Saturday, December 31, 2011

Here’s to a New Year of Taishanese!

Happy New Year! Or as you might say in Taishanese:

Lhen Nïn Fai Lòk

The bulk of last year’s blogging covered the Taishanese Basic Course with the addition of my own commentary. This blog also helped me accomplish some personal goals, among them being proficiency in the Cangjie input method, my first YouTube video and, most importantly, a constant connection with the Taishanese language. Much of this would have been impossible without the invaluable contribution of my readers, most notably Ben, Dominic and Stephen. Thank you so much.

Below I’ve pulled together a list of the lessons I covered in 2011. These lessons comprise the first volume of the Basic Course.

I’m going to take a break from posting more lessons for a few months. For this new year, I have some new and shiny goals, but first I have to wrap up some other projects and also figure out which goals are realistically achievable. The goals include an online searchable dictionary, more videos, interviews and profiles of Taishanese speakers, more structured lesson formats, and perhaps even a little interactive learning software. If you’d like to help out with some of this, let me know!

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions or corrections, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 20 Reading

The lesson 20 reading passage follows the same grammatical structure you find in lessons 18 and 19, although there’s one new interesting grammar point I’d like to draw your attention to below.




Jiang Lhing-Sang ùk si ùk-ak hō dō, du lhù du-ak hō dō, gīk-fun gīk-ak hō chï.

Kui gìn-löi du lhù du-ak hō möng, hiak-ak hō sīu, ngīm dīu ngīm-ak hō u, hiak yian hiak-ak hō u, fun-ak m̈-gau. Tïng-ngìt kui bìang, kui gok-ak hō gau; tïng-mạn kui m̈-fun-ak hō, dọng-ngìt chiu-häu-dō kui hī sin m̈-hī-ak dō, m̈-hiak-ak fàn, m̈-hiak-ak yian, m̈-häng-ak lù, m̈-fan-ak gung.

Kwọi-sị* kui mo bìang, kui hī-ak sin, hiak-ak fàn, hiak-ak yian, fan-ak gung. Kui gwoi päng-yịu Lī Lhing-Sang tïng Jiang Lhing-Sang hiak mạn-fàn, Jiang Lhing-Sang ngīm dīu ngīm-ak fi-sïang-chi u, gōng sut-wà m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō, häng lù m̈-häng-ak fai.

Note the different types of negation (in this case, 唔 ) in the following phrases, which are based off of the reading passage. When 得 ak is used to mark an adverb, the negation is placed before the adjective; when 得 ak is used to denote ability/possibility (i.e. “to be able to”), the negation is placed before the verb.

Kui fun-ak m̈-gau.
“He didn’t sleep enough.”

Kui m̈-fan-ak gung.
“He couldn’t go to work.”

For native speakers, this contrast should not be surprising in any way. I point it out because English negation usually applies to the whole verb phrase, even when the phrase contains an adverb. Thus we say, “I didn’t sleep enough” rather than “I slept not enough.” Taishanese grammar looks closer to the latter, with the negation before the adverb, not the verb.

Now you might wonder, what happens if you put the negation before the verb instead of the adverb? There’s an example of this very structure in the reading:

Kui hī sin hī-ak dō.
“He couldn’t wake up early.”

In this case, I interpret the placement of negation before the verb to indicate that 得 ak denotes ability/possiblity.

My dear readers, is this interpretation correct?

And if you notice any other typos and errors, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 20 Dialogue

The basic grammatical pattern for lessons 18 and 19 is the use of 得 ak to modify verbs. This lesson takes a few new words and builds on those previous lessons by looking at question structure.

1 A: 請問該間係唔係美國陸軍語言學校呀? Tīng mùn kwọi gan hài m̈-hài Mị-Gwōk Lùk-Gun Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu* a?
  B: 係呀,該間係美國陸軍語言學校。 Hài a, kwọi gan hài Mị-Gwōk Lùk-Gun Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu*.
  A: 黃先生,唔好意思。令你等嗲該久。 Wöng Lhing-Sang, m̈-hō yi-lhu. Lìng ni āng-e kwọi gīu.
  B: 唔緊要,唔緊要。我來嗲冇幾久喲。 M̈-gīn-yiau, m̈-gīn-yiau. Ngoi löi-a mo-gī-gīu yiak.
2 A: 佢講唔講得快呀? Kui gōng m̈-gōng-ak fai a?
  B: 快,佢講得快。 Fai, kui gōng-ak fai.
3 A: 佢講唔講得清楚呢? Kui gōng m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō nē?
  B: 唔清楚,佢唔講得清楚。 M̈-ting-chō, kui m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō.
4 A: 你行唔行得快呀? Ni häng m̈-häng-ak fai a?
  B: 快,我行得快。 Fai, ngoi häng-ak fai.
5 A: 佢吃唔吃得多呢? Kui hiak m̈-hiak-ak u nē?
  B: 唔多,佢唔吃得多。 M̈-u, kui m̈-hiak-ak u.
6 A: 你起身起唔起得早呀? Ni hī sin hī m̈-hī-ak dō a?
  B: 早,我起身起得早。 Dō, ngoi hī sin hī-ak dō.
7 A: 佢講說話講唔講得清楚呀? Kui gōng sut-wà gōng m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō a?
  B: 唔清楚,佢講說話唔講得清楚。 M̈-ting-chō, kiu gōng sut-wà m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō.
8 A: 你着衫着唔着得快呀? Ni jiak sạm jiak m̈-jiak-ak fai a?
  B: 快,我着衫着得快。 Fai, ngoi jiak sạm jiak-ak fai.
9 A: 佢飲酒飲唔飲得多。 Kui ngīm dīu ngīm m̈-ngīm-ak u nē?
  B: 唔多,佢飲酒唔飲得多。 M̈-u, kui ngīm dīu m̈-ngīm-ak u.
10 A: 對唔住,對唔住,黃先生,我來遲嗲。 Ui m̈-jì, ui m̈-jì, Wöng Lhing-Sang, ngoi löi chï e.
  B: 唔緊要,唔緊要,我亦係正話來喲。 M̈-gīn-yiau, m̈-gīn-yiau, ngoi yìak-hài jing-wà löi yìak.

This lesson brings together the V 唔 V formula used to ask yes-or-no questions (see lesson 11) along with the adverbial 得 ak structure covered in the previous two lessons.

V 唔 V 得 + Adj

When the verb appears without an object, then the above structure is used, combining the V 唔 V formula and adding 得 ak to the last verb. Here are two examples from the dialogue:

Kui gōng m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō nē?
“Does he speak clearly?”

Kui hiak m̈-hiak-ak u nē?
“Does he eat a lot?”

The appropriate “yes” or “no” response is to reply with the adjective, thus 清楚 ting-chō for “yes (he speaks clearly)” or 唔清楚 m̈-ting-chō for “no (he doesn’t speak clearly).”

V + Object + V 唔 V 得 + Adj

As discussed in the previous lesson, things get messy when the verb is followed by an object (e.g. “speak Taishanese” or “do business”). In order to add 得 to the verb, the verb is repeated after the object. Now you have two verbs in the sentence—on which do you choose to apply the V 唔 V structure from lesson 11?

You choose the second. This means you will have a sentence with the verb repeated three times! It’s pretty cool (or crazy, depending on your perspective). Here are a couple examples from the dialogue:

Kui hī sin hī m̈-hī-ak dō a?
“Does he wake up early?”

Ni jiak sạm jiak m̈-jiak-ak fai a?
“Do you get dressed quickly?”

The proper response, as in the previous set of examples, is to reply with the adjective to indicate “yes” or “no.”

Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section—especially if you notice a typo or error!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 20 Vocabulary

This lesson continues expanding on the same grammatical structure from lessons 18 and 19. The new vocabulary—including some very useful expressions—are included below.

  • 唔好意思 · m̈-hō yi-lhu · I’m sorry, I am ashamed of myself
  • 令 · lìng · to cause
  • 等 · āng · to wait, let, class
  • 嗲 · e · verb suffix
  • 該久 · kwọi gīu · so long, that long
  • 唔緊要 · m̈-gīn-yiau · it doesn’t matter, not important
  • 冇幾久 · mo-gī gīu · not very long time
  • 冇 · mo · do not have, negative
  • 早 · dō · early
  • 遲 · chï · late, tardy
  • 說話 · sut-wà · to speak, talk
  • 講說話(講話)· gōng sut-wà (gōng wà*) · to speak, talk
  • 飲酒 · ngīm dīu · to drink liquor, to have a banquet
  • 着衫 · jiak sạm · to dress
  • 來遲嗲 · löi chï-e · to come late

One of my favorite expressions is 唔好意思 m̈-hō yi-lhu “I’m sorry!” A common response is 唔緊要 m̈-gīn-yiau “It’s not important (so no need to worry).”

As a note on transcription, I use the character 着 to write jiak “to wear.” The character 着 is commonly considered a simplified character, while 著 is the corresponding traditional character. As I try to do elsewhere, I’ve transcribed the character as is done in the Basic Course (which was published in the 1960s), even while this choice would likely be considered inconsistent in many other contexts today.

If you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 19 Reading

This reading passage brings together the new words and dialogue from the current lesson.




Wöng Ngì o hòk-hàu hòk Jung-Mün hòk-ak hō möng, gōng Höi-San wà gōng-ak hō hō, lhē Jung-Mün dù lhē-ak hō liang. Kui hài yīt-gwoi hō tung-mïng hüng hō kïn-lìk gwoi hòk-sang.

Jiang Lham hài Wöng Ngì gwoi päng-yịu. Jiang Lham m̈-hài gī tung-mïng, mo Wöng Ngì kwọi tung-mïng. Jiang Lham ùk si ùk-ak m̈-hài hō kïn-lìk, kui ùk si mo Wöng Ngì ùk-ak kwọi kïn-lìk. Jiang Lham lhē dù lhē-ak m̈-liang. Kui lhē dù mo Wöng Ngì lhē-ak kwọi liang. Jiang Lham gōng Höi-San wà* gōng-ak m̈-hō, kui gōng Höi-San wà* mo Wöng Ngì gōng-ak kwọi hō.

Lī Lhi yìak hài Wöng Ngì gwoi päng-yịu. Kui ị-tïng hāi Lùk-Gun Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu ùk si, kwọi-sị kui mo ùk si, kui hāi Ngìt-Bōn du sang-yi, kui du sang-yi du-ak hō m̈-hō. Wöng Ngì lhē lhin pī kui, hüng gi tïng pī kui; Wöng Ngì lhē lhin lhē-ak fi-sïang-ji hō.

As in lesson 18, this reading combines two key grammatical constructions by using 得 ak to modify a comparison, for example:

Kui gōng Höi-San wà* mo Wöng Ngì gōng-ak kwọi hō.
“He doesn’t speak Taishanese as well as Wong Ngi does.”

Questions, musings, corrections and suggestions are all welcome. Please feel free to post in the comments below!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 19 Dialogue

This lesson picks up right about where lesson 18 left off. There are some new words in lesson 19, but otherwise the vocabulary should be familiar from previous lessons.

1 A: 請問你貴姓呀? Tīng mùn ni gwi lhing a?
  B: 我姓黃,我喊做黃二。你貴姓名呀? Ngoi lhing Wöng, ngoi ham du Wöng-Ngì. Ni gui lhing mïng a?
  A: 我姓張,我喊做張三。 Ngoi lhing Jiang, ngoi ham du Jiang Lham.
2 A: 你讀書讀得幾妥樣呀? Ni ùk si ùk-ak gī-họ-yiạng* a?
  B: 我讀書讀得好忙。 Ngoi ùk si ùk-ak hō möng.
3 A: 我講台山話講得幾妥樣呀? Ngoi gōng Höi-San wà* gōng-ak gī-họ-yịang* nē?
  B: 你講台山話講得好好。 Ni gōng Höi-San wà* gōng-ak hō hō.
4 A: 陳先生教書教得幾妥樣呀? Chïn Lhing-Sang gau si gau-ak gī-họ-yịang* a?
  B: 陳先生教書教得非常之好。 Chïn Lhing-Sang gau si gau-ak fi-sïang ji hō.
5 A: 該時你做生意做得好嗎? Kwọi-sị* ni du sang-yi du-ak hō ma?
  B: 唔好,該時我做生意做得唔好。 M̈-hō, kwọi-sị* ngoi du sang-yi du-ak m̈-hō.
6 A: 昨晚你瞓得好嗎? Dok-mạn* ni fun-ak hō ma?
  B: 好,昨晚我瞓得好好。 Hō, dok-mạn ngoi fun-ak hō hō.
7 A: 你個學生寫中文字寫得靚唔靚呀? Ni gwoi hòk-sang lhē Jung-Mün dù lhē-ak liang m̈-liang a?
  B: 靚,我個學生寫得文字寫得好靚。 Liang, ngoi gwoi hòk-sang lhē Jung-Mün dù lhē-ak hō liang.
8 A: 你個細佬駛車駛得快唔快呀? Ni gwoi lhai-lō sōi che sōi-ak fai m̈-fai a?
  B: 快,我個細佬駛車駛得快得逮。 Fai, ngoi gwoi lhai-lō sōi che sōi-ak fai-ak-dài.
9 A: 你個女朋友行路行得慢唔慢呢? Ni gwoi nūi päng-yịu häng lù häng-ak màn m̈-màn nē?
  B: 慢,我個女朋友行路行慢得逮。 Màn, ngoi gwoi nūi päng-yịu häng lù häng màn-ak-dài.
10 A: 請坐喲,黃先生。 Tīng tu yi, Wöng Lhing-Sang.
  B: 唔使拘囉,李先生。 M̈-sōi kui lō, Lī Lhing-Sang.

A quick orthographic note before moving onto the key grammar point—in line 6, the basic course uses a novel character formed of a 口 radical plus 宕 to indicate dọng as in dọng mạn, which I prefer to transcribe as 昨晚. (Intrestingly enough, the transcription on page 82 is dok instead of dọng, as the character would suggest.)

V + Object + V得 + Adj

In the dialogue for lesson 18, I pointed out three examples from the text of how to make phrases in Taishanese that correspond to adverbs in English. I’ve repasted the examples below, which use the verbs 講 gōng, 教 gau and 讀 ùk.

講得清楚 gōng-ak ting-chō “speak clearly”
教得明白 gau-ak mïng-bàk “teach understandably”
讀得勤力 ùk-ak kïn-lìk “study diligently”

To recap from the previous lesson, where English follows the general pattern of VERB + ADJECTIVE + “-ly” (more or less), Taishanese uses the construction of VERB + 得 ak + ADJECTIVE. Importantly, 得 ak must be immediately next to the verb. I’ll refer to the requirement that the verb and 得 ak be adjacent as the “adjacency requirement.”

In the examples above, the verbs appear without an object. But when the verb is followed by an object, where do we put 得 ak?

The solution is to repeat the verb at the end of the phrase and to place 得 ak after the repeated verb, as in the examples below from the current dialogue.

講台山話講得好好 gōng Höi-San wà* gōng-ak hō hō “speak Taishanese well”
教書教得非常之好 gau-si gau-ak fi-sïang ji hō “teach extraordinarily well”
讀書讀得好忙 ùk-si ùk-ak hō möng “study busily”
做生意做得唔好 du sang-yi du-ak m̈-hō “do business poorly”
寫中文字寫得好靚 lhē Jung-Mün dù lhē-ak hō liang “write Chinese characters beautifully”

Of course, there is an exception, as you see in line 9b.

Ngoi gwoi nūi päng-yịu häng-lù häng màn-ak-dài.
“My girlfriend walks too slowly.”

According to the adjacency requirement, we would expect to see 得 ak between 行 häng and 慢 màn. I have no personal intuition as to why this is the case. I hope some of my more knowledgable (not to mention more thoughtful) readers can provide some input on this. What do you think?

As always, if you see a correction that needs to be made—or have any other thoughts you’d like to share—please let me know in the comments section below!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 19 Vocabulary

This lesson’s grammar points are similar to the last lesson, as they both review how to modify verbs with the word 得 ak.

  1. 貴姓呀?· gwi lhing a? · what is your surname? (honorific form)
  2. 幾妥樣 · gī-họ-yịang* · how is it? in what manner?
  3. 喊做 · ham du · to be called as, to be named as
  4. 名 · mïang* (mïng) · name, given name
  5. 生意 · sang-yi · business
  6. 昨晚 · dọng-mạn* · last night
  7. 駛(趕)· sōi (gōn) · to drive, use, employ, cause
  8. 做生意 · du sang-yi · to do business
  9. 唔使 · m̈-sōi · need not, it is not necessary, do not have to
  10. 唔使拘 · m̈-sōi-kui · don’t stand on ceremony
  11. 瞓 · fun · to sleep, lie down
  12. 快得逮 · fai-ak-dài · too fast
  13. 慢得逮 · màn-ak-dài · too slow

One of my favorite terms is 得逮 ak dài, which roughly corresponds to English “too” as in “too fast” fai-ak-dài 快得逮. By modern Cantonese convention, this term is written 得滯 (dak1 zai6); the character 滯 is otherwise pronounced zài in Taishanese. In the Kaiping dictionary, Deng Jun uses the character 济 (濟), which is otherwise pronounced dai (as in 經濟) or dāi (as in 濟濟).

Please don’t hesitate to drop a comment if you have any comments—especially if you notice any typos!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 4 Video!

I’ve decided to use this Taishanese project as an opportunity to practice video editing on the free trial version of Final Cut Pro X. For my first video, I slapped together lesson four text and audio with a few illustratory photos:

This lesson is the first one with vocabulary and dialogue; lessons one, two and three all had to do with pronunciation. The lesson four vocabulary and dialogue were previously covered in February, along with versions adapted to the pronunciation of the Kaiping dictionary (see here and here).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tone Change and Reduplication

Over at Toisanese Chop Suey 台山话杂碎, Stephen writes about the fascinating interface of tone and reduplication in Taishanese. Reduplicated words like 紅紅 have different pronunciations, depending on the tone—hüng-hüng* or hüng*-hüng—but what do the different forms mean? Check out Stephen’s post to learn more!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 18 Reading

The reading for lesson 18 recycles the new words and grammar points from the dialogue.




Wöng Ngì dọk-mạn fun-ak hō hō, hō gau; gim-ngìt chiau-häu-dō kui hī-ak hō dō, hiak-ak hō u.

Kui fan hòk, kui siang höng; kui ùk Jung-Mün*, kui ùk-ak hō kïn-lìk, hòk-ak hō fai; o ban-fọng*, kui lhē Jung-Mün dù, kui lhē-ak hō liang. Kui hài yīt-gwoi hō hō gwoi hòk-sang*. Nịng-gwoi lhing-sang hài Höi-San ngïn, kui gau-ak hō hō, gōng-ak m̈-fai m̈-màn, gōng-ak hō ting-chō hō mïng-bàk; Wöng Ngì hō mïng-bàk; nịng-gwoi lhing-sang hài yīt-gwoi hō hō gwoi lhing-sang. Wöng Ngì gwoi päng-yịu yìak hài hòk-sang*, kui ùk-ak m̈-hài gī kïn-lìk, hòk-ak mo Wöng Ngì kwọi fai; kui lhē Jung-Mün dù, lhē-ak mo Wöng Ngì gwoi kwọi liang.

Kwọi-sị Wöng Ngì fan ūk-kī, kui häng-ak hō fai; Wöng Ngì gwoi päng-yịu häng-ak mo Wöng Ngì kwọi fai.

You may have also noticed a comparative construction that was briefly covered in lesson 12 (e.g. 我冇佢該快 Ngoi mo kui kwọi fai “I’m not as fast as him”). In this lesson, the comparative construction also includes the form of 得 ak used to modify a verb (e.g. 佢學得冇黃二該快 Kui hòk-ak mo Wöng Ngì kwọi fai “He doesn't study as quickly as Wong Ngi”).

If you have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 18 Dialogue

Last lesson’s question was “can you do it?” This lesson we ask, “How?”

1 A: 你有乜盛事呀,李四先生? Ni yiu mōt sìng-lhù a, Lī-Lhi Lhing-Sang?
  B: 我冇乜事。我順便來拜候你喲。 Ngoi mo mōt lhù. Ngoi sùn-bìng loi bai-hàu ni yiak.
2 A: 我講得清唔清楚呀? Ngoi gōng-ak ting m̈-ting-chō a?
  B: 清楚,你講得好清楚。 Ting-chō, ni gōng-ak hō ting-chō.
3 A: 我教得明唔明白呢? Ngoi gau-ak mïng m̈-mïng-bàk nē?
  B: 明白,你教得好明白。 Mïng-bàk, ni gau-ak hō mïng-bàk.
4 A: 佢讀得勤力嗎? Kui ùk-ak kïn-lìk ma?
  B: 唔勤力,佢讀得唔勤力。 M̈-kïn-lìk, kui ùk-ak m̈-kïn-lìk.
5 A: 你昨晚瞓得够嗎? Ni dọng-mạn* fun-ak gau ma?
  B: 唔夠,我昨晚瞓得唔够。 M̈-gau fun, ngoi dọng-mạn* m̈-gau fun.
6 A: 你昨日行得疚嗎? Ni dọng-ngìt häng-ak gau ma?
  B: 疚,我昨日行得好疚。 Gau ngoi dọng-ngìt häng-ak hō gau.
7 A: 佢吃得多嗎? Kui hiak-ak u ma?
  B: 多,佢吃得好多。 U, kui hiak-ak hō u.
8 A: 佢學得幾妥樣呀? Kui hòk-ak gī-họ-yịang* a?
  B: 佢學得好快。 Kui hòk-ak hō fai.
9 A: 佢做得幾妥樣呢? Kui du-ak gī-họ-yịang* nē?
  B: 佢做得好慢。 Kui du-ak hō màn.
10 A: 我想走囉,黄先生。 Ngoi lhīang dāo lō, Wöng Lhing-Sang.
  B: 還坐下喲,李先生。 Wạn tu hạ yi, Lī Lhing-Sang.
  A: 唔好儸,我走囉。 M̈-hō lo, ngoi dāu lo.

V得 + Adj

This lesson introduces a new function for the word 得 ak/āk; in the last lesson, we saw two uses of 得 ak/āk/dak, both of which convey some type of ability, as English does with can, be able to and may. In this lesson, the word 得 ak is used to express the equivalent of English adverbs.

The short (and rather imprecise) formula is when modifying the verb, the verb is followed by 得 ak and then by the modifying adjective (or predicate). Thus…

講得清楚 gōng-ak ting-chō “speak clearly”
教得明白 gau-ak mïng-bàk “teach understandably”
讀得勤力 ùk-ak kïn-lìk “study diligently”

On Convention

You may notice the two different versions of gau “enough” in line 5b—both 夠 and 够—I wrote these deliberately to match the text of the Basic Course. The author actually included both on the same line!

My goal for these lesson posts is to use the exact Chinese characters that the Basic Course uses wherever possible. I try to offer the exact same characters, mistakes included. Sometimes the Basic Course employs characters that aren’t in the Unicode set, and so I make do with other conventions—usually similar to those from the Kaiping Dictionary. Thus, I use 嚀 nịng* “there” following the Basic Course, but 該 kọi* following the Kaiping Dictionary.

Sometimes readers will note that quite different characters are actually used in Taishan, and I would love to see these observations included in the comments sections below!

That reminds me—how would you, readers, translate 行得疚 häng-ak gau?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 18 Vocabulary

This lesson focuses on how things are done, and so the vocabulary focuses on a number of new adjectives. Note that differing pronunciations in the Kaiping dictionary are provided in brackets.

  1. 乜 · mōt · what? something, anything, what kind of…? any, some, why?
  2. 貴(好價)· gwi [gui] (hō ga) · honorable; (expensive)
  3. 有乜盛事 · yiu mōt sìng [sèn] lhù · what can I do for you? Can I help you?
  4. 順便 · sùn-bìng* [vìn] · at one’s convenience, to take the opportunity of
  5. 拜候 · bai-hàu [vai-hàu] · to visit, call on
  6. 想 · lhīang · to desire, think, hope, expect, want
  7. 走 · dāu · to leave, go away
  8. 勤力(行)· kïn-lìk · industrious, diligent
  9. 夠 · gau · enough, sufficient
  10. 快 · fai · fast, quick, prompt, hurry
  11. 慢 · màn · slow, slowly
  12. 清楚 · ting-chō [ten-chū] · plainly, clearly, distinctly
  13. 講得清楚 · gōng-ak ting-chō [ten-chū] · to speak clearly
  14. 疚(悸)· gao (gwùi [gui]) · tired, fatigue

If you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment below!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 17 Reading

The reading passage for lesson 17 deals with the story of a certain 黃二 Wong Ngi, who fell sick and thus is unable to follow his usual routine.




Wöng Ngì hài Mị-Gwōk Lùk-Gun* Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu gwoi hòk-sang*. Kui tïng-ngìt yiu bìang, m̈-fan-ak hòk, m̈-siang-ak höng, m̈-häng-ak gại*, yìak m̈-fun-ak.

Kui dọng-ngìt jiau-häu-dō m̈-hī-ak-sin, m̈-hiak-ak-fàn. Kui gwoi päng-yịu hō hō, mai hing-nẹ* bī kui, yìu lhung tïng bī kui. Dọng-mạn Wöng Ngì fun-ak; gim-ngìt jiau-häu-dō kui hī-ak sin, hiak-ak fàn; hà-ṇg kui hui ūk-kī hiang yim-ngòk, hāi bo-jī; gim-mạn kui hiak fàn, kui hiak gai.

Hìng-dō Wöng Ngì fan-ak hòk, siang-ak höng, hui-ak gại*.

I try to avoid posting translations because I feel that this gives learners more incentive to try to learn the language. But if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to to ask them in the comments. I myself may not know the answers, but I have some dedicated followers who are both more knowledgeable and helpful than I am, and I’m sure they’d be able to help you out too.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 17 Dialogue

What can you do? That’s the key question of this lesson. Check out the vocabulary here.

1 A: 我入得來嗎,陳先生? Ngoi yìp-ak löi ma, Chïn Lhing-Sang?
  B: 請入來喲。請坐,請坐,李先生。 Tīng yìp löi yi. Tīng tu, tīng tu, Lī Lhing-Sang.
  A: 好呀,好呀,陳先生。 Hō a, hō a, Chïn Lhing-Sang.
2 A: 你聽早翻唔翻得學呀? Ni hìng-dō fan m-fan-ak hòk a?
  B: 翻得,我聽早翻得學。 Fan-ak, ngoi hìng-dō fan-ak hòk.
3 A: 你一陣上唔上得堂呢? Ni yīt-jìn* siang m̈-siang-ak höng nē?
  B: 唔上得,我一陣唔上得堂。 M̈-siang-ak, ngoi yīt-jìn* m̈-siang-ak höng.
4 A: 你今晚去唔去得街呀? Ni gim-mạn hui m̈-hui-ak gại* a?
  B: 去得,我今晚去得街。 Hui-ak, ngoi gim-mạn hui-ak gại*.
5 A: 你聽早晚來唔來得我處呢? Ni hìng-dō-mạn* löi m̈-löi-ak ngoi chụi* nē?
  B: 唔來得,我聽早晚唔來得你處。 M̈-löi-ak, ngoi hìng-dō-mạn* m̈-löi-ak ni chụi*.
6 A: 你今日去得三籓市嗎? Ni gim-ngìt hui-ak Lham-Fän-Sị* ma?
  B: 去得,我今日去得三籓市。 Hui-ak, ngoi gim-ngìt hui-ak Lham-Fän-Sị*.
7 A: 佢後日翻得工嗎? Kui hạu-ngìt fan-ak gung ma?
  B: 唔翻得,佢後日唔翻得工。 M̈-fan-ak, kui hạu-ngìt m̈-fan-ak gung.
8 A: 嚀個病人昨日朝頭早起得身嗎? Nịng gwoi bìang-ngïn dọng-ngìt jiau-häu-dō hī-ak sin ma?
  B: 起得,嚀個病人昨日朝頭早起得身。 Hī-ak, nịng gwoi bìang-ngïn dọng-ngìt jiau-häu-dō hī-ak sin.
9 A: 嚀個病人昨晚瞓得嗎? Nịng gwoi bìang-ngïn dòk-mạn* fun-ak ma?
  B: 唔瞓得,嚀個病人昨晚唔瞓得。 M̈-fun-ak, nịng gwoi bìang-ngïn dòk-mạn* m̈-fun-ak.
10 A: 我該樣做,得嗎? Ngoi kwọ-yịang* du, dak ma?
  B: 得,你該樣做得。 Dak, ni kwọ-yịang* du-ak.
  A: 佢該樣做,得唔得呀? Kui kwọ-yịang* du, dak-m̈-dak a?
  B: 唔得,佢該樣做,唔得。 M̈-dak, kui kwọ-yịang* du, m̈-dak.

The main grammar point is with the word 得 ak/āk/dak. This word generally expresses deontic modality. (You don’t have to know what “deontic modality” means, I’ve just never been able to use those words in writing!) In short, it corresponds to English expressions of ability, including can, be able and may.

得 ak

When modifying a verb, 得 is pronounced ak or sometimes āk. In this sense, 得 ak is similar to the English “can” or “may” as in, 翻得 fan-ak “can go,” 上得 “can attend,” 去得 hui-ak “can go,” 來得 löi-ak “can come,” 起得 hī-ak “can get up,” 瞓得 fun-ak “can sleep.”

The word 得 immediately follows the verb. When the verb has two components, such as 入來 yìp-löi or 瞓覺 fun-gau, then 得 intervenes between them, so you would get 入得來 yìp-ak-löi and 瞓得覺 fun-ak-gau.

When you want to say “cannot,” you should put 唔 before the entire phrase, so 唔去得 m̈-hui-ak “cannot go” or 唔瞓得 m̈-fun-ak “cannot sleep.”

When asking a yes-or-no question (or rather, an “A-唔-A question”), you place 得 after the last verb, so: 翻唔翻得 fan-m̈-fan-ak or 瞓唔瞓得 fun-m̈-fun-ak. The proper response to an A-唔-A question is A得 or 唔A得.

得 dak

When 得 stands on its own, unassociated with a verb, it’s pronounced as dak. The meaning also changes to one of general ability, and can even be translated as “okay” or “alright.” In sentence 10, the first question could be translated as either “Can I do it this way?” or “Is it okay that I do it this way?” or even “I do it this way, alright?”

At least, that’s how I understand this word. Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 17 Vocabulary

This lesson’s vocabulary includes several new time words in addition to some very useful expressions for everyday activities like 翻學 fan hòk “go to school” and 起身 hī sin “to get up.”

  1. 入 · yìp · to enter, put into
  2. 翻學 · fan hòk · to go to school
  3. 翻工 · fan gung · to go to work
  4. 起身 · hī sin · to get up
  5. 聽早晚 · hìng-dō-mạn* · tomorrow night
  6. 後日 · hàu-ngìt (häu-ngìt*) · day after tomorrow
  7. 昨日 · dọng-ngìt (dok-ngìt) · yesterday
  8. 一陣(捏久,捏誒久) · yīt-jìn* (nīt-gīu) (nīt-ẹ-gīu) · a short while, one moment
  9. 病人 · bìang-ngïn* · patient
  10. 病 · bìang · sick, ill
  11. 得 · ak, āk, dak · can, to obtain, get, okay, verb suffix
  12. 該,該樣 · kwọ*, kwọ-yiạng* (kwọ-yiàng) · so, in such a manner
  13. 朝頭早 · jiau-häu-dō (jiau-dō) · morning
  14. 三籓市(大埠)· Lham-Fän-Sị* (Ài-Fàu) · San Francisco
  15. 喲 · yiàk, yì · final particle

Quite a few of these words have different pronunciations listed in the Kaiping Dictionary.

  • 起身 · hēi sin · to get up
  • 聽早晚 · hìn-dō-mạn* · tomorrow night
  • 後日 · hàu-ngèt (häu-ngèt*) · day after tomorrow
  • 昨日 · dọng-ngèt (dòk-ngèt) · yesterday
  • 一陣(捏久,捏誒久)· yīt-jìn* (nīt-gēu, nīt-ẹ-gēu) · a short while, one moment
  • 病人 · vìang-ngën* · patient
  • 病 · vìang · sick
  • 該,該樣 · kọ*, kọ-yịang* (kọ-yìang) · so, in such a manner
  • 朝頊早 · jeu-häu-dō (jeu-dō) · morning

If you notice any corrections or have any comments, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 16 Reading

At the end of each lesson in the Basic Course, there is a reading portion, which I’ve copied down and transcribed below for lesson 16. You can check out the vocabulary list here, the dialogue and grammar notes here.



Wöng Lhing-Sang hāi Mị-Gwōk chut-sại. Wöng Fu-Ngïn* hāi Jung-Gwōk chut-sại. Kìak hāi Ngìt-Bōn gīk-fun*. Wöng Ling-Sang kọi-sị hāi ban-fọng siang höng, kui hòk Höi-San-wà*. Wöng Fu-Ngïn* jing-wà hui-gại mai hing-nẹ*, gi-lhen*, hüng ā ìng-bo bī kui gwoi mu-tin; kui mai līang-bōn Ying-Mün si bī Wöng Lhing-Sang.

Wöng Lhing-Sang gwoi fù-tin ị-tïng hāi yīt-gan ài gung-lhu du lhù; Wöng Lhing-Sang gwoi ài-lō tïng-nïng hāi yīt-gan Ngìt-Bōn hòk-hàu gau si, kui gau Ying-Mün; Wöng Lhing-Sang gwoi lhai-lō gìu-nïng hāi yīt-gan Ngìt-Bōn gwoi hòk-hàu ùk si, kui ùk Ngìt-Mün, gim-nïng kui hāi Mị-Gwōk ong-bing; Wöng Lhing-Sang gwoi mü-tin hāi ūk-kī, kui mo du lhù.

I tried to place in the rising tone change (marked by the asterisk *) where I heard it in the audio, but I may have missed some or mistakenly inserted others.

Please don’t hesitate to let me know of any necessary corrections that you might notice!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 16 Dialogue

This dialogue is again all about location. You can check out this lesson’s vocab here.

1 A: 黄先生,好耐冇見你囉! Wöng Lhing-Sang, hō nòi mo-gian ni lo.
  B: 係囉,李先生。哦大家冇見好耐咯! Hài lō, Lī Lhing-Sang. Ngọi ài-gä* mo gian hō nòi lok.
2 A: 你到乃出世呀? Ni o nại chūt sại a?
  B: 我到美國出世。 Ngoi o Mị-Gwōk chūt sại.
3 A: 你到乃當兵? Ni o nại ong-bing nē.
  B: 我到美國陸軍當兵。 Ngoi o Mị-Gwōk Lùk-Gun ong-bing.
4 A: 你個夫人以前到乃讀書呀? Ni gwoi fu-ngïn* yị-tïng o nại ùk si a?
  B: 我個女人以前到中國學校讀書。 Ngoi gwoi nūi-ngïn* yị-tïng o Jung-Gwōk hòk-hàu* ùk si.
5 A: 你個父親該時到乃處做事呀? Ni gwoi fù-tin kwọi-sị* o nại chụi* du lhù a?
  B: 我個父親該到一間公司做事。 Ngoi gwoi fù-tin kwọi-sị* o yīt-gan gung-lhu* du lhù.
6 A: 你個大佬幾時喺日本結婚呀? Ni gwoi ài-lō gī-sị* hāi Ngìt-Bōn gīk-fun a?
  B: 我個大佬今年喺日本結緍。 Ngoi gwoi ài-lō gim-nïng hāi Ngìt-Bōn gīk-fun.
7 A: 你個細佬幾時喺美國陸軍語言學校教書呀? Ni gwoi lhai-lō gī-sị* hāi Mị-Gwōk Lùk-Gun Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu* gao si nē?
  B: 我個細佬舊年喺美國陸軍語言學校教書。 Ngoi gwoi lhai-lō gìu-nïng hāi Mị-Gwōk Lùk-Gun Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu gao si.
8 A: 逽喺美國陸軍語言學校做乜田野呀? Nìak hāi Mị-Gwōk Lùk-Gun Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu* du mōt hing-nẹ* a?
  B: 哦喺美國陸軍語言學校學台山話。 Ngọi hāi Mị-Gwōk Lùk-Gun Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu* hòk Höi-San wà*.
9 A: 逽到班房做乜呢? Nìak o ban-fọng* du mōt nē?
  B: 哦到班房上堂。 Ngọi o ban-fọng* siang höng.
10 A: 黄夫人,你響乃處來架? Wöng Fu-Ngïn*, ni hīang nại chụi* löi ga?
  B: 啊!我正話響美國來個。 Ò! Ngoi jing-wà hīang Mị-Gwōk löi gwoi.

The Locative Expression: 到/喺 + [LOCATION] + Verb

I failed to post this dialogue last month because I didn’t know when 到/喺 o/hāi + [LOCATION] (“the locative expression”) should precede or follow the expression it modifies (i.e. 我到美國出世 · Ngoi o Mī-Gwōk chūt-sại · “I was born in America”). In this dialogue, the locative expression precedes the expression it modifies, namely: 當兵 ong-bing, 讀書 ùk si, 做事 du lhù, 結婚 gīk-fun, 教書 gao si, 學台山話 hòk Höi-San-wà*.

Note that according to this definition, the terms for “where,” 到乃 o nại* and 到乃處 o nại chụi*, are both locative expressions.

Pardon my linguistic terminology here, but my sense is that locative expressions precede the expressions they modify (or “locative phrases precede the verbal phrases they modify”) when they are adjuncts that describe the place of an event rather than a crucial part of that event.

Does this hold? Does this make sense? I don’t know; I’m already thinking up counter examples. If I were still in graduate school, this would make an amazing syntax problem set, but as for now, I’m going to rely on your help on this one!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Thousand Character Classic, Kaiping Version

The story of the Thousand Character Classic (千子文) is that it was composed at the emperor’s orders of one thousand unique characters from the works of the great calligrapher Wang Xizhi (王羲之) and has served for centuries both as a text for the practice of calligraphy and as a repository of Chinese values. Just recently, a Kaiping dialect version of this text being read aloud was posted on Youtube.

I haven’t been keeping this blog up to date as often as I’d like to, but I will start again later this week. I hope you can enjoy this reading in the meantime. Many thanks to the support of the readers here!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 16 Vocabulary

The last few weeks, I’ve been overwhelmed with work. I’ve only just been able to pull together most of the vocabulary for lesson sixteen.

  1. 咯 · lòk · final particle
  2. 出世 · chūt sại (chūt sai) · to be born
  3. 當兵 · ong bing [ong ven] · to be in military service
  4. 讀書 · ùk si · to study, learn, read
  5. 做事 · du lhù · to work
  6. 結緍 · git fun (kau-yin*) · to marry
  7. 教書 · gau si · to teach
  8. 上堂 · siang höng · to go to class; class in session
  9. 以前 · ị tïng · formerly, previously, before
  10. 今年 · gim-nïng · this year
  11. 舊年 · gìu-nïng · last year
  12. 日本 · Ngìt-Bōn · Japan
  13. 大佬(哥)· ài-lō (gū) · elder brother
  14. 細佬(?)· lhai-lō (lhäi) · younger brother
  15. 公司 · gung-lhu* · company, store
  16. 架 · gạ · classifier, final particle
  17. 囉 · lo, lō · final particle
  18. 大家 · ài-ga* · all, we all, you all
  19. 久 · gīu · long time
  20. 響(?) · hīang (yïu) · at, from

There’s an expression missing from the vocabulary list, which you’ll find in the lesson dialogue—好耐 hō nòi “long time.”

I don’t know how to write lhäi and yïu above, but maybe you can help me out here!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 15 Dialogue

This lesson expands on the last lesson’s discussion of location. You can find the vocabulary list for this dialogue here.

1 A: 請問陳小姐到該嗎? Tīng mùn Chïn Lhīau-Dē o kwọi ma?
  B: 對唔住,佢唔到該。有乜事呢? Ui-m̈-jì, kui m̈-o kwọi*. Yiu mōt lhù nē?
  A: 冇乜。我來坐吓喲。 Mo mōt. Ngoi löi tu hạ yìak.
2 A: 正話你坐喺乃呀? Jing-wà ni tu hāi nại* a?
  B: 正話我坐喺該張梳化。 Jing-wà ngoi tu hāi kwọi jiang sō-fạ*.
3 A: 佢該時企到乃呢? Kui kwọi-sị* ki o nại* nē?
  B: 佢該時企到地。 Kui kwọi-sị* ki o ì*.
4 A: 昨晚逽瞓到乃呀? Dòk-mạn* nìak fun o nại* a?
  B: 昨晚哦瞓到嚀屐屋企。 Dòk-mạn ngọi fun o nịng bùng ūk-kī.
5 A: 乃個該時凭到嚀塳牆。 Nại* gwoi kwọi-sị* bàng o nịng bùng tïang* nē?
  B: 黄先生該時凭到嚀塳牆。 Wöng Lhing-Sang kwọi-sị* bàng o nịng bùng tïang*.
6 A: 正話該本簿放到乃呀? Jing-wà kwọi bōn bù* fong o nại* a?
  B: 正話該本簿放到嚀張枱。 Jing-wà kwọi bōn bù* fong o nịng jiang họi*.
7 A: 嚀張枱該時跌到乃呢? Nịng jiang họi* kwọi-sị* ik o nại* nē?
  B: 嚀張枱該時跌到嚀間班房。 Nịng jiang họi* kwọi-sị* ik o nịng gan ban-fọng*.
8 A: 該張床放到乃呀? Kwọi jiang chöng fong o nại* a?
  B: 該張床放到嚀間房。 Kwọi jiang chöng fong o nịng gan fọng*.
9 A: 你個褸漏到乃呢? Ni gwoi lau* làu o nại* nē?
  B: 我個褸漏到嚀間樓。 Ngoi gwoi lau* làu o nịng gan läu*.
10 A: 請問黄先生到該住嗎? Tīng mùn Wöng Lhing-Sang o kwọi* ji ma?
  B: 啊!佢唔到該住。 Ò! Kui m̈-o kwọi* ji.
  A: 佢到乃住呀? Kui o nại* ji a?
  B: 佢到佢個朋友嚀住。 Kui o kui gwoi päng-yịu nịng ji.

There are several grammar points, and I’ll try to cover them all.

V + 到

The last lesson introduced the words 到 o and 喺 hāi, which mean “at” or “to be at.” These words have a similar structure to the word 俾 ī “to” or “to give” such that in the absence of another verb, these words take on the work of both the verb and preposition (see lesson nine). For example:

佢到乃呀? Kui o nại* a? “Where is he?”
佢企到乃呢? Kui ki o nại* nē? “Where is he standing?”

In both expressions, 到乃 o nại refers to the English “where.” The word 到 o is necessary because you are talking about the location of where something is (at).

Object to Subject Order

There is a special structure for certain verbs of movement. When the main verb is transitive—such as 放 fong “to put,” 跌/的 ik “to put,” or 漏 làu “to lose”—then the verb’s subject can be dropped and replaced by the object. Pay attention to the structure of the following sentences.

Kwọi bōn bù* fong o nịng jiang họi*.
“This notebook is placed on that table.”

Nịng jiang họi* ik o nịng gan ban-fọng*.
“That table is placed in that classroom.”

Ngoi gwoi lau* làu o nịng gan läu*.
“My coat is left in that building.”

These sentences with the object-as-subject all also include a phrase about location.

His Place

Note the last line in the dialogue, specifically the phrase 到佢個朋友嚀 o kui gwoi päng-yịu nịng “at his friend’s place.” This is the same structure used in the last lesson (到我該 o ngoi kwọi “at my place”). It’s a very useful and simple phrase.

Ask Politely

If you have something to ask, you can begin your question with 請問 tīng mùn to be polite.

It’s Nothing

The way to say “nothing” is with a structure similar to “not … what.” In example 1, the term used is 冇乜 mo mōt “there’s nothing”—literally, “not have what.”


There are a couple grammar points that I feel unsure about. First, What is the correct meaning of this object-to-subject structure? Tough I use this structure often, I neither give it much thought nor speak well enough to have any strong judgments on what’s acceptable.

My second question has to do with the last sentences, where the prepositional phrases are all placed before 住 ji “to live” (i.e. 到該住 o kwọi* ji, 到乃住 o nại* ji and 到佢個朋友嚀住 o kui gwoi päng-yịu nịng ji). Must the prepositional phrase always precede 住 ji? Are there other verbs like this? (I have many questions on this subject.)

Questions? Suggestions? Corrections? Let me know in the comments—especially if you notice a typo, or if I simply wrote something wrong.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 15 Vocabulary

This lesson builds on lesson 14 with a more involved discussion about location. You’ll be introduced to new verbs and structures. As in the previous lesson, pronunciations in brackets indicate Kaiping Dictionary pronunciations.

  1. 問 · mùn · to ask, inquire
  2. 來 · lọi · to come, in order to
  3. 吓 · hạ · a moment, short while, verb suffix
  4. 喲 · yìak · final particle, only
  5. 正話 · jing-wà [jen-wà] · just, just now
  6. 梳化 · sō-fạ* · sofa
  7. 企 · ki [kei] · to stand
  8. 地 · ì [èi] · floor, ground
  9. 瞓 · fun · to sleep, lie down
  10. 凭 · bàng · to lean on
  11. 塳 · bùng · classifier for wall (牆)
  12. 跌 · ik [et] · to put, place
  13. 床 · chöng · bed, couch
  14. 放 · fong · to put, place, release
  15. 房 · fọng* · room
  16. 褸 · lau* · overcoat
  17. 漏 · làu · to lose, leave behind, neglect, omit, leak
  18. 樓 · läu* · building, house
  19. 啊 · ò! · interjection

The new word that perplexed me is ik “to put, place.” The Basic Course transcribes this word with a novel Chinese character, combining the radical 口 with the character 跌. I failed to find this word in the Kaiping Character Dictionary by looking up variants of ik in the pronunciation table. There’s the distinct likelihood that I am overlooking something which is glaringly obvious to native speakers.

Do you know this word?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Taishanese Romanization

Romanizations are important for indicating Taishanese pronunciation. Many different romanization schemes have been used from the International Phonetic Alphabet to the Wade-Giles-like scheme in the DLI Basic Course or the Pinyin-like scheme in the Kaiping Character Dictionary 开平方音字典. My preferred transcription scheme is more or less a hybrid of the latter two. This romanization can be easily explained in terms of consonants, vowels and tones.

There are 20 consonants (previously discussed here and here). The table below organizes the consonants such that consonants produced with the lips are at the top, those produced with the tip of the tongue in the middle, and those produced with the back of the tongue at the bottom. (The last row is actually those produced with both the lips and back of the tongue simultaneously.)

b p m f  
d t n lh l
j ch   s y
g k ng h  
gw kw     w

Most of these consonants should be straightforward for English speakers to pronounce, save the lateral fricative, lh. It’s the consonant in 四 lhi “four.”

The vowels (which I’ve touched on briefly) are at once simpler and maddeningly more complex. There are five basic vowels:

a e i o u

In some dialects, there is another schwa-like vowel quality, similar to the a in about or in the Cantonese word 乜 mat. This vowel is usually a predicable variant of one of the vowels above. For example, when occurring before t, this vowel is usually a variant of e, as in 的 et (for some accents). Likewise, when occurring before ng, this vowel is usually a variant of u, as in 東 ung (for some accents).

These vowels combine into six diphthongs, formed by appending i or u to the vowels above. (For the linguistics geeks, the front vowels pair with u, while the back vowels pair with i. The central(ish) vowel a pairs with both i and u.)

au eu iu
ai oi ui

There is, in fact, yet one more diphthong: ia. This diphthong corresponds to the vowel e, so in these accents, words like 車, 吃 and 聽 are pronounced chia, hiak and hiang. Furthermore, the diphthong eu then becomes a triphthong: iau.

The tricky part is that, although one can transcribe all Taishanese with this five-vowel framework, the vowels trade places (sort of like musical chairs) from one accent to another. The most famous of these vowel shifts is the I-E shift. Where some dialects have the i sound (as in 四 lhi or 心 lhim), other dialects have an ei or e sound (as in 四 lhei or 心 lhem). (Damn, ei is yet another diphthong!)

Rather than propose a single way to transcribe a word like 四—lhi or lhei?—I am simply proposing that these five simple vowels are able to accommodate the full range of vowel qualities, even across various accents.

Lastly, there are five basic tones. I’ve written about these at length here and here. The table below provides the tones, their description, and an example written both in Chinese and in this romanization scheme.

1 2 3 4 5
mid-level high-level low-level low-falling high-falling
hau hāu häu hạu hàu

Diacritics are used to denote the tones. The macron, trema, underdot and grave accent respectively denote the high level tone, the low level tone, the low falling tone and the mid falling tone. The mid level tone is indicated by the lack of any diacritic.

These tones could all alternatively be written without any diacritic. Instead of a diacritic, one could use the tone number, so the five vowels could be written with a following number. I chose to write this number superscripted for my aesthetic.

hau1 hau2 hau3 hau4 hau5

In addition to these basic tones, there are changed tones. The mid and low level tones can become rising tones (mid rising and low rising), while the falling tones can become dipping tones (low dipping and mid dipping). Since these changed tones are derived from the base tones, I simply indicate the changed tone with the addition of an asterisk (*). Thus, a word like kwọi “this” undergoes the tone change to become kwọi* “here,” where the combination of the underdot and asterisk indicates a low-dipping tone. (These words could also be written as kwoi4 and kwoi4*.)

It’s a bit of a mess, but that’s my romanization scheme in a nutshell.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 14 Dialogue

This dialogue has two key words to pay attention to: 到 o “at” and 該 kwọi “this” or kwọi* “here.” If you aren’t familiar with the words in the dialogue below, you can check out the translations in the lesson fourteen vocabulary list.

1 A: 你吃煙嗎? Ni hiak yien* ma?
  B: 多謝,多謝。我吃煙。 U-dè, u-dè. Ngoi m̈-hiak yien*.
2 A: 陳先生到該嗎? Chïn Lhing-Sang o kwọi* ma?
  B: 到該,陳先生到該。 O kwọi*, Chïn Lhing-Sang o kwọi*.
3 A: 李小姐該時到該嗎? Lī Lhīau-dē kwọi-sị* o kwọi* ma?
  B: 唔到該,李小姐該時唔到該。 M̈-o kwọi*, Lī Lhīau-dē kwọi-sị* m̈-o kwọi*.
4 A: 黄先生個朋友到唔到該呀? Wöng Lhing-Sang gwoi päng-yịu o m̈-o kwọi* a?
  B: 到該,黄先生個朋友到該。 O-kwọi*, Wöng Lhing-Sang gwoi päng-yịu o kwọi*.
5 A: 李夫人個父親現在到唔到該呢? Lī Fu-Ngịn* gwoi fù-tin yìen-dòi o m̈-o kwọi* nē?
  B: 唔到該,李夫人個父親現在唔到該。 M̈-o kwọi*, Lī Fu-Ngịn* gwoi fù-tin yìen-dòi m̈-o kwọi*.
6 A: 黄小姐個母親到乃呀? Wöng Lhīau-dē gwoi mụ-tin o nại* a?
  B: 黄小姐個母親到嚀。 Wöng Lhīau-dē gwoi mụ-tin o nịng*.
7 A: 你個女該時到乃呀? Ni gwoi nūi kwọi-sị* o nại* nē?
  B: 我個女該時到該。 Ngoi gwoi nūi kwọi-sị* o kwọi*.
8 A: 佢個仔幾時到該呀? Kui gwoi dōi gi-sị* o kwọi* a?
  B: 佢個仔今日到該。 Kui gwoi dōi gim-ngìt o kwọi*.
9 A: 你個女朋友今日幾時到該呢? Ni gwoi nūi päng-yịu gim-ngìt gi-sị* o kwọi* nē?
  B: 我個女朋友今日下午到該。 Ngoi gwoi nūi päng-yịu gim-ngìt hà-ṇg o kwọi*.
10 A: 到我該吃餐便飯,好嗎? O ngoi kwọi* hiak tan bìng fàn, hō ma?
  B: 唔好囉。多謝嘥囉。唔好客氣囉。 M̈-hō lō. U-dè-lhai lo. M̈-hō hak-hi lō.

In the above dialogue, the word 到 o means either “at” or “to be at.” This word has several other meanings, but these other meanings are not important one for the purpose of this lesson.

We first encountered the word 該 kwọi “this” in lesson four. In this dialogue the word appears in the term 該時 kwọi-sị* “now” (literally, “this time”).

You also see the term used to mean “here”—but with a different tone. The tone of kwọi is low-falling, while the tone of kwọi* “here” is low-dipping; it begins low-falling, then rises to the same pitch as a high tone. In a numeric transcription of Chao’s tone letters, this tone could be transcribed: 215.

The word 該 kwọi* can also indicate a place. In example 10, the word 該 kwọi* is part of the expression 我該 ngoi kwọi*, meaning “my place.”

Please don’t hesitate to leave any questions, comments or suggestions below!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 14 Vocabulary

This lesson’s dialogue focuses on asking questions about where people are. You’ll get a lot of practice with the various uses of the word kwọi, which I’ve been transcribing as 該. The vocabulary list is below; romanization in brackets indicates the pronunciation in the Kaiping dictionary.

  1. 小姐 · lhīau-dē [lhīu-dīe] · Miss, young lady
  2. 朋友 · päng-yịu [päng-yịu, häng-yịu] · friend
  3. 女朋友 · nūi-päng-yịu · girl friend
  4. 陳 · Chïn · surname
  5. 母親 · mụ-tin [mụ-ten] · mother
  6. 父親(老大,老民)· fù-tin (lō-ài*, lō-mīn) [fù-ten] · father
  7. 仔 · dōi · son
  8. 女 · nūi · daughter
  9. 處 · chụi · place suffix
  10. 該時 · kwọi-sï [kọi-sï] · now, at this time
  11. 現在 · yìan-dòi [yèn-dòi] · now, at this time
  12. 下午 (下晝)· hà-ṇg (hà-jịu) · afternoon, p.m.
  13. 餐 · tan* · meal, (classifier)
  14. 便飯 · bìng-fàn [vìn-fàn] · meal (humble form)
  15. 煙 · yian* [yen*] · cigarette, tobacco, smoke
  16. 多謝 · u-dè [u-dìe] · thank you, thanks, many thanks
  17. 到(喺)· o (hāi) · at
  18. 囉 · lo (lok) · final particle
  19. 嘥 · lhaai · verb suffix, entirely, completely, all
  20. 客氣 · hak-hi [hak-hei] · to stand on ceremony

Plus the following phrase:

  • 唔敢當 · m̈-gām ong · I dare not (accept the praise/honor)

Does anyone know the second character for the term lō-mīn “father”?

Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Behold, a Humble Particle!

An indispensable Cantonese expression is 你食咗飯未呀? sik6 zo2 faan6 mei6 aa3? “Have you eaten yet?” It’s a common greeting, with a very similar equivalent in Taishanese. (See the lesson 12 dialogue.)

The corresponding phrase in Taishanese is almost exactly the same, 你食嗲飯未呀 你吃嗲飯未呀? Ni hiak-e fàn mì a? Some of the tones are (predictably) different. You should also notice that the Cantonese word 咗 zo6 is replaced with the Taishanese word 嗲 e. In my opinion, it sounds very schwa-like (but that’s just my opinion). What’s the meaning of 咗/嗲?—I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Another way to write this particle is with the character 誒, which Deng Jun uses in the Kaiping Dictionary. I’ve never really thought about writing this word before, or if it has the same meaning in Taishanese as the word 咗 in Cantonese.

So, I’m just curious for my occasional blog readers—how do you write this word in Chinese? How would you transcribe it in English? Does it have the same meaning as 咗 in Cantonese?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 13 Dialogue

This lesson is about describing one’s positive experience.

1 A: 你識唔識講台山話呀? Ni sīk m̈-sīk gōng Họi-San wà* a?
  B: 識,我識講少少。 Sīk, ngoi sīk gōng sīau sīau.
  A: 該尼飯好唔好吃呀? Kwọi nāi fàn hō m̈-hō hiak a?
2 A: 好,該尼飯好吃。 Hō, kwọi nāi fàn hō hiak.
  B: 好,該尼飯好吃。 Hō, kwọi nāi fàn hō hiak.
3 A: 該尼茶好唔好飲呢? Kwọi nāi chä hō m̈-hō ngīm nē?
  B: 唔好,該尼茶唔好飲。 M̈-hō, kwọi nāi chä m̈-hō ngīm.
4 A: 該齣戲好唔好睇呀? Kwọi chūt hi hō m̈-hō hāi a?
  B: 好,嚀齣戲好好睇。 Hō, nịng chūt hi hō hō hāi.
5 A: 該尼音樂好唔好聽呢? Kwọi nāi yim-ngùk hō m̈-hō hiang nē?
  B: 唔好,該尼音樂唔係好好聽。 M̈-hō, kwọi nāi yim-ngùk m̈-hài hō hō hiang.
6 A: 嚀條路好唔好行呀? Nịng hïau lù hō m̈-hō häng a?
  B: 好,該條路幾好行。 Hō, kwọi hïau lù gī hō häng.
7 A: 該間屋好唔好住呢? Kwọi gan ūk hō m̈-hō jì nē?
  B: 唔好,嚀間屋唔係幾好住。 M̈-hō, nịng gan ūk m̈-hài gī-hō jì.
8 A: 嚀樽香水好唔好聞呀? Nịng dụn hiang-sūi hō m̈-hō mün a?
  B: 好,該樽香水非常之好聞。 Hō, kwọi dụn hiang-sūi fi-sïang ji hō mün.
9 A: 該件衫好唔好着呢? Kwọi gìng sạm hō m̈-hō jiak nē?
  B: 唔好,嚀件衫常之唔好着。 M̈-hō, nịng gìng sạm fi-sïang ji m̈-hō jiak.
10 A: 你講台山話講得好好。 Ni gōng Höi-San wà* gōng-ak hō hō.
  B: 唔敢當,唔敢當。 M̈-gām ong, m̈-gām ong.

The main grammar point in this lesson is the ability to create adjectives by adding 好 before the verb. The resulting adjective means “good” in a way that’s related to a specific type of experience.

For example, 吃 hiak means “eat” and 好吃 hō-hiak means “tasty” or “delicious.” You can even translate this word less effusively as “good”—but specifically related to eating. So if I ask if your food is good, the key question would be:「好唔好吃?」

The other derived words in this lesson are 好飲 hō-ngīm “good (to drink),” 好行 hō-häng “good (to walk),” 好睇 hō-hāi “good (to watch),” 好聽 hō-hiang “good (to listen to),” 好住 hō-ji “good (to live in),” 好聞 hō-mün “good (to smell)” and 好着 hō-jiak “good (to wear).”

Remember that these are adjectives, so if you want to say “very tasty,” you add 好 : 好好吃 hō hō-hiak!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 13 Vocabulary

This lesson is all about positive experience. You can think of the list below as pairs of verbs and nouns that describe certain very common experiences like drinking tea, watching a movie or going for a walk.

  1. 唔好 · m̈-hō · don’t, had better not, not good
  2. 請 · tīang (tīng) · please, to invite, to request
  3. 飲 · ngīm · to drink
  4. 茶 · chä · tea
  5. 齣(出) · chūt · (classifier), out, to exit, to put out
  6. 戲 · hi · show, movie, to make fun of
  7. 睇 · hāi · to see, visit
  8. 音樂 · yim-ngòk · music
  9. 聽 · hiang · to listen, obey
  10. 條 · hïau · (classifier)
  11. 路 · lù · road, way, path
  12. 行路 · häng lù · to walk
  13. 住 · jì · to reside, to live
  14. 樽 · dụn · bottle
  15. 香水 · hiang-sūi · perfume
  16. 聞 · mün · to smell, to hear
  17. 衫 · sạm · coat, dress
  18. 着衫 · jiak sạm · to dress, to wear
  19. 坐 · tu · to sit
  20. 廣東 · Gwōng-Ung Guangdong/Canton Province

Here’s a new phrase in the dialogue that missed the vocabulary list.

  • 唔敢當 · m̈-gām ong · I dare not (accept the praise/honor)

A few of the words also have different pronunciations in the Kaiping dictionary.

  • 請 · tēn · please, to invite, to request
  • 飲 · ngēm · to drink
  • 戲 · hei · show, movie, to make fun of
  • 聽 · hiang (hen) · to listen, obey
  • 條 · hïu · (classifier)
  • 廣東 · Gōng-Ung Guangdong/Canton Province

Do you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions? Let me know in the comments section!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 12 Dialogue

For future reference, I need to read the dialogues first before commenting on the vocabulary. This chapter is all about comparisons. From the vocabulary list, I thought it would be about time, but I was way off!

1 A: 你吃嗲飯未呀? Ni hiak-e fàn mì a?
  B: 我吃嗲囉。你呢? Ngoi hiak-e lō. Ni nē?
  A: 我未吃。 Ngoi mì hiak.
2 A: 乃一枝粉筆長過該一枝粉筆呀? Nại yīt-ji fūn-bīt chïang-gwo kwọi yīt-ji fūn-bīt a?
  B: 嚀一枝粉筆長過該一枝粉筆。 Nịng yīt-ji fūn-bīt chïang-gwo kwọi yīt-ji fūn-bīt.
3 A: 乃個個鉛筆短過我個鉛筆? Nại-gwoi gwoi yön-bīt ōn-gwo ngoi gwoi yön-bīt?
  B: 你個鉛筆短過我個短筆。 Ni gwoi yön-bīt ōn-gwo ngoi gwoi yön-bīt.
4 A: 乃一晚比較今晚冷尼呀? Nại yīt-mạn bī-gau gim-mạn lang nāi a?
  B: 昨晚比較今晚冷尼。 Dok-mạn bī-gau gim-mạn lang nāi.
5 A: 乃日比較今日暖尼呀? Nại ngìt bī-gau gim-ngìt non nāi a?
  B: 昨日比較今日暖尼。 Dok-ngìt bīt-gau gim-ngìt non nāi.
6 A: 乃個尼錢比你尼錢多好多? Nại gwoi nāi tïng* bī ni nāi tïng* u hō u?
  B: 佢尼錢比我尼錢多好多。 Kui nāi tïng* bī ngoi nāi tïng* u hō u.
7 A: 乃個個仔女比你個仔女少好多呢? Nại-gwoi gwoi dōi-nūi bī ni gwoi dōi-nūi sīau hō u nē?
  B: 佢個仔女比我個仔女少好多。 Kui gwoi dōi-nūi bī ngoi gwoi dōi-nūi sīau hō u.
8 A: 佢個三伩仔有冇我個三伩仔該聰明呀? Kui gwoi lham-mīn-dōi yiu-mo ngoi gwoi lham-mīn-dōi kwọi tung-mïng a?
  B: 有,佢個三伩仔有你個三伩仔該聰明。 Yiu, kui gwoi lham-mīn-dōi yiu ni gwoi lham-mīn-dōi kwọi tung-mïng.
9 A: 我同你同佢,乃個最高,乃個至矮呢? Ngoi hüng ni hüng kui, nại gwoi dui go, nại gwoi ji āi nē?
  B: 你同我同佢,你最高,我至矮。 Ni hüng ngoi hüng kui, ni dui go, ngoi ji āi.
10 A: 逽幾時走呀? Nìak gī-sị* dāu a?
  B: 哦今日走。逽尼? Ngọi gim-ngìt dāu. Nìak nē?
  B: 哦今晚走。 Ngọi gim-mạn dāu.

I counted five different constructions used in this passage to express comparisons. Here they are one-by-one:

A Adj-過 B

You see this construction in exchanges 2 and 3. The construction is similar to the English comparison, as in, “I am taller than you.” In Taishanese you’d say,「我高過你」ngoi go-gwo nei.

A 比較 B Adj-尼

This construction has two parts. The first is 比較 bī-gau “compared to.” The second is adding 尼 nāi to the end of an adjective to express comparison, similar to “-er” in English. For example, 高尼 go-nāi means “taller,” 冷尼 lang-nāi means “colder,” and 多尼 u-nāi means “more” (i.e. many + er = more). You generally use 尼 nāi if you’re saying that “A is X-er” (e.g.「佢高尼」kui go-nāi), and 過 gwo for comparing two things “A is X-er than B” (e.g.「佢高過我」kui go-gwo ngoi).

But then there’s 比(較) bī(-gau). This word (literally, “compare”) allows you to compare two entities and also use 尼 nāi. You can think of the structure as roughly akin to English, “A, compared to B, is X-er.” To run with the same example,「佢比較我高尼」kui bī-gau ngoi go-nāi.

A 比 B Adj-好多

You can replace 尼 nāi with 好多 hō-u “much” to express a greater degree of comparison. In examples 6 and 7, 好多 hō-u is used to modify 多 u “many” and 少 sīau (i.e. 多好多 u hō-u “much more” and 少好多 sīau hō-u “much less”).

A 有冇 B 該-Adj

The 有冇 yiu-mo construction judges whether two things are comparable, but not necessarily exactly the same. The question in example 8 can thus be translated as, “Is his child as smart as my child?” (佢個三伩仔有冇我個三伩仔該聰明呀? kui gwoi lham-mīn-dōi yiu-mo ngoi gwoi lham-mīn-dōi kwọi tung-mïng?). The response is, “Yes” (有 yiu), implying that the child is at least as smart.

A 最/至-Adj

The last two constructions convey superlatives—often words that end in “est” like “best,” “tallest,” “smartest,” etc. You can convey the superlative by preceding the adjective with either 最 dui or 至 ji. I don’t know the difference between these; especially as both are used in example 9: 你最高,我至矮 ni dui go, ngoi ji āi “You are (the) tallest, I am (the) shortest.” If any readers have a particular insight here, any comments would be much appreciated.

Again, please feel free to let me know of any questions, comments or suggestions you might have. I am far from a native speaker, so the input of the handful of regular readers here helps me at least as much as it helps other readers who might stop by. I also found a ton of typos just before posting, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a few more flew under the rader, waiting for a diligent reader to catch!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 12 Vocabulary

Time is one of the most difficult topics for me to discuss in a foreign language. It’s what you get to discuss here, at least a little, in lesson twelve.

  1. 長 · chïang · long in length and in time, merit
  2. 短 · ōn · short in length and in time
  3. 凍 · ung · cold, chilly
  4. 暖 · non · warm
  5. 多 · u · many, much
  6. 少 · sīau · few, little, seldom
  7. 至 · ji · superlative degree
  8. 最 · dui · superlative degree
  9. 比較 · bī-gau · to compare with
  10. 比 · bī (bēi) (ī) · to compare with
  11. 過 · gwo (go) · than, comparative particle
  12. 該 · kwọi · so, to such a degree
  13. 昨晚 · dọng-mạn (dok-mạn*) (dòk-mạn*) · last night, yesterday evening
  14. 今晚 · gim-mạn · tonight, this evening
  15. 前晚 · tïng-mạn · night before last
  16. 同 · hüng · and, for, with; same, together
  17. 仔女 · dōi-nūi · children, son and daughter
  18. 幾時 · gī-sï (gī-sï*) (gī-sị*) · when?
  19. 嗲 · e · suffix for past tense
  20. 未 · mì · not yet
  21. 尼 · nāi (nīt) · comparative degree

Here’s one character I noted in the dialogue that I wasn’t provided in the word list:

  • 囉 · lō · particle

And a few of these characters are listed with different pronunciations in the Kaiping dictionary.

  • 少 · sīu · few, little, seldom
  • 前晚 · tïn-mạn · night before last
  • 未 · mèi · not yet

As usually, please tell me if I’ve gotten something wrong (I type this stuff up by hand!). Questions, thoughts and suggestions are more than welcome in the comments below.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 11 Dialogue

How’s the weather and how are you doing? In the dialogue below, pay attention to how questions are asked and answered, in addition to the way adjectives are modified (e.g. with 好 , 幾 , 非常之 fi-sïang ji, etc.).

1 A: 幾妥呀,近來忙嗎? Gī họ a, gìn-löi möng ma?
  B: 近來好忙,你呢? Gìn-löi hō möng. Ni nē?
  A: 我近唔忙。 Ngoi gìn-löi m̈-möng.
2 A: 今日個天氣好唔好呀? Gim-ngìt gwoi hing-hi hō m̈-hō a?
  B: 好,今日個天氣好好。 Hō, gim-ngìt gwoi hing-hi hō hō.
3 A: 昨日熱唔熱呢? Dọng-ngìt* ngìk m̈-ngìk nē?
  B: 熱,昨日好熱。 Ngìk, dọng-ngìt* hō ngìk.
4 A: 前日涼唔涼呀? Tïng-ngìt lïang m̈-lïang a?
  B: 涼,前日非常之涼。 Lïang, tïng-ngìt fi-sïang ji lïang.
5 A: 你個夫人高嗎? Ni gwoi fu-ngïn* go ma?
  B: 高,我個夫人幾高。 Go, ngoi gwoi fu-ngïn* gī go.
6 A: 佢個三伩仔矮嗎? Kui gwoi lham-mīn-dōi āi ma?
  B: 唔矮,佢個三伩仔唔矮。 M̈-āi, kui gwoi lham-mīn-dōi m̈-āi.
7 A: 我個三伩仔肥嗎? Ngoi gwoi lham-mīn-dōi fï ma?
  B: 唔肥,你個三伩仔唔肥,佢瘦得逮。 M̈-fï, ni gwoi lham-mīn-dōi m̈-fï, kui sau ak-tài.
8 A: 我個三伩仔大唔大呀? Ngoi gwoi lham-mīn-dōi ài m̈-ài a?
  B: 唔大,你個三伩仔唔大,佢好細。 M̈-ài, ni gwoi lham-mīn-dōi m̈-ài, kui hō lhai.
9 A: 逽今日疚唔疚呀? Nìak gim-ngìt gau m̈-gau a?
  B: 疚,哦今日非常之疚。 Gau, ngọi gim-ngìt fi-sïang ji gau.
10 A: 你今日覺得幾妥呀? Ni gim-ngìt gok-ak gī-họ* a?
  B: 我今日覺得好好,你呢? Ngoi gim-ngìt gok-ak hō hō. Ni nē?
  A: 我今日覺得唔係幾好。 Ngoi gim-ngìt gok-ak m̈-hài gī hō.

If you’re having trouble translating, you can reference the lesson eleven vocabulary list.

Many of these yes-or-no questions are asked either by ending a statement with 嗎 or using an A-唔-A formula. So you could ask either:

我個三伩仔肥嗎? Ngoi gwoi lham-mīn-dōi fï ma?
我個三伩仔肥唔肥呀? Ngoi gwoi lham-mīn-dōi fï-m̈-fï a?

In response to either, a good response should repeat the key adjective. In other words, instead of “yes” or “no,” say 肥 or 唔肥 m̈-fï.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 11 Vocabulary

How’s the weather? A very useful question to ask, especially if you’re talking with overseas Taishanese, who live all over the place!

  1. 天氣 · hing-hi · weather
  2. 今日 · gim-ngìt · today
  3. 昨日 · dọng-ngìt · yesterday
  4. 前日 · tïng-ngìt · day before yesterday
  5. 近來 · gìn-löi* · recently, lately
  6. 三伩仔 · lham-mīn-dōi (lhai-mīn-dōi) · child, son
  7. 幾 · gī (gēi) · quite, a few, several, how?
  8. 非常之 · fi-sïng-ji · extremely, extraordinary, exceedingly
  9. 高 · go · tall, high, superior
  10. 大 · ài · big, large, old in age
  11. 細 · lhai · small, little, young in age
  12. 肥 · fï · fat, bulky, greasy
  13. 瘦 · sau · skinny, thin
  14. 冷 · lang · cold, chilly
  15. 熱 · ngìk · hot, warm; heat
  16. 矮 · āi · short in height
  17. 忙 · möng · busy
  18. 疚 · gau · tired
  19. 覺得 · gok-ak (gok-āk) · to feel
  20. 得逮 · ak-dài · too, intensive degree

The term 得逮 ak-dài “too much” corresponds to the Cantonese term 得滯, both of which are placed after the adjective. The character 逮 corresponds to a character pronounced as dai in Cantonese; Deng Jun for his part applies the character 濟.

There was one character I spotted in the dialogue that I didn’t see in this list:

  • 涼 · lïang · cool

Some words have different pronunciations in the Kaiping dictionary, and I’ve provided these below:

  • 天氣 · hin-hei · weather
  • 今日 · gem-ngèt (gem-mèt) · today
  • 昨日 · dọng-ngèt · yesterday
  • 前日 · tïn-ngèt · day before yesterday
  • 近來 · gèn-löi · recently
  • 三伩仔 · lham-mēn-dōi · child, son
  • 非常之 · fui-sïang-ji · extremely, extraordinarily, exceedingly
  • 肥 · füi · fat, bulky, greasy
  • 冷 · lang · cold
  • 熱 · ngìt · hot

The word 冷 is one I usually pronounce as lạng, with a low falling tone—except in the expression 好冷 hō lang, where I pronounce it with a mid level tone.

For the word 三伩仔 lham-mīn-dōi, Deng Jun instead writes 三明仔; this other “spelling” is useful, since is a relatively uncommon character.

If you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions, please drop me a message in the comments!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tomorrow, tomorrow…

While studying lesson five, I wondered about 聽早 hìng-dō “tomorrow” and why I couldn’t find this word in the Kaiping dictionary. Today while flipping through the dictionary, I found out why.

The editor, Deng Jun, simply uses a different character to represent the same sounds: 天早. The character 天 hing (or hin, in my accent) means roughly “day” or “sky” or “heaven,” among other meanings. It’s usually pronounced with a mid level tone.

Which is the correct form to use?

I don’t have strong enough feelings to advocate one way or another. In transcribing the Basic Course, I’ll continue to transcribe the words as provided. Additionally, using 聽早 nicely corresponds to the Cantonese usage of 聽日 for “tomorrow.” Nevertheless, 天早 is a heck of a lot quicker to write!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Still Here!

I haven’t blogged in recent days, not for a lack of lessons to post (I have a whole stockpile of lessons transcribed!), but rather because I’ve been setting up a database. I’ve been going back through the lessons and entering the words and phrases into a database with both the Basic Course and Kaiping Dictionary information. I figured it was about time to put my lexicographic experience to good use! There’s not much spare time for me to do this; most of my work on this blog involves writing up the posts on a Saturday morning and scheduling them to release sequentially during the following weeks. Additionally, I’m in the midsts of revamping my personal website and organizing some of these posts into static pages to make the blog easier to follow and explore for first-time visitors. Until I get that all together, I’m going to hold off on new lesson posts, probably for another two weeks.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 10 Dialogue

Tell me, how good is it? At least, this is the sort of question this lesson should teach you how to ask. Use the lesson ten vocabulary to translate the sentences below.

1 A: 黄先生,你個夫人好嗎? Wöng Lhing-Sang, ni gwoi fu-ngïn* hō ma?
  B: 佢好好。你個夫人呢? Kui hō hō. Ni gwoi fu-ngïn* nē?
  A: 佢亦好好。 Kui yìak hō hō.
2 A: 黄先生係幾妥個男人呀? Wöng Lhin-Sang hài gī họ* gwoi näm-ngïn* a?
  B: 黄先生係好男人。 Wöng Lhing-Sang hài hō näm-ngïn*.
3 A: 黄夫人係幾妥個女人呀? Wöng Fu-Ngïn* hài gī họ* gwoi nūi-ngïn* a?
  B: 黄夫人係靚個女人。 Wöng Fu-Ngïn* hài hō liang gwoi nūi-ngïn.
4 A: 李先生係唔係好聰明個學生? Lī Lhing-Sang hài m̈-hài hō tung-mïng gwoi hòk-sang?
  B: 係,李先生係好聰明個學生。 Hài, Lī Lhing-Sang hài hō tung-mïng gwoi hòk-sang.
5 A: 李先生係唔係好本事個男人呢? Lī Ling-Sang hài m̈-hài hō bōn-lhù gwoi näm-ngïn nē?
  B: 係,李先生亦係好本事個男人。 Hài, Lī Lhing-Sang yìak hài hō bōn-lhù gwoi näm-ngïn*.
6 A: 該架車係唔係好貴個呀? Kwọi gạ che hài m̈-hài hō gwi a?
  B: 係,該架車係好貴個。 Hài, kwọi gạ che hài hō gwi gwoi.
7 A: 嚀架車係唔係好貴個? Nịng gạ che hài m̈-hài hō gwi gwoi?
  B: 係,嚀架車亦係好貴個。 Hài, nịng gạ che yìak hài hō gwi gwoi.
8 A: 該架車係唔係好平個呀? Kwọi gạ che hài m̈-hài hō pïang gwoi a?
  B: 唔係,該架車唔係好平個。 M̈-hài, kwọi gạ che m̈-hài hō pïang gwoi.
9 A: 嚀架車係唔係好平個呢? Nịng gạ che hài m̈-hài hō pïang gwoi nē?
  B: 唔係,嚀架車亦唔係好平個。 M̈-hài, nịng gạ che yìak m̈-hài hō pïang gwoi.
10 A: 對唔住,對唔住。 Ui-m̈-jì, ui-m̈-jì.
  B: 唔緊要,唔緊要。 M̈-gīn-yiau, m̈-gīn-yiau.

There are at least three important grammar points to make here, but best to start with the simplest.

The key new word here is 亦 yìak “also.” Note that in English we say “A is also B” but in Taishanese we say “A亦(係)B.” In other words, make sure that 亦 yìak comes immediately after the first noun, before 係 hài.

The word 個 gwoi is a classifier. We were introduced to this word in lesson seven in the expression 乃個 nại gwoi “who.” More literally, this means “which one.” This word has many, many uses and meanings in Taishanese, but it’s best to deal with each of them as they come up. In this lesson, 個 gwoi is used in two ways: to mark possession and, relatedly, to describe a noun.

We’ll talk about possession first because it’s the easier one. In this sense 個 can be similar to the English ’s. You see it in the first part of the dialogue; the term 你個夫人 ni gwoi fu-ngïn* is: you (ni) + ’s (gwoi) + wife (fu-ngïn*). Again, if we wanted to say “Mr. Wong’s wife,” we’d write 黄先生個夫人 Wöng Lhing-Sang gwoi fu-ngïn*. Importantly, we only use 個 gwoi for possession of a single entities; in order to say “Mr. Wong’s wives,” we’d use 尼 nāi (from lesson four) and write 黄先生尼夫人 Wöng Lhing-Sang nāi fu-ngïn*.

The other way you see 個 gwoi used is to describe a noun. The general structure is: phrase + 個 gwoi + noun. So:

好靚個女人 · hō liang gwoi nūi-ngïn* · “a very beautiful woman”
好聰明個學生 · hō tung-mïng gwoi hòk-sang · “a very smart student”
好本事個男人 · hō bōn-lhù gwoi näm-ngïn* · “a very capable man”

In English 好聰明 hō tung-mïng “very smart” might not be considered a phrase, but it works perfectly as one in Taishanese. After all, you can say 佢好聰明 Kui hō tung-mïng “He’s very smart”—or rephrase it to 佢係好聰明個學生 Kui hài hō tung-mïng gwoi hòk-sang “He’s a very smart student.”

You can also choose to leave off the noun, in which case 個 gwoi conveys the meaning of something like “one.” The above three phrases, without their nouns, would be retranslated as:

好靚個 · hō liang gwoi · “a very beautiful one”
好聰明個 · hō tung-mïng gwoi · “a very smart one”
好本事個 · hō bōn-lhù gwoi · “a very capable one”

Lastly, in order to ask “how” questions, you can use 幾妥 gī họ* (from lesson eight) with 個 gwoi. This type of sentence might be better translated as “what kind of X is Y?”

 Kui hài gī-họ* gwoi hòk-sang?
“What kind of student is he?”

For Cantonese speakers, it’s important to understand that Taishanese doesn’t have ge; we use 個 gwoi instead. This usage may sound strange, but hey—that’s how we speak! (And I like it that way!)

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or notice any of those ineluctable typos, please let me know!