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!


  1. Well, locations come in a lot of varieties... there's sources, destinations, general direction-of's, specific being-at's, and so on... (sorry, i'm not really a syntactician/semanticist!) Probably different word orders correspond to different types of locations...

  2. Talk about a long-delayed reply to your comment, but I just wanted to say: I think you’re probably right, Dominic! Thank you for all your thoughts and responses!