Sunday, April 7, 2019

Cantonese I ALESN Class Notes and Review Monday, April 1, 2019

Hi Gang,

Big delay this time, this week. I was all set to get up early today and type this, but there was a huge explosion on my block here in Brooklyn and the entire block without power this morning as Con Ed figures out how to fix the issue. SO, I am at a cafe on my laptop because THAT is how dedicated I am to bringing you guys your weekly update email...ahem...6 days late...ahem...


This past Monday, we covered Lesson 5's vocabulary and dialogue. I covered the Build Up properly this time, and then we repeated the Recapitulation multiple times and at the end of class broke into small groups to run the dialogue. We will pick up tomorrow night with a quick review of the vocabulary and dialogue, then a speedy overview of the lesson's pronunciation reminders; some culture notes about Cantonese life in Hong Kong; and then we this lesson's grammar points. Following this, we will hopefully begin to go through some of this lesson's drills -- seeing how far we can get during our hour or so of class time tomorrow night.
If you haven't already done so, now is a great time to visit the newly relocated DVD store on Grand Street and 2nd Ave I think it is, and select something fun from their kids' and cartoon sections to reinforce your beginning Cantonese studies. I recommend one of the Harry Potter Movies. They also had a $1 copy of Megamind outside in their discount rack last week, which is one of my all time favorite American kids' movies to watch in Cantonese. 

Of particular note in Lesson 5:
  • Remember the extreme, comic level of politeness going on here. If you have time and interest, compare and contrast this "serious" dialogue in your textbook with the joke video by Cecilie Gamst Berg on the Cantocourse Youtube channel called "In Polite Society," which I mentioned last week. A quick search of Youtube for the keywords mentioned above will find this video.
  • Please start to memorize most of the new words in lesson 5's vocabulary. These are good basic words that we will continue to see and use -- except, perhaps, the references to cigarette smoking.
  • Pay special attention to the various polite phrases and their logical responses: "Thank you." "No need to thank me." That kind of stuff. These are all stock sentences right out of a phrasebook and will work well for you when meeting Cantonese speakers and attempting to thank them for their hospitality.
  • Notice the interplay, as we discussed, between the forcefully polite host and the ubermodest guest who doesn't really want certain things, but also doesn't want to offend the host by declining various offers. This is typical of a Cantonese get together at someone's home. Things are forced upon you and in the end, no matter how much you politely protest, you kind of have to just accept some things like the food items, etc., and say thank you and at least try them -- even if you are a squeamish eater and have been offered something that you think is yucky. Welcome to Cantonese hospitality!
  • Notice the polite way that the guest disengages himself from the social situation at the end of the dialogue and tells the host that he has to leave. This is also typical and can stand you in good stead if you ever feel awkward when talking to someone in Cantonese and want to politely excuse yourself from the conversation and leave -- which will happen ALL THE TIME if/when you decide to start having random conversations in Cantonese with random people in NYC to practice your new language skills. Some of those conversations will go well or "be successful," but others will be very awkward and uncomfortable. It is always good to know how to politely extricate yourself and run away...
Run away...

Ok, that's all for now. See everyone tomorrow night when we continue with this nonsense.

Best to all,

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