#1 Conversation: What brings us to Cantonese? (粵語)
- 興趣 hing3 ceoi3 (N) interest
- 感覺 gam2 gok3 (N/V) feeling / to feel
- 睇法 tai2 faat3 (N) opinion (way of looking)
- 嗌交 ngaai3 gaau1 (VO) to argue
- 語言 jyu5 jin4 (N) language
- 方言 fong1 jin4 (N) topolect / regional variety of Chinese
- 傾偈 king1 gai2 (VO) to chat
- 舒服 syu1 fuk6 (ADJ) comfortable
- 溫柔 wan1 jau4 (ADJ/N) gentle, soft
- 補充 bou2 cung1 (N/V) additional comment / to supplement
- 經歷 ging1 lik6 (N/V) experience
- 畢業 bat1 jip6 (N/V) graduation
- 深入 sam1 jap6 (ADJ/ADV) deep; in depth
- 了解 liu5 gaai2 (V/N) to comprehend/understand
- 社會 se5 wui2 (N) society
- 文化 man4 faa3 (N) culture
- 所謂 so2 wai6 (EXP) so-called, as the saying goes
- 入鄉隨俗 jap6 hoeng1 ceoi4 zuk6 (EXP) do as the Romans do
- 母語 mou5 jyu5 (N) mother tongue
- 華僑 waa4 kiu4 (N) Chinese overseas
- 祖先 zou2 sin1 (N) ancestor\
- 出世 ceot1 sai3 (V/N) to be born
- 決定 kyut3 ding6 (V/N) to decide / decision
- 撳掣 gam6 zai3 (VO) to press button
- 動物 dung6 mat6 (N) animal
ADV - adverb
EXP - expression
N - noun
V - verb
VO - verb object
Cameron: 可以。其實呢，我開始學廣東話之前學咗普通話先。我仲記得我中學嗰陣時嘅普通話老師話講廣東話嘅人好似嗌緊交4喎。當然有啲人聽唔明一個語言5嘅時候，都會講呢啲嘢嘅，所以唔好介意啦。但係嗰陣時我都覺得普通話好難，學另一個方言6唔係非常之難囉。我淨係去香港之後先至決定學廣東話。而家呢，如果有機會同嗰個老師傾偈7，想講嘅就係，我每次聽人講廣東話或者睇香港電影呀，聽 Cantopop（粵語流行曲）呀，都覺得好舒服8，覺得呢個語言5都係有個溫柔9嘅方面嘅。
Raymond: 而家我嘅屋企人都講廣東話，但係佢哋以前呢，就唔係嘅。我嘅爸爸媽媽啦，其實係印尼華僑20，即係佢哋係印尼出世21嘅華人啦，中國人啦。其實佢哋以前係講印尼話嘅。噉但係呢我嘅祖父母呢，或者我嘅祖先22呢，其實佢哋就係喺中國嘅福建省嘅。所以我嘅鄉下其實係喺福建省: 我爸爸嘅鄉下叫安溪、我媽媽嘅鄉下叫莆田，佢哋兩個地方都有自己嘅話嘅。所以喺我屋企以前都會聽到安溪話、莆田話，我嘅爸爸媽媽會講印尼話。但係呢我嘅爸爸媽媽後來又去咗中國嘅北京呀、天津呀、洛陽呀呢啲地方住過，噉我嘅哥哥喺北京出世21，所以佢哋又會講普通話。噉最後佢哋又再搬屋搬咗去香港，我喺香港出世21。所以其實佢哋就大家一齊學廣東話，噉我係可以話我喺屋企係第一個真正用廣東話做母語19嘅人。
Raymond: 其實都唔係我決定23嘅。噉我後來喺香港嘅中文大學畢業12之後呢，我去咗美國嘅猶他州讀語言5學 linguistics。讀緊語言學嘅時候我哋都有啲機會去工作嘅，我哋工作呢其中一種就係有機會去教語言5。我讀嘅大學呢叫楊百翰大學 Brigham Young University，嗰度有廣東話嘅班，有廣東話嘅課程 course 嘅。好多時佢哋都會搵講廣東話嘅學生去教，所以我嗰陣時就一邊去讀語言5學，一邊教廣東話喇。我都覺得好有趣嘅，因為我都係第一次好正式噉去教廣東話啦。 噉會去諗一啲以前唔會諗嘅問題啦，即係唔會去諗你母語19嗰啲語法呀、嗰啲詞彙呀嘅問題，噉我都覺得我一邊教一邊都學到好多嘢囉。
Cameron: 所以我哋已經講曬我哋今日嘅內容啦，但係我哋每一個 episode 都要講啲 slang。所以而家想問吓，一個人學廣東話嘅時候興趣1係咪需要嘅？
Cameron: 「牛唔飲水」is the cow isn’t drinking water, 「唔撳得牛頭低」... 「撳」可能係好多人唔知道，唔明係咩意思嘅。
Raymond: 「撳」係第六聲 sorry，即係「撳掣24」個「撳」囉。
Cameron: 所以 you can’t push its head into the water.
Raymond: 係喇。使唔使講多一次呀？ 或者我講廣東話你講英文啦。
Cameron: 好 。
Cameron: So if the cow is not drinking water you can’t push its head into the water. 其實我覺得呢個同英文講法差唔多。我哋英文有個係 “You can lead a horse to the water but you can’t make it drink”.
Raymond: 係呀。基本上係一樣。就係嗰隻動物25唔一樣囉。 係呀，你講得啱呀。
Raymond: Let’s have you start first. Why don’t you share how you began to have an interest in Cantonese, then learning Cantonese, and the general thoughts on the language?
CAMERON: Sure. Actually, I learned Mandarin before starting Cantonese. I still remember my Mandarin teacher in middle school said that Cantonese speakers sound like they’re fighting. Of course, people often say this kind of thing when they don’t understand a language--it’s not worth minding, really. But back then I thought Mandarin was pretty difficult, so learning another topolect [topolect: regional spoken form of Chinese] would be of course even more difficult. I decided to study Cantonese only after I arrived in Hong Kong. Now, if I had a chance to talk to that teacher again though, I would want to tell her that when listening to people speak Cantonese, watching Hong Kong movies, or listening to Cantopop, I find the language very pleasant and even soothing.
Raymond: Can you comment a little more on what experience led to a change of your attitude towards Cantonese?
Cameron: So, I'm American, and after I graduated from college, I moved to Hong Kong for work. I thought since I knew English and Mandarin, I should be able to talk to the people in Hong Kong. But a few months later, I found that if I really wanted to learn more about Hong Kong's society and culture, I could not do it without studying Cantonese.
Raymond: We have this saying which goes "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"--that is, to understand the local culture and people’s real way of thinking, you need to speak their language, and I think it is very important.
Cameron: I've already talked a lot, but we also want to hear about your experience. I want to ask, is Cantonese your mother tongue?
Raymond: It is.
Cameron: Are there people in your family who also speak other topolects?
Raymond: Everyone at home speaks Cantonese now, but before that, that wasn't the case. My mom and dad, in fact, are Indonesian Chinese (overseas), that is, they are Indonesian born Chinese. They actually used to speak Indonesian. But for my grandparents, or my ancestors, they are actually from the Fujian Province of China. So my ancestral hometown is actually in the Fujian Province: My father's hometown is called Anxi, my mother's is called Putian, and both places have their own languages. So I grew up with the Anxi and Putian dialects at home, while my parents would speak Indonesian. But my parents then lived in Beijing, Tianjin, and Luoyang, while my brother was born in Beijing, so they would also speak Mandarin. They finally relocated to Hong Kong where I was born. So everyone learned Cantonese together, but I can say that I am the first one in the family officially having Cantonese as the mother tongue.
Cameron: So when did you decide to be a Cantonese teacher?
Raymond: In fact, that wasn’t really up to me. After I graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, I went to Utah, USA, to study linguistics. When I was studying linguistics, I had the opportunity to work, and one option was to teach language. I went to Brigham Young University, where Cantonese courses are offered and I taught for a while. The school often hires Cantonese speaking students to teach the Cantonese courses, so I was able to teach Cantonese while studying linguistics. I find it interesting because it was my first time teaching Cantonese formally. I got to think about issues and answer questions I never thought of before, such as the grammar and vocabulary of one’s native language. I think I've learned a lot while teaching.
Cameron: So we've finished talking about what we planned for today, but we would also like to talk about slang in each episode. So I want to ask, is personal interest a must when someone is studying Cantonese?
Raymond: Yes, having interest is so important. It's the so-called “cow that drinks water makes the cow's head low”.
Cameron: What did you just say?
Raymond: Do you want to take a guess what it means?
Cameron: "Ngau4 m4 jam2 seoi2" is the cow drinking water, "gam6 dak1 ngau4 tau4 dai1"... "gam6" maybe a lot of people don't know what it means.
Raymond: "Gam6" is tone 6, sorry. "Gam6" as in "gam6 zai3" (press/push buttons).
Cameron: So you can't push its head into the water.
Raymond: Correct. Should I say it one more time? Or I say in Cantonese and you in English.
Raymond: So the line is, "Ngau4 m4 jam2 seoi2, m4 gam6 dak1 ngau4 tau4 dai1."
Cameron: So if the cow is not drinking water, you can’t push its head down to drink it. Actually I think there is a similar saying in English: You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.
Raymond: Yes. It's basically the same, just with a different animal. Yes, you are right.