Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Tell me, how good is it? At least, this is the sort of question this lesson should teach you how to ask. Use the lesson ten vocabulary to translate the sentences below.
|1||A: 黄先生，你個夫人好嗎？||Wöng Lhing-Sang, ni gwoi fu-ngïn* hō ma?|
|B: 佢好好。你個夫人呢？||Kui hō hō. Ni gwoi fu-ngïn* nē?|
|A: 佢亦好好。||Kui yìak hō hō.|
|2||A: 黄先生係幾妥個男人呀？||Wöng Lhin-Sang hài gī họ* gwoi näm-ngïn* a?|
|B: 黄先生係好男人。||Wöng Lhing-Sang hài hō näm-ngïn*.|
|3||A: 黄夫人係幾妥個女人呀？||Wöng Fu-Ngïn* hài gī họ* gwoi nūi-ngïn* a?|
|B: 黄夫人係靚個女人。||Wöng Fu-Ngïn* hài hō liang gwoi nūi-ngïn.|
|4||A: 李先生係唔係好聰明個學生？||Lī Lhing-Sang hài m̈-hài hō tung-mïng gwoi hòk-sang?|
|B: 係，李先生係好聰明個學生。||Hài, Lī Lhing-Sang hài hō tung-mïng gwoi hòk-sang.|
|5||A: 李先生係唔係好本事個男人呢？||Lī Ling-Sang hài m̈-hài hō bōn-lhù gwoi näm-ngïn nē?|
|B: 係，李先生亦係好本事個男人。||Hài, Lī Lhing-Sang yìak hài hō bōn-lhù gwoi näm-ngïn*.|
|6||A: 該架車係唔係好貴個呀？||Kwọi gạ che hài m̈-hài hō gwi a?|
|B: 係，該架車係好貴個。||Hài, kwọi gạ che hài hō gwi gwoi.|
|7||A: 嚀架車係唔係好貴個？||Nịng gạ che hài m̈-hài hō gwi gwoi?|
|B: 係，嚀架車亦係好貴個。||Hài, nịng gạ che yìak hài hō gwi gwoi.|
|8||A: 該架車係唔係好平個呀？||Kwọi gạ che hài m̈-hài hō pïang gwoi a?|
|B: 唔係，該架車唔係好平個。||M̈-hài, kwọi gạ che m̈-hài hō pïang gwoi.|
|9||A: 嚀架車係唔係好平個呢？||Nịng gạ che hài m̈-hài hō pïang gwoi nē?|
|B: 唔係，嚀架車亦唔係好平個。||M̈-hài, nịng gạ che yìak m̈-hài hō pïang gwoi.|
|10||A: 對唔住，對唔住。||Ui-m̈-jì, ui-m̈-jì.|
|B: 唔緊要，唔緊要。||M̈-gīn-yiau, m̈-gīn-yiau.|
There are at least three important grammar points to make here, but best to start with the simplest.
The key new word here is 亦 yìak “also.” Note that in English we say “A is also B” but in Taishanese we say “A亦(係)B.” In other words, make sure that 亦 yìak comes immediately after the first noun, before 係 hài.
The word 個 gwoi is a classifier. We were introduced to this word in lesson seven in the expression 乃個 nại gwoi “who.” More literally, this means “which one.” This word has many, many uses and meanings in Taishanese, but it’s best to deal with each of them as they come up. In this lesson, 個 gwoi is used in two ways: to mark possession and, relatedly, to describe a noun.
We’ll talk about possession first because it’s the easier one. In this sense 個 can be similar to the English ’s. You see it in the first part of the dialogue; the term 你個夫人 ni gwoi fu-ngïn* is: you (ni) + ’s (gwoi) + wife (fu-ngïn*). Again, if we wanted to say “Mr. Wong’s wife,” we’d write 黄先生個夫人 Wöng Lhing-Sang gwoi fu-ngïn*. Importantly, we only use 個 gwoi for possession of a single entities; in order to say “Mr. Wong’s wives,” we’d use 尼 nāi (from lesson four) and write 黄先生尼夫人 Wöng Lhing-Sang nāi fu-ngïn*.
The other way you see 個 gwoi used is to describe a noun. The general structure is: phrase + 個 gwoi + noun. So:
好靚個女人 · hō liang gwoi nūi-ngïn* · “a very beautiful woman”
好聰明個學生 · hō tung-mïng gwoi hòk-sang · “a very smart student”
好本事個男人 · hō bōn-lhù gwoi näm-ngïn* · “a very capable man”
In English 好聰明 hō tung-mïng “very smart” might not be considered a phrase, but it works perfectly as one in Taishanese. After all, you can say 佢Kui hō tung-mïng “He’s very smart”—or rephrase it to 佢係 個學生 Kui hài hō tung-mïng gwoi hòk-sang “He’s a very smart student.”
You can also choose to leave off the noun, in which case 個 gwoi conveys the meaning of something like “one.” The above three phrases, without their nouns, would be retranslated as:
好靚個 · hō liang gwoi · “a very beautiful one”
好聰明個 · hō tung-mïng gwoi · “a very smart one”
好本事個 · hō bōn-lhù gwoi · “a very capable one”
Lastly, in order to ask “how” questions, you can use 幾妥 gī họ* (from lesson eight) with 個 gwoi. This type of sentence might be better translated as “what kind of X is Y?”
Kui hài gī-họ* gwoi hòk-sang?
“What kind of student is he?”
For Cantonese speakers, it’s important to understand that Taishanese doesn’t have 嘅 ge; we use 個 gwoi instead. This usage may sound strange, but hey—that’s how we speak! (And I like it that way!)
If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or notice any of those ineluctable typos, please let me know!
Friday, March 18, 2011
Finally: adjectives! Are you an excited student? Even if you’re not, this lesson should teach you how to say so. Here’s the lesson ten vocabulary.
- 對唔住 · ui-m̈-jì · sorry, I’m sorry, pardon me
- 唔緊要 · m-gīn-yiau · it doesn’t matter, not at all, that’s allright
- 夫人 · fu-ngïn* · Mrs., madam, wife
- 黄 · Wöng · (surname)
- 李 · Lī · (surname)
- 女人 · nūi-ngïn* · woman, female, wife
- 男人 · näm-ngïn* · man, male, husband
- 亦 · yìak · also, too, moreover, in addition to
- 靚 · liang · beautiful, handsome
- 本事 · bōn-lhù · capable
- 聰明 · tung-mïng · intelligent, clever
- 平 · pïang · inexpensive, economical
- 貴 · gwi · expensive
- 架 · gạ · (classifier), frame, final particle
- 車 · che · car, automobile, vehicle
- 個 · gwoi · (classifier)
Though I am staying with my Kaiping-accented family in San Francisco this weekend, I’m going to hold off on posting the Kaiping pronunciations. I’m waiting till I get back to LA to reference the Kaiping dictionary, just to be safe. Ui m̈ jì!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Here’s the dialogue for lesson nine—you can review the vocabulary list in the previous post.
|1||A: 你去乃呀？||Ni hui nại* a?|
|B: 我去陸軍語言學校，你呢？||Ngoi hui Lùk-Gun Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu, ni nē?|
|A: 我返去屋企。||Ngoi fan hui ūk-kī.|
|2||A: 我俾乜你呀？||Ngoi bī mōt ni a?|
|B: 你俾錢我。||Ni bī tïng* ngoi.|
|3||A: 你俾唔俾錢佢呀？||Ni bī m̈-bī tïng* kui a?|
|B: 俾，我俾錢佢。||Bī, ngoi bī tïng* kui.|
|4||A: 乃個俾錢我呢？||Nại goi bī tïng* ngoi nē?|
|B: 屐俾錢你。||Kìak bī tïng* ni.|
|5||A: 逽寄信俾乃個呢？||Nìak gi lhin* bī nại goi nē?|
|B: 哦寄信俾佢。||Ngọi gi lhin* bī kui.|
|6||A: 佢寫信俾你唔寫呀？||Kui lhē lhin* bī ni m̈-lhē a?|
|B: 唔寫，佢唔寫信俾我。||M̈-lhē, kui m̈-lhē lhin* bī ngoi.|
|7||A: 你送唔送野俾我呀？||Ni lhung m̈-lhung ye bī ngoi a?|
|B: 送，我送野俾你。||Lhung, ngoi lhung ye bī ni.|
|8||A: 佢打電話俾你唔打呀？||Kui ā ìng-wà* bī ni m̈-ā a?|
|B: 唔打，佢唔打電話俾我。||M̈-ā, kui m̈-ā ìng-wà* bī ngoi.|
|9||A: 逽打唔打電報俾佢呢？||Nìak ā m̈-ā ìng-bo bī kui nē?|
|B: 打，哦打電報俾佢。||Ā, ngọi ā ìng-bo bī kui.|
|10||A: 你得閒嗎？||Ni ak-hän ma?|
|B: 我得閒。你呢？||Ngoi ak-hän. Ni nē?|
|A: 我唔得閒。||Ngoi m̈-ak-hän|
There are some important grammar points to take note of in the discussion.
In Taishanese, when you say that you “give someone something,” the order is opposite. In other words, you always say that you “give something (to) someone.” When you present/send/write/etc. something to someone, you use the same verb-noun order, except you use 俾 bī where we use the English word “to.” When you talk about calling or telegramming someone, you also use 俾 bī because you’re essentially saying you “give someone a call”—only Chinese uses the term 打電話 ā ìng-wà*, literally “hit a call.” Note the following sentences and the order of the nouns and 俾 after the verb.
佢俾錢我。Kui bī tïng* ngoi. “He gave me money.”
你送乜俾我？ Ni lhung mōt bī ngoi? “What did you gift to me ?”
佢寄野俾哦。Kui gi ye bī ngọi. “He sent us stuff.”
我寫信俾屐。Ngoi lhē lhin* bī kìak. “I wrote them a letter.”
哦打電話俾屐。Ngọi ā ìng-wà* bī kìak. “We called/telephoned them.”
你打電報俾我。Ni ā ìng-bo bī ngoi. “You sent me a telegram.”
If you have questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment—especially if you notice typos!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tell us what you’re up to—or at least this lesson will give you the chance to do so in Toishan (Taishanese). Here’s the lesson nine vocabulary.
- 俾 · bī (bēi) (ī) · to give, indirect object agent
- 送 · lhung · to present to
- 寄 · gi · to send (mail)
- 打電話 · ā ìng-wà* · to make a telephone call
- 打電報 · ā ìng-bo · to send a telegram
- 錢（銀）· tïng* (ngän*) · money
- 信 · lhin* · letter
- 寫信 · lhē lhin* · to write a letter
- 野（田野）· yẹ* (hïng-nẹ*) (ye) · thing, object, affair
- 乃 (乃處) · nại* (nại-chụi) · where
- 陸軍 · lùk-gun* · army
- 語言 · ngụi-ngün · language
- 學校 · hòk-hàu · school
- 得閒 · ak-hän · to have leisure time
- 返 · fan · to return
- 屋企 · ūk-kī · home
- 返屋企 · fan ūk-kī · to return
Several of these words have different pronunciations given in the Kaiping dictionary. Some of the accent correspondences were discussed previously, but there’s a new one here: 言 is pronounced as ngün in the Basic Course, but as ngïn in the Kaiping dictionary. I’ve included the list of differences below.
- 俾 · bēi (ēi) · to give
- 寄 · gei · to send (mail)
- 打電話 · ā ìn-wà* · to make a telephone call
- 打電話 · ā ìn-vo · to send a telegram
- 錢 · tïn* · money
- 信 · lhen* · letter
- 語言 · ngụi-ngïn · language
- 屋企 · ūk-kēi · home
Beyond pronunciation, some of these words have interesting stories to tell. (But I’ll keep it short.)
In the Kaiping dictionary, Deng Jun prefers to separate the two pronunciations bī and ī as 俾 and 畀, respectively. As I understand, these two characters are commonly considered variants of each other in Cantonese. I virtually only say 畀 ī. For the course notes, I plan to use the same terms the author uses.
Also note that the Basic Course uses the term 野 for “thing,” while the character 嘢 is more commonly used in Cantonese.
It’s important to note some “old fashioned” Toishanisms here. The term 錢 tïn means “money,” but so does the term 銀 ngän. Literally, 銀 means “silver,” the metal once used for currency. Most people these days use 錢 to refer to money. Even so, you should keep your eye out for 銀 in terms like 銀行 ngän-höng “bank.”
Lastly, the term 電話 ìng-wà for “phone” also has another term that was frequently used in Chinese America. The term 喊綫 (or 探綫), pronounced ham-lhin* was particularly popular among overseas Chinese. But if you try using this term in Taishan, odds are only a handful of much older people will understand you.
As always, please feel free to post any questions, observations or suggestions in the comments section.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
“Do you understand Chinese or English?” This is the sort of question you learn to ask and answer in the lesson eight dialogue. See the lesson eight vocabulary list to translate the dialogue below.
|1||A: 幾妥呀？好嗎？||Gī họ* a? Hō ma?|
|B: 好好。你呢？||Hō hō. Nei nē?|
|A: 好好。||Hō hō.|
|2||A: 你係中國人抑或美國人？||Ni hài Jung-Gwōk ngïn yīk-wàk Mị-Gwōk ngïn?|
|B: 我係美國人，唔係中國人。||Ngoi hài Mị-Gwōk ngïn, m̈-hài Jung-Gwōk ngïn.|
|3||A: 逽學台山話抑或美國話？||Nìak hòk Höi-San wà* yīk-wàk Mị-Gwōk wà*?|
|B: 哦學台山話，唔學美國話。||Ngọi hòk Höi-San wà*, m̈-hòk Mị-Gwōk wà*.|
|4||A: 佢明白台山話抑或美國話？||Kui mïng-bàk Höi-San wà* yīk-wàk Mị-Gwōk wà*?|
|B: 佢明白美國話，唔明白台山話。||Kui mïng-bàk Mị-Gwōk wà*, m̈-mïng-bàk Höi-San wà*.|
|5||A: 哦講台山話抑或英國話？||Ngọi gōng Höi-San wà* yīk-wàk Ying-Gwōk wà*?|
|B: 哦講台山話唔講英國話。||Ngọi gōng Höi-San wà*, m̈-gōng Ying-Gwōk wà*.|
|6||A: 逽讀中文書抑或英文書？||Nìak ùk Jung-Mün si yīk-wàk Ying-Mün si?|
|B: 哦讀中文書，唔讀英文書。||Ngọi ùk Jung-Mün si, m̈-ùk Ying-Mün si.|
|7||A: 我寫中文字抑或英文字？||Ngoi lhē Jung-Mün dù yīk-wàk Ying-Mün dù?|
|B: 你寫中文字，唔寫英文字。||Ni lhē Jung-Mün dù, m̈-lhē Ying-Mün dù.|
|8||A: 屐曉台山話抑或美國話？||Kìak hīau Höi-San wà* yīk-wàk Mị-Gwōk wà*?|
|B: 屐曉美國話，唔曉台山話。||Kìak hīau Mị-Gwōk wà*, m̈-hīau Höi-San wà*.|
|9||A: 我教台山話抑或美國話？||Ngoi gao Höi-San wà* yīk-wàk Mị-Gwōk wà*?|
|B: 你教台山話，唔教美國話。||Ni gao Höi-San wà*, m̈-gao Mị-Gwōk wà*.|
|10||A: 再見，再見。||Doi ging, doi ging.|
|B: 再見，再見！||Doi ging, doi ging.|
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Let’s talk about the languages you speak! In lesson eight, you learn how to talk about Taishan/American/Chinese/English language, words and people.
- 幾妥呀？ · gī họ* a? · how are you? how is it? in what way?
- 學 · hòk · to learn, study
- 教 · gao · to teach
- 講 · gōng · to speak, talk, say, tell
- 明白 · mïng-bàk · to understand, understandable
- 寫 · lhē · to write
- 台山話 · Höi-San wà* · Toishan dialect
- 美國話 · Mị-Gwōk wà* · American language
- 中文書 · Jung-Mün si · Chinese book
- 讀 · ùk · to study, read
- 英文書 · Ying-Mün si · English book
- 中文字 · Jung-Mün dù · Chinese character
- 抑或 · yīk-wàk (ngīk-wàk) · or, either… or
- 中國人 · Jung-Gwōk ngïn · Chinese person
- 英文字 · Ying-Mün dù · English word
- 美國人 · Mị-Gwōk ngïn · American person
- 曉（會）· hīau (wọi) · to understand, know how
- 屐 · kìak · they, them
- 英國話 · Ying-Gwōk wà* · English language
Most of these words have different pronunciations according to the Kaiping dictionary. Here are some of the patterns, most of which I’ve discussed before:
- The vowel i in the Basic Course is often (but not always) given as e or ei in the Kaiping dictionary.
- The vowel e (sometimes written as ia) in the Basic Course often corresponds to i in the Kaiping dictionary when it is not syllable-final, so 曉 is hīu, but 寫 is still lhē (or lhīa, depending on your accent).
- Words that end in ing (or ik) in the Basic Course tend to end in en (or et) in the Kaiping dictionary.
- Consonants b and w in the Basic Course are both pronounced as v in the Kaiping dictionary, so 白 and 或 sound alike: vàk.
- There is one extra tone in the accent of the Kaiping dictionary, so 屐 “they” is pronounced as kịak (not kìak).
- The Kaiping dictionary lacks the consonants gw and kw, so these are simplified to g and k.
Here are the different words, retranscribed according to the pronunciation in the Kaiping dictionary.
- 美 · Mẹi · America, American
- 英 · Yen · England, English
- 人 · ngën · person
- 國 · gōk · country, nation
- 明白 · mën-vàk · to understand, understandable
- 抑或 · ngēt-vàk · or, either… or
- 曉（會）· hīu (vọi) · to understand, know how
As a last note, like 哦 ngọi “we, us” and 逽 nịak “y’all,” the character 屐 kịak “they, them” is a non-standard adaptation of the character for “clog” to denote a word that otherwise doesn’t exist in contemporary Mandarin or Cantonese.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Over at Toisan Pride, Toisan Girl (台山妹) provides some common Taishanese words and phrases with her own pronunciations. I’ve provided Chinese characters for some of the words below, but I don’t know them all! Hopefully in future posts, I’ll be able to provide pronunciations according to the two accents in the Toishan Basic Course and the Kaiping dictionary. In the meantime, maybe some readers more fluent and literate in Chinese than I am can help me out with the words I don’t know…
- GNOY 我 – I/me
- NAY 你 – You
- KOOEY 佢 – He or She
- NAY HO MA? 你好嗎？ – How are you?
- HECK FANN MAY YEH? 吃飯未呀？ – Have you eaten yet?
- MWHAT KOY HENG-GOH GNUI (DOI). 乜個聽教女(仔)! – What an obedient girl (boy)!
- GNOT PANG PANG __噴噴 - Stinky stinky!
- JEEN HAI? 真係 - Really? For real?
- COY KAY KO 怪奇該 - How odd…
- SAI HAAI-MOH 洗頭毛 – Wash hair
- SAI SEEN 洗身 – Take a shower or bath
- GUY 鷄 - Chicken
- JOM GUY 斬鷄 – Chop the chicken
- GUY HONG 鷄湯 – Chicken soup/broth
- JEE FANN 煮飯 – Cook food (rice)
- BOH HONG 煲湯– Boil soup
- HECK TOI 吃菜 – Eat vegetables
- CHA 叉 – Fork
- O-DOI 刀仔 – Knife
- SEE-GHANG 匙羹 – Spoon
- FAI – DOOH 筷子 – Chopsticks
- SAI-VWOAN 洗碗 – Wash dishes
The phrases I’m most unfamiliar with writing are gnot pang pang “stinky stinky,” mwhat koy heng-goh gnui “what a
smart obedient girl,” haai-moh “hair.” I also guessed on a number of words above, so any corrections you might like to offer would be much appreciated!
If you haven’t checked out her blog, you should definitely visit Toisan Pride. I’m a dedicated reader, even if I don’t comment all that much.
Update: Many thanks to Facebook friends and to @fivesheep on Twitter who quickly gave me comments! Keep it coming!
Friday, March 4, 2011
I only just realized that I’d forgotten to cover Taishanese numbers. Here they are:
一 · yīt · one
二 · ngì · two
三 · lham · three
四 · lhi · four
五 · n̄g · five
六 · lùk · six
七 · tīt · seven
八 · bat · eight
九 · gīu · nine
十 · sìp · ten
Counting above ten is easy. Eleven is 十一 sìp yīt, twelve is 十二 sìp ngì and so forth. Twenty is 二十 ngì sìp, twenty-one is 二十一 ngì sìp yīt and so on. I hope you get the pattern. The pattern is so straightforward and easy to say, that when I was younger I used to like counting to 100 just for kicks. (I was a very lonely child.)
For the numbers according to the Kaiping dictionary, there are just a few small differences, included below.
二 · ngèi · two
四 · lhei · four
七 · tēt · seven
八 · vat · eight
九 · gēu · nine
As you likely noticed, the differences are with the I-E accent contrast and spirantization of b into v. You will also hear some people pronounce 五 as m̄, as in fact my family does.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
|1||A: 幾好喇嗎？||Gī hō lā-ma?|
|B: 幾好呀。你呢？||Gī hō ā. Nei nē?|
|A: 幾好。||Gī hō.|
|2||A: 你去唔去街呀？||Nei hui m̈-hui gại* a?|
|B: 去，我去街。||Hui, ngoi hui gại*.|
|3||A: 佢去街，佢去做乜呀？||Kui hui gại*, kui hui du mōt a?|
|B: 佢去街，佢去買鷄。||Kui hui gại*, kui hui mai gai.|
|4||A: 逽買鷄唔買呢？||Nịak mai gai m̈-mai nē?|
|B: 唔買，哦唔買鷄。||M̈-mai, ngọi m̈-mai gai.|
|5||A: 佢唔買鷄，佢買乜呢？||Kui m̈-mai gai, kui mai mōt nē?|
|B: 佢唔買鷄，佢買米。||Kui m̈-mai gai, kui mai māi.|
|6||A: 你吃飯嗎？||Nei hiak fàn ma?|
|B: 唔吃，我唔吃飯。||M̈-hiak, ngoi m̈-hiak fàn.|
|7||A: 逽唔吃飯，逽吃乜呢？||Nịak m̈-hiak fàn, nịak hiak mōt nē?|
|B: 哦唔吃飯，哦吃粉。||Ngọi m̈-hiak fàn, ngọi hiak fūn.|
|8||A: 你買鷄嗎？||Nei mai gai ma?|
|B: 唔買，我唔買鷄。||M̈-mai, ngoi m̈-mai gai.|
|9||A: 乃個買米呀？||Nại-goi mai māi a?|
|B: 佢買米。||Kui mai māi.|
|10||A: 我走囉。||Ngoi dāu lo.|
|B: 慢慢行！||Màn-màn* häng!|
As with the previous post, the differences between the accents here are few. You should note the tone difference in 逽 (nịak rather than nìak) that I mentioned in the last post. Another recurring theme is the I-E accent distinction. In this dialogue, 你 is pronounced as nei, whereas the Basic Course would pronounce this character as ni.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
- 佢 · kui · he, her, him, it
- 逽 · nịak · you (plural); (singular in the possessive case)
- 哦 · ngọi · we, us
- 買 · mai · to buy
- 鷄 · gai · chicken
- 米 · māi · raw rice
- 飯 · fàn · cooked rice
- 粉 · fūn · noodle, powder
- 街 · gại* · street
- 去街 · hui gại* · to go out
- 吃 · hiak · to eat
- 做 · du · to do, work, make
- 慢慢行 · màn-màn* häng · good-bye (walk slowly)
- 幾好喇嗎？ · gī-hō lā-ma (gēi-hō lā-ma) · how are you?
- 走 · dāu · to leave, to run
- 乃個 · nại goi · who?
- 呀 · ā · (final particle)
- 出街 · chūt gại* (chūt gại) · to go out
Granted, there is only one difference here. In several accents, 逽 is pronounced with a low falling tone: nịak. Since the accent in the Basic Course doesn’t have the low falling tone in checked syllables (that is to say, syllables ending with p/t/k) the tone is mid falling: nìak.