Cantonese Short Lesson 7: ✍ Conjunctions! ✍
Welcome to the seventh lesson of Cantonese. Today, we are going to learn about another core part of an apple: conjunctions!
Unlike other lessons, I don't have a lot to say about them, so let's get into it!!
Basic Cantonese Conjunctions
and = 同 (tong2)
but = 但是 / 但係 (daan6 si6 / daan6 hai6)
or = 或(者, used in speaking) (waak6 (ze2))
if = 如果 (jyu4 gwo2)
so = 所以 (so2 ji5)
although = 雖然 (seoi1 jin4)
however = 然而 (jin4 ji4)
while = 而 (ji4)
when = 當 (dong1)
before = 之前 (zi1 cin4)
after = 之後 (zi1 hau6)
Thank you for reading this. Questions are welcome!
I appreciate that Cantonese is mainly a spoken language, and I have seen numerous newspapers use 但係 as 'but'.
I did not say that 但係 is not used in formal Cantonese; I just said it is always used in terms of informality.
I have added this as an alternative. Please let me know if there are any others.
Like KOTOBVKI, I don't buy this view that 係 is informal.
If you read Classical Chinese text, 係 and 是 are used interchangeably; flip through 《閱微草堂筆記》 and you can find plenty of examples.
Example 1: 夜夢人語曰：「此騾前世盜汝錢，汝捕之急，逃而免。汝囑捕役繫其婦，羈留一夜。今為騾者，盜錢報；載汝婦入破寺者，係婦報也。汝何必反結來世冤耶？」
Cantonese bible published by Christian missionaries prior to the May-Fourth Movement also didn't refrain from using 係 and a bible is as formal a document as it can get. (See here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/congregationallibrary/8454446220)
Finally, closer to our own time period, the historian Ray Huang (1918-2000), also had a fondness of using 係 occasionally in his writings and he wasn't even a Cantonese speaker!
Example 1: 「德國哲學家赫德所提倡的民族精神，並非窮兵黷武，而係有創造性及藝術性的成就，見於詩歌及文藝」 《新時代的歷史觀》 p. 60
Example 2: 「高拱在生前就以權術聞名於朝官之間。這一《病榻遺言》是否出自他的手筆還大可研究。即使確係他的手筆或系他的口述，其中情節的真實性也難於判斷。」《萬曆十五年》 p.44
(Huang seemed to prefer 確係 and 純係 over 確是 and 純是, exactly the way Cantonese speakers would.)
Treating 係 as informal is a mistaken view promoted by a lot of poorly-trained Chinese teachers in Hong Kong who often defaulted to the simplistic reasoning that "Mandarin=Formal" (I know this from personal experience... urgh!) I would argue that this view is a pretty recent phenomenon (less than a century old) and I would further argue it has more to do with the political pressure to standardize (spoken/written) Chinese, stemming from the May-fourth movement, rather than an organic change in the language itself.
If the goal here is to teach Cantonese then we should respect the language as it is used day-to-day -- use 係!
Thanks for sharing your experience, Elle; but your second example is wrong, the character in the original text is 系, means "lineage". http://ctext.org/library.pl?if=gbfile=36038page=38