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英語文法學堂:MR CHEUNG

【明報專訊】Mr Cheung has been making and selling mahjong tiles for more than 40 years. He learned the trade from his father and grandfather in the family shop, where his first job was painting the tiles. But ironically, between work and his personal life, he has never learned the game. And to be frank, he says he would rather not. Mr Cheung mostly replaces lost or damaged tiles and sells machine-made sets from the mainland for about HK$600. But occasionally he makes a set from scratch, which he personally engraves and paints. These sets cost about HK$4,000 and take months to complete. His hours are long and he only takes one day off every year, but his smile and chirpy(活潑的)nature keep his business afloat. However, reflecting on his life and the ever-shrinking number of tile-making shops, he admits his business will retire with him. He does not want his children to take up the trade because there is simply not enough work, and says the rise of machine-made tiles will spell the end of the craft within a decade.

THE INDUSTRY

Mahjong is considered a Chinese art form and has evolved to become the most popular game in Hong Kong, and many other Asian countries. For hundreds of years the four-player game of skill and strategy has brought people together. It involves drawing and discarding tiles, each with a different character on it, to form winning hands. But with such popularity has come industry automation. Mahjong societies, schools and parlours — many of which allow players to gamble — no longer use handmade tiles for their self-shuffling tables. Instead they require factory-made magnetised ones. Consequently, handmade tiles are scarcely seen in Hong Kong and there are very few shops remaining that make them.

■Editor's Notes

trade 在此指手藝,又可指行業,例如:He is a lawyer by trade. 他當律師為業。

■Giveaway

Do you want to get a copy of the book? Send your answer to the following question, your name, address and telephone number to english@mingpao.com. The giveaway closes on 6 December 2018. The winner will be picked and notified.

Question: Suggest a way to keep Mr Cheung's business running.

■Last week's winner: Helen Chung

Thanks: Blacksmith Books

資料提供:Sunset Survivors by Lindsay Varty

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