One of the most impressive things about Hong Kong is the absolutely incredible bladder control you will find on display throughout the city. Forget about the Chinese acrobatic acts featuring intense young Buddhists smashing their forearms through concrete cinderblocks. Considering the amount of bottled water locals go through ever day, the Hong Kong ability to stay focused under pressure is nothing short of performance art.

We wondered about this for a long time, especially considering the heat and humidity that envelops the island every summer. But then we met Nicole, who is slowly sharing Hong Kong's secrets with us. "We don't really have a lot of choice in the matter," she said, before adding "and I think there's something wrong with you guys biologically." Our table was littered with empty bottles of mango and raspberry juice purchased at the local store. "But we also don't drink so much juice, and that makes a difference too."
 said on
March 23, 2011
Love this lesson, although I'm still having a hard time telling the difference between the second and fifth tone. In the spirit of practice-makes-perfect, we have now spent the morning going around the office telling our coworkers that there are no toilets in Chile.

Good stuff. :)
 said on
March 24, 2011
@trevelyan

Haha. I hope you're using the polite words when you say that.
 said on
March 24, 2011
We practiced with all three! On a side note, a friend of ours down here is called Maxine. She parents speak Cantonese with her, and when her mother heard her English name, she apparently thought her daughter had gone crazy named herself 咩事....

 said on
March 25, 2011
Lol. Maxine, 咩事, Hahahaha...
 said on
April 2, 2011
有意思嘅課文
 said on
April 3, 2011
Hi liangmale

多謝捧場!
 said on
April 7, 2011
What are the tones on the following characters: 阿,啊,⼄? I tried to use MDBG to look them up, but it gives many pronunciations for 阿 and 啊, and ⼄ is not in the character dictionary.
 said on
April 7, 2011
@bryan_d_robinson

Hi Bryan,

Good question.

阿 has two pronunciations, aa3 and o1. aa3 is mostly used to call people by their nicknames or to address them informally, like 阿傑 (aa3 git6, Kit) and 阿成(aa3 sing4, Sing), while the other sound o1 is rarely used, unless it's in a proper noun like 阿房宮(o1 fong4 gung1, Epang Palace)

啊 is used for all sorts of particles and interjections that has an aa sound. It has all the tones: aa1, aa2, aa3, aa4, aa5, aa6, the meaning of which depends on the context. It can indicate surprise, inquiry, doubt or realization, etc.

When it's aa1, 啊 can also be written as 吖. When it's aa3, aa4, aa5, aa6, 啊 can be written as 呀.

What's the ⼄ in your comment? Sorry I can't read it.
 said on
April 7, 2011
Thank you for the explanation on the particles!

⼄ comes from the PDF transcript actually. It is used in conjunction with 甲。 When I had to read legal documents in Japanese, it was used to note complex items in a list or document. Later in the document, one could use ⼄ to refer back to something.

I assume in your lesson PDF, these are used to reference anonymous speakers. While I can find the pronunciation and Cangjie codes for 甲, I was unable to find it for ⼄.
 said on
April 8, 2011
@bryan_d_robinson,

Hi Bryan,

No worries.

I think you mean 乙. It's pronounced as jyut3. In Chinese languages, 甲乙丙丁戊己庚辛壬癸 is the twelve characters to refer to orders, like ABCD in English. In our dialogues we have 甲 and 乙 as the two speakers.
 said on
June 14, 2011
I finally got around to listening to this podcast and I noticed you put a natural, quickly spoken segment at the end. It's still a little fast for me now, but I'm really grateful that perhaps when I have a better ear I can listen to it. Thanks guys!

Also I have a more general question. I went to Guangzhou last week and I didn't see any characters that looked cantonese. Perhaps they were there and I didn't notice, because they are colloquial. But does mainland China change any of the uniquely cantonese characters into simplified script? Or perhaps a better way to put it: If the CCP wrote this dialogue into a standard memo for distribution among all cadres, would it look largely the same, except for the obvious simplifications? Would a Beijinger know what 乜 means?

 said on
June 15, 2011
Hi Daniu,

Thanks for the comment and feedback. Please try later podcast in this series. I believe they've got slower dialogues.

The uniquely Cantonese characters like 乜 咩 嘅 are commonly spoken by all Cantonese but are rarely seen in publications, especially in mainland China, which means, if the CCP wrote this dialogue, it would look like a Mandarin script without any Cantonese character. And if you show 乜 or 嘅 to a Beijinger or Shanghaiese they probably would not know what it means.

Scripts on our site are consistent with the dialogues on the podcast for study purpose, but normally spoken Cantonese are not consistent with what is written down, be it on Books or TV subtitles. For example, you might hear 去乜鬼廁所啫 in a HK TV show but you'll probably see 去什麽廁所 in the subtitle. This is especially common and obvious in mainland China as the subtitle or any text written down have to be intelligible to non-Cantonese speakers from outside Guangdong who are currently working or staying in Guangzhou otherwise they'll lose a large number of audience or customers, and also because Mandarin is the standard Chinese promoted by the government. But when colloquial Cantonese characters are written it feels especially Cantonese-y and dramatic and funny. My favorite HK actor/standup comedian 黃子華 had a standup comedy called 冇炭用, or, there's no coal. The 冇 is a uniquely Cantonese character.

Hope it answers your question.
 said on
October 4, 2011
Hey, in the transcript and in the discussion, you talk about the guy saying "去乜鬼廁所啫?", but it sounds to me like he just says "去乜鬼廁所啊?", with a 啊 and not a 啫.
 said on
October 4, 2011
The male speaker in the dialogue definitely says "去乜鬼廁所吖", but when reviewing the dialogue, Nicole says 啫 instead of 吖. Maybe Nicole or another native can explain the differences.
 said on
October 13, 2011
@chiuyan

Yes, Nicole says "啫" in the reviewing section.

But in this context, actually, there is no big difference betwwen "去乜鬼廁所啊" and "去乜鬼廁所啫"; both "啫" and "啊" suggest a kind of impatience and irritation.

Actually, "啫" and "啊" are freqquently used in conversations (as @palafx has mentioned in another discussion) and most time they are interchangeable.

But unlike "啊", which is more general and can have different meanings according to the context and the speaker's intonation, "啫" is frequently used to suggest a kind of impatience and/or irritation (as in this lesson). If you see a "啫" at the end of a sentence with "!", it typically falls into this category.

At other time, "啫" may be used to form a rhetorical question like "你做乜啫?" (What are you doing?). The speaker here usually is expressing his/her irrtation rather than literally asking what the other person is doing.

Anyway, since "啫" is equivalent to "啊" in most cases, it's definitely okay to leave aside "啫" and just use "啊" to convey your meaning and feelings as well!

Lotus
 said on
April 26, 2012
This has nothing to do with the lesson (although it was an interesting lesson), but at 2:34, Brendan has me suspecting that he is a Battlestar Galactica fan. :)