Friday, December 16, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 20 Vocabulary

This lesson continues expanding on the same grammatical structure from lessons 18 and 19. The new vocabulary—including some very useful expressions—are included below.

  • 唔好意思 · m̈-hō yi-lhu · I’m sorry, I am ashamed of myself
  • 令 · lìng · to cause
  • 等 · āng · to wait, let, class
  • 嗲 · e · verb suffix
  • 該久 · kwọi gīu · so long, that long
  • 唔緊要 · m̈-gīn-yiau · it doesn’t matter, not important
  • 冇幾久 · mo-gī gīu · not very long time
  • 冇 · mo · do not have, negative
  • 早 · dō · early
  • 遲 · chï · late, tardy
  • 說話 · sut-wà · to speak, talk
  • 講說話(講話)· gōng sut-wà (gōng wà*) · to speak, talk
  • 飲酒 · ngīm dīu · to drink liquor, to have a banquet
  • 着衫 · jiak sạm · to dress
  • 來遲嗲 · löi chï-e · to come late

One of my favorite expressions is 唔好意思 m̈-hō yi-lhu “I’m sorry!” A common response is 唔緊要 m̈-gīn-yiau “It’s not important (so no need to worry).”

As a note on transcription, I use the character 着 to write jiak “to wear.” The character 着 is commonly considered a simplified character, while 著 is the corresponding traditional character. As I try to do elsewhere, I’ve transcribed the character as is done in the Basic Course (which was published in the 1960s), even while this choice would likely be considered inconsistent in many other contexts today.

If you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section!


  1. Actually, in Hong Kong (as I recall from my old HK grade school textbooks, and according to my Longman's dictionary from HK), 著 is used with the reading zy3 (i think it's "ji" in Szeyap), as in 著名 'famous', and as a variant of 着 for the meanings (1) 'wear' (zoek3/jiak), (2) 'contact/place' (zoek6/jiàk, e.g. 着落, 着想), and (3) 'durative verb suffix in Mandarin' (read as zoek6/jiàk in Cantonese/Szeyap).

    However, for some reason 著 *is not* listed as a variant of 着 for the meanings (4) 'a move in a chess game' and (5) 'catch (cold/fire)' 着火, 着涼, both read zoek6/jiàk.

    So it's not as simple as "one is traditional and the other is simplified"... at least in Hong Kong. In Taiwan maybe it is that simple, but i don't have my Taiwan dictionaries on me....

  2. Thank you so much for the clarification, Dominic! In my laziness I chose not to actually look into how these characters are used in Cantonese, which is what I really should be using as a baseline reference.

  3. I believe in mainland China, 著 and 着 is interchangeable and effectively combined into a single 着 when pronounced/used as zhao2 or the auxiliary suffix zhe.

    When 著 is zhu4 and 着 is zhuo2 (with the exception of 执著/执着 which seem to be OK either way) they would retain their respective forms.

    I'm actually not 100% sure ...

  4. thanks so much for this blog and the lessons, my mom passed and i miss hearing the dialect