Cantonese through News Stories: Hong Kong’s Latest Number One Scholars

Capture_Outstanding Students_10 JUL 2019

In the book Hedda Morrison’s Hong Kong, Edward Stokes writes “Old rural virtues — self-reliance, hardiness, and an abiding respect for learning . . . — characterized the countryside” and these same virtues continue to inspire the extensive media coverage given on a regular basis to the results of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination, as well as those 狀元 johng6 yùhn4 or “Number One Scholars” who manage to achieve outstanding results. This report by TVB’s 陳逸思 Chàhn4 Yaht6 Sī1 is also interesting for its frequent use of the modal verb 會 wúih5, in addition to the solid array of educational terms. I find it intriguing that Hong Kong’s most intelligent students are all keen to become doctors: perhaps these are the people who might be able to provide a solution to Hong Kong’s current difficulties . . .

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12 new words:

文憑試 màhn4 pàhng4 si3 = 香港中學文憑考試 or Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE)
放榜 fong3 bóng2 = publish the results; publish a list of successful candidates/applicants
佳績 gāai1 jīk1 = good result; success
修讀 sāu1 duhk6 = to study (at university level); to do further study
養育 yéuhng5 yuhk6 = to bring up (a child)
摘星嘅決心 jaahk6 sīng1 ge3 kyut3 sām1 = the determination to reach for the stars
狀元 johng6 yùhn4 = Number One Scholar
屬意 suhk6 yi3 = to fix one’s mind on; to have one’s heart set on
立志 lahp6 ji3 = to resolve; to be determined
劍橋大學 gim3 kìuh4 daaih6 hohk6 = Cambridge University
固有 gu3 yáuh5 = usu. intrinsic; inherent; innate; in this context = “fixed” (?)
熱誠 yiht6 sìhng4 = sincere; sincerity

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(Introduction)

中學文憑試放榜。
The results of the HKDSE have been published.

十二個人至少考獲七科5**,嚟自九間學校。
Twelve people, from nine [different] schools, obtained [a grade of] Level 5** in at least seven subjects.

其中觀塘瑪利諾書院同聖馬可中學首次有學生考到呢個佳績。
Of these, a student from the Kwun Tong Maryknoll College and a student from St Mark’s School obtained this excellent result for the first time ever.

而大部份會修讀醫科。
The majority of them will study [修讀] medicine.
Note: Here, 會 wúih5 is a modal indicating high likelihood: the students will definitely do this.

(Main story)

  • Student 杜焯賢 Douh6 Cheuk3 Yìhn4 speaks:

住公共屋邨長大嘅。
I grew up in a public housing estate.

噉,我媽媽[呢],就好辛苦咁工作養育我啦。
And, well, my mother worked very hard to bring me up.

細個已經經歷哥哥離世,單親家庭嘅背景無阻杜焯賢摘星嘅決心。
Experiencing the death [離世 lèih4 sai3] of his elder brother when small and [having] a single-parent background [are two things that] have not deterred Dou Cheuk-yin from reaching for the stars.
Note: The reporter uses the phrase 摘星嘅決心 not only to mean “the determination to reach for the stars” but also “the determination to get a Level 5** result”, since asterisks are treated like stars in Cantonese and pronounced sīng1.

取得7科五**成績,係學校歷嚟第一位文憑試「狀元」。
He obtained the result of Level 5** in seven subjects, and is the first “Number One Scholar” in the school’s history.

  • 杜焯賢 Douh6 Cheuk3 Yìhn4 speaks again:

心態、自己有多努力我覺得呢個都係較重要嘅。
Attitude, and putting in a lot of effort oneself — these, I feel, are more important.

噉,資源可能係一個分別,但係唔會局限你嘅成績。
Now, resources can perhaps make a difference [係一個分別], but they cannot limit your result.
Note: The verb 局限 guhk6 haahn6 here means “to limit the movement of sb. or something; to confine; to restrict”.

聖馬可中學亦有「零的突破」。
St Mark’s School also “registered a first” (?).
Note: The expression 零的突破 lìhng4 dīk1 daht6 po3 is sometimes translated as “a zero breakthrough”, but this is not something I have ever heard anyone say.

  • Student 陳韋諾 Chàhn4 Wàih4/Wáih5 Nohk6 speaks:

噉,其實好感恩,因為喺呢[間]學校裏我都遇到好多唔同好嘅老師、好嘅同學。
Well, I feel very grateful because at this school I have come across many different good teachers and good classmates.

喇沙書院有三人取得7科5**,全部屬意入中大讀醫科。
At La Salle College there were three people who obtained Level 5** in seven subjects, and all of them have set their hearts on [屬意 suhk6 yi3] studying medicine at CUHK.

黃子峯更加係數學延伸部分都攞到5**,係「超級狀元」。
Wong Tsz-fung also got a Level 5** in the Extended Part for Mathematics, making him [係 haih6] a “Super Number One Scholar”.

  • Student 黃子峯 Wòhng4 Jí2 Fūng1 speaks:

主要係因為(中大)教授比較友善呀。
The main reason is because the professors at CUHK are relatively friendly.

唔會擺架子。
They’re not up themselves, no way.
Note: Here, the modal verb 會 wúih5 is used again to indicate high likelihood. Negated, it suggests the low likelihood of the professors behaving badly.

  • Student 許友灝 Héui2 Yáuh5 Houh6 speaks:

我覺得中大嘅氣氛非常之友善呀,同埋我哋有好多師兄喺中大度讀緊醫科。
My feeling is that the atmosphere at CUHK is extremely friendly; also, there are a lot of other students from this school [師兄] studying medicine there.
Note: The noun 師兄 sī1 hīng1 is an unusual one. It usually means “senior fellow apprentice; the son of one’s master (older than oneself); father’s apprentice (older than oneself)”. In this context, it refers to students from La Salle College who are already studying at CUHK.

嚟自聖保羅男女中學曾患白血病嘅甘浚祺亦都攞到八個5**,立志行醫。
Kam Chun-kei from St Paul’s Co-educational College, (a student) who once had leukaemia [白血病 baahk6 hyut3 behng6], also got a Level 5 in eight subjects. He is determined to practice medicine.

  • Student 甘浚祺 Gām1 Jeun3 Kèih4 speaks:

好希望長大之後做個醫生[去],俾翻相同嘅希望俾喺醫院嘅病童,等佢知道其實病之後康復咗,仲可以繼續一個好美麗人生。
I really hoped to be a doctor when I grew up, and to give sick children in hospital the same hope [I once received], so that they know that once they get better, they can still go on living a beautiful life.
Note: The doubling of 俾 béi2 in the second part of the sentence is curious. 俾翻希望病童 would mean “to give sick children hope”, but perhaps because of all the extra modification (相同嘅;喺醫院嘅), a sort of back-up 俾 is added to reinforce the meaning.

拔萃女書院亦都有「超級狀元」,將會到英國劍橋大學修讀經濟。
Diocesan Girls’ School [拔萃女書院 baht6 seuih6 néuih5 syū1 yún6*2] have their own “Super Number One Scholar”; she will go to Cambridge University to study economics.
Note: Future action is often expressed by the combination 將會 jēung1 wúih5, in which 將 jēung1 indicates future aspect, while 會 wúih5 (as we have already seen) is a modal indicating high likelihood.

又話唔認同通識科係失敗。
[She] also said that she didn’t approve [of the view that] Liberal Studies was a failure.

  • Student 蔡欣平 Choi3 Yān1 Pìhng4 speaks:

學校入便我哋就唔會迫啲同學去[有]一個固有嘅框架去諗嘢啦。
Here in [this] school we don’t force students to think about issues from [within] some kind of fixed [固有嘅 gu3 yáuh5 ge3] frame.
Note: Again, negated 會 wúih5 suggests the low likelihood of students being treated like mere bricks in the wall.

噉只不過係思考嘅空間都係留翻俾學生。
Intellectual space is left for students, that’s all.

好欣賞香港人嘅熱誠,噉,堅持去遊行。
[I can] really appreciate the sincerity of the Hong Kong people, well, and their perseverance in demonstrating.

不過,我就希望香港人唔好使用暴力啦。
Nevertheless, I hope Hongkongers don’t resort to violence.

女拔萃同培正中學亦都有一人取得七科5**成績,而考獲八個5**嘅仲有嚟自皇仁書院、拔萃男書院以及聖保羅書院嘅學生。
Both Diocesan Girls’ School and Pui Ching Middle School had students that got a Level 5** in seven subjects, while students from Queen’s College, Diocesan Boys School and St Paul’s Co-educational College obtained a Level 5** in eight subjects.

無線電視記者陳逸思報道
Report by TVB News reporter Chàhn4 Yaht6 Sī1

2019年7月10日

Cantonese through News Stories: Demonstrators Break Into Legislative Council Complex

Capture_Wire-mesh Trolley_1 JUL 2019

Here is one version of events that led to the so-called “storming” of the Legislative Council Complex. I recently came across the quote “There are years that ask questions and years that answer” (Zora Neale Hurston). Perhaps this is just such a question-asking year for Hong Kong. In several parts of this report, it is impossible to hear what people are actually saying. I have provided a translation based on the subtitles, but these are in Standard Written Chinese rather than Cantonese. Watch out for the use of the verb 撞 johng6 = “to strike” and its use in various compounds: 撞爛, 撞擊, 撞裂 and 撞破.

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12 new words:

露面 louh6 mihn6 = to make an appearance
汲取教訓 kāp1 chéui2 gaau3 fan3 = to learn a lesson; to assimilate; to imbibe
民情民意 màhn chìhng màhn yi3 = public feeling & the will of the people
平息 pìhng4 sīk1 = to calm down; to blow over
鐵籠車 tit3 lùhng4 chē1 = wire-mesh trolley (?)
勸阻 hyun3 jó2 = to dissuade sb. from; to advise sb. not to
防毒面罩 fòhng4 duhk6 mihn6 jaau3 = gas mask
石灰粉 sehk6 fūi1 fán2 = powdered lime (?)
調停 tìuh4 tìhng4 = to mediate; to intervene
角力 gok3 lihk6 = to have a trial of strength; to wrestle
上彈 seuhng6 dáan6*2 = to load (a gun with bullets)
對峙 deui3 sih6/chíh5 = to stand facing each other; to confront

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(Introduction)

香港回歸22週年,行政長官林鄭月娥,近兩個星期以嚟首次公開露面。
[On the occasion of] the twenty-second anniversary of the Handover of Hong Kong, the Chief Executive Carrie Lam made her first public appearance in two weeks.

佢話會汲取教訓,日後施政更加貼近民情民意。
She said that she had learned from what had happened, and that from now on the management of government affairs would adhere more closely [貼近 tip3 gahn6] to public feeling and the will of the people.

不過示威者嘅抗議未有平息。
However, the protests of the demonstrators have not yet stopped [平息 pìhng4 sīk1].

Continue reading “Cantonese through News Stories: Demonstrators Break Into Legislative Council Complex”

Cantonese through News Stories: Carrie Lam’s Apology

Capture_Carrie LAm Apology FOUR_18 JUN 2019

After the second huge protest march in Hong Kong on Sunday 16 June, Carrie Lam decided to make an apology “to every single resident of Hong Kong”. As the TVB reporter 張家灝 Jēung1 Gāa1 Houh6 makes clear, however, she stopped short of agreeing to that word of the moment, 撤回 chit3 wùih4 = to “withdraw”, preferring instead to replace it with 暫緩 jaahm6 wuhn6 = to postpone temporarily. But will this be enough?

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12 new words:

召開記者會 jiuh6 hōi1 gei3 jé2 húi6*2 = to call a press conference
(引起)爭議 (yáhn5 héi2) jāng1 yíh5 = (to spark) controversy
向 . . . 道歉 heung3 … douh6 hip3 = to apologize to (someone)
cf. 致歉 ji3 hip3 = to apologize
重啟 chùhng4 kái2 = to restart
問責團隊 mahn6 jaak3 tyùhn4 déui6*2 = accountability team
cf. 問責 mahn6 jaak3 = to call to account
反省fáan2 síng2 = to do some soul searching
紛爭 fān1 jāng1 = dispute; wrangle
書面致歉 syū1 mihn6 zi3 hip3= a written apology; an apology in writing
暫緩 jaahm6 wun6 = to postpone temporarily; to defer for the time being
重申 chùhng4 sān1 = to reaffirm; to reiterate; to restate
貿然 mauh6 yìhn4 = hastily; rashly; blindly
衷心 chūng/jūng1 sām1 = heartfelt

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(Introduction)

行政長官林鄭月娥召開記者會為修訂《逃犯條例》引起社會爭議向所有市民道歉。
The Chief Executive Carrie Lam called a press conference in order to apologize to all the people of Hong Kong for the controversy in society sparked by the amending of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.

佢話自己要負責最大責任,強調喺解決爭議前,絕對唔會貿然重啟修例。
She said that she must take the biggest share of the responsibility, and she emphasized that before the controversy is resolved, she will not rashly restart [any] amending.

佢又希望社會俾機會佢同問責團隊。
She also hoped that society would give her and her accountability team a[nother] chance.

Continue reading “Cantonese through News Stories: Carrie Lam’s Apology”

Cantonese through News Stories: Hong Kong’s Million People Protest on 9 June

Capture_Anti-FOO Rally_9 JUN 2019

In a different world, a demonstration attracting hundreds of thousands of people would have to make an impression on the government in power. It remains to be seen however whether Hong Kong’s Million People Protest will make the slightest difference in the long run.

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12 new words:

遊行 yàuh4 hàahng4 = march; parade; demonstration
起步 héi2 bouh6 = to start to move; to start to do sth.
參加者 chāam1 gāa1 jé2 = participants; those taking part
撤回 chit3 wùih4 = to revoke; to retract; to withdraw
訴求 sou3 kàuh4 = demand
政權 jing3 kyùhn4 = regime
管治 gún2 jih6 = to govern; to rule; to administer; to control
草率 chóu2 sēut1 = careless; perfunctory; rash
標語 bīu1 yúh5 = slogan; poster; banner (in this report)
表態 bíu2 taai3 = to make known one’s position; to declare were one stands
鐵馬 tit3 máah5 = barrier
人潮 yàhn4 chìuh4 = the human tide; the current of humanity

*For jyutping romanization, you can cut and paste any Cantonese vocabulary in this post onto the Sheik Cantonese website.

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(Introduction)

民陣發起嘅反修訂〈逃犯條例〉遊行喺晏晝舉行。
The demonstration that democratic groups initiated [發起 faat héi] against amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance took place this afternoon.

Note: 陣 jahn6 usually means “a moment” in everyday Cantonese, as in 等一陣 (wait a moment). One of its other meanings is “battle array”. Here, 民陣 màhn4 jahn6 suggests a coming together of all those groups, organizations and individuals sympathetic to the democratic cause.

市民由維園遊行到金鐘立法會大樓外邊。
People of the city walked from Victoria Park to the Legislative Council Building in Admiralty.

Continue reading “Cantonese through News Stories: Hong Kong’s Million People Protest on 9 June”

Cantonese through News Stories: Hong Kong Democrats Propose No-confidence Motion

Capture_Wan Siu Gin Speech TWO_31 MAY 2019

Two types of political rhetoric are showcased in this report: righteous indignation and the self-righteously dignified. If you’d like to add to your repertoire of insults, you’ll find plenty here, including 蛇蠍心腸: with a heart as venomous as snakes and scorpions. In addition, there’s a fine example of colloquial 擘 maak3 = “to open”, together with an instance of that mysterious measure word, 屆  gaai3, often optimistically translated as “session”.

12 new words:

1. 不信任動議 bāt1 seun3 yahm6  duhng6 yíh5 = motion of no-confidence
2. 遺憾 wàih4 hahm6 = to regret
3. 惡毒 ok3 duhk6 = vicious; malicious
4. 蛇蠍心腸 sèh4 kit3 sām1 chèuhng4 = as venomous as snakes and scorpions
5. 笑裏藏刀 siu3 léuih5 chòhng4 dōu1 = hide a dagger in one’s smile; with murderous intent behind one’s smiles
6. 一而再 yāt1 yìh4 joi3 = again & again (usually 一而再,再而三)
7. 敦促 dēun1 chūk1 = to urge; to press
8. 強硬 kèuhng4 ngaahng6 = strong; tough; unyielding
9. 舉措 géui2 chou3 = move; act; measure; step
10. 公允 gūng1 wáhn5 = just & sound; fair & equitable; even-handed
11. 抹殺 mut3 saat3 = to blot out; to obliterate; to write off
12. 自把自為 jih6 báa2 jih6 wàih4 = when others say not to do it but you still do it, taking matters into one’s own hands without conferring with others first

*For jyutping romanization, you can cut and paste any Cantonese vocabulary in this post onto the Sheik Cantonese website.

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(Introduction)

民主派議員[不]滿政府計劃修訂《逃犯條例》,喺立法會大會向行政長官林鄭月娥提出不信任動議。
Legislative Council members [belonging to] the Democratic Party are dissatisfied with the government’s plan to amend the Fugitive Offenders’ Ordinance . At a general meeting of the Legislative Council [立法會大會], a motion of no-confidence was put to the Chief Executive.

政府話極度遺憾。
The government said that [this] was extremely regrettable.

Continue reading “Cantonese through News Stories: Hong Kong Democrats Propose No-confidence Motion”

Cantonese through News Stories: Flash Floods in Tin Shui Wai

Capture_Tin Shui Wai Flood TWO_28 MAY 2019

It all sounded like an ill-conceived play on words: heavy rain in a place called Tin Shui Wai (天水 = sky water), leading to flash floods caused by gravel-blocked drains in a village by the name of Sha Chau Lei (沙洲 = sandbar). It was true, however, and a great inconvenience to the residents, especially since it happened twice. From the point of view of language, this report is a good illustration of how Cantonese works without verb tenses. Context plays a big part, as well as time expressions, but the use of expressions such as 曾經 chàhng4 gīng1, 未曾 meih6 chàhng4 and 已經 yíh5 gīng1 also plays an important part. This report was filed by TVB’s 吳海薇 Ngh4 Hói2 Mèih4. The character 薇 mèih4, incidentally, refers to a kind of plant, variously known as “thorn fern”, “bush vetch” or a kind of “rose” . . .

A version of this report can be viewed on the TVB website.

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12 new words:

發出 ⋯ 警告 faat3 chēut1 jíng2 gou3 = to issue a warning; to hoist a warning signal
黃色暴雨警告 (or 黃雨警告 for short) wòhng4 sīk1 bouh6 yúh5 jíng2 gou3 = amber rainstorm warning signal
水寖 séui2 jam3 = to flood; flooding
排水 pàaih4 séui2 = to drain off water
渠道 kèuih4 douh6 = channels; canals; ditches.
水喉 séui2 hàuh4 = water pipe (MW 條 tìuh)
明渠 mìhng4 kèuih4 = open drain
雨量 yúh5 leuhng6 = amount of rain
淤塞 yū1 sāk1 = to silt up & become blocked
渠務署 Kèuih4 Mouh6 Chyúh5 = Drainage Services Department
沙石 sāa1 sehk6 = gravel
沙泥 sāa1 nàih4 = mud

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(Introduction)

天文台連續三個朝早發出黃色暴雨警告。
For three mornings in a row, the Hong Kong Observatory, has issued an amber rainstorm warning signal.

天水圍有鄉村再水浸。
In Tin Shui Wai, a village again flooded.

Continue reading “Cantonese through News Stories: Flash Floods in Tin Shui Wai”

Cantonese through News Stories: African Swine Flu Closes Hong Kong Abattoirs

Capture_African Swine Flu_13 MAY 2019

After the terrible SARS epidemic of 2002-2004, any occurrence of 瘟 wān1 or “epidemic” in Hong Kong is sure to strike terror in the hearts of many local people. Earlier in the year, the remains of a pig washed up on a beach in Cheung Chau caused consternation, but tension levels rose this month with the discovery of Hong Kong’s first case of African Swine Flu. This report, again from TVB’s 何曼筠 Hòh4 Maahn6 Gwān1, focuses on the response from the pork industry, who tried in vain to persuade the government not to destroy the 6000 pigs at the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse.

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12 new words:

個案 go3 ngon3 = a case (of some disease) (measure word = 宗 jūng1)
銷毀 sīu1 wái2 = to destroy (an animal)
屠房 tòuh4 fòhng4 = slaughterhouse; abattoirs
撲殺 pok3 saat3 = to kill; to exterminate (?)
業界 yihp6 gaai3 = industry; sector
商販 sēung1 fáan2 = small retailer; pedlar
買手 máaih5 sáu2 = buyers
生猛猛 sāang1 máahng5 (máahng5) = full of life
宰豬 zói2 jyū1 = to slaughter pigs
戒備 gaai3 beih6 = to guard; to take precautions; to watch out for
車閘 chē1 jaahp6 = main vehicle entrance (?)
銷情 sīu1 chìhng4 = sales (?) (lit. = “selling situation”)

*For jyutping romanization, you can cut and paste any Cantonese vocabulary in this post onto the Sheik Cantonese website (http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/) for checking.

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(Introduction)

本港出現首宗非洲豬瘟個案。
Hong Kong has seen [出現 chēut1 yihn6 = to appear] its first case of African Swine Flu.

Continue reading “Cantonese through News Stories: African Swine Flu Closes Hong Kong Abattoirs”