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.
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!