名叫阿 Mark啦

我係一個傳統廣東式理髮師
理髮師 léih5 faat3 sī1 = barber; hairdresser

噉呢個理髮店就係我父親喺1962年嗰陣時創立愛群理髮
● One striking habit of the speaker is to use phrases such as 我父親佢 = lit. “my father he” in which the pronoun seems redundant. It might help to think of it as a form of apposition, roughly equivalent to the English “he, the man who is my father”. Watch out for the other examples in this video, including阿王導演佢 and 香港人佢.
● 創立 chong3 laahp6 = to establish; to found; to set up | I guess in this situation we could also say “he opened the Oi Kwan barbershop in 1962”.

噉由62年到而家其實都係灣仔春園街呢一個位置

嗰陣時我見到我爸爸剪頭髮好有型呀
● 有型 yáuh5 yìhng4 = handsome | You can also hear this expression in the podcast “A Postman’s Gaze (1)”: 主持人:你都係好有型呀!

可以左手揸個烟,右手揸個電剪
電剪 dihn6 jín2 = electric clippers
就咁同客人剪頭髮
Note that 同 tùhng4 in this context does not mean “with”. The meaning here is “for; on behalf of”.

跟住細個會覺得,啊,咁有趣嘅

點解大家一齊剪頭髮

可以變個朋友咁嘅互動可以係
The syntax of this sentence is clearly unusual. The main part appears to be 可以變咗個朋友咁嘅 = “can become friends, like”, to which is added the afterthought “interacting, [they] can be”. By the looks of it, this afterthought also employs dislocation. For details on this, see “Afterthoughts and dislocations” in Unit 24 of Intermediate Cantonese by Yip and Matthews.

傳統嘅 barbershop 嚟講就有一個「家」嘅感覺
Here, the structure 對[於] . . . 嚟講 = “with regard to; as far as . . . is concerned”, but the 對[於] has been dropped.

鄰居呀,一個朋友呀咁嘅態度囉,喺度

甚至乎引申到係一個知己囉
甚至乎 sahm6 ji3 fuh4 = even; go so far as to. This is a very useful expression in Cantonese, frequently used to add further information to a topic that might be considered unexpected. Here, for instance, Mark Lau suggests that customers become like family members, perhaps friends, and then finally even “bosom buddies”. Often, the乎 fuh4 at the end of this term is dropped.
引申 yáhn5 sān1 = to extend (the meaning of a word)
知己 jī1 géi2 = an intimate friend | The literal meaning suggests someone who knows [知] you nearly as well as you know yourself [己].

大家有咩心事呀都會講
心事 sām1 sih6 = sth. weighing on one’s mind; a load on one’s mind; worry
The expression 有啲咩is often heard in questions. In a statement, it creates a general expression: “Whatever people have on their minds, they will talk about”.

當初讀呢個電影、攝影嗰陣時
當初 dōng1 chō1 = at first, originally | Here, perhaps “back [in the days] when I was studying . . . ”

我老師佢播咗一個電影我睇

嗰個就係《墮落天使》
墮落 doh6 lohk6 = to degenerate

當初我見到咁熟口面嘅「理髮」兩隻字
熟口面 suhk6 háu2 mihn6 = a familiar face; a familiar person. Also expressed by the phrase 熟口熟面.

跟住再細查之下,見返,啊,原來就係自己屋企嘅地方
細查 sai3 chàah4 = (?) to examine closely/carefully

個衝擊係好震撼㗎
衝擊 chūng1 gīk1 = charge; assault; attack | Here, perhaps “impact” is what an English speaker would use here.
震撼 jan3 hahm6 = to shake; to vibrate; to shock; to rock | Or something more colloquial like “blew me away” or “left me reeling with the shock”.

喺個電影裏面見返原來自己好親切嘅地方
親切 chān1 chit3 = (adj) amiable; friendly; cordial; kind; warm; sincere; gracious; intimate; dear; familiar (adv) heartily; warmly; graciously; kindly; (n) friendliness; hospitality cf. 親切感 = sense of cordiality / warmth

阿王導演佢喺當時揀呢個場景嘅背後意義
場景 chèuhng4 gíng2 = scenario; scene
背後意義 bui3 hauh6 yi3 yih6 = (?) the meaning behind sth.; the hidden meaning

從而引發到我
從而 chùhng4 yìh4 = thus; thereby. I would have thought that this expression is something characteristic of written rather than spoken Cantonese, but here it is!
引發 yáhn5 faat3 = initiation | In this context, it must be the verb (?) “to initiate”.

去到接手返屋企嘅事業
接手 jip3 sáu2 = to take over (duties, etc.)

其實呢個都好感恩啦,呢個
感恩 gám2 yān1 = feel grateful; be thankful

某程度嚟講,係一個動力嚟㗎
嚟㗎 leih4 gaa3 is added to create an “explanatory tone”:

噉而家係香港兩栖及爬蟲協會現時唯一嘅員工嚟㗎 = At present, I am the only employee of the Hong Kong Society of Herpetology (Henry Chan Man-hou)
噉所以呢,就後來我好鐘意我個名,因爲我覺得,即係,係一個好嘅開始呢,都係一件好嘅事嚟㗎。(Hong Kong Foothpath, Chan Siu-chi)

動力 duhng6 lihk6 = motive; motivation | Perhaps in this context “impetus” might be possible

當時就係老師傅,包括我爸爸
師傅 sī1 6*2 = master worker; | Here, the addition of 老 lóuh5 suggests a highly experienced “veteran” of the barbering industry

佢唔願意教

佢覺得做一個傳統嘅理髮師連乞兒都不如
乞兒 hāt1 4*1 = beggar
The structure 連 lìhn4 . . . 都 dōu1 is a useful one and expresses the idea of “even” in English ⸺ here, “not even as good as a beggar”. Also note that 不如 bāt1 yùh4 here, used at the end of the sentence, means “not as good as”; compare the 不如 used at the start of a clause to make a suggestion.

噉我唔忿氣
忿氣 fahn6 hei3 = accept failure; willing to concede/admit defeat

噉我上網睇 YouTube

噉仲有啲朋友介紹,去咗其他 barbershop 呀,salon 嗰度去到實習
The second character 仲 juhng6 commonly means “still”, but in this situation, it means “furthermore”. 仲 juhng6 can also be written 重 juhng6.
I first encountered 實習 saht6 jaahp in the sense of “work experience”. It can also refer to doing field work. Here, however, “to practise” or “to get more practice” is what is meant.

唔好講話「師傅」啦
The literal meaning is “Don’t say the word “master”, but the implication is something like “Don’t even mention the word ‘master’” or “Never mind thinking about becoming a ‘master’”. | Note the routine use of 啦 lāa1 to soften the force of the imperative.

其實一個工藝係不斷去追求
工藝 gūng1 ngaih6 = craft

每一次個客人到,下一次會更加好

不斷去追求好囉
Here, 追求好 jēui1 kàuh4 hóu2 seems to imply “the pursuit of excellence” or “to pursue excellence”.

而唔係話去到嗰個位就stop咗,停咗喺度囉
This is a curious example of code switching, since Mark Lau gives the Chinese version straight after the English “stop”!

因為咁好似係遺忘咗上一代留落嚟嘅咁樣樣囉
遺忘 wàih4 mohng6 = to forget | I don’t hear this very often. My feeling is that 唔記得 mh4 gei3 dāk1 is the usual expression for “to forget”.
留落嚟 is made up of 留 làuh4 = to leave and a directional complement 落嚟 lohk6 làih4, which suggests downward movement, but approximates the English “to leave behind” or even “to pass on (to posterity)”. I once read an explanation of the Chinese sense of time which likened it to a climb down a sheer mountain with one’s back to where one was going. In other words, one “falls” into the future facing the past! Time expressions such as 上星期; 下星期; 前天;後天 provide some support for this interpretation.

就咁行過但係一直都唔知原來就喺隔籬街
隔籬街 gaak3 leih4 gaai1 = the next street | Note that 隔籬 is pronounced in exactly the same way as the 隔離heard a lot at the moment because it means “isolation; quarantine”.

算唔算香港文化唔係我講嘅

因為都係,係香港人佢自己佢會明白呢一點係咪屬於自己嘅文化呢個就

屬於 suhk6 yū1 = “belong to; be part of”. I get the impression that this is used a lot in Cantonese, so is definitely worth adding it to your repertoire of grammatical structures.
The syntax is curious in this sentence, and may be an example of an odd kind of dislocation! In 呢一點係咪屬於自己嘅文化呢個就, the last three characters 呢個就 = “this is [then]” may restate the earlier 呢一點係咪 = “is this [point]?”. Translated literally, we have “whether this [point] is a part of one’s own culture or not, this [then]”. However, it may just be a fairly vague afterthought, similar to 其實呢個都好感恩啦,呢個.

《新心界》: 第六章

•  「心界」

阿綠約咗陳之一喺上晝十一點見面。東鐵嘅粉嶺站俾人嘅印象係比較平易近人,香港大部份嘅車站都好似迷宮咁,繁忙時間特別容易令人攪錯:蕩失路、喪失方向感、揾唔到想揾嘅出口等等。粉嶺就零捨唔同,上樓梯行到車站大堂,就可以一目瞭然,睇清楚整體佈局。因此,阿綠即刻見到 A1 出口嘅位置,再行近啲就見到一早就喺度等緊佢嘅高瘦外國人。唔識阿一嘅人會以為佢喺度進行緊一次獨白式嘅演講。

四月份嘅天空雖然比較陰暗,但並冇落雨嘅先兆,所以佢哋決定慢慢行到聯和墟。出站後,繞過左邊嘅小巴站,呢度成日會有的士、小型貨車來來回回咁上貨、落貨,相信同呢一帶聚集嘅小販有關。阿綠同陳之一經過時,見到唔少人打開紙皮箱,討論入面嘅商品,阿一又見到佢地更為其中一樣物品嘈起上嚟(其實,陳之一喺呢度攪錯咗:佢哋只不過係討價還價啫,平時好少會嗌交)。另外又有一班好似已經做完生意嘅人,匿埋喺某個角落裏面玩啤牌、吹吹水。穿過停車場,行上天橋,佢哋由高處俯瞰下面,見到粉嶺遊樂場上打波嘅年輕人,又遠望向靈山方向嘅人間景致:建築物、街道、車輛。橋上兩邊欄杆上有時會掛著唔同政黨嘅宣傳横額,橫額上有立法會議員嘅臉龐,笑眯眯又充滿期待咁望住途人,其中有一兩幅已經遭到破壞,雙眼被人無情咁割爛,嘴巴又被鎅成一條狹窄嘅裂縫。不過,呢啲事主並未因此放棄,佢哋仍然盼望得到市民嘅認同。

天橋嘅另一邊就係沙頭角公路,離擁用高高紅色風琴閘門嘅消防局好近,阿綠同陳之一都小心翼翼咁橫過斑馬線(外國男人早就知道香港嘅司機唔會因設有斑馬線而讓路)。鏡頭真係超級有趣:一隻帶有黑色條紋嘅白馬同另一隻具白色條紋嘅黑馬,同時踏上斑馬線!但係好可惜,嗰陣時咁啱連一架車都冇,所以冇人目睹呢次罕見嘅奇觀。斑馬線另一頭就係祥華邨。佢哋沿住一條石屎路進入呢個屋邨,穿過邨內商場嘅時候,陳之一就特別注意到嗰度有間基督教香港迦南堂,每次瞥到「迦南」呢兩個字就會回憶自己童年時被父母送到主日學嘅事。或者缺乏生父嘅人比較容易接受天父為自己嘅救世主?﹗「你們要遵照上主的命令消滅所有的赫人、亞摩利人、迦南人、比利洗人、希未人、耶布斯人」。不過,佢始終都無法明白上帝點解命令以色列人咁樣對待名字好好聽嘅迦南人?

跟著,佢哋就落斜入行人隧道,去到浸信會路段,道路旁邊種有幾樖巨大嘅白千層,見到呢啲原產澳洲嘅「紙皮樹」(澳洲人用澳式英文對呢種樹嘅稱呼),陳之一再次諗起同澳洲有關嘅回憶。然後,兩人轉左,沿住聯益街行到聯和道,經過街市嘅原址之後,就喺聯興交通燈等緊過馬路。面對對面呢隻擘大嘅紅色眼珠時,佢哋後面突然響起音量尖厲嘅流行歌聲,阿綠回頭見到一個中年男人,頸上掛著一部中型收音機,啱啱步入等緊過馬路嘅人群中。阿綠覺得呢個人顯得可憐,佢只能靠音樂營造自己嘅個性,先至有勇氣行出嚟。不過,陳之一就好反感,覺得佢呢啲行為極度自私,認為係侵略他人嘅內心世界,令外國男人甚為不滿。

交通燈變成綠色之後,唔使三分鐘佢哋就去到聯和墟二樓嘅熟食中心。正值中午時份,顧客一啲都唔少。佢哋好好彩,好快喺入口旁嘅「添仔蝦餃」揾到位,啱啱有一張空檯。食肆嘅設備份外簡樸,一啲奢侈嘅架子都冇,呢點係陳之一特別愛戴。坐好咗,服務姐姐就馬上送上一隻注滿熱水嘅大碗,方便外國人將筷子、塑膠碗仔等好好淥洗一番。與此同時,阿綠就嗌嘢食:兩碗粥、一份蘿蔔糕、一份鮮蝦腸粉,同埋其中最不能缺少嘅添仔蝦餃,一叫就叫咗三籠蝦餃。攪掂後,兩個人就可以開心咁傾返兩回計。

「阿翠嗰晚掟酒杯,打爛咗你媽媽嘅畫,肯定會令到你好傷心。其實,你知唔知佢點解要咁做?有冇咩嘢特別嘅原因」陳之一好關心咁問阿綠。

「其實,我一直以為佢屬於嗰種好有自信心嘅人,人又靚,讀書又叻。不過自從佢今次返香港以嚟,佢好似發生咗一啲根本變化:神經變得越嚟越緊張,可能揾唔到嘢做啦,連自信都開始動搖起嚟。唉,我真係估唔到佢會借酒消愁!可能係我同佢呢排關係唔係太好,又冇咩機會見面。不過,佢而家好返少少,早排清明節時,我哋一齊去咗半春園掃墓,祭拜我媽媽,期間都有機會傾吓計,我哋兩個嘅距離拉近返少少。」阿綠慢慢解釋佢知。

「依我睇,不如諗辦法俾機會佢多多接觸香港嘅大自然。佢需要嘅恰恰係森林,大自然會令佢放鬆啲,減少內心積累嘅壓力。呢排天氣已經開始轉好,加上展覽都已經圓滿結束,你哋應該去離島行吓,散散心。」陳之一當然諗起靳孚翠總會隨身攜帶一盒火柴。

講到呢度,啲點心、粥品都送到檯上,兩人之間突然出現一股白白嘅蒸氣。呢一刻,陳之一可以聞到竹籠滲透出淡淡嘅竹香。喺呢一片輕微嘅薄霧之中,阿綠聽到陳之一問服務員「唔該姐姐,有冇喼汁呀?」

服務員默默咁指向隔離嘅一張長檯,長檯堆滿餐具、豉油樽、雜物等,外國人跟著企起身,行過去攞佢想要嘅調味汁。

阿綠以一種略帶驚奇嘅眼神,望住手持膠樽嘅陳之一:「攞喼汁嚟做乜?」

外國人簡單咁解釋:「嚟呢度食蝦餃我總愛加上喼汁,酸味味,甜甜哋,都唔知幾過癮!不如你都試吓啦!」

阿綠隨即搖搖頭,繼續喺匙羹上小心翼翼咁呷粥。兩人津津有味咁食晏。不過,食完兩籠蝦餃之後,阿綠忽然諗起一個好重要嘅問題:

「對唔住,請杯仙嗰晚,因為心情太過複雜嘅關係,我唔記得俾機會你向杯仙提問。其實,你原先打算問乜?」

陳之一慢慢將二月份去過西貢天后廟時,將問杯嘅事向阿綠一一講解,認為嗰日收到嘅答覆好似暗示其父親已經離世。之後,遇到請杯仙嘅機會,佢真係忍唔住想再問問呢件事,但最後又揸唔定主意,覺得如果真係確定父親嘅死亡會太難接受。

阿綠好有耐心聽聽陳之一嘅呢番說話,不過等阿一講完之後佢就開始用力搖頭:

「你睇,問杯嘅結果會唔會有第二種解釋:或者你父親正正因為已經收到你寫嘅其中一封信,所以天后叫你唔使再寫信俾佢啦。答案唔一定係負面嘅,有可能係正面樂觀㗎!」

外國人一開始好似唔想接受阿綠嘅睇法,但係佢臉上嘅臉色逐漸發生變化,表情慢慢變得明亮,最後更可以睇出佢有幾份豁然開朗嘅感覺。此刻,阿綠嘅手機低聲響起嚟。陳之一聽佢嘅語氣就估到一定有急事,因而放低筷子,仔細觀察呢位朋友嘅神情變化。收線後,阿綠連忙執好自己嘅嘢,明顯係準備離開。

「阿一,對唔住!剛才裱畫公司話遇到嚴重問題,佢話我阿媽嗰幅自畫像嘅背面貼有一堆廢紙,唔知點樣處理先至妥當,因此就無法繼續裱畫工作。我答應佢返翻大埔幫佢睇吓,以免呢幅自畫像無意中遭受破壞。至於你演講嗰件事,你有問題就再同我聯絡,唔使同我客氣!好啦,我走啦!你今次埋單有冇問題?」

「冇問題!」陳之一立刻回答。不過呢刻阿綠嘅背影好快喺往下嘅扶手電梯上消失,好似未曾出現過。

TO BE CONTINUED . . .

Hong Kong Footpath: Interview in Cantonese with Leung Wing Mo (Part 1)

Cindy Chea-Shuk-mei calls him in her introduction that “Great God of Meteorology” [天氣大神]. Professor 梁榮武 Leung Wing Mo was formerly Assistant Director of the Hong Kong Observatory and Adjunct Professor of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He now hosts a successful TV program concerned with weather issues, and is a passionate advocate for action on climate change. This edition of Hong Kong Footpath, aired on 5 January 2020, was the first of this year’s programs.

You can listen to the interview on RTHK1 here. Scroll down for a transcription of the Cantonese with vocabulary notes (so far, I’ve only done the opening five minutes).

To check anything in the transcription and for standard jyutping romanization, please refer to the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

Note that the program proper starts at 1:55.

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

車淑梅: 新年快樂!今日呢,係2020年呢,【2:00】1月5號,亦都係我哋嘅《舊日的足跡》第一位嘉賓呢。我當然呢,希望我今年會風調雨順,國泰民安,天下太平,所以我請呢一位呢,我一見到成個人唔知點解呢,好似有一種好祥和嘅感覺。佢係我哋第一代嘅天氣先生,係我哋而家嘅天氣大神。阿武哥!梁榮武先生。

● 國泰民安 gwok3 taai3 màhn4 [ng]ōn1 = the country is prosperous and the people live in peace
● 祥和 chèuhng4 wòh4 = (?) 祥 “auspicious” + 和 “affable”

梁榮武:Ah 淑梅!

車淑梅:早晨!

梁榮武: 早晨,早晨!好榮幸呢,可以非常榮幸2020年第一個節目嘅嘉賓。(車淑梅:真係 . . . 一定要揾你壓場). . . (They both speak together)

● 榮幸 wìhng4 hahng6 = honoured
● 壓場 [ng]aat3 chèuhng4 = (?) “the show time as the key guest speaker”

車淑梅:好重要。嗱,其實,武哥啫係我哋前香港天文臺嘅助理臺長啦、 又香港氣象學家啦,香港氣象會嘅發言人啦、350 香港嘅發言人啦,亦都係呢,《武測天》嘅節目主持人,嗄,我哋嘅男神呢,嗄。有諗過自己會變成明星呢,嗄,啫,退休之後?【3:00】

● Note that with verb-object compounds such as 退休 teui3 yāu1 = “to retire”, the aspect marker jó2 can be placed between the two components, giving the sense of “having retired”.
● 男神 nàahm4 sàhn4 = male idol; prince charming; dream guy

梁榮武:想都冇想過,啫 (車淑梅:Laughs),當時退休都好惆悵(車淑梅:係咩?)因爲我都算係一個鐘意返工、鐘意做嘅人嘅。就好似百無聊賴(車淑梅:Mm mm)。噉但係好快,好快過咗好短時間,噉機會陸續喇。

● The phrase 想都冇想過 is a common pattern, and many other verbs can be substituted for 想 séung. In idiomatic English we could say “it never even occurred to me” or “the thought never occurred to me”.
● 惆悵 chàuh4 cheung3 = disconsolate; melancholy
● 百無聊賴 baak3 mòuh4 lìuh4 laaih6 = be bored stiff

車淑梅:噉第一個機會係咩嘢呢?

梁榮武:第一個機會係去 . . . 一個 um 做科教育工作機構 ah 四周圍去呢學校演講。

● 四周圍 = sei3 jāu1 wàih4 = on all sides. In the interview with Kwan Chuk-fai, the same expression is used to mean something like “all over the place”: 四周圍去食嘅喎.

車淑梅:嘩,嗄。

梁榮武:呢個都係我以前天文臺嘅時候都做開嘅嚟㗎,因爲我哋自從林超英做到臺長嘅時候呢,我哋開始關注氣候變化呢樣嘢,變咗我工作嘅延續囉。

● As an aspect marker, 開 hōi1 can be used to indicate habitual action (see Matthews and Yip, Intermediate Cantonese Unit 12). Another example of this use of 開 in the phrase 後來慢慢識佢傾開計 can be found in the podcast A Postman’s Gaze (1).
● To me, Leung Wing Mo seems to pronounce the word for “climate” as 氣候 *hei yau.
● 延續 yìhn4 juhk6 = to continue; to go on; to last

車淑梅:噉而家你就唔同呢,就唔單止係啲,啫,學校呀,社區裏邊呢,講呢,甚至乎呢, 見到你電視上邊,《武測天》咁樣樣,呵 (梁榮武:Mm mm) 呢個呢,真係, 會唔會你自己,啫係都,其實都 OK 喎 (梁榮武:Laughs ) 呢一條路?你一個幕前咁樣?【4:00】

● Here, the word 唔單止 = “not only” is paired up with 甚至乎 = “and even”, giving “you not only talk at schools and out in society [社區裏邊] but [we] even see you know on the TV”.
● According to Matthews and Yip, 呵 hó2 is used to check what is been said in the way English does with “isn’t that right?” (Intermediate Chinese, Unit 23). Sheik Cantonese defines it as “[final particle] huh – often used as a question tag to verify sth. while expecting confirmation”.
● 幕前 mohk6 chìhn4 = host (主持); literally “in front of the curtain”

梁榮武:Ah 呢樣嘢我又,啫,唔係話好「迷」,啫,唔係好嚮往,但係 eh 我自己都覺得可以勝任嘅,同埋其實都係有咁樣嘅機會呢,都係同我原本 ah 退休嘅時候嗰個 . . . 初衷都係 . . . 吻合嘅,就係希望呢,呢個氣候變化訊息上邊(車淑梅:係)播到啲種子,等多啲人關注。噉有一個咁好嘅機會咁,自然唔放過啦,就係傾計啦,學你話齋,哎,咁多主播一齊拍檔咁(unclear)得喇。

● Leung Wing Mo uses 迷 màih4 here with the sense of “be crazy about; be obsessed with”.
● 嚮往 heung3 wóhng5 = to yearn for; to look forward to
● 勝任 sīng1 yahm6 = competent; qualified; equal to (the demands of a job)
● 初衷 chō1 jūng1 = original intention
● 吻合 máhn5 hahp6 = be identical; coincide; tally; be a good fit
● 等 dáng2 here means “to let; to enable; to make (sb. do sth.)” and covers the meaning expressed in standard written Chinese by 讓 yeuhng6.
● 學你話齋 hohk6 neih5 waah6 jāai1 = just like you said. According to Sheik Cantonese, 話齋 means “just as what (sb.) has said/told (indicating that what sb has said is worth noting)”, and also crops up in the phrase 俗語話齋 juhk6 yuh5 waah6 jāai1 = as the saying has it.
● 拍檔 paak3 dong3 = to cooperate; to co-star
● 主播 jyú2 bo3 = anchor; presenter (on TV)

車淑梅:所以正話影相同正武哥,有好大壓力呀!你成日隔離咁靚女咁樣。噉不過同阿武哥,啫,傾計嘅時候呢,發覺你真係充滿活力嘅喎嗱,雖然你已經退咗休,um 你11年退休喇(梁榮武:係) 8,9年咁耐啦 (梁榮武: unclear 幾多嵗 | Laughs)【5:00】實知啦,你,退休你60嵗。噉,嘩,你依然跑步上來喎, 你樂富跑步上來廣播道喎。

● 正話 jing3 waah6 = just now; a moment ago (剛剛)
● 實知 = I thinks this means “(they) definitely know”, with saht6 in this context meaning “definitely; certainly” (Sheik Cantonese). By disclosing when Leung retired, listeners will, the host seems to imply, be able to guess his age.

梁榮武:其實,唔跑嘅,行快啲啦(車淑梅:係咪吖嘛。好健康). . . 我以前返工嘅時候就唔同(車淑梅:係)。我返工嘅時候經常跑步返工放工。最,最主要就係天文臺可以有地方俾我衝涼(Laughter)。噉呢個港臺我估好似冇。

車淑梅:都有嘅,不過你唔識啫。噉,啫話,好,好開心呢,其實,繼續每一日呢,都繼續咁開心就好啦。噉最緊要我哋有好天氣呢。其實 *kei,今年2020嘅天氣呢,啫係,阿武測天,啫,睇嚟 ,啫,會唔會有個好嘅發展,今年?

梁榮武:其實,eh 係悲觀嘅(車淑梅:你擰頭喎)因爲今日1月5號呢,噉,其實,啫,天文臺會喺三月嘅時候呢(車淑梅:Laughs),會做一個,啫係,年度嘅預報。 【6:00】噉,啫,講吓我哋香港落幾多雨呀,啫係,預計落幾多雨呀,打幾多風咁樣(車淑梅:Mm mm)。噉呢個要等臺長三月嘅時候公報呢(車淑梅:係 )。噉但係 . . . 係呀 . . . 啫,講講大啲嘅赤道嘅問題,啫係話,講返氣候變化 eh 我哋舊年年尾西班牙開咗一個氣候峰會呢。噉就好可惜,大家嗰個對呢個氣候變化 . . . 嗰個力度都真係唔夠,睇上嚟我哋嗰個氣候只會係惡化落去。

● 擰頭 lihng6 tàuh4 = to shake one’s head
● 赤道 chek3 douh6 = the equator
● 舊年年尾 gauh6 nín4*2 nìhn4 méih5 = at the end of last year
● 峰會 fūng1 wúi6*2 = a summit (meeting)
● 力度 *lehk douh6 = dynamism; vigour
● 睇上嚟 tái2 seuhng6 làih4 = by the looks of it

車淑梅:真係我哋都 . . . 發覺,香港啲天氣呢,嘩,啲風真係嚟得大呢。忽然間又話俾我哋聽,長洲嗰度會有地震呢 (梁榮武:)。嘩,呢個真係 . . . 啫,以前都 . . . 好少會聽到地震呢個字同我哋香港有關嘅嘛,係咪?

● Here, in the phrase 啫,以前都, Chea-Shuk-mei seems to pronounce the dōu1 as *dyu.

梁榮武:少就少,不過係有嘅,啫,香港唔係完全冇地震,不過其實香港本土嘅地震我哋又唔擔心嘅,因爲香港本土嘅地震呢,就我哋冇呢啲活躍嘅所謂斷層呀【7:00】,活躍嘅板塊活動,啫,唔係我哋地區(車淑梅:係),但係我哋擔心嘅外嚟嘅地震呢(車淑梅:係),更多會全世界咁傳送過去。

● The opening words of this segment 少就少,不過係有嘅 can be translated as “True, there aren’t many earthquakes, but there are some”.
● 斷層 dyuhn6 chàhng4 = (geological) fault
● 板塊 báan2 faai3 = tectonic plate; continental plate

Cantonese Podcasts: A Postman’s Gaze (1)

Cheung Chau Temple_APR 2016_REDUCED

Journey to the Isle is an innovative WordPress website dedicated to the Hong Kong island of Cheung Chau as experienced by a cross-section of its inhabitants. All of them have their own deeply personal stories to tell. There are numerous written anecdotes transcribed into Cantonese (a good source of information about written Cantonese, but unfortunately not translated into English) and also quite a large number of short videos in which project members talk about their very individual experiences of this place.

In this 3-minute clip, 李達成 Léih5 Daaht6 Sìhng4, one of Cheung Chau’s postmen, talks about his passion for photography which led to a picture he took of “the Doctor” [「博士」bok3 sih6], an old man who seems to come and go as he pleases, without attachments, and who has an unsuspected interest in books and music. Lee talks about how he gradually came to know the man and what he learned about this unusually self-contained character.

In terms of grammar and usage, there are a few points worth noting. Firstly, you’ll hear a couple of examples of the progressive aspect in 做緊嘢 (“doing things”) and 都係我喺轉緊嘅 (“I was turning things over [in my mind]”). Secondly, the postman says 擺啲時間 = to make the time to do sth. Thirdly, at the end, you’ll hear 啦 lā1 to enumerate the items in a list. Finally, and most interestingly, 李達成 also makes use of 開 hōi1 as an aspect marker in the final paragraph, added to verbs to indicate habitual action. In my own limited experience of the language, I have seldom come across this marker.

In recent weeks, I’ve been wondering a bit about the various uses of 呢 nī1/ne1. Like many common bits of Cantonese, 呢 is put to a range of uses. Pronounced as nī1 or lī1 (and sometimes even reduced to yī1), it generally means “here; this” etc.:

呢一個人 = this person

Pronounced as nē1 or lē1, it is routinely encountered as a question particle used especially for information question (for yes/no questions, 呀 aa3 is preferred):

然後呢 = then what happened?
佢係咪一個好窮嘅人呢? = Was he a poor man?

More elusively, it also seems to play a role in marking the topic of a sentence, and is often attached to more than one phrase, perhaps to signal to the listener that we have not yet arrived at the comment part of the sentence.

當時,其實,因爲「博士」呢,佢好多時,大家見面呢,佢就會撩吓我呀。 = Well . . . at that time, actually, because the Doctor, on many occasions, would, when we saw one another, say something to tease me
噉其實呢,啲問題呢,都係我喺轉緊嘅。= So I was actually turning these questions over [in my mind].

It is certainly true, too, that 呢 is regularly attached to what might be called “discourse markers”, that is, short phrases that link parts of the sentence and establish logical relations. Some of these (from sources other than this video) include: 噉所以呢; 嗱,其實呢; 你可以話呢; 同埋呢; 因爲呢 . . . I suspect that there are other, additional uses of 呢 (including one for “continuous states), just to make life interesting!

Needless to say, there is also some very worthwhile vocabulary in the piece: 有型 yáuh5 yìhng4 = smart; stylish (see Current Colloquial Cantonese: p.15); 身水身汗 sān1 séui2 sān1 hohn6 = to be dripping with sweat; to be drenched in sweat; sweating profusely; 可造之才 hó2 jouh6 jī1 chòih4 = a person suitable for training; a promising young person; 第一開始 daih6 yāt hōi1 chí2 = at first; from the outset; from the very beginning; 流浪者 làuh4 lohng6 jé2 = a drifter or wanderer; 疏 sō1 = ① sparse; thin; scattered ② distant; not familiar; and 自由自在 jih6 yàuh4 jih6 joih6 = carefree; free; (to enjoy one’s own company?)

You can watch the video here, as well as see a copy of the photograph Michael Lee took. If you’d like to read the Cantonese transcription together with an English translation, please keep scrolling down.

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

郵差的眼睛 / A Postman’s Gaze

主持人:呢一個人 . . .  一定有嘅。
Questioner: Such a man . . . certainly exists.

李達成:有啦。頭先你講ah「博士」嗰張相呢。好似頭先你講「博士」嗰張相。噉 . . . 當時,其實,因爲「博士」呢,佢好多時,大家見面呢,佢就會撩吓我呀。我做緊嘢身水身汗咁樣,佢都會撩我傾一兩句計架。

● The common word 好似 hóu2 chíh5 is usually translated as “to be like”, but it sometimes seems to introduce a note of uncertainty or reduced certainty: “I seemed to remember you saying” or “I was under the impression (but I may be wrong)”.
● 撩 lìuh4 = to tease; to tantalize; to provoke. By extension, it may perhaps also refer to the act of saying something in order to strike up a conversation.

Michael Lee: Yes, he does. Just now you spoke about that photo of “the Doctor”. I got the impression [好似] that just now you spoke about that photo of “the Doctor”. Well . . . at that time, actually, because the Doctor, on many occasions, would, when we saw one another, say something to tease me [撩吓我]. Even if I were in the middle of something and dripping with sweat, he would say something and start chatting with me.

Michael Lee_The Doctor_9 MAY 2020

李達成:「博士」

主持人:例如係 . . . ?
Questioner: What did he say to you [literally = for instance]?

李達成:例如,例如 . . . 好尷尬架喎。佢話,「啊你真係最有型嘅郵差嘅」(laughter)。
Michael Lee: Well, for instance, for instance . . . I feel very embarrassed about it! He would say: “Ah, you really are the most handsome postman”.

主持人:有咩尷尬啫?好眼光,好眼光!然後呢?

● As a final particle 啫 jē is generally used to downplay the significance of what was said. The implication here, I think, is “there’s nothing so very embarrassing about that”. But 啫 jē also occurs in this conversation with the meaning of “that is; I mean”, something that is also said as a filler when you are trying to think of what to say next.
● 好眼光 hóu2 ngáahn5 gwōng1 = literally “good vision”, but figuratively “good taste”.

Questioner: Why be embarrassed by a little thing like that? He has good taste, he has good taste! Then what happened?

李達成:噉我就俾佢「溝」到啦(laughs)。噉呀 . . .

● 溝 kāu1/gāu1 = to pick/chat up; to cruise (for sexual partner); (?) to pursue (a potential partner). This seems to introduce a vein of sexual innuendo into the conversation, triggered by the Doctor’s comments on the postman’s good looks and perhaps touched on again in the use of 可造之才 in the next part, but I may be reading too much into the Cantonese . . . My Cantonese informant explains 溝 as follows: 至於「溝」,通常講男女關係,「溝」係比較粗俗,但唔係粗口,亦好常用,意思係「追」,想追佢做女朋友或男朋友。例如:呢個男同事對呢個女同事作出咁多攻勢,又送花,又送人哋返屋企,又成日讚佢叻,攞明就係想溝佢啦。不過個女同事冇咩大反應,好似唔受溝。

Michael Lee: Well, I let him catch me [溝]! And so . . .

主持人:你都係好有型呀!
Questioner: Yes, you are very handsome!

李達成:噉呀,跟住開始去去飲茶。噉我經過就同佢嗰陣時去邊度飲茶喇,喺 . . . 而家我唔知叫咩,喺海濱隔離嗰度附近飲早茶嘅。噉我有時經過,噉見到佢同另一個叔叔喺度飲茶。噉我可能坐低搭吓枱呀咁樣,大家傾吓,即係 *jē1,傾吓計咁。同埋我覺得佢 eh 係真係一塊可造之才囉,啫喺影相方面。噉我,我都要擺啲時間嘅,我都要擺啲時間同佢混熟啲呀,嗄。噉亦都出真心嘅,啫唔係話咩 . . .

● 搭枱 daap3 tói4*2 = (?) to share a table with (a party of people already seated). I am often asked whether I would like to 搭枱 when trying to get a meal in a crowded cha chaan teng!
● 混 wahn6 = to muddle/drift along; to get along with; 混熟 wahn6 suhk6 = to muddle along with someone to the point of getting to know them well (熟 suhk6 here is a particle that expresses result).

Michael Lee: And so after that we began to go and have a cup of tea [together]. If I happened to be passing by [經過], I would go and have a cup of tea with him at . . . I don’t know what the place was called now, there was [a place] right next to the praya [海濱隔離嗰度附近] where we would drink our tea of a morning. Sometimes I would pass by, and I would see him there having his tea with some other old fellow [另一個叔叔]. And so I might sit down [with them] and we would have a chat, have a bit of a chat. I also felt that he, eh, really was a promising subject [可造之才], I mean [啫] in terms of a photograph. And so I, I would make the time [to see him], I would even make the time to get to know him [混熟] a little better. But I was motivated by a sincere wish, you couldn’t say that there was . . .

主持人:但係第一開始覺得喺想影相上,所以再對佢有興趣嘅啲嘅。
Questioner: But was it that that in the first instance you felt that you wanted to take a photograph [of him] and so later became interested in him?

李達成:Eh 都唔係。其實,佢個人我其實已經係對佢都好有興趣。佢究竟係咪,真係一個,啊 . . . 流浪者呢?佢唔似係神經 . . . 啫,唔似係精神病嘅,佢唔似嘅。但係佢係咪真係一個流浪者呢?佢係咪一個好窮嘅人呢?噉其實 er 有冇人可以幫到佢嘅呢?噉其實呢,啲問題呢,都係我喺轉緊嘅。

● 轉 jyun3 = ① to revolve; to rotate, to spin; ② a round trip. In this context, it does seem to mean more or less what English expresses with the idiom “to turn over in one’s mind”.

Michael Lee: No, it wasn’t like that. Actually, I was actually very interested in him as a person. Was he, was he really . . . ah, a homeless wanderer [流浪者]? He didn’t look like he was mad . . . I mean, he didn’t look like a person with a mental problem, not like that. But was he really actually a wanderer without a home? Was he a poor man? Could anyone actually give him any help? So I was actually turning these questions over [in my mind] [轉].

主持人:你有冇答案嘅?
Questioner: Do you have any answers?

李達成:Eh 有嘅。噉其實佢有物業啦、親人就好疏啦、就 . . . 有錢用嘅 . . . 有錢用嘅。噉呀同埋佢好鐘意佢自己一個人,自由自在嘅。啫,後來慢慢識佢傾開計,咁就知道佢多啲嘅嘢喇。同埋佢好鐘意聽音樂啦、音、睇書啦,嗄。 啫,啲文學嗰啲呢,即係名都唔識讀嘅嗰本書嗰啲嚟㗎,嗄。佢《聖經》話,都讀咗成本嘅,佢《聖經》都讀過。

● In a couple of places here, 啦 lā is used to designate the items in a list.
● In Intermediate Cantonese, Matthews and Yip explain 開 hōi1 as having a habitual meaning (see Unit 12 on aspect markers), so 傾開計 suggests, I think, “to get into the habit of talking” or “talking on a regular basis”.
● The use of 音 before 睇書 is just a casual error made by the speaker.
● Two different aspect markers are used in 佢《聖經》話,都讀咗成本嘅,佢《聖經》都讀讀 with the same verb 讀 duhk6 = to read, adding nuances to what is being said, although in English “had read” would be used in both cases. The first marker 咗 jó2 emphasizes realization: the Doctor has already achieved the feat of reading the whole Bible. The second marker 讀 gwo3 stresses past experience: Had he had any experience of reading the Bible? Yes, he had.

Michael Lee: Eh, yes, I do. Actually, he owned property, he didn’t have much in the way of family [好疏], and then [就] . . . he had money at his disposal . . . he had money at his disposal. And another thing [同埋], he really liked to be on his own, and live a free and easy life. So, [when] slowly I got to know him and we’d got into the habit of talking, I then knew more things about him. As well, he very much liked to listen to music, and to read. I mean, those literary [works], that is, those books the title of which [I] do not know have to read. The Bible, he said, he had read from cover to cover [成本]. He had read the Bible.

《新心界》: 第五章

Laam Family Ancestral Temple, Pai Tai THREE__26 NOV 2017

In this chapter, while our heroes recover from their turbulent seance held on the previous evening, Ah Luk’s daughter Fu Cheui prepares to fly back to Hong Kong after four years in Sweden. Some time later, at one of his Cantonese lessons, Chan Chi-yat practices “speaking TVB”, a novel learning method pioneered by his teacher, the playful-but-serious Mrs Yim. Finally, after months of work and numerous setbacks, Ah Luk launches an exhibition of her late mother’s oil paintings and photographs, which culminates entirely inappropriately in Fu Cheui’s smashing of a portrait of her grandmother in a drunken outburst of rage . . .

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

•  「日日都係人日咩?」

第二日,阿綠起身起得好早,因為尋日請杯仙期間發生咗太多事,所以佢成睌冇覺好瞓,腦海裏湧出各種各樣嘅諗法,令佢哭笑不得。應該點樣安排媽咪嘅展覽先至可以做到最好?陳之一嗰種「黐線亦都係一門藝術」究竟係乜意思?香港嘅前途係咪真係如仙杯所暗示咁令到人憂慮,注定走上徹底毀滅之路呢?佢一面諗諗問題,一面呷緊啱啱煮好嘅咖啡。突然間,佢又向蛾鬼大聲講:「噉,第二種音樂呢?陳之一根本無話俾我哋知香港第二種音樂究竟係乜嘢!」

同一時間,咁啱得咁橋,阿奇亦都諗起呢一件事:如果香港可以演奏出自己音樂嘅話,係咪一定好好聽呀?同時,佢覺得尋日發生嘅一切事情都奇奇怪怪,連佢夜麻麻行返屋企時,都發現自己嘅單位大門上有一張華裔女裸體模特兒嘅圖片被人偷偷貼上去,佢估係附近淘氣嘅細蚊仔想整蠱佢一番。一片黃色嘅皮膚妖冶咁展現喺佢眼前,明顯哋有一對黃色嘅乳房望住佢。阿奇於是望一望周圍,確定走廊冇鄰居之後,就十分小心咁將「黃小姐」由門板上拆除並摺埋一齊。成個場面令佢覺得自己嘅世界,喺一夜之間變得同以往有所不同。

至於陳之一,老實講,佢真係瞓得好淰,甚至乎連夢都冇發一個。恰好,今日係正月七日,即係人日,因此陳之一覺得特別值得慶祝。美中不足嘅係就算叫人日又好,叫禮拜幾都好,佢今日始終都要返工做嘢!搭完地鐵返到辦公室之後,佢居然發現自己枱上有一封信等緊佢返嚟開。係一封十分正式信件,信封上以大楷英文羅馬字寫著「澳洲聯邦政府」。陳之一一見到就覺得有少少奇怪。佢近年已經同澳洲冇乜直接關係,除非係澳洲舉行選舉活動(澳洲到而家,每逢舉辦選舉,就算身在海外都需要投票嘅,唔投嘅話就會被罰款)。陳之一忍唔住發出一冷笑,佢多年以嚟對政治都好心淡,遇到同事朋友問及此事時,佢就會聲稱自己係「文主黨」嘅一個永久成員。因此,打開信封時,佢仲以為又要浪費好多時間去中環投票,不過好快就發現內容其實冇乜特別,只不過係請佢確定自己嘅聯絡資料,以便日後偶有同佢聯繫嘅需要。摺翻封信之後,陳之一就順手入翻信封裏面,然後再卡喺《楚辭》中間,作為臨時書籤。

* * *

瑞典。斯德哥爾摩。三月。喺寒冬已過、炎夏未到嘅過渡性季節之間,阿綠嘅女兒 — 靳孚翠正準備出發。其實,佢點諗都諗唔到答案,佢算係離開自己屋企定係返家鄉呢?雖然過去嗰四年,佢一直喺呢座北歐城市過日子,生活得相當滿意,但係佢最近開始懷疑起嚟,覺得一個人唔能夠好似一塊磚頭或者一部電腦咁,任由人隨隨便便被帶到地球上嘅任何地方。事實上人應該似植物咁,喺邊度扎咗根,就喺嗰度一生繼續生長落去,若果不幸遭受移植,就算表面上好似可以維持生命,但係喺睇唔見嘅細胞深處、無形中、缺乏某種養份滋養而就容易慢慢凋謝。

其實,佢呢排唔知點解就有某種直覺,覺得自己嘅命運好似去到一個關鍵時刻,結果令到見步行步嘅生活階段,就咁喺完全冇乜徵兆嘅情況之下,忽然告一段落。為咗自己嘅將來發展,唔單止涉及日後工作嘅「生計」問題,自己對人生嘅理解被迫揸揸注意,同時又要作出一個重要嘅決定:瑞典對於佢嚟講究竟意味著乜嘢?一座又美麗又單調嘅皇家城市?無數天藍色嘅湖泊同埋一種泛著湖泊色般嘅仲夏天空?觸摸深冬厚冰所感到嘅劇烈痛楚,從而呼應北歐擅於醞釀烈酒嘅辣味?一方面,佢已經習慣咗斯德哥爾摩嗰種被冬寒支配嘅生活節奏,與此同時佢又不知不覺意會呢種生存環境都有好多盲點,令佢意識到自己最終難以徹底投入喺呢啲若隱若現嘅地方。但佢可以肯定一件事:如果作出決定喺斯德哥爾摩永遠住落去,佢一生一定好幸福。但係,歸根結蒂,人生最重要嘅目標難道擁有幸福就足夠啦咩?

近排孚翠無端端多咗個習慣,佢隨身都會放一盒瑞典火柴喺口袋,出街踽踽獨行嘅時候,就間唔中會聽到呢啲幼細嘅火柴枝喺卡紙盒中輕輕砰砰作響。聽到呢啲聲音時,好奇怪,可以為佢帶嚟唔少精神上嘅安慰,令佢更有信心面對生命中嘅種種挑戰。雖然目前置身於遙遠嘅北歐,但係佢亦都應該同啱啱過年嘅香港人,都有機會新年開始,可以洗心革面,重新出發——或者佢心裏面靜靜雞同自己講「洗心靳面」!

其實,靳孚翠放棄香港同阿爸離開母親本來係息息相關嘅,當年年幼嘅佢冇咩原因會令佢拒絕阿爸作出嘅所有決定?不過,隨著時日遞增,佢逐漸開始獨立起嚟,甚至有時頗為驚訝咁發現,自己內心嘅諗法同阿爸差異甚大!原來,佢一直欣賞佢爸爸去瑞典謀生嘅勇敢、創業精神,但係最近卻覺得如此果斷嘅決定同時亦適用於各種負面嘅解釋,包括誇張、炫耀、不負責任、甚至乎好似背叛咗自己嘅文化。孚翠親自體驗到西方文化嘅豐富吸引力,有時又真係想全心全意陶醉於其懷抱入面,但係行到呢個地埗嘅時候,心靈深處總會提醒佢,令佢懷疑咁樣嘅陶醉取向是正確。

逐漸地,佢就決定要暫時離開瑞典前往香港。當然,佢並沒有將個人嘅詳細想法同阿爸一一加以解釋,避免帶嚟嚴重嘅衝突。為咗好好處理呢件事,佢只向父親提出兩個原因:一嚟係喺香港呢個世界知名嘅金融中心繼續發展自己所謂嘅「前途」;二嚟可以親自睇睇佢阿媽嘅情況,嘗試打破同佢母親分開多年所積累嘅隔膜。孚翠同母親聯絡時獲知外婆嘅展覽會在三月尾舉辦,佢唔由得戥佢阿媽興奮,況且展覽係由他人出錢幫忙嘅,令到孚翠也可以放心。不過,佢同時對於嗰個慷慨外國人產生懷疑,佢同母親究竟係乜關係?係咪可靠嘅?會唔會另存景轟?諗起呢啲嘢,佢心底裏會突然間冒起一股對阿媽嘅關切保護感。另外,父親對於前妻嘅感覺已經完全冷卻,當然會好同意自己女兒嘅決定,用呢次機會順便關心阿綠,亦係對自己身邊熟人嘅一種基本關注。

搭的士去斯德哥爾摩阿蘭達國際機場時,孚翠嘅心情並冇太大嘅波動。其實,自從決定將自己「海歸」以來,佢嘅情緒已經慢慢平靜落嚟,對於未來各種憂慮亦轉化為好奇心,感情基本上踏實得多!略微令佢感到遺憾嘅係,喺瑞典春天終於來臨之際,正正係佢選擇啓程前往「他鄉」嘅時候,一直盼望見到花草盛開嘅季節就只好錯過。不過,既然都已經決定錯過咁難得嘅北歐春天,噉係咪要期待一下香港嘅春季,好可能會有陽光充沛而鮮豔奪目嘅日子。

的士駛過嘅路段忽然變得凹凸不平,令到車身一下子左搖右擺得好犀利。因此,孚翠隨之都聽到嗰三十幾條火柴嘅聲音,佢臉上露出一絲笑意,偷望車裡面嗰塊倒後鏡,照照自己嘅時候,佢就不禁大聲笑起嚟。司機聽到笑聲,就覺得份外輕鬆啲,於是同孚翠開始傾吓計,知道乘客係去香港嘅香港人,佢就津津樂道咁講出佢對港珠澳大橋嘅一啲想法,對於佢嚟講,如果將來自己有機會到香港旅行,佢第一件想做嘅事,就係租架車去體驗過橋嘅感受!講到呢度,孚翠內心覺得好尷尬:佢對一路都冇關注過呢條「大橋」。

* * *

香港。沙田。排頭。

陳之一第一次去沙田買嘢嗰日,喺唔熟悉嘅情況下,落咗火車,由月台行上扶手電梯去車站大堂時,佢完全無意咁繞過名店林立嘅新城市廣場,直接由車站大門口一直往排頭村嘅方向行。冇耐,佢就發現呢個地方嘅氣氛尤為特別,有一股偏僻鄉村嘅特有安寧,雖然四圍都係高樓大廈,但係呢度仲有傳統嘅青磚老屋,加上有幾間舖仔,專為附近寶褔山骨灰龕場賣鮮花、生果之類嘅祭品,空地上又有一檔小販售賣涼果零食,一一都令到陳之一嘅心情得到放鬆。後來,當佢碰巧發現到排頭村有個頗為搶眼嘅藍氏家祠、後山又有萬佛寺,令到佢更加珍惜呢一帶,喺佢嘅心目中,呢度就係市區沙漠嘅一個寶貴嘅小綠洲。

咁啱得咁橋,陳之一恰恰喺排頭村附近識到佢個人嘅廣東話老師 – 嚴太,即係嗰個兩個口+厂+敢嘅「嚴」字,而且呢個教師真係名副其實,香港好難揾到如此嚴格嘅粵語教育家。不過,佢嘅嚴厲能夠幫助學生達到學習目標,而且同佢學咗好多年嘅「熟客」﹐都會慢慢欣賞到嚴太平時掩飾嘅獨特幽默感。譬如,同學生作「無綫」練習。

人日亦都要上堂嘅陳之一,喺收工之後就去到嚴太嘅教室/客廳,一齊訓練講「無綫」:

「政府最近有調查發現,唔少居住係本港嘅西方人,由於孤獨就容易患上情緒病。你有冇考慮採取既適當又具體嘅措施面對呢一方面嘅問題?」嚴太拋磚引玉咁開始對話。

聽到咁多仿如無綫新聞報道般嘅高級詞彙,好似一串炮竹咁向佢攻擊,嚴太嘅學生即刻知道應該點樣回答:「據了解,呢種情緒病雖然普遍存有上昇嘅趨勢,但係呢個問題嘅基本元素,甚至乎可以話係罪魁禍首,即係西方人過分強調個人獨立嘅人生觀。以屋企、宗族、社會等嘅群體、團體為依歸嘅香港人士,由於喺搞好交際關係方面上具有高度嘅創造力,所以並冇咁容易遭受呢種「睇唔到」嘅疾病襲擊。長期居住喺香港嘅西方人士,如果能夠揾方式進一步了解及投入香港嗰種團體生活嘅取向,就或者起碼可以少少紓緩各種各樣嘅心理問題。」

「不過,西方人士深入香港華人社會層面之中,無疑面對唔少棘手嘅困難。譬如,同本地人士順利溝通對於眾多西方人嚟講,只有少數人士能夠成功處理。依你所見,係唔係成玏講到一口流利嘅廣東話,克服溝通障礙,就可以解決先前提到嘅情緒病?」

陳之一一早就揣測到其老師會提出咁樣嘅問題,因此好有把握咁隨即回答:「香港語言學家認為,因為廣東話定性為“方言”、係缺乏文明高水準嘅“粗魯”溝通工具,所以受到大規模歧視,甚至香港部分人士對於自己嘅母語會產生極度自卑感⋯⋯」

「絕對唔係所有嘅人會咁樣睇事情!其中,肯定亦都有好多市民以講廣東話為榮!」嚴無老師喺一時衝動之下忍唔住插口。

「不過,正因如此,廣東話喺多數西方人嘅心目中同普通話比起嚟地位差得好遠,一直唔會產生多太大嘅吸引力。喺世界各地大學中文系入面,想學中文嘅人士唔能唔選擇國語,而廣東話幾乎完全未有立足知底。結果,香港少數前線語言老師面對各種難以克服嘅挑戰,教學資料嚴重缺乏,因此,唔少西方學生學一陣之後就好快中途放棄。其實,我哋應該強烈譴責呢一種蔑視廣東話嘅態度,盡量揾辦法將呢種語音嘅地位提升,咁樣先至可以有突破性嘅轉變!」

講到呢一點,陳之一真係由於非常投入話題而變得激昂,熱情忽然好大,但係喺再次就呢個話題進一步分析之際,嚴太又一次插口打斷。

「對唔住,葉公,時間已經到啦,新聞報道完畢!不過,我哋喺落堂之前,我想問一問你,五月中旬嗰個廣東話演講比賽,你諗好演講題目未呢?」

陳之一唔係好肯定:「噉其實呢…我呢排諗緊係咪可以講天后廟同神人共樂嘅宗教意識,但係想必呢類話題未必受歡迎啩。噉老師知唔知,以往嘅演講,攞奬嘅鐘意講邊啲題材?」

「其實呢,根據演講網上嘅資料,上屆比賽演講嘅題目包括<世界第八奇觀 —— 港珠澳大橋>、<金融海洋濤浪起:粤港澳大灣區>、<繁榮嘅神機妙算:由“一路一帶”講起>、<林鄭特首 —— 香港土生土長嘅撒切爾夫人>等等。」

如此聳人聽聞嘅題目令到陳之一只能發出悠長嘅「哇」聲,簡直無言以對。不過,佢好快就恢復正常,經過半分鐘嘅認真思考之後,就對嚴太話:「當然,目的唔係攞第一名,變成冠軍,而係喺大眾面前表現自己對廣東話嘅熱情。不過,唔使問阿貴,呢類演講內容唔太適合我。」

然後,佢就準備離開排頭,打算一個人去德興粥麵店食晚飯。嚴太為佢打開大門嘅時候,用咗佢嗰把又溫柔又細聲嘅聲音講:「我呢排睇過一次戲,聽到演員話:“唔好將自己適應題目,反而應該將題目適應自己。”你睇,係咪講得好啱?可唔可以向呢個方向揀好題材?」

陳之一就向佢點點頭,拎住書包離開。

* * *

阿綠越投入準備展覽嘅工作,就越覺得興奮,幾乎每日收工之後都去一趟住所附近嘅南盛街,佢喺呢頭揾到展覽嘅地間,繼續進行各種準備工作。地點雖然簡陋,但係透過一切努力,連同母親呢三十幾張充滿色彩嘅油畫,加上個人品味,將展覽場地蛻變成一個有高度藝術感嘅環境。佢阿媽真係十分了解顏色嘅協調,明白點樣喺一隻顏色同第二隻之間產生某種視力上嘅奇麗共鳴。除此之外,母親嘅油畫入面仲有一個共通點,係將神、人同自然界連埋一齊,譬如佢以人為主要題材時,會喺一個角落中劃出一個細小方框,入面添畫某一位神怪嘅肖像(佢相當鐘意畫觀音或者天后,不過有時會選擇嗰啲相當罕見嘅神,例如哪吒、金花,或者文昌),同時係另一個地方會加上甲蟲、蝴蝶、蜻蜓等代表自然界嘅昆蟲。綜合嘅效果真係好獨特,但係喺母親生前未必人人接受,覺得咁樣畫畫太過落後,唔夠「現代」,根本反映唔到二十世紀所謂國際城市日新月異嘅形勢。

講到自己嘅女兒,阿綠同孚翠嘅關係到目前仲處於一種緊張嘅狀態。第一,除咗忙到甩轆之外,阿綠依然難以原諒孚翠勸自己嘅父親唔好支持呢一次展覽。第二,孚翠亦都超級忙碌,幾乎每隔一日都努力揾工:申請職位、參加招聘員工嘅活動、進行面試等等。第三,有好多老友都想同離開香港已經有四年多嘅孚翠見見面,一齊緬懷學生時代嘅往事。

其實,唔少當年嘅中學朋友都覺得孚翠長居斯堪的納維亞嘅體驗頗為傳奇,聽佢講吓幾個北歐故仔,描述有關瑞典金髮碧眼嘅男女、或者廣闊無垠嘅樺樹森林、甚至漫長冬天嘅冰天雪地,佢哋無一例外總會覺得不可思議,難以想像。不過,講著講著就好快講完,有關瑞典嘅新奇體驗畢竟係有限嘅。此時此刻嘅香港慢慢變得酷熱啲、潮濕啲。況且無論新鮮嘅夢境如何有趣,嗰種無形嘅生活壓力都難以得到半點嘅緩解。另外,孚翠越來越清晰咁意識到,佢原來一早就喪失咗接受呢類生活壓力嘅能耐,同老友比起嚟,佢已經處於一種唔太有利嘅位置。佢今後可唔可以逐漸適應?

領悟到呢一點,孚翠嘅自信心當然受到好大嘅打擊。開頭嘅擔心好快變成憂慮,然後又由憂慮發展成恐懼。為咗對付情緒上嘅負面轉變,佢就開始求救於飲酒。同朋友見面時,就自然同佢哋一齊飲幾杯,但是飲完呢「幾杯」之後,又會有另一輪「幾杯」,甚至乎朋友都走嗮之後,佢會留低自己一個人再飲落去,令到恐懼嘅感覺暫時遠離佢。佢母親返到屋企亦都鐘意飲杯酒,如果孚翠喺度嘅話,佢總會自然而然咁陪母親飲,藉此恢復同阿綠割斷多年嘅連繫。阿綠一開始時好歡迎如此嘅機緣,但係佢好快就擔心孚翠:對於佢嚟講,飲酒已經唔單止係減壓嘅手段。佢下定決心要多啲關注自己嘅女兒,展覽辦完之後,一定要抽多啲時間同佢多多傾計。

一個禮拜六嘅晚上,呢次紀念展覽開幕日子終於嚟到,阿綠所作出嘅辛苦努力畢竟都係好值得:佢認識嘅親戚、朋友、同事都特登光臨,令到場面變得零舍熱鬧。另外亦有唔少藝術界人仕參加,令會場增添幾份藝術氣氛。陳之一特別注意到一個身穿黑色T裇嘅女人,上面只印有一個大型問號,兩隻耳朵都掛上問號形式嘅耳環,見到呢三個搶眼嘅「?」,佢覺得非常之恰當,問問題應該係做人最為基本嘅態度、人生觀,因為我哋唔知嘅嘢永遠多過已經掌握嘅知識。另外,陳之一終於認識到阿綠嘅女兒,同佢一面飲香檳一面閑談。為咗打破隔膜,陳之一描敘一件令佢驚奇嘅活動,舊年十二月,佢喺沙田舉辦嘅瑞典冬日嘉年華,嗰日竟然可以飲到瑞典人嘅至愛 – 一種香甜嘅熱紅酒,味道仲相當唔錯,講到呢到,即刻為陳之一嘅陰沈情緒帶嚟一啲北歐特有嘅娛樂。聽佢講嘢嘅時候,靳孚翠一直保持某種相當有禮貌嘅距離,好少自動開口搭咀,耐唔耐趁陳之一分散注意嘅時候,佢就摸吓口袋入便嘅火柴盒令自己放鬆啲。不過,陳之一係注意到嘅,亦覺得如此嘅習慣非常之有意義。其實,佢好似略略明白阿綠嘅女兒點解咁樣做。

趁下一次見到呢種偷偷摸摸嘅動作時,陳之一就細聲對孚翠講:「好呀,你口袋裏面裝有一個森林!」

聽到男人嘅呢句說話,孚翠嘅面色變得頗為驚訝,跟住就粒聲都唔出咁行開要多一杯酒。陳之一喺佢背後低聲再重復一次:「一片美麗嘅、個人嘅細小森林。」之後,佢就無奈咁搖搖頭,唔知點算咁一個人企定定。

好好彩,啱啱去到呢一刻,阿綠就開始用隻餐叉敲起手上個玻璃杯,金屬打上玻璃嘅尖厲聲音,好快就令到在場所有來賓逐漸安靜。

阿綠嘅演講其實好短,內容唔多,除咗嗰啲應有嘅客套說話之外,最核心嘅部分涉及佢評估母親嘅藝術特質所在:

我母親好似好明白呢一點。喺佢每一幅畫入面,人旁邊亦都有神,而神隔離亦都有人,咁樣具體表現佢呢一種「神人共樂」嘅藝術理念。

另外,我母親仲好明確咁意識到神間同人間所相遇嘅地方就係地球,就係大自然界裏面。因此,除咗神同埋人之外,佢每幅畫都有一部份描畫香港自然環境嘅細節,呢啲細節雖然通常係微不足道,甚至有可能被一般人忽略,但係我諗我阿媽嘅目的就係提醒我哋記住呢一個事實:大自然可以被理解為一個連接嘅空間,而只有呢一個既特別又美麗嘅空間,人類先至有機會同神共樂,如果冇嘅話啦,噉我哋就永遠冇可能接觸到嗰種超越人間嘅神聖威力。

好啦,我或許已經講得太多啦!我母親生前唔鐘意聽演講,其實睇睇佢啲畫勝過任何試圖解釋佢作品既說話。再次為大家嘅蒞臨表示忠心感激!我宣布母親既展覽會正式開幕!

當然,阿綠喺演講裏面仲提到嗰位匿名嘅捐錢者,而為此向佢表達衷心感激。講到呢段話,佢忽然注意到孚翠用心聆聽嘅表情。

聽完演講後,大家便繼續欣賞展出嘅畫同埋照片。氣氛真係相當熱鬧,唔少本來懷疑阿綠母親藝術天分嘅人,竟然開始鐘意佢創造出嚟嘅視覺美。有人居然問有冇得買?不過,喺一片說說笑笑喧囂之中,同時略略可以聽到兩把女人聲音,佢哋講嘢速度特別快,好似愈演愈烈,係咪有人喺度激烈咁嗌緊交呀?然後,就發生一陣掙扎,呢兩個人正喺推推擠擠,好似係其中一方用力推,另一方就用力抵抗。跟住,又有一段嗌交聲,同之前比起嚟音量更加大,有啲單詞可以聽得分外清楚,譬如「飲醉」、「收聲」、「唔好」、「頂唔順」、「定啲嚟」、「我求求你呀」等等。然後出現一片怪異嘅寂靜,雖然已經冇咗呢兩把聲,但係呢類無聲嘅對峙狀態真係好恐怖,好似係一次炸彈爆炸前夕嘅靜寧,令到周圍嘅人感覺冇法繼續傾計。爆炸好快就到喇,引發呢個炸彈就係一句高銳嘅尖叫聲「我憎死你」。隨後就好似有人將硬物掟向幅牆度。最後有兩陣零舍刺耳嘅爆裂聲,第一次係玻璃杯打埋牆上所發出嘅,第二次嘅就係阿綠母親嘅自畫像猛然由幅牆上滑落嚟,收尾攪到阿綠嚇嚫,雙膝跪在地上痛哭流淚。

Photograph: 香港沙田排頭:藍氏家祠  Laam Family Ancestral Shrine in Pai Tau, Sha Tin, Hong Kong (2017)

 

Gregory Rivers, a Superman Cantonese-learner

Ho Gwok-wing Image 1 CROPPED_6 APR 2020

Gregory Rivers is one of my Superpeople of Cantonese-learning, and not just because he happens to be Australian!

After falling in love with Cantonese pop-music as a medical student at university, he plucked up the courage to buy a one-way ticket to Hong Kong in the 1980s, and since then, he has gone from strength to strength. His story is particularly intriguing because Rivers has nothing of the polyglot about him. His obsession was with Hong Kong, and learning the language was his best way into that world. His story demonstrates the role passion and commitment plays in language-learning, as well as the overpowering attraction a different culture can exert on someone remote from it by birth in so many ways.

The following short clip, a kind of brief question and answer interview, was first aired in 2016, and was produced by Arm Channel. The name “Arm Channel”, so odd at first sight, derives from that special Cantonese word 啱 ngāam, which means different things in different contexts, but generally boils down to “correct; accurate; appropriate”.

Unfortunately, there are no subtitles of any kind provided for this video. But if you like, you can read my rough Cantonese transcription below, together with an English translation. Otherwise plunge in here! The clip runs for just over 2 minutes.

And remember to use the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary for anything in the transcript that you might want to check.

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

呢度係「啱」Channel ,我係河國榮,一齊睇啦!

This is Arm Channel and I am Gregory Rivers [河國榮 Hòh4 Gwok3 Wìhng4]. Let’s watch this together!

Q: 點解你叫河國榮? / Why is your Chinese name 河國榮 Hoh4 Gwok3 Wihng4?

我以前讀大學嗰陣時呢,er… 我都係,即係啫,我鐘意咗廣東話歌曲之後,我都表演唱歌。噉呀佢每年都會攪一次,er… 國際晚會,就係希望大家都係一啲文化交流。Er… 張國榮啱啱攞到獎呀嘛,就係唱《Monica》。噉呀,嗰年呢,我就諗住,“哎,不如我唱《Monica》啦”。噉呀唱《Monica》之後,我個 friend 對我講,話,“你又鐘意張國榮。 Er…, 佢,佢嘅名又係「國榮」,你個名係 Gregory,不如你叫河國榮呀”。噉咪變咗咪叫河國榮囉。

Back in the days when I was studying at university, I, that is, after I got to like pop songs in Cantonese, I had never done a performance, singing [in public]. Every year they [佢] put on an international party [國際晚會] in the hope that people would get to share their cultures. Ah Leslie Cheung had won a prize with a song called “Monica”, so that year I thought, “Hey, why don’t I sing ‘Monica’?” So, after I had sung “Monica”, a friend of mine said to me, “You’re keen on Leslie Cheung. [Since] his given name is Gwok Wing and yours is ‘Gregory’, why don’t you call yourself Ho Gwok Wing?” And so, as it turned out, [my Chinese name] came to be Ho Gwok Wing.

● 變咗 bin3 jó2 = (?) “as it turned out” | I haven’t found a definition of this term yet, but I have heard it often enough to think that it must be an idiom meaning something like the suggested translation.
● I’m still puzzled by the use of 咪 maih6 in 噉咪變咗咪叫河國榮囉。Sheik Cantonese has a comment in a forum discussion that says: 咪 ~= 不就 in Mandarin, but it also defines it as meaning “(often used with 囉 lō1) then; as a result; might just as well”. For the time being, I am thinking of it as meaning “then”, sometimes with the added idea of “as a result” (especially if 囉 is present at the end).

Continue reading “Gregory Rivers, a Superman Cantonese-learner”

Zolima City Mag’s “Silk Smooth Tofu Pudding” and the Art of 荳腐花

Silky Smooth Tofu 1

On 2 April, Zolima City Mag posted another short video in its Forgotten Hong Kong Icons series. This one is about the 荳腐花 dauh6 fuh6 fāa1, a kind of dessert, made by the 公和 Kung Wo Beancurd Factory. Once again, the combination of spoken word, refined imagery and sensitive music result in an artistically-compelling micro-documentary.

You can watch the video here, with subtitles in English and Standard Written Chinese.

If you are interested in Cantonese, the main interest is in the vocabulary and a few Cantonese-specific verbs, such as 煲 bōu1 and 幫襯 bōng1 chan3. The expression 老中青 lóuh5 jūng1 chīng1 = “the elderly, the middle-aged and the young” was also new to me.

Be sure to use the Sheik Cantonese website to check any item in this text: you can find their on-line Cantonese dictionary here.

The owner of the concern, 蘇崇廉 Sōu1 Sùhng4 Lìhm4 is a bit soft-spoken, so there are a few gaps in the transcription, indicated by “/ ? /”. If you can help fill any of them in (or correct any errors you spot), please leave a comment: I greatly appreciate any contribution to the cause of Cantonese learning!

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

荳腐花係
The term 荳腐花 dauh6 fuh6 fāa1 refers to a “soybean dessert” (Sheik); in this video, the term “silk smooth tofu pudding” is used. The character 荳, written with the grass radical or 草字頭 chóu2 jih6 tàuh4, is a variant of the more commonly used 豆.

我覺得應該可以代表香港嘅一種地道小食呀

首先係黃荳啦
There is a change of tone in the pronunciation of 荳 dauh6 in the combination 黃荳 wòhng4 dáu6*2 = soybean; soyabean.

噉我哋會浸呀
浸 jam3 = to soak; to immerse; to saturate; to steep; to dip

浸佢 ah 六個鐘頭喇

跟住就會擺落個石磨中磨
In Cantonese, the verb 擺 báai2 is used with the meaning “to lay; to put; to place; to arrange”. After the verb, 落 lohk6 is added. 落 is similar to 到 dou3 in its expression of “arrival”, but suggests that the movement is vertically downwards rather than horizontal.
石磨 sehk6 mó6*2 = stone mill. When it is used again, 磨 is a verb meaning “to grind; to mill” and is pronounced mòh4.

Continue reading “Zolima City Mag’s “Silk Smooth Tofu Pudding” and the Art of 荳腐花”

A Tea House that Makes Dim Sum with Heart

Zolima City Mag Dim Sum Image 1_13 MAR 2020

Zolima City Mag recently posted a new short video on YouTube.

Called “A Tea House that Makes Dim Sum with Heart”, the clip deals with a small dim sum restaurant called 叁去壹 (“Three Minus One”) in 西營盤 Sai Ying Pun. It’s a finely crafted piece, and is almost as satisfying as a serve of prawn haa gaau dumplings! The camera and editing by Kevin Cheung is superb, and the interviewer Zabrina Lo does a great job in bringing out the rather quietly spoken chef, 王燦枝 Wong Charn-chee. There’s also a very moody soundtrack that complements the urban imagery brilliantly ⸺ the musicians responsible also deserve recognition for their efforts!

There are subtitles in English and Standard Written Chinese, and there are some valuable language points in the Cantonese, including the use of the verb 頂 déng2; an instance of 拍檔 paak3 dong3; and a couple of uses of the colloquial numbers, 卅呀一年 and 卌呀一年.

You can view the video here.

The complete Cantonese transcript is as follows:

「叁去壹」本身就唔係我開嘅

● Both 叁 and 壹 are more formal characters representing the much more familiar 三 and 一 respectively.

就有一個朋友開嘅
就1978年嗰陣時
因爲佢本身就三個人嚟頂呢度做

● 頂 déng2 = to substitute; to replace; to take the place of

噉臨時有一個拍檔呢

● 臨時 làhm4 sìh4 = at the time when sth. happens (compare 到時 dou3 sìh4); (?) at the last minute
● 拍檔 paak3 dong3 = a partner (in a business venture)

佢就個老豆叫佢唔好幫人哋咁樣做生意啊咁
唔得啊咁
噉佢就臨時退出
噉嗰兩個咪改呢個名叫「叁去壹」喇

● The use of 咪 maih6 here is very colloquial and one that I haven’t seen explained in any textbook on Cantonese. Sheik Cantonese has “(often used with 囉) then; as a result; might just as well”. Here, it goes seem to mean more or less the same as 就 jauh6, “then”.

我 14 歲入行㗎啦,做點心

Zolima City Mag Dim Sum Image 3 CROPPED_15 MAR 2020

Continue reading “A Tea House that Makes Dim Sum with Heart”

Hong Kong Footpath: Interview in Cantonese with Kwan Chuk-fai (Part 1)

RTHK Hong Kong Footpath Gwaan Jak-fai Image

Among his many roles, 關則輝 Mr. Kwan Chuk-fai is currently Chairman of the Community Investment and Inclusion Fund (Labour and Welfare Bureau), a position which indicates something of his concern for social justice. In this interview with Candy 車淑梅 Chea Shuk Mui, he says some interesting things about the shape of a human life, and the need in one’s later years “to build for significance” rather than to stay rigidly focused on personal success. He even talks about the meaning of life:

噉中間叫乜嘢呢,係叫做 build for significance ,啫話有啲咩重要呢,有啲咩係我認為人生嘅, 咦,佢意義喺邊度呢?咩叫快樂呢?會問多好多呢啲嘅。噉你會諗吓,我點樣回饋社會呢?點樣去幫身邊嘅人呢?Ah 有啲咩我應該多做呢?咁樣。好啦,七十五歲以後呢,其實基本上你係留低一個人生嘅軌跡啦,嗄。 啲人諗起,呀呢個人,拜拜咗之後,其實我印象對佢係咩嘅呢咁樣。呢個係一個,啫你留低啲乜嘢精神面貌呀,嗄。噉我覺得呢, 人生係,都係約略咁樣嘅 . . .

So what is the middle stage called? It is called “build for significance”, which involves what I think is important, in what I think the meaning of human life resides. What is that thing called “happiness”? Lots of questions like this tend to get asked. And so you will begin to wonder about what you can do to give something back to society. About how you can help the people close to you. About what should do more of. Things like that. So that, OK, when you reach the age of 75, you have left a kind of track in life. When you’ve said bye-bye and shuffled off, people will think back and say to themselves, this is the impression I had of him. It’s a question of what kind of “spiritual appearance” you will leave behind you. And this is roughly what I think human existence is about.

There is plenty here for the learner of Cantonese. There are a couple of uses of that versatile aspect maker 住 jyuh6, as well as the final particle 噃 bo3. In terms of the vocabulary, you will hear the verb 湊 chau3 used in two different ways, as well as an unusual expression based on the English word “level”, 升「呢」sīng1 lē1. Other items of interest include 涉獵 sip3 lihp6 = (?) to dabble in, 司儀 sī1 yìh4 = master of ceremonies, 祖屋 jóu2 ngūk1 = ancestral home, and 均真 gwān1 jān1 = fair and just, as well as the four-character phrases 成家立室 sìhng4 gāa1 laahp6 sāt1 = to get married and establish a home, and 洗滌心靈 sái2 dihk6 sām1 lìhng4 = to cleanse one’s soul

Be sure to use the Sheik Cantonese website to check any item in this text: you can find their on-line Cantonese dictionary here. I will try to add more to the transcription in the coming weeks. In the meantime, any corrections or suggestions are welcome! This material is invaluable for learners of Cantonese, and it would be terrific if we could make it absolutely perfect.

To hear the interview, please click here.

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車淑梅:佢係海陸大公關,佢係社會投資共享基金委員會主席關則輝

Part 1A【1:42】

車淑梅:一個人,又或者一個嘅機構,甚至乎一個政府是否成功呢,我相信公關嗰個嘅能力是否夠強係非常非常之重要嘅。噉今日呢,呢位嘉賓,嗄 . . .【2:00】好犀利呀,嗄 . . . 噉多年嚟,大家都睇住佢,海陸空三軍,佢都係曾經涉獵過嘅,可以話呢,海陸空嘅大公關。而家呢,就係社會投資共享基金委員會嘅主席啦 , 咁 ,佢亦都係香港公共關係專業人員協會嘅會員喎, 仲係呢,就喺恆隆地產集團傳訊及投 . . . 記者關係嘅董事嚟㗎。我想大家已經知道佢係邊位喇。冇錯,係我哋嘅大公關關則輝先生,早晨!

●  公關 gūng1 gwāan1 = public relations
● 海陸空三軍 hói2 luhk6 hūng1 sāam1 gwān1 = the navy, the army and the air force; it seems that 陸海空三軍 is also used. I am not sure what the phrase means in this context; perhaps it goes with the verb 涉獵 sip3 lihp6 to suggest that he has tried a lot of different kinds of work.
● 涉獵 sip3 lihp6 = (?) to dabble in; to dip into (not always with a negative connotation)

Continue reading “Hong Kong Footpath: Interview in Cantonese with Kwan Chuk-fai (Part 1)”

Pak Tai, True Soldier of the North

Pak Tai Image 2_1 MAR 2020

I came across this excellent short video in Cantonese made by Hong Kong Taoist TV on the god 北帝 Pak Tai when searching for material about the island of 長洲 Cheung Chau. Pak Tai is an important figure in connection with the festivities that take place there every year in the Fourth Lunar Month. Unlike Gwun Yam and Tin Hau, however, he seems to be a very remote and forbidding divinity. Yet perhaps he has a more carefree side: the bare feet and long-flowing hair perhaps hint at such a possibility . . .

Grammar points to look out for include the following. Firstly, there is a good example of tone-changing involving the character 廟. The pronunciation given for this character in dictionaries is mìuh4: hence 廟宇 mìuh4 yúh5 = temple. However, as the last element in the name of an actual temple (e.g.北帝廟), it is pronounced in the high-rising tone míu4*2.

There is one sentence in which 廟 appears on its own ⸺ 喺廟入面有一座鑄於萬曆三十二年; to me this sounds as if it is pronounced HR (because it is an abbreviated form of the name of the temple?), but I may be wrong.

Secondly, there is a special Cantonese use of 落 lohk6 in the sentence 從山水流落灣仔再出大海. Here 落 is similar to 到 dou3 in its expression of “arrival”, but suggests that the movement is vertically downwards rather than horizontal.

Finally, there are some good examples of some of the less common tone combinations to listen for:

HL + ML: 北帝 bāk1 dai3; 披髮 pēi1 faat3
LF + ML: 神將 sàhn jeung3
LF + HL: 全稱 chyùhn4 chīng1; 玄天 yùhn4 tīn1; 群魔 kwàhn4 mō1; 留低 làuh4 dāi1; 民間 màhn4 gāan1; 平安 pìhng4 ōn1; 長洲 chèuhng4 jāu1
LL + ML: 上帝 seuhng6 dai3; 道教 douh6 gaau3; 護法 wuh6 faat3; 備至 beih6 ji3; 大帝 daaih6 dai3 (this also offers a good contrast between the vowel sounds aai and ai!)

Throughout the transcript, I have used brackets to show where the Cantonese voice-over differs from the subtitles in Standard Written Chinese,

Click here to watch the video. But you might like to read through the transcript first, just to get a handle on the language!

Continue reading “Pak Tai, True Soldier of the North”