We'd been cornered outside a 7/11 and were getting a lecture on professional ethics. "It's a simple exchange," the professor said. "You contribute a little bit to the cause and we're endlessly grateful in return." Our thoughts on this gentleman's forwardness notwithstanding, the prospect of such a boundless return on investment did stimulate a little charity on our part.

Learning Cantonese? You've probably noticed by now that most native Cantonese speakers have around a million ways of saying thanks. We strongly suspect that some are even paid professionally to dream up more each day in order to confuse tourists, mainlanders and everyone else passing through the city. But fortunately, there are only a few dozen variants in common usage, and in this podcast we'll set you right so you know how and when to use them.
 said on
May 19, 2011
@Nicole, Brendan & Co.,

I'm loving learning Canto! I had a question, is there a good Cantonese phonetic table laying around somewhere, because I'm very confused on several of the final constonant sounds, like haak3 and baak3, is double A + a final consonant a special feature of jyutping romanization?Is this sound pronounced with a long, drawn out A sound and a silent final consonant? It really sounds like the final K sound isn't present at all.

多謝晒!
 said on
May 19, 2011
@Xiao Hu

Welcome 歡迎(fun1 jing4)!

How about this one?

http://www.lshk.org/cantonese.php

I haven't found any with audios yet.

As for final consonants being special in Jyutping, do you mean the spelling of double A + a final consonant or the pronunciation of it? If the spelling, yeah it's quite unique. But as for the pronunciation, it depends on what other languages you're comparing it with. As far as I know, Hokkien also has combination of a vowel + p,t,k consonants, or, the entering tones 入聲.

(This video introduces ways of pronouncing the entering tones, if you're interested.

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTMyMjg1MjY0.html)

Anyhow, -p, -t, and -k are the only three ending consonants in Cantonese so don't worry. Once you've got them, you've managed a great amount of Cantonese sounds. And the Cantonese way of pronouncing them is 不送氣, or not letting the air out. So when they're at the beginning of a sound they are aspirations (送氣音) like in English "pin""tin""kin" but as entering tones they're only half-pronounced, without aspiration.

And "aa" is like the "ar" in English while the single A sounds like the vowel in "won" or "son". So baak is pronounced like bark without aspiration. Without the ending "k" though it's a long, drawn out "bar" sound.

Hope it helps. Or you can email me with a list of syllables that you find confusing and I'll pronounce them for you.
 said on
May 19, 2011
It might be worth pointing out that while "入声" is usually translated as "entering tone," it's also better translated as "checked tone," which I think gives more of an idea of what it sounds like. The -p -t or -k consonant that ends the syllable is, as Nicole says, not aspirated: it's a "stop consonant," which is more or less what it sounds like -- a way of stopping the airflow.
 said on
May 22, 2011
@Nicole,

Thanks for the link to the video, I find it particularly fascinating how Sino-Tibetan languages have developed over time, and how most of the final consonant sounds in Mandarin have been lost, yet Cantonese retains these sounds.

I'm still a little confused the the word baak, is there supposed to be an "r" sound in it? I have gone over it again and again and for some reason I don't detect an "r" sound.

I'll get you a list of the sounds that I'm confused on.

多謝

小虎
 said on
May 22, 2011
@Brendan 合毖老师,

I read that the checked tone is actually an absence of tone, that 入声 had no tonal contours whatsoever, it was characterized by any sound with a final stop consonant.

Many of the local 方言 around China, in theory had a checked tone at one point in time but it was lost.

For example, the dialects of 四川 all have 5 tones, but the 入声 has been folded into another tone.

While we're on the subject of tones, it's interesting how "experts" maintain that Mandarin has 4 tones, completely leaving 轻声 out of the equation. If you want to talk about the distinct tonal contours of Mandarin Chinese then I'd say there are actually six, if you cound the tone sandhi of third tone. So in Mandarin there is a high flat tone 第一声, a high rising tone 第二声, a low falling tone 被Sandhi化的第三声, a low dipping tone 第三声, a high falling tone 第四声 and a light mid-range tone 轻声.

I love the fact that 泡泡中文 actually recognizes the fifth tone as an independent tone in and of itself and not just a feature of tone sandhi.
 said on
May 22, 2011
@Xiao Hu

Sorry I wasn't being clear. When I said "ar" I mean the English pronunciation rather than the American pronunciation. So you're right, there's no 'r' in it whatsoever.
 said on
May 23, 2011
@nicole: for audio try these

http://sepc495.se.cuhk.edu.hk/crystal/

http://tdc.putonghuaonline.com/tools1.html
 said on
May 24, 2011
@Nicole,

No wonder the previous Cantonese resources I used were all confusing, it was based on Brittish English pronunciation.

What's your opinion on the following Cantonese pronunciation guides?

http://cantonese.ca/pronunciation.html

http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/essays/jyutping.htm

http://home.vtmuseum.org/terminology/pronounciation_guide.php
 said on
May 24, 2011
@el

多謝你!I'm really impressed by both of them but I like the second one better. Not only because of its natural and human sounding, but also that it includes tone change. If you try 女人(neoi5 jan4/2), or woman, Crystal(the first site) says something very vague plus an original 4th tone 人(jan), while the other site pronounces it clearly with a tone change.

@Xiao Hu

I think all of them explain the pronunciation clearly. They're especially helpful for English speakers, especially the first one, which uses the IPA as opposed to Yale and offers sample words and audios by a native Cantonese speaker.
 said on
June 11, 2011
Late coming back to this, but yes -- the 入声 was a tonal category that existed in Middle Chinese but has disappeared in Standard Mandarin, though it's apparently preserved in some Sichuan and Northwestern dialects. We don't really know what the tonal contour of the 入声 was historically, as far as I know.

My historical linguistics are lousy, but with Cantonese, there was a tone split around the late Tang or Song, IIRC, which resulted in the four tones of Middle Chinese becoming the current [whatever, depending on how you count them], and I wonder if this didn't also result in the appearance of the 入声 in different pitch registers in modern Cantonese as well.
 said on
July 24, 2013
This lesson was fun! But I am wondering, isn't saying 'Thank you' "mhm goe sai" similar to saying 'Excuse me' "mhm goe"? I know when saying 'Thank you', there is a "sai" at the end but without it, it sounds like saying "Excuse me" so how can you tell the difference? Or when saying "Thank you", do you have to add the "sai" at the end?

I enjoyed this lesson and thank you! I look forward for more!
 said on
August 14, 2013
mh goi (唔該) means thank you. mh goi sai (唔該晒) means thank you very much.

In cantonese there are two ways to say thank you. do je (多謝) and mh goi (唔該). In general you use "do je" to thank someone for a physical gift and "mh goi" to thank someone for performing some action on your behalf (like holding a door open for you).

When you say "mh goi" to get someone's attention, or to ask someone to let you pass in a crowd, you are implicitly thanking them for paying attention to you and in this sense "mh goi" is more like "please" than "excuse me" as "excuse me" in English is actually asking for forgiveness (asking to be excused).

if you bumped into somebody or something and wanted to say "excuse me", then "mh hou yi si" (唔好意思) or "deui mh jyu" (對唔住) would be more appropriate.