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!


  1. I guess it is because 得逮 is a non-separable construct.

    By the way, 讀書讀得好忙 sounds somewhat odd to me. I think it might be a case of mild 'abusing' of the construct.

    For example, one cannot drop the 好 and just say 讀書讀得忙, but one can drop the intensity quantifiers from the other examples, i.e. 講台山話講得好, 教書教得好, 寫中文字寫得靚.

    Also one would not negate 讀書讀得好忙, i.e. 讀書讀得唔忙, but can negate the others, i.e. 講台山話講得唔好, 寫中文字寫得唔靚, etc...

    On the other hand, one can say 讀書忙, but not the others, i.e. one would not say 講台山話好, 寫中文字靚.

    Any idea what's going on?

  2. I’m wondering if the difference for 忙 has to do with different classes of adverbs. There’s some work on this done by Gennaro Chierchia; the distinction here would be that 忙 is more oriented toward the subject than the verb phrase. This hypothesis could probably be easily tested with other similar types of adverbs. I’ll have to keep thinking about it. Thank you for your comment, Stephen!

  3. I have not considered this in any detail but here's my new thought. 得's usage here as an auxiliary syllable is derived from its free standing morpheme meaning 'ability' so it retains this meaning somewhat. As a result, in this structure, if it has the 'capability' flavor it would sound more natural. We can put this to a 'capability' test:

    He has the ability to 'speak Taishanese well'
    He has the ability to 'teach extraordinarily well'
    He does not have the ability to 'do business well'
    He has the ability to 'write Chinese characters beautifully'

    But the 'capability' test:
    He has the ability to 'study busily'
    does not make any sense.

    ... just a thought.