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Hong Kong Cantonese (Chinese: 香港粵語) is a dialect of the Cantonese language commonly spoken in Hong Kong, as well as Macau and a few of neighbouring areas in Canton. Although the Hong Kong people largely identify this variant of Chinese with the term "Cantonese" (廣東話), a variety of publications in Mainland China describe the variant as Hong Kong speech (香港話).

Hong Kong Cantonese
香港粵語; 港式廣東話; 香港話
Native toHong Kong, Macau and some Overseas Communities
RegionPearl River Delta
EthnicityHong Kong people
Macau people
Written Cantonese
Cantonese Braille
Official status
Official language in
 Hong Kong
 Macau
Regulated byOfficial Language Division[1]
Civil Service Bureau
Government of Hong Kong
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6xgng
yue-yue
 yue-can
GlottologNone
Linguasphere79-AAA-mac
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese香港粵語
Simplified Chinese香港粤语
Hong Kong-style Cantonese
Traditional Chinese港式粵語
Hong Kong-Guangdong dialect
Traditional Chinese香港廣東話
Hong Kong-Guangzhou dialect
Traditional Chinese香港廣州話

There are slight differences between the pronunciation used in Hong Kong Cantonese and that of the Cantonese spoken in the neighbouring Guangdong Province, where Cantonese (based on the Guangzhou dialect) is a main lingua franca.

Over the years, Hong Kong Cantonese has also absorbed foreign terminology and developed a large set of Hong Kong-specific terms. These differences from the Guangzhou dialect are the result of British rule between 1841 and 1997, as well as the closure of the Hong Kong–China border immediately after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

HistoryEdit

Before the arrival of British settlers in 1842, the inhabitants of Hong Kong mainly spoke the Dongguan-Bao'an (Tungkun–Po'on) and Tanka dialects of Yue,[citation needed] as well as Hakka and Teochew. These languages and dialects are all remarkably different from Guangzhou Cantonese.

After the British acquired Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories from the Qing between 1841 (officially 1842) and 1898, large numbers[quantify] of merchants and workers came to Hong Kong from the city of Canton, the main center of Cantonese. Cantonese became the dominant spoken language in Hong Kong. The frequent migration between Hong Kong and mainland Cantonese-speaking areas did not cease up until 1949, when the Communists took over Mainland China. During this period, the Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong was very similar to that in Canton.

In 1949, the year that the People's Republic of China was established, Hong Kong saw a large influx of refugees from different areas of mainland China. The Hong Kong Government closed the border[citation needed] to halt the massive influx, but illegal immigration from Mainland China into Hong Kong continued. Because of this, the correspondence between language and ethnicity may generally be true though not absolute, as many Chinese who speak Hong Kong Cantonese may come from other areas of China, especially Shanghai or non-Cantonese regions of Guangdong where Hakka and Teochew prevail.

Movement, communication and relations between Hong Kong and mainland China became very limited, and consequently the evolution of Cantonese in Hong Kong diverged from that of Guangzhou. In Mainland China, the use of Mandarin as the language of official use and education was enforced. In Hong Kong, Cantonese is the medium of instruction in schools, along with written English and written Chinese.

And because of the long exposure to English during the colonial period, large number of English words were loaned into Hong Kong Cantonese, e.g. "巴士" (/páːsǐː/), literally, "bus". Hong Kong people even started to calque English constructions, for example, "噉 (咁) 都唔 make sense" (literally, "it still does not make sense."). Therefore, the vocabularies of Cantonese in Mainland China and Hong Kong substantially differed.

Moreover, the pronunciation of Cantonese changed while the change either did not occur in mainland China or took place much slower. For example, merging of initial /n/ into /l/ and the deletion of /ŋ/ were observed. Due to the limited communication between Hong Kong and mainland China, these changes only had a limited effect in mainland China at that time. As a result, the pronunciation of Cantonese between Hong Kong and mainland China varied, and so native speakers may note the difference when listening to Hong Kong Cantonese and mainland China Cantonese.

Hong Kong-based Cantonese can be found in Hong Kong popular culture such as Hong Kong films and Hong Kong pop music (Cantopop). Hong Kong people who have emigrated to other countries have brought Hong Kong Cantonese to other parts of the world.

PronunciationEdit

In modern-day Hong Kong, many native speakers are unable to distinguish between certain phoneme pairs, causing them to merge one sound into another. Although this is often considered substandard and is frequently denounced as "lazy sound" (懶音), the phenomenon is becoming more widespread and is influencing other Cantonese-speaking regions. Contrary to popular opinion, some of these changes are not recent. The loss of the velar nasal (/ŋ/) was documented by Williams (1856), and the substitution of the liquid nasal (/l/) for the nasal initial (/n/) was documented by Cowles (1914).

List of observed shifts:[2]

  • Merging of /n/ initial into /l/ initial.
  • Merging of /ŋ/ initial into null initial.
  • Merging of /kʷ/ and /kʷʰ/ initials into /k/ and /kʰ/ when followed by /ɔː/. Note that /ʷ/ is the only glide (介音) in Cantonese.
  • Merging of /ŋ/ and /k/ codas into /n/ and /t/ codas respectively, eliminating contrast between these pairs of finals (except after /e/ and /o/): /aːn/-/aːŋ/, /aːt/-/aːk/, /ɐn/-/ɐŋ/, /ɐt/-/ɐk/, /ɔːn/-/ɔːŋ/ and /ɔːt/-/ɔːk/.
  • Merging of the two syllabic nasals, /ŋ̩/ into /m̩/, eliminating the contrast of sounds between (surname Ng) and (not).
  • Merging of the rising tones (陰上 2nd and 陽上 5th).[3]

Today in Hong Kong, people still make an effort to avoid these sound merges in serious broadcasts and in education. Older people often do not exhibit these shifts in their speech, but some do. With the sound changes, the name of Hong Kong's Hang Seng Bank (香港恆生銀行), /hœ́ːŋ kɔ̌ːŋ hɐ̏ŋ sɐ́ŋ ŋɐ̏n hɔ̏ːŋ/, becomes /hœ́ːn kɔ̌ːn hɐ̏n sɐ́n ɐ̏n hɔ̏ːn/, sounding like Hon' Kon' itchy body (痕身 /hɐ̏n sɐ́n/) 'un cold (UN寒 /ɐ̏n hɔ̏ːn/) . The name of Cantonese itself (廣東話, "Guangdong speech") would be /kʷɔ̌ːŋ tʊ́ŋ wǎː/ without the merger, whereas /kɔ̌ːŋ tʊ́ŋ wǎː/ (sounding like "講東話": "speak eastern speech") and /kɔ̌ːn tʊ́ŋ wǎː/ (sounding like "趕東話" : "chase away eastern speech") are overwhelmingly popular.[4]

The shift affects the way some Hong Kong people speak other languages as well. This is especially evident in the pronunciation of certain English names: "Nicole" pronounce [lekˈkou̯], "Nancy" pronounce [ˈlɛnsi] etc. A very common example of the mixing of (/n/) and (/l/) is that of the word , meaning "you". Even though the standard pronunciation should be (/nei/), the word is often pronounced (/lei/), which is the surname , or the word , meaning theory. The merger of (/n/) and (/l/) also affects the choice of characters when the Cantonese media transliterates foreign names.[citation needed]

Prescriptivists who try to correct these "lazy sounds" often end up introducing hypercorrections. For instance, while attempting to ensure that people pronounce the initial /ŋ/, they may introduce it into words which have historically had a null-initial. One common example is that of the word , meaning "love". Even though the standard pronunciation would be /ɔ̄ːi/, but the word is often pronounced /ŋɔ̄ːi/.

Unique phrases and expressionsEdit

Due to Hong Kong's unique historical background, Hong Kong Cantonese has evolved differently from the Mandarin spoken in China, Taiwan and Singapore over the years. Hong Kong Cantonese has developed a number of phrases and expressions that are unique to the context of Hong Kong. These phrases and expressions usually make references to specific things that can only be found in Hong Kong or specific incidents that happened in Hong Kong. Here are a few examples:

Chinese characters Jyutping literal meaning actual meaning
食皇家飯 sik6 wong4 gaa1 faan6 eat Royal meal being incarcerated
話知你九七 waa6 zi1 nei5 gau2 cat1 Who cares about your 1997? Who cares?

Here, the former refers to Hong Kong's status as a British colony, where prisoners are detained on behalf of the Sovereign, and is similar to the English colloquial expression "guest of Her Majesty" / "live at Her Majesty's pleasure". The latter refers to the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to China in 1997. The situations alluded to are both unique to Hong Kong.

LoanwordsEdit

Life in Hong Kong is characterised by the blending of Asian (southern Chinese in particular) and Western cultures, as well as the city's position as a major international business centre. In turn, Hong Kong influences have also spread widely into other cultures. As a result, a large number of loanwords are created in Hong Kong and then exported to Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan. Some of the loanwords have become even more popular than their Chinese counterparts, in Hong Kong as well as in their destination cultures.

Imported loanwordsEdit

Selected loanwords[5] are shown below.

From EnglishEdit

Chinese Characters Jyutping English
& Other Definitions
Mainland Chinese
Mandarin
Taiwanese
Mandarin
亨里 hang1 lei5 honey 亨里 亨里
打令 daa2 ling6 darling 打令 打令
爹地/花打 de1 di4 daddy (father) 爹地 爹地
媽咪/媽打 maa1 mi4 mammy (mother) 妈咪 媽咪
巴打 baa1 daa2 brother 兄弟 兄弟
絲打 si1 daa2 sister 姐妹 姐妹
Baby/BB bi4 bi1 baby 宝宝 寶寶
Cute

Queue
Q/彈牙

kiu1 Cute
Queue (line-up)
Tender(ness)
好可爱

排队
好弹牙

好可愛

排隊
好彈牙

士Mart si4 maat1 smart 聪明 聰明
Part士 paat1 si2 (auto/computer/machinery) parts 部件 部件
Fan fen1 si2 fan (fanatic)
fan (machine)
粉丝 粉絲
十Port sap6 pot1 support 支持 支持
(我)Port(你架) pot1 report 举报 舉報
曲(既) kuk1 crooked (bent)
bend your knees
winding road ahead
zig-zag
弯曲 彎曲
曲奇 kuk1 kei4 cookie 曲奇 曲奇
打咭 daa2 kat1 punch card 打卡 打卡
Pro hou2 pou3 (very) professional
He's a professional
好专业

(他是)专业人才

好專業

(他是)專業人才

Pro pou3 faai1 Provide (services) 提供 提供
Ser乎 serve (servant) 服务 服務
(幾)梳乎 so1 fu4 relaxing (chilling)
("soft" is the antonym of "firm")
舒适 舒適
OH! ou1 OH! (surprised reaction) 噢! 噢!
OK ou1 kei1 OK OK OK
OT ou1 ti1 overtime 加班 加班
aa3 kaan1 account 户口 戶口
會(eg 佢會知) wui5 would (eg He would know)
拗撬 aau3 giu6 argue
arguments (fights)
吵架 吵架
揮/爭取 fai1 fight
fight for
打架/争取 打架/爭取
bo1 ball
Dump(垃圾) dam2 dump (garbage) (In the dump/dumpster)
database dump
pile dump
dumped by boy-/girl-friend
倒掉(垃圾) 倒掉(垃圾)
bam1 pump
甘屎(架)/屎皮/論盡 gam1 si4 clumsy 笨拙/笨手笨脚 笨拙/笨手笨腳
威士忌 wai1 si2 gei6 whisky 威士忌 威士忌
雪利酒 syut3 lei6 sherry 雪利酒 雪利酒
西打酒 sai1 daa2 cider 果酒 果酒
啤酒 be1 zau2 beer 啤酒 啤酒
(酒)吧 baa1 bar
barrister
(酒)吧
大律师
(酒)吧
大律師
(吧士)boy busser (busboy) 跑堂 跑堂
(跳)芭蕾(舞) baa1 leoi4 ballet (跳)芭蕾(舞) (跳)芭蕾(舞)
巴閉 baa1 bai3 bapre (ya whatever, stop showing-off!) 了不起 了不起
士家扶 si6 gaa1 fu4 scarf 颈巾 頸巾
士巴拿 si6 baa1 naa4 spanner (wrench) 扳手 扳手
巴士 baa1 si2 bus 公交/公交车 公車/公共汽車
的士 dik1 si2 taxi 出租车

("租车" = rental car)

計程車
士的 si2 dik1 stick 拐杖 拐杖
哥士的(梳打) go1 si2 dik1 caustic soda 氢氧化钠 氫氧化鈉
梳打水 so1 daa2 soda 苏打水 蘇打水
多士 do1 si2 toast 多士 多士
士多(店鋪) si6 do1 store 店铺 店鋪
士多啤梨 si6 do1 be1 lei2 strawberry 草莓 草莓
啤梨 be1 lei2 pear 梨子 梨子
布冧 bou3 lam1 plum 李子 李子
車厘子 ce1 lei4 zi2 cherry 樱桃 櫻桃
奇異果 kei4 ji6 gwo2 kiwifruit 奇异果 奇異果
芒果 mong1 gwo2 mango 芒果 芒果
布甸 bou3 din1 pudding 布丁 布丁
新地 san1 dei6 sundae 圣代 聖代
吉士 gat1 si2 guts (courage)
encourage
felt like someone just punched you in the gut
胆子/勇气

鼓励

膽子/勇氣

鼓勵

(俾)Face士 fei1 si2 face (dignity)
respect (him)
(给)面子/尊严 (給)面子/尊嚴
Gas士 ge1 si2 gas 汽油 汽油
沙士 saa1 si2 Sarsi

SARS

root beer: 根啤酒

SARS: 萨斯

root beer: 沙士

SARS: (非典型肺炎)沙士

痴綫 ci1 sin3 crazy 疯疯癫癫 瘋瘋癲癲
吉利 gat1 lei6 lucky (you)
good luck
吉利/好运 吉利/好運
芝士 zi1 si2 cheese 起司 起司
乳酪 jyu5 lok6 yogurt 酸奶 優格
慕絲 mou1 si2 mousse 慕丝 慕絲
忌廉 gei6 lim4 cream 克林姆 克林姆
雪糕 syut3 go1 ice-cream 冰淇淋 冰淇淋
班戟 baan1 gik1 pancake 饼子 餅子
都甩(冬甩) dou1 lat1 doughnut 甜甜圈 甜甜圈
朱古力 zyu1 gu1 lik1 chocolate 巧克力 巧克力
三文治 saam1 man4 zi6 sandwich 三文治

("三明治" is incorrect)

三文治

("三明治" is incorrect)

三文魚 saam1 man4 jyu2 salmon 鲑鱼 鮭魚
沙甸魚 saa1 din1 jyu2 sardine 沙丁鱼 沙丁魚
吞拿魚 tan1 naa4 jyu2 tuna 金枪鱼 金槍魚
桑拿 song1 naa4 sauna 桑拿 桑拿
沙律 saa1 leot2 salad 沙拉 沙拉
蒲飛 pou6 fei1 buffet 布斐 布斐
爆谷 baau3 guk1 popcorn 爆米花 爆米花
角落 gok3 lok6 corner 角落 角落
Happy happy 快乐 快樂
(好)High high (excited) 高兴 高興
High tech High tech
tech-savvy
高科技 高科技
Hi Hi 你好 你好
哈佬(哈囉) haa1 lou3 Hallo (Hello)
Halloween
哈啰 哈囉
拜拜 baai1 baai3 bye 再见 再見
酷哥 huk6 go1 cougar 酷哥/美洲狮 酷哥/美洲獅
瑜伽 jyu4 gaa1 yoga 瑜迦 瑜迦
咖喱 gaa3 lei1 curry 咖喱 咖喱
拖肥糖 to1 fei2 tong2 toffee 太妃糖 太妃糖
咖啡 gaa3 fe1 coffee 咖啡 咖啡
咖啡因 gaa3 fe1 jan1 caffeine 咖啡因 咖啡因
可卡 ho2 kaa1 coca 古柯 古柯
可卡因 ho2 kaa1 jan1 cocaine 可卡因 可卡因
可可 ho2 ho2 cocoa 可可 可可
kaat1 card
卡通 kaa1 tung1 cartoon 卡通 卡通
卡路里 kaa1 lou6 lei5 calorie 卡路里 卡路里
維他命 wai4 taa1 ming6 vitamin 维他命 維他命
結他 git3 taa1 guitar 吉他 吉他
pai1 pie 馅饼 餡餅
比堅尼 bei2 gin1 nei4 bikini 比基尼 比基尼
燕梳 jin1 so1 insure (insurance) 保险 保險
梳化 sou1 faa4 sofa 沙发 沙發
威化(餅) wai1 faa4 wafer biscuit

wafer (electronics)

wafer biscuit: 感化饼干

wafer (electronics): 晶圆

wafer biscuit: 感化餅乾

wafer (electronics): 晶圓

發騰 faat3 tang4 frightened (被)吓到 (被)嚇到
蛇gweh se4 gwe1 scared (of) 害怕 害怕
薯乜 syu4 mat1 schmuck 笨蛋 笨蛋
肥佬 fei4 lou2 fail (failure) 失败 失敗
咕喱 gu1 lei1 coolie 苦力 苦力
杯葛 bui1 got3 boycott 抵制 抵制
塔羅牌 taap3 lo4 tarot 塔罗牌 塔羅牌
啤牌 pe1 paai2 poker 扑克牌 撲克牌
mai1 microphone 麦克风 麥克風
摩打 mo1 daa2 motor 摩打 摩打
𨋢 lip1 lift (elevator) 升降机 升降機
泊車 paak3 ce1 to park 泊车 泊車
(車)軚 taai1 tire (tyre) 轮胎 輪胎
士啤 si6 be1 spare 备用 備用
煲呔 bou1 taai1 bow tie 领结 領結
taai1 tie 领带 領帶
繃帶 bang1 daai2 bandage 绷带 繃帶
笨豬跳 ban6 zyu1 tiu3 bungee jumping 蹦极跳 蹦極跳
遊艇 jau4 teng5 yachting (yacht) 游艇 遊艇
保齡球 bou2 ling4 bowling 保龄球 保齡球
乒乓波 bing1 bam1 ping-pong 乒乓球 乒乓球
高爾夫球 gou1 ji5 fu1 golf 高尔夫球 高爾夫球
quali ko1 li2 qualification (qualify; have a say)
quality
资格

品质

資格

品質

呼啦圈 fu1 laa1 hyun1 hula hoop 呼啦圈 呼啦圈
(一)碟(餸) dip6 dish 一道菜 一道菜
百家利 baak3 gaa1 lei6 broccoli 西兰花 西蘭花
百家樂 baak3 gaa1 ngok6 Baccarat (card game) 百家乐 百家樂
俱樂部 keoi1 lok6 bou6 club 俱乐部 俱樂部
模特兒 mou4 dak6 yi4 model 模特 模特
摩登 mo1 dang1 modern 摩登 摩登
(表演)騷 sou1 performance show (表演)秀
(表演)秀
尼龍 nei4 lung4 nylon 尼龙 尼龍
雪茄 syut3 gaa1 cigar 雪茄 雪茄
山埃 saan1 aai1 cyanide 山埃 山埃
鴉片 aa1 pin3 opium 鸦片 鴉片
菲林 fei1 lam2 photographic film 㬵卷 膠卷
沙林 saa3 lam1 salute 敬礼 敬禮
Sir aa3 soe4 sir

(Male policeman)
(Male teacher)

policeman: 公安

teacher: 老师/教师

policeman: 警察

teacher: 老師/教師

Sure sure (confirm) 确定/肯定 確定/肯定
老笠 lou5 lap1 rob
we have a robber on our hands
抢劫 搶劫
T- T- seot1 T-shirt T-恤 T-恤
(俾)Cash殊 ke1 syu4 (pay by) cash (付)现金 (付)現金
alright o1 waai1 alright 一切妥当 一切妥當
Cheap cip1 cheap 低贱 低賤
漢堡包 hon3 bou2 baau1 hamburger (burger) 汉堡包 漢堡包
熱狗 (calque) jit6 gau2 hotdog 热狗 熱狗
阿頭 (calque) aa3 tau2 the head of
heading to (somewhere)
领导 領導

From FrenchEdit

Chinese Characters Jyutping French English Mainland Chinese
Mandarin
Taiwanese
Mandarin
梳乎厘 so1 fu4 lei4 soufflé soufflé 梳芙厘 舒芙蕾
古龍水 gu2 lung4 cologne perfume 香水 香水
冷(衫) laang1 laine yarn 纱线 紗線

From JapaneseEdit

Chinese Characters Jyutping Japanese Japanese Rōmaji English Mainland Chinese
Mandarin
Taiwanese
Mandarin
卡拉OK kaa1 laa1 ou1 kei1 カラオケ karaoke karaoke 卡拉OK 卡拉OK
老世 lou5 sai3 世帯主 setainushi chief (CEO)
the Head (of a company)
boss
老板 老闆
奸爸爹 gaan1 baa1 de1 頑張って ganbatte Keep up! (studying)
Come on! (cheering)
加油 加油
放題 fong3 tai4 食べ放題 tabe hōdai buffet 布斐 布斐
浪漫 long6 maan6 浪漫/ ロマンチック rōman romantic 浪漫 浪漫

Exported loanwordsEdit

Into EnglishEdit

English Chinese Characters Jyutping
add oil 加油 gaa1 yau2
bok choy 白菜 baak6 coi3
char siu 叉燒 caa1 siu1
chop chop (hurry up) 速速 chuk1 chuk1
chop suey (炒)雜碎 zaap6 seoi3
chow mein 炒麵 caau2 min6
choy sum 菜心 coi3 sam1
dim sum 點心 dim2 sam1
gai lan 芥蘭 gaai3 laan2
har gow 蝦餃 haa1 gaau2
hoisin sauce 海鮮醬 hoi2 sin1 zoeng3
jook zuk1
kung fu 功夫 gung1 fu1
lo mein 撈麵 lou1 min6
longan 龍眼 lung4 ngaan5
lychee 荔枝 lai6 zi1
keemun 祁門(紅茶) kei4 mun4
kowtow 叩頭 kau3 tau4
kumquat 金橘/柑橘 gam1 gwat1
loquat 蘆橘(枇杷) lou4 gwat1
nunchaku 兩節棍 loeng5 zit3 gwan3
oolong 烏龍 wu1 lung2
Pai gow 排九 paai4 gau2
pekoe 白毫(銀針) baak6 hou4
shu mai 燒賣 siu1 maai6
typhoon 颱風 toi4 fung1
wok wok6
wonton 雲吞 wan4 tan1
yum cha 飲茶 jam2 caa4

Into Mainland Chinese MandarinEdit

Mandarin Cantonese Jyutping English Mandarin synonyms
买单 埋單 maai4 daan1 (Can we please have the) bill? 结账
搭档 拍檔 paak3 dong3 partner 伙伴 (in ownership and business)
舞伴 (in dancing)
打的 搭的士 daap3 dik1 si2 to ride a taxi 乘出租车
无厘头 無釐頭, corruption of 無來頭 mou4 lei4 tau4 nonsensical humour (see mo lei tau)
newbie who knows nothing
莫名其妙
亮仔/靓仔 靚仔 leng3 zai2 handsome boy 帅哥儿
俊男
哥们 (in China only)
拍拖 拍拖 paak3 to1 dating 追求
求爱
很正 好正 hou2 zeng3 (colloquial) awesome; perfect; just right 很棒
搞掂/搞定 搞掂 gaau2 dim6 Is it done yet? (It's) Done!
It has been taken care of!
办妥
做完
做好
弄完

Into Taiwanese MandarinEdit

Taiwanese Mandarin Hanyu Pinyin Cantonese Jyutping English
(猴)塞雷 (hóu) sāiléi (好)犀利 hou2 sai1 lei6 (very) impressive
Hold住[6] hòu zhù Hold住 hou1 jyu6 hold on
hang tight (hang in there)

Into JapaneseEdit

Japanese Kana (Kanji) Japanese Rōmaji Chinese Characters Jyutping English
ヤムチャ (飲茶) yamucha 飲茶 jam2 caa4 yum cha
チャーシュー (叉焼) chāshū 叉燒 caa1 siu1 char siu
チャーハン (炒飯) chāhan 炒飯 caau2 faan6 fried rice

Code-switching and loanword adaptationEdit

Hong Kong Cantonese has a high number of foreign loanwords. Sometimes, the part of speech of the incorporated words are also changed, like "佢地好friend", translated into English as "they are very 'friend'", means "they are good friends". The word "friend" is changed from a noun into an adjective. In some examples, some new meanings of English words are even created. For example, "至yeah", literally "the most yeah", means "the trendiest". Originally, "yeah" means "yes/okay" in English, but it means "trendy" when being incorporated into Hong Kong Cantonese (see also "yeah baby" and "aww yeah").

Semantic change is common in loanwords; when foreign words are borrowed into Cantonese, polysyllabic words and monosyllabic words tend to become disyllabic, and the second syllable is in the Upper Rising tone (the second tone). For example, "kon1 si2" (coins), "sek6 kiu1" (security) and "ka1 si2" (cast). A few polysyllabic words become monosyllabic though, like "mon1" (monitor), literally means computer monitor. And some new Cantonese lexical items are created according to the morphology of Cantonese. For example, "laai1 記" from the word "library". Most of the disyllabic words and some of the monosyllabic words are incorporated as their original pronunciation, with some minor changes according to the Cantonese phonotactics.

Incorporating words from foreign languages into Cantonese is also acceptable by most Cantonese speakers. Hong Kong Cantonese speakers frequently code-mix although they can distinguish foreign words from Cantonese ones. For instance, "噉都唔 make sense", literally means "that doesn't make sense". After a Cantonese speaker decides to code-mix a foreign word in a Cantonese sentence, syntactical rules of Cantonese will be followed. For instance, "sure" (肯定) can be used like "你 su1 唔 su1 aa3?" (are you sure?) as if it were its Cantonese counterpart "你肯唔肯定?", using the A-not-A question construction.

In some circumstances, code-mixing is preferable because it can simplify sentences. An excellent example (though dated) of the convenience and efficiency of such mixing is "打 collect call" replacing "打一個由對方付款嘅長途電話", i.e. 13 syllables reduced to four.[7]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Official Language Division, Civil Service Bureau, Government of Hong Kong". Government of Hong Kong. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  2. ^ To, Carol K. S.; Mcleod, Sharynne; Cheung, Pamela S. P. (2015). "Phonetic variations and sound changes in Hong Kong Cantonese: diachronic review, synchronic study and implications for speech sound assessment". Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics. 29 (5): 333–353. doi:10.3109/02699206.2014.1003329. PMID 25651195.
  3. ^ Bauer, Robert S.; Cheung, Kwan-hin; Cheung, Pak-man (2003). "Variation and merger of the rising tones in Hong Kong Cantonese". Language Variation and Change. 15 (2): 211–225. doi:10.1017/S0954394503152039. hdl:10397/7632.
  4. ^ Together Learn Cantonese, see middle section.
  5. ^ "A list compiled by lbsun". Archived from the original on 20 August 2006. Retrieved 9 August 2006.
  6. ^ "你"Hold住"没"Hold住"?". 学生导报 中职周刊. Archived from the original on 23 October 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Info" (PDF). www.patrickchu.net.

External linksEdit