“Hong Kong Footpath” or 舊日的足跡 Gauh6 Yaht6 Dīk1 Jūk1 Jīk1 is a weekly interview program broadcast on Sunday mornings on RTHK Radio 1. Featuring outstanding people from all walks of life, the interviews are a fabulous source for spoken Cantonese: spontaneous, lively, and often dealing with those crucial make-or-break points in an individual’s pursuit of a chosen career. The downside is that they also feature all those typical difficulties encountered by learners of the language: rapid speech, difficult accents, and unfamiliar vocabulary as well as hesitations, interruptions, two or more people speaking at once and a slurring of words (I believe the technical term favoured by linguistics is “apocopation”).
For this reason, I have begun to transcribe some of the interviews with the help of a native speaker. The first interview is with 陳肇始 Chàhn4 Siuh6 Chí2 Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, current Secretary [局長 gūk1 jéung2] for Food and Health, and was aired on 10 March 2019 to celebrate International Women’s Day. She speaks fairly clearly for most of the interview, but is very fond of sentence particles: so far, I have counted 43 uses of 噉 and 79 uses of 呢!
Here, I present approximately a quarter of Part 1, but will continue to add further instalments as we complete them (as well as correct any mistakes or gaps!). Note that the podcast version of the interview begins with part of the news broadcast, followed by some ads as well as interview highlights; the interview proper doesn’t get underway till just after the three-minute mark. The interviews are also broken up with songs: you’ll be overjoyed to learn that the transcript omits these.
For the podcast of this interview, please visit Hong Kong Footpath.
婦女節 fuh6 léuih5 jit3 = International Women’s Day
嘉賓 gāa1 bān1 = distinguished guest; special guest
Note: Adding 姐 jē1 after a woman’s name, as Betty Hung points out in Speak to Me in Cantonese, is to show respect. For a man, the title 哥 gō1 is used (p.116).
陳肇始：重視，當然重視呢，作為即係一個婦女呢。我諗每一年三 • 八呢，大家都有好多唔同嘅活動嘅。噉，都係尤其是係一啲嘅女性團體呀、組織呀咁。噉，都係興祝翻即係女性，我諗，對嗰個社會嘅貢獻。噉呢都係好重要嘅，亦都係令大家去即係記得呢個日子呢。噉但係呢我諗即係每一次三 • 八呢，都會諗一諗【4：00】一啲即係女性嘅問題㗎。我諗喺香港呢，我哋自己婦女人口呢，同男士都係差唔多吓，咁呀多少少咁一樣。噉有時候會衍生帶嚟啲乜問題呢咁？噉都係諗嚟諗去又諗翻啲工作， 例如我哋好多時而家醫生，女醫生嘅數目有開始多喇咁樣，好好呢，我哋而家讀大學喇，其實呢，女性學生呢，都係多過男仔嘅 . . .
三 • 八 is the date 8 March, on which International Women’s Day is celebrated
Note: 興祝 hīng1 jūk1 means “to celebrate (a particular occasion”). In Lesson 1 of Current Cantonese Colloquialisms, it crops up in 母親節嗰日，你哋點同阿媽興祝呀？ = On Mother’s day, how will you celebrate with your mum? (p.11). The adding of the aspect marker 翻 fāan1 suggests that something is brought back or recalled on that day (for example, the contribution women have made to society).
衍生 hín2 sāng1 = to derive; to come out; to flow from
Note: In 諗嚟諗去又諗翻啲工作, the aspect marker 翻 fāan1 suggests a kind of return: roughly, “I think about this and I think about that and I link things back to work in my thoughts”.
配套 pui3 tou3 = package; support (I often hear government officials using this term. Perhaps “support” is the closest translation here. Something less definite than concrete “arrangements” [安排] seems to be the main implication).
兼顧 gīm1 gu3 = to give consideration to two or more things. Perhaps the implication here is that most doctors in future will only work part-time.
母乳餵哺 móuh5 yúh5 wai3 bouh6 = breast-feeding
車淑梅：好呀。咁呀即係唔怪得呢我哋香港呢係一個真係非常之咁令人羡慕城市呀，譬如話呢，就喺醫療服務方面呢，就係全世界最平最靚最正架吓，即係各方面都係細心去照顧到。唔怪得喇， 我哋成爲全球最長壽嘅嗰個地方咁樣。咁既然女嘅即係醫生越來越多呢，但唔知點解局長就即係嗱啱啱上任局長嘅時間 2017年 7月1號呢，你當時嘅全個班子裏邊，得一個女士嘅啫。你當時嘅心情係點樣樣呀？
全球最長壽嘅嗰個地方 = that place with the longest life-spans on earth. The noun 長壽 chèuhng4 sauh6 = longevity
班子 bāan1 jí2 = “organized group”, according to Sheik Cantonese. Here, it seems to refer to what Carrie Lam now calls her 問責團隊 mahn6 jaak3 tyùhn4 déui6*2 or “accountability team”, a group comprising senior officials in charge of a whole department.
架構 gaa3 kau3 = ① infrastructure, framework; ② architecture (Sheik Cantonese). In this context, perhaps “within a government structure” or even “within the make-up of a (particular) government” (?).
陳肇始：細個嗰陣時冇嘅，其實真係冇，我其實喺我嘅 . . . 即係 . . . 一路人生嘅每一個部分呢吓，我嘅工作呢，尤其是其實都冇特別安排嘅 【7：00】。基本上都係我非常之努力去做。噉亦都係 . . . 有一啲唔同嘅機會就出現咗。噉於是乎，噉我又去嘗試。噉，呢個又亦都係 . . . 盡 . . . 我覺得係 . . . 即係 . . . 最緊要係盡力呀，出盡我嘅全力吓，一百嘅 percent，二百嘅 percent 咁去應對，吓，我每一日嘅工作。噉我覺得呢個係最緊要。 其實嗰個做咗出嚟呢，嗰個效果呀、結果呀，嗰啲呢，其實呀 . . . 當然我哋都有個目標嘅，噉但係呢，我覺得唔係咁 . . . 唔係最重要嘅。對我嚟講呢，盡全力，吓，去做呢，係最重要呢。
Note: Chan Siu-chee at first uses 盡 jeuhn6 on its own (which sounds a bit incomplete), before going on to use the expressions 盡力 jeuhn6 lihk6 and 出盡我嘅全力 chēut1 jeuhn6 ngóh5 ge3 chyùhn4 lihk6, both of which mean something “to give one’s all; to do one’s best”.
Note: The question 少年志願係乜嘢嚟架呢 is basically equivalent to “What did you want to be when you grew up?” The key word in Cantonese 志願 ji3 yuhn6 = aspiration; goal; ideal; desire. I get the impression that the host Chē1 Suhk6 Mùih4 likes to ask her guests this question!
陳肇始：少年志願？其實呢，我諗唔同嘅時間都有啲唔同嘅志願嘅。好奇怪嘅，即係 . . . 好細嗰陣時候【8：00】我媽咪係醫生呢，噉我都就係想做醫生嘅。噉細個屋企有好多聽筒嗰啲咁呀都係同我妹妹玩嗰啲嘢。噉就亦都 . . .
聽筒 tēng1 túng4*2 usually means “earphones, headset, headphones”, but in this medical context, “stethoscope” is clearly indicated.
車淑梅：. . . 爸爸呢？
Note: 改簿 gói2 bóu6*2 literally means “to mark a notebook”. In this context of teachers [先生] and schoolwork, I am guessing that Chan is referring to the marking of student work written out in exercise books.
醉心 jeui3 sām1 = to be engrossed in; to be infatuated with
Note: 麻麻哋 màah4 máa4*2 déi6*2 is commonly used as an adjective meaning “so-so”, indicating a less-than-enthusiastic response to something. Here, intriguingly, it is used as a verb meaning “to regard something as being so-so”. What Chē1 Suhk6 Mùih4 says can therefore be translated as “Actually, someone told me that you regarded your own name ‘Chan Siu-chee’ as only being so-so”. She then goes on to ask: “How is it that you could say ‘so-so’ (about your personal name)?”
陳肇始：其實 . . . 又 . . . 都唔係麻麻哋，只不過細個陣時候呢，讀小學呢，噉我哋讀小學嘅時候呢，小學中學都係，我哋用英文名嘅。噉所以呢，大家都其實基本上唔係咁知道大家啲同學嘅中文名。噉先生呢，就 尤其是小學嘅時候呢，就耐唔時呢，會叫每一個同學企起身，就講你嘅中文名俾大家聽吓啦咁。噉但係每一次當我講嗰陣時候呢，噉我先生呢，一定「吓？」咁「吓」我一次。噉，我就覺得，咦，係咪有好怪，係唔係有乜問題呢？【10：00】其他同學都冇「吓」，但係呢，我講完又吓， 我要再講多一次。噉呢個感覺呢，就好似覺得我個名點解咁嘅，點解先生好似有啲懷疑嘅咁。噉點解我又唔好似其他同學改嗰啲名。點解我媽媽又改呢個名嘅。噉其實有少少呢個咁樣嘅感覺嘅。
耐唔時 noih6 mh4 sí4*2 = now and then; from time to time
Note: 吓 háa2 is equivalent to “huh?” in English and is used to express the sense of being puzzled by something. Here, with creativity, Chan Siu-chee turns it into a verb, with the approximate meaning of “to respond to something by saying ‘huh?’”!
Note: Don’t forget that 改嗰啲名 just means “the names given to (other students)”. 改名 gói2 méng2 means “to name (a child); to give (a child) a name”.
陳肇始：我諗個原因係佢話呢，就都係一個開始呢，個「肇」字係一個開始咁解，個「始」字，噉我係 . . . eh . . . 我有兩姊妹，噉我大女嚟㗎。噉所以呢，係開始咁樣呢。噉所以呢，就後來我好鐘意我個名，因爲我覺得，啫，係一個好嘅開始呢，都係一件好嘅事嚟㗎。
Note: Chan Siu-chi uses the double final particle 嚟㗎 lèih4 gaa3 to add an “explaining tone” to what she says.
陳肇始：Eh，最初嘅時候呢，就唔係嘅，我eh其實eh，啫，護士訓練課程呢，畢業之後呢，其實就响瑪嘉烈醫院，啫，工作咗一年嘅。噉之後呢，後嚟就轉翻嚟瑪麗醫院呢咁。噉我其實已經係好想讀兒科嘅，因爲我都 eh 比較鐘意呢個專科。噉所以後來呢，就做咗喺瑪麗醫院呢，做咗一陣呢，我就去咗英國，就去讀兒科護理。當時都係一個無薪嘅，啫，假期咁樣樣去呢，吓，咁。 喺倫敦，吓， Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 嗰度就讀兒科護理咁樣。咁攞一個專業嘅資格。【12：00】噉嗰陣時候，讀完返嚟香港之後呢，就係做兒科嘅深切治療部喇。Eh，我諗喺深切治療部嗰度工作呢，就嗰個感受係好深，因爲我喺英國讀完兒科返嚟呢，噉就，啫，眾志成城覺得呢，呀就要將我學咗嘅嘢，係要貢獻出嚟呢咁樣。噉所以呢，到瑪麗醫院嘅深切治療部兒科嘅深切治療同埋，啫，嗰個嬰兒，嗰個深切治療部呢。噉就好開心，因爲啲同事又好好呢，同埋呢，係有一啲嘅醫生亦都係喺，都喺英國同一間醫院嗰度深造嘅呢咁。噉所以大家呢，就係一個團隊，好上進嘅，大家覺得呢，哎，我哋要點一樣呢，就我地成日都開會。噉就點一樣係為嗰啲病人係做好啲，又我哋又 點樣樣做多啲培訓呢，俾啲同事呀，點樣樣去增强我哋嗰個醫院或者服務同病人家屬溝通等等。【13：00】
响 héung2 is sometimes used like 喺 hai2 to create place expressions: 响瑪嘉烈醫院 = at Princess Margaret Hospital
專科 jyūn1 fō1 = specialized subject
攞一個專業嘅資格 = obtain a professional qualification
眾志成城 jung3 ji3 sìhng4 sìhng4 = unity of will is an impregnable stronghold; unity is strength
深造 sām1 chou3 = to take a more advanced course of study or training; to pursue advanced studies (Note: In this word, 造 is not pronounced jouh6 as it is in other contexts)
車淑梅：我「凝」住呢，啲小朋友喺深切治療病房應該好痛苦，好辛苦嘅。噉你點樣可以令到呢一個情況係，啫 eh快啲好翻 ，快啲好翻咁？
凝 yìhng4 jyuh6 = 心裏懷疑；覺得; (?) to suspect; to imagine
唔足月 mh4 jūk1 yuht6 = 早產嬰; premature (baby)
暖箱 nyúhn5 sēung1 = incubator
安慰 (ng)ōn1 wai3 = to comfort; to console; to offer consolation to sb.
獎學金 jéung2 hohk6 gām1 = scholarship
孜孜不倦 jī1 jī1 bāt1 gyuhn6 = diligent(ly); indefatigable
理工大學 Léih5 Gūng1 Daaih6 Hohk6 = Hong Kong Polytechnic University
陳肇始：噉我諗，啫，三個外國嗰個，啫，學嘢嘅階段呢，係第一個係我頭先講咗兒科護理呢。噉當時都係好細個嘅。噉就係專科嘅訓練呀，去讀兒科咁樣。噉當年嗰陣時候就好多嘢都係 . . . eh 係照顧自己方面呢，其實都係未必係做得好嘅。噉嗰個呢，係磨練嚟㗎，因爲呢，去到外國呢，吓，噉好多嘢都要自己照顧自己呀，又自己連 even 煮飯都要都要呀 . . .
未必係做得好 = not necessarily done very well
磨練 mòh4 lihn6 = to temper oneself; to steel oneself (perhaps even here “to put oneself to the test”)
Note: The interviewer is quite fond of using what Matthews and Yip call “dislocation” (Intermediate Cantonese, Unit 24). Usually, 初初 chō1 chō1 would probably come at the start of the sentence after 你, but here it is tacked on at the end, as a kind of qualification or modification of what has gone before.
鍛煉 dyun3 lihn6 = 1 to take exercise 2 to steel/temper oneself (cf. 磨練 mòh4 lihn6)
Note: This means something like “You were a big girl now/by this stage” (with the implication of being able to fend for oneself). Aspect markers get a work-out here: 咗 jó2 suggests that a certain state had been realized (perfect aspect), while 嘞 laak3 is generally used to report a change of circumstances.
陳肇始：係啦。噉當然，第二段呢，係當我已經 um 瑪麗醫院兒科嘅深切治療部呢，都做咗一段嘅時間，吓。【16：00】噉亦都喺理工大學修讀咗 ah 嗰個教育深造嘅文憑。噉嗰度呢，係，eh . . . 諗住出嚟係做老師嘅，因爲我喺深切治療部嗰陣時候呢，就被揀選咗呢，出嚟呢，去幫手呢，係去做一啲嘅培訓課程俾啲同事嘅，新嚟嘅同事呀，或者有一啲嘅係 . . . 好似 refresher 嗰啲嘢要去再 . . . 再 . . .（車淑梅：再培訓）係，再培訓咁一樣呢。噉所以呢，就變咗令我喺產生咗對於，啫，教學有啲興趣，吓，咁。噉所以到讀完理工之後呢，我就覺得都係好想再去外邊深造。噉因爲好似覺得當時就學海無涯咁，咦，仲有好多嘢唔識喎，都係應該要去 um 要去讀嘅。
修讀 sāu1 duhk6 = to take a course in sth.
諗住 lám2 jyuh6 = to intend; to plan
學海無涯 hohk6 hói2 mòuh4 ngàaih4 = learning is an endless process
Note: I am not sure how to translate 變咗. My sense is that it conveys something like “as it turned out”, but I am still collecting examples . . .
陳肇始：係啦，繼續深造嘅。噉所以就去咗英國呢，要讀碩士學位呢（車淑梅：Ah）咁樣，第一就係攞咗一個獎學金啦，第二呢，亦都係特別去讀一個基層醫療嘅【17：00】，啫，護理嘅一個課程，吓，係一個教育嘅碩士。噉所以嗰陣時呢，就係另外 . . . 另外一樣嘢嘞，就唔係一個，啫，深切治療部或者喺醫院，而係一個比較預防性呀、發展性嘅一個學科嚟㗎，吓。噉亦都當然呢，eh 讀碩士嘅時候呢，亦都係對於理論呀、或者係要做論文呀、或者係有一啲嘅初步嘅研究嘅理論呀，亦都要開始學囉，就唔係淨係臨床嘅專業知識呢。
第一 . . . 第二 . . . daih6 yāt1 . . . daih6 yih6 = firstly . . . secondly (used for enumerating reasons)
基層 gēi1 chàhng4 = basic level; grassroots
預防性 yuh6 fòhng4 sing3 = preventative (預防 = to prevent)
車淑梅：嘩，你好鐘意上堂嘅喎，睇嚟，你 . . .
Note: Another example of the interviewer’s penchant for dislocation: “Golly, you really like going to class, by the looks of it/it seems, you!”
陳肇始：因爲，其實，每一次，啫，係能夠係得到 . . . eh ，啫，多啲唔同嘅知識，而覺得嗰啲知識呢，係非常之有用，亦都係可以將來呢，係諗吓點一樣呢，係回饋 . . . eh 我個專業呀、回饋社會呢。呢個嘅感覺呢，係非常之開心，吓。
回饋 wùih4 gwaih6/kwáih5 = ① to give back; to requite; to give in return ② feedback; to report back to
Note: According to Sheik Cantonese, the standard pronunciation for 回饋 is wùih4 gwaih6, but people have reported hearing a variant, wùih4 kwáih5, which seems to match Chan Siu-chi’s pronunciation of the verb here.
(To be continued . . .)