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ABC Cantonese defines 係噉㗎嘞 as:

FIXED EXPRESSION
accept philosophically the way things are in life; that's life, c'est la vie

And gives the example sentence:

幸運兒永遠係少數,呢個世界係噉㗎嘞。 hang6 wan6 ji4 wing5 jyun5 hai6 siu2 sou3, ni1 go3 sai3 gaai3 hai6 gam2 gaa3 lak3 The lucky people are always few, that's the way the world is

With some footnotes:

See also 噉 gam2 係 hai6 係噉 hai6 gam2 嘞 lak3

There doesn’t seem to be a Mandarin translation though and definitions for 係噉 range from:

不停

To

如果是这样

Any ideas?

  • 1
    At my place, we tend to say 是这样的啦,which is translated from 系噉㗎嘞. Basically it means it is what it is, or at my place "it is like that" – Revol729 Jul 20 '18 at 1:57
  • we would use 咁 (u+5481) most of the time, instead of 噉. and 係 (u+4fc2) more than 系. – 水巷孑蠻 Jul 20 '18 at 2:22
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係=就是

噉=這樣

㗎嘞=的啦

it is more appropriate to translate as 就是這樣的啦 in the phrase you mentioned.

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"係噉" is simple, it just means "是這樣" (it is like this/ just like that) in Mandarin

The final particle "㗎嘞" is the tricky part. Cantonese use final particle much more extensively than Mandarin, many of them have no Mandarin equivalence

The final particle "㗎嘞" carry the following expressions:

  1. authoritative (the statement "係噉" is made with authority, don't argue about it)

Examples: [係噉㗎嘞], 老闆鐘意炒你就炒你 = [just like that], the boss would fire you if he felt like it

~

  1. routine (the statement "係噉" is true as always)

Examples: 佢個個禮拜日都要去打高爾夫, [係噉㗎嘞] = He have to go play golf every Sunday, [it is just like that]

~

  1. finality (the statement "係噉" is final, nothing you can do about it)

Examples: 今日午餐毎人一隻煎荷包蛋,半條臘腸, [係噉㗎嘞] = Everyone get a pan fired egg and half a sausage for today's lunch, [that's all/ it is just like that]

If you must translate "係噉㗎嘞" into Mandarin, I would suggest "就是这样的啦", but in reality, "就是这样的啦" cannot fully express all the meanings in "係噉㗎嘞".

Take example one "係噉㗎嘞, 老闆鐘意炒你就炒你" for example, instead of ""老闆愛解雇你就解雇你, 就是这样的啦", an interpretation of "老闆愛解雇你就解雇你, 你又能怎樣?/ 就是這簡單" would be closer to the original Cantonese sentence.

My conclusion is, the closest Mandarin equivalent of "係噉㗎嘞" is "就是这样的啦/了" but it is not 100% the same, because using final particle "㗎嘞" to express subtle messages I mentioned doesn't exist in Mandarin grammar

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