Handbook of the Swatow Vernacular/Grammar

Lesson X.
Grammar.

Substantives and Adjectives are not declined: the same word expresses both the singular and the plural. Pronouns hove a plural form.

Singular. Plural.
Uá, I. 阮。咱 Ún or nán, we.
Lṳ́, thou or you. Nín, ye or you.
I, he, she, it. 因。伊人 I or i--nâng, they, them.

The distinctions of moods, tenses, numbers and persons are shown by the addition of certain auxiliary verbs or particles, as follows:—

indicative mood.

present tense.

我來
Uá lâi
I come.
爾去
Lṳ́ khṳ̀
You go.
伊要
I àiⁿ
He wants.
阮勿
Ún màiⁿ
We don't want.
恁是我個朋友
Nín sĩ uá kâi phêng-iú
You are my friends.
因。伊人是外人
In or i--nâng sĩ gūa-nâng
They are outsiders.

past tense.

The common signs of the Past Tense are 有 ũ and 甞 chêng, and are employed chiefly in asking questions and in giving answers, but seldom when a subject is simply being spoken of, viz.—

伊分我
I pun uá
He gave me.
伊昨日來
I tsa-jít lâi
He came yesterday.
伊昨日有來或無
I tsa-jít ũ lâi a-bô?
Did he come yesterday or not?
伊昨日不甞來。伊昨日無來
I tsa-jít m̄-chêng lâi, or i tsa-jít bô-lâi
He did not come yesterday.
我昨日甞來。我昨日有來
Uá tsa-jít chêng--lâi, or uá tsa-jít ũ--lâi
I did come yesterday.

perfect tense.

The chief signs of the Perfect Tense are 了 lióu, 正 chiàⁿ, 識 pat, 有 ũ, 未 būe, and 亞未 a-būe.

Lióu[1] 了 (finish) can only be used to subjects being spoken of, and cannot be used in asking questions, viz.—

伊來了
I lâi--lō
He has come.
阮知了
Ún tsai--lō
We have known.
因到了
In kàu--lō
They have arrived. Chiàⁿ 正 (just) and 識 pat (ever) can be used both to questions and answers, viz.—
伊正來
I chiàⁿ-lâi
He has just come.
爾此時正來
Lṳ́ chi-tsûn chìaⁿ-lâi?
Have you just now come?
爾昔識來此處否
Lṳ́ tsá pat-lâi--chié mē?
Have you ever been here before?
我昔不識來此處
Uá tsá m̄-pat lâi--chié
I have never been here before.

Ũ (have) 有 in the Perfect Tense, generally followed by the interrogative sign 亞未 a-būe, is used for questions only, and 未 būe (not yet) is used for answers, viz.—

伊有來或未
I ũ[2] lâi a-būe?
Has he come?
伊未來
I būe lâi
He has not come.
因有去或未
In ũ[2] khṳ̀ a-būe?
Have they gone?
因未去
In būe khṳ̀
They have not gone.

future tense.

The chief signs of the Future Tense are àiⁿ, 正要 chiàⁿ-àiⁿ, (want) 會 õi (can) and 袂 bõi (cannot.) viz.—

伊明天要來
I màⁿ-khí àiⁿ-lâi
He will come to-morrow.
霎時要落雨
Khiã-tiām àiⁿ-lóh-hõu
It will rain bye-and-bye.
伊何時正要來
I tiang-sî chiàⁿ-àiⁿ lâi?
When will he come?[3]
伊霎時正要來
I khiã-tiām chiàⁿ-àiⁿ-lâi
He will come bye-and-bye.
我下個月要轉
Uá ẽ-kâi-guêh àiⁿ-tńg
I shall go home next month.
伊會死或袂
I õi sí a-bõi?
Will he die?
伊袂死
I bõi--sí
He will not die.
伊將來會做大
I chiang-lâi õi tsò-tūa
He will be great in the future.

potential mood.

The signs of the Potential Mood are 會 õi, 袂 bõi, 會得 õi-tit, 袂得 bõi-tit, 好 hó, 着 tiéh, and 不可 m̄-móⁿ.

Õi (can) 會 implies ability, and 袂 bõi (cannot) implies its opposite, inability.

伊會氽
I õi-siû
He can swim.
伊袂走
I bõi-tsáu
He cannot run.

Õi-tit (can) 會得 implies possibility, and 袂得 bõi-tit (cannot) implies impossibility.

爾今夜回得來或袂
Lṳ́ ke-mêⁿ õi-tit lâi a-bõi?
Can you come to-night or not?
我不閒。我今夜袂得去
Uá m̄-ôiⁿ, uá ke-mêⁿ bõi-tit khṳ̀
I am busy, I cannot go to-night.
爾早時呾爾袂得來。爾只囘如何會得來
Lṳ́ thâng-kùa tàⁿ-lṳ́ bõi-tit lái, lṳ́ chí-tsûn tsò-nîⁿ õi-tit lâi?
You said just now you could not come, how is it you can come now?
我只囘閒。故此就會得來
Uá chí-tsûn ôiⁿ, kù-tshṳ́ chiũ õi-tit lâi
I have leisure just now, and therefore I can come.
爾若是無共伊呾。伊袂得知
Lṳ́ nāⁿ-sĩ bô kah i tàⁿ, i bõi-tit tsai
If you did not tell him, he could not know it.

Hó 好 is very nearly the same as the English auxiliary verb may, and implies liberty.

我好去否
Uá hó-khṳ̀ mē?
May I go?
爾好去
Lṳ́ hó-khṳ̀
You may go.
我好呾否
Uá hó-tàⁿ mē?
May I speak?

Tiéh 着 (must, ought, or should) implies obligation.

爾着來
Lṳ́ tiéh-lâi
You must, (ought to, or should) come.
喊伊着靜靜
Hàm i tiéh tiām-tiām
Tell him he ought to be silent.
我着𭒡爾
Uá tiéh-hiâm lṳ́
I must blame you.
爾着認爾個不着
Lṳ́ tiéh-jīn lṳ́ kâi m̄-tiéh
You should admit your fault. M̄-móⁿ (don't) 不可 implies the opposite of 着 tiéh, viz. must not, ought not, and should not.
爾不可去
Luú m̄-móⁿ khṳ̀
You must not go.
恁不可分伊去
Nín m̄-móⁿ pun i khṳ̀
You ought not to let him go.
恁不可辯
Nín m̄-móⁿ à
You should not argue.

The Passive verb is formed by the use of the words 分 pun, 乞 khoih (to give) and 分人 pun--nâng (give people.)

爾乞何人打
Lṳ́ khoih tî-tiâng phah?
By whom were you beaten?
我分伊打
Uá pun i phah
I was beaten by him.
伊分人殺
I pun--nâng thâi
He was killed.
分何人殺
Pun tî-tiâng thâi?
Was killed by whom?
是分伊殺或不是
Sĩ pun i thâi a m̄-sĩ?
Was he kileld by him or not?
伊分雷公扣死
I pun lûi-kong khà-sí
He was struck to death by lightning.
伊袂分人騙
I bõi pun--nâng phièn
He cannot be deceived by people.
伊個名聲乞人稱誦
I kâi miâⁿ-siaⁿ khoih--nâng o-ló
His name is praised by the people.

The Progressive Form is formed by the use of the word 在 tõ (in the act of) and 要 iàⁿ (want.)

小兒在耍
Nouⁿ-kiáⁿ tõ sńg
The boys are playing.
我在寫字
Uá tõ siá-jī
I am writing.
亞奴在哭
A-nôuⁿ tõ khàu
The child is crying.
伊呾伊要去
I tàⁿ i àiⁿ-lâi
He says he is coming.
伊要轉去
I àiⁿ-tńg--khṳ̀
He is going home.

comparison of adjectives.

the comparative degree.

The words employed in the comparative degree are 愈 zú, 敬 kèng, (more) 𢰳 ióu, (a little) 過 kùe, (over) 贏 iâⁿ (to be superior, to defeat,) and 輸, (to be inferior, to be defeated.)

愈多愈好
Zú-tsōi zú-hó
The more the better.
只個𢰳大
Chí--kâi ióu-tūa
This is a little larger.
伊有愈多我
I ũ zú-tsōi uá
He has more than I.
此個敬長過彼個
Chí--kâi kèng-tn̂g kùe hṳ́-kâi
This is longer than that.
爾個好。我個愈敬好
Lṳ́--kâi hó, uá--kâi zú-kèng hó
Yours is good, (but) mine better.
伊會走猛過我
He can run faster than I.
伊行猛過伊走
Lṳ́ kiâⁿ méⁿ-kùe i tsáu
You walk faster than he runs.
潮州府會贏過汕頭或袂
Tiê-chiu-hú õi iâⁿ-kùe Suaⁿ-thâu a-bõi?
Is Ch'ao-chow-fu better than Swatow?
爾寫個字贏我個
Lṳ́ siá kâi jī iâⁿ uá kâi
Your writing is better than mine.
伊作事贏爾
I tsò-sṳ̄ iâⁿ lṳ́
He does things better than you.
爾無用。輸伊
Lṳ́ bô-ēng su i
You are no use, and are surpassed by him.
爾會走贏伊否
Lṳ́ õi tsáu-iâⁿ i mē?
Can you over take him in running?
袂。我輸伊
Bõi, uá su i
No, I am behind him in running.

the superlative degree.

The words employed in the superlative degrree are 上 siãng and 上頂 siãng-téng (supreme); the latter generally refers to the qualities of goods, viz.—

有上大個否
Ũ siãng-tūa--kâi mē?
Have you the largest one?
此個就是上大個
Chí--kâi chiũ-sĩ siãng-tūa kâi
This is the largest one.
我要上頂好個
Uá àiⁿ siãng-téng-hó--kâi
I want the best (quality.)

  1. This word is so unaccented, that it is always sounded instead of lióu, when it comes after a Double hyphen.
  2. 2.0 2.1 In every case ũ may be omitted if preferred.
  3. Chiàⁿ-àiⁿ is nearly the same as the auxillary verb will, and is employed thus, e. g. I tiang-sî chiàⁿ-àiⁿ lâi? when will he come? that is to say, he is not coming now, but when will he come? and the answer is I khiã-tiām chiàⁿ-àiⁿ lâi, He will come bye and bye, that is to say, he will come, but not before the time when he intends to come.