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How much Cantonese does a Mandarin speaker/learner understand?


skylee
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I was thinking about a girl friend today. I met her when she was in her early twenties so she was always a young girl to me. But it suddenly occured to me that I had known her for like 10 years so she was not really that young any more. And then the first verse of this song 十個女仔 came up in my mind.

Personally I don't write in Cantonese. The lyrics of the songs are in Cantonese but I think they are pretty close to Mandarin and I just wonder if or how much a Mandarin speaker / learner would understand them.

十個女仔 九個認細 

明明係老 佢話唔係

三張幾嘢 扎起辮仔 

青春美麗 就冇失禮

十個女仔 九個浪費 

時時換季 已係成例

身光頸靚 襯起好睇 

錢亂咁Fing 為顧身世

十個女仔 九個實際 

人人恨嫁 富裕門第

小妹選婿 要講家底 

屈居妾侍 亦冇乜計

望女仔逐個睇眼厲厲(眼厲厲)

燕瘦環肥大細樣樣齊(樣樣齊)

男士實在要感激上帝(Hallelujah)

皆因女仔使你意亂情迷

十個女仔 九個話咪 

明明係制 猛話唔係

想討好佢 老鼠拉龜 

一味作狀 扮哂矜貴

十個女仔 九個玉砌 

情懷善變 確係文藝

喐啲都會 發起狼戾 

一出眼淚 就要安慰

望女仔逐個睇眼厲厲(眼厲厲)

燕瘦環肥大細樣樣齊(樣樣齊)

男士實在要感激上帝(Hallelujah)

皆因女仔使你意亂情迷

Listen

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They would understand one third to one half of the whole song depending on what you mean:

If they know all the words, they wouldn't know those words created especially for Cantonese usage only. But because different vocabulary usage [using different sets of words to represent the same thing in Cantonese vs. Mandarin] and word structure [most words in Cantonese that could stand alone, cannot stand alone in Mandarin, they must be accompanied by a second character or possibly a third one], they might or might not understand it.

女仔 = girl in Cantonese, but in Mandarin, it would mean something like " 'female' something". Mandarin speakers would not know what it means, unless they also speak a different dialect which was influenced by Cantonese [such as Hakka or Taiwanese] and has this word 仔 in their vocabulary.

細 = small in Cantonese. There's no such thing in Mandarin. 仔細 in Mandarin means "thoroughly" as in "search throughly".

People from Taiwan would understand 唔係, because they use it frequently [in Taiwanese, not Cantonese. Because 唔係 got into Taiwanese this way: Cantonese --> Hakka --> Fujianese/ Minnan --> Taiwanese]. It isn't hard to know why Taiwanese people would know and understand how this phrase functions, but people from most of Mainland China would not [unless you're from Guangdong Province, Hong Kong or Macao, of course!].

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I think Skylee is waiting for some native Mandarin speakers who don't understand Cantonese to respond, and not being such a person I'll apologize in advance for being off-topic, but I want to correct a couple of misconceptions held by the previous poster.

unless they also speak a different dialect which was influenced by Cantonese [such as Hakka or Taiwanese] and has this word 仔 in their vocabulary.

While Hakka as it is spoken in some parts of Guangdong has almost certainly been influenced by Cantonese (especially in recent years), Hakka as it is spoken elsewhere has not been influenced by Cantonese in the slightest. This is also true of Taiwanese. The fact that they may also use the character 仔 to represent a diminutive suffix has nothing to do with Cantonese per se, but rather is connected to the fact Cantonese, Taiwanese and Hakka all share a common ancestor. Saying that Taiwanese 仔 is borrowed from Cantonese is equivalent to saying Mandarin 我 is borrowed from Cantonese! :)

People from Taiwan would understand 唔係, because they use it frequently [in Taiwanese, not Cantonese. Because 唔係 got into Taiwanese this way: Cantonese --> Hakka --> Fujianese/ Minnan --> Taiwanese].

I'm sure Taiwanese (and the vast majority of mainlanders too) would understand 唔係, but not because of any inter-dialect borrowing. Cantonese and Hakka both use 唔係 due to common ancestry/development. Taiwanese in fact uses 唔/毋是. The reason for the different usage of 係 and 是 have to do with historical phonological developments, which I'll refrain from expounding on here (without the necessary reference materials at hand), suffice to say that they were once one and the same. Most Chinese speakers, regardless of mother dialect, would understand 唔係 beacuse 唔 is commonly used in many dialects to represent the copula negative (often pronounced "m") and 係 has historically been extensively used in literature as an alternative to 是.

仔細 in Mandarin means "thoroughly" as in "search throughly".

(As it does in Cantonese, among others, too.)

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係 has historically been extensively used in literature as an alternative to 是.

The use of 系 for "是“ (to be) is still fairly common in formal Chinese writing today.

This dictionary of common Cantonese characters should be helpful for Mandarin speakers :wink:

http://www.cnljyl.cn/cnljyl_Product_5065986.html

常用粤语字对照

I have trouble with the following words/phrases ("Fing" looks familiar :mrgreen:), but it may be that they are classical Chinese I don't recognize. Skylee, please translate!

認細 

佢話唔係

幾嘢

就冇失禮

身光頸靚 襯起好睇 

錢亂咁Fing

屈居妾侍 亦冇乜計

望女仔逐個睇眼厲厲(眼厲厲)

燕瘦環肥大細樣樣齊(樣樣齊)

九個話咪 

明明係制 猛話唔係

好佢 拉龜 

扮哂矜貴

喐啲都會 發起狼戾 

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  • 認細 - 扮年輕/自認年輕
  • 佢話唔係 - 他說不是
  • 幾嘢 - 三張幾嘢 = 三十多歲
  • 就冇失禮 - 就不會覺得失禮
  • 身光頸靚 - 打扮得光鮮漂亮 
  • 襯起好睇 - 配襯得好看 
  • 錢亂咁Fing - 胡亂花錢
  • 屈居妾侍 亦冇乜計 - 屈居(於正室之下,當)妾侍,也不打緊
  • 望女仔逐個睇眼厲厲(眼厲厲)- 看女孩子,一個一個地看,聚精會神地看
  • 燕瘦環肥大細樣樣齊(樣樣齊)- 像趙飛燕那麽纖瘦的、像楊玉環那麽豐滿的、大的、小的、各種各樣的都有
  • 九個話咪 - 九個都說“不要”
  • 明明係制 猛話唔係 - 明明是願意的,卻極力否認
  • 好佢 - 想討好佢 = 想 討好 他
  • 拉龜 - 老鼠拉龜 = 無從下手
  • 扮哂矜貴 - 自以爲很了不起
  • 喐啲都會 - 動不動就會
  • 發起狼戾 - 變得橫蠻無理 (more on 狼戾)

PS - 眼厲厲 actually means 用淩厲的目光來看.

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Good link, Gato :)

I found a typo:

☆冇嘢(没什么).冇乜嘢(没什么).冇你咁好气(没有你那么话)

乜·粤语二笔编码:uu(或m/或n/)·拼音:mǎo·粤音:mat1 me1

乜嘢 should be "mat ye", so 冇乜嘢 becomes "mou mat ye".

But most expressions don't have any pronunciation written:

☆係咁(是这样),係嘅(是的),係喇(是了),係嘞(对了),係噃(是的哦),係吖(是啊),係呀(是啊),係啰(就是嘛),係啩(应该是

吧),係咪(是不是),係咩(是吗),係唔係(是不是)

喺·粤语二笔编码:ux(或者xlft)·拼音:

xì·粤音:hai2

...

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Actually, I think Sam Hui songs are a great source for learning (or relearning) Cantonese. The wife is brushing up her rusty Cantonese, and we've listened to a bunch of them.

One of them is 打雀英雄傳:

is loaded with idioms, IMHO.

She tells me that some of them are Toisan idioms, but I beleive even so, it's Cantonese, if it's used in popular songs.

At 1:36 of the clip, there is 翕翕貢, but from what I'm told should be written 岌岌貢. It's an idiom my parents use alot, her parent's doesn't, and I don't believe it's used in Mandarin. She says to me , that's "Toisan stuff".

Then there's 眨眉眨眼, and the wife vaguely recalls it, and I told her to watch the video (1:11) as they "wink their eyes". She said "oh yeh, I remember it now"

You just can't beat something like this for learning, or relearning, a language.

打雀英雄傳 - 許冠傑

六嬸 三太公

大眾開檯喇面似蓮蓉

又放工 打餐懵

圍埋砌幾圈 論呀論英雄

誰是大英雄 〔大英雄!〕

六手 〔上!〕

三隻東 〔碰!〕

度到「岩」呢 三吊二五六筒 〔死啦!〕

截正糊 〔噓〕 真陰功

「騰騰」震呀 嬲到面呀面都紅

白:

上下家 搏晒懵

依呀鬆鋼眨眉眨眼打籠通

係咁鬆 正衰公

丫難為「乙水」仔會浸呀浸蛟龍

亂咁質 真勢兇

學到足 關帝坐鎮華容

恨滿胸 裹蒸粽

「UP UP」貢 好似大呀大燈籠 (Note: "UP UP 貢" is 岌岌貢)

大相公 小相公

遇老千 D張法亂晒大籠

食詐糊 包出沖

「乙水乙水」轉 好似大呀大灰熊

白:

執左位 起過風

移燈換凳洗手食煙「熨」櫃桶

轉下運 哈哈 確唔同

丫連除喫幾鋪 我露呀露歡容

白:

混一色 碰七筒

一KARN白板發財做眼槓紅中

六八筒 叫卡窿

丫原來咁鬼橋佢係呀係七筒

崛尾龍 〔上!〕

起勢攻 〔碰!〕

大四喜丫渣晒南北西東 〔死啦!〕

做牌 講天聰

頻頻滿糊 我做呀做英雄

時勢做英雄 〔大英雄!〕

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