Friday, January 26, 2018

Cantonese ALESN Monday, January 22, 2018 -- Class Summary, Notes, Homework

Hi Gang,

Sorry for my delay in typing this blog entry.


This past week was our first class back in 2 weeks because of the holiday. As such, we spent a bit of time, about half of the class, reviewing the vocabulary and repetition of the same dialogue that we covered before the break -- Lesson 3. Because we basically covered the exact same things this past class as we did in our previous class 3 weeks ago, there isn't much for me to add this blog entry...

Same material, same insights as last time...

I think I was able to get to most small groups by the end of this past Monday night's class, but if there were any groups with questions that I wasn't able to address, or which I did not get around to discussing with you, please feel free to bring them up at the beginning of our next class.

One thing I do want to point out that happens often in Cantonese and which happened several times in this lesson's dialogue, but which has not come up as an official "grammar point" yet is the concept of THE TOPIC - COMMENT SENTENCE. 

This usually doesn't happen in English unless the spoken English is inflected by an accent coming from another language and culture. The example I always give, because it is close to my own upbringing, is Yiddish-inflected colloquial English, where the following constructions are common:

"Win the lottery? You should be so lucky!"

"Today, tomorrow -- what's the difference?"

"Bob and Susan...They make a lovely couple."


"You should be so lucky to win the lottery."

"What is the difference whether it happens today or tomorrow?"

"Bob and Susan make a lovely couple."

So, in our dialogue, we see sentences like, "Seuhng6hoi2wa2 tuhng4 Gwok3yuh5 keuih5 dou1 sik1 gong2 ga3." Shanghainese and Mandarin -- he can speak both" -- as opposed to, "He can speak both Shanghainese and Mandarin Chinese."

Another example is, "Yat1, yih6, saam1, sei3, ngh5 -- Ying1man2 dim2 gong2 a3?" This translates literally with the same word order to, "One, two, three, four, five -- [in] English how is this said?" But, of course, in "native speaker" English, we would be more likely to ask, "How do you say 'one, two, three, four, five' in such and such language?"

This is a very common speech pattern in Cantonese, so start getting used to it -- and if it helps when you are learning to recognize the flow of these questions and sentences and their meanings in real-time speech with conversation partners, translate the word order literally into English and then repeat the English translations back to yourself in your best Yiddish accent -- think Eddie Murphy from the barbershop scene in Coming to America, or Billy Crystal as Miracle Max in The Princess Bride.


Review lesson 3's dialogue and preview the Pronunciation review, Culture Notes, and Grammar points on pages 60-69, which is the meat of what we will cover next Monday.

I am planning to jump right into these pages as soon as the room is opened, AND WE WILL HAVE EITHER ONE OR TWO SPECIAL GUESTS IN CLASS NEXT WEEK, so please be on time.

See you all on Monday!

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