November 30, 2007

Have You Heard Of ... ?

Here are 2 very useful phrases taken from the Soft-hard video clip in my previous post. The lines appear at -1:47 minute.

You can substitute the subject with anything in the question. You can say "jau5 mo5 teng1 gwo3", then append the subject after it. The reply "so-so" is also very useful. For example, when people compliment you on your Cantonese, you can humbly reply with "maa4 maa2 dei2 laa1".

Note the subject-verb inversion in the answer. It is very common in colloquial Cantonese conversations, but it cannot be used in formal Cantonese, even in speaking.

There is one lazy sound found in the reply. The word '過' should be pronounced as 'gwo3 'instead of 'go3'. Also, the word '佢' (keoi5) at the end is reduced.



Transcript / Jyutping / Transliteration / Translation

(Have)(Not have)(Hear)(Pass)(Wong) 貫中(Kwun-Chung) 呀?
jau5 mou5 teng1 gwo3 wong4 gun3 zung1 aa3
Have you heard of Paul Wong?

(Wong) 貫中(Kwun-Chung)?有(Have),聽(Hear)(Pass)(A bit) 啦。麻麻哋 (So-so) 啦 佢(He)
wong4 gun3 zung1? jau5, teng1 gwo3 haa5 laa1. maa4 maa2 dei2 laa1 keoi5
Paul Wong? Yes. Kind of. So-so.

Useful Vocabulary
Have - (jau5)
Not have - (mou5)
Hear - (teng1)
He/She/It - (keoi5)

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November 29, 2007

Gregory River

Gregory Rivers (河國榮 / ho4 gwok3 wing4) is a Hong Kong actor of Australian heritage. He is well-known to every Hong Kong household.

He moved to Hong Kong in 1987 before finishing his medicine degree at a university in Sydney, Australia. He has been a TVB actor for many year, playing practically every major role in TV dramas which requires a foreign look, such as missionary, French cook, and police department head.

Here is a YouTube video uploaded by Milan. Gregory's Cantonese can be considered as near-native.

Translation / Jyutping / Translation
(Thanks Tom for completing part of the Jyutping and translation)

haa1 lou2, ngo5 hai6 ho4 gwok3 wing4. ngo5 hai6 jat1 go3 ou3 zau1 "gwai2 lou2".
Hello, I am Gregory Rivers. I am an Austrilian "Gweilo".

hai2 hoeng1 gong2 ngo5 dei6 giu3 "gwai2 lou2", jau2 di1 jan4 m4 zung1 ji3 gong2, bat1 gwo3 ngo5 mou5 so2 wai6 ge3.
Here in Hong Kong, we are called ‘Gweilo’. Some don’t like it, but I am ok.

gam2 le1 ngo5 hai2 hoeng1 gong2 yi5 ging1 jau5 sap6 luk6 nin4.
I have lived in Hong Kong for 16 years.

ngo5 hai2 yat1 gau2 baat3 cat1 nin4 ng5 jyut6 saam1 sap6 yat1 hou6 dou3 hoeng1 gong2, gam2 le1 zau6 zyu6 dou3 yi4 gaa1.
I arrived in Hong Kong on 31 May 1987, and I have lived here ever since.

daai6 bou6 fan6 si4 gaan1*3 dou1 hai2 mou4 sin3 din6 si6 paak3 kek6 zaap6 le1,
Most of the time I’ve been acting in TVB drama series,

so2 ji5 ho2 lang4 jau5 hou2 do1 pang4 jau5 le1, dou1 wui6 zi1 dou3 ngo5 hai6 bin1 go3 le1, So I probably have many friends, who will know who I am,

sam3 zi3 jau5 di1 pang4 jau5 tung4 ngo5 gong2 waa6 “hai1, ngo5 hou2 sai3 go3 hou2 zung1 ji3 tai2 lei5 zou6 hei3 aa3″. Even to the point of saying to me “Hi, when I was a kid, I really liked to watch you acting!”

m6, ngo5 zi1 dou3 nin4 gei3 m4 sai3 ge3, bat1 gwo3 m4 gan2 jiu3 ge3 haa2.
Hmm, I know I’m not young but never mind.

kei4 sat6 le1 ngo5 hou2 zung1 ji3 zou6 hei3 laa3, jau6 zung1 ji3 coeng3 go1 laa1,
Actually I like to act and to sing,

gam2 hai2 hoeng1 gong2 ni1 loeng5 joeng6 je5 dou1 jau5 gei1 wui6 zou6 gaa3 laa1,
In Hong Kong I’ve had the opportunity to do both these different things, so I’m very happy.

jau4 kei4 jyu4 gwo2 hai6 hou2 ci5 “dang6 lai6 gwan1 mou5 toi4 kek6″ laa1, waak6 ze2 hai6 “soeng6 hoi2 zi1 je6 mou5 toi4 kek6″ laa1,
Especially if it is like “Teresa Teng stage play” or “Shanghai Blues” stage play,

dou1 hai6 jau5 dak1 zou6 gaa3 laa3, dou1 hai6 hoi1 sam1 ge3.
I’ve been able to do both and was very happy to do so.

gam2 le1 zau6 jau5 di1 din6 jing2 dou1 paak3 zo2 laa1: “biu2 ze2 nei5 hou2 je5″ laa1, “ngo5 si6 jat1 go3 caak6″ laa1, jau5 ling6 ngoi6 loeng5 saam1 go3 dou1 paak3 zo3. Then there are some movies I’ve acted in: “Her Fatal Ways”, “Legendary Couple” and two or three others.

gam2 gaan1*3 m4 zung1 wui5 bong1 jan4 pui3 jam1, zau6 hou2 ci5 wong4 man5 dak1.
Sometimes I’ll do a voiceover for someone, for example for (Michael) Wong Man Tak.

wong4 man5 dak1 hou2 leng3 zai2 laa1, bat1 gwo3 keoi5 jau5 si4 ni1 zau6 hou2 mong4 aa1, gam2 mei1 bong1 keoi5 pui3 faan1 jam1 aa1.
Wong Man Tak is very handsome, however sometimes he is very busy, thus has no time to do the voiceover, so I help to provide the voiceover.

waak6 ze2 gaan1*3 m4 zung1 ne1 zau6 bong1 jan4 pui3 faan1 gwok3 jyu5 jam1 aa1, jan1 wai6 jyu4 gwo2 jiu3 pui3 faan1 jat1 go3 gwai2 lou2 aa1, Sometimes I do voiceovers for people in mandarin, because if I need to dub a gwailo,

gam2 keoi5 jyun4 bun2 hai6 gong2 jing1 man4 ge3, waak6 ze2 gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa6*2 le1, gam2 zau6 bong1 keoi5 pui3 faan1 gwok3 jyu5 ge3. He originally spoke in english or cantonese, then I help to dub into mandarin.

gam2 le1 zeong1 loi4 ngo5 kei4 sat4 le1 jan1 wai4 ngo5 hai6 zung1 ji3 jam1 ngok6, jau6 zung1 ji3 zou6 hei3 le1, In the future, because I like music and acting,

so2 ji5 ngo5 dou1 hei1 mong6 le1, zau6 wui5 lei4 gan2 jau5 jat1 go3 jit6 ciu4 le1, zau6 hai6 go1 mou5 toi4 kek6 ge3. I hope it will be a hit, that is a musical.

mou4 leon6 hai6 mou5 toi4 soeng6 bin6 le1 waak6 je2 hai6 din6 jing2 leoi5 bin6, hou2 ci5 ngaam1 ngaam1 ceot1 zo2 “zi1 gaa1 go1″ ni1 go3 din6 jing2 ge3, Whether it is on a stage or in a movie, like the recently released “Chicago”,

ngo5 dou1 hei1 mong6 jyut6 lai4 jyut6 do1 ni1 di1 je5 le1.
I also hope there are more and more of these things.

gam2 hei1 mong6 ngo5 zi6 gei2 dou1 hai6 jau5 gei1 wui6 caam1 jyu6 jin2 ceot1,
I hope I will get the opportunity myself to take part in a stage play,

jan1 wai6 loeng5 jeong6 je5, jam1 ngok6 tung4 maai4 zou6 hei3, tung4 maai4 jin6 coeng4 gun1 zung3, Because these different things, music and acting, and in front of an audience,

jyu4 gwo2 hai6 mou5 toi4 soeng6 bin6 le1, jin6 coeng4 gun1 zung3 dou1 jau5 le1, gam2 zau6 gang2 hai6 hou2 hoi1 sam. baai3*1 baai3! If it is on a stage, it has an audience, so then of course I’m very happy. Bye bye!

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November 28, 2007

Weather Reports

Listening to weather reports could be boring. But there is one good thing for the learners. The vocabulary is small and after a while, you should be able to understand basically most of what is being said. You would also need to be good at numbers.

My all-time favourite catch-all phrase is: "Except for regional rain, it is going to be sunny".

Transcript / Jyutping / Translation

... 天氣情況
tin1 hei3 cing4 fong3
... the weather

tin1 man4 toi4 jyu6 caak1 gam1 jat6 hai6 tin1 cing4 gon1 zou3 ga3
The weather observatory forecasts today is going to be clear and dry

ceoi1 wo4 wun6 ge3 dung1 zi3 tung1 pak1 fung1
With mild east to north-east wind

lei4 ngon6 hoi2 wik6 fung1 sai3 gaan3 zung1 cing1 ging6
Offshore wind is sometimes strong

Zin2 mong6 sing1 kei4 jat6 daai6 zi3 tin1 cing4
Overall outlook of Sunday is clear

ceoi4 hou6 gei2 jat6 fung1 sai3 po2 daai6 tung4 maai4 jau5 jyu5 gaa3
There will be strong wing and rain in the following few days

ji4 gaa1 hai6 saam1 sap6 dou6, soeng1 deoi3 sap1 dou6 hai6 baak3 fan6 zi1 luk6 sap6 gau5
It 30 degree (Celsius) now. Relative humidity is 69%

san1 man4 si4 gaan3 gau3 laak3, baai1 baai3
Time is up for the news. Bye!

tai2 faan1 tin1 hei3 fong1 min6
Let's look at the weather

tin1 man4 toi4 jyu6 cak1 daai6 zi3 hai6 tin1 cing4 ge3
The weather observatory forecasts it's going to be clear overall

gam2 ting1 jat6 saau2 hau6 guk6 bou6 dei6 keoi1 jau5 zaau6 jyu5
Tomorrow there will be regional rain

hei3 wan1 hai6 gaai3 fu4 jaa6 luk6 zi3 dou3 saam1 sap6 jat1 dou6
The temperature is between 26 and 31 degree (Celsius)

ceoi1 wo4 wun6 zi3 cing1 ging6 ge3 dung1 zi3 dung1 baak1 fung1
With mild to strong east to north-east wind

saau2 hau6 lei4 ngon6 hoi2 wik6 gaan3 zung1 ceoi1 koeng4 fung1
Later, there will be occasional strong offshore wild

zin2 mong6 ceoi4 hau6 gei2 jat6 fung1 sai3 po2 daai6 tung4 maai4 jau5 jyu5
Outlook for the next few days, the wind will be quite strong and it will rain

ji4 gaa1 hai6 jaa6 gau2 dou6, soeng1 deoi3 sap1 dou6 hai6 baak3 fan6 zi1 cat1 sap6 jat1
It is 29 degree now, relative humidity is 71%

ngo5 dei6 tai2 haa5 fan1 keoi1 hei3 wan1 a1
Let's look at the regional temperature

ni1 jat1 zit3 san1 man4 dou3 ni1 jat1 dou6, zoi3 gin3
That's it for the news. Good-bye

Useful Vocabulary

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November 27, 2007

Rich Couple

This is a good one for tone-drilling. It contains all the 6 tones of Cantonese.

Transcript (Transliteration) / Jyutping / Translation

富(Rich) 夫(Husband) 婦(Wife) 扶(Carry) 父(Father) 赴(Attend) 苻(Fu) 府 (Home)
fu3 fu1 fu5 fu4 fu6 fu6 fu4 fu2
A rich couple carries their father to the Fu's.

A tip to practise this one is to divide the sentence into: 富夫婦, 扶父赴苻, and 府. Practise the first and second parts separately until you get them perfect. Then concatenate them together and add the last word at the end. Notice the second part is reflexive (fu4 fu6 fu6 fu4), so you just need to say 'fu4 fu6' then say it backward.

Variations of this tongue-twister include the followings:

  1. 富婦扶夫赴傅府
    fu3 fu5 fu4 fu1 fu6 fu6 fu2
    A rich woman carried her husband to the Fu's.
  2. 傅婦扶夫赴富府
    fu6 fu5 fu4 fu1 fu6 fu3 fu2
    Mrs Fu carried her husband to a rich home.

Read more ...

November 26, 2007

Lazy Pronunciations

Lazy pronunciations (or lazy sounds / 懶音) are the "left-over" phonetic traits from childhood for some native-speakers. Some sounds are difficult to pronounce for a child and they are replaced by similar sounds which would take less effort to pronounce (hence, lazy).

As the child grows older and her linguistic ability has developed better, the lazy-sounds will be replaced by the correct sounds. The correction sometimes happens naturally (under peer-group pressure perhaps), and sometimes requires guidance (or force) from the adults.

Unfortunately, this process might not happen to some people, for many different reasons. This is why when people speak with lazy sounds, they sound like a child.

Common categories of lazy sounds include:

  1. 'n' initial replaced by 'l'.
    E.g., 男 (man) - naam4 becomes laam4
  2. 'gw' and 'kw' initials reduced to 'g' and 'k'.
    E.g., 過 (pass) - gwo3 becomes go3
  3. 'ng' initial disappears.
    E.g. 我 (I) - ngo5 becomes o5
  4. 'ng' final replaced by 'n'.
    E.g. 講 (talk) - gong2 becomes gon2
  5. 'k' and 't finals confusion.
    E.g. 塞 (block) - sak1 becomes sat1
  6. 'ng' final replaced by 'm'.
    E.g. 五 (five) - ng5 becomes m5
In recent years, many young pop-stars suffer seriously from lazy pronunciations and this seems alright, if not trendy. As a result, many youngsters follow them. This was certainly not the case in the past, when lazy pronunciations were less tolerated. I still remember when I was a kid, a children TV program was launched for only a week or so, and one of the hosts got replaced. The reason? Many parents complained that she spoke with lazy sounds.

Here is a video clip of Professor Au-Yeung (a.k.a the handsome professor) appearing in a Cantonese language forum. He demonstrates throughout his speech the lazy pronunciation of the word 我 (I) in which the 'ng' initial is eliminated. One noticeable instance is at 1:07 (-4:38) minute .

Read more ...

November 25, 2007

The Pronunciation Awareness Series

A Cantonese speaker may mispronounce a word in 3 different ways. He could mix it up with a similar word, which often looks like the original word. This is known as mispronunciation (誤讀). It could be a lazy sound (懶音), or in some cases, a weird sound proposed by the "Proper Cantonese Pronunciation Movement" (粵語正音運動).

For examples:

  1. Mispronunciation
    重蹈覆轍 - [cung4 dou6 fuk1 cit3] becomes [cung tou1 fuk1 cit3]. The reader confuses the sound of 蹈 with that of 滔.
  2. Lazy sound
    朋友 - [pang4 jau5] becomes [pan4 jau5]. The 'ng' is reduced to 'n'.
  3. Weird / Evil sound
    機構 - [gei1 kou3] becomes [gei1 gou3]. A small group of people has been proposing the latter sound over the former one, which has been used by our parents and grandparents for decades, if not centuries.
We have to be very careful to separate lazy sounds with sounds condemned by the "Proper Cantonese Pronunciation Movement", but are in fact correct. It is very unfortunate that they are often mixed together when people talk about proper Cantonese pronunciation. The Proper Cantonese Pronunciation movement is a controversial topic, but lazy sounds are something definitely incorrect, and we should get rid of them completely.

In this series, I will talk about the lazy sounds and 'weird' sounds proposed by the "Proper Cantonese Pronunciation Movement". The objective of the series is to raise awareness of these two issues to the native-speakers.

Read more ...

November 24, 2007

Steve Kaufmann

Steve Kaufmann is a Canadian diplomat-turned-businessman. He did not speak a second language until he was 17-years old. Now at the age of over 60, he can speak 10 languages fluently, and he is still picking up some new ones. Steve's philosophy on language learning very much contrasts the traditional classroom-based methodology. He has converted his ideas into implementation with his brainchild - the LingQ system.

At the time of writing, LingQ is only available for several European languages and Japanese. Cantonese and other Asian languages will hopefully become available some time in the year of 2008.

Steve shares a lot of his opinions and ideas on language learning on his blog. Here are some key concepts in Steve's approach to language learning:

  1. Seek ways to make the process of language learning enjoyable
  2. Focus on listening and reading. Speaking and writing will come naturally
  3. Detailed grammar explanations are futile
  4. Forget about tests and homeworks
  5. Grow your vocabulary. This is the key to success
Steve learnt Cantonese at the age of 53. He only took about 6 months to reach a satisfactory level of fluency, partly thanks to his solid Mandarin foundation. He rarely speaks the language today. Earlier this week, he was gracious enough to make a short video clip in Cantonese at my request. In the clip, he talked about some important aspects of language learning.

Transcript / Jyutping / Translation

gam2 ngo5 si3 haa5 laa1 jung6 gwong2 dung1 waa2 laa1 gong2 haa5
Let me try to speak in Cantonese about

ngo5 deoi3 jyu1 hok6 zaap6 jyu5 jin4 ge3 nei1 go3 tai2 faat3 laa1
My opinion in language learning

ngo5 gok3 dak1 ne1 hok6 jyu5 jin4 ne1,zeoi3 gan2 jiu3 ne1 hai6 jiu3 jau5 lok6 ceoi3
I think when learning a language, the most important thing is to have fun

zik1 hai6 jiu4 jau5 ji3 si1,dim2 gaai2 ne1?
Have meaning. Why?

jan1 wai6 nei5 zou6 jam6 ho4 (jam6 ho4) si6 gin2 ne1
Because when you do anything

jyu4 gwo2 nei5 ho2 ji5 zik1 hai6 zung1 ji3 ne1
If you can love it

nei5 zau6 wui5 jung6 gang3 do1 ge3 si4 gaan3 zou6 ni1 di1 je5 laa3
You will spend more time doing it

so2 ji5 jyu4 gwo2 hai6 nei5,nei5 hok6 zaap6 jyu5 jin4 ge3 fong1 faat3 hai6 hou2 (hou2) ma4 faan4
So if it is you, your language learning method is very tedious

hou2 tou2 jim3 ne1,nei5 jau6 m4 zung1 ji3 zou6 ge3
Very annoying, and you don't like to do it

hou2 ci5 pou2 tung1 hai2 hok6 haau6 go2 dou6 keoi5 dei6 gaau3 jyu5 jin4 go2 go3 fong1 faat3 ne1
Just like normally at school, their methods of teaching languages

hai6 do1 sou3 di1 jan4 m4 hai6 gei2 zung1 ji3 gaa3
Many people don't like them very much

so2 ji5 keoi5 m4 jyun6 ji3,keoi5 m4 soeng2 hok6
So they don't want to learn

so2 ji5 ceoi4 zo2 hai6 (hai6) soeng5 fo3 ge3 si4 hau6 ji5 ngoi6 ne1
So outside the classes

zau6 mat1 dou1 m4 zou6 laa3
They won't do anything

soeng5 hok6 haau6 ne1 waak6 ze2 hai6 min5 koeng5 laa1
At school, perhaps they will try

joek6 gwo2 hai6 tung4 kei4 ta1 di1 hok6 saang1 hai2 jat1 cai4 ne1
If they are with other students

mai6 jiu3 heoi3 ceot1 siu2 siu2 ne1 go3 lik6 heoi3 (heoi3) si3 haak5 laa1
They might spend a little bit of effort trying

bat1 gwo3 ne1 jat1 faan2 uk1 kei5 ne1 jau6 mat1 dou1 m4 zou6 laa1
But when they get home, they won't do a thing

do1 sou3 di1 hok6 jyu5 jin4 di1 jan4 dou1 hai6 gam2 joeng2 gaa3 laa3
Most language learners are like that

faan1 uk1 kei2 mat1 dou1 m4 zou6
They don't do a thing at home

bat1 gwo3 ngo5 ge3 ging1 jim6 zau6 hai6 zan1 ge3
But from my experience, which is real

ngo5 hai6 soeng5 hok6 haau6 ge3 si4 hau6 zau6 hai6 m4 zung6 jiu3 gaa3
I don't consider the time at school important

ngo5 faan2 uk1 kei5 ge3 si4 hau6 zau6 zung6 jiu3 laa3
My time at home is important

ngo5 faan2 uk1 kei5 a3 jung6 gei2 do1 si4 gaan1 ne1 tai2 syu1 laa1
At home, I spend a lot of time reading books

teng1 ni1 go3 luk6 jam1 gei1 laa1
Listening to the recorder

ni1 di1 je5 ne1 hai6 zeoi3 wui5 jing2 hoeng2 dou2 ngo5 nam2
These things determine, I think

zau6 hai6 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 heoi3 hok6 zaap6 jyu5 jin4
if I can carry on learning

so2 ji5 ngo5 wa6 ne1 dim2 joeng6 ho2 ji5
So, I would say, how

m4 hai6 wa6 jiu3 bik1 jan4 dei6 hok6
Not to force people to learn

dim2 joeng6 ho2 ji5 gu2 lai6 jan4 dei6 heoi3 hok6 jyu5 jin4 ne1
But to encourage them to learn languages

zau6 jiu3 (jiu3) zing2 dak1 hou2 waan2, jau5 lok6 ceoi3 gaa3
Is to make it fun, enjoyable

so2 ji5 ne1 ngo5 gok3 dak1 deoi3 jyu1 gaau3 jyu5 jin4 di1 jan4 ne1
So I think for the language teachers

dim2 joeng6 ho2 ji5 ci3 gik1 jan4 dei6
How to stimulate others

dim2 joeng6 ho2 ji5 bong1 keoi5 dei6 gok3 dak1 jau5 lok6 ceoi3 laa1
How to help them feel the fun

n11 go3 hai6 zeoi3 zung6 jiu3 ga3
This is the most important

jyu4 gwo2 nei5 ho2 ji5 gam2 joeng2 gu2 lai6 jan4 dei6
If you can encourage people this way

zik1 hai6 zing2 dou3 keoi5 dei6 zi6 gei2 gok3 dak1 hou2 jau5 hing3 ceoi3,hou2 jau5 lok6 ceoi3 ne1
Make it so that they can feel by themselves, it is very interesting, very enjoyable

keoi5 dei6 wui5 zi6 gei2 heoi3 hok6
They will learn by themselves

gam2 ne1 keoi5 dei6 wui5 jung6 hou2 do1 si4 gaan3 teng1 ni1 go3 jyu5 jin4
They will spend a lot of time listening to the language

tai2 syu1 laa1,tai2 ni1 go3 jyu5 jin4
Reading books, reading the language

heoi3 jung6 ni1 go3 jyu5 jin4 tung4 jan4 gong2 je5 aa1
Talking to people using the language

so2 ji5 m4 hai6 kei4 ta1,m4 hai6 ni1 go3 me1 je5 man4 faat3 laa1
So it is nothing else, not the grammar

唔係呢啲Drills, exercises
m4 hai6 n11 di1 Drills Exercises
Not the drills or exercises

m4 hai6 ni1 di1 je5 laa3
Not all these things

zik1 hai6 dim2 joeng2 ho2 ji5 bong1 go2 go3 hok6 saang1
How to help the students

waak6 ze2 jyu4 gwo2 nei5 hai6 zi6 gei2 hai6 hok6 zaap6 jyu5 jin4
Or if you are learning by yourself

nei5 dim2 joeng2 ho2 ji5 zik1 hai6 wan2 go2 go3 (gok3 dak1) nei5 gok3 dak1
How you can find what you feel are

jau5 ji3 si1,jau5 lok6 ceoi3 ge3 hok6 zaap6 ge3 baan6 faat3
Methods that are meaningful and enjoyable

ni1 go3 hai6 zeoi3 zung6 jiu3 ga3
This is the most important thing

hou2,gam2 ne1,hai6 gam3 do1 laa1
Ok, so that is it.

Read more ...

The Success Stories Series

Many people would agree that motivation is the most crucial factor for a successful language acquisition. Keeping ourselves motivated is probably one of the hardest things to do during our language learning journey.

I am always inspired and motivated when I watch or listen to successful people, those who have gone through all the pains and have eventually reached their goals. Listening to successful language learners also give me the sense that I can do it, because they can do it, and they have done it already.

In this series, I will collect audio or video clips from people who have made certain levels of achievement in acquiring the Cantonese language. This series is for all levels of Cantonese lovers, both learners and native speakers.

Read more ...

November 23, 2007

The Bus Uncle

Today's clip comes from the famous (or infamous) viral video, "The Bus Uncle" (巴士阿叔/baa1 si2 aa3 suk1). You can find the whole video here (viewer discretion is advised).

The Bus Uncle has one good thing for Cantonese learners. He has a strong and clear voice. On the contrary, the young fellow's voice is barely audible.

The following lines are taken from somewhere toward the beginning. There is no swear word or obscene language.



Transcript / Jyutping / Transliteration / Translation

(I) (Not) (Know) (You),你(You) (Not) (Know) (I)
ngo5 m4 sik1 nei5, nei5 m4 sik1 ngo5
I don't know you, you don't know me

點解(Why) (You) (Need) 咁樣(Like this) (Do)
dim2 gaai2 nei5 jiu3 gam2 joeng2 zou6?
Why should you do that?

點解(Why) (You) (Need) (This) (Do) 吖?
dim2 gaai2 nei5 jiu3 gam2 zou6 aa1?
Why should you do that?

(Hei) ,每個(Every) (Man) (In) 社會(Society) (Have) 壓力(Pressure)
wai3,mui5 go3 jan4 hai2 se5 wui2 jau5 aat3 lik6
Hey, everyone in our society has pressure

(You) 依家(Now) (You)(Do) (Some) (Not) 公平(Fair) 嘅嘢(Thing)
nei5 ji1 gaa1 nei5 zou6 di1 m4 gung1 ping4 ge3 je5
You are now doing something unfair

(I) (Am)(Am not) (Need) (And) (You) 傾偈(Chat) 呀?
ngo5 hai6 mai6 jiu3 tung4 nei5 king1 gai2 aa3?
Should I have some words with you?

Useful Vocabulary
I - (ngo5)
You - (nei5)
Not - (m4)
Know - (sik1)
Why - 點解 (dim2 gaai2)

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The Lento Series

Many language learners eagerly wait for the day to come, when they can understand real-life conversations in their target languages. But the conversations usually go so fast that they cannot understand even a single sentence. Meanwhile, they are stuck with listening to boring, artificial, fake situational dialogues made up just for them at their speed.

It does not have to be that miserable!

In this series, I am going to extract some real-life Cantonese contents. I will provide 2 versions in audio format: one at normal speed, and one at half the speed (with preserved pitch so it won't sound like a broken record). I will also provide the transcript, Jyutping, translation, and possibly transliteration as well.

This series is designed for novice to work on their listening skills. At the same time, intermediate learners can practice speaking over the audio.

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November 22, 2007

Green Dragons on the Mountain

An absolutely hilarious clip from Soft-Hard. Another masterpiece!


nei5 dei6 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 gaai3 siu6 haa5 zi6 gei2 aa3
Would you like to introduce yourselves?

ngo5 dei6 hai6 hoeng1 gong2 hai2 dei6 haa6 ngok6 taan4 leoi5 min6 ge3 jat1 deoi6 zou2 hap6
We are an underground band from the Hong Kong

ngo5 dei6 hai6 gou1 saan1 cing1 lung4
We are the "Green Dragons on the Mountain"!

jau5 me1 je5 man6 aa3
What do you want to know?

nei5 dei6 deoi3 hoeng1 gong2 ngok6 taan4 jau5 me1 je5 tai2 faat3 aa3
What do you think about the Hong Kong music industry?

hai2 hoeng gong2 gaau2 jam1 ngok6 le1 mou5 mat1 hei1 mong6 gaa3
There is not much hope in the Hong Kong music industry

hai2 hoeng gong2 gaau2 jam1 ngok6 wan2 m4 wan2 dou2 cin2 gaa3
Can one really make money in the Hong Kong music industry

wan2 m4 dou2 cin2 gaa3 lo1, bin1 dou6 wan2 dou2 sik6 gaa3 ze1
Not at all. How can you make money?

kei4 sat6 ngo5 dei6 zou6 jam1 ngok6 m4 hai6 (m4 hai6) lam2 zyu6 wan2 cin2 go3 wo3
In fact, we are not in for the money

zou6 Band zai2 ge3 sang1 wut6 hai6 dim2 gaa3
What is it like to be in a band?

fong3 zo2 gung1 zi1 hau6 gaap3 Band bei2 gaau3 san1 fu2 di1, jiu3 faan1 heoi3 wun6 saam1
It is tough. After work, we have to go home and get changed.

gou1 saan1 jau5 tiu4 cing1 lung4 ah ah ah
"There is a dragon on the mountain, ah ... ah ... ah ..."

「Eoi!」 「Eoi!」 「Eoi!」
"Eoi!" "Eoi!" "Eoi!"

gou1 saan1 jau5 tiu4 cing1 lung4 ah ah ah
"There is a dragon on the mountain, ah ... ah ... ah ..."

Thank you! Thank you!
Thank you! Thank you!

jau5 mou5 teng1 gwo3 wong4 gun3 zung1 aa3
Have you heard of Paul Wong?

wong4 gun3 zung1? jau5, teng1 gwo3 haa5 laa1. maa4 maa2 dei2 laa1 keoi5
Paul Wong? Yes. Kind of. So-so.

ngo5 gei2 Miss keoi5 go2 zan6 si2 coeng4 tau4 faat3 gaa3
I miss the time when he had long hair

ze1 mou5 aa3, wong4 gun3 zung1 keoi5 lei1 di1 zing6 hai6 sik1 zok3 kuk1 aa3, tin4 ci4 aa3, gaam1 zai3 aa3, pin1 haa2 kuk1 aa3 gam2 joeng2 jeong2, mou5 me1 je5 gaa3, jau5 me1 je5 lek1 ze1 keoi5
Paul Wong only knows composing, lyrics, directing, arranging. Nothing much. What good has he?

jau6 m4 sik1 gong2 je5, jau6 m4 sik1 zou6 jan4
He doesn't know how to talk. He doesn't know how to behave.

tiu3 mou5 jau6 m4 sik1 tiu3, zing6 hai6 sik1 waan2 jam1 ngok6
He doesn't know how to dance. He only knows how to play music!

wong4 gun3 zung1 di1 go1 jau6 m4 gau3 king1
Paul Wong's songs are not 'king' enough

oi3 dak1 tai3 ji6, oi3 dak1 tai3 ci4, zi2 caa1 jat1 miu5 sam1 sing1 dou1 ji5 bin3 lik6 si2
"In love too easy. In love too late. Only a split second, the inner voice becomes history"

jan3 zoeng6 zeoi3 sam1 haak1 wong4 gun3 zung1 ge3 jat1 sau2 go1
Which one of Paul Wong's songs impresses us the most?

hou2 hing1 dai6, cin4 si6 bat1 tai4, seoi4 mut6 jau5 jat1 hei2 coeng2 gwo3 wun6 geoi6 zaang1 dang3 zai2
"Good brothers, don't mention the past. Who had not fought for the toys and chairs?"

deoi3 wong4 gun3 zung1 jau5 me1 je5 tai2 faat3 aa3
What do you think about Paul Wong?

wong4 gun3 zung1, m4 waan2 jam1 ngok6 zung6 sik1 waan2 me1 je5 aa1, m4 tung1 waan2 gau2 me1? waan2 baau2 keoi5 aa1
Paul Wong? What else can he play besides music? Play with a dog? Have fun with it!

「Bum Bum Ba ... 」
"Bum Bum Ba ... "

「(Ji Ji Ja ...) 快啲比我滾吖」
Ji Ji Ja faai3 di1 bei2 ngo5 gwan2 aa1
"Ji Ji Ja ... let me go and roll"

「Bum Bum Ba ... Ji Ji Ja ...」
"Bum Bum Ba ... Ji Ji Ja ..."

「We will we will rock you ... rock you ... rock rock you ... rock you ... rock rock you」
"We will we will rock you ... rock you ... rock rock you ... rock you ... rock rock you"

(國語) 「東方一條龍,我要黃貫中」
(Mandarin) "A dragon in the East. I want Paul Wong"

Eoi! Eoi!
Eoi! Eoi!

Thank you!
Thank you!

Useful Vocabulary

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November 21, 2007

The Entertainment Series

All of the people I know who have learnt Cantonese have one learning activity in common. They watch HK movies, TV series, and listen to HK-Pop extensively.

The HK entertainment industry have had its glorious days in the past. It has been going down-hill since the late 90's. Yet, it has helped a lot of Cantonese learners throughout the decades.

In this series, I am going to provide transcripts for video and audio clips from materials related to HK entertainment industry. I have graded this series as advanced, so I will not always provide Jyutping or translation. Readers are encouraged to do the exercise themselves. I hope this series will turn out to be more interesting than the materials found in the language text books.

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November 20, 2007

Batman Filming

This is taken from an RTHK news clip dated on 9 November 2007.


din6 jing2 pin1 fuk1 hap6 haak1 je6 zi1 san4 haa6 zau3 loeng2 dim2 gei2
The film "Batman - The Dark Knight" at around 2'o clock in the afternoon

hai2 zung1 waan4 baai2 fa1 gaai1 hang4 yan4 tin1 kiu4 paak3 sip3
Carried out its shooting on a pedestrian over-pass on Lyndhurst Terrance in Central.

san1 cyun1 sam1 laam4 sik1 sai1 zong1 ge3 zyu2 gok3 gei1 si1 deon6 bei2 ji5
Wearing a dark blue suit, the main character Christian Bale

hai2 hang4 yan4 tin1 kiu4 soeng6 baan6 jin2 jat1 ming4 jau4 haak3
Was on the over-pass, acting as a tourist

sau2 ci4 soeng2 gei1 paak3 sip3 zung1 waan4 gaai1 ging2
Holding a camera, shooting the street sceneries of Central.

koe2 hai2 tin1 kiu4 soeng6 min6 tong4 ling6 jat1 ming4 jin2 jyun4 mo1 gan1 fai3 maan4 gau1 taam4
He talked with another actor Morgan Freeman on the bridge.

loeng5 jan4 zi1 hau6 fan1 tau4 lei4 hoi1
The two departed separately afterwards

ji4 hai2 tin1 kiu4 haa6 bin6 ge3 baai2 fa1 gaai1
Below the bridge on Lyndhurst Terrance

jau5 gei2 baak3 ming4 si5 man4 tung4 maai4 jing2 mai4 hai2 dou6 wai4 gun1
There were hundreds of people and fans were watching

bat1 gwo3 jau5 si5 man4 hai2 paak3 sip3 kei4 gaan1 jung6 sim2 gwong1 dang1 jing2 soeng2
However there were people taking pictures with flash on during the shooting

jiu3 gung1 zok3 jan4 jyun4 hyun3 zi2
They needed to be stopped by the shooting-crew

wai6 zo2 fong1 bin6 paak3 sip3
To facilitate the shooting

jau5 gwaan1 fong1 min6 zoeng1 jat1 dyun6 bun3 saan1 hang4 jan4 tin1 kiu4 fung1 bai3
The authority closed part of the pedestrian over-pass system below the Peak

hang4 jan4 jiu3 jiu2 lou6 ji4 hang4
Pedestrians had to make a detour

ging2 fong1 tung4 maai4 din6 jing2 ge3 gong1 zok3 jan4 jyun4
The police and the shooting crew

zau6 mong4 ju1 zi2 fai1 gaau1 tung1 tung4 maai4 hang4 jan4
Were busily directing the traffic and the pedestrians

Useful Vocabulary

  1. 行人
  2. 天橋
  3. 拍攝
  4. 工作人員
  5. 市民

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November 19, 2007

The News Series

Many language learners like listening to news in their targeted languages. I also like this approach because:

  1. news are real-life authentic contents, unlike made-up scenarios created for learners
  2. news are usually read at normal pace with clear pronunciations of the words
  3. news reports contain virtually no slang
  4. the news contents are generally predictable, if you know what is going on around you
  5. news vocabulary is usually concentrated in the sense that same words and phrases are used repeatedly from time to time
There are however some disadvantages. The vocabulary used in news reports is usually not very practical for daily use. For Cantonese in particular, the news reports are usually written in standard Chinese, then are read in the colloquial Cantonese style (e.g. with ending particles added). You would sound weird if you speak to native-speakers like a news-anchor.

With the popularity of online news and media-sharing services, it is becoming much easier to access news materials in any language. However, transcripts of the new reports are very difficult to find, especially for Cantonese. In this series, I will try to pull Cantonese news reports from different sources and provide transcripts for them.

Transcribing is a tedious and time-consuming task, so I cannot promise I will provide Jyutping and translation every time. But I encourage learners to utilize the online tools such as CantoDict to look them up. It is certainly a useful and rewarding exercise to go through.

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November 18, 2007

Emergency Button


This is probably the most famous Cantonese tongue-twister. But still, many native speakers find it challenging. In fact, many stumble on it.

Translation: Enter the laboratory and press the emergency button
Transliteration: Enter (入) Experiment (實驗) Room (室) Press (撳) Urgent (緊急) Button (掣)
Jyutping: jap6 sat6 jim6 sat1 gam6 gan2 gap1 zai3

A practicing tip is to pay attention to the alternating pattern of the words with bilabial (blue) and non-bilabial finals. The words 入 (jap6), (驗) jim6, (撳)gam6, and (急) gap1 require your lips to touch each other at the end of the sound, whereas the rest require them not to touch each other. So when you say the whole phrase, your should be alternating between opening and closing your mouth.

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November 17, 2007

The Tongue-Twisters Series

Tongue-twisters (急口令/gap1 hau2 ling6) are something absolutely fascinating, both to the native-speakers and language learners. They are challenging and at the same time they help learners to distinguish among similar phonemes of a language.

A typical tongue-twister should only take a few days to master, if you aim to speak it at a moderate speed. If you already know the pronunciation of the individual words, it should take no more than a day.

In this series, I will present some famous Cantonese tongue-twisters, together with the audio demonstrations and practicing tips.

Tongues-twisters are easy to learn, but also easy to forget. Remember to practice them from time to time.

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November 16, 2007

Orientation Package

For those who want to learn Cantonese, this is how you should start.

No, I am not going to teach Cantonese in this blog (well, at least not in the traditional way). There are so many wonderful resources out there on the Internet. Why would I want to waste my time reinventing the wheel?

Instead, I am going to give you an orientation package. Yes, it is just like the one new hires would receive on day 1 when working in a large company. The package will show you the ropes (or pointers to the ropes). Then you will be on your own.

3 things to setup in your web-browser

  1. Bookmark the Cantonese sounds database. Don't worry if you don't know how to use it now.
  2. Bookmark the MDBG Javascript-based Chinese typing interface.
  3. Setup the CantoDict Firefox plugin by following these steps. IE users, get Firefox now!
3 things to pick up ASAP
  1. Learn a Cantonese romanization system. I personally recommend Jyutping.
  2. Get familiar with the 6 Cantonese tones. There are tons of resources out there on the Internet. Skip over those materials which tell you Cantonese has 9 tones. Pick the ones with audio demonstrations. This one has a nice diagram. This one has good audio.
  3. Start learning some basic phrases. Here is a good link.
1 support group to join
  1. Cantonese Learning and Discussion Forums
I believe the most efficient way to learn a language is to have the learners to take control themselves. The teacher should only play the role of a mentor. Remember, you are responsible for your own learning!

(This post is subjected to update. Last modified: 14 Dec 2007)

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November 15, 2007

Becoming a Cantophile

If you have come to this blog, chances are that you are interested in the Cantonese language, or you are interested in knowing more about the language. In other words, you are either a Cantophile, or on your way in becoming one.

I had never loved the Cantonese language in the past. I did not hate it, but I simply was not very fond of it. Still, it is my native-tongue.

It was some time towards the end of the year 2006 when I first visited the Cantonese language forums. There I met many people who were desperate learners of the language. They loved the language so much. They were no doubt 'Cantophiles'.

In the few months that followed, I hanged around in the forums and tried to help out in answering questions posted by the learners. I began to love the language more. I also began to cultivate the desire to promote the language.

It has been almost a year since I first thought about promoting the language. I have finally decided to start doing something now. I have created this blog.

It is therefore my sincere wish that the readers of this blog would start loving the Cantonese language. I hope they will become Cantophiles one day. If nothing else, this is going to be the ultimate purpose of this blog.

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