‘Happy Ressurection Festival!’ by Tiff Chan from Chantoneasy®
(based in Campfire Collaborative Space in Kennedy Town)
The literal translation of ‘Happy Easter’ in Cantonese is ‘Happy Resurrection Festival’ or ‘Happy Return-to-life Festival’, which is something that the wider community can celebrate, outside of the religious reference. The extra days of holiday, granting us precious extra space and time, can be powerfully rejuvenating.
The mere insight into the literal translation of Cantonese words themselves can also provoke refreshing inspiration too! Do you already know the translations of the following words? You may have heard all these words being said before, in and around Hong Kong (or Cantonese communities elsewhere, for all overseas readers!). The first word is obvious – they are all to do with and need electricity. What about the second part of the meanings?
Here is the tone chart so you can now say them with the tones:
Can you also spot some of the similarities in the composition of the words, between Cantonese and English? The ‘vision’ in television, and ‘electric mail’ for E-mail… but ‘electric ladder’ and ‘electric brain’ for escalator and computer? That’s hilarious!!!
This is the kind of humour I am entertained with on a daily basis while I’m teaching Cantonese ‘Chantoneasy® style’, as well as when I have time to watch Cantonese movies (one way of saying ‘idiot’ in Cantonese is “soh gwaa”! Translated as ‘silly melon’. See how people were living so closely with their vegetables back in the day, and using them in common references!).
While teaching through Chantoneasy®, I deliberately emphasize the aspect of direct translation in all parts of every word, as such level of transparency can exponentially increase the rate of learning new vocabulary and connections between words heard and seen before.
A final note about the reason for re-spelling the words – so that learners have direct access to NATIVE pronunciation and tones as opposed to Anglicized sounds, and don’t have additional things to remember! It’s enough work to be learning the language itself, without having to remember for example that ‘din’ is pronounced ‘deen’, and it’s ‘tseh’ instead of ‘cheh’ – the ‘ch’ sound is more accurately ‘ts’. ‘Yuw’ emphasizes the short ‘u’ sound as opposed to people mispronouncing it ‘yao’, and ‘tiy’ with the short I sound is better than ‘taai’, which just sounds off!
In case the following links may be of interest to you:
- A TEDx talk about how all tonal languages can fit on your hand – your actual hand, not just your hand-held phone! (including Cantonese, Putonghua, Thai, Vietnamese, and all others yet to be discovered): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t_jB04q0Ts&feature=youtu.be
- An SCMP YoungPost article about how Chantoneasy® helps learners get the tones right and how it all started: http://yp.scmp.com/education/article/105801/chantoneasy-one-hongkongers-simple-yet-genius-method-makes-learning
- An interview with RTHK Radio3 about how it works, and the specifics of Chantoneasy® spelling:
A few self-initiated words about how Campfire has been instrumental to the existence of Chantoneasy®:
- The company and trademark were registered thanks to the encouragement from Campfire staff when I asked about it
- The numerous talks I attended that were insightful and motivating.
- The efficient, reliable and personable staff who are always willing to help.
- The community that Campfire has attracted, some of whom have become close friends and collaborators, including Deepa Kamath from Amplify, who designed my logo and identity, and is a great friend and student!
- For the ideal teaching spaces
That makes me super proud member of Campfire Collaborative Space!
THANK YOU wonderful Campfire staff and community! Thanks for reading, Happy Return-to-life!