Ngup, Ngup, Ngup. Ngaw um ming. Kay ngup mutt

RORSCHACH

Senior Member
Farsi-persian
Hi,
I'm reading the screenplay of the film The Departed, by the screenwriter William Monahan. In a scene, Castello, the mob boss, is trading something with some Chinese gangsters. During a conversation Chinese gangster says some words which are not understandable.

COSTELLO:
I’m concerned about Chinamen who think it's wise to bring automatic weapons to a business transaction.
The CHINESE GANGSTER interjects --
CHINESE GANGSTER:
Ngup, Ngup, Ngup. Ngaw um ming. Kay ngup mutt. [Yap, yap, yap. I don’t understand. What is he saying?]

Are the words "Ngup" or "Ngaw um ming" or "Kay ngup mutt" or "Yap, Yap, Yap" meaningful or they are just some phonetic words to show how we hear Chinese language? Can you please tell me?
 
  • Ghabi

    AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod
    Cantonese
    They should be Cantonese. They can be represented in:

    Chinese characters: 噏噏噏。我唔明佢噏乜。
    Jyutping romanisation: ap1 ap1 ap1. o5 m4 ming4 keoi5 ap1 mat1.

    Note: o5 can be pronounced as ngo5 prescriptively.
     

    RORSCHACH

    Senior Member
    Farsi-persian
    Do they have specific meaning or the author just wrote them (as phonetic words) to imply that the character is speaking Chinese?
     

    RORSCHACH

    Senior Member
    Farsi-persian
    Sorry to ask you again, just want to be sure that I understood it well. "Ngup, Ngup, Ngup. Ngaw um ming. Kay ngup mutt." are real Chinese words which means "[Yap, yap, yap. I don’t understand What is he saying?], right?
     

    Mimi2020

    Member
    Chinese
    Are the words "Ngup" or "Ngaw um ming" or "Kay ngup mutt" or "Yap, Yap, Yap" meaningful or they are just some phonetic words to show how we hear Chinese language? Can you please tell me?
    I've watched the movie, but only have vague memory of that scene. " Ngaw um ming. Kay ngup mutt. ", like Ghabi said, are meaningful Cantonese words. but "Ngup, Ngup, Ngup". are phonetic words imitating the English sounds he heard, I believe, since he doesn't understand English obviously.
     

    Ghabi

    AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod
    Cantonese
    ap1 噏 means "to babble" or simply "to talk" (with derogatory connotations) in Cantonese.

    ap1ap1ap1 ("Ngup, Ngup, Ngup" in the script) is like "[he] kept babbling" or "blah blah blah" in English. I think that's why it's translated as "yap yap yap" here.

    It's not imitating English words. A Cantonese speaker may also say that when he doesn't understand what another Cantonese speaker is talking about (like "What're you babbling about?! I can't understand a word!").
     

    Ghabi

    AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod
    Cantonese
    I haven't really paid attention to this, honestly. Perhaps some people do, due to hypercorrection, although it's difficult for me to imagine someone pronouncing ap1 as *ngap1 (as suggested by the movie script in this thread, rendered as Ngup).

    As to 我 itself, there's currently 9 Cantonese samples on Forvo:

    “我”的发音:如何用汉语, 粤语, 吴语, 客家语, 福州, 闽南语, 闽东语, Pu-Xian Min, Middle Chinese, 日语, 韩语, 赣语, 上海话, Toisanese Cantonese, 湘语, 晋语发音“我”

    3 of them are simply unintelligible, 3 use the zero initial, and 3 use the prescriptive ng- (based on my hearing).
     

    Mimi2020

    Member
    Chinese
    ap1 噏 means "to babble" or simply "to talk" (with derogatory connotations) in Cantonese.

    ap1ap1ap1 ("Ngup, Ngup, Ngup" in the script) is like "[he] kept babbling" or "blah blah blah" in English. I think that's why it's translated as "yap yap yap" here.

    It's not imitating English words. A Cantonese speaker may also say that when he doesn't understand what another Cantonese speaker is talking about (like "What're you babbling about?! I can't understand a word!").
    Thanks Ghabi. I guess I was wrong then.
     
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