At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Thursday, December 05, 2013


As I often do I was quietly listening in on a Cantonese conversation while riding the bus the other day. Being, as you know, rather much Caucasian ("white", with a small beard, and grey eyes), I can do that a lot.
And though I respect the right to privacy and confidentiality of other people, I feel that public conversation is fair game. I am a good listener.

Sure, it's an unfair advantage. No one naturally suspects that a beady-eyed Anglo can understand any part of their discussion. But is there really any reason to holler out 大家聽注,我識廣東話!when I get on the bus?

[大家聽注,我識廣東話!Taai gaa teng chu, ngo sik kwontungwa! "Everybody listen up, I understand Cantonese!"]

I think not.

Little motivates me to hamstring my own learning curve.


The Cantonese language has some expressions and turns of phrase which are quite interesting, and the grammar also differs enough from Mandarin and other Chinese languages that it has a completely separate mental feel. Northerners often do not grasp the nuances, registers, and modes.

Consider this doozy: 我俾嗰箇人激到生蝦噉跳嘅喇 (ngo pei go-go yan gik dou saang haa gam tiu ge laa).
"I permitted that dude irritate me till live shrimp similar jump!"

Adjectival and passive construction (俾 pei: gave, let someone effect or affect something), with a comparative (噉 gam: thus, so, in such a manner), and an aspect marker (嘅喇 ge laa: a strong note of factual assertion).

[Note: Cantonese is particularly rich in particle clusters at the end of sentences, which nuance the 'topic - comment' feature of the language. If the first part of the typical sentence states the matter being mentioned, and the latter part delivers a cogent remark thereon, the finishing particle cluster serves to shade meanings by adding attitude and emotion. Including such diverse aspects as emphasis, a questioning note, a request, an expression of doubt, a reminding characteristic, or even softening statements and obviating bluntness.]

"He made me hopping mad"

Wow. To the extent of live shrimp jumping, so vexed. Must have been intense. People do that to me sometimes too.
I know how you feel.

Ni yeung ge suk-yu, wa, lam gik dou lam m-dou, dong-si gam-yat ngo jung-mei teng gwo ga.
[This particular expression, well, I truly think that till today I haven't hear it before.]

It's a remarkable locution.
I am glad I heard that.
Thank you, stranger.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



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