The Bride of the First House (bride) wrote,
The Bride of the First House
bride

Random Childhood Memory: The Riddle

weather: sunny
outside: 17.4°C
mood: ...

hóng
hung4


bou3

bāo
baau1.

bái
baak6


bou3
Red cloth conceals white cloth.
 

bái
baak6


bou3

bāo
baau1

zhū
zyu1

gāo
gou1
White cloth conceals pork fat.
 

zhū
zyu1

gāo
gou1

bāo
baau1.

hóng
hung4

zǎo
zou2
Pork fat conceals a red date.

=)

It's summer and lychee nut season. I'm munching on some super sweet green lychee and thinking that the lychee riddle rhymes better in Cantonese. =)

I remember the hot summer evenings with family, a big bowl of lychee on the table and everyone peeling and munching away. One of the adults would always admonish the kids to be careful to not swallow the seed. Because if you do, you'll have a lychee tree grow out of the top of your head.

It was an old joke that was told at least once every year, but everybody still laughed. And the lychee riddle always came out early in the summer. It reminded the older kids so that they'd know the answer and be able to put up their hand the quickest in Chinese school. It provided the younger kids with a vague concept early on.

I always thought fresh, sweet lychee ought to be bright red (like this). I've always heard my Mom and Aunts grumble at the fact that the ones here are brown. When I saw the green lychee in the bowl on our dining room table, I thought they weren't ripe.

But they're actually a different variety. They're so ripe, they explode in my hands while I'm peeling them. I can only have a few in one sitting before I instantly develop Type II Diabetes. =D

[Update - 2000h]

I've now included the pronunciations as links to audio files. Hanyu Pinyin on top and Cantonese Jyutping romanization below that.

<rant>

For the record, I hate "Jyutping". I only use it because it has the best support available and at least it has some kind of acknowledgement that tones exist. An initial "j" representing the "y" sound is unnatural and annoying. There was really no need to do that either. I don't like that they don't distinguish between a high flat tone and a high falling tone. Those are two separate tones, they are not interchangeable and using the wrong one can change the associated meaning. I have no idea why they're lumped together.

</rant>

I put a dot after the '1' to signify the high falling tone. No dot after the '1' is the regular high flat tone. The corresponding audio files for any initial-final combination in the high falling tone doesn't exist, so the sample actually still pronounces the high flat tone.

Tags: chinese, rants, reminiscence
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