Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 20 Reading

The lesson 20 reading passage follows the same grammatical structure you find in lessons 18 and 19, although there’s one new interesting grammar point I’d like to draw your attention to below.




Jiang Lhing-Sang ùk si ùk-ak hō dō, du lhù du-ak hō dō, gīk-fun gīk-ak hō chï.

Kui gìn-löi du lhù du-ak hō möng, hiak-ak hō sīu, ngīm dīu ngīm-ak hō u, hiak yian hiak-ak hō u, fun-ak m̈-gau. Tïng-ngìt kui bìang, kui gok-ak hō gau; tïng-mạn kui m̈-fun-ak hō, dọng-ngìt chiu-häu-dō kui hī sin m̈-hī-ak dō, m̈-hiak-ak fàn, m̈-hiak-ak yian, m̈-häng-ak lù, m̈-fan-ak gung.

Kwọi-sị* kui mo bìang, kui hī-ak sin, hiak-ak fàn, hiak-ak yian, fan-ak gung. Kui gwoi päng-yịu Lī Lhing-Sang tïng Jiang Lhing-Sang hiak mạn-fàn, Jiang Lhing-Sang ngīm dīu ngīm-ak fi-sïang-chi u, gōng sut-wà m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō, häng lù m̈-häng-ak fai.

Note the different types of negation (in this case, 唔 ) in the following phrases, which are based off of the reading passage. When 得 ak is used to mark an adverb, the negation is placed before the adjective; when 得 ak is used to denote ability/possibility (i.e. “to be able to”), the negation is placed before the verb.

Kui fun-ak m̈-gau.
“He didn’t sleep enough.”

Kui m̈-fan-ak gung.
“He couldn’t go to work.”

For native speakers, this contrast should not be surprising in any way. I point it out because English negation usually applies to the whole verb phrase, even when the phrase contains an adverb. Thus we say, “I didn’t sleep enough” rather than “I slept not enough.” Taishanese grammar looks closer to the latter, with the negation before the adverb, not the verb.

Now you might wonder, what happens if you put the negation before the verb instead of the adverb? There’s an example of this very structure in the reading:

Kui hī sin hī-ak dō.
“He couldn’t wake up early.”

In this case, I interpret the placement of negation before the verb to indicate that 得 ak denotes ability/possiblity.

My dear readers, is this interpretation correct?

And if you notice any other typos and errors, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. Say it ain't so.... that Lesson 20 is the last postint.... Thank you for your work. I'm very happy to brush up on my Toishanese in anticipation of some near day when I get myself to the villages of my forebears.