Do you know any good ways to learn to speak Cantonese tones? There aren't any teachers even remotely close to me and I am worried that I'm not going to be able to get anywhere close to understandable. Also I am still a bit confused on written Chinese. Are written Mandarin and Cantonese grammatically the same? I know simplified vs traditional, and Cantonese has some unique characters, but I'm not sure if there are other differences (I haven't started learning anything, still gathering resources)
AHHHH THIS IS A NICE ASK, LOTS TO TALK ABOUT
I mighttt upload a video/audio file of me going over Cantonese tones later on, we’ll see! Here are a couple of Youtube videos going over Cantonese tones: (1) (2) (3) (4). The second and third video are actually in Japanese LOL but there are visuals, so it’s not too difficult to follow. The guy in the fourth video has the correct tones but his pronunciation is a bit off ahaha. For more visuals, you should refer to these images: (1) (2)
This whole Written Chinese/Written Cantonese thing is very confusing, but lemme try and break it down:
Let’s start with Standard Written Chinese. This is what you will find in the majority of books, newspapers, and websites. Essays and assignments are always written in Standard Written Chinese, which is based off of Mandarin Chinese. Ignoring slang/dialect-specific words from other Mandarin dialects/other colloquialisms, the grammar you see in writing is essentially the grammar people use to speak to each other in Mandarin. Standard Written Chinese can be split into two scripts: SimplifiedChinese and Traditional Chinese (used in HK, Taiwan, and in some overseas communities).
What confuses some people is that despite Written Chinese being BASED off of Mandarin, I am able to read Standard Written Chinese in Cantonese, using the Cantonese pronunciations of these words, regardless of whether or not we actually use these words in spoken Cantonese.
Then we have Written Cantonese which, like you said, has its own unique characters, but also has words from the original Written Chinese vocabulary set, because Mandarin and Cantonese share vocabulary. You can read more about it here. Written Cantonese is based off of how we speak in Cantonese, which can be quite different from Written Standard Chinese.
There are a bunch of special Cantonese characters that are completely meaningless to non-Cantonese speakers, like 啱, 咁, 冇, 乜, 佢, 攰, 哋, 哂, etc. They can also often look quite complex (ie: 嚟, 嘅, 噉, etc). These special characters have no simplified variants (or not that I know of), but all other words that can be found in simplified Chinese (since Cantonese and Mandarin share vocabulary) can have a simplified variant.
Written Cantonese that you find in HK will more often than not be written in Traditional Chinese (I, for example, write in Traditional), but written Cantonese from Guangzhou for example will probably be in Simplified + these special Cantonese characters.
Grammatically, I think it’s easier to understand if we split it into two sections:
1) the grammatical particles themselves and how Cantonese might use different particles
2) the positioning/syntax of Cantonese/Mandarin sentences
There are a significant number of differences when we address #1, especially in grammatical particles and prepositions. Most grammatical particles are different in Cantonese, but only a select few are placed slightly differently (#2).
Example 1: 在 (zài) and 緊 (gan2) are both grammatical particles (in Mandarin and Cantonese respectively) that show the present progressive tense. However, the difference is, 在 is placed before the verb in Mandarin, whereas 緊 is placed after the verb in Cantonese. Same function, different placement. (refer to #2)
Example 2: 先 (xiān / sin1) “before sth else, first” is used in both Cantonese and Mandarin, and function the same way, but their placement is also quite different. (refer to #2)
“I’m gonna walk out to the backyard first [before I do sth else]”
Example 3: Here are some examples of grammatical particles/prepositions placed and used in the exact same way (words that differ from Mandarin are marked with an asterisk): 咗*, 喺*, 完, 會 (refer to both #1 and #2)
咗 (zo2) / 了 (M) (le) mark a perfected/completed action in the past
喺 (hai2) / 在 (M) (zài) are prepositions meaning at/in
完 (wán / jyun4) comes after a verb, and means “to finish doing sth”
會 (huì / wui5) comes before a verb, and marks the future tense
So to re-address the two grammatical sections we created:
1) Cantonese will often have different particles/prepositions/basic verbs than Mandarin.
2) Cantonese and Mandarin will often have very similar word orders (except for the occasional exception), and can usually be compared one-to-one
TL;DR - Basic vocabulary and the majority of grammatical particles are often drastically different from Mandarin. HOWEVER, many of these differences are one-to-one comparisons. As long as you know how to convert between the two, you will most likely to know how to flip from Cantonese to Mandarin and vice versa. There are always exceptions, but these are often very specific examples, and I’m not going to cover them here~ The only other major hurdle when switching between Cantonese and Mandarin is pronunciation but that’s a whole other story x_x
This topic is hard to cover through a single post, and hard to wrap your head around, but I hope I managed to clear things up a little!
Hey guys! Summer is here! And with that comes… summer studying? I know if you’re just beginning, grammar and particles can be a really hard thing to grasp since it’s so different from English! So here’s just a quick explanation of some of the basic particles you’ll see. Each example will have the kanji and kana and the translation underneath it.
は - “wa”
This is the one that most people learn first, because you need for just about every sentence! は is pronounced “wa” when it immediately follows the topic. This letter is a topic marker, meaning it immediately follows the noun that is being talked about. In English classes you learn about the subject of a sentence and this is kind of similar! This particle is actually left out a lot of the time because it can often be implied who the topic is. So, while every sentence could use this particle, a lot don’t because the topic is already implied from previous sentences.
Her major is Japanese, isn’t it?
を - “o”
Okay, I know when you learned hiragana this was probably taught to you as “wo” but it is never pronounced like that, EVER. In fact, this kana is only used as a particle, so every time you see it, you should think “Oh hey, there’s ‘o’ and it’s a particle”. Also fun fact: because of this the katakana ヲ is almost never used because particles are ALWAYS written in hirgana, and the katakana オ already exists so that’s what would be used for foreign words that sound like “o”.
Anyway, を marks the direct object. So this is where remembering your middle school English lessons comes in handy, but I’ll give you a quick refresher because I forgot too. The direct object is the noun that receives the verb. Meaning the direct object is whatever the verb happens to. For example, in the sentence “He stopped to smell the pretty flowers” the flowers are the direct object because that’s whats being smelled.
At 6 o’clock, I usually do my economics homework.
に - “ni”
に marks when somethings happens or, in other words, に is a time marker. You need this particle after days or the week and set numerical times (like months and times like 4 o’clock). But the fun part lies in the times when you don’t use に! You don’t put に after time expressions that are defined in relation to the present (like today, tomorrow, next week) or words that describe regular intervals (like everyday, every morning, or the word for when). For words that describe parts of the day (morning, afternoon, evening, etc.) or the word for weekend, に isn’t normally used, but it’s not really against the rules. Some people do put に after these things depending on their speaking style, or if they want to add emphasis, etc.
There’s a test on Thursday?
( The example for を also shows how に is used for time)
へ／に - “e / ni”
I know what you’re thinking “Rachel’s finally lost it! she put に down twice on her particles list!” Well, I’m not crazy yet. The truth is, に is a particle that can mean a lot of things, but lucky for you I’m only covering two today, and they’re not too hard to keep separate! And also へ is pulling a trick much like は does, so when it’s used as a particle it’s pronounced “e”. So, に and へ are both direction markers. This means they show what the verb happens towards, or the goal of the verb. I know it seems confusing at first, but these two start to make more sense the more you use them. For example when you say “I am going to school” school is what you are going towards, or it is the goal of your going. に and へ are pretty much interchangeable IN THIS USE ONLY (please don’t use へ for time markers), but へ implies more of a general direction while に is more of a specific spot.
Do you want to go to Tokyo with us tomorrow?
で - “de”
で is a pretty simple particle, it is the location marker. Don’t get this mixed up with に／へ, those mark the goal of the verb, で marks where the verb is happening. For example you can say “I’m at the train station, going to Kyoto.” “Train station” would be marked with で and Kyoto would have either に or へ.
There was a party at Mr. Yamaguchi’s house yesterday.
PERFECTIVE VS. IMPERFECTIVE ASPECT DISTINCTION (marked morphologically on the verb)
Many languages, have a perfect and imperfect past tense, the first regarding actions that are complete and the second regarding languages that are or were still in course. (Note that this is different from progressive tenses). This is also different from English present perfect or past perfect.
Please, help me mark languages that have this distinction but are no marked yet.
Hi! Could you explain how to use the passive voice in Japanese, please?
1) Direct Passive (直接受け身)
The subject of the sentence is also the direct recipient of the action of the verb. The agent (doer) of the verb is marked by に.
ケーキは私に食べられた。 The cake was eaten by me.
私はハチに刺された。 I was stung by a bee.
2) Indirect passive, suffering passive (間接受け身)
The subject is indirectly affected by an action performed by something else.The agent of the verb is again marked by に, and in these cases the verb can take a direct object (i.e. it’s preceded by を).
私はボブにケーキを食べられた。 Bob ate my cake (and I was inconvenienced by this).
BUT the verb doesn’t have to take a direct object. ボブは赤ちゃんに泣かれた。 The baby cried (and it inconvenienced Bob in some way).
Sometimes you’ll get sentences that are just 「(thing)を(passive verb)。」In these cases you can generally stick on 私は誰かに私の at the beginning. A common verb to see in this pattern is 盗む - to steal.
財布を盗まれた。→（私は誰かに私の）財布を盗まれた。 My wallet was stolen.
3) Sonkeigo (尊敬語)
This form of keigo is used when speaking about people who are above you in status. Unless there’s a specific verb that you should be using (e.g. instead of 言う, use おっしゃる) you use the usual verb in its passive form rather than active form.
For example, rather than 先生、どう思いますか。
you would use passive form to show respect. 先生、どう思われますか。
However, this usage of the passive form is not actually passive (as opposed to active) and so grammatically you use it as if it were an active verb.
Instead of having verbs mark for TAM, have verbs mark for TMI - verbs take an extra marking whenever sex or bodily functions are discussed. This can be contrastive, as the following English examples might demonstrate:
I’m so screwed[-tmi]: I have no hope I’m so screwed[+tmi]: I have sex a lot
Check[-tmi] out my shit: Here’s some cool stuff I have Check[+tmi] out my shit: Here’s a turd
Ohhhhh… How on Earth did I misread that ask SO many times?! I missed the word “how”. I thought it was literally just an ask asking if I was the one who created Trigedasleng. Wow. Reading fail there! My bad. However, don’t judge me too harshly; I often do get people confusing me for a really eager fan who just knows a lot about the language.
So! Anonymous asker. I apologize; I misread and therefore misunderstood your question.
To create Trigedasleng, step one was getting a lot of information from the100writers. I learned about the world, learned about the people, and learned their situation. Once I did, I had some ideas about how the language would work, and after doing some sketching, I presented the with an audio clip. They rejected that clip; they said it didn’t sound enough like English. They wanted it to be more recognizable. (The original Trigedasleng, let me tell you, was much more mutated in certain ways. Verbs inflected for the person of the object! I was actually really excited about that, since I think it’s a natural evolutionary step for English, but oh well. Next time.) After a couple tries, I settled on something they liked and started to work. The original was actually much more influenced by the native Virginia accent. I had to dial that back by request. Thus, for example, the copula that used to be lak is now laik. So be it! Most of the time it comes out lak anyway.
That was the first step. Once I had my bearings and knew what I was doing, the next step was creating the language. Trigedasleng is, and was always going to be, an evolved form of modern English. That meant I started with modern English. The next step was figuring out what would happen to the language 140 years down the line. It was informed by the environment (i.e. the fact that the language evolved after a societal collapse) and by the fiction (we created an early stage where survivors came together and used a code to communicate. Many words from the code became a part of the language). The major grammatical changes, though, were driven by sound changes.
The sounds in a language can change for any number of reasons. Sometimes it’s due to ease of pronunciation; sometimes it’s due to mishearing; other times it’s for no reason at all. In this case, the major sound changes that affected English took a bit from all three columns, as the targeted sounds were at the end of the word. Two major elements of English grammar that occur at the end of the word are (1) plural marking and (2) verb tense. (Oh, and a third was the verb “to be”, which often ends up as a clitic on the end of a previous word.) Once those elements of the language became unreliably pronounced, they started to get lost—and when they got lost, they needed to be replaced by something.
That was the driving force, and from there I just took what English has now and built some new grammar out of it. With the loss of “to be”, I promoted “like” from polyfunctional flavor word to copula. Using na (from “gonna”) as a model, I added more tense particles before the verb, like don for the past tense. I also ended up getting rid of a lot of the prepositions which found new life as compound verbs (with a verb part and a preposition part). That’s actually not too different from what we have now—and, honestly, the next step is probably having the preposition occur mandatorily next to the verb. That’d be a lot like Vietnamese, where in a dictionary you look up one verb and it’ll be followed by a dozen or so secondary words that come directly after that verb to form a unique word—sometimes obviously related to the originally meaning, sometimes not.
Where there hasn’t been innovation, the grammar is pretty much the same as English, since Trigedasleng is English. Otherwise, that’s about it! There’s more detail, to be sure, but that’s basically how it worked.
Thank you very much for the ask, and I’m very sorry that I totally misread it! It’s like the word “how” was just invisible or something; my bad. Mochof!
Language: German Time goal: 40 days & 100 hours = 2,5h / day Focus areas: Reading/grammar (20h), writing (25h), listening (25h), speaking (30h). Materials & tools: School textbooks, Memrise/Duolingo/Babbel, online radio, novels, online exercises
I’ll be keeping a simple log (several sentences) of each daily session, but I won’t be posting daily updates here. Instead, I will comprise them all into check mark posts every ten days. So, there will be four of them in total. Together with the last check post I’ll also write a final reflection of my overall progress.
Starting point: I’ve studied some German in the last few years, but they’ve only been individual beginner’s courses scattered here and there. That’s why I feel like I really need a good kickstart to my learning, and this challenge seemed like a perfect chance for that. I would say that my current level is A2, so that makes me still a beginner, although not completely new to the language. I believe I have some passive knowledge from my previous studies that I’m going to activate. I believe that getting started will prove easy enough and I’ll make good process in the first couple of weeks, provided that I stick to my schedule. I’m expecting my progress to slow down at some point, possibly due to decrease in motivation, lack of time or other reasons. However, I’ll be content with my progress as long as it doesn’t stop for more than a day or two.
Goals: My ultimate goal with German is to reach C1 level proficiency, or at least a level that will allow me to study in German. This will not be possible in 40 days, of course. Instead, I’m aiming at B1 - or intermediate level, whatever that means. (I guess at this point I should point out that even though I tend to use the European framework a lot, it’s not a guideline that I follow to the letter; it’s rather a rough model so there’s something I can base my plans on.)
Let’s break this down into smaller bits, based on the four areas:
Reading / Grammar: As seen above, I’ll be dedicating slightly less than the average amount of time to these two. This is because I simply think I should focus on the others more. Studying at school means that I’ve been exposed to these areas quite a lot already, at the expense of others. With grammar, I’ll focus on verb conjugations (personas&tenses), prepositions and dative pronouns/articles. My goal with reading is mainly to enhance vocabulary by highlighting&writing down words. (For vocabulary learning, I’m also going to find a list of 300 most common German words, and also use Memrise/Duolingo.) Maybe I will also do small translation exercises, but the main goal is to get better at understanding the main ideas of the text.
Writing: One of my favourite methods is writing down the words as I learn them, so I’ll be doing this a lot. I’m also going to write at least five sentences each day that describe what I’m doing. I might also write a short story towards the end of this challenge.
Listening: I’m going to listen to online radio podcasts to get accustomed to the native way of speaking. This will be more passive listening. For active listening, I’ll look for some listening exercises online, hopefully with both listening comprehension and dictation. And I’ll also listen to lots of German songs. (Rammstein, here I come!)
Speaking (and pronunciation): I’m going to read texts out loud and maybe also record them, so that I can listen to them afterwards and see where I can improve. It would be ideal if I found a transcription for some audio online so I could actually compare my version with a native speaker. I’ll also speak out loud (mainly to myself) during the day, forming sentences in real time, narrating what I’m doing at the moment etc. Some language learning apps also have pronunciation exercises so I’ll be using them.
I’m probably going to focus on only one area per day, or alternatively combine r&g with writing, and listening with speaking. In order to use my time as effectively as possible, I’ll have a ready-made plan each time for the next five days. I don’t want to make plans for longer periods of time because plans tend to change a lot and that would just cause unnecessary frustration and headaches. Here is an idea of how my plan for one day could look like:
Focus area: Reading & Grammar (~2h) Grammar task 1: Read text written in past tense & highlight the verbs. Write the conjugations down for each one (both simple past & present p.) - 15min Grammar task 2: Go through a list of regular/irregular verb tenses. Mark new or difficult verbs and make them into flashcards. Use flashcards to practice - 45min Reading&vocab task: Read a text and write down new vocabulary. Create content questions and answer them in TL. - 45min Grammar task 3: Revise verb tenses with flashcards. - 15min
Alright, this post turned out to be longer than I expected. If you are reading this and are also participating in this challenge (especially if your language of choice is German), please contact me! It would be nice to have someone to talk to during this project. :)
I am creating a language for myself. I want it to be an artistic and personal language. I want to create it by taking features that I like from other languages but the result never satisfies me. Every time I start over because the language either becomes unpractical and unpleasant to me, my ear and/or the features taken from other language become something is not similar where it comes from. I saw your video "bad conlang" and my language is becoming a bad conlang. What would you suggest to me?
You can’t have a language be artistic and personal if you’re taking features that you like from other languages. I mean, unless your aesthetic is collage. If you take something from another language, it’s going to end up bring stuff with it that you may not like. Why not just do everything from scratch exactly the way you want it? Why are you even bothering with other languages? The only thing you should be asking is “Do I like this?” If the answer is “yes”, it stays; if it’s “no”, it goes or changes. Sometimes these things will come into conflict, in which case you have to decide how to resolve it. Let me give you an example:
I want a language with noun class prefixes!
POOF! na- = class I; te- = class II; fu- = class III
And adjectives and verbs will agree with the class prefixes!
And there will be plural and singular suffixes! (And adjectives and verbs will also agree with those!)
POOF! -il = singular; -er = plural
And every single noun will mark whether it’s possessed or not!
POOF! -ma = unpossessed; -ko = 1st possessor, etc.
And case will be marked with a suffix after number and possession, with all cases marked!
And verbs will mark subjects, objects, and indirect objects, agreeing with every single feature!
POOF! So it is!
And sentences will be short and manageable so I can use this language easily!
Let’s try translating something into this language: The girl is giving a flower to the fish. (Note: -malu- is the stem for “girl”; -kodu- is the stem for “flower”; -nava- is the stem for “fish”; and -tola- is the stem for “give”.)
If you like that, then job well done! If you don’t like it and you’re basically saying “I want it to do all that but I want it to be different”, then you need to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate what exactly it is you really WANT. Do you want a language that does cool stuff you hear about in other languages? Do you want a language that’s going to be easy and fun for you to use? Do you want a language that’s going to be easy and fun for you to pronounce? If you want all of those things in one language, you may not be able to do it. Frankly, I don’t think I could do it. My best attempt was Kelenala, and there’s still stuff I’d change about it. You may have to tackle some other projects to help clarify what it is you want, and help you to figure out how exactly to do it. It may be beyond your capabilities at present to satisfy your own linguistic desires, and/or you may not yet be able to clarify what exactly you want out of a personal language. Taking on some side projects should help you out with both of those things.
The nice thing about conlanging is your projects aren’t going to go anywhere. As long as you keep detailed notes (important!), you can always come back to an old project after doing other work elsewhere. I got a ton of old projects I’m going to return to when I have time. I got projects that’d keep me busy for the next 300 years. Conlanging is kickass that way. So be fruitful and multiply! Still lots of time. :)