im new and im young

Discussions on the Cantonese language.

im new and im young

Post by Witcíe » Thu Apr 17, 2003 5:53 pm

im new here and im quite young but dont dismiss my post because of that please?!
erm well basically im 16 and i have a girlfriend who is originally from Hong Kong.
iv been with her for 3 years now and im getting pretty fed up with not having a clue what she is saying to her parents, friends etc.
what i really want to do i learn cantonese but im dont have a clue where to start.
are there any websites where i can order books on Learning the language?
i understand that it is a hard language to grasp but i feel like i want to give it a try. im really serieous about this and i feel that it wold benefit my relationship with my girlfriend.
so any-one got any ideas?

ps. please excuse any sp. mistakes i have 3 broken fingures hence the innability to type properly!


Re: im new and im young

Post by Witcie » Thu Apr 17, 2003 5:55 pm

i dont know WHAT happened to my user name there......
Michael Thigpen

Re: im new and im young

Post by Michael Thigpen » Thu Apr 17, 2003 8:11 pm

There are some websites. Just do a search for "Cantonese lessons" on Google and you'll find plenty.

To save you the trouble, I'll suggest a few: Adam Sheik's site My site Someone I don't know's site


Re: im new and im young

Post by Witcie » Thu Apr 17, 2003 8:19 pm

Thats great thanks i already knew my numbers but i just printed all the dates and Natural Objects(Fire and stuff like that) im on my way

apparently my name is
Leitac in chinese and my name is Richard is that correct spelling (in english) for my name

thanks again

erm i mean:
Mh Goi?!
Michael Thigpen

Re: im new and im young

Post by Michael Thigpen » Fri Apr 18, 2003 5:56 am


Let me caution you about the name thing. English names do not have Chinese equivalents. What you're looking at is a transliteration (approximate pronunciation) of "Richard" in Cantonese. It isn't really a Chinese name.

You can adopt that pronunciation and some characters that match it, along with a Chinese surname, and then it will be your Chinese name. But just the sounds you found on one of the websites does not really make your name.

Why? Because the sounds are different in different dialects and for most names there is more than one possible transliterations. Most are not really standardized.


Re: im new and im young

Post by Witcie » Fri Apr 18, 2003 11:14 am

Ah ok
thanks for the advice. so my name wont be able to be translated directly into chinese, could i just get a chinese name and change mine to it or what.
Michael Thigpen

Re: im new and im young

Post by Michael Thigpen » Sat Apr 19, 2003 4:17 am

Basically, yes. Normally you pick a Chinese surname that sounds similar to part of your surname. For example, my last name is Thigpen and there is no initial "th" sound, I was given the surname 裴 (pronounced puih in Cantonese and pei3 in Mandarin) because it is close to the second syllable.

For a given name, it is common to pick a pair of characters that are similarly related in sound to your given name. But it is also common to just choose something that is meaningful and auspicious. My Chinese given name has no relation to my English given name. Nothing wrong with that.

I'd wait until there was a special reason to have a Chinese name and then let a native help you pick it or choose it for you.


Re: im new and im young

Post by helmut » Sun Apr 20, 2003 8:28 am

My main advice to you would be:
Try first to find a Cantonese class, where you have a teacher.

Unfortunately there are not so many. It depends on where you live. Where do you live ?
If there are no classes around, self study is the way most people go, but that is pretty hard in the beginning. So I would recommend that only if you really cannot find any classes.

Re: im new and im young

Post by Witcie » Sun Apr 20, 2003 10:21 am

I live In Newcastle, England

there is a Chinese School close by which im intending to enrol in in September but i wanna get the basics learnt before hand, the school take it up to GCSE level (which stands for General Sertificate of Secondary Education) a bit like SAT's in USA?! i think. it teaches one day a week for the entire school year and im told is bery good for begginers
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 3:53 pm

Re: im new and im young

Post by Helmut » Mon Apr 21, 2003 8:20 am

Cantonese to the GCSE level ? You are really lucky. This course is clearly your best bet.

You want to learn something before joining the class ? Apart from the mentioned websites which are free of charge, you may consider to buy a beginners course (book with tapes).
My personal favourite is "Colloquial Cantonese" by K.Tong and G.James. It is not so terribly expensive. It is published by Routledge and should thus be easy to obtain in Britain. Ask your local bookstore whether they can get it for you. If not, Amazon UK surely will be glad to help out.
The book's biggest disadvantage: it has hardly any Chinese characters and so your girl-friend may find it difficult to help.

Re: im new and im young

Post by Witcie » Mon Apr 21, 2003 9:06 pm

Brilliant thanks ill look into it

Re: im new and im young

Post by Aurelio » Tue Apr 22, 2003 2:07 am

Hi Richard:

I don't think anybody will dismiss your post just because you're 16. Learning Chinese is a very rewarding experience - hang on in there.

Are you sure that the language course at the school is in Cantonese? If so, you're really lucky! If it is, you might want to ask the teacher for a personal recommendation. This way, you would also know which system he or she uses to write Cantonese in the latin alphabet. Yale-romanisation is used a lot, but there is a whole lot of other systems which are used as well.

The "Teach Yourself" language series has a beginner's course on Cantonese ("Teach Yourself Cantonese", CD & book, you'll find that on Amazon). I quite like it (it has all Cantonese (!) characters (instead of Mandarin pronounced the Cantonese way)), but I know that a lot of people won't like the romanisation system (the authors use little extra 'r's and 'h's to indicate some tone classes, so e.g. "wrong" is actually pronounced "wong", but with a lower tone). Once you've gotten used to the system it makes a lot of sense, but native speakers will find it completely weird. Most likely, it won't be the one used in your school, either. I guess your best bet is to go along with your teacher's recommendation.

Some personal tips: Don't worry too much about learning Chinese characters during the first 1/2 year (or even longer) - once you can speak (!) the language a bit, it's much easier to learn them than if you tried from the very beginning. And be patient with you girlfriend - chances are she didn't study Cantonese in school, so she won't know the rule for each and everything in Cantonese, but she'll still be right ;-)

Good luck and have fun,

Re: im new and im young

Post by Jan » Mon May 12, 2003 6:56 pm

Hi Richard

Dont worry.
I am nearly 3 years together with my girlfriend, and going to marry her over 6 weeks, and am learning every day the Cantonese little by little.
I got help 2 1/2 years ago because her sister got a nice baby sho is the most naughty and sweet one in the world.
While they teached her I was learning it in a lower gear.

Have fun!