Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bok Kai Temple

I need help from Taishanese native speakers out there on pronunciation and usage! Hidden in an SF Chronicle article, I found a reference to the historic Bok Kai Temple in Marysville. On the temple’s website and on Wikipedia, I saw the temple’s name transcribed as 北溪廟.

On the Wikipedia page, there is another reference to this deity as “Bok Eye” with a link to a page on Xuan Wu 玄武, who is also referred to as the Northern Emperor or Bei Di 北帝. “Bok Eye” looks like an English transcription of the Taishanese pronunciation of 北帝. You probably see where I’m going…

Is 北溪 a Taishanese eggcorn for 北帝? If so, that would be really cool. Or maybe I’m just missing out on a bigger piece of Chinese history and culture.

Do you know of other references to 北溪?

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Here’s to a New Year of Taishanese!

Happy New Year! Or as you might say in Taishanese:

Lhen Nïn Fai Lòk

The bulk of last year’s blogging covered the Taishanese Basic Course with the addition of my own commentary. This blog also helped me accomplish some personal goals, among them being proficiency in the Cangjie input method, my first YouTube video and, most importantly, a constant connection with the Taishanese language. Much of this would have been impossible without the invaluable contribution of my readers, most notably Ben, Dominic and Stephen. Thank you so much.

Below I’ve pulled together a list of the lessons I covered in 2011. These lessons comprise the first volume of the Basic Course.

I’m going to take a break from posting more lessons for a few months. For this new year, I have some new and shiny goals, but first I have to wrap up some other projects and also figure out which goals are realistically achievable. The goals include an online searchable dictionary, more videos, interviews and profiles of Taishanese speakers, more structured lesson formats, and perhaps even a little interactive learning software. If you’d like to help out with some of this, let me know!

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions or corrections, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.

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!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 20 Dialogue

The basic grammatical pattern for lessons 18 and 19 is the use of 得 ak to modify verbs. This lesson takes a few new words and builds on those previous lessons by looking at question structure.

1 A: 請問該間係唔係美國陸軍語言學校呀? Tīng mùn kwọi gan hài m̈-hài Mị-Gwōk Lùk-Gun Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu* a?
  B: 係呀,該間係美國陸軍語言學校。 Hài a, kwọi gan hài Mị-Gwōk Lùk-Gun Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu*.
  A: 黃先生,唔好意思。令你等嗲該久。 Wöng Lhing-Sang, m̈-hō yi-lhu. Lìng ni āng-e kwọi gīu.
  B: 唔緊要,唔緊要。我來嗲冇幾久喲。 M̈-gīn-yiau, m̈-gīn-yiau. Ngoi löi-a mo-gī-gīu yiak.
2 A: 佢講唔講得快呀? Kui gōng m̈-gōng-ak fai a?
  B: 快,佢講得快。 Fai, kui gōng-ak fai.
3 A: 佢講唔講得清楚呢? Kui gōng m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō nē?
  B: 唔清楚,佢唔講得清楚。 M̈-ting-chō, kui m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō.
4 A: 你行唔行得快呀? Ni häng m̈-häng-ak fai a?
  B: 快,我行得快。 Fai, ngoi häng-ak fai.
5 A: 佢吃唔吃得多呢? Kui hiak m̈-hiak-ak u nē?
  B: 唔多,佢唔吃得多。 M̈-u, kui m̈-hiak-ak u.
6 A: 你起身起唔起得早呀? Ni hī sin hī m̈-hī-ak dō a?
  B: 早,我起身起得早。 Dō, ngoi hī sin hī-ak dō.
7 A: 佢講說話講唔講得清楚呀? Kui gōng sut-wà gōng m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō a?
  B: 唔清楚,佢講說話唔講得清楚。 M̈-ting-chō, kiu gōng sut-wà m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō.
8 A: 你着衫着唔着得快呀? Ni jiak sạm jiak m̈-jiak-ak fai a?
  B: 快,我着衫着得快。 Fai, ngoi jiak sạm jiak-ak fai.
9 A: 佢飲酒飲唔飲得多。 Kui ngīm dīu ngīm m̈-ngīm-ak u nē?
  B: 唔多,佢飲酒唔飲得多。 M̈-u, kui ngīm dīu m̈-ngīm-ak u.
10 A: 對唔住,對唔住,黃先生,我來遲嗲。 Ui m̈-jì, ui m̈-jì, Wöng Lhing-Sang, ngoi löi chï e.
  B: 唔緊要,唔緊要,我亦係正話來喲。 M̈-gīn-yiau, m̈-gīn-yiau, ngoi yìak-hài jing-wà löi yìak.

This lesson brings together the V 唔 V formula used to ask yes-or-no questions (see lesson 11) along with the adverbial 得 ak structure covered in the previous two lessons.

V 唔 V 得 + Adj

When the verb appears without an object, then the above structure is used, combining the V 唔 V formula and adding 得 ak to the last verb. Here are two examples from the dialogue:

Kui gōng m̈-gōng-ak ting-chō nē?
“Does he speak clearly?”

Kui hiak m̈-hiak-ak u nē?
“Does he eat a lot?”

The appropriate “yes” or “no” response is to reply with the adjective, thus 清楚 ting-chō for “yes (he speaks clearly)” or 唔清楚 m̈-ting-chō for “no (he doesn’t speak clearly).”

V + Object + V 唔 V 得 + Adj

As discussed in the previous lesson, things get messy when the verb is followed by an object (e.g. “speak Taishanese” or “do business”). In order to add 得 to the verb, the verb is repeated after the object. Now you have two verbs in the sentence—on which do you choose to apply the V 唔 V structure from lesson 11?

You choose the second. This means you will have a sentence with the verb repeated three times! It’s pretty cool (or crazy, depending on your perspective). Here are a couple examples from the dialogue:

Kui hī sin hī m̈-hī-ak dō a?
“Does he wake up early?”

Ni jiak sạm jiak m̈-jiak-ak fai a?
“Do you get dressed quickly?”

The proper response, as in the previous set of examples, is to reply with the adjective to indicate “yes” or “no.”

Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section—especially if you notice a typo or error!

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!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Basic Course: Lesson 19 Reading

This reading passage brings together the new words and dialogue from the current lesson.




Wöng Ngì o hòk-hàu hòk Jung-Mün hòk-ak hō möng, gōng Höi-San wà gōng-ak hō hō, lhē Jung-Mün dù lhē-ak hō liang. Kui hài yīt-gwoi hō tung-mïng hüng hō kïn-lìk gwoi hòk-sang.

Jiang Lham hài Wöng Ngì gwoi päng-yịu. Jiang Lham m̈-hài gī tung-mïng, mo Wöng Ngì kwọi tung-mïng. Jiang Lham ùk si ùk-ak m̈-hài hō kïn-lìk, kui ùk si mo Wöng Ngì ùk-ak kwọi kïn-lìk. Jiang Lham lhē dù lhē-ak m̈-liang. Kui lhē dù mo Wöng Ngì lhē-ak kwọi liang. Jiang Lham gōng Höi-San wà* gōng-ak m̈-hō, kui gōng Höi-San wà* mo Wöng Ngì gōng-ak kwọi hō.

Lī Lhi yìak hài Wöng Ngì gwoi päng-yịu. Kui ị-tïng hāi Lùk-Gun Ngụi-Ngün Hòk-Hàu ùk si, kwọi-sị kui mo ùk si, kui hāi Ngìt-Bōn du sang-yi, kui du sang-yi du-ak hō m̈-hō. Wöng Ngì lhē lhin pī kui, hüng gi tïng pī kui; Wöng Ngì lhē lhin lhē-ak fi-sïang-ji hō.

As in lesson 18, this reading combines two key grammatical constructions by using 得 ak to modify a comparison, for example:

Kui gōng Höi-San wà* mo Wöng Ngì gōng-ak kwọi hō.
“He doesn’t speak Taishanese as well as Wong Ngi does.”

Questions, musings, corrections and suggestions are all welcome. Please feel free to post in the comments below!

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!