- Category: Happy Jellyfish
- Created: Wednesday, 05 October 2016 08:00
- Written by Cecilie
Word Order II: Pre, or rather post-positions
Straight forward, right? You know woman 女人 (leui yan), outside 出邊 (cheut bin) and house 屋企 （uk kei).
But as usual, Cantonese is different from English. Why? Because it’s not English, innit! As I said in the last post, Cantonese follows relentlessly the story, the little film clip. Everything happens in a linear, chronological order.
It’s about the woman, so you start with her. The next thing is house, because you get to the house first, it’s the navigational point, and then you get outside the house. As far as I can see, there are only two prepositions in Cantonese that are actually PREpositions, i.e. come before the thing you navigate from, namely 0係 （hai) “at, in, by” and 好近 （hou kan) – “near.”
Therefore “the woman is outside her/the house, becomes: 女人係屋企出邊。（leui yan hai uk kei chut bin) “woman at house outside.”
And if she was to be doing something outside the house, for example drinking and smoking, it would be:
女人0係屋企出邊飲酒食煙。(leui yan hai uk kei cheut bin yam jau sek yin.) “woman at house outside drink alcohol eat smoke.” You still need the PREposition “hai” before the position, because that’s where she’s AT. And “is” in English doesn’t come into it at all because it’s not about what the woman IS, but where she’s AT.
Remember: The action (not verb; the whole action) is always last in the sentence because that’s what happens last in the film.
So, “I’m sleeping and farting under the table” will then be: 我0係檯下邊瞓覺放屁 . (O hai toi ha bin fen gau fong pei) “I at table underside sleep, fart.”
If you put “table” after “fart”, it would mean you were farting tables, and that doesn’t make sense, now does it? That’s the beauty of Cantonese word order. It always makes sense.