I Like a Sunday Even on a Monday

In Updates on July 6, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

People often say the most difficult thing about learning Cantonese is being able to distinguish and pronounce the slight tones in words. There are six tones in the Cantonese language. And one slight inflection at the beginning or end of the word can make all the difference in the world. For example, my tutor recommended not saying the word “fish” because a slight change in the end tone can change this simple word into the mother of all curses. That’s right the F [dash] [dash] [dash]!

This week we are learning days of the week and months of the year. I love the Cantonese structure. It works this way:

Number + Month = Month of the Year

So January is One Month. (Yàt-yēuht) February is Two Month (Yīh-yēuht) and so on…

Day + Number = Day of the Week

So Monday is Day One. (Láih-baai-yàt) Tuesday is Day Two (Láih-baai-yīh) and so on…

But here is where it gets tricky. Monday is Láih-baai-yàt and Sunday is Láih-baai-yaut. So when one is listening to a conversation there is only a slight inflection between Monday and Sunday. And if one were talking about an important deadline or social engagement it would be important to know the difference.

One small change – all the difference in the world!


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