Friday, November 24, 2017

Cantonese I Class Summary, Insights, Homework for Monday, Nov 20, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I felt like our most recent class was a bit tedious, and I apologize if any of that was my doing. We covered the basics of Lesson 2's dialogue and vocabulary, but I felt like I may have moved a bit too slowly with some of the material...


It turns out that while we did go over the vocabulary on pages 54-55 during our previous class, I was mistaken that we had previewed the dialogue.

We began class this past Monday by reviewing the vocabulary for lesson 2. I pointed out the following tidbits of information:
  • a3 (pronounced "aah" on a mid level tone) as a sentence final particle. Any time you see "sentence suffix" in our textbook, the author is referring to a sentence final particle. We will study a bunch of these during the coming weeks and months. a3 is a very versatile sentence final particle; it is used in this lesson to soften abruptness. If anyone has any questions about this usage, please ask me next week in class.
  • dou1 is used in this lesson to mean "also," but it can mean all or every one of some group of things or people. We will see this other meaning in future lessons.
  • ga3 is a sentence final particle formed by taking the final particle ge3 and adding a3 -- usually forming a question where the question asks, "Blah blah blah GA3?" and the answer states, "Blah blah blah GE3." We will see how this is used in the lesson.
  • Gam2 really is a top 5 or top 10 Cantonese word. Learn it and memorize its proper usage. It is very conversational and "Cantonesey."
  • gwai3 sing3 (or Neih5 gwai3 sing3 a3?) is the proper formal question to ask someone what their "honorable" last name is. The correct response will be, "Ngoh5 sing3 [insert your last name here]."
  • Remember that in order to state the nationality of someone from a certain country (or on a smaller scale, to say that someone is from a certain town or city), just add YAHN4 after the name of the country, tow n or place. There are many examples of this in the vocabulary from lesson 2.
  • Please remember that all 3 of the singular pronouns have the 5 tone, the low rising tone: NGOH5 (I or me); NEIH5 or LEIH5 (you singular); KEUIH5 (he, she, him, her, sometimes it).
  • In order to make any of the singular pronouns plural, just add DEIH6: NGOH5 DEIH6 (we or us); NEIH5 DEIH6 or LEIH5 DEIH6 (yous guys or all y'all); and KEUIH5 DEIH6 (they or them). HOWEVER, you don't add this after nouns like "friend" or "student" as you do with the comparable word in Mandarin
  • mat1 yeh5? is our first question word: what? This is sometimes abbreviated me1 yeh5 or mi1 yeh5. It is also abbreviated me1-eh(3)(6), where the 2 syllables are slurred together, but this is very casual or rude. You will hear this all the time and especially in comedy movies and other funny and sarcastic situations, but as a new student, DON'T SAY IT THIS WAY. You will sound angry or nasty.
  • ne1 is our second sentence final particle that we are learning in this lesson. It means "how about?"  [whatever comes before it]. Remember that some people confuse the meaning of ne1 with neih5 ne1 (how about YOU). NE1 by itself means "how about?" -- as in, "I like French food." "Italian food ne1?" How about Italian food?
  • The vocabulary word, pahng4 yauh5 (friend) is introduced with its MEASURE WORD, go3. We discussed the general idea of measure words. I spent a while explaining that we do have measure words in English: a BUNCH of carrots; a LITTER of puppies; a SLICE of pizza or bread. Whereas other languages (European languages, for example) may have masculine, feminine, or even neuter nouns, Chinese has none of that -- but each noun is seen by the Chinese mindset as belonging to a specific category of nouns based on shape or functionality. A more in depth discussion is beyond the scope of the current lesson, even though I did give additional examples in class. We will return to the concept of MEASURE WORDS as we are introduced to other ones in future lessons.
  • Finally, we were introduced to the concepts of sin1 saang1 and siu2 je2 (Sir and Miss or Ms.). I explained that because last names are so important to Chinese people, titles are the reverse of how they are spoken in English. Mr. Jones becomes "Jones Mr.." Miss Lee becomes "Lee Miss."
From here, we turned to the Build Up of the Dialogue on pages 32 and 33. Everyone did very well with the pronunciation and tones of the material, and a few people asked good questions.

Following the build-up, we had Allison read the Dialogue aloud several times, and then you all repeated after her a few times, one phrase or sentence at a time. We will begin next class by reviewing the dialogue. Everyone will have a chance at the beginning of next class to say one or more lines in front of the class as we go around. Following this, we will break into small groups so that everyone can practice the dialogue. Allison and I will walk around and correct pronunciation and answer any questions. If we have time, we will also begin Lesson 2's grammar next time as well.


I don't really have any insights at the moment for this past week's class. Just this:  


In other words, whatever each of you might be struggling with, recognize it, commit to working on that exact bit of knowledge, and just keep working on it as much and as often as you need until you make the progress that you want OR NEED to make in order to progress to the next lesson, the next group of vocabulary words to memorize, the next step in your growing knowledge of Cantonese.

Make a deal with yourself that you will continue to improve or a daily, weekly, monthly basis and that you will begin to speak Cantonese with the people you would like to communicate with. Keep this goal in mind each time you attend class and each time you study or practice between class. It is important to stay motivated throughout the week while you are studying Cantonese -- not just on Mondays when you attend class.


Your homework for next class is to review Lesson 2's vocabulary and dialogue, and make a list of any problem words or pronunciation/tones issues. Bring this list to class on Monday, ready to ask any questions that will help you to clarify whatever you need to work on this week.

Go back and rewatch Cecilie's "In A Bar" video from link I posted last week (below in this section of the blog). On the right hand side of the screen, click on video 2 and watch that as well. There are many fun and funny learn Cantonese videos on Cecilie's Cantocourse Youtube channel. Depending on time and interest, we may start discussing these videos in class.

See everyone on Monday.

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