Romanization System

I know that the 1960’s course from the Defense Language Institute for 台山話 uses a really old romanization system.  And I know it gave me a lot of trouble at first.  So I made this write-up to:

  • help explain some of the differences between the romanization scheme in this textbook and the Yale and jyutping romanization schemes used in Cantonese
  • help explain some of the patterns I observed in the similarities between Cantonese and Hoisanwa

Read more of this post


Cantonese Pronunciation Advice

I’ve heard this advice before, and it is really well explained in this video.

Personally, I do make an effort to follow this advice. But I know that if I am speaking fast or just not paying close attention, I still slip into making “ch” and “j” sounds.

Toishanese Audio Uploaded

I have added a new page to the blog to hose the audio for the Defense Language Institute’s 1960’s Toishanese course.  You can find it by going to the menu or following this link.

The audio had been uploaded to many other file sharing sites, but the links on those sites kept expiring.  The files are all in the public domain, so feel free to download them or listen to them from that page. 

A link to the textbook is also available on the same page.

Feel Free to Comment

I’ve turned off the requirement for leaving e-mail address before being able to comment. Hopefully now there is nothing left discouraging you all from leaving comments.

I would appreciate hearing:
1. areas I can improve
2. subjects you’d want me to blog on
3. I don’t whether my audience is natives judging my progress or fellow learners hoping to learn more vocabulary, or maybe to learn from my mistakes (I can share those too!)

Slang and Idioms – 無X無X

I just recently learned from a post on the cantodict forums that there is a set of phrases in the format 無X無X.  I hadn’t heard of these, so I went through the cantodict dictionary and made a list of the ones I could find. 

Supposedly there are are a lot more out there, so feel free to contribute more – I’d love to learn new ones!

Chinese Yale Romanization Meaning
無依無靠 mou4 yi1 mou4 kaau3 no one to rely on
無情無義 mou4 ching4 mou4 yi6 without emotion nor sense of justice
無法無天 mou4 faat3 mou4 tin1 outlaw
無拘無促 mou4 keui1 mou4 chuk1 freedom
無穿無爛 mou4 chyun1 mou4 laan6 still in good condition
無憂無慮 mou4 yau1 mou4 leui6 without worries
無根無蔃 mou4 gan1 mou4 keung2 without roots; not rooted
無時無刻 mou4 si4 mou4 hak1 at any time
無窮無盡 mou4 kung4 mou4 yeun6 inexhaustible; unlimited


But actually, my favorite new phrase is that I learned in searching for these, is 瓜無滖圓, 人無十全 .  This is pronounced “gwa1 mou4 gwan2 yun4 yan4 mou4 sap6 chyun4”.  The meaning is that nothing is perfect, but the literal meaning is “melons are not perfectly round, people are not perfect”.

Language Learning

Here’s another monologue which I would appreciate feedback on.  This time I discussed my own experience with language learning.

I was advised to try writing the blog entry first instead of speaking spontaneously. While I would prefer to speak spontaneously, I do think writing everything first is good advice. This helped me to plan what I would say, and hopefully will help move more of my “passive vocabulary” into “active vocabulary”.

Since I’m just reading this time, I made this one an mp3 instead of a video. 

And as a bonus, this way it can be downloaded (hopefully one day I will have readers who will want to learn from my monologues): Download File

The transcript follows: Read more of this post

Slang and Idioms

I really enjoy collecting random phrases and expressions, so I thought I would start a series of short posts.  I don’t fully understand every phrase in these posts, so feel free to comment and share your knowledge as well.  I’m especially interested to learn other related phrases.

I plan to usually just share one phrase at a time and describe it in as much detail as I can, but today I wanted to share a link to a huge treasure chest of lessons on various idioms that are published by a university in Foshan.  They can all be found here:

Favorite Videos of FAMA and LMF

It’s so hard to find singers who sing in colloquial Cantonese, as opposed to singing in a very formal written-style Cantonese.

I just discovered the bands FAMA and LMF a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed some of their music videos. Here are my favorites. Read more of this post

Drawing Ruined Beans

I know the blog title is a bit unimaginative. This is not for lack of trying. Read more of this post

Toisanese 5th Lesson

This is my reading of “Volume 1, Lesson 5” of the 1960’s Defense Language Institute’s “Toishanese” course.
You can find the textbook at by searching for “Chinese-Cantonese (Toishan) Basic Course”.

I’m trying to improve my pronunciation by recording myself every 5 lessons.