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.

張先生讀書讀得好早,做事做得好早,結婚結得好遲。

佢近來做事做得好忙,吃得好少,飲酒飲得好多,吃烟吃得好多,瞓得唔夠。前日佢病,佢覺得好疚;前晚佢唔瞓得好,昨日朝頭早佢起身唔起得早,唔吃得飯,唔吃得烟,唔行得路,唔翻得工。

該時佢冇病,佢起得身,吃得飯,吃得烟,翻得工。佢個朋友李先生請張先生吃晚飯,張先生飲酒飲得非常之多,講說話唔講得青楚,行路唔行得快。

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.

佢瞓得唔夠。
Kui fun-ak m̈-gau.
“He didn’t sleep enough.”

佢唔翻得工。
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:

佢起身唔起得早。
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!

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