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Monday Jun 06, 2011

I found this video on facebook and I wanted to share it with everyone. It's about a Hong Kong guy who is a little too fond of English and goes to a job interview.Very, very funny indeed!

Tuesday Mar 29, 2011

As I promised, I will continue to post monologues. I will start with a series of short monologues about Hong Kong's history, particularly about the Japanese occupation period. The text - both the Chinese and English version - were taken from the Hong Kong Museum of History's website ( PS : Since I have been busy lately and thus I don't have that much time to devote to this website, I just copied and pasted the jyutping transcript from Cantoparser. Therefore, at times there will be some words repeated. But all in all it is comprehensible. Another thing : the sound is very low, so I recommend you to use an earphone. I will try to talk to my friend and see if in the next recordings he can take care of that and make sure the sound will be louder. For the time being, do any of you know if there is a software that can increase the sound volume of audio files? 日本軍國主義 自十九世紀末,日本軍國主義不斷滋長,製造緊張氣氛。為了實現其征服中國的野心,日本 於1931 年首先侵吞中國東三省,繼而於1937 年發動全面侵華戰爭,先後攻陷北京、上海和 南京,並於南京進行了慘絕人寰的大屠殺,殺死我國同胞約三十萬人。1938 年,廣州失陷, 香港隨即處於日軍的武裝威脅下。鑑於當時香港的防衛力量只有四營步兵、一些支援炮兵及 香港義勇軍,英政府遂於1941 年末調遣了兩營共約二千人的加拿大兵至香港增防。 jat6 bun2 gwan1 gwok3 zyu2 ji6 zi6 sap6 gau2 sai3 gei3*2 mut6 ,jat6 bun2 gwan1 gwok3 zyu2 ji6 bat1 tyun5 zi1 zoeng2 ,zai3 zou6 gan2 zoeng1 hei3 fan1 。wai6 liu5 sat6 jin6 {kei4 keoi5 gei1} zing1 fuk6 zung1 gwok3 dik1 je5 sam1 ,jat6 bun2 {jyu1 wu1} 1931 nin4 sau2 sin1 cam1 tan1 zung1 gwok3 dung1 {saam1 saam3} {saang2 sing2} ,gai3 ji4 {jyu1 wu1} 1937 nin4 faat3 dung6 cyun4 min6 cam1 waa4 zin3 zang1 ,sin1 hau6 gung1 {haam6 ham6} bak1 ging1 、soeng6 hoi2 {wo4 wo6 wu4} naam4 ging1 , {bing3 bing6 bong6} {jyu1 wu1} naam4 ging1 zeon3 hang4 liu5 caam2 zyut6 jan4 waan4 dik1 daai6 tou4 saat3 ,saat3 sei2 ngo5 gwok3 tung4 baau1 joek3 saam1 sap6 maan6 {jan4 jan4*2} 。1938 nin4 ,gwong2 zau1 sat1 {haam6 ham6} , hoeng1 gong2 ceoi4 zik1 cyu2 jyu1 jat6 gwan1 dik1 mou5 zong1 wai1 hip3 {haa6 haa6*2 haa5} 。gaam3 jyu1 dong1 si4 hoeng1 gong2 dik1 fong4 wai6 lik6 loeng6 zi2 jau5 sei3 jing4 bou6 bing1 、jat1 se1 zi1 wun4/jyun4 paau3 bing1 kap6 hoeng1 gong2 ji6 jung5 gwan1 ,jing1 zing3 fu2 seoi6 {jyu1 wu1} 1941 nin4 mut6 {tiu4 diu6 deu6} hin2 liu5 {loeng5 loeng2} jing4 {gung6 gung1 gung2} joek3 ji6 cin1 {jan4 jan4*2} dik1 gaa1 naa4 daai6 bing1 zi3 hoeng1 gong2 {zang1 } fong4 。 The Shadow of Japanese Militarism The growth of militarism in Japan from the late 19th century created the hostile atmosphere in which the ambition to conquer China was conceived. The first move was the annexation of Manchuria in 1931, followed by full- scale war in 1937. Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing fell one after another, and the Japanese conquerors committed appalling atrocities in Nanjing, massacring 300,000 civilians. In 1938 Guangzhou (Canton) fell into Japanese hands, and Hong Kong came under direct threat. Hong Kong's defence at the time comprised only four battalions and some auxiliary artillerymen, plus the locally-raised Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps. To reinforce these meagre forces, the British government deployed two Canadian battalions of 2,000 men to Hong Kong in late 1941.

Saturday Mar 26, 2011

So, I thought I’d do a recording talking a little bit about how I got interested in Cantonese , so that you guys can see my progress in these past two months and how my studies are going. It was in part impromptu speech and in part rehearsed. It’s full of mistakes and sometimes it sounds awkward, but I tried my best. I am looking forward to reading your criticisms and observations. PS : I don't know what happened with podbean, but since the podbean regular player is not working, I had to put the link above. Just click in the ''download here''button.

Monday Mar 07, 2011

The title of this post might come across as a little provocative, and in a sense it is, for we native speakers of any language always feel that foreigners will never be able to know our language just as well as we do. However hard they study, no matter how much effort they put into it, for no matter how many years and regardless of how well they know the language, there will always be something that separates our knowledge of the language from theirs. There is a sort of natural intuition and connection to the language that only we natives have. But is that really so? Although I think this holds some truth as far speaking the language goes – albeit only a partial truth – it is not at all precise when it comes to a formal knowledge of the language, namely grammar, richness of vocabulary and knowledge of it from a linguistic, philological and literary point of view. Many examples in history contradict this misguided idea. Perhaps one of the most famous is that of Polish writer Joseph Conrad, whose works, written in English, are considered to be among some of the most important in English literary history. Or maybe Russian writer Ayn Rand , who, despite some aloofness from academia, wrote a book in English whose influence in American readers’ life was ranked “as second only to the Bible”. By the way, it is noteworthy that both Joseph Conrad and Ayn Rand learnt the language in their adult lives, thus refuting the idea that you have to be exposed to the language at an early age and so forth. We also have the example of Jonathan Litell, an American who in 2006 won the Prix Goncourt, the most prestigious French literary award. He wrote the 900-page novel Les Bienveillantes directly in French. And last but certainly not least, Ha Jin, whose interview is featured below. He is a Chinese writer who started learning English at the age of 21 and is one of only three people to have twice won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction: the other two are Philip Roth and John Wideman. Frankly speaking, if winning the most prestigious literary prize of a country, or to be considered as one of the most important writers of a language, or to write a book that, with the exception of the Bible, is the most important in native speakers’ lives is not knowing a language better than most native speakers, I really don’t know what it is. Most native speakers feel threatened by such people or embarrassed to admit that a foreigner might actually know the language better than they do. I was careful enough in this post to use the expression “ to know a language” rather than “ to speak a language”, since some people may gladly say in relief : look, he is not better than me ! He even has an accent! That’s the last best hope of native speakers : hoping they hear an accent. But who doesn’t have an accent anyway?

Saturday Mar 05, 2011

TEXT-TO-SPEECH SOFTWARE I just came across this website( which has a text-to-speech software for free. It is a very good resource to check the pronunciation of words, which is particularly tricky in Cantonese. Not only can you hear the word or text pronounced, but you can also create an mp3 file of it. That got me thinking a little bit and I found that you could use it for creating vocabulary lists as well. It is somewhat artificial and not like having someone reading it for you, but it works just fine. I am putting below an audio clip of a short vocab list I recorded with this software just so that you can know how it sounds like. 勢力 sai3 lik6 power; influence 靈活 ling4 wut6 flexibility; flexible, agile 議院 ji5 jyun6*2 parliament; council 資本主義 zi1 bun2 zyu2 ji6 capitalism 自由主義 zi6 jau4 zyu2 ji6 liberalism 真理 zan1 lei5 the truth 權利 kyun4 lei6 right (entitlement to do sth.) 政黨 zing3 dong2 political party 群眾運動 kwan4 zung3 wan6 dung6 mass movement; mass campaign 合法化 hap6 faat3 faa3 to legalise 新聞自由 san1 man4 zi6 jau4 freedom of the press

Friday Feb 25, 2011

I don’t know if this has any interest to you, but I just wanted to talk a little bit about something I do to learn Cantonese. I have tons of vocabulary lists and I have already asked a few times to my friends to record them. This is a very good method to retain vocabulary. If you have Cantonese friends, you might want to ask them to record a few vocabulary lists to you. The only downside is that I imagine it must be a real pain in the neck to them to do these recordings, so you might want to take it easy and not turn them into your language tutors. I don’t know if I’m the only one who does that or if it is a common method among learners who have friends who happen to be native speakers. I would like to hear it from you. With that being said, this is how my vocab lists sound like :

Friday Feb 25, 2011

Even though I don’t know much about Chinese classical music, I have always liked it, especially listening to the pipa and er hu. I was listening to some old cds I have and found this gem. It is a Chinese Classical music cd recorded by a pipa player who goes by the name of He ShuFeng. Why do the Chinese listen to Jay Chou when they have this? Well, that is a rhetorical question since unfortunately the answer is pretty evident : for the exact same reason most Americans would rather listen to Britney Spears raher than Miles Davis… In any case, that is disturbing… A good site on Chinese music is this one : Anyways, the name of the song is Great Waves Washes the Sand. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday Feb 21, 2011

This is an audioclip of a conversation I had on skype a month or so ago with a friend from Hong Kong with whom I went to school with. This is one of the first '' real'' conversations I had in Cantonese. The sound quality is not very good, I made a lot of mistakes , some of which I would not normally make, and sometimes I threw in some English words, since I could not remember how to say them in Cantonese. Anyways, I decided to post it to make a record of my progress. There is a link below to my very first recording ever made,posted in my defunct blog ,Cantostories, so that you can have an idea of my improvement. Please note that this conversation is just impromptu speech, therefore bound to more mistakes, whereas in the other recording at Cantostories I rehearsed a number of times and had my friends correcting my poor grammar. I am looking forward to hearing your criticisms and observations!

Sunday Feb 20, 2011

Here is the English version of the story. Since I have a basic account, it seems that I cannot put two audio clips in the same post. I am sorry about this aesthetical inconvenience , but here is the translation of the story anyaways. In the future I might write the transcript of this story, but right now I don't have that much time and these things take quite a lot of work, especially if you are not fluent like myself and have to constantly look words up in the dictionary. In any case, I hope this will be useful to you.

Sunday Feb 20, 2011

SHORT STORIES I decided to post some children stories I have. When I was looking for Cantonese material a few years ago, I found at a small book fair in Hong Kong some books targeted at Chinese children who are learning English. These books consist of short stories about animals in the farm, in the wild, their adventures, and so forth. There is a Cantonese and English version. This first one is about a little fox and its misadventures. I hope you will enjoy it.

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