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Download PDF by Virginia Yip: Basic Cantonese: A Grammar and Workbook (Grammar Workbooks)

By Virginia Yip

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Sample text

As the term suggests, specific items like bún in bún sy* classifiers generally serve to sort nouns into semantic classes of objects: Classifier bá ga g&&an gihn go Semantic class tools, instruments machines, vehicles buildings most clothes people abstract things jek most animals one of a pair Examples )u bá d) ga ch%% g&&an *k gihn s&&am y&&t go y((s&&ng n(( go kyutdihng y&&t go muhng jek gáu y&&t jek sáu knife the car the house shirt, dress a doctor this decision a dream a dog one hand A further important criterion is that many common classifiers categorize objects by their shape: Classifier faai *k f* j%%ung j(( Characteristics vertical surface square/rectangular flat surface cylindrical Examples y&&t faai geng *k wá y&&t f* y&&t j%%ung tói j(( b&&t a mirror a picture a table a pen/pencil Unit 8 l&&p tìuh small and round long and narrow y&&t l&&p tóng tìuh louh 39 a sweet the road The shape criterion can override the semantic class criterion, so that animals and items of clothing distinguished by their elongated shape take tìuh, rather than jek or gihn: tìuh yú tìuh sèh fish snake tìuh kwàhn tìuh fu skirt/dress trousers The appropriate classifier (or measure) can usually be checked in a dictionary, although it should be borne in mind that alternative classifiers may exist for the same noun.

The verb haih ‘to be’ is not used (see Unit 7), but instead the adverb hóu is usually included: )is&&m Ngóh hóu h) )ng hóu hàahm D(( t) Kéuih gihn s&&am hóu leng Gamyaht hóu s&&p I’m happy The soup is salty Her dress is beautiful It’s humid today hóu by itself can mean ‘good’ or ‘very’, but when used in this way it does not really mean ‘very’ but is merely part of the syntax of predicative adjectives. Modifying adjectives Other modifiers such as géi ‘quite’ and gam ‘so’ can appear in place of hóu, for example: D(( g%%ipiu géi pèhng Léih go sáutàih dihnlóuh gam gwai )u taai tìhm Go daahn-g) 0nchyùhn jeui gányiu Tìuh síng gau (saai) chèuhng The air tickets are quite cheap Your laptop computer is so expensive The cake is too sweet Safety is most important The string is (more than) long enough Reduplicated adjectives Another strategy to modify the meaning of an adjective is reduplication together with the suffix -déi: d((n crazy → d((n-d((n-déi fú bitter → fú-fú-déi sau thin → sau-sáu-déi tìhm sweet → tìhm-tím-déi lyúhn warm → lyúhn-lyún-déi muhn bored/boring → muhn-mún-déi rather crazy rather bitter rather thin rather sweet rather warm rather bored (or boring) Note the change to a high rising tone on the repeated syllable (see Unit 3): this happens in all cases except where the original tone is high level (as in 44 Unit 9 d((n-d((n-déi ‘rather crazy’) or already high rising (as in fú-fú-déi ‘rather bitter’).

I today have homework to do) I have homework to do today N((douh móuh s&&am máaih (lit. here have no clothes to buy) There are no clothes to buy here Yahpbihn yáuh-móuh yéh sihk a? (lit. inside have or have not anything to eat) Is there anything to eat inside? Unit 6 29 Note that there is no need to distinguish infinitives from the regular form of the verb. yáuh as auxiliary yáuh also serves as an auxiliary verb, rather like ‘have’ in English ‘They have left’, but normally only in the negative form móuh and in questions as yáuh-móuh: *ng He hasn’t been to work today Kéuih g&&myaht móuh f&&an-g* Ngóh móuh jouh-gwo s((ns&&ang I’ve never been a teacher *n *k a?

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