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Matt: Matt here! All About series season 1 lesson 14, Top 5 Cantonese Classroom Phrases. In this lesson, you will learn the five most useful phrases for learning Cantonese.
Nicole: There’s no better way to learn Cantonese than to use Cantonese.
Matt: So whether you’re attending a class, or if you’re studying at home with some friends, or even studying on CantoneseClass101.com, these phrases will be a wealth of helpfulness to you.
Matt: Now here they are… as promised. The top five phrases for you as you begin to learn Cantonese…
唔該講多次。 (m4 goi1 gong2 do1 ci3) "Please repeat that."
……廣東話點講? (... gwong2 dung1 waa2 dim2 gong2) "How do you say… in Cantonese?"
請問… (cing2 man6) "May I ask…"
我聽唔明。 (ngo5 teng1 m4 ming4) "I don’t understand."
你可唔可以講慢啲? (nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 gong2 maan6 di1) "Can you speak a bit slower?"
Matt: Did you recognize any? Let’s hear these phrases one more time, but slower.
唔該講多次。 (m4 goi1 gong2 do1 ci3) "Please repeat that."
……廣東話點講? (... gwong2 dung1 waa2 dim2 gong2) "How do you say… in Cantonese?"
請問… (cing2 man6) "May I ask…"
我聽唔明。 (ngo5 teng1 m4 ming4) "I don’t understand."
你可唔可以講慢啲? (nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 gong2 maan6 di1) "Can you speak a bit slower?"
Matt: Let's take a closer look into these phrases for learning Cantonese. Let’s have a look at the first one.
Nicole: 唔該講多次 (m4 goi1 gong2 do1 ci3)
Matt: Which means "please say that one more time."
Now, let’s take a look at the first 2 characters in this phrase.
Nicole: 唔該 (m4 goi1)
Matt: This is what we’ve learned before, it means “please”.
Nicole: 唔該 (m4 goi1)
Matt: Now moving on to the next set of word…
Nicole: 講 (gong2)
Matt: Which means “say”. Now, the final 2 words in the phrase is:
Nicole: 多次 (do1 ci3)
Matt: “again”
Nicole: Altogether 唔該講多次 (m4 goi1 gong2 do1 ci3).
Matt: Which means "please say that one more time." And this is so useful because you can use it anytime…outside the classroom as well.
Nicole: Right, any time you can’t understand something someone has said and would like to hear it again, just throw out the phrase 唔該講多次 (m4 goi1 gong2 do1 ci3).
Matt: Now, the next phrase we have for you is very useful.
Nicole: 廣東話點講? (gwong2 dung1 waa2 dim2 gong2)
Matt: "In Cantonese, how to say?" Now this one would really expand your learning vocab there, because whenever you don’t recognize how to say something, you can just point to it, and say:
Nicole: 廣東話點講? (gwong2 dung1 waa2 dim2 gong2)
Matt: Now let’s break this down for our listeners. The first 3 words is really one word altogether.
Nicole: 廣東話 (gwong2 dung1 waa2)
Matt: Which means “the Cantonese language”. Now, what’s the next word after that in our phrase?
Nicole: 點 (dim2)
Matt: Which means “how”. Okay Nicole, let’s take a look at the final word.
Nicole: 講 (gong2)
Matt: Which means “say”. So altogether…
Nicole: 廣東話點講? (gwong2 dung1 waa2 dim2 gong2)
Matt: Now this is a great phrase. You get to rediscover the world again through Cantonese eyes.
Nicole: Yes, you will learn very quickly if you point at things and ask lots of questions.
Matt: Right, so you can either use the "point" method, just point and say...
Nicole: 廣東話點講? (gwong2 dung1 waa2 dim2 gong2) Or if your counterpart knows some English, you can try it like this APPLE廣東話點講?, which means “How to say Apple in Cantonese?”
Matt: That’s right! And my advice is to write it down what you get for an answer, because it’s likely that you’ll be using this again.
Nicole: Exactly. In Cantonese, we have an idiom literally saying, "a good memory can't beat a good pencil." It means taking notes is very very important in learning a language.
Matt: Right, and this phrase will really help you learn quickly, which is…
Nicole: 請問… (cing2 man6)
Matt: Which means “please ask”, or “please let me ask”. Now let’s take a look at the first word here…
Nicole: 請 (cing2)
Matt: Which means “please”. We’ve already learned how to say “please” in a previous phrase…
Nicole: 唔該 (m4 goi1)
Matt: but with this phrase, we can’t use 唔該 (m4 goi1) because it is a set phrase, so we must say 請問 (cing2 man6) “Please let me ask”
Nicole: 請問 (cing2 man6)
Matt: Now, not only is this is a great phrase to learn so that you can ask the teacher a question, it’s a great phrase to give a lesson in the importance of tones as well!
Nicole: Oh yes, because many people have asked their teachers for a kiss mistakenly, using this phrase.
Matt: Yes, "May I ask" quickly becomes "Please kiss me" if your tones are just a little off. So
Nicole, please tell us the difference.
Nicole: Well, the correct way, as we learned, is "cing2 men6." However, if you get the tones wrong, for example, 請吻 (cing2 men5) or 親吻 (can1 men5), you are actually asking for a kiss!
Matt: Okay. Okay, well, that phrase might come in handy as well if you have a hot teacher…but in general, we don’t really want to kiss our teachers.
Nicole: Right, so be careful!
Matt: Alright, now our next phrase is...
Nicole: 我聽唔明 (ngo5 teng1 m4 ming4)
Matt: Literally translated as "I hear (but) not understand."
Nicole: “I don’t understand”. 我聽唔明 (ngo5 teng1 m4 ming4).
Matt: Alright, Nicole, let’s break this down. The first character we’re very familiar with.
Nicole: 我 (ngo5)
Matt: Which is “I”. The next word we have is…
Nicole: 聽 (teng1)
Matt: Which is “hear”. This is a high flat tone. The third word we have is…
Nicole: 唔 (m4)
Matt: Which we’re also very familiar with, this is the negating word, which means “not” in the sentence. If you listen closely, you can tell it’s a flat tone, and this is a very low sounding tone.
Nicole: And the last character is… 明 (ming4).
Matt: This is also a flat tone. So let’s listen to the entire phrase, said slowly. Pay attention to the last 2 words.
Nicole: 我聽唔明 (ngo5 teng1 m4 ming4). Sometimes Cantonese people speak very fast, so they mix the last 2 characters together, 唔明 (m4 ming4).
Matt: Alright, so you do have to understand that there are actually 2 words being said there, but they’re just being crunched together. This phrase, too, can be used on all occasions.
Nicole: Yes, sometimes Cantonese people assume you can understand everything if you know how to say 你好 (nei5 hou2).
Matt: Which is "hello." So keep the…
Nicole: 聽唔明 (teng1 m4 ming4)
Matt: …up your sleeve. Everyone will forgive you for that blank look on your face.
Nicole: The next phrase we’re going to teach is also very handy because Cantonese people tend to speak very quickly at times. 你可唔可以講慢啲? (nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 gong2 maan6 di1)
Matt: Wow! That’s a little difficult. That means "you can speak slower?" or “can you speak slower?”
Nicole: [slowly] 你可唔可以講慢啲? (nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 gong2 maan6 di1)
Matt: Alright, let’s try to make this a bit easier, let’s break it down character by character. The first word is…
Nicole: 你 (nei5)
Matt: Which means “you”
Nicole: 可唔可以 (ho2 m4 ho2 ji5)
Matt: Which means “can or not can”, or “able, or not able to?”
Alright, let’s move on to the next part, what do we have, Nicole?
Nicole: 講慢啲 (gong2 maan6 di1)
Matt: “Speak slower”
Nicole: We’re already familiar with 講 (gong2) here because it means “to say” as well. 慢 (maan6) means “slow”; and 啲 (di1)...
Matt: Which modifies the previous word, and adds an -er, to make “slow” into “slower”.
Nicole: 你可唔可以講慢啲? (nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 gong2 maan6 di1)
Matt: Can we get rid of some of the characters and make this phrase easier?
Nicole: Yeah. The easiest way is to omit the first 5 words, and just say 講慢啲 (gong2 maan6 di1).
Matt: Which literally means “speak slow-er”.
Nicole: But even to us, it sounds a bit rude.
Matt: I think we can get away with it because they know we’re not native speakers.
Nicole: If you really want to be polite, you can put 唔該 (m4 goi1) in front.
Matt: Which we already learned, it’s “please”.
Nicole: So together is 唔該講慢啲 (m4 goi1 gong2 maan6 di1).
Matt: Yeah, it’s really fun when Cantonese people slow down Cantonese for you too. Nicole, can you demonstrate for us?
Nicole: [slowly] 你想食咩呀?(nei5 soeng2 sik6 me1 aa3)
Matt: Which means "What do you want to eat?" I love it. It kind of feels like you’re a little kid again, but actually, it really helps to learn when you slow down the pace.
Nicole: Yeah, when you 講慢啲 (gong2 maan6 di1).
Matt: “Speak Slower.”
The great thing about these phrases is that you can use them right away.
Nicole: Yes, so practical!
Matt: Hope they helped everyone. Whether you’re in a Cantonese class, or on the streets of China, or in your local Chinatown, try them out.


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