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!

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