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!

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