Filming a new episode of Cantonese – The Movie in you know where!
Last weekend we were in Mui Jau (梅州）which, although it’s in Guangdong province, bears the dubious distinction of being completely Mando speaking. People told me it was because it was a Hakka stronghold, but I don’t know. With the above poster in force, perhaps it was the first poster success child for the Chinese government’s systematic eradication of Cantonese?
It says: Speak Mandarin
Write Standard Characters
Use Civilised Language
Be a Civilised Person
“Civilised”? I think not! How dare they.
Learning or even speaking Cantonese is no game for the timid. It is, quite frankly, something of a never-ending fight with frequent setbacks and few triumphs.
The other day I was in the Holly in Tung Chung (which should of course be written Dung Chung 東涌). I’ve started to feel kindly towards this restaurant, hidden away as it is on the second floor on the “other” side of City Gate in the Fu Dung 富東 side of the tiled shopping machine that is Dung Chung, away from mainland hordes.
I go there at least once a week and have trained the staff not to plonk down jasmine tea without asking and to talk to me in Cantonese; all that. This day a short and apple-cheeked wench I’ve chatted with many times sidled up and, glory, immediately addressed me in Cantonese. (I never cease to wonder why it should be a thing of glory that locals talk to anyone in their own language.)
Apple-cheek: What kind of tea do you want to drink? 你飲咩茶呀？Lei yam meh cha ah?
Me: Water Fairy, please 水仙呀，唔該 Seoi sin ah, m goy
She left and brought me back an English menu
Me: I don’t need an English menu 我唔駛英文菜牌 O m sai yingman choy pai
Apple-cheek: Oh yes that’s true. Wow, that’s great. So, do you want a fork? 噢，係喎，你識睇體中文字。華，你好犀利。咁你要唔要叉呀？ Ou, hai woh. wah, lei hou sai lei. gam lei yiu m yiu cha ah?
One step forward, a million steps back. On the positive side, I haven’t been asked if I want a fork for about 15 years. Well, in the mainland of course, but that’s just to show that they are an upmarket establishment with forks (?).
Yes, a constant battle.
I want to post some old Cantonese The Movie movies here again as I think they’re being criminally overlooked by the public. Criminally. I want this one to go viral with more than 50 viewers!
I remember this with particular fondness as my friend Cecilie Maske was visiting Hong Kong and helped me film this thing. Happy times.
Next Sunday I have a feature in the South China Morning Post (Post Magazine) about Cantonese. I probably won’t say much that I haven’t already said here, but please read the thing anyway?
The photo session was quite good fun with me and a photographer walking around Central asking people to write down some new Cantonese slang. Oh, how they struggled to think of something! Which rather contradicted my article which was partly about how proud HK people are about Cantonese slang (while at the same time saying it’s rubbish and too difficult for white people… anyway, please read it.)
CORRECTION! It will be published Sunday April 14th.