1

Please take a look at this sentence.

我已經做晒啲嘢,咪返屋企囉!

I know for one that 咪 stands for the negative. At first glance, I thought the meaning is 'I finished my tasks already, so I am going home!'

But what is the 咪 doing? Doesn't it negate the 'going home' part? It turns out the official translation of the sentence and that of mine are correct.

3

[粵] /mai5/

(v) don't; shouldn't; mustn't

Example:

咪行住 (don't go yet)

咪郁 (don't move)

咪使旨意 (don't count on it)

Notice: It is read as /mai5/

~

[粵] mai6

(1) isn't; wasn't; aren't (used as a syllable blending from m4hai6 唔係)

(2) (often used with 囉) then; as a result; might just as well

(2) Example:

冇麵包食蛋糕 = If there's no bread, (then/ might just as well) eat cake

有錢放人 = If there's money for us, then we will let him go

Notice: 咪 in 咪...囉 is read as /mai6/

我已經做晒啲嘢,(咪)返屋企囉!

I've finished all the tasks, (as a result/ might just as well) I go home

'I've finished my tasks already, so I am going home!' is indeed a correct translation

Since it is used with the final particle 囉, the 咪 in this sentence is read as /mai6/, and it means "as a result" or "might just as well" based on the context

~

Edit: Might as well add the following

咪/mai6/ (1) Example:

(咪)又係佢? = (唔係)又係佢? = (不是)又是他嗎? = isn't it him again

(咪)一樣? = (唔係)一樣? = (不是)一樣嗎? = isn't it the same?

1

In Cantonese, a normal positive question takes the form of "P non-P", which covers all the values of the domain P. For example:

  • 你食唔食饭?
  • 佢係唔係学生?

咪(mai6) is a contracted form of 唔係係. It also covers the whole domain P, but it takes the form of "non-P P". It is akin to a negative question, which usually indicates a kind of surprise or doubt. For example:

  • 你咪黄师傅?- You are Master Huang, aren't you?
  • 我已經做晒啲嘢,咪返屋企囉。- I have finished all my work. I can go home, can't I? (Isn't it the case that I can go home)?
2
  • 咪 in "我已經做晒啲嘢,咪返屋企囉" has no element of surprise or doubt. The situation is, once the work is don't, the condition of the speaker goes home is met. 咪...囉 indicates a logical subsequent action following the initial statement. So the translation is 咪...囉 in this context is 'as a result' or 'might just as well'
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 12 at 5:46
  • Surprise or doubt is just a way of saying. The inverted strategy of "non-P P" (In this case, 唔係係 ) can be found in many languages, though it is implemented differently from language to language. In European languages such as French and English, this could be akin to subjunctive mood. Traditional grammar books say: "The subjunctive expresses possibilities, hypotheses, feelings, thoughts, wishes, doubts, uncertainty, or advice". Well, it doesn't help much, does it? It is a kind of attenuated affirmation, something like "Well, I am not sure, could be otherwise, but I think it could well be so."
    – KK_Tse
    Jul 14 at 9:20

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