December 31, 2007

Be My Guest

"Be My Guest" (志雲飯局) is a TV show hosted by Stephen Chan (陳志雲), the General Manager of TVB. In each episode, he would invite and interview a prominent artist in the HK entertainment industry. The show has become a hit since its launch in the summer of 2006.

I find interview conversations good materials for language learners, as they usually contains vocabulary and sentences describing personal issues and facts. "Be My Guest" turns out to be a very good resource, as Stephen talks slowly and clearly. As the result, his guest tends to follow the same pace.

Here is the transcript of the introduction of the show. You can find it at the beginning of the following video clip. In future posts, I will pick some interviews and provide transcriptions for them.

Transcript / Jyutping / Translation

gaa2 jyu4 jan4 sang1 hai6 jat1 coeng4 faan6 guk6
If life is a (formal) meal

約咩人 點咩菜
joek3 me1 jan4 dim2 me1 coi3
Whom to invite, what course to order

由我發板 由我策劃
jau4 ngo5 faat3 baan2 jau4 ngo5 caak3 waak6
Are decided by me, planned by me

ngo5 jat1 ding6 wui5 hou2 gaan2 zaak6
I would be very picky

ceoi4 zo2 mun5 zuk1 hau2 fuk1 zi1 juk6
Not only to satisfy the stomach

nang4 gau3 tin1 naam4 dei6 baak1
But to be able to talk about everything

gaap3 zaap6 tim4 syun1 fu2 lat6
To mix things that are sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy

有交流 有感動
jau5 gaau1 lau4 jau5 gam2 dung6
To have sharing, to have emotion

sin1 zi3 hai6 ling6 jan4 jat1 zoi3 wui4 mei6 ge3 faan6 guk6
This is a meal that one would recall over and over again

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December 27, 2007

Chu Yeh Ching

This is a Hong Kong TV ads from the late 70's. It is a classic.

Chu Yeh Ching Chiew (竹葉青) is a very famous wine from China. It is transparent, yellow-green in colour, slightly sweetish in taste.

Here is the summary of the plot. The Caucasian boss of a construction company invited his employees for dinner. To their surprise, he ordered the Chinese wine. The slogan is "You are smart. I am also smart. Drink Chu Yeh Ching Chiew".

Transcript (Transliteration) / Jyutping / Translation

wai3 gam1 maan5 aa3 Sir ceng2 sik6 faan6 aa3
Hey! The boss (Sir) is treating us dinner tonight!

ceoi4 bin2 zo5
Have a seat

jam2 di1 me1 zau2 ne1
What wine do you want to drink?

saan1 sai1 zuk1 jip6 ceng1
Shanxi Chu Yeh Ching Chiew

zuk1 jip6 ceng1 fong1 hoeng1 seon4 wo4, dim2 jam2 dou1 dak1
Chu Yeh Ching Chiew is sweet and mellow, drink it in any way

ming4 gwai3 san1 zong1, san1 sik1 fung1 goi3, fong1 bin6 dou3 gik6
With prestigious packaging, new type of cap, very convenient.


nei5 zing1 ngo5 dou1 zing1
You are smart. I am also smart.

jam2 bui1 zuk1 jip6 ceng1
Drink Chu Yeh Ching Chiew

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December 24, 2007

Christmas Greetings

You can find 64 TVB artists saying their Christmas Greetings here. The corresponding YouTube versions can be found here: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3.

The following is the transcription for the first 2 greetings, by Macy Chan (陳美詩) and Moses Chan (陳豪). Intermediate and advanced learners, try to listen to the rest and see how much you can understand. As one would expect, season greetings are more-or-less the same.

For those who might be confused, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, not Santa Claus. Out of the 64 artists, Macy seems to be the only one who gets it.

Merry Christmas!!



Transcript (Transliteration) / Jyutping / Translation

哈佬(Hello), 大家(Everyone)(Good)
haa1 lou2, daai6 gaa1 hou2
Hello everyone

(I) (Am) Macy 陳(Chan) 美詩(Macy)
ngo5 hai6 Macy can4 mei5 si1
I am Macy Chan

噉 聖(Holy) (Birth) (Festival) 就來(Soon) (Arrive)
gam2 sing3 daan3 zit3 zau6 lei4 dou3 laa1
Christmas is coming

噉 聖(Holy) (Birth) (Festival) 就係(Is) 耶穌(Jesus) 誕生(To Be Born) ('s) 日子(Day)
gam2 sing3 daan3 zit3 zau6 hai6 je4 sou1 daan3 saang1 ge3 jat6 zi2
Christmas is the day Christ is born

噉 唔(Not) (Know) (You) (Will) 唔會(Will not) (Go) (Preach) (Good) (Sound) 呢?
gam2 m4 zi1 nei5 wui5 m4 wui5 heoi3 bou3 gaai1 jam1 ne1
Not sure if you would go to any Carol Service?

無論(no matter)(How) (Also) (Good)
mou4 leon6 dim2 dou1 hou2
In any case (No matter what)

(Also) (Wish) (You) (Holy) (Birth) 快樂(Happy)
dou1 zuk1 nei5 sing3 daan3 faai3 lok6 laa1
I wish you a happy Christmas

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!

(I) (In) (希望(Hope)) Christmas 祝(wish) 大家(Everyone) (Have) 一個(One)
ngo5 hai2 hei1 mong6 Christmas zuk1 daai6 gaa1 jau5 jat1 go3
In Christmas, I wish that everyone would have a

(Very) 溫馨(Warm), 好(Very) 開心(Happy)
hou2 wan1 hing1, hou2 hoi1 sam1
a very warm, very happy

(Have) (a) (Very) Warm 嘅('s) 一個(One)
jau5 go3 hou2 Warm ge3 jat1 go3
a very warm

(一個(One)) Christmas 啦
jat1 go3 Christmas laa1

Useful Vocabulary
聖誕節 (sing3 daan3 zit3) - Christmas
聖誕快樂 (sing3 daan3 faai3 lok6) - Merry/Happy Christmas
耶穌 (je4 sou1) - Jesus
祝你 (zuk1 nei5) - Wish you ...
祝大家 (zuk1 daai6 gaa1) - Wish everyone ...
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December 21, 2007

First-Month Feedback Needed

Cantophilia has been launched for a bit more than a month now. I would like to thanks all my readers for your support.

In order for me to set the right track, I would need feedbacks from all of you, in particular on the materials this site provides. You may comment on the following areas as well as others:

  1. Content
  2. Difficulty
  3. Format
Suggestions are also welcome on other things you would like to see in this website.

Thanks in advance.

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December 18, 2007

Fight over the Bill

It is a very common custom for Chinese people to fight over the bill at the end of a meal. Some people do it sincerely and others fake it. At the advanced level, you just cannot tell the difference.

Here is how you would do it. Listen to these lines towards the end of the song "Yum Dom Cha" (Drink some tea) from the Chinese-American rap artist ABC Jin.

The last line "dang2 ngo5 bei2 laa1" is the key phrase.



Transcript (Tranliteration) / Jyutping / Translation

(Hey),你(You)(Not)(To be)[Particle]!
wai3 nei5 m4 hai6 aa3
Hey, no way
(you are not)!

(You) (Not) (To be) (Find)(Argument)(To quarrel)[Particle]
nei5 m4 hai6 wan2 gaau1 aai3 aa3
You are not going to start an argument, are you?

(You) (Also)(Want)(Find) (Argument) (To quarrel)
jam2 caa4 nei5 dou1 jiu3 wan2 gaau1 aai3
You want to argue with me even over a meal?

wai3 dang2 ngo5 bei2 laa1
Hei, let me pay!

Useful Vocabulary
(jaam2 caa4) - Dim sum meal. Literally means "drink tea".
嗌 (wan2 gaau1 aai1) -Find things to argue.
(bei2) - Give

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December 16, 2007

Barry Cox

From a shelf-stacker to a Canto-pop singer, the story of the British Barry Cox is definitely inspiring.

Barry has been working so hard through the years. He has recently found an opportunity to perform at the Venetian hotel, the new mega-casino at Macau. The British Telegraph had an article on him last week. Here is another news article on him 2 weeks ago.

Here is Barry performing at the casino, singing the song "Words of Love Not Yet Spoken" (情深說話未曾講/cing4 sam1 syut3 waa6 mei6 cang4 gong2) from Leon Lai. He sings like a native. I cannot hear any trait of foreign accent at all.

(the video starts at the 2nd-half of line 4 in the lyrics)

Transcript / Jyutping / Translation

(Lyrics translated by Jessie Sun)

仍然在遠方 追我夢與想
jing4 jin4 zoi6 jyun5 fong1 zeoi1 ngo5 mung6 jyu5 soeng2
Still from afar, chasing my dreams and hopes,

繼續懷念你 卻又這麼漫長
gai3 zuk6 waai4 nim6 nei5 koek3 jau6 ze5 mo1 maan6 coeng4
Continuously thinking of you, missing you, which makes the days seem longer.

從前未會想 感覺是雙方
cung4 cin4 mei6 wui5 soeng2 gam2 gok3 si6 soeng1 fong1
Before I never thought the feeling would be mutual.

你若燃亮我 我亦要懂得釋放
nei5 joek6 jin6 loeng6 ngo5 ngo5 jik6 jiu3 dung2 dak1 sik1 fong3
If you should show me the way, I will know how to let go.

gwo3 heoi3 mui5 jat6 tung4 lou6 wong5
The past days, we had shared together,

bat1 dung2 zan1 sik1 naa5 se1 ging2 fong3
I didn't know how to cherish that time.

ze5 maan5 ngo5 duk6 loi4 duk6 wong5
Tonight I am all alone,

koek3 si6 taai3 hau6 fui3 long6 fai3 gung6 deoi3 si4 gwong1
Regret having wasted all the time we once had.

#你這剎那在何方 我有說話未曾講
nei5 ze5 saat3 naa5 zoi6 ho4 fong1 ngo5 jau5 syut3 waa6 mei6 cang4 gong2
Where are you at this moment? I have words not yet spoken.

如何能連繫上 與你再相伴在旁
jyu4 ho4 nang4 lin4 hai6 soeng5 jyu5 nei5 zoi3 soeng1 bun6 zoi6 pong4
How can the past be mended, so you will be by my side again?

愛意要是沒回響 世界與我又何干
oi3 ji3 jiu3 si6 mut6 wui4 hoeng2 sai3 gaai3 jyu5 ngo5 jau6 ho4 gon3
If love should never come around again, this world will not have any meaning to me.

原來仍然是你 叫我永不斷自強
jyun4 loi4 jing4 jin4 si6 nei5 giu3 ngo5 wing5 bat1 dyun6 zi6 koeng4
Still you are the one that tells me never to give up and continue to be strong,

jyu4 san4 gwong1
like the rising of the sun.

cing4 ji3 bei2 tin1 gang3 cing4 long5
Love and affection is even brighter than the sky

mou4 sou3 jyun5 ging2 zoi3 tung4 cong3
Numerous scenes from afar left to go through together

jiu4 jiu4 tung4 wong5
Going by the days, proceeding alone

〔願再去找 更遼闊同行地方〕
jyun6 zoi3 heoi3 zaau2 gang3 liu4 fut3 tung4 hang4 dei6 fong1
Willing to find a better place together.

情進獨個闖 溫暖是妄想
cing4 zeon3 duk6 go3 cong2 wan1 nyun5 si6 mong5 soeng2
The feeling of warmth seems like it will never come again.

每日來又往 也像隔一道牆
mui5 jat6 loi4 jau6 wong5 ja5 zoeng6 gaak3 jat1 dou6 coeng4
Everyday that goes by seems like we are separated by a wall.

回頭又再想 心裏漸奔放
wui4 tau4 jau6 zoi3 soeng2 sam1 leoi5 zim6 ban1 fong3
Thinking back on the past, my heart gradually races.

你若能會意 掛念已找到方向
nei5 joek6 nang4 wui6 ji3 gwaa3 nim6 ji5 zaau2 dou3 fong1 hoeng3
If you can feel it too, then my thoughts will have already found a direction.

(Repeat *,#,#)

cing4 ji3 bei2 tin1 gang3 cing4 long5
Love and affection is even brighter than the sky

mou4 sou3 jyun5 ging2 zoi3 tung4 cong3
Numerous scenes from afar left to go through together

〔願再去找 更遼闊同行地方〕
jyun6 zoi3 heoi3 zaau2 gang3 liu4 fut3 tung4 hang4 dei6 fong1
Willing to find a better place together.

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December 13, 2007

Ordering Food

This McDull video can teach you how to order food. It is quite repetitive and it might get a bit irritating after a while.

The clip is a bit long, so I have split it up into 5 parts.

Transcript / Jyutping / Translation

McDull: 我要一個常餐吖。
m4 goi1, ngo5 jiu3 jat1 go3 soeng4 caan1 aa1.
Please, I want a set-meal.

Mom: 常餐?常餐有咩食架?
soeng4 caan1? soeng4 caan1 jau5 me1 sik6 gaa3?
Set-meal? What does set-meal have?

Waiter: 同特餐一樣囉。
tung4 dak6 caan1 jat1 joeng6 lo1.
Same as special-meal.

Mom: 噉特餐係咩嚟架?
gam2 dak6 caan1 hai6 me1 lai4 gaa3?
So what is special-meal?

Waiter: 同快餐咁上下囉。
tung4 faai3 caan1 gam3 soeng6 haa2 lo1.
Similar to fast-meal.

Mom: 噉快餐又係咩嚟架?
gam2 faai3 caan1 jau6 hai6 me1 lai4 gaa3?
So what is fast-meal?

Waiter: 唓,快餐咪即係午餐。
ce1, faai3 caan1 mai6 zik1 hai6 ng5 caan1.
Fast-meal is just set-lunch.

Mom: 午餐食咩架?
ng5 caan1 sik6 me1 gaa3?
What does set-lunch have?

Waiter: 午餐同晚餐一樣架。
ng5 caan1 tung4 maan5 caan1 jat1 joeng6 gaa3.
Set-lunch is the same as set-dinner.

Mom: 噉晚餐又食啲咩啊?
gam2 maan5 caan1 jau6 sik6 di1 me1 aa3?
So what does set-dinner have?

Waiter: 晚餐咪即係常餐囉。
maan5 caan1 mai6 zik1 hai6 soeng4 caan1 lo1.
Set-dinner is just set-meal.

Mom: 噉啊,我要兩個常餐啦。
gam2 aa4, ngo5 jiu3 loeng5 go3 soeng4 caan1 laa1.
Then I'll have two set-meals.

Waiter: 好嘢啊,我哋今日啲常餐!
hou2 je5 aa3, ngo5 dei6 gam1 jat6 di1 soeng4 caan1!
Today's set-meal is really good!

Waiter: 唔好意思,常餐賣嗮噃。
m4 hou2 ji3 si3, soeng4 caan1 maai6 saai3 bo3.
I'm sorry, set-meal is sold-out.

McDull: 嗯,噉改要特餐吖。
ng6, gam2 goi2 jiu3 dak6 caan1 aa1.
Hmm, then change it to special-meal.

Mom: 特餐?特餐有咩食架?
dak6 caan1? dak6 caan1 jau5 me1 sik6 gaa3?
Special-meal? What does special-meal have?

Waiter: 特餐咪即係午餐囉。
dak6 caan1 mai6 zik1 hai6 ng5 caan1 lo1.
Special-meal is just set-lunch.

Mom: 午餐食乜嘢架?
ng5 caan1 sik6 me1 je5 gaa3?
What does set-lunch have?

Waiter: 都係晚餐嗰啲嘢囉。
dou1 hai6 maan5 caan1 go2 di1 je5 lo1.
Same as what set-dinner has.

Mom: 噉乜嘢係晚餐啊?
gam2 me1 je5 hai6 maan5 caan1 aa3?
Then what is set-dinner?

Waiter: 同快餐一樣囉。
tung4 faai3 caan1 jat1 joeng6 lo1.
Same as fast-meal.

Mom: 噉快餐食咩架?
gam2 faai3 caan1 sik6 me1 gaa3?
So what does fast-meal have?

Waiter: 嗐,快餐咪即係常餐囉。
haai6, faai3 caan1 mai6 zik1 hai6 soeng4 caan1 lo1.
(sigh), fast-meal is just set-meal.

Mom: 噉你頭先又話冇常餐?
gam2 nei5 tau4 sin1 jau6 waa6 mou5 soeng4 caan1?
But you said there is no more set-meal.

Waiter: 係啊,常餐係賣嗮啊,噉你試唔試吓特餐啊?
hai6 aa3, soeng4 caan1 hai6 maai6 saai3 aa3, gam2 nei5 si3 m4 si3 haa5 dak6 caan1 aa1?
Yes, set-meal is sold-out. So do you want to try the special-meal?

Mom: 兩份特餐喇。
loeng5 fan6 dak6 caan1 laa1.
Two special-meals.

Waiter: 唔好意思,特餐賣嗮噃。
m4 hou2 ji3 si3, dak6 caan1 maai6 saai3 bo3.
Sorry, special meal is sold-out.

McDull: 嗯,媽媽啊,不如改快餐吖。
ng6, maa1 maa1 aa3, bat1 jyu4 goi2 faai3 caan1 aa1.
Hmm, mom, let's change it to fast-meal.

Mom: 快餐有咩架?
faai3 caan1 jau5 me1 gaa3?
What does fast-meal have?

Waiter: 快餐即係常餐。
faai3 caan1 zik1 hai6 soeng4 caan1.
Fast-meal is just set-meal.

Mom: 噉常餐有咩架?
gam2 soeng4 caan1 jau5 me1 gaa3?
So what does set-meal have?

Waiter: 常餐咪即係午餐囉。
soeng4 caan1 mai6 zik1 hai6 ng5 caan1 lo1.
Set-meal is just set-lunch.

Mom: 哎呀,噉午餐有咩食啊?
aai1 aa3, gam2 ng5 caan1 jau5 me1 sik6 aa3?
Ah, so what does set-lunch have?

Waiter: 午餐同晚餐一樣架。
ng5 caan1 tung4 maan5 caan1 jat1 joeng6 gaa3.
Set-lunch is the same as set-dinner.

Mom: 噉晚餐呢?
gam2 maan5 caan1 ne1?
So what is set-dinner?

Waiter: 晚餐咪即係特餐囉。
maan5 caan1 mai6 zik1 hai6 dak6 caan1 lo1.
Set-dinner is just special-meal.

Mom: 唓,噉你頭先又話冇特餐?
ce1, gam2 nei5 tau4 sin1 jau6 waa6 mou5 dak6 caan1?
But you said there is no more special-meal?

Waiter: 係啊,特餐係賣嗮啊,噉你試唔試吓個快餐吖?一樣嘅啫。
hai6 aa3, dak6 caan1 hai6 maai6 saai3 aa3, gam2 nei5 si3 m4 si3 haa5 go3 faai3 caan1 a1? jat1 joeng6 ge3 ze1.
Right, special-meal is sold-out. So do you want to try the fast-meal? It is the same.

Mom: 噉兩份快餐喇。
gam2 loeng5 fan3 faai3 caan1 laa1.
Then two fast-meals.

Waiter: 唔好意思,冇快餐喇。
m4 hou2 ji3 si3, mou5 faai3 caan1 laa3.
Sorry, no more fast-meal.

Mom: 離唔離譜啲啊?噉你地究竟有啲咩餐啊?
lei4 m4 lei4 pou2 di1 aa3? gam2 nei5 dei6 gau3 ging2 jau5 di1 me1 caan1 aa3?
This is ridiculous! Then what meal do you actually have?

Waiter: 午餐啦,午餐好嘢啊!
ng5 caan1 laa1, ng5 caan1 hou2 je5 aa3!
Set-lunch. Set-lunch is good!

Mom: 點好嘢法啊?
dim2 hou2 je5 faat3 aa3?
How good?

Waiter: 同晚餐一樣噉好嘢!
tung4 maan5 caan1 jat1 joeng6 gam2 hou2 je5!
As good as set-dinner!

Mom: 噉晚餐又點好嘢法啊?
gam2 maan5 caan1 jau6 dim2 hou2 je5 faat3 aa3?
Then how good is set-dinner?

Waiter: 同常餐一樣噉好嘢囉!
tung4 soeng4 caan1 jat1 joeng6 gam2 hou2 je5 lo1!
As good as set-meal!

Mom: 噉常餐又點好嘢法啊?
gam2 soeng4 caan1 jau6 dim2 hou2 je5 faat3 aa3?
Then how good is set-meal?

Waiter: 常餐?常餐一早賣嗮啦,你話好唔好嘢吖?
soeng4 caan1? soeng4 caan1 jat1 zou2 maai6 saai3 laa1, nei5 waa6 hou2 m4 hou2 je5 aa1?
Set-meal? Set-meal is sold-out already. How good do you think it can be?

Mom: 好喇好喇,要兩份午餐啦!
hou2 laa3 hou2 laa3, jiu3 loeng5 fan1 ng5 caan1 laa1!
Ok ok, we'll have two set-lunches!

Waiter: 唔好意思,午餐賣嗮。試唔試吓我地嘅晚餐吖?一樣嘅啫。
m4 hou2 ji3 si3, ng5 caan1 maai6 saai3. si3 m4 si3 haa5 ngo5 dei6 ge3 maan5 caan1 aa1? jat1 joeng6 ge3 ze1.
Sorry, set-lunch is sold-out. Want to try our set-dinner? It is the same.

Mom: 日光日白食乜鬼嘢晚餐啊?
jat6 gwong1 jat6 baak6 sik6 me1 gwai2 je5 maan5 caan1 aa3?
Why would we want to eat set-dinner under the bright sunlight?

Waiter: 唉,個名叫晚餐啫,其實咪即係午餐。
aai3, go3 meng2 giu3 maan5 caan1 ze1, kei4 sat6 mai6 zik1 hai6 ng5 caan1.
(sigh), the name is called set-dinner, but it is actually set-lunch.

Mom: 好喇好喇,怕咗你喇,要兩份晚餐喇,快啲手啊!
hou2 laa3 hou2 laa3, paa3 zo2 nei5 laa3, jiu3 loeng5 fan1 maan5 caan1 laa3, faai3 di1 sau2 aa3!
Ok ok, you win (we're afraid of you). We'll have two set-dinners. Be quick!

Waiter: 想快?想快就要快餐喇。
soeng2 faai3? soeng2 faai3 zau6 jiu3 faai3 caan1 laa3.
Quick? If you want it quick, get a fast-meal.

Useful Vocabulary

常餐 (soeng4 caan1) - set-meal
特餐 (dak6 caan1) - special-meal
快餐 (faai3 caan1) - fast-meal / quick-meal
午餐 (ng5 caan1) - lunch / set-lunch
晚餐 (maan5 caan1) - dinner / set-dinner
唔好意思 (ng5 hou2 ji3 si3) - excuse me / sorry

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December 11, 2007

Digital Life

Learning numbers does not have to be boring. In fact, it could be quite fun if you learn them through this song.

The song "Digital Life" (數字人生) sung by George Lam (林子祥) was a classic hit in the 80's. Learn to sing the first few lines now and impress your Cantonese buddies!

You may of course recognize part of the song comes from a Bach's piece.

Lyrics / Jyutping / Translation

saam1 ling4 luk6 ji6 sei3 cat1 ling4 ling4

saam1 ling4 luk6 ji6 sei3 cat1 cat1 ling4

534202 13942
ng5 saam1 sei3 ji6 ling4 ji6 jat1 saam1 gau2 sei3 ji6

sei3 saam1 jat1 sei3 ling4 luk6 ji6 sei3


tin4 mun5 jat1 sang1 cyun4 si6 sou3 zi6
Filling up our lives are all numbers

seoi4 wui5 zan1 zing3 zi1 si6 ho4 jung6 ji3
Who would know what it really means

faan4 nou5 jat1 sang1 cyun4 wai6 sou3 zi6
Troubling our lives all because of numbers

jyun4 mun5 dik1 zoeng2 aak1 man6 seoi4 ho2 ji5
Who can handle them completely

ming4 ming4 paau4 zing3 ji6 saam1 wai6 ho4 daan6 ceot1 sei3 jat1
Clearly shot for 2-3, why did it come out as 4-1 (horse-racing)

seoi4 jan4 nang4 gau3 jyu6 zi1
Who could predict

sei3 dim2 saam1 sei3 gaa3 wai2 bou6 sing1 bin3 zo2 jat1 ling4 ling4 sei3
The price at 4.23 surged and became 1004 (stock market)

pang4 hou6 ma5 loi4 jing6 sik1
You are known by the numbers

你的IQ 你的身家
nei5 dik1 IQ nei5 dik1 san1 gaa1
Your IQ, your wealth

你的體魄 你的一切
nei5 dik1 tai2 paak3 nei5 dik1 jat1 cai3
Your health, your everything

人與數字 有許多怪事
jan4 jyu5 sou3 zi6 jau5 heoi2 do1 gwaai3 si6
Man and numbers, many strange things can happen between them

hon3 hon3 gai3 sou3 gei1 leoi5 jau1 gam3 gei2 do1 jan4 zi3
Look at how many hostages are trapped in the calculators

0434 0434 0232 0232
ling4 sei3 saam1 sei3 (x2) ling4 ji6 saam1 ji6 (x2)

0646 0646 0878 0878
ling4 luk6 sei3 luk6 (x2) ling4 baat3 cat1 baat3 (x2)

0515 0515 0242 0242
ling4 ng5 jat1 ng5 (x2) ling4 ji6 sei3 ji6 (x2)

0696 0696 0272 0272
ling4 luk6 gau2 luk6 (x2) ling4 ji6 cat1 ji6 (x2)


saam1 ling4 luk6 ji6 sei3 cat1 ling4 ling4

saam1 ling4 luk6 ji6 sei3 cat1 cat1 ling4

534202 13942
ng5 saam1 sei3 ji6 ling4 ji6 jat1 saam1 gau2 sei3 saam1

jat1 saam1 sei3 ji6 sei3

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December 9, 2007

Poor Language Skills

The following audio clip is extracted from a Cantonese radio show in Canada. In this episode, Mr Wang Tingzhi (王亭之) ranted about the Proper Pronunciation Movement and of course, its leading figure, Dr Richard Ho (何文滙).

The clip starts from around 14 minutes and 18 seconds into the program. Mr Wong talked about today in Hong Kong, some employers are refusing to hire young people who have adopted the 'weird' sounds. Hong Kong is supposed to be a place where people should speak 3 languages (or 2 and a half as some people put it): Cantonese, English, and Mandarin. But now, the young generation is no good at any of them.

Transcript / Jyutping / Translation

gam2 so2 ji5 ne1 ji4 gaa1 zan1 hai6
So now really,

hoeng1 gong2 di1 hau6 saang1 zai2 ne1
The young people in Hong Kong,

ji4 gaa1 gong2 lok6 go3 cing4 jing4 hou2 caam2
Now we talk about it, the situation is really bad

go3 zung1 man2 m4 tung1
Their Chinese is no good

m4 gau3 daai6 luk6 jan4 se2 bo3
They cannot write as good as the Mainlanders

m4 gau3 toi4 waan1 se2 wo3
They cannot write as good as the Taiwanese

jing1 man2 jyun4 loi4 zung6 lok6 hau6 gwo3 soeng6 hoi2, bak1 ging1, gwong2 zau1
Their English is actually poorer than those from Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou

ceng2 go3 daai6 luk6 go2 di1 lok6 lei4
If we hire a Mainlander,

jyun4 loi4 se2 jing1 man2 lek1 gwo3 keoi5 dei6
He can actually write English better than them

gwok3 jyu5 m4 sik1 gong2 laa1
They cannot speak Mandarin

aai3, gang3 gaa1 tim1 laa1
(sigh) Absolutely not

gam2 ji4 gaa1 lin4 gong2 gwong2 zau1 waa2
So now when they speak Cantonese,

dou1 gong2 dou3 ling6 jan4 faan2 gam2
They irritate other people

gaau2 dou3 faan6 wun2 dou1 mou5 maai4
Ending up in losing their jobs (rice bows)

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December 6, 2007

Your Chinese Is Better Than Mine

Here are a useful phrase from Mr Tung found in my previous post. The line appears right at the beginning. Learners could say this to your Cantonese-speaking friends. You could substitute 'English' with other languages.



Transcript / Jyutping / Transliteration / Translation

(I) (Not) (Know) (Is) (You) ('s) 中文(Chinese) 好過(Better than) (I)
ngo5 m4 zi1 hai6 nei5 ge3 zung1 man5 hou2 gwo3 ngo5 ne1
I don't know if your Chinese is better than mine

定係(Or) (I) 英文(English) 好過(Better than) (You)
ding6 hai6 ngo5 jing1 man5 hou2 gwo3 nei5
Or my English is better than yours

Useful Vocabulary
中文 - Chinese
英文 - English
好過 - Better than
定係 - Or (used in questions)

Mr Tung uses "你嘅中文" (your English) but then "我英文" (my English). In colloquial Cantonese, it is sometimes ok to omit the possessive particle '嘅'.

Note that both Mr Tung and Mr Sze-To pronounce 'you' perfectly as 'nei5' and not 'lei5', which is considered to be a lazy sound.

You might find it a bit difficult to pick up the phrase "定係" (ding6 hai6). The words are slurred together. So you would hear something like 'de-ai6' or 'dai6'. But surely, it is different from only "ding6".

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December 5, 2007

Stephen Chow's Joke

Here is Stephen Chow (周星馳) telling a joke. The Cantonese you will hear is quite colloquial.

Transcript / Jyutping / Translation

gam2 jau5 go3 pang4 jau5 ne1 gin3 dou2 ling6 ngoi6 jat1 go3 pang4 jau5
There is a friend who sees another friend

gam2 ling6 ngoi6 jat1 go3 pang4 jau5 ne1 zau6 mun6 mun6 bat1 lok6 gam2 joeng2 joeng2
This other friend looks troublesome

gam2 go2 go3 pang4 jau5 zau6 man6 ling6 ngoi6 jat1 go3 pang4 jau5 waa6
So the friend asks this other friend, saying

wai3,zou6 me1 je5 ze1 nei5 mun6 mun6 bat1 lok6?
Hei, why are you look so troublesome?

gam2 ling6 ngoi6 go3 pang4 jau5 zau6 gong2 waa6
Then the other friend says

haai1, ngo5 tung4 ngo5 lou5 po4 aai3 gaau1
(sigh) I and my wife had a quarrel

gam2 ngo5 lou5 po4 ne1 zau6 waa6
And my wife said

ji4 ga1 jiu3 jat1 go3 lai5 baai3 m4 tung4 ngo5 king1 gai2 gam2
She won't be talking to me for a week

gam2 ling6 ngoi6 jat1 go3 pang4 jau5 ne1 zau6 waa6
Then the other friend says

gam2 mai6 hou2 lo1, gam2 nei5 dou1 lok6 dak1 ji5 gan1 cing1 zing6 laa1 gam2
Then this is good. You will have some quiet time

gam2 go2 go3 pang4 jau5 waa6
Then the other friend says

haai1, ji4 ga1 ji5 ging1 hai6 jat1 go3 lai5 baai3 ge3 zeoi3 hau6 jat1 jat6 laa1
(sigh), today is the last day of the week

gam2 gong2
That's it

m4 gwaan1 ngo5 si6 gaa3, lei5 lik6 ci4 waa6 hou2 siu3
Not my fault. Lee Lik-Chi said it was funny

giu3 ngo5 gong2 gaa3 zaa3, daai6 lou2!
And asked me to tell it, man!

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December 4, 2007

Naive and Superficial

Here is an exchange between Mr Tung and Mr Sze-To during a council meeting, which has later become a classic.

Transcript / Jyutping / Translation

ngo5 m4 zi1 hai6 nei5 ge3 zung1 man2 hou2 gwo3 ngo5 ne1
I don't know if you are better than me in Chinese

ding6 hai6 ngo5 jing1 man2 hou2 gwo3 nei5
Or I am better than you in English

Naive tung4 maai4 fu1 cin2 m4 hai6 soeng1 tung4 go3 wo3
'Naive' and 'superficial' are not the same

gaa2 jyu4 m4 jat1 joeng6 ge3, nei5 mai6 gaau3 haa5 ngo5 lo1
If they are not the same, please teach me

gam2 joeng2 aa3, ngo5 hai6 mai6 syun3 dak1 hou2 fu1 cin2 ne1, jan1 wai6 m4 sik1 dak1 keoi5 leoi5 min6 ge3 fan1 bit6?
If so, am I too superficial because I don't know how to tell the difference?

nei5 gaau3 jat1 gaau3 ngo5 dim2 joeng2 sin1 zi3 wui5 m4 fu1 cin2 ne1?
Would you please teach me how not to be 'superficial'?

gaau3 nei5 zau6 m4 gam2 dong1
I am not in the position to teach you

jat1 go3 tin1 zan1 ge3 jan4 ne1 zau6 hou2 Naive
A person who is 'naive' is very naive

jat1 go3 fu1 cin2 ge3 jan4 ne1 zau6 hou2 fu1 cin2
A person who is 'superficial' is very superficial

Useful Vocabulary


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December 3, 2007

Chicken and Turtle

Here is another popular Cantonese tongue-twister. It helps to master the 'g' and 'gw' initials.


Here is a version at moderate speed:

Transcript (Transliteration) / Jyutping / Translation

(One)(Dollar)(One)(Catty) (Chicken),一(One)(Dollar) (One)(Catty) (Turtle)
jat1 man1 jat1 gan1 gai1, jat1 man1 jat1 gan1 gwai1
A buck for a catty of Chicken. A buck for a catty of turtle,

究竟(Is it true that) (Is) (Chicken) (Expensive) 定係(Or)(Turtle) (Expensive)
gau3 ging2 hai6 gai1 gwai3 ding6 hai6 gwai1 gwai3?
Is chicken more expensive or turtle?

Practising Tips
The first sentence is a dead give-away. All the words are in the same tone. Just make sure you nail down the 'g' initial for the chicken and 'gw' for the turtle.

The second sentence could be a challenge for novice learners, but all you need is to practise more. The key is to get "雞貴" correct. Many people would fall into the trap and say "gai1 gai3" instead of "gai1 gwai3".

Here a long version of the tongue-twister, for those who are interested:

jat1 man1 jat1 zek3 gwai1, cat1 man1 jat1 zek3 gai1
One buck for one turtle, seven bucks for one chicken

keoi5 waa6 gwai1 gwai3 gwo3 gai1, ngo5 waa6 gai1 gwai3 gwo3 gwai1
He said turtle is more expensive than chicken. I said chicken is more expensive than turtle

gam3 gau3 ging2 gwai1 gwai3 gwo3 gai1 ding6 hai6 gai1 gwai3 gwo3 gwai1
So is turtle more expensive then chicken or chicken more expensive or turtle?

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December 2, 2007

Evil Sounds

The controversial "Proper Cantonese Pronunciation Movement" (粵語正音運動) started in Hong Kong in the 1970s by a university professor Richard Ho (何文匯). The original purpose of his language rectification movement was to correct the mispronunciations of many Cantonese words by the general public.

Dr. Ho based some of his rules on his interpretation of a 1000-year-old dictionary of Chinese rhymes (廣韻). Some of his suggested pronunciations just sound bizarre to modern Cantonese speakers. Note that the problem with the dictionary is not because it is too old. Rather, it is well-known for its inaccuracy and it can only represent a narrow period of time in history. In fact, a lot of Cantonese pronunciations dated back earlier than that period. The "廣" (gwong2) in the name does not stand for "廣東" (Canton), but rather it means "general".

It was rather unfortunately that this movement was backed by the Hong Kong government and its broadcast station RTHK.

There has been a counter-movement lead by Dr Ho's rival Mr Wang Tingzhi (王亭之) and other pronunciation experts. Mr Wong has been refuting Dr Ho since the beginning of Proper Cantonese Pronunciation Movement. This counter-movement has been gaining momentum in recent years.

Early this year, Mr Wong's voice successfully made it into the many Chinese newspapers, and even the Canadian national Global and Mail.

The sounds proposed by Dr Ho are sometimes referred to as "evil sounds" (邪音), a wordplay with the "correct sounds" (正音), which can also mean 'righteous sounds'. They are also referred to as "viral sounds" (病毒音) or "weird sounds" (怪音) by others.

Here is a clip I found in YouTube, which nicely illustrates the confusion raised by Dr Ho's movement.

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December 1, 2007

How to Learn Cantonese through This Website

This post describes how learners can utilize the resources on this website to learn Cantonese.

You may have already noticed that Cantophilia is different from other Cantonese language learning websites. It does not contain context-less vocabulary lists, grammatical explanations, or lists of useful phrases. While they could still be useful references for learners, I think there is a better way to learn Cantonese - through the studying of real-life authentic contents.

I believe the most efficient way to learn a language is to absorb it through materials taken from real-life. Artificially made-up materials could still be helpful, but they are not as effective or interesting. Therefore, most of the materials found on this website are taken from real-life sources.

All learners should master a Cantonese Romanization system. Jyutping is used on this website, but conversions to other systems should be straight-forward. You don't need to aim to pronounce every word perfectly, but at least you should know what each one should sound like.

Understanding the conversation is not the goal of the listening exercise, since the translation is already provided. You goal is to be able to recognize each word in the conversation any time you listen to it. The only way to archive this is to listen to the material again and again. Be ready to listen to each conversation 50 or even 100 times.

To improve your speaking, you should try to 'parrot' over the conversations. A better way is to pause and repeat each line as you go along. You may also want to memorize and recite parts of the conversations. Some people are against this method, but I have known many successful language learners who have used this method themselves.

All learner's materials on this website are graded, but they act only as a rough guideline. Learners are encouraged to look at materials from other levels.

Beginners should read the Orientation Package before proceeding in using the materials from this website.

Suggestions and comments are always welcome.

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