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Lesson Transcript

Nicole: Hi everyone, I’m Nicole!
Matt: Matt here! Welcome back to CantoneseClass101.com. Today’s class - phrases you won’t learn in a normal classroom.
Nicole: In this lesson, you will learn five phrases your Cantonese teacher might never tell you!
Matt: No, no don’t get the wrong idea; we’re not going to teach you any swear words or anything like that. We’re gonna give you something really gritty, really Cantonese.
Nicole: I think I might be able to guarantee that you could use each of these phrases every single day if you were in China!
Matt: Yep. Very high frequency. Everything from how to have road rage in Cantonese, which in itself is very high frequency…to how to shout in glee. Which happens as well!
Matt: So, what you’re going to get in this lesson is what I think is the most versatile word in Cantonese, it’s good for everywhere.
Nicole: It’s hard not to give it away!
Matt: Plus, you’ll learn how to get your road rage out. When nothing else will do, this is the be all and end all in insults.
Nicole: And there are good words too… You will also learn how to say something is really, really awesome in Cantonese
Matt: And another, guaranteed-to-get-you-better-deals at the market, and tell someone you just can’t take it anymore!!! Perfect for those moments of Cantonese learning frustration.
Okay, we’re all dying to be up on the lingo, let’s get started Nicole.
Nicole: The top five phrases your teacher might never teach you are…
嘩 (waa1) "Wow!" or "Yikes!" or "Jeez!"
癡線 (ci1 sin3) "You’re crazy."
好正 (hou2 zeng3) "Really awesome."
平啲啦 (peng4 di1 laa1) "Could you give it to me for a little cheaper?"
頂唔順 (ding2 m4 seon6) "I can’t take it anymore!"
Matt: If you don’t know them yet, you’re going to be hearing them everywhere!
Let's hear them again, but more slowly.
嘩 (waa1) "Wow!" or "Yikes!" or "Jeez!"
癡線 (ci1 sin3) "You’re crazy."
好正 (hou2 zeng3) "Really awesome."
平啲啦 (peng4 di1 laa1) "Could you give it to me for a little cheaper?"
頂唔順 (ding2 m4 seon6) "I can’t take it anymore!"
Matt: Okay, we’re starting with the word I still cannot stop using; in fact, I’ve noticed that everyone who lives in China for some period of time just can’t stop saying this.
Nicole: Oh, really?
Matt: It’s almost become like a verbal tic. I can’t stop saying it and everyone thinks I'm crazy. I just keep saying 嘩 (waa1)!
Nicole: Ha ha, 嘩嘩 (waa1)! Right, it’s easy to say.
Matt: 嘩嘩 (waa1). I can’t stop saying 嘩嘩 (waa1). It’s like a terrible habit now.
Nicole: Now how can I translate 嘩嘩 (waa1)?
Matt: That’s the thing! In English, we are really lacking an equivalent of 嘩嘩 (waa1). Maybe kind of like "wow," "jeez!" or "yikes!"
Nicole: "Wa," I see. The meaning depends on the situation. It's a surprise, either in a good way or a bad way.
Matt: It’s kind of like one of those exclamations you can generally use for anything from small to outrageous…when there’s nothing to be said but you just need to exclaim.
Nicole: Right, when you see Tony Leung sitting in the office, you say 嘩嘩 (waa1)!
Matt: And jump on him.
Nicole: Definitely, just for an autograph, but then you find out that he was some other guy that you don't know at all. You say 嘩嘩 (waa1)!
Matt: Quite a surprise, but not a good way.
Nicole: It's scary, not surprising at all.
Matt: Okay, now sometimes, something outrageous might escalate to something that needs a little "stronger" word.
Nicole: Right, hopefully not, but sometimes.
Matt: For example, you may find yourself having road rage in China, especially when it comes time to vent to that motorcycle man with the cigarette hanging out of his mouth that just about knocked you over…you may find yourself at a loss for words.
Nicole: Right, the traffic in China can be annoying.
Matt: So Nicole, in such situation like this, what do we say when we want to tell someone “hey you’re an idiot”, or “you’re out of your mind”, or something to that effect?
Nicole: Ah, we have the perfect phrase for that: 癡線 (ci1 sin3).
Matt: Oh right!!! I remember the first time someone called me that. Brings back such wonderful memory.
Nicole: Basically, it means you are calling someone "crazy."
Matt: It literally means “the nerves in your head are stuck together.”
Nicole: Right, it’s highly effective.
Matt: It does get a reaction. I feel like it sounds way more powerful in Cantonese than it does in English.
Nicole: Right, it’s quite insulting. Probably best reserved for cases of EXTREME road rage.
Matt: Okay, good. Now we are going to turn from rage to euphoria.
Nicole: Right, let’s teach them some nice words!
Matt: Nice words are important too. So here is a phrase that basically can replace "awesome" or "great," etc. And the phrase is…
Nicole: 正 (zeng3)!
Matt: You can use it whenever you want to say something or someone is awesome. That is also a compliment men or women that are "cute" and “hot”. So when I walk into the office you should say…
Nicole: 正 (zeng3)!
Matt: And when you walk into the office I would say…
Nicole: 好正 (hou2 zeng3)!
Matt: "So gorgeous!"
Nicole: Yes. 好正. The first sound, 好 (hou2) means "very" or "really."
Matt: So together…
Nicole: 好正 (hou2 zeng3)!
Matt: "So great" or "so awesome" or "really gorgeous"; "really good-looking."
Nicole: 好正 (hou2 zeng3).
Matt: Like I could say to Nicole, "Nicole, your Cantonese is 好正(hou2 zeng3)! "
Nicole: Or I could say "CantoneseClass101 好正(hou2 zeng3)!"
Matt: Let’s just face it; we’re all 好正(hou2 zeng3).
Nicole: No, we're all 好正(hou2 zeng3).
Matt: Okay, here’s another phrase that will prove invaluable, because it will save you a lot of money.
Nicole: Ah right, the essential bargaining terminology.
Matt: Now, of course there are many tactics you can try to get the price lower, but not all of them are verbal.
Nicole: I usually find that walking away helps.
Matt: Right, perhaps the most effective method, but also risky!
Nicole: Right, because if they don’t chase after you, too bad.
Matt: Yep. Depends on how much of a gambler you are.
Nicole: Now, here is a safe phrase to try if you’re not, 平啲啦 (peng4 di1 laa1).
Matt: Okay, let’s break that down.
Nicole: 平 (peng4)
Matt: “Cheap”
Nicole: 啲 (di1)
Matt: That is like adding -er on to “cheap”.
Nicole: 啦 (laa1)
Matt: That’s to sound Cantonese-y.
Nicole: 平啲啦 (peng4 di1 laa1).
Matt: And using this phrase anywhere is guaranteed to give you a minimum ten percent discount right off the bat. These are some magic words.
Nicole: Right, you know you can even bargain for prices at most regular stores, not just in the
markets and such.
Matt: Right, even department stores sometimes. And I would also suggest that you double your ammunition by first using the 平啲啦 (peng4 di1 laa1) and then follow up with the clincher…
Nicole: …The walk away.
Matt: Right, highly effective.
Nicole: Okay, this leads to another phrase you will hear a lot. Maybe even from the shopkeeper after you bargain hard with him.
Matt: Right, personally I love this phrase. It’s also so good for venting, but it’s not like 癡線(ci1 sin3), it doesn’t have to be directed at anyone.
Nicole: Right, you can just say it to yourself even.
Matt: It’s very good for muttering.
Nicole: The phrase is 頂唔順 (ding2 m4 seon6).
Matt: Let’s hear that again, breaking down the tones and words.
Nicole: 頂 (ding2)
Matt: Which literally means “stand”
Nicole: 唔 (m4)
Matt: negate, or “not“
Nicole: 順 (seon6)
Matt: “smooth”. So it doesn’t make any sense like this, but what it really means is, “I can’t stand it”.
Nicole: 頂唔順 (ding2 m4 seon6).
Matt: Means "I can’t take it anymore".
Nicole: Right, and can be used on many occasions.
Matt: Maybe to complain about too much homework.
Nicole: Or if the weather is terrible. You can say 吖!頂唔順! (aa1! ding2 m4 seon6!)
Matt: Or if you’re having a fight with your boyfriend, 吖!頂唔順! (aa1! ding2 m4 seon6!)
Nicole: So many occasions!
Matt: Right.
Matt: I would say this is all really handy Cantonese to know. Sometimes I think textbooks are too formal, so you don’t end up learning these things till you really start hanging around with Cantonese people.
Nicole: Yeah you can probably say each of these phrases every day, if you liked!
Matt: That’s right. I know I try to use them everyday!
Nicole: Very, very useful.
Matt: That’s right. And that's all we have for today. Thank you!
Nicole: Thank you!