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)


Chris said...

Amazing blog Edwin, I am sure it will help me a lot. I tried speak a few basic Cantonese phrases last night in a restuarant, it was fun (but basic) luckily the lady spoke Mandarin also.

In the UK the 'new wave' of Chinese that come from Cantonese speaking areas are usually also confident in Mandarin but seem to enjoy helping people like me with Cantonese, the older first generation or second generation that only speak Cantonese don't appear so willing to help.

Edwin said...

Interesting. So where do they come from? Hong Kong or the Canton province? Or Malaysia?

Chris said...

My somewhat unstatistical sample of five encounters had four from Hong Kong and one from Malaysia of which the one from Hong Kong and the Malaysia lady I am likely to speak to every now and again.

The Malaysian lady spoke Cantonese, English, and Mandarin plus one variety of Malaysian and something else I didn't catch (she didn't know how to call it in English). She considered Cantonese to be slang and was a little nervous that her Mandarin was not proper enough (good from my point of view of course but with a funny accent).

All the new wave Hong Kongers were happy to speak Mandarin but seemed proud of Cantonese (some older and second generation Chinese seem almost embarrased about it).

I know my experiance is hardly definitive but it is encouraging as I was informed that Cantonese speakers would not be willing to help.

Oh yes, one more a while ago I met a girl who was working in a shop here three times for coffee, she pretended to come from northern China, I think becasue she was exchanging Mandarin for English and thought this was better. Detective work and time revealed her mother tongue was Cantonese, I never did find out exactly where from but I am guessing "near Hong Kong". Sadly she was going back to China (I was her last chance to polish up her English a bit more before she went home).

dada said...

嘛嘛哋 (So-so)

嘛 is a modal particle, or used phonetically in 喇嘛, lama.

麻 is hemp. By extension, it means (or is used in) confusion, chaos, anaesthesia (麻醉). Thus, so-so is just 麻麻哋 or, better IMHO, 麻麻地. I would not use Cantonese character when there is an equivalent in standard Chinese, except when the usage of the Cantonese character is commonly acknowledged, for example 嚟/來.

Edwin said...


Thanks, dada, once again.