Cantonese/Lesson 2/Conversation

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Buildup[edit]

(At a party in Hong Kong)

先生 sīnsàang
先生 sīnsàang man
貴姓 gwaising your surname (polite)
a sentence suffix, to soften abruptness
小姐 síujé woman
小姐貴姓呀? Síujé gwaising a? What is your surname, Miss?
小姐 síujé
我姓王。 Ngóh sing Wòhng. My surname is Wong.
先生 sīnsàang
(Bowing slightly)
王小姐。 Wòhng Síujé. Miss Wong.
小姐 síujé
呢? nē? sentence suffix for Wh-questions
先生呢? Sīnsaàng nē? And you? (polite)(lit. Mr.?
先生 sīnsàang
小姓 síusing my name (humble)
小姓劉。 Síusing Làuh. My name is Lau.
小姐 síujé
(Bowing slightly)
劉生。 Làuh sàang. Mr Lau.
先生 sīnsàang
(Indicating a young lady standing beside Miss Wong)
乜嘢 / 咩嘢 / 咪嘢 mātyéh / mēyéh / mīyéh what?
姓咩嘢呀 sing mēyéh a? have what surname?
朋友 pàhngyáuh friend
néih your
你朋友 néih pàhngyáuh your friend
你朋友姓咩嘢呀? néih pàhngyáuh sing mē yéh a? What is your friend's name?
小姐 síujé
姓馬 sing Máh has the name Ma
ge noun-forming boundword. ge suffixed to a verb phrase makes it a noun phrase
姓馬嘅 sing Máh ge is one named Ma
kéuih he, she, it
佢姓馬嘅. Kéuih sing Máh ge. Her name is Ma.
先生 sīnsàang
廣東 Gwóngdùng Guangdong province
yàhn person
廣東人 Gwóngdùngyàhn Cantonese person, a person from Guangdong province
係唔係呀 haihm̀hhaih a? is or not is? (a question formula)
佢係唔係廣東人呀? Kéuih haihm̀hhaih Gwóngdùngyàhn a? Is she a Cantonese person?
小姐 síujé
上海 Seuhnghói Shanghai
上海人 Seuhnghóiyàhn Shanghai person
唔係呀.佢係上海人. M̀hhaih a. Kéuih haih Seuhnghóiyàhn. No, she's a Shanghainese person.
先生 sīnsàang
gám well then (sentence prefix, resuming the topic of discussion)
咁,你呢? Gám, néih nē? Well then, what about you?
小姐 síujé
dōu also
都係上海人 dōu haih Seuhnghóiyàhn also am a Shanghainese person
我都係上海人. Ngóh dōu haih Seuhnghóiyàhn. I am also a Shanghainese person.

Recapitulation[edit]

(At a party in Hong Kong)

先生 sīnsàang
小姐貴姓呀? Síujé gwaising a? What is your surname, Miss?
小姐 síujé
我姓王。 Ngóh sing Wòhng. My name is Wong.
先生 sīnsàang
(Bowing slightly)
王小姐。 Wòhng Síujé. Miss Wong.
小姐 síujé
先生呢? Sīnsaàng nē? And you? (polite)
先生 sīnsàang
小姓劉。 Síusing Làuh. My name is Lau.
小姐 síujé
(Bowing slightly)
劉生。 Làuh sàang. Mr. Lau.
先生 sīnsàang
(Indicating a young lady standing beside Miss Wong)
你朋友姓咩嘢呀? néih pàhngyáuh sing mē yéh a? What is your friend's name?
小姐 síujé
佢姓馬嘅. Kéuih sing Máh ge. Her name is Ma.
先生 sīnsàang
佢係唔係廣東人呀? Kéuih haihm̀hhaih Gwóngdùngyàhn a? Is she a Cantonese person?
小姐 síujé
唔係呀.佢係上海人. M̀hhaih a. Kéuih haih Seuhnghóiyàhn. No, she's a Shanghainese person.
先生 sīnsàang
咁,你呢? Gám, néih nē? Well then, what about you?
小姐 síujé
我都係上海人. Ngóh dōu haih Seuhnghóiyàhn. I am also a Shanghainese person.

Pronunciation[edit]

b, d, g, j[edit]

b, d, g, and j (IPA: [p],[t],[k], and [tɕ]), sounds in Cantonese are voicless, in contrast to the voiced English sounds spelled with the same letters. The tongue position for Cantonese b and g sounds is the same as for English. For the d sound the tongue tip is more forward in Cantonese than in English--against the base of the upper teeth for Cantonese, on the dental ridge for English. The tongue position for the j sound has been discussed in Lesson 1. All of the above sounds are unaspirated, as are the English counterparts. But the Cantonese and English sounds contrast with respect to tenseness--the Cantonese initial consonants are tense while the English lax in isolated words and in stressed positions of a sentence.

Listen and compare
Initial English Cantonese
b bean bīn go 邊個 who
beau bou cloth
buoy būi cup
bun bān guest
buy baai worship
d doe dou arrive
die daai bring
ding dīng surname Ting
deem dim shop (noun)
g gay gei record (verb)
gum gam so
guy gaai border
guava Gwóngdùng 廣東 Guangdong
j joy joi again
gee ji until, to
Jew jiu reflect
Joe jou stove

p, t, k, ch[edit]

Cantonese p, t, k, and ch sounds (IPA: [pʰ],[tʰ],[kʰ], and [tɕʰ]) are similar to English counterparts p, t, k, ch as they are both voiceless and aspirated. The tonguie position for p and k is the same as for English. For the t sound the tongue tip is more forward in Cantonese than in English--against the base of the upper teeth for Cantonese, on the dental ridge for English. The tongue position for ch has been discussed in Lesson 1. The Cantonese consonants are tenser than the English counterparts.

Listen and compare
Initial English Cantonese
p pingpong pàhngyáuh 朋友 friend
pay pèi to throw over the shoulders
pie paai send
Poe pou shop (noun)
putt pāt measure word for horses
t tie tāai necktie
team tìm additional
top taap pagoda
tong tong iron (verb)
k cow kaau lean on
Kay kei hope
cut kāt cough
cup kāp step (noun)
ch chuck chāk guess
chew chìu exceed
chow chau bad smell
chip chip concubine

un[edit]

un as in Yahtbún and Yahtbúnyàhn is a two part final composed of a high back rounded vowel (IPA: [u]) by the alveolar nasal consonant (IPA: [n]). When the two are together there is a slight offglide to the high central position (IPA: [uːin]). The vowel is not nasalized before nasal final. The Cantonese 'un' is roughly comparable to the `oon` in English (e.g. `boon`).

Listen and compare

  1. bún (本), boon
  2. boon, bún (本)


eui[edit]

The lips should be rounded throughout the final. Remember that the i of eui represents the high front rounded vowel (IPA: [y]).

Listen and repeat

  1. kéuih 佢
  2. deuim̀hjyuh 對唔住
  3. deui 對


iu[edit]

iu is a two-part final composed of the high front unrounded vowel (IPA: [i]) plus the high back rounded vowel (IPA: [u]). In this sequence the i is pronounced as an onglide, with the longest portion being the u.

Listen and repeat

  1. síujé
  2. síu


Tones[edit]

Listen and repeat

  1. dōu dōu, sing sing, haih haih
  2. dōu sing haih, haih sing dōu
  3. dōu sing, sing haih, dōu haih, haih dōu
  4. dōu dōu, Jèung Jèung
  5. Jèung, dōu, dōu Jèung
  6. síu síu, néih néih
  7. síu néih, néih síu
  8. haih yàhn, yàhn haih