Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Notes

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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Michael: What are some common Cantonese idioms?
Siuling: And how are they used?
Michael: At CantoneseClass101.com, we hear these questions often. The following situation is typical.
Karen Lee hears an idiom she's not familiar with. She asks Ashley Siu, "What does ‘an old cat burns its whiskers’ mean?"
李麗莉: 「老貓燒鬚」係咩意思? (lou5 maau1 siu1 sou1 hai6 me1 ji3 si1?)
Dialogue
李麗莉: 「老貓燒鬚」係咩意思? (lou5 maau1 siu1 sou1 hai6 me1 ji3 si1?)
蕭儀心: 即係有經驗嘅老手一時失手。 (zik1 hai6 jau5 ging1 jim6 ge3 lou5 sau2 jat1 si4 sat1 sau2.)
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
李麗莉: 「老貓燒鬚」係咩意思? (lou5 maau1 siu1 sou1 hai6 me1 ji3 si1?)
Michael: "What does ‘an old cat burns its whiskers’ mean?"
蕭儀心: 即係有經驗嘅老手一時失手。 (zik1 hai6 jau5 ging1 jim6 ge3 lou5 sau2 jat1 si4 sat1 sau2.)
Michael: "It means an expert who makes a mistake in his own expertise."

Lesson focus

Michael: The topic of this lesson is Cantonese idioms, or...
Siuling: 成語 (sing4 jyu5). A majority of them consist of four characters, so we also call it 四字成語 (sei3 zi6 sing4 jyu5),
Michael: literally “four-word idiom.” An idiom is a metaphorical expression, so it represents a meaning that is not evident or literal from looking at the words themselves. A good example for this is the English “a piece of cake,” which means that something is done very easily. We use idioms to more clearly illustrate or to stress the message we want to give.
Siuling: In the dialogue, we hear the idiom 老貓燒鬚 (lou5 maau1 siu1),
Michael: and its literal translation is “an old cat burns its whiskers”; that’s a very visual expression, right? Imagine a cat who is very experienced in life, navigating around using its whiskers for many years, and yet it accidentally or carelessly got its whiskers burnt,
Siuling: so we use it to describe the situation when an expert, or someone who is experienced, makes a careless mistake.
Practice Section
Michael: Let's review. Respond to the prompts by speaking aloud. Then, repeat after Siuling focusing on pronunciation.
Do you remember how Karen says "What does "an old cat burns its whiskers" mean?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 「老貓燒鬚」係咩意思? (lou5 maau1 siu1 sou1 hai6 me1 ji3 si1?)
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Siuling: 「老貓燒鬚」係咩意思? (lou5 maau1 siu1 sou1 hai6 me1 ji3 si1?)
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 「老貓燒鬚」係咩意思? (lou5 maau1 siu1 sou1 hai6 me1 ji3 si1?)
Michael: And do you remember how Ashley says "It means an expert who makes a mistake in his own expertise?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 即係有經驗嘅老手一時失手。 (zik1 hai6 jau5 ging1 jim6 ge3 lou5 sau2 jat1 si4 sat1 sau2.)
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Siuling: 即係有經驗嘅老手一時失手。 (zik1 hai6 jau5 ging1 jim6 ge3 lou5 sau2 jat1 si4 sat1 sau2.)
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Siuling: 即係有經驗嘅老手一時失手。 (zik1 hai6 jau5 ging1 jim6 ge3 lou5 sau2 jat1 si4 sat1 sau2.)
Cultural Expansion
Michael: Learning and using idioms will help you to use Cantonese more freely, and to express your feelings in a more accurate way. To help you with idioms, here are a few common idioms, with a short description of what they mean. The first is
Siuling: 照辦煮碗 (ziu3 baan2 zyu2 wun2), literally “to follow the model to cook a bowl.”
Michael: It means “to follow the way that things are done without thinking.”
Siuling: Again, 照版煮碗 (ziu3 baan2 zyu2 wun2).
Michael: The next is
Siuling: 滋悠淡定 (zi1 jau4 daam6 ding6), literally “grow unhurried calm.”
Michael: That doesn’t quite make sense... What does it mean?
Siuling: It describes a person who is very calm in all situations. Once more, 滋悠淡定 (zi1 jau4 daam6 ding6).
Michael: And one more,
Siuling: 口是心非 (hau2 si6 sam1 fei1), literally “mouth says yes, heart says no.”
Michael: It describes someone who deliberately says one thing and means another, similar to the English expression "double-faced” or "speaks with a forked tongue."
Siuling: Once more, 口是心非 (hau2 si6 sam1 fei1).

Outro

Michael: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Siuling: 拜拜! (baai1 baai3!)
Michael: See you soon!

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