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I've come across Zhang Shaolin's Hoi-nam kai-fan (characters 海南鸡饭, lyrics only in subtitles), a song in Hakka. It is split into three parts. This question concentrates on part 2, part 1 being here and part 3 here. I have trouble translating it. The lyrics from the subs are:

海南鸡饭

*台湾最近叻歌星数不完
张惠妹称霸哂歌坛
面对香港四大天王
还有新一斑
还有SPICE GIRL外国好鬼出名
BACKSTREET BOY只只讲晓弹
看下大马有几只人
同佢丢争两餐
自家歌声差人有限
去开一间海南鸡饭
人客爱招呼冇态慢
明星或歌星日日来帮衬

Listening to the video carefully and accurately representing the sounds I hear, and subsequently tweaking the spelling for a "standard" spelling, I got the following transliteration:

Hoi-nam kai-fan

Thoi-wan cui kun liap kuo-sing su put wan
Zhāng Huìmèi ching-pa-sai ko-than
Men-tui Heong-kong si thai then wong
Han yiu sin yit pan
Han yiu SPICE GIRL woi-kiet hau gui chut-miang
BACKSTREET BOY cak-cak kong hiau than
Khon ha Thai-ma yiu ki cak nyin
Thung-ngiap tiu cang lieung chan
Chr-ka ko-sang cha ngin yiu han
Hi hoi yit kan Hoi-nan kai-fan
Ngin-hak oi cau-fu mao thoi-man
Ming-sing wa ko-sing nyit-nyit lei pong-cha

This is a possible mandarin rendition:

海南鸡饭

*台湾最近敏歌星数不完
张惠妹称霸了歌坛
面对香港四大天王
还有新一斑
还有SPICE GIRL外国好鬼出名
BACKSTREET BOY个个说会弹
看下大马有几只人
同业忙争两餐
自己歌声差人有限
去开一间海南鸡饭
客人爱招呼没态慢
明星或歌星日日来帮衬

Notes:

  1. 涯 is actually meant to have a person radical rather than a water radical, but I can't input it on my computer so I used the closest match; it means "I" and is pronounced "ngai"; replaced with "wǒ";
  2. 讲 is kong, Hakka standard for "say"; replaced with "shuō";
  3. 唔 is m/ng, a standard Hakka negation; replaced with "bù" in many cases;
  4. 只 can be used as a classifier; according to my reference, it's cak when classifier and cii when "only"; doubled, it should mean "every", like doubled classifiers can in Mandarin; replaced with gègè, since I interpreted it as "everyone" = "every person";
  5. 晓 is hiau; I have learnt this means "can", though this meaning is in my reference only under "晓得"; replaced with "néng";
  6. 按 is an; my reference says 恁 (an) means "very"; replaced with "hěn";
  7. 嘅 is ke; my reference spells that 个, distinguished from classifier 個, and says it means "de"; replaced accordingly;
  8. 仔, cai, is a common noun suffix, like 子; after kè it should mean "kèrén"; replaced accordingly;
  9. For 叻 (liap), I had to improvise; according to MDBG, it means "smart, clever" in Cantonese; replaced with 敏;
  10. 哂 is sai; I don't remember where, but I seem to have found some site saying a particle "sai" exists with meaning close to "le"; replaced accordingly;
  11. 同佢 sounds like tung-ya; my reference says 同业 is pronounced thung-ngiab; replaced accordingly;
  12. 丢 is tiu; according to my reference, it means 來回奔忙; replaced with 忙;
  13. That rénkè is Hakka for kèrén, as my reference states; replaced accordingly;
  14. 冇 is mau; the character means "not have", or anyway the opposite of "yǒu"; that would be 无, only it's pronounced mo according to my reference; replaced with "méi" anyway;
  15. There are some strange pronunciations: 张惠妹 is pronounced with Mandarin pronunciation (save for sh = s), 来 is sometimes pronounced lei instead of loi, 好 and 无 (actually 冇) are hau and mau, and the reference states they should be mo and ho, 两 is lioeng (compare Cantonese loeng).

With all that, my attempt would be:

Hainanese Chicken rice

*Clever song stars from Taiwan lately are countless
Zhang Huimei has proclaimed himself leader of the stage
I see the Hong Kong Four Great Kings
And there's still the new lot:
There's still Spice Girl, very cunning, foreign and famous,
BACKSTREET BOY: everyone says he can play,
I look down and in Malaysia there are a few people;
My colleagues are always busy fighting for two meals.
Differently from people, my voice has limits.
So I go boil a Hainanese Chicken rice
Guests will say hello and are not so slow:    (oi = yào, and I supposed mau thoi man = bù tài màn)
They financially help stars and song stars every day.

As you can understand, the problems are many. I will make a few points.

  1. Is that interpretation of liap right?
  2. And what about the sai?
  3. Is "thung-ngiab tiu co fan-pan" correctly translated?
  4. The last two lines before the #, are they right?
  5. Is the translation right from # to "cak-cak lei (loi) pong-cham"?

Edit: @Stan's comment below reads thus:

(only know Cantonese but they are similar.)
1. Not exact. 叻 basically means doing well in something, not necessarily "clever".
And it's awful to translate it as 敏 in Mandarin, because the single character 敏 sounds too archaic.
2. Correct. 哂 is similar to 了 (le). It marks the "perfect tense".
3. "同 佢丢 争两餐" here 佢丢 should mean they (like 佢地 in Cantonese).
4.5. "人客爱招呼冇态慢 明星或歌星日日来帮衬". Here, I don't clearly understand what 态慢
means but I catch it as "怠慢" in Mandarin. And 帮衬 means "be his guest". So this
sentence means "I like greeting guest and never slight; stars would like to be my guests."

My answers are:

  1. OK. Is there a normal monosyllabic word to translate that liak into Mandarin? I was trying to fit the Mandarin to the tune, so cōngming (assuming it's fine) would be one syllable too long.
  2. "perfect aspect", rather, but got it :). Note that the character has day radical, not mouth radical. That's a typo.
  3. Uh-huh, maybe. Though the plural suffix in Hakka, for what I know, is usually 等 (see 涯等 ngai-ten on the reference - mind the different radical for 涯). However, my reference states 兜 (teu) is a plural suffix, and when combined with 这 it sounds ia-teu. So, since 同…争两餐 means to compete with … on the market (idiom - is it Mandarin or not? How do I render it in Mandarin), the phrase is "With these few [the stars and those in Malaysia] I compete on the market.
  4. and 5. Where is the "would like to" in the Hakka text?

So besides points 4-5, this has become a confirmation question, awaiting a speaker of Hakka to confirm the Cantonese-based suggestions of @Stan.

  • (only know Cantonese but they are similar.) 1. Not exact. 叻 basically means doing well in something, not necessarily "clever". And it's awful to translate it as 敏 in Mandarin, because the single character 敏 sounds too archaic. 2. Correct. 哂 is similar to 了 (le). It marks the "perfect tense". 3. "同 佢丢 争两餐" here 佢丢 should mean they (like 佢地 in Cantonese). 4.5. "人客爱招呼冇态慢 明星或歌星日日来帮衬". Here, I don't clearly understand what 态慢 means but I catch it as "怠慢" in Mandarin. And 帮衬 means "be his guest". So this sentence means "I like greeting guest and never slight; stars would like to be my guests." – Stan Sep 20 '14 at 18:16
  • 1. OK. Is there a normal monosyllabic word to translate that liak into Mandarin? I was trying to fit the Mandarin to the tune, so cōngming (assuming it's fine) would be one syllable too long. 2. "perfect aspect", rather, but got it :). 3. Uh-huh, maybe. Though the plural suffix in Hakka, for what I know, is usually 等 (see 涯等 ngai-ten on the reference - mind the different radical for 涯). What whould the phrase mean in the assumption 佢丟 = 佢地? 4.5. Where is the "would like to" in the Hakka text? – MickG Sep 20 '14 at 19:31
  • Note: 3. would probably require a prepositional meaning for thung, possibly like wèi in Mandarin, so "because of them, I [have to] fight for (= work hard to get) two meals". This doesn't fall too well in with the Cantonese usage of that word described here, which is "on behalf of". Who would "they" be? That would seem to imply a distinction between all the celebs and the "ki cak nyin", which would be in a similar condition to the singer, and "for which" (or maybe "like which") he would fight for meals. – MickG Sep 20 '14 at 19:38
  • Also, 争 could mean "be short of" as in Cantonese according to CantoDict. – MickG Sep 20 '14 at 19:42
  • Btw, my guess on 哂 was probably based on a Cantonese finding. I can't find it now, but cfr baidu baike. This makes me suspect we have a typo, and the character is 晒, with day radical, not 哂, with mouth radical. – MickG Sep 20 '14 at 19:57
1

I'm a Cantonese and I can read the lyrics, great.

There are mistakes in the song lyrics:

海南鸡饭

*台湾最近叻歌星数不完
张惠妹称霸哂歌坛
面对香港四大天王
还有新一斑 <-- should be 班
还有SPICE GIRL外国好鬼出名
BACKSTREET BOY只只讲晓弹
看下大马有几只人
同佢丢争两餐
自家歌声差人有限
去开一间海南鸡饭
人客爱招呼冇态慢 <-- should be 怠慢?
明星或歌星日日来帮衬

Mandarin Translation:

海南鸡饭

台湾最近红的歌星数不完
张惠妹称霸了歌坛
面对香港四大天王
还有新一班
还有 SPICE GIRL 外国好有名
BACKSTREET BOY 每个人都說他們会弹
看下大马有几个人
和他们争两餐(not a proper saying in M​​andarin?)
自家歌声和人差有限
去开一间海南鸡饭
招呼客人无怠慢
明星或歌星天天来光临

English translation (not literal for every single character, just the meaning):

Hainan Chicken Bowl

There are uncountably many recent outstanding singers in Taiwan
A-Mei* dominated the music industry
To confront the 4 kings** in Hong Kong,
there are a group of new comers.
And there are the Spice Girls which are very famous abroad
Everyone say the Backstreet Boys can play instruments
We take a look at Malaysia, there are a few of them (singers)
We compete against them for daily meals
Local singers (and international singers) only has limited ability difference
We'll go open a Hainan Chicken Bowl (restaurant)
We'll serve the customers with no slacking
Celebrities and singers come every day.

* A famous female Taiwanese singer
** The so called "best" 4 male singers in Hong Kong

Anyway, the song is pretty weird, just my personal opinion.

  • A couple questions: 1) What would ypu say to the answerer-commenter about the liak? 2) What is the function of the kui 鬼 in that phrase "hau kui chut-miang"? AFAIK chut-miang and yôumíng are mostly equivalent, so why is that 鬼 there? – MickG Aug 25 '15 at 18:16
  • @MickG 1. I'm not sure of liak, do you have the Chinese character for that? 2. We Cantonese also use the 鬼 in 好鬼xx, it simply means very damnable/smart (as adverb) xx. I'm not sure of the chutmiang and youming, I'm not Hakkah – Daniel Cheung Aug 26 '15 at 1:55
  • @MickG Also, if you could provide the Chinese characters, I might be able to explain, since I'm not Hakka, I can't read the pronunciation. – Daniel Cheung Aug 26 '15 at 1:58
  • For 1), you should look at the answer below. Anyway 叻 liak. For 2), chut-miang is 出名. So "hau kui chut-miang" would mean "very damn chut-miang", i.e. "very damn famous"? OK. – MickG Aug 26 '15 at 7:13
  • 叻 is also used in Cantonese. It means "smart" just like you said, but it also means "awesome", "good" as in 厲害/棒. Here's a place to find the explanation: baike.baidu.com/view/80072.htm – Daniel Cheung Aug 26 '15 at 7:20
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I don't have enough reputation to comment.

In Hakka i usually hear 靓 liang, first time seeing 叻 liak. Could use 靓 i guess

  • liang in the sense of...? Clever? Curious how I see that character in the fb group Hakka Verse, with sound ciang, meaning beautiful... – MickG Aug 25 '15 at 16:46
  • For example in "ciang moi cia-ko", "Beautiful women request permission to pass" (or less literally "Here come beauties"), ciang being your char, moi the one in Mandarin mèimei, cia being the character jié for "borrow", and ko the guò of guòqu. Sorry but I can't paste in comments from my mobile and no way I can type those chars. – MickG Aug 25 '15 at 16:51
  • 靚妹借過 | ciang moi cia-ko. – MickG Aug 26 '15 at 9:20
  • Interestingly, the 台灣客家話常用詞辭典 has no liang reading for 靚. Nor does Minhakka's 客英大辭典. – MickG Aug 26 '15 at 9:32
  • And neither reports a meaning of liang that could fit into the sentence. – MickG Aug 26 '15 at 9:34

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