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What is the different between "Lei" and "Nei"? I always thought "you" was "Nei" in Cantonese then how come I've heard "Lei" as well. Is it just an accent or are there certain situations that I'm meant to use them. Like for example the phrase "I love you" is "Ngo oy lei" so is it wrong to say "Ngo oy nei" or what? I'm so confused. Thanks a lot.
Jan 17, 2016 10:19 AM
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Answers · 8
As a native, I can be certain that both pronunciations are correct.=] In classrooms, students are taught with 'neih5'. This pronunciation is generally considered as 'proper' by the field of education. However, 'leih5' is as well a correct pronunciation despite many think it is a result of sloppiness or laziness (懶音). In fact, the choice of 'neih5' is completely arbitrary. For more details, please read pg.4 of Cantonese A Comprehensive Grammar by Stephen Matthews and Virginia Yip. For the sake of learning, I recommend you to speak 'neih5' instead of 'leih5' because speaking the former will give locals an impression that you're taking the language seriously. But no matter what, Cantonese is not a highly structured and well documented language as English, so be prepared for confusions and enjoy its dynamics.
January 18, 2016
I love you > ngo oil lei ( as in "lay" ) "Nei" > probably you heard it wrongly Start with a L sound
January 17, 2016
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Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Cantonese), English, French, Japanese, Swahili
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Cantonese), French, Japanese