Learning Cantonese: Chiang Hiu-mei’s Tuen Mun Character

What is the relation of place to personality? In this video, writer 蔣曉薇 Chiang Hiu-mei speaks at length of her feelings for Tuen Mun, a new town “developed” in the 1970s. She argues that the relative isolation from both business and fashion pressures can result in a more independent character, one with a rhythm and speed all of its own.

The best proof of this is in Chiang’s writing. The novel she talks about here, a literary adaption of Kiwi Chow’s film Beyond the Dream, is a finely-paced love story about a young man who falls in love first with a hallucination and then with a psychologist who resembles his imaginary lover. Her most recent book, 《秋鯨擱淺》(roughly, “The Stranding of Autumn Whales”), takes the mass beaching of 400 whales in New Zealand as a metaphor for the current predicament of the people of Hong Kong and sees in the human effort to save these marine mammals a ray of hope for a Hong Kong renaissance.

There are some splendid vocabulary items for, if you’re keen to improve your Cantonese: 氣質 hei3 jāt1 = ① temperament; disposition ② qualities; makings; 餵貓 wai3 māau1 = to feed a cat; 甜蜜 tìhm4 maht6 = sweet; happy; 願景 yuhn6 gíng2 = an aspiration; 零用錢 lìhng4 yuhng6 chín4*2 = pocket money; 養份 yéuhng5 fahn6 = nutrient; and 時尚 sìh4 seuhng6 = ① fashion; fad ② fashionable.

You can watch the video here. If you are interested, you can also look at these two other posts on Chiang Hiu-mei:

● Learning Cantonese: 蔣曉薇 Chiang Hiu-mei on Hongkongers — Leaving, Staying or Stranded?

● Learning Cantonese: A Tuen Mun Love Story . . .

Beyond the Dream by Chiang Hiu-mei (Part 1 Ah Lok: 1-6)

蔣曉薇:其實呢度都係好,好塑造到一個人嘅氣質嘅,係啦! | 你有你自己步伐嘅,有自己節奏嘅

Caption: 我的繆思 | 青山碧海 —— 作家蔣曉薇

記者:電影《幻愛》以屯門做背景 | 發掘咗呢個社區好多動人嘅畫面 | 而小説版嘅作者蔣曉薇本身 | 都係喺屯門長大嘅 | 佢喺創作裏面 | 投射咗好多個人喺屯門嘅回憶同埋感受

蔣曉薇:你寫屯門就係我最親切嘅回憶囉 | 擺咗好多自己個人嘅感受呀 | 經驗呀,落去嘅 | 有啲中學同學睇完我本書呢 | 喺度笑呀, 喂,你真係寫中我嘅心聲呀,咁樣 | 係,我們嘅第一章呢,就寫 | 阿樂呢,就約阿葉嵐呢,就喺屯門碼頭嗰度等 | 我將我自己嘅感情擺咗落去 | 噉啊裏面講到 . . .

● 塑造 sou3 jouh6 = to mould; to model | ● 氣質 hei3 jāt1 = ① temperament; disposition ② qualities; makings | ● 步伐 bouh6 faht6 = a step; a pace| ● 繆思 màuh4 sī1 = a muse | ● 發掘 faat3 gwaht6 = to excavate; to unearth; to explore | ● 投射 tàuh4 seh6 = ① to project (a ray of light) ② to cast | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = to experience; to feel | ● 心聲 sām1 sēng1 (or sīng1) = heartfelt wishes; aspiration; thinking

Note: The 中 used in 寫中我嘅心聲 is pronounced in the mid-level tone (jung3). It is added to verbs to express the idea of “hit (a target); fit exactly”. In this example, it is added to the verb 寫 sé2 (to write) = “writing in a way that captures (a person’s heartfelt wishes)”.

Chiang Hiu-mei: Actually, this place really shapes a person’s qualities, yes. You go at your own pace, [with] your own rhythm.

Caption: My Muses | Green Mountains & Blue Seas — the Writer Chiang Hiu-mei

Reporter: The film Beyond the Dream is set in Tuen Mun and uncovers many moving scenes in the local community there. The author of the novel version of the film Chiang Hiu-mei also grew up in Tuen Mun. She has cast many [of her] personal memories and experiences of Tuen Mun into [the novel] she created.

Chiang Hiu-mei: You write about Tuen Mun . . . my most intimate memories [are bound up with this place]. I put a great number of my personal feelings about things [好多自己個人嘅感受] and experiences into [the book]. When people I went to high-school with read the book, they laughed and said: “You have really captured [寫中] my innermost wishes”. Yes, our first chapter [describes] how Ah Lok arranges to meet Yip Lam and waits for her at Tuen Mun Pier. I put my own feelings into [this scene]. In it, there [are certain things] . . .

【1:00】有一啲就係,欸,一個城市人嚟到屯門碼頭嘅時候 | 佢覺得好驚訝啦 | 點解呢度會有船去出澳門嘅呢,咁樣?| 第二就係,欸,阿樂喺度等葉嵐嘅時候呢 | 佢就喺度餵貓、撩貓啦 | 噉呢個係好常見嘅一個畫面嚟嘅 | 噉因為喺電影裏面呢,欣欣係阿樂嘅幻想出嚟㗎嘛 | 噉電影嘅時間好有限嘅 | 噉所以呢,佢,你見到呢,佢同欣欣拍拖嘅畫面呢,啫,挨住欄杆啦 | 好似就係 . . . 我記得就係挨住欄杆啦 | 摸吓佢啦,咁樣嘅拍拖畫面主要都係咁樣 | 或者喺輕鐵嗰度接佢 | 啫,阿樂同欣欣拍拖嘅時候,係會做啲乜嘅呢 | 噉佢喺屯門區會做啲乜嘅呢 | 噉我第一個最直接嘅反應就係 | 嗯,佢哋一定會去食糖水咁樣囉 | 啫,好甜蜜㗎嘛,呢啲嘢 | 噉我就諗啦,屯門區最著名食糖水嘅地方就喺美樂嗰度有個糖水店咁 | 噉我喺小説嗰度冇開名嘅

● 驚訝 gīng1 ngaah6 = surprised; amazed; astonished; astounded | ● 餵貓 wai3 māau1 = to feed a cat | ● 撩 lìuh4 = to tease; to tantalize; to provoke (Sheik) | 挨 āai1 = to lean against | ● 直接嘅反應 jihk6 jip3 ge3 fáan2 ying3 = an immediate reaction | ● 糖水 tòhng4 séui2 = a dessert soup such as red bean soup or almond paste soup | ● 甜蜜 tìhm4 maht6 = sweet; happy | ● 開名 hōi1 méng2 = (?) to mention sth. by name

. . . such as, first of all, the surprise city people feel when they come to Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal — how come boats leave from here to go to Macao? The second thing is that when Ah Lok was waiting for Yip Lam, he fed the cats and tried to make them come to him [撩貓]. Now this is something you see all the time. Because, in the film, Yan Yan is an imaginary person who only exists in Ah Lok’s mind, the time [spent on this] in the film is limited. When you see Ah Lok with Yan Yan, they are leaning against the railing [of a housing estate] — I think it’s like that: as I recall, he leans against the railing and strokes her. They are the main ways the dating scenes are done. Or he goes to meet her at the light rail [station]. So [in the book], what would Ah Lok and Yan Yan do when they were dating? What would they do in downtown Tuen Men? My immediate response was: they would go and have dessert soup [together]. Such things are very sweet. I then thought that the most famous place in Tuen Mun for dessert soup is the shop in the Melody Gardens Estate. In the novel, I didn’t mention the name.

【2:00】記者:美樂花園係屯門碼頭一帶第一個非公屋屋苑 | 可以話係象徵咗呢個社區小康嘅一面

蔣曉薇:我細個係住,呃,美樂嘅 | 我覺得,呃,美樂花園個名改得好靚嘅 | 美好又快樂 | 啫,佢一個寄願就係一個新市鎮 | 有個咁嘅願景喺度 | 打風呢,其實屋企係最慘嘅 | 因為個廳就係望住個海嘛 | 噉啲風刮入嚟嘅時候呢,係成個廳係水浸嘅 | 噉屋 . . . 我爸爸媽媽就冇得瞓啦,但係我同我細佬就好開心囉 | 因爲有水玩吖嘛,又可以抹地吖嘛,咁樣 | 噉呢啲係一啲好,好特別、好快樂嘅回憶 | 但係其實生活係一啲好簡單幸福嘅小點滴呀 | 放學就會同啲同學嚟到蝴蝶灣囉 | 噉主要喺,啫,呢度比較清靜啲啦 | 同埋,呃,個空間好廣好闊吖嘛 | 噉所以就會,呃, 有陣時周末呢,咁冇嘢做呢 . . .

● 屋苑 ūk1 yún2 = housing complex | ● 象徵 jeuhng6 jīng1 = to symbolize; to signify; to stand for | ● 小康 síu2 hōng1 = comparatively well-off; comfortably well-off | ● 寄願 gei3 yuhn6 = (?) to make a wish | ● 新市鎮 sān1 síh5 jan3 = a new town | ● 願景 yuhn6 gíng2 = an aspiration | ● 刮入嚟 gwaat3 yahp6 làih4 = (of wind) to blow in | ● 抹 maat3 = to wipe | ● 小點滴 síu2 dím2 dīk1 = usu. “a tidbit” | ● 清靜 chīng1 jihng6 = peace & quiet

Reporter: Melody Gardens was the first non-public housing complex in the vicinity of the Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal. You could call it a symbol of the comparatively well-off [lifestyle] in this district.

Chiang Hiu-mei: When I was a little girl, I live in the Melody Gardens housing complex. To me, the name [美樂 Mei Lok in Cantonese] is a very pretty one: both “fine” [美好 mei hou] and “happy” [快樂 fai lok]. It is a wish for a new town. There is an aspiration of this kind in this place. Our apartment copped it badly [屋企係最慘嘅] when there was a typhoon. This was because the living room faced the sea. When the wind blew in, the whole living room would be flooded. Now the house . . . Mum and Dad wouldn’t get any sleep, but my little brother and I would be beside ourselves because we could play in the water and wipe down the floor. These are some of the very special and very happy memories. But life in fact is those very simple [but] fortunate bits and pieces [小點滴]. After school, my classmates and I would come down to Butterfly Beach. Here, it was more peaceful and quieter. In addition, there was plenty of wide-open space. For this reason, sometimes on the weekends when I had nothing to do . . .

【3:00】. . . 唔想留喺屋企咁,噉啊會嚟呢度睇書囉,係呀 | 啫,攞幾本書咁樣喺度,喺度睇吓海咁樣,睇吓書呀,咁樣 | 其實唔去市中心㗎 | 因為去市中心要俾四蚊輕鐵費㗎 | 來回八蚊㗎 | 噉,嗯,冇錢㗎,以前 | 即係一個月好似得三十蚊零用錢咁樣呢 | 噉所以如果要落街 | 就近近哋腳行到嘅地方囉 | 但係喺呢個社區,啫,喺屯門區裏面當然有好多養份俾咗我啦 | 我諗特別係嗰個人同大自然嗰個連結呀 | 因為真係好近呢 | 行五分鐘就可以去到海邊 | 係好近個天 | 個天係好廣闊嘅 | 佢唔會有好多高樓切割開咁樣 | 鍾意寫海囉 | 會好多意象可能係鍾意寫海 | 可能就係 *jai 因為細個見得多啦、望得多啦 | 或者其實就係好簡單咁你落嚟做個運動、跑個步 | 呃,行吓散吓步 | 對個海嘅觀察 . . .

● 市中心 síh5 jūng1 sām1 = city centre; downtown | ● 零用錢 lìhng4 yuhng6 chín4*2 = pocket money | ● 腳行 geuk3 hàahng4 = (?) to go on foot | ● 養份 yéuhng5 fahn6 = nutrient | ● 連結 lìhn4 git3 = to connect | ● 切割 chit3 got3 = to cut | ● 意象 yi3 jeuhng6 = image | ● 觀察 gūn1 chaat3 = to observe; to watch

. . . and didn’t want to stay at home, I would come here and read, I would. That is, I bring some books here and look at the sea for a while, read for a while. Actually, I didn’t go into town because the light-rail ticket cost four dollars, [which made it] eight dollars to get there and back. I didn’t have the money, back then. I only got thirty dollars’ pocket money a month, if I remember correctly [好似]. So, if I wanted to go out [落街], I would to places nearby that I could walk to. But this district, I mean Tuen Mun, nurtured me in many ways, especially with regard to that connection between human beings and the natural world, because [nature] was just nearby. You could walk to the sea in five minutes. [We] were very close to the sky[, too]. The sky was so wide, so spacious — it wasn’t chopped up by all these tall buildings. I like to write about the sea: it has so many images [meaning unclear]. Perhaps this is because I saw it a lot when I was little and looked at it a lot. Or perhaps it was simply just a matter of going down [to the beach] for some exercise, to jog, or to take a walk or stroll. The thing I really looked at most of all . . .

【4:00】. . . 係真係最多嘅 | 呃,喺屯門公園嗰度就有啲大媽舞呀 | 落下一啲污名呀 | 啫係你搞到污煙瘴氣 | 噉但係嚟到再遠啲喇 ,再入啲嘅地方,譬如屯門碼頭 | 噉,呃,其實呢邊又冇乜,係啦 | 呢邊都仲係保留到係好閒適㗎 | 好, 好角落呀| 好自成一體嗰一種感覺嘅 | 以前細個就覺得,呃,自己好老土嘅 (哈哈)| 特別係,啫,大家可能係行 . . . 當你啲大學同學係行尖沙咀呀、行銅鑼灣呀 | 好,好潮流呀,打扮得好時尚 | 但係自己可能係仲係好土呀 | 好鄉下妹咁樣囉| 噉但係再大啲,自己揾到自己定位 | 或者係 . . . 你諗返轉頭 | 其實呢度都係好,好塑造到一個人嘅氣質嘅(哈哈),係啦!

● 大媽舞 daaih6 māa1 móuh5 = “dancing aunties”, middle-aged women who dance in Tuen Mun Park and “who regularly blast songs through loudspeakers and dance suggestively while skimpily dressed” | ● 污名 wū1 mìhng4 = stigma | ● 污煙瘴氣 wū1 yīn1 jeung3 hei3 = ? cf. 瘴煙毒霧 = clouds of pestilential vapour; miasmal clouds| ● 閒適 haahn6 sīk1 = leisurely & comfortable | ● 自成一體 jih6 sìhng4 yāt1 tái2 = (?) separate; self-contained | ● 老土 lóuh5 tóu2 = old-fashioned; out of date; traditional; unsophisticated; rustic; not hip; uncool + 土tóu2 on its own has the same meaning | ● 潮流 chìuh4 làuh4 = trend; popularity | ● 時尚 sìh4 seuhng6 = ① fashion; fad ② fashionable | ● 鄉下妹hēung1 háa6*2 mūi6*1 (?) = roughly, “a country girl” | ● 定位 dihng6 wái6*2 = (指人生追求) niche (one’s position in life) | ● 諗返轉頭 nám2 fāan1 jyun3 tàuh4 = with hindsight

. . . was the sea. In Tuen Mun Park, there are the “dancing aunties”. They have given the place a bad name, made it sleazy and unpleasant [你搞到污煙瘴氣]. However, go a bit further away [再入啲嘅地方] [and you have] places such as Tuen Mun Pier. There’s not much there, but it remains leisurely and comfortable, a tucked away corner [好角落], with a feeling of being a little world in its own right. When I was younger, I was very out of touch with the fashion. Especially when we all went out . . . when you were walking with your university friends in Tsim Sha Tsui or Causeway Bay, [you] felt very with it, wearing the latest fashions, but you were probably still very uncool, an unsophisticated girl from the country. But when you were older and had found your place in the world [自己揾到自己定位], perhaps, with hindsight, this place was somewhere that could really mould a person’s character. Yes, indeed!

【5:00】而嗰個氣質就係 . . . 唔係咁商業化嘅 | 唔係咁追隨潮流嘅唔使行到好前嘅 | 你有你自己嘅步伐、有自己節奏嘅

And this character is . . . not such a commercialized one. It doesn’t go chasing after trends and there is no need to be at the forefront [of things]. You walk at your own pace and you have a rhythm all of your own.

Learning Cantonese: 舊情 ● 屯門 or A Past Love for Tuen Mun

If you’ve ever visited Tuen Mun in recent years, words like 荒蕪 fong1 mòuh4 (“to lie waste”) and 沙塵滾滾 sāa1 chàhn4 gwán2 gwán2 (“dust-swept”) hardly seem appropriate descriptions of the place, but not so long ago that was precisely what Tuen Mun was like. And there are times, I confess, when I would prefer it to have stayed that way . . .

In this 5-minute video put together by 明愛賽馬會屯門青少年綜合服務 Caritas Integrated Services for Young People, a long-time resident of Tuen Mun 劉姑娘 (roughly, Mrs Lau, or even perhaps Auntie Lau [?]) shares some of her memories of the small city with us. As a practical person, she embraces the convenience which the building of housing estates and other amenities has brought to the area. However, at the same time, she gently laments the erosion over time of a sense of 人情味yàhn4 chìhng4 meih6 or “human touch”. And while, on the whole, she talks about the urban environment, she does touch on culture in her comments on the 天后誕 Tīn1 Hauh6 daan3 or “Birthday of Tin Hau, Queen of Heaven”, a major celebration in the district centred on the Tin Hau Temple at 口角 Hau Kok.

If after watching the video you feel like dipping into a bit more of the old Tuen Mun, I recommend a visit to the 屯門風物志圖片庫 Tuen Mun Heritage Image Database. There is also a collection of “Tuen Mun Old Photos” available on a Facebook page here. If, on the other hand, you prefer a contemporary ambience, then I suggest you visit this short video walk through Tuen Mun featured in the “When in Doubt, Take a Walk” series put together by artist Sampson Wong and photographer Eric Tsang. It begins, I think, at the pedestrian overpass near 藍地 Lam Tei, takes in the concrete river bed at 屯子圍 Tuen Tsz Wai, approaches 兆康 Siu Hong MTR station and ends up at the iconic 屯門碼頭 Tuen Mun Pier. You can watch that here.

The most interesting thing grammatically about the video is the use of 响 héung2 instead of the more usual hái2 to indicate being in a location. You’ll hear it in the opening sentence, 我係一個已經响屯門住咗40年嘅街坊 = “I am a local [街坊] who has lived in Tuen Mun for 40 years”. Listen out for other instances, including 响佢屋企食午飯 = “to eat lunch at their place”, 响鄉事會路 = “(in) Heung Sze Wui Road” and 响嗰度 = “in that place”. Remember, too, that 喺 is sometimes pronounced héi2 by some speakers, the film director 周冠威 Kiwi Chow being a notable example.

There’s a lot of worthwhile vocabulary here too, including 天翻地覆 tīn1 fāan1 deih6 fūk1 = heaven & earth turning upside down; earth-shattering; 人情味yàhn4 chìhng4 meih6 = the human touch; to possess humane qualities; 糖水 tòhng4 séui2 = sweet Chinese dessert soup; 盛事 sìhng4 sih6 = a grand occasion; ● 心思思 sām1 sī1 sī1 = itch, longing; 地標 deih6 bīu1 = landmark; 嫁女餅 gaa3 néuih5 béng2 = dowry cake; and 陸續 luhk6 juhk6 = one after another.

Please scroll down for my transcription (it’s not perfect, but most of it is accurate), English translation and notes. You can view the video here (subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.


Caption: 舊情 ● 屯門 | An Old Love: Tuen Mun

Caption: 屯門居民 | 劉姑娘 | Tuen Mun Resident | Mrs Lau

我係一個已經屯門住 40 年街坊 | 見證住屯門天翻地覆嘅轉變 | 40 年前嘅屯門 | 好多都唔方便 | 乜嘢都 | 有嘅,我諗都係人情味囉

● 街坊 gāai1 fōng1 = neighbourhood; here, the sense seems to imply “a local person” | ● 見證 gin3 jing3 = to bear witness to | ● 天翻地覆 tīn1 fāan1 deih6 fūk1 = heaven & earth turning upside down; earth-shattering | ● 人情味yàhn4 chìhng4 meih6 = the human touch; to possess humane qualities

Note: The verb 見證 is one of those verbs that attracts the aspect marker住 jyuh6. Another example appeared in Alfred Chan’s video on dai pai dong: 見證住香港大牌檔文化嘅興衰 = “bearing witness to the rise and fall of Hong Kong’s dai pai dong culture”.

I am a local [街坊] who has lived in Tuen Mun for 40 years, and have witnessed Tuen Mun’s earth-shattering changes. In the Tuen Mun of 40 years ago, many things were inconvenient — there was nothing. The one thing there was, I think, was a humaneness.

左右隔籬係互相幫助啦 | 有陣時會煲糖水 [呢] | 就會好似請街坊樣,我 | 呢度個碗、個一碗咁 | 大家就咁樣分享嘅 | 好似係有咩事呀 | 或者出咗去九龍趕唔切返 | 我鄰居呢,就會幫我湊個小朋友放學 | 我 [個] 小朋友响佢屋企食午飯都得嘅 | 屯門作一個充滿歷史嘅小城市 | 天后誕就係 . . .

● 糖水 tòhng4 séui2 = sweet Chinese dessert soup — typical examples include 紅豆沙 (red bean soup), 杏仁糊 (almond paste soup), and 芝麻糊 (sesame paste soup) | ● 湊 chau3 = to look after; to raise (a child) | ● 天后誕 Tīn1 Hauh6 daan3 = birthday of Tin Hau, Queen of Heaven (celebrated on Day 23 of the third lunar month)

Neighbours all around [左右] helped one another out. Sometimes, [we] would make a sweet Chinese dessert soup and sort of treat the [whole] neighbourhood — here a bowl for you and there a bowl for you. Everyone would share in that way, as if it were some kind of special occasion [好似係有咩事呀]. Or, if I went to Kowloon and couldn’t make it back in time, my neighbours would look after my child for me outside of school hours. It was even OK for my child to eat lunch at their place. As a small city filled with history, the Birthday of Tin Hau . . .

【1:00】 . . . 當年屯門人嘅盛事嚟㗎 | 三月廿呀三嗰天后誕呢 | 到而家都有嘅 | 嗰日,响鄉事會路呢,係封閉嘅 | 呢個都係歷史性

● 盛事 sìhng4 sih6 = a grand occasion; a great event

. . . was a big occasion [盛事] for the people of Tun Men back in those days [當年]. The Birthday of Tin Hau on Day 23 of the third [lunar month] is still celebrated [有] to this day. Back then, Heung Sze Wui Road would be closed [to traffic]. This is all part of history [都係歷史性].

嗰個時代嘅屯門 | 唔可以唔提嘅就係交通問題啦 | // 巴士呢 | 嗰陣時冇屯門公路㗎 | 但係其實一個好荒蕪嘅地方嚟㗎 | 四周都沙塵滾滾㗎 | 响屯門大興邨我要返娘家 [嘅] | 起碼都要兩個鐘頭嘅車程 | 初初係覺得係唔方便 | 因爲 [要做] 「開荒牛」| 巴士路呀、一啲交通係真係好唔方便 | 以前呢,我初初搬 [入嚟] 屯門 | 每一個星期呢,成日心思思都係想出九龍逛街 | 就好似有一種回娘家嘅感覺 | 而家呢| 你叫我出逛呢 | 唔使啦,去邊度都一樣

● 沙塵滾滾 sāa1 chàhn4 gwán2 gwán2 = roughly, “sand & dust blowing around” | ● 車程 chē1 chìhng4 = transport journey (that is, the time a trip takes travelling by vehicle) | ● 開荒牛 hōi1 fōng1 ngàuh4 = a pioneer in a new field (lit., “an ox opens the wasteland”) | ● 心思思 sām1 sī1 sī1 = itch, longing | ● 逛街 kwaang3 gāai1 = to go window-shopping

Something I can’t refrain from mentioning [唔可以唔提] about the Tuen Mun of that era is the transport issue. Buses? There was no Tuen Mun Road at that time, and [Tuen Mun] was actually a very barren wilderness [好荒蕪嘅地方], with dust and sound blowing about everywhere. From the Tai Hing Estate in Tuen Mun, it took me at least two hours by bus [車程] to get to my parent’s place. At first, I thought how inconvenient it was because there were still no pioneers (to develop things). Bus routes and other [public] transport routes were really inconvenient. Before, when I first moved to Tuen Mun, every week I was always dying to get back to Kowloon to look at the shops. The feeling was the same as wanting to go back to my parents’ home. Now, if you asked me to go shopping with you [in Kowloon] there’s no need — everywhere you go it’s the same.

衆所周知 | 二十一世紀嘅屯門地標都係 V city 喇 【2:00】| 40 年前 | 嗰度係咩嚟㗎呢?| 原來佢嘅附近仲有好多出名嘅地方嘅 | 屯門而家西鐵站嗰個位置 | 就係以前嘅屯門嘅第一個屋邨,新發邨 | 嗰個位置就係轉變得大 [啦] | 以前係好荒蕪嘅。屯門係第一個公共屋邨呢,就係新發邨 | 但而家呢,嗰個地標呢,就係現今嘅屯門西鐵站 | V city

● 衆所周知 jung3 só2 jāu1 jī1 = as everyone knows; it is common knowledge that | ● 地標 deih6 bīu1 = landmark | ● 現今 yihn6 gām1 = nowadays; these days

As everyone knows, Tuen Mun’s [major] landmark of the 21st century is V city. What occupied that site 40 years ago? Originally, there were many outstanding places in the vicinity [of that site]. Where the Western Rail station is now, Tuen Mun’s first housing estate San Fat used to be. That location has gone through some major changes. Before, it was a barren wilderness. Tuen Mun’s first housing estate was a public one, San Fat. But now, that landmark is the present Tuen Mun Western Rail Station or V city.

而家嘅恆生銀行嘅地標呢 | 就係以前一間酒樓係,好出名| 嘉喜酒樓係兩曾式嘅 | 你去到屯門區一講嗰間酒樓名個個人都識嘅 | 地下呢,就係賣餅㗎 | 嗰陣時賣嗰啲嫁女餅 [呀]、賣嗰啲嘢㗎 | 或者人哋頂酒席 [呀], 响嗰度,呃,坐 [嘅] | 响度坐嘅地方 | 佢哋賣點心呢,噉啊冇車仔 [㗎] | 用個托盤,呃,有條咁嘅帶 *dáai3*2 孭住嚟賣㗎咋 | 係好古老,好古老嘅酒樓嚟㗎 【3:00】嗰個報紙檔呢,嗰個阿姐呀 | 佢嗰間酒樓開張賣報紙賣到而家㗎喇

● 嫁女餅 gaa3 néuih5 béng2 = dowry cake | ● 訂酒席 dehng6 jáu2 jihk6 = to book or reserve a banquet | ● 車仔 chē1 jái2 = (?) a (small) cart or trolley | ● 托盤 tok3 pún4*2= serving tray | ● 孭 mē1 = usu. to carry on the shoulders | ● 開張 hōi1 jēung1 = to open a business; to begin doing business

Another landmark, the [site of the] present Hang Seng Bank used to be a restaurant, and a very well-known one. The Ka Hei Restaurant (?) was a two-story place. If you paid a visit to the Tuen Mun district and you [mentioned] that restaurant to anyone, they would know it at once. In the basement, there was a cake shop. Back in those days, they sold dowry cakes and things like that. Or people could book a banquet there, there was seating where people could sit down. They sold dim sum, but they didn’t have trolleys. [Instead], they used trays with a strap on them that went around one shoulder to sell [the dim sum]. It went back a long way, that restaurant, a long way. That newspaper stand: the woman [who operates that] sold newspapers when the restaurant first started business and she’s still selling papers to this day.

噉究竟容納 | 屯門大部分人口嘅公共屋邨 | 發展嘅情況又係點嘅呢?| 青山醫院嗰 // 青山精神病院嗰度最先嘅 | 以前係一個好荒蕪嘅一條小路啦 | 入便係有人耕種嘅 | 噉之後呢,噉自從,呃,大興邨興建咗之後呢 | 又到友愛啦 | 安定啦 | 蝴蝶啦,同埋呢個 | 山景 [吖] | 同埋,呃,好多好多屋邨 | 兆康 [吖],嗰啲陸續陸續都起 [喇] | [噉有],呃,良景 [吖] | 新圍嗰啲 | 全部都係一個小山一個小山咁樣剷平 [咁樣嚟] 起屋邨 | 咁樣呢,[就] 到到呢,呃,人口到到某一個人數呀 | 佢先會有建立一間醫院嘅 | 噉就起咗一間屯門醫院

● 容納 yùhng4 naahp6/laahp6 = to hold; to have a capacity of; to accommodate | ● 耕種 gāang1 jung3 = to till; to cultivate | ● 陸續 luhk6 juhk6 = one after another; in succession | ● 剷平cháan2 pìhng4 = to level; perhaps also “to raze”

Note: The particle 呀 aa3 can be used when enumerating items, but here it sounds closer to a high-level tone, possibly written 吖 āa1 (?). However, I can’t find any support for this usage in my grammar books, so I may be wrong.

What was it like, the development of the public housing estates that house the bulk of Tuen Mun’s population? Where the Castle Peak Hospital, [UNCLEAR] the Castle Peak Psychiatric Hospital, there used to be a little neglected road [係一個好荒蕪嘅一條小路], and at the entrance to this road people grew vegetables [有人耕種]. Afterwards, from the time of the building of the Tai Hing Estate, [we had] the Yau Oi Estate, the On Ting Estate, Butterfly Estate, the Shan King Estate, many, many housing estates — Siu Hong — all those [estates] were built one after the other. [And then there is] the Leung King Estate and San Wai Court, all of them built with the levelling of one small mountain, then another small mountain. In that way, with the population reaching a certain size, they built a hospital, they built the Tuen Mun (Castle Peak) Hospital.

【4:00】而家領匯接受咗大部分嘅政府嘅屋邨 | 做咗街市 | 當然除咗有冷氣嘅感覺之外 | 我覺得係冇乜好處好講 | 以前嘅街市呢,係雖然係比較污糟啲、冇冷氣 | 噉但係呢,我哋要買啲乜嘢呢 | 或者街市裏邊邊一檔新鮮,邊一檔夠秤 | 呃,邊一檔嗰啲人士好相遇呢 | 我哋係好清楚嘅 | 以前嗰啲人情味係濃厚啲嘅

● 領匯 lìhng5 wuih6 = ? cf. 領 = to receive + 匯 = money | ● 夠秤 gau3 ching3 = to be of age (lit., “true to scale in weight”) cf. 唔夠秤 m4 gau3 cing3  = underweight  | ● 濃厚 nùhng4 háuh5 = strong; pronounced

Now, the majority of government housing estates have received funding [領匯] to set up [做咗] wet markets. Naturally, apart from air-conditioning, I don’t think there’s much one can say about them. Although the markets of the past were dirtier and did not have air-conditioning, when it came to doing the shopping, we knew exactly which stalls were the freshest [邊一檔新鮮], which ones gave correct weight, and at which ones it was easiest to get on with the staff. In those days, the human feeling was more pronounced.

鍾意,鍾意㗎 | 我好鍾意屯門區

I like it, I do! I am very fond of the Tuen Mun District.

Director: 金川翔 | 翔 chèuhng4 = to circle in the air
Producer: 張庭軒 | 軒 hīn1 = high; lofty
Photography: 金川翔、張庭軒、姚毅榛 | 榛 jēun1 = hazel

Learning Cantonese: A Tuen Mun Love Story . . .

Beyond the Dream is a novel by the Hong Kong writer 蔣曉薇 Jéung2 Híu2 Mèih4. The thing that first got me interested in it was the setting: there aren’t too many books in any language set in the new town of 屯門 Tuen Mun! To me the place evokes a discordant mix: the concrete river channel that splits the town geometrically in two, the massive architecture of the MTR stations, both at Siu Hong and the terminus, the incessant traffic streaming down the vast Tuen Mun road, the shuttling, metal clatter of the light-rail trains, and towering over it all in the distance, the jagged green ridge of the Tsing Shan Mountain (Castle Peak).

In this 4-minute video put together by 文化者 The Culturist and 網上閲讀平台 the SHKP Reading Club, Jeung gives us some insight into the themes of the book, its two main characters, the young woman 葉嵐 Yihp6 Làahm4 (嵐 means “haze; vapour; mist”) and 阿樂 Aa3 Lohk6, and its subsequent transformation into a very successful film. The Chinese title 《幻愛》 is much more interesting than the English version: to me it suggests a kind of hallucinated love, the word echoing 幻想 “fantasy” (literally, “an unreal thinking”) and 幻聽 “hearing voices” (“an unreal hearing”). You can see how it might have defeated even the most determined translator . . .

The Cantonese highlight in this video is an example of the verb 㧬 [ng]úng2 = “push forward with both hands or body” — you don’t hear it that often, so every encounter is a treat! My trusty 《香港粵語大詞典》 gives two examples of its use, 㧬開度門 = to push open the door, and 㧬㧬去 = (roughly) to push and shove one another. Other treats include the word 鎅 gaai3, used both as a verb meaning “to cut” and in the compound noun 鎅刀, a kind of small knife, somewhat like a Stanley knife (at least, in some contexts); 抌 dám2, a verb with a number of meanings including “to throw away (rubbish)”; and the very Cantonese 第時 daih6 sìh4 = “in the future, another day”. Jeung also reads a passage from her novel at the 2-minute mark. Learning to understand Standard Written Chinese read aloud in Cantonese is a real challenge, and any opportunity to work on this (uneasily mastered) skill is worth taking.

You can watch the video here (Chinese subtitles only). If you want to take a look at the (rough in places) transcription, notes and English translation, please scroll down.

And if you would like to take a look at the trailer for the film with English subtitles, you can view that 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. 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.


蔣曉薇:呢個好糾結内心世界係 | 啫,係我去寫嘅時候我自己都覺得痛呀

● 糾結 gáu2 git3 = to entangle; to tangle together; to be in a knot

Jeung Hiu-mei: This tangled-up inner world is one that give me pain myself when I set out to write [about it].

Caption: 幻愛 | 小説作者 | 蔣曉薇 Beyond the Dream | Fiction Writer | Jeung Hiu-mei

我覺得電影其實都係主要係阿樂嘅視點嘅 | 去到我自己作爲創作嘅時候呢 | 我覺得,呃,葉嵐呢個角色呢 | 喺個電影度仲有好多發揮嘅空間 | 可能係因爲自己係女性 [㗎嘛] | 我係好容易去代入到女性嘅角度同埋視點去寫 | 好多時候,葉嵐嘅内心世界 | 佢,佢嘅過去係點樣成長㗎 | 佢同媽媽之間嗰個命運嘅連擊係點樣㗎 | 呢度我係花咗啲心思去,去諗啦,去構思啦【1:00】

● 視點 sih6 dím2 = perspective | ● 發揮嘅空間 faat3 fāi1 ge3 hūng1 gāan1 = (?) room to give free play to | ● 代入 doih6 yahp6 = (?) to put oneself into the shoes of another person | ● 連繫lìhn4 haih6 = (?) connection; link | ● 心思 sām1 sī1 = ① thought; idea ② state of mind; mood | ● 構思 kau3 sī1 = (of a writer) work out the plot of a literary work

It is my feeling that the film is in fact mainly [from] the perspective of Ah Lok. To me, as the creator [去到我自己作爲創作嘅時候呢], I think that in the role of Yip Lam there is still plenty of room in the film for development [發揮嘅空間]. Perhaps because I am a woman too, it is very easy for me to insert myself when I write into a female role and perspective. I spent a lot of time thinking about and plotting Yip Lam’s inner world — what her past was like when she was growing up, and what kind of destiny linked her and her mother together.

噉我記得喺電影裏面呢,有一幕呢,就係 | 葉嵐同阿樂呢,就喺屋企樓下撞到 Uncle Wong | 然後佢哋就觸發咗一個衝突 [喇] | 就係葉嵐,呃,啫,覺得自己好 . . .  [佢] 嘅過去好不濟好不堪 | 佢覺得自己好唔配得,呃,阿樂嘅愛 | 然後佢就㧬咗阿樂出,呃,屋企嘅 | 噉然後葉嵐瞓到半夜嘅時候就扎醒咗 | 然後佢就望住手上面嗰條紅繩 | 就,呃,鎅刀鎅,鎅斷佢 | 然後抌咗落垃圾桶 | 啫,呢一幕,呃,可能係好短 | 大概十秒八秒咁樣呢 | 噉但係,啫,我都要一個,賦予佢一個心理狀態,就係 | 佢做乜醒咗之後係要做呢件事 [嘅] 呢,咁 | 噉我就寫咗喺書裏面嘅【2:00】

● 一幕 yāt1 mohk6 = an act (in a play); perhaps here “a scene (in a film)” | ● 屋企樓下 [ng]ūk1 kéi5*2 làuh4 haah6 = lit. “downstairs of one’s home”, but in the case of a housing estate probably “outside the building one lives in” | ● 撞到 johng6 dóu3*2 = to bump into; to encounter | ● 觸發 jūk1 faat3 = to spark; to trigger | ● 不濟 bāt1 jai3 = useless | ● 不堪 bāt1 hām1 = cannot bear; unbearably; cannot stand; “have had it up to here” | ● 好唔配得阿樂嘅愛 hóu2 mh4 pui3 dāk1 Aa3 Lohk6  ge3 [ng]oi3 = not at all worthy of Ah Lok’s love  | ● 㧬 úng2 = push forward with both hands or body | ● 扎醒 jaat3 séng2 = wake up suddenly; wake up with a start; startle from sleep | ● 紅繩 hùhng4 síng4*2= a red cord/string | ● 鎅刀 gaai3 dōu1 = a knife blade, a razor blade; a paper cutter | ● dám2 = ① beat (with fist); bang; pound ② smash; shatter; stamp (a chop) ③ throw; discard; abandon | ● 賦予 fu3 yúh5 = to bestow on; to endow with; to vest with

I remember that there is a scene in the film in which Yip Lam and Ah Lok bump into Uncle Wong outside the building she lives in [屋企樓下], which sets off conflict between the pair. Yip Lam feels that she is quite . . . // in the past she was both useless and fed up [過去好不濟好不堪]. She felt that she was quite unworthy of Ah Lok’s love for her. After that, she pushes Ah Lok out of her house. After that, she suddenly wakes up at midnight and, seeing the red cord on her wrist, picks up a knife, cuts the cord and throws it in the rubbish bin. This scene may be quite brief, lasting around 8 to 10 seconds, but in it I invest her with [a certain] psychological state. Why it is that she wakes up and does this is something I wrote about in the book.

最教她無法原諒的 | 是母親任憑自己的男朋友 | 隨便進出她們的家裏 | 任由他們隨便在自己女兒的身上摸 | 並沒有及時出來保護她 | 當 Uncle Wong 的事被母親揭發 | 她以爲自己有救了 | 母親卻是狠狠地摑了她一巴掌 | 葉嵐不斷哭著 | 不是,不是這樣的 | 但母親卻不容她解釋 | 直罵她的祖宗 | 罵她的基因 | 罵她生來就注定是個便宜貨 | 她跪在地上看著母親的眼神 | 那裏只有暴戾與嫉妒 | 再沒有關懷、真誠與愛 | 佢諗返呢個過去 | 佢 [都係] 覺得佢無辦法原諒媽媽 | 所以佢就用鎅刀鎅咗嗰條手繩仔 | 媽媽答應佢同佢祈福,就係 | 第時佢哋將來會過好日子嘅一個承諾 【3:00】

● 任憑 yahm6 pàhng4 = at one’s convenience; at one’s discretion | ● 任由 yahm6 yauh4 = to allow sb. free reign; jumping over; ignoring | ● 摑 gwaak3 = to slap; to smack | ● 暴戾 bouh6 leuih6 = ruthless & tyrannical; cruel & fierce | ● 嫉妒 jaht6 dou3 = to be jealous; to envy | ● 第時 daih6 sìh4 = in the future, another day

“What she found most difficult to forgive was that her mother let her boy-friends come and go as they pleased, and put up with their touching her whenever they felt like it, never appearing in time to protect her. When her mother found out about her and Uncle Wong, she thought she would be saved, but instead her mother slapped her hard. Weeping, Yip Lam kept repeating, no, no, it’s not what you think, but her mother had no time for her explanations, cursing her ancestors, her genes, cursing that fact that she gave birth [to a child] who was destined to become cheap goods. She knelt down on the ground and looked into her mother’s eyes, but all she saw there was cruelty and jealousy. There was no more care, sincerity or love.” She thinks back over her past, and also thinks that she cannot forgive her mother. And so, she takes the knife and cuts the cord on her wrist. Her mother accepts Yip Lam’s (?) promise to pray for her, and for a future in which they can live together happily (I am not sure if I have understood this sentence correctly).

好多,呃,影迷係好錫,呃,《幻愛》呢套戯 | 噉啊因爲疫情嘅緣故呢 | 呃,啫,戲院唔開 [喇] | 噉大家得入戲院去支持啦 | 呃,知道大家係好失望啦 | 或者係好著急嘅 | 好想戲院快啲開 | 就繼續可以支持導演 | 支持成個《幻愛》嘅團隊 | 噉嗯噉我諗《幻愛》團隊除咗電影之外 | 都包括,呃,小説創作嘅一部分嘅 | 噉大家都可以,呃,花啲時間去閲讀小説嘅 | 我覺得都係一個,一個思考嚟㗎 | 你睇完之後可以之後將佢 *jeui 同電影做返一個對讀對比 | 都係一個有趣嘅經驗 [呀]

● 影迷 yíng2 màih4 = film fan | ● 緣故 yùhn4 gu3 = cause; reason | ● 著急 jeuhk6 gāp1 = to worry; to feel anxious | ● 導演 douh6 yín2 = ① to direct (a film, a [play, etc.] ② a director | ● 團隊 tyùhn4 déui6*2 = a team; perhaps in this film context, “a crew” | ● 思考 sī1 háau2 = to think deeply; to ponder over; to reflect on | ● 對讀對比deui3 duhk6 deui3 béi2 = (?) to compare and contrast the book with the film

Many film buffs are very fond of the movie Beyond the Dream. Owing to the Covid-19 situation, cinemas are not open. No one can get into a picture theatre to show their support. I know that everyone is very disappointed about this, or worried, and hopes that the cinemas reopen soon so that they can continue to be able to support the director, and support the whole crew of Beyond the Dream. Apart from the film [side of things], I think that the crew for Beyond the Dream also includes the creation of the novel, [so] everyone can spend some time reading the book. My sense is that this reading is also a kind of deep thinking about things. When you’ve finished the novel, you can make a comparison with the film version — another interesting experience.

探訪:張美珠 Jēung1 Méih5 Jyū1  | 攝影、剪接:陳昶達 Chàhn4 Chóng2 Daaht6 (Note: 昶 chóng2 = long day)

Keep a Close Eye (Tuen Mun 屯門)

Here, as a stranger,
I religiously stick to the map,
moving round mountains along dotted path-lines
and through the strict blue mesh of the grids
till I am cast
under the spell
of a simplifying picture.
But contrast with actual places
through the fact of constant contact
gets the better of me, eventually — then,
with the medicinal thickness of soap,
the disinfectant scent of ginger flowers
breaks the chain of my ailing thought and, through a gap
in the mental sentence I dictate myself, the world jumps in. And
I see.

香港屯門屯子圍 Tuen Tsz Wai Village in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong