I know 咁 means "so", as in "so big" = "gam daai". However, I just found this sentence:


Ngo5 zung6-mei6 sat1-mong6 gam3 hai6 dou6 dang2

In which I think it ought to be interpreted as an adverbial suffix, like English -ly. Maybe it is just because I saw a Mandarin rendition of this which makes it a 地. So can this gam sometimes be used as Mandarin 地? Also, I translated this sentence to:

I haven't yet been disappointed of being here waiting

Before seeing the Mandarin version. Would that be a valid translation?

  • Where did you get the jyutping romanisation? Did you just transcribe it yourself, or did you find it elsewhere? The 咁 feels odd to me (being a native-ish speaker) and I would be inclined to replace it with one of two similar sounding particles. Unfortunately, while I found a recording of the song on YouTube, I haven't been able to catch the specific sounds in question to verify. (The gam seems to have been omitted or afforded very little stress.)
    – user5714
    Dec 4 '15 at 17:46
  • The romanization is self-made. The spellig is from the lyrics of this song in a version posted by a speaker of Hakka on Fb, and that version is full of spelling mistakes. For example, hai can mean to be or at, and they are spelt the same in that version, whereas they should be spelt differently.
    – MickG
    Dec 4 '15 at 17:51
  • @Maroon those particles you mention, are they 恁 and 噉?
    – MickG
    Dec 4 '15 at 17:53
  • Yep. I'm not sure which is correct---my Cantonese knowledge is mostly verbal and I never learned to "write" Cantonese---but the sense I get from the dictionary is that those fit the sense I'm looking for. Incidentally, it looks like hai here should be "at" (which I suppose you may have alluded to in your comment). I'm guessing that the romanisation is based on the characters, rather than the actual song audio?
    – user5714
    Dec 4 '15 at 17:58
  • Indeed that hai is misspelt. The romanization is based on the characters, basically a character-by-character translit usig MDBG and CantoDict. Even with it under my eyes I cannot distinguish all the syllables in the recording: much too fast :).
    – MickG
    Dec 4 '15 at 18:00

There is at least one possible error here (係 v.s. 喺), so I'll assume a nonzero possibility of characters being misassigned. In that case, I'll assume the pronunciation is correct except for the tone.

I have never heard gam3 (generally written as 咁) used (correctly) outside of a context where it comes before an adjective as a means of indicating the extent something is <adjective>.

Conversely, there is also gam2, which has the same pronunciation apart from the tone. (The dictionary gives as 噉.) Use of this gam2 alone (i.e. not in some sort of set phrase like 噉樣) indicates something like "in this case" (e.g. 今日落雨,噉我哋唔好出去啦---it is raining today, so let's not go out). (The dictionary also suggests 恁 as a particle with the romanisation gam with a meaning that could fit, but the use-case appears identical to 噉, so I cannot differentiate between them.)

It is worth noting that people seem to sometimes conflate the two---e.g. 咁樣 and 噉樣 both appear in the Google IME. In fact, 咁嘅 is a lot more common than 噉嘅, judging from Google search and IME suggestions, even though gam3 is definitely not the right tone. Thus, it looks like there's some variation in what the correct transcription for a character not used formally is. (I later found similar ambiguities when I tried checking the character for zung6.)

Regardless of what the correct character is, gam2 makes more sense, because I can group it with 係 in a way that makes sense to me. This means that the translation should be something like:

I still haven't lost hope, so I'm waiting here.

For what it's worth, I'm having a lot of trouble catching any instance of gam in the audio of the song ("想你想得好孤寂") in question. If the particle were actually absent, though, the line would not feel complete. (I would interpret it as either I still haven't lost hope, waiting here or I still haven't lost hope that waiting here . . .)

  • Moved from the text: I'm a native Cantonese speaker, so I do not have a very formal knowledge of tones and the such. I'm relying somewhat on a dictionary and my intuition here.
    – user5714
    Dec 4 '15 at 20:28
  • Did you perhaps mean "I have never heard gam3 [...]"? That "heard" is missing in the first bold part of the answer...
    – MickG
    Dec 4 '15 at 22:45
  • @MickG: yep, that's it. Thanks for the reminder.
    – user5714
    Dec 4 '15 at 22:47

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