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The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong

The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong

The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong stretches down into history as far as the Han Dynasty, and is an integral part of Hong Kong’s culture and identity. This holiday comprises largely of two concepts: warding off ill luck and respecting one’s ancestors.

In this article, you’ll learn about the various Chung Yeung Festival traditions and the meaning behind them—including why HongKongers drink chrysanthemum wine and climb mountains on this day! You’ll soon see how essential knowing about the Chung Yeung Festival is to really understanding Cantonese culture today.

And at CantoneseClass101.com, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Chung Yeung Festival?

The Chung Yeung Festival, or the Double Ninth Festival, is a holiday with deep historic roots, having begun as early as the Han Dynasty period. This is a public holiday, and known to be a busy time for many shops and tourist locations in Hong Kong.

The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong has traditionally been considered a day of bad luck and potential danger. This is rooted in the Chung Yeung Festival story, in which a man is warned of danger to his village and escapes to the mountains; because he survived his village’s disaster, the Chung Yeung Festival is also considered a day of warding off or escaping ill luck.

Further, many people take this day to pay respect to their ancestors.

2. When is the Chung Yeung Festival?

Ninth Day of Ninth Lunar Month

The Cantonese Chung Yeung Festival is celebrated each year on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month (hence its common name of Double Ninth Festival).

For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years.

  • 2019: October 7
  • 2020: October 25
  • 2021: October 14
  • 2022: October 4
  • 2023: October 23
  • 2024: October 11
  • 2025: October 29
  • 2026: October 18
  • 2027: October 8
  • 2028: October 26

3. Chung Yeung Festival Traditions in Hong Kong

Paying Respect to Ancestors

Most Chung Yeung Festival activities are performed today in fun celebration, though traditionally they were done in order to ward off bad luck or circumstances.

Just as the man in the Chung Yeung Festival story escaped death by going to the mountains, HongKongers often climb mountains or hills themselves on this day. Others may simply go on a hike with family or loved ones.

Another common feature of the Chung Yeung Festival holiday is flying kites. The symbolism behind this is similar to that of climbing mountains. Essentially, HongKongers believe that flying the kite removes bad luck from them, up into the sky where it can’t get to them during the year.

Further, on a more solemn note, many HongKongers visit ancestral graves during the Chung Yeung Festival as a show of respect and honor. This is usually an occasion for the whole family, who offers their ancestors food, clean the sites, and burn incense.

4. Chung Yeung Festival Foods

During the Chung Yeung Festival, Hong Kong also celebrates through consuming the Chung Yeung rice cake and chrysanthemum wine. HongKongers believe that the wine (which they often make themselves at home!) cleanses the person drinking it, thus helping to remove ill luck. And as for the cake, it represents being “up” or “on top,” and when eaten, is thought to improve the chances of the consumer moving to a higher status in life.

5. Essential Chung Yeung Festival Vocabulary

Yellow Chrysanthemum Flower

Here’s the essential vocabulary to know for the Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong!

  • 野餐 (je5 caan1) — picnic
  • 重陽 (cung4 joeng4) — the ninth day of the ninth lunar month
  • 祭祖 (zai3 zou2) — pay respect at ancestors’ grave
  • 耐 (noi6) — long time
  • 風箏 (fung1 zang1) — kite
  • 香 (hoeng1) — incense
  • 登高 (dang1 gou1) — climb a mountain
  • 重陽糕 (cung4 joeng4 gou1) — Chung Yeung rice cake
  • 菊花酒 (guk1 faa1 zau2) — chrysanthemum wine
  • 菊花 (guk1 faa1) — chrysanthemum
  • 重陽節 (cung4 joeng4 zit3) — Chung Yeung Festival

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and alongside relevant images, check out our Cantonese Chung Yeung Festival vocabulary list!

How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You Master Cantonese

What are your thoughts on the Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong? Is there a similar holiday in your country? Let us know in the comments; we always look forward to hearing from you.

To continue learning about Cantonese culture and the language, explore CantoneseClass101.com. We provide an array of fun and effective learning tools for every learner, at every level:

  • Insightful blog posts on a range of cultural and language-related topics
  • Free vocabulary lists covering a variety of topics and themes
  • Podcasts and videos to improve your listening and pronunciation skills
  • Mobile apps to learn Cantonese anywhere, on your own time
  • Much, much more!

If you’re interested in a more personalized, one-on-one learning approach, be sure to upgrade to Premium Plus. Doing so will give you access to your own Cantonese teacher who will help you develop a plan tailored to your needs and goals. Yes, really!

Cantonese is one of the most difficult languages for non-native speakers to learn, which makes your effort and determination that much more meaningful! Your hard work will pay off in the long run, and know that CantoneseClass101 will be here to help in every step of your journey.

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Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the Mid-Autumn Festival is an annual holiday that corresponds with the full moon, which represents unity. This is a time of family fun, fire games, mooncakes, and mythology!

In this article, you’ll learn about the Mid-Autumn Festival story and how HongKongers celebrate this special evening today. You may be surprised how much cultural insight you can glean in studying this holiday—and understanding a country’s culture is an essential step in mastering the language.

At CantoneseClass101.com, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative! So let’s get started.

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1. What is Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong?

On the evening of Mid-Autumn Festival, the moon is very round, because it’s a full moon. The full moon symbolizes reunion in Chinese culture, so families will gather together and admire the full moon while eating mooncake.

Now let’s talk about the mythology of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

There was a time when there were ten suns, which overheated the mortal world. So the Emperor of Heaven sent HouYi, an archer, and his wife, Chang’e, to the mortal world. HouYi shot down the extra nine suns and relieved the suffering of the people.

To reward him, the Queen of Heaven gave him two immortal elixirs. On August 15, while HouYi was out, his apprentice forced Chang’e to surrender the elixir. Chang’e accidentally swallowed the elixir and floated to the moon.

2. When is Mid-Autumn Festival?

A Full Moon

The date of the Mid-autumn Festival varies each year on the Gregorian calendar, as it takes place on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years on the Gregorian calendar.

  • 2019: September 13
  • 2020: October 1
  • 2021: September 21
  • 2022: September 10
  • 2023: September 29
  • 2024: September 17
  • 2025: October 6
  • 2026: September 25
  • 2027: September 15
  • 2028: October 3

3. Mid-Autumn Festival Celebrations & Traditions

In Hong Kong, the Mid-Autumn Festival public holiday is actually on the day after, so that everyone can get the most out of the celebrations of Mid-Autumn evening.

1- Playing with Fire: Mid-Autumn Festival Lanterns

On this evening, children carry lanterns in the shape of their favorite cartoon characters, and teenagers play with candles, or even burn wax. However, because of the high number of fire-related disasters and injuries, as well as the massive amount of leftover melted wax in public areas, the government has listed wax burning as illegal.

2- Mid-Autumn Festival Food: The Mooncake

The mooncake is a special food unique to the Mid-Autumn Festival. Have you ever tried it? A traditional mooncake is round like the moon, but has diversified in recent years for commercial purposes.

Other than the traditional lotus seed paste with egg yolk filling, snow-skin mooncake and other new flavor variants are also popular in Hong Kong. For example: abalone, swallow’s nest, barbecued pork, and sesame. The snow-skin mooncake is a new style of mooncake that’s served chilled. Please give it a try if you have a chance!

3- Fire Dragon Dance

Another custom of the Mid-Autumn Festival is the fire dragon dance. You can see a fire dragon dancing on the streets of Tai Hang in Causeway Bay three nights in a row. For the fire dragon dance, you may see some eye-catching Hong Kong Mid-Autumn Festival clothing! In 2011, this activity was listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by China, ensuring its continuation.

4. More Moon Mythology

Dragon for Festival

Do you know what kind of animal lives on the moon in Chinese mythology?

In Chinese mythology, the animal that lives the moon is a rabbit. We call it Moon Rabbit, and it keeps Chang’e company. Scientifically, the distribution of the light and dark areas of the moon’s surface seems to create the image of a rabbit.

5. Vocabulary to Know for the Mid-Autumn Festival

Snowy Mooncakes

Here’s some vocabulary you need to know for the Mid-autumn festival in Hong Kong!

  • 中秋節 (zung1 cau1 zit3) — Mid-Autumn Festival
  • 月餅 (jyut6 beng2) — mooncake
  • 冰皮月餅 (bing1 pei2 jyut6 beng2) — snowy mooncake
  • 月兔 (jyut6 tou3) — Moon rabbit
  • 賞月 (soeng2 jyut2) — moon watching
  • 蓮蓉 (lin4 jung4) — lotus seed paste
  • 燈籠 (dang1 lung4) — lantern
  • 后羿 (hau6 ngai6) — Houyi
  • 滿月 (mun5 jyut2) — full moon
  • 蛋黃 (daan6 wong2) — egg yolk
  • 嫦娥 (soeng4 ngo4) — Chang’e

To hear each of these Cantonese vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Mid-Autumn Festival vocabulary list!

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Cantonese Mid-Autumn Festival with us! Let us know in the comments if you have any astrology-related holidays in your country, and how you celebrate. We look forward to hearing from you!

To continue learning about Cantonese culture and studying the language, explore CantoneseClass101.com. We provide an array of learning tools for every learner, at every level:

  • Insightful blog posts on a variety of cultural and language-related topics
  • Free vocabulary lists covering a range of topics and themes
  • Podcasts to improve your listening and pronunciation skills
  • Mobile apps so you can learn Cantonese anywhere, on your own time
  • Much, much more!

If you’re interested in taking a more one-on-one approach to your language-learning, be sure to upgrade to Premium Plus. Doing so will give you access to your own personal Cantonese tutor who will help you develop a personalized plan based on your needs and goals. Yes, really!

Cantonese is one of the most difficult languages to learn, so we commend you for your effort and determination! At CantoneseClass101, we believe that you really can master the language—and we want to be here to help every step of the way!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Enjoy some mooncakes for us. ;)

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Hong Kong Body Gestures

Thumbnail

Have you ever heard of Albert Mehrabian’s famous “7%-38%-55% Rule“? According to this rule, tones of voice and body language account for 38% and 55% of personal communication respectively, with words taking up the remaining 7%. Non-verbal language is truly the key to successful communication. Therefore, in addition to teaching you new Cantonese words and phrases here at CantoneseClass101.com, we’re here to teach you the common Hong Kong body gestures to help you better communicate with locals! Truly, Cantonese nonverbal communication is just as important, if not more so, as the words you speak.

We’re introducing four different types of body gestures here, namely:

  • Body Posture
  • Hand Gestures
  • Facial Expressions
  • Physical Movement

To help you better master this nonverbal communication in Hong Kong, we’ve also included photos/videos and examples below. Let’s start now! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Cantonese Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

  1. Body Posture
  2. Hand Gestures
  3. Facial Expressions
  4. Physical Movement
  5. Gestures You should Avoid
  6. Bonus: How to Count Numbers in Hong Kong
  7. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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1. Body Posture

1- Defensive

Woman Crossing Her Arms

  • How: Cross your arms across your chest.
  • When: To express distrust or that you’re unengaged; to tell someone that you’re annoyed or offended
  • Example: If someone has been talking about something uninteresting for a long time and you want to subtly let him or her know, you can cross your arms.
  • Notes: It’s best not to use this posture in business settings as crossing your arms is considered a negative and unprofessional posture.


2. Hand Gestures

Cantonese Hand Gestures

1- Good

Thumbs Up

  • How: Thumbs-up (think of the “like” button on Facebook); one hand only (can be left or right)
  • When: To show that you think something is excellent, the best, or super good
  • Example: When your friend makes an excellent suggestion on what to do this weekend, you can simply give him or her a thumbs-up to show that you like the idea.
  • Notes: It’s a widely used positive hand gesture in Hong Kong, both in business and casual settings.

2- OK

OK Sign

  • How: Make a circle with your thumb and index finger; the three fingers left should remain upright; one hand only (can be left or right)
  • When: To show approval; to express that everything is going smoothly and is fine; to express “yes” or “well understood”
  • Example: When you’re asked to do laundry, you can give an “OK” hand gesture to signal that you’ll do it.
  • Notes: It’s a very common hand gesture in Hong Kong, whether in the workplace, school, or among friends and family.

3- Bad

Thumbs Down

  • How: Thumbs-down; one hand only (can be left or right)
  • When: To express dissatisfaction; to tell people that something’s not good or is of low quality
  • Example: If your kid broke your phone, you may show him a “bad” hand gesture to let him or her know that this is defintely not good.
  • Notes: This is less common than the “good” and “OK” hand gestures, as it’s best in general to avoid negative gestures.

4- Fist and Palm Salute

Fist and Palm Salute

  • How:
    Male: right-hand half-fist, then hold the right hand in front of your chest with your left hand
    Female: left-hand half-fist, then hold the left hand in front of your chest with your right hand
  • When: To congratulate someone; to wish someone luck
  • Example: When you visit a friend in Hong Kong during the Chinese New Year, you can first say to him 恭喜發財 (Pronunciation: gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4) meaning “May you have a prosperous New Year,” and then perform this gesture.
  • Notes: This hand gesture is mostly used during celebrations, such as Chinese New Year and weddings.

5- Thank You (Restaurant Only)

  • How: Tap your fingers several times by your cup
  • When: To say thank you when someone’s pouring tea for you at a Chinese restaurant
  • Example: If your friends are pouring tea for you during yum cha, you can simply tap your fingers several times by your cup as a means of thanking them.
  • Notes: This should only be used in Chinese restaurants (dim sum place). If you want to know more about this unique and funny hand gesture in Hong Kong, visit the Loop.


3. Facial Expressions

1- Respect / Submission

Girl Looking Downcast

  • How: Lower your eyes
  • When: To show someone that you respect or obey him or her
  • Example: If your boss is angry and you think it’s wiser to be (or pretend to be) obedient, you can lower your eyes when he or she is facing you.
  • Notes: When you’re greeting someone older than you that you’re not very close with, you may also want to lower your eyes to show respect. Eye contact meaning in Hong Kong has a lot to do with respect.


4. Physical Movement

When it comes to body gestures in Hong Kong culture, note that even though it’s typical in Hong Kong to stand close to each other during conversations, body contact doesn’t occur. Being touchy isn’t part of the Hong Kong culture. You’ll be seen as rude and impolite if you excessively touch another person during a conversation in Hong Kong.

Avoid hugging or kissing another person, or patting someone on the back. This is especially true if you’re interacting with someone older than you or someone in a position of authority—it will be perceived as offensive and rude. Hugging and kissing are quite rare, even if it’s when running into a close friend. Nodding your head is the most common way to quickly greet someone, and an acceptable Hong Kong body gesture to a close friend is a little pat on the arm.

1- Hello (Business Settings)

  • How: A little handshake
  • When: To greet someone, usually in business settings
  • Example: You can give a little handshake when you’re first introduced to a colleague.
  • Notes: This is usually used in business settings or for people we’re not close with. There isn’t any typical body gesture for greetings with friends.

2- Beg / Pray

Boy Kneeling

  • How: Kneel down with both feet on the ground
  • When: To beg for something; to pray
  • Example: If you’ve made a terrible mistake, you can kneel down to beg for forgiveness.
  • Notes: This gesture signifies a huge degree of submission. Avoid using it unless you’re praying or you really need to beg for something.

3- Respect

Woman Holding Out a Gift

  • How: Use both hands to hand over or receive something from someone
  • When: To hand over something; to present a gift; to receive something
  • Example: During a gift exchange session in a Christmas party, hand the present you’ve carefully prepared to your friends with both hands.
  • Notes: You should always hand over or receive things with both hands; using one hand is considered rude and impolite.


5. Gestures You should Avoid

Here’s an all-important list of Hong Kong body gestures that are considered rude, which you should avoid as much as possible!

1- Pointing to Someone with only Your Index Finger

Boss Pointing at Employee

  • When: To refer to someone
  • Notes: This is considered disrespectful and impolite; you should keep your hand open if you want to refer to someone.

2- Keep Only Your Middle Finger Up

  • When: To express anger or frustration; equal to foul language
  • Notes: This is very disrespectful and impolite.

3- Winking Your Eyes at Someone

Woman Winking

  • When: To flirt; to show disrespect
  • Notes: Winking your eyes in Hong Kong doesn’t look cool; instead it’s a sign of disrespect and should be avoided.

4- Crossing Your Leg over the Knee and Pointing Your Foot in Someone Else’s Direction

  • When: To demonstrate superiority; to slight someone
  • Notes: It’s impolite and should be avoided in most situations.


6. Bonus: How to Count Numbers in Hong Kong

  • One = Hold only the index finger upright.
  • Two = Add the middle finger to the index finger. This is also a common hand gesture used when posing for a picture.
  • Three = Same as “OK.” Make a circle with your thumb and index finger; the three fingers left should remain upright.
  • Four = Keep all four fingers up with the thumb folded in.
  • Five = Open your palm when all fingers are up.
  • Six Gesture

  • Six = Curl in your index, middle, and ring fingers only, to indicate six.
  • Seven Gesture

  • Seven = Keep your thumb and index finger outstretched; pointing down looks like a number seven.
  • Eight = Add your middle finger to the number seven sign and point up.
  • Nine = Bend the index finger like a hook with other fingers closed.
  • Ten = Open the palm of both hands as two 5s gives you ten. You can also make a cross using only your index fingers.


7. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

After mastering the common Hong Kong body gestures, it’s time to learn more Cantonese to make sure that you can communicate in Hong Kong with the correct verbal and non-verbal languages. With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, either through your mobile apps, desktop software, or even our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

We’ve delivered until now more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, abundance of vocabulary learning tools and spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners. What’re you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Cantonese Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

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The Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong

HongKongers believe that once a year, hell’s gates open, allowing the spirits to wander the earth. They call this day The Hungry Ghost Festival (or simply Ghost Festival). In this article, you’ll learn about the Hungry Ghost Festival origin and how Hong Kong observes this holiday today.

Hong Kong is a place rooted in strong religious and spiritual belief, and the Hungry Ghost Festival Hong Kong observes is one of many holidays to vividly portray this. Come along with us at CantoneseClass101.com and delve into some of Hong Kong’s most fascinating beliefs and traditions. After all, culture immersion is one of the best ways to master any language!

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1. What is the Hungry Ghost Festival?

So, what is the Hungry Ghost Festival history? Where did it come from?

According to Chinese mythology, the very gates of hell are open during the Hungry Ghost Festival. This allows the spirits to enter the living world and roam it until hell’s gates close again.

Regarding the origin of the Ghost Festival, there are actually two theories: One that says Buddhism, and another that says Taoism. Both religions have records of the festival and particular ceremonies; during the Tang dynasty, the Ghost Festival was even observed in mixed customs.

Do you know that according to the Hungry Ghost Festival story, Yama, king of the underworld, is the guardian of the gate of hell? Yama has the “book of life and death” that records all men’s lifespans. His subordinates Ox-Head and Horse-Face escort the soul to the underworld after death.

2. The Hungry Ghost Festival Date

Souls Wandering in the Moonlight

The date of the Hungry Ghost Festival varies each year on the Gregorian calendar. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: August 15
  • 2020: September 2
  • 2021: August 21
  • 2022: August 12
  • 2023: August 30
  • 2024: August 17
  • 2025: September 6
  • 2026: August 27
  • 2027: August 16
  • 2028: September 2

3. Ghost Festival Traditions in Hong Kong

Around the Ghost Festival, some people worship their ancestors at home in a display of filial piety, as well as wish for their ancestors’ blessing. In this respect, some people also burn incense, joss paper, and sacrificial offerings (or Hungry Ghost Festival food) on the roadside in order to feed and fulfill the wandering soul. This ensures that they don’t become poor, hungry ghosts, and this act appeases the grudges of those who died unjustly so they can rest in peace.

Some people may think that this festival is absurd, but for Chinese people, there’s a saying: “Better believe it than ignore it.”

Another tip is that HongKongers usually use the phrase “dirty things” when referring to ghosts. For example, “I see dirty things” means “I see ghosts.”

4. Traditional Taboos

Lighting Candles

During the Hungry Ghost Festival month, there are a lot of taboos:

  • Don’t stay out or up late at night, because ghosts’ power flourishes in the middle of the night.
  • Don’t walk close to the wall, because this is where ghosts like to lean.
  • Don’t open an umbrella indoors, because this is etiquette when paying respect to the dead—it might invite ghosts into the house.
  • Don’t go swimming at night, because it’s easy for ghosts to pull on your legs and drown you.
  • Don’t get married, travel, or move.

In short, don’t do any important things.

5. Useful Vocabulary for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong

Burning Incense

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong!

  • 祖先 (zou2 sin1) — ancestor
  • 盂蘭節 (jyu4 laan4 zit3) — Ghost Festival
  • 閻羅王 (jim4 lo4 wong4) — Yama
  • 孤魂野鬼 (gu1 wan4 je5 gwai2) — wandering soul
  • 素食 (sou3 sik6) — vegetarian meal
  • 燒包 (siu1 baau1) — varieties of paper items burned for the deceased
  • 祭品 (zai3 ban2) — sacrificial offering
  • 陰司紙 (jam1 si1 zi2) — Joss paper
  • 祭奠 (zai3 din2) — hold a memorial ceremony for the deceased
  • 孝道 (haau3 dou6) — filial piety
  • 燒香 (siu1 hoeng1) — burn incense

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Hungry Ghost Festival vocabulary list!

Conclusion: Choose CantoneseClass101 for Your Cantonese Learning!

As you can see, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a time of healthy fear for HongKongers, and the perfect occasion to honor the dead. Is there a holiday in your country for honoring the dead? Tell us about it in the comments!

To continue learning about Cantonese culture and the language, explore CantoneseClass101.com and take advantage of our fun and effective learning tools! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study up with our free Cantonese vocabulary lists, and download our mobile apps to learn Cantonese anywhere and at your own pace! By upgrading to a Premium Plus account, you can also learn using our MyTeacher program!

We hope that learning about one of Hong Kong’s more interesting holidays gives you extra encouragement to continue on your language-learning journey! We know that Cantonese mastery is no easy feat, but your hard work and determination, paired with our constant support, will bring you success! Keep at it! :)

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The Complete Guide for Cantonese Internet Slang and More

If you chat with your Cantonese-speaking friends online or use social media, such as Facebook, you might struggle to understand Cantonese internet slang. However, most Cantonese slang words aren’t exclusive to the internet; you may also come across them in magazines and in daily conversations. Thus, it’s vital to learn Cantonese text slang and internet slang.

The problem is that your teachers and textbooks won’t teach you this Hong Kong slang because they aren’t official Cantonese. Cantonese slang might be very confusing to language-learners because they were developed very uniquely.

Don’t worry, though—here at CantoneseClass101.com, we’ll provide you with a complete guide for popular Cantonese internet and text slang.

Ready to learn Cantonese internet slang? What are you waiting for? Let’s delve into everything you need to know about internet slang in the Cantonese language; we’ll even show you Cantonese text slang in English words!

Table of Contents

  1. About Cantonese Internet and Text Slang
  2. Top Eight Hong Kong Text Slang with Numbers or Cantonese Words
  3. Top Eight Hong Kong Internet Slang Terms with English Characters or Words
  4. Bonus: How Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority Tries to Catch Up with the Trend
  5. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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1. About Cantonese Internet and Text Slang

Before you learn Cantonese internet slang specifics, we’ll go over the fundamentals of what slang in Cantonese is.

“Slang” is 潮語 (ciu4 jyu5) in Cantonese.

Internet and social media have become a part of everyday life nowadays, especially among the younger generation. If you have Hong Kong friends on Facebook, Instagram, or online forums, you might find it difficult to figure out what they’re saying most of the time due to the heavy usage of 潮語.

What makes Cantonese slang difficult is that HongKongers mix Cantonese with English (some would call it Chinglish or Kongish), and written Cantonese with spoken Cantonese, all the time. Without any knowledge of Hong Kong culture and popular culture, a language learner might not be able to make sense of a sentence with 潮語 (ciu4 jyu5) in it.

To help you better understand Cantonese slang, we’ll be introducing the 潮語 (ciu4 jyu5) in two separate categories: one with numbers or Cantonese words only, and the other one with English characters or words.


2. Top Eight Hong Kong Text Slang with Numbers or Cantonese Words

If you’re searching for useful Cantonese slang, here’s a list of the top eight most popular internet slang with numbers or Cantonese words. Hopefully, this list of Cantonese slang words helps you find your footing in this often confusing world of foreign internet talk!

1- 巴打

Meaning: Brother (to address another man, usually on online forums)
Romanization: baa1 daa2

巴打 (baa1 daa2) mimics the sound of “brother.” Many male online forum users use 巴打 (baa1 daa2) to address each other, to suggest that they’re as close as brothers.

  • Example Sentence: 巴打,你食咗飯未呀?
  • Romanization: baa1 daa2, nei5 sik6 zo2 faan6 mei6 aa3
  • Meaning: Brother, have you had lunch yet?

2- 絲打

Meaning: Sister (to address another lady, usually on online forums)
Romanization: si1 daa2

絲打 (si1 daa2) mimics the sound of “sister.” Many female online forum users use 絲打 (si1 daa2) to address each other, to suggest that they’re as close as sisters.

  • Example Sentence: 絲打,你食咗飯未呀?
  • Romanization: si1 daa2, nei5 sik6 zo2 faan6 mei6 aa3
  • Meaning: Sister, have you had lunch yet?

High Five

3- 十卜

Meaning: Support; Endorse
Romanization: sap6 buk1

十卜 (sap6 buk1) mimics the sound of “support.” Many online forum users use 十卜 (sap6 buk1) to show support of a certain incident or a certain view.

  • Example Sentence: 我十卜呢件事。
  • Romanization: ngo5 sap6 buk1 ni1 gin6 si6
  • Meaning: I support this incident.

4- 粉絲

Meaning: Fans
Romanization: fan2 si1

粉絲 (fan2 si1) mimics the sound of “fans,” which also means “fans,” or someone who’s enthusiastically devoted to something or somebody.

  • Example Sentence: 我係艾迪瑞德曼嘅粉絲。
  • Romanization: ngo5 hai6 ngaai6 dik6 seoi6 dak1 maan6 ge3 fan2 si1
  • Meaning: I am a fan of Eddie Redmayne.

Three People Saying Goodbye

5- 88

Meaning: Bye
Romanization: baat3 baat3

88 (baat3 baat3) mimics the sound of “bye bye,” which also means “bye.”

  • Example Sentence: 我要走先啦,88。
  • Romanization: ngo5 jiu3 zau2 sin1 laa1, baat3 baat3
  • Meaning: I need to leave first, bye.

c6- 潛水

Meaning: Disappear; Inactive
Romanization: cim4 seoi2

潛水 (cim4 seoi2) literally translates as “diving,” but in a Cantonese slang context, it means “disappear.” This is because if you’ve dived into the water, you won’t be visible on the surface.

  • Example Sentence: 我喺個WhatsApp group潛咗水好耐。
  • Romanization: ngo5 hai2 go3 WhatsApp group cim4 zo2 seoi2 hou2 noi6
  • Meaning: I have been inactive in this WhatsApp Group for a long time.

A Man Jumps

7- 屈機

Meaning: Out of the league
Romanization: wat1 gei1

屈機 (wat1 gei1) means “out of the league,” with an emphasis on one’s intelligence and ability.

  • Example Sentence: 佢地咁屈機,贏梗。
  • Romanization: keoi5 dei6 gam3 wat1 gei1, jeng4 gang2
  • Meaning: It’s a sure win for them since they are totally out of the league.

8- 單身狗

Meaning: Bachelor
Romanization: daan1 san1 gau2

單身狗 (daan1 san1 gau2) literally translates as “single dog,” which refers to men who are single (in a slightly negative sense).

    Example Sentence: 我呢啲單身狗梗係過 lonely Christmas。
    Romanization: ngo5 ni1 di1 daan1 san1 gau2 gang2 hai6 gwo3 lonely Christmas
    Meaning: A single guy like me of course would be spending Christmas alone.


3. Top Eight Hong Kong Internet Slang Terms with English Characters or Words

A Couple Holding Hands

1- BF

Meaning: Boyfriend

BF is the abbreviation of “boyfriend.”

  • Example Sentence: 今晚我同我BF食飯。
  • Romanization: gam1 maan5 ngo5 tung4 ngo5 BF sik6 faan6
  • Meaning: I will be having dinner with my boyfriend tonight.

2- GF

Meaning: Girlfriend

GF is the abbreviation of “girlfriend.”

  • Example Sentence: 我一陣要去搵我GF。
  • Romanization: ngo5 jat1 zan6 jiu3 heoi3 wan2 ngo5 GF
  • Meaning: I need to meet my girlfriend in a short while.

3- FF

Meaning: Fantasize

FF originates from a science fantasy role-playing video game called “Final Fantasy.” In Hong Kong, FF is used to describe someone who fantasizes too much.

  • Example Sentence: 你唔好FF咁多。
  • Romanization: nei5 m4 hou2 FF gam3 do1
  • Meaning: You shouldn’t fantasize too much.

4- -able

-able is a suffix that we add to a word to make it an adjective.

  • Example Sentence: 呢個女仔真係GF-able。
  • Romanization: ni1 go3 neoi5 zai2 zan1 hai6 GFable
  • Meaning: This girl is desirably suitable to become my girlfriend.

5- -ing and -ed

As Cantonese doesn’t have tenses, we sometimes add -ing and -ed to suggest the time of the action.

  • Example: 通頂ing
  • Romanization: tung1 deng2 ing
  • Meaning: Working overnight
  • Example: 通頂ed
  • Romanization: tung1 deng2 ded
  • Meaning: Worked overnight
  • Example: 返工ing
  • Romanization: faan1 gung1 ing
  • Meaning: On my way to work

A Boy Who’s Dropped His Jaw

6- O嘴

Meaning: Shocked
Romanization: O zeoi2

“O” is an English character and 嘴 (zeoi2) means mouth. Together, O嘴 (O zeoi2) is “shocked” because your mouth would be wide open and look like an “O” if you were in shock.

  • Example Sentence: 聽到單新聞我O咗嘴。
  • Romanization: teng1 dou2 daan1 san1 man2 ngo5 O zo2 zeoi2
  • Meaning: I dropped my jaw when I heard the news.

7- GG

Meaning: Screw up; Game over

Originally, GG stood for “good game,” but after a while, people started to mistakenly think that it means “game over.” Right now, people usually use GG to describe things with a gloomy outcome.

  • Example Sentence: 我唔記得我約咗GF,今次GG喇。
  • Romanization: ngo5 m4 gei3 dak1 ngo5 joek3 zo2 GF, gam1 ci3 GG laa3
  • Meaning: I forgot my date with my girlfriend, I am so screwed up.

8- DM

Meaning: Direct message

DM stands for “direct message.”

  • Example Sentence: 你可唔可以DM啲細節俾我呀?
  • Romanization: nei5 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 DM di1 sai3 zit3 bei2 ngo5 aa3
  • Meaning: Can you send over the details via direct message?


4. Bonus: How Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority Tries to Catch Up with the Trend

Thought slang is only for informal settings and should never appear in exams, let alone a public exam? To many’s surprise, Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority tried to catch up with the trends and included Cantonese slang in the HKCEE Hong Kong Chinese language public examination (similar to GCSE in the United Kingdom).

In one of the Chinese exam papers, the sentence “見鬼勿O嘴,潛水怕屈機” (gin3 gwai2 mat6 O zeoi2, cim4 seoi2 paa3 wat1 gei1) was included in the reading materials. This sentence contains three of the Cantonese slang words that we introduced above: O嘴 (O zeoi2), 潛水 (cim4 seoi2) and 屈機 (wat1 gei1).

Unfortunately, the endeavor of catching up with the trends by the Authority wasn’t appreciated by the candidates nor the general public, as this sentence barely makes sense.

This incident has quickly became the talk of the town, and in fact, “潛水怕屈機” (cim4 seoi2 paa3 wat1 gei1) itself has become a new slang word to laugh at things that don’t make sense. Some even wrote a song titled “潛水怕屈機” (cim4 seoi2 paa3 wat1 gei1).


5. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

I hope you found the Cantonese slang words introduced above fun and entertaining!

Do you want to further level up your Cantonese after mastering these Cantonese slang words? With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through your mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

Until now, we’ve delivered more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, an abundance of vocabulary learning tools, spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners. What are you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now!

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10 Common Cantonese Words with no English Equivalent

You’re bound to come across untranslatable words in learning Cantonese, and understanding untranslatable words will help you know more about the culture of a place and the mindset of its native speakers. It also facilitates conversation with locals. What are you waiting for? Let’s check out the ten most common untranslatable Cantonese words below together!

Table of Contents

  1. 面 (min6 or min2)
  2. 加油 (gaa1 jau2)
  3. 人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2)
  4. 老屎忽 (lou5 si2 fat1)
  5. 熱氣 (jit6 hei3)
  6. 手尾 (sau2 mei5)
  7. 走數 (zau2 sou3)
  8. 無交帶 (mou5 gaau1 daai3)
  9. 圍威喂 (wai4 wai1 wai3)
  10. 舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4)
  11. Bonus: Learn More Untranslatable Words from around the World
  12. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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1. 面 (min6 or min2)

Bowing

1- Literal Translation

面 (min6) literally translates as “face” in English.

2- Meaning

This may be one of the more beautiful Cantonese untranslatable words. 面 (min2) describes one’s status, dignity, and integrity. You can also refer to 面 (min2) as the feeling of being respected and honored by others.

3- Example Situation

There are several ways to use the word 面 (min2):

  • 畀面 (bei2 min2):
    • Literal translation: keep face
    • Meaning: hold back (usually when criticizing someone) so as to make that person feel respected
  • 有面 (jau5 min2):
    • Literal translation: have face
    • Meaning: feeling respected and proud
  • 冇面 (mou5 min2):
    • Literal translation: no face
    • Meaning: lose face; feeling disrespected; lowering one’s credibility and image

4- Usage in a Sentence

Example 1: 我鬧佢嗰陣完全冇畀面。

  • Romanization: ngo5 naau6 keoi5 go2 zan5 jyun4 cyun4 mou5 bei2 min2.
  • Meaning: I didn’t hold back to make him feel respected at all when I scolded him.

Example 2: 連大老闆都出席,佢超有面。

  • Romanization: lin4 daai6 lou5 baan2 dou1 ceot1 zik6, keoi5 ciu1 jau5 min2.
  • Meaning: Even the big boss is here; he should be feeling respected and proud.

Example 3: 佢冇話我知搞到我冇面。

  • Romanization: keoi5 mou5 waa6 ngo5 zi1 gaau2 dou3 ngo5 mou5 min2.
  • Meaning: He didn’t inform me, which makes me lose face.

5- Additional Notes

(min6 or min2) is a crucial concept that you should learn, especially if you want to do business with locals here. 畀面 (bei2 min2) and making your business partners 有面 (jau5 min2) will help you foster your relationships with them.

(min2) is closely tied with a number of unique concepts governing the culture of Hong Kong and Chinese communities: 關係 (gwaan1 hai6) or “relationship,” 中庸 (zung1 jung4) which is a prevailing mindset from Confucianism of “not going for the extremes,” and 人情 (jan4 cing4) which means a sense of human touch and affection/owing someone a favor. Feel free to click the above links if you want to know more.


2. 加油 (gaa1 jau2)

Man in Suit Thumbs Up

1- Literal Translation

(gaa1) is “add” and 油 (jau2) is “oil.” Together, the phrase literally means “injecting fuel into a tank.”

2- Meaning

You can use the word 加油 (gaa1 jau2) when you want to encourage someone to keep his or her spirit up. It’s similar to “come on,” “keep it up,” “you can do it,” “cheer up,” and “good luck” in English. However, instead of focusing on the outcome, 加油 (gaa1 jau2) focuses more on the effort one puts into work and the endurance of their spirit.

3- Example Situation

  • To cheer someone up when he or she has just encountered a setback
  • To wish someone good luck when he or she is taking an exam soon
  • To encourage a colleague when he or she is meeting the big boss

4- Usage in a Sentence

We usually use the phrase by itself.

Example 1:
Your friend: I am having an important interview this afternoon.
You: 加油 (gaa1 jau2)!

Example 2:
You: I am going on a date with my crush tonight.
Your friend: 加油 (gaa1 jau2)!

5- Additional Notes

加油 (gaa1 jau2) is the origin of the “Hong Kong English” expression “add oil,” which shares the same meaning as 加油 (gaa1 jau2). We use both 加油 (gaa1 jau2) and “add oil” interchangeably in our daily lives. Even though “add oil” is grammatically incorrect and probably makes no sense to a native English speaker, the phrase has recently been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.


3. 人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2)

Crowd by a Metro Train

1- Literal Translation

人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2) literally translates to “people mountain people sea.”

2- Meaning

人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2) is a metaphor describing huge crowds of people: “There are so many people here and it looks like mountains and the sea from afar.”

人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2) essentially means “crowded” in English.

3- Example Situation

  • To describe the number of people in a parade
  • To emphasize the crowds in a market

4- Usage in a Sentence

Example 1: 呢度人山人海。

  • Romanization: le1 dou6 jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2.
  • Meaning: There are so many people here.

Example 2: 個Party人山人海。

  • Romanization: go3 Party jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2.
  • Meaning: The party is so crowded.

5- Additional Notes

人山人海 (jan4 saan1 jan4 hoi2) is the origin of another “Hong Kong English” expression “People Mountain People Sea, on top of “add oil” introduced above.


4. 老屎忽 (lou5 si2 fat1)

Boss Holding Papers

1- Literal Translation

(lou5) is “old” and 屎忽 (si2 fat1) is “bottom.” 老屎忽 (lou5 si2 fat1) can also be written in Hong Kong English as “old seafood.”

2- Meaning

老屎忽 (lou5 si2 fat1) refers to people who think they’re superior because of their seniority. These people are usually snobbish and narrow-minded as well.

3- Example Situation

  • To describe your big boss, who’s reluctant to adopt new ideas and technology
  • To describe older colleagues who jeer at or tease you just because they’re senior to you

4- Usage in a Sentence

Example: 個老屎忽喺開會嗰陣屈我。

  • Romanization: go3 lou5 si2 fat1 hai2 hoi1 wui2 go2 zan6 wat1 ngo5.
  • Meaning: That old seafood (the snobbish and narrow-minded guy) framed me up in the meeting.


5. 熱氣 (jit6 hei3)

Chicken Wings

1- Literal Translation

熱氣 (jit6 hei3) literally translates to “hot air.”

2- Meaning

This phrase is related to a concept in Chinese medicine. The symptoms that indicate a person is 熱氣 (jit6 hei3) include a sore throat, acne, mouth ulcer, nose bleeding, and sore eyes.

3- Example Situation

  • To describe a person who’s having symptoms including a sore throat, acne, mouth ulcer, nose bleeding, and sore eyes
  • To describe food that can lead to the above symptoms (e.g. spicy food, fried food)

4- Usage in a Sentence

Example 1: 我呢排好熱氣。

  • Romanization: ngo5 le1 paai4 hou2 jit6 hei3.
  • Meaning: I am feeling “hot air.”

Example 2: 薯條好熱氣。

  • Romanization: syu4 tiu2 hou2 jit6 hei3.
  • Meaning: French fries are really “hot air.”


6. 手尾 (sau2 mei5)

File Folders

1- Literal Translation

手尾 (sau2 mei5) literally translates to “hand tail.”

2- Meaning

手尾 (sau2 mei5) refers to work or other stuff that’s left behind. It can also be used to describe a person who’s tidy and responsible.

3- Example Situation

  • To refer to the work that a colleague left behind
  • To describe a friend who didn’t pick up his or her own rubbish

4- Usage in a Sentence

Example 1: 成日要人幫你執手尾,點解你唔做好份內事?

  • Romanization: sing4 jat6 jiu3 jan4 bong1 nei5 zap1 sau2 mei5, dim2 gaai2 nei5 m4 zou6 hou2 fan6 noi6 si6.
  • Meaning: Others always have to do extra follow-up for you, how come you don’t finish your work properly?

Example 2: 你份人好冇手尾。

  • Romanization: nei5 fan6 jan4 hou2 mou5 sau2 mei5.
  • Meaning: You are irresponsible and always get leftover work / stuff that others need to follow up on .


7. 走數 (zau2 sou3)

Woman with Crossed Fingers

1- Literal Translation

走數 (zau2 sou3) literally translates to “go number.”

2- Meaning

走數 (zau2 sou3) describes a person not honoring a promise, usually out of fear or terror. It’s similar to “chicken out” and “eating one’s word” in English.

3- Example Situation

  • To refer to a friend who promised to dance in front of a crowd but changed his mind last minute
  • To call your boss who failed to honor his promise of promoting you

4- Usage in a Sentence

Example 1: 佢走數呀,明明話會唱但係最尾都冇。

  • Romanization: keoi5 zau2 sou3 aa1, ming4 ming4 waa6 wui2 coeng3 daan6 hai6 zeoi3 mei5 dou1 mou5.
  • Meaning: He chickened out. He promised to sing but in the end he didn’t.

Example 2: 我老細走數,話會升我但係最尾都冇。

  • Romanization: ngo5 lou5 sai3 zau2 sou3, waa6 wui2 sing1 ngo5 daan6 hai6 zeoi3 mei5 dou1 mou5.
  • Meaning: My boss ate his words, he didn’t promote me even though he promised to.


8. 無交帶 (mou5 gaau1 daai3)

Man with Tape Over his Mouth

1- Literal Translation

無交帶 (mou5 gaau1 daai3) literally translates to “no give bring.”

2- Meaning

無交帶 (mou5 gaau1 daai3) describes a person who failed to update someone on the latest progress when he or she should have. It’s similar to “irresponsible,” “sloppy,” and “negligent” in English.

3- Example Situation

  • To describe a person who’s irresponsible and failed to update his or her colleagues on the project before he or she left for vacation

4- Usage in a Sentence

Example: 佢做人無交帶,唔適合做經理。

  • Romanization: keoi5 zou6 jan4 mou5 gaau1 daai3, m4 sik1 hap6 zou6 ging1 lei5.
  • Meaning: He’s not suitable for the position of team manager as he is irresponsible and sloppy.


9. 圍威喂 (wai4 wai1 wai3)

A Woman Apart from a Larger Group

1- Literal Translation

Literally, it means nothing but is a different tonation of the word wai.

2- Meaning

圍威喂 (wai4 wai1 wai3) describes a situation where things are done in a very loose manner within a closed group and they won’t let outsiders know what’s going on.

3- Example Situation

To describe how politics or fake charities work
To refer to a terrible project where some groupmates team up against others and dominate the decision-making process

4- Usage in a Sentence

Example: 佢地成班圍威喂無人鍾意佢地。

  • Romanization: keoi5 dei6 sing4 baan1 wai4 wai1 wai3 mou4 jan4 zung1 ji3 keoi5 dei6.
  • Meaning: No one likes them because they are very cliquey.


10. 舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4)

1- Literal Translation

舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4) literally translates to “raising hand’s work.”

2- Meaning

舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4) is similar to “no trouble at all” and “it was no big deal.” It’s a way to reply to someone who expresses his or her gratitude to you, usually because of the help that you previously offered.

3- Example Situation

  • To reply to a lady who just thanked you for helping her with math
  • To reply to a man who just thanked you for helping him out with art homework

4- Usage in a Sentence

We usually use this phrase by itself.

Example 1:
Your friend: Thanks for lending me your book!
You: 舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4)

Example 2:
You: Thanks for fixing the door!
Your friend: 舉手之勞 (geoi2 sau2 zi1 lou4)


11. Bonus: Learn More Untranslatable Words from around the World

Wondering what untranslatable words there are in other countries? Check out our list to find out what they are!


12. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 can Help You Learn More Cantonese

We hope that you found this article on untranslatable words in Cantonese language learning helpful.

Now that you’ve mastered the common untranslatable Cantonese words, it’s time to move up to the next level! With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, either through your mobile apps, desktop software, or even our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

We’ve delivered until now more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, an abundance of vocabulary learning tools and spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners.

What’re you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now! Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese

Celebration of British Hong Kong’s Reunification with China

When did Hong Kong go back to China?

For Hong Kong, 1997 is one of the most significant years in its history; this is the year that British Hong Kong was reunified with China after many years of British rule. In the article, we’ll be discussing the Hong Kong protests, go more into the history of the question “When was Hong Kong given back to China?” and tell you about the day following Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day.

In learning about this important holiday in Hong Kong, you’re allowing yourself to better understand the full extent of its culture. With this knowledge in mind, you’re also more likely to succeed in your Cantonese language studies!

At CantoneseClass101.com, we hope to make your learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Establishment Day?

From 1841 to 1997, the British ruled Hong Kong, beginning at the time of the First Opium War fought between the Chinese and the British. The war resulted in China ceding much of the Hong Kong territory to Britain. Later, after the Second Opium War, China gave a ninety-nine-year lease of additional Hong Kong territory to Britain. Once that lease expired, Britain returned all of British Hong Kong back to China.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day is the day to commemorate Hong Kong’s return to China following the Hong Kong handover. For Hong Kong, 1997 was an important year—the year it ceased being British Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong reunification with China commenced.

Fun fact:

Do you know Hong Kong’s official name after its return to China?

Hong Kong’s official name after its return to China is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Therefore, the Anniversary of Hong Kong’s Reunification with China is also called Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day.

2. When is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day?

Flag Raising Ceremony in Hong Kong

July 1 marks Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, which officially begins at exactly 7:58 am.

3. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day Celebrations

Learn how the Cantonese celebrate Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day by reading the Cantonese text below. You can find the English translation below it.

每年7月1日早上7時58分,香港特區行政長官全體行政會議成員及各主要政府官員,都會出席在灣仔金紫荊廣場舉行的升旗儀式,屆時還有警察樂隊奏樂,以及飛行服務隊和紀律部隊在空中和海上敬禮。

隨後就有慶祝酒會,邀請社會各界人士出席。而到了晚上,維多利亞港會舉行璀璨的煙花匯演。

自1997年香港主權移交開始,每年都有七一遊行。

主要由香港民間人權陣線發起,推動香港人權運動及公民社會的發展;最大型的分別是2003年,2004年,以及2012年。

在2003年香港政府的基本法第二十三條的立法程序激起大量民怨,市民均穿黑色衣服參與遊行,數據顯示遊行人數超過50萬。

香港人理性和平地表達訴求,終於,第23條立法被擱置,而七一大遊行亦成為了香港人的精神象徵。

隨後每年的七一大遊行主要為爭取普選,捍衛民主自由,以及改善民生,以非暴力的作風向政府申訴民意。

香港賽馬會也舉行香港回歸賽馬日,當日除了賽馬外,還有節目攤位和舞台表演,活像一個嘉年華,但只限成人入場。

On the morning of July 1, at 7:58, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR and all members of the Executive Council and government officials attend the flag-raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai. There are also performances by the Police Band, and the Flying Service and Disciplinary Forces give salutes from the air and the sea.

After that, there is a reception that many segments of the community are invited to attend. In the evening, a dazzling fireworks display is held at Victoria Harbour.

Ever since the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997, there have been protest demonstrations every year on July 1.

Most of them are initiated by the Hong Kong Civil Human Rights Front, with the aim of promoting the human rights movement and the development of civil society; the largest-scale demonstrations were in 2003, 2004, and 2012.

In 2003, the Basic Law Article 23 executed by the Hong Kong Government legislative provoked a large number of grievances; it was said that over 500,000 people participated in the demonstration, all dressed in black.

Hong Kong people expressed their demands rationally and peacefully, and in the end, the Article 23 legislation was shelved, and the July 1 demonstration became a symbol of the Hong Kong people’s spirit.

Since then, the July 1 demonstration has continued every year, mainly to demand universal suffrage, democracy, and improvement in people’s livelihoods, all through appealing to the government about public concerns in a non-violent way.

Hong Kong Reunification Race Day is also held by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Other than horse racing, there are also game booths and stage performances, just like a carnival, but just for adults.

4. The Day Following this Holiday

Cocktail Party

Did you know that the day following Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day is a market holiday in Hong Kong?

This means that the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is closed on this day each year. This is significant because the Hong Kong Stock Exchange only takes fifteen such holidays a year.

5. Important Vocabulary for Establishment Day

Government Official Speaking

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day!

  • 升旗儀式 (sing1 kei4 ji4 sik1) — flag raising ceremony
  • 嘉年華 (gaa1 nin4 waa4) — carnival
  • 香港回歸紀念日 (hoeng1 gong2 wui4 gwai1 gei2 nim6 jat6) — Anniversary of Hong Kong’s Reunification with China
  • 香港特區行政長官 (hoeng1 gong2 dak6 keoi1 hang4 zing3 zoeng2 gun1) — The Chief Executive of Hong Kong
  • 七一遊行 (cat1 jat1 jau4 hang4) — The Hong Kong 1 July protests
  • 香港回歸賽馬日 (hoeng1 gong2 wui4 gwai1 coi3 maa5 jat6) — Hong Kong Reunification Raceday
  • 回歸 (wui4 gwai1) — reunification
  • 成立 (sing4 lap6) — establish
  • 政府 (zing3 fu2) — government
  • 官員 (gun1 jyun4) — government officials
  • 宣誓 (syun1 sai6) — vow
  • 酒會 (zau2 wui5) — cocktail party

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our Establishment Day vocabulary list!

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed learning about Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day! Did you learn something new today? Let us know in the comments!

To continue learning about Hong Kong culture and studying the Cantonese language, visit us at CantoneseClass101.com! We provide an array of fun and effective study tools, including free Cantonese vocabulary lists and more insightful blog posts like this one. By signing up for an account, you can also take advantage of our online community forums; with a Premium Plus account, you can begin using our MyTeacher program, and learn Cantonese one-on-one with your own personal teacher!

Know that your hard work will soon reap rewards, and you’ll be speaking, reading, and writing Cantonese like a native before you know it!

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How to Introduce Yourself in Cantonese

Knowing how to introduce yourself in Cantonese comes in handy when you meet someone new in Hong Kong, whether at a party, a business meeting, a date, or a job interview. Here at CantoneseClass101.com, we’d like to share with you the most common ways of introducing oneself in Hong Kong so that you’re well-prepared for greeting and meeting new friends!

The most common way to get introduced to a new acquaintance is through a common friend, but remember that it’s also acceptable to walk up to a complete stranger and introduce yourself politely if you have the courage to—awkward perhaps, but definitely not seen as rude. To draw someone’s attention, you can say 你好 (nei5 hou2), and if it’s a business setting, it’s a good idea to add a handshake while speaking as this is a more formal way to introduce yourself in Cantonese.

Below are some expressions and introductory phrases in Cantonese you can use to introduce yourself. When you’re introducing yourself in Hong Kong, it’s best to smile while speaking and be attentive to your new friend. Can’t wait to learn? Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

  1. Identify Yourself
  2. Occupation
  3. Age
  4. Countries and Nationalities
  5. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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1. Identify Yourself

Here is a section on some of the most useful Cantonese introductory phrases for identifying yourself in Cantonese, with an in-depth explanation just for you.

A: 你好,我叫張曼玉。好高興認識你。
B: 你好,我係梁朝偉。我都好高興認識你。

Romanization

A: nei5 hou2, ngo5 giu3 zoeng1 maan6 juk2. hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5.
B: nei5 hou2, ngo5 hai6 loeng4 ciu4 wai5. ngo5 dou1 hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5.

Translation

A: Hello, my name is Maggie Cheung. Delighted to make your acquaintance.
B: Hello, my name is Tony Leung. Delighted to make your acquaintance too.

Breakdown

你好 (nei5 hou2)
The universal greeting in Cantonese is 你好 (nei5 hou2), which literally translates to “you good.” Both of the syllables should be pronounced using rising tones, with the second tone slightly higher than the first. In addition to meaning “Hello,” you can use 你好 (nei5 hou2) to introduce yourself to a new acquaintance or to draw someone’s attention. Oftentimes you can hear waiters and waitresses in Canton restaurants saying 你好 (nei5 hou2) when they’re bringing you food.

我叫 (ngo5 giu3)
我 (ngo5) means “I” and the verb 叫 (giu3) means “to call.” Combining both, we have “I’m called.” You can add your name directly after 我叫 (ngo5 giu3). For example, if your name is Michael, you can say “我叫 Michael.”

我係 (ngo5 hai6)
係 (hai6) is the speech form of 是 (si6), which means “am.” Combining 我 (ngo5) and 係 (hai6), we have “I am.” You can add your name directly after 我係 (ngo5 hai6). For example, if you’re called Nick, you can say “我係 Nick.”

好高興認識你 (hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5)
好 (hou2) is “good” and 高興 (gou1 hing3) is “delighted” if used as an adjective. But here, since 好 (hou2) is placed before 高興 (gou1 hing3), it’s used as an adverb instead, meaning “very.” The verb 認識 (jing6 sik1) means “to know” or “to be familiar with,” however, in the context of this phrase, the implication here is “to meet.” Together, 好高興認識你 (hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5), literally translates to “very delighted to meet you,” which is equivalent to the English phrases “nice to meet you” and “delighted to make your acquaintance.”

我都好高興認識你 (ngo5 dou1 hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5)
都 (dou1) means “also” in Cantonese. Adding 都 (dou1) to the sentence is like adding “too” in English. 我都好高興認識你 (ngo5 dou1 hou2 gou1 hing3 jing6 sik1 nei5) means “nice to meet you too.”

Supplementing Sentences

Here’s some information on talking about your name in Cantonese!

Inquiring someone’s name:

  • 你叫咩名?
    • Romanization: nei5 giu3 me1 meng2?
    • Translation: What is your name?
  • 佢叫咩名?
    • Romanization: keoi5 giu3 me1 meng2?
    • Translation: What is his/her/its name?

Inquiring someone’s surname (for formal settings):

  • 你貴姓?
    • Romanization: nei5 gwai3 sing3?
    • Translation: What is your surname?
    • Note: This is an honorable form of address. 貴 (gwai3) is an honorific reference and therefore, we don’t use it when referring to oneself.
  • 我姓張
    • Romanization: ngo5 sing3 zoeng1
    • Translation: My surname is Cheung.
    • Note: This phrase is used to answer the question 你貴姓 (nei5 gwai3 sing3) introduced above.

If you don’t know how to write your name in Cantonese, ask our teachers on this page. You can also learn more about Hong Kong names and surnames there!


2. Occupation

Now let’s discover how to start talking about your profession in Cantonese, as this is a very important aspect of anyone’s life and makes for a great conversation starter.

A: 我係老師。

Romanization

A: ngo5 hai6 lou5 si1.

Translation

A: I am a teacher.

Breakdown

我係 (ngo5 hai6)
我係 (ngo5 hai6) means “I am.” You can add your profession or occupation directly after 我係 (ngo5 hai6). For example, if you’re a teacher, you can say 我係老師 (ngo5 hai6 lou5 si1). Note that the word added after 我係 (ngo5 hai6) should be a noun.

老師 (lou5 si1)
老師 (lou5 si1) is “teacher.” 我係老師 (ngo5 hai6 lou5 si1) literally translates as “I am teacher.” Unlike English, we don’t have singular or plural forms. Therefore, unless we want to emphasize the quantity, we won’t include adverbs or articles like “a” or “an” in an English sentence. If you want to express “we are teachers,” you can simply change 我 (ngo5) to 我哋 (ngo5 dei6) meaning “we” and say 我哋係老師 (ngo5 dei6 hai6 lou5 si1).

More Examples

  • 我係學生。
    • Romanization: ngo5 hai6 hok6 sang1.
    • Translation: I’m a student.
  • 佢係工程師。
    • Romanization: keoi5 hai6 gung1 cing4 si1.
    • Translation: He’s an engineer.
  • 佢哋係律師。
    • Romanization: keoi5 dei6 hai6 leot6 si1.
    • Translation: They’re lawyers.

Learn Cantonese vocabulary about occupations on our website.

Supplementing Sentences

Inquiring someone’s occupation:

  • 你做咩㗎?
    • Romanization: nei5 zou6 me1 gaa3?
    • Translation: What do you do?
  • 你做邊行?
    • Romanization: nei5 zou6 bin1 hong4?
    • Translation: Which industry are you working in?


3. Age

Here are some useful Cantonese phrases you should know for talking about your age in Cantonese.

A: 你今年幾多歲?
B: 我今年十九歲。

Romanization

A: nei5 gum1 nin2 gei2 do1 seoi3?
B: ngo5 gum1 nin2 sap6 gau2 seoi3.

Translation

A: How old are you?
B: I am nineteen years old.

Breakdown

今年 (gum1 nin2)
今年 (gum1 nin2) means “this year.” Even though we typically assume that if someone asks “How old are you?” he or she is referring to your current age, and would therefore answer your current age, it’s a habit in Cantonese to add 今年 (gum1 nin2) in both the question and answer regarding age as demonstrated above.

幾多 (gei2 do1)
In Cantonese, there’s no differentiation between “how many” or “how much.” We use 幾多 (gei2 do1) to signify both “how many” or “how much.”

歲 (seoi3)
歲 (seoi3) translates to “age,” but in the context above, it means “years old.”

More Numbers

  • Eighteen: 十八 (sap6 baat3)
  • Twenty: 二十 (ji6 sap6)
  • Thirty: 三十 (saam1 sap6)
  • Forty: 四十 (sei3 sap6)
  • Fifty: 五十 (ng5 sap6)
  • Sixty: 六十 (luk6 sap6)

You can find Cantonese numbers on our website too if you want to learn even more!

Supplementing Sentence

Alternative way to inquire someone’s age:

  • 你幾大呀?
    • Romanization: nei5 gei2 daai6 aa1?
    • Translation: How old are you?
    • Note: 幾 (gei2) is “how” and 大 (daai6) is “large,” but in the above question, 大 (daai6) denotes “old.”


4. Countries and Nationalities

Talking about where you’re from in Cantonese may prove to be an important topic of conversation when meeting new people. So let’s take a look at some of the most useful Cantonese introductory phrases for this.

A: 你係邊度嚟㗎?
B: 我嚟自德國。

Romanization

A: nei5 hai6 bin1 dou6 lei4 gaa3?
B: ngo5 lei4 zi6 dak1 gwok3.

Translation

A: Where are you from?
B: I am from Germany.

Breakdown

你係 (nei5 hai6)
你 (nei5) is “you” and 係 (hai6) is “to be,” so in the sentence 你係 (nei5 hai6) means “you are.”

邊度 (bin1 dou6)
邊度 (bin1 dou6) means “where.” You can use this phrase solely to inquire about a place. For example, if a friend of yours mentioned a decent restaurant she’s just been to, you can simply ask 邊度? (bin1 dou6?) to inquire about its location.

嚟 (lei4)
嚟 (lei4) means “to come” and can only be used in speech form.

嚟自 (lei4 zi6)
The word 自 (zi6) usually refers to “me,” but when we use it with 嚟 (lei4), 嚟自 (lei4 zi6) means “come from.”

㗎 (gaa3)
㗎 (gaa3) is a question particle. It doesn’t have any meaning. We usually add it to the end of a sentence to make ourselves sound friendlier to the person we’re speaking to.

Supplementing Sentences

Another way to talk about your nationality:

  • 我係美國人。
    • Romanization: ngo5 hai6 mei5 gwok3 jan4.
    • Translation: I am American.
    • Note: 人 means “people.” You can simply replace 美國 (mei5 gwok3) with your own country. For instance, if you’re Indian, you can say 我係印度人 (ngo5 hai6 jan3 dou6 jan4).

More Countries:

  • Italy: 意大利 (ji3 daai6 lei6)
  • Brazil: 巴西 (baa1 saai1)
  • Japan: 日本 (jat6 bun2)
  • UK: 英國 (jing1 gwok3)
  • Denmark: 丹麥 (daan1 mak6)
  • France: 法國 (faat3 gwok3)
  • The Netherlands: 荷蘭 (ho4 laan1)
  • US: 美國 (mei5 gwok3)

If you want to find more words about countries, check out our Country Vocab List in Cantonese on our website.


5. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com can Help You Learn More Cantonese

Now that you’ve mastered Cantonese self-introduction, it’s time to step up to the next level! With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through either your mobile apps, desktop software, or even our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture. Check out the below pages to learn more and practice!

We’ve delivered until now more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1,060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, abundance of vocabulary learning tools and spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners. What are you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now!

In the meantime, you can continue to practice introducing yourself in Cantonese with the helpful situational Cantonese phrases we shared with you. Good luck and enjoy!

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How to Celebrate the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

Perhaps one of the most well-known Hong Kong celebrations around the world, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is held in commemoration of a poet’s suicide. This facet of the Dragon Boat Festival history may seem odd, and even dark, but it provides great insight into past and current Hong Kong culture.

At CantoneseClass101.com, we hope to make learning about Hong Kong culture and the Cantonese language both fun and informative. Any successful language learner can tell you that comprehending and respecting a country’s culture is a vital step in mastering its language.

That said, we hope you enjoy delving into the Dragon Boat Festival with us!

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1. What is the Dragon Boat Festival?

What is Dragon Boat Festival?

The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the ancient poet Qu Yuan, who committed suicide. It must sound pretty unfathomable—how would the suicide of a poet become a festival, or even a public holiday? Let’s look into the origins of the festival.

Qu Yuan, as the Minister over the Masses in the State of Chu, repeatedly tried to convince the fatuous King of Chu to ally with the State of Qi and fight against the State of Qin. But all his endeavors failed and he was exiled. Finally, Chu was destroyed by Qin. Full of grief and agony, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River on May 5 on the lunar calendar. Qu Yuan composed a lot of poetry expressing his concern for the country, which is why he was named the patriotic poet.

2. When is the Dragon Boat Festival?

Dragon Boat on Water

So, When is Dragon Boat Festival?

In Hong Kong, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years.

  • 2019: June 7
  • 2020: June 25
  • 2021: June 14
  • 2022: June 3
  • 2023: June 22
  • 2024: June 10
  • 2025: May 31
  • 2026: June 19
  • 2027: June 9
  • 2028: May 28

3. Reading Practice: Dragon Boat Festival Traditions

From Dragon Boat racing to delicious Dragon Boat Festival food, many traditions encompass the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. Read the Cantonese text (traditional and Jyutping) to learn more about the Dragon Boat Festival.


在端午節,人人都會吃糭。糭是用長型的竹葉或蘆葦葉將糯米及配料包著然後蒸熟後吃的。糭的起源是因屈原投江自盡,楚國百姓非常傷心,又怕屈原的屍體被魚及蝦吃掉,所以用竹筒裝好米食投入江中,希望把魚及蝦餵飽。後來慢慢演變成用筍皮或竹葉包好投入江裡。到了現代,糭有很多不同種類,有鹹有甜。包括鹹的肉糉,以及甜的鹼水粽。

端午節的另一個習俗就是扒龍舟。它的起源也是因屈原投江自盡,於是楚國百姓不停划船打撈他的屍體。到了現代扒龍舟則成了一種表現團隊精神的運動,而且每年都舉辦龍舟競渡;近年來更加發展成國際賽事,還於1991年成立了國際龍舟聯合會。截至2012年11月,已經有74個會員國,和3個會員資格審核中的國家。

龍舟有別於外國盛行的獨木舟或八人式的划艇,而是一種需要更多默契的更多氣力的運動。一般龍舟船身約12米長,載著22位船員,1位坐在船頭擊鼓振奮士氣的鼓手,以及1位坐船尾的舵手。


hai2 dyun1 ng5 zit3, jan4 jan4 dou1 wui5 sik6 zung2. zung2 hai6 jung6 coeng4 jing4 ge3 zuk1 jip6 waak6 ze2 lou4 wai5 jip6, zoeng1 no6 mai5 tong4 maai4 pui3 liu2 baau1 zyu3, jin4 hau6 zing1 suk6 lei4 sik6 ge3. zung2 ge3 hei2 jyun4 hai6 jan1 wai6 wat1 jyun4 tau4 gong1 zi6 zeon6, co2 gwok3 baak3 sing3 fei1 soeng4 soeng1 sam1, jau6 paa3 wat1 jyun4 ge3 si1 tai2 bei2 di1 jyu2 tung4 maai4 haa1 sik6 zo2, so2 ji5 zau6 jung6 zuk1 tung2 zong1 zo2 di1 mai5 sik6 dam2 jap6 heoi3 gong1 jap6 min6, hei1 mong6 zoeng1 di1 jyu2 tung4 maai4 haa1 wai3 baau2. hau6 lei4 zau6 maan6 maan1 jin5 bin3 sing4 jung6 seon2 pei4 waak6 ze2 zuk1 jip6 baau1 zo2 dam2 jap6 gong1 jap6 min6. dou3 zo2 jin6 doi6, zung2 jau5 hou2 do1 m4 tung4 zung2 leoi6, jau5 haam4 jau5 tim4. baau1 kut3 haam4 ge3 juk6 zung2, tong4 maai4 tim4 ge3 gaan2 seoi2 zung2.

dyun1 ng5 zit3 ge3 ling6 jat1 go3 zaap6 zuk6 zau6 hai6 paa4 lung4 zau1. keoi5 ge3 hei2 jyun4 le1 jik6 dou1 hai6 jan1 wai6 wat1 jyun4 tau4 gong1 zi6 zeon6, jyu1 si6 co2 gwok3 baak3 sing3 bat1 ting4 hai2 dou6 paa4 teng5 daa2 lau4 keoi5 ge3 si1 tai2. dou3 zo2 jin6 doi6 paa4 lung4 zau1 ji5 ging1 bin3 zo2 jat1 zung2 biu2 jin6 tyun4 deoi6 zing1 san4 ge3 wan6 dung6, ji4 ce2 mui5 nin4 dou1 geoi2 baan6 lung4 zau1 ging3 dou6; gan6 nin4 lei4 le1 gang3 gaa1 faat3 zin2 sing4 gwok3 zai3 coi3 si6, zung6 hai2 jat1 gau2 gau2 jat1 nin4 sing4 lap6 zo2 gwok3 zai3 lung4 zau1 lyun4 hap6 wui5. dou3 zo2 ji6 lin4 jat1 ji6 nin4 sap6 jat1 jyut6, ji5 ging1 jau5 cat1 sap6 sei3 go3 wui5 jyun4 gwok3, tung4 maai4 saam1 go3 wui5 jyun4 zi1 gaak3 sam2 hat6 zung1 ge3 gwok3 gaa1.

lung4 zau1 jau5 bit6 jyu1 ngoi6 gwok3 sing6 hang4 ge3 duk6 muk6 zau1 waak6 ze2 baat3 jan4 sik1 ge3 paa4 teng5, ji4 hai6 jat1 zung2 seoi1 jiu3 gang3 do1 mak6 kai3 gang3 do1 hei3 lik6 ge3 wan6 dung6. jat1 bun1 lung4 zau1 syun4 san1 daai6 koi3 sap6 ji6 mai5 coeng4, zoi3 zyu3 ji6 sap6 ji6 wai2 syun4 jyun4, jat1 wai2 co5 hai2 syun4 tau4 gik1 gu2 zan3 fan5 si6 hei3 ge3 gu2 sau2, tung4 maai4 jat1 wai2 co5 hai2 syun4 mei5 ge3 to5 sau2.

During the Dragon Boat Festival, people eat rice dumplings, which are also known as zong. Zong is glutinous rice and other ingredients wrapped in long bamboo or reed leaves and then steamed before eating. This practice originated from Qu Yuan’s suicide, because people from the State of Chu were worried that fish and shrimp would eat his body, so they threw rice-stuffed-bamboo tubes into the river, hoping to keep the fish and shrimp well fed. Later the exterior evolved into bamboo leaves. Nowadays, there are many kinds of salty and sweet zong, including savory meat-stuffed zong and sweet zong.

Another custom of the Dragon Boat Festival is rowing a Dragon Boat. This also originated from Qu Yuan’s suicide, as after his death the people from the State of Chu kept rowing out on the river to try to salvage his body. Nowadays, rowing dragon boats has became a sport that encourages teamwork, and dragon boat races are held annually. In recent years, it has even developed into an international competition, and the International Dragon Boat Federation was founded in 1991. As of November 2012, there are 74 countries or territories with membership, and three pending applications.

Dragon boats differs from canoes and rowboats, because they require more synchronization and strength from the rowers. A standard dragon boat hull is twelve meters long and carries twenty-two rowers, a drummer who sits in the front to boost morale, and a steersman at the tail.

4. Dragon Boat Festival in Stanley

Racing a Dragon Boat

Do you know where most people in Hong Kong celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival?

In Hong Kong, most people celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival in Stanley. That’s because the largest and the most established Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships are held there. The Stanley Main Street also holds a festive carnival on that day.

5. Useful Vocabulary for the Dragon Boat Festival

Sweet Rice Dumplings

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong!

  • 端午節 (dyun1 ng5 zit3) — Dragon Boat Festival
  • 龍舟 (lung4 zau1) — dragon boat
  • 鹼水粽 (gaan2 seoi2 zung2) — sweet rice dumpling
  • 爬龍舟 (paa4 lung4 zau1) — row a dragon boat
  • 肉糉 (juk6 zung2) — rice dumpling stuffed with meat
  • 雄黃酒 (hung4 wong4 zau2) — realgar wine
  • 屈原 (wat1 jyun4) — Qu Yuan
  • 鑼鼓 (lo4 gu2) — gongs and drums
  • 糯米 (no6 mai5) — glutinous rice
  • 龍舟競渡 (lung4 zau1 ging3 dou6) — dragon boat race

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Cantonese Dragon Boat Festival vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each of these words accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

What do you think about Hong Kong’s Dragon Boat Festival? Let us know in the comments; we always love to hear from you!

To learn more about culture in Hong Kong, and of course the Cantonese language, visit us at CantoneseClass101.com! We provide learning tools for every student, to ensure that anyone can master Cantonese, and have fun while doing so. Check out our free vocabulary lists to improve your word knowledge, read more insightful blog posts like this one, and chat with fellow Cantonese learners on our community forums! By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can also take advantage of our MyTeacher program, and learn Cantonese one-on-one with your own personal teacher.

What are you waiting for? With your determination and our learning tools & support, you can master Cantonese before you know it!

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10 Famous Cantonese Movies You Don’t Want to Miss!

Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Stephen Chow… Even though Hong Kong is a really small city (roughly one-twelfth the size of New York), it gave birth to quite a few good movies and movie stars. Do you want to learn Cantonese in a fun way while also understanding more about Hong Kong culture? Here are ten famous Cantonese movies for you to work through in your spare time! We’ve even gone to the effort of translating some of the most memorable Cantonese movie quotes so that you can get a taste of what each film’s about before picking and choosing your favorites! Here are some tips to improve your pronunciation while watching movies in Cantonese.

Ways to improve pronunciation

Table of Contents

  1. In the Mood for Love
  2. Infernal Affairs
  3. Shaolin Soccer
  4. Fist of Fury
  5. Police Story
  6. A Simple Life
  7. A Better Tomorrow
  8. Ip Man
  9. Love in the Puff
  10. Ten Years
  11. Bonus: A Local Cantonese Cartoon that Warms Your Heart
  12. Conclusion

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Movie genres


1. In the Mood for Love (2000)

  • Cantonese Title: 花樣年華
  • Romanization: faa1 joeng6 nin4 waa4
  • Director: Kar-Wai Wong
  • Stars: Tony Chiu-Wai Leung; Maggie Cheung

In the Mood for Love is arguably one of the best Hong Kong movies in centuries. Directed by the internationally renowned filmmaker Kar-Wai Wong, the movie paints the love story of two middle-aged Hong Kongers in the 1960s, starring the handsome Tony Leung Chiu-wai and the elegant Maggie Cheung Man-yuk. Both betrayed by their partners, the lonely next-door neighbors are eager to seek comfort in each other—but are hesitant to go further.

  • Famous Quote from Movie (Cantonese Written Form): 那個時代已過去。屬於那個時代的一切,都不存在了。
  • Romanization: naa5 go3 si4 doi6 ji5 gwo3 heoi3. suk6 jyu1 naa5 go3 si4 doi6 dik1 jat1 cai3,dou1 bat1 cyun4 zoi6 liu5.
  • English Meaning: That era is gone. Everything that belongs to that era no longer exists.


2. Infernal Affairs (2002)

  • Cantonese Title: 無間道
  • Romanization: mou4 gaan3 dou6
  • Director: Wai-Keung Lau; Alan Mak
  • Stars: Andy Lau; Tony Chiu-Wai Leung; Anthony Chau-Sang Wong

Infernal Affairs is a Cantonese undercover police thriller that has earned high praise and inspired an Oscar-winning remake (Martin Scorsese’s The Departed). Starring an abundance of famous Hong Kong movie stars, this 100-minute Cantonese thriller is a journey of finding out who the mole is, and who the cop is.

  • Famous Quote from Movie (Cantonese Speech Form): 出嚟行,遲早要還 。
  • Romanization: ceot1 lei4 hang4, ci4 zou2 jiu3 waan4.
  • English Meaning: This is expected.


3. Shaolin Soccer (2001)

  • Cantonese Title: 少林足球
  • Romanization: siu3 lam4 zuk1 kau4
  • Director: Stephen Chow
  • Stars: Stephen Chow; Wei Zhao; Yat-Fei Wong

Most, if not all, Hong Kongers have watched Stephen Chow’s comedies and can quote a few lines immediately. Perhaps one of the best and most well-known of Stephen Chow’s movies, Shaolin Soccer mixes the popular movie theme—kung fu—with another popular sport (soccer), in a ridiculous plot that’s sure to make you laugh hard. The quote introduced below has become part of everyday language and is still used excessively seventeen years later!

  • Famous Quote from Movie (Cantonese Speech Form): 做人如果無夢想,同條鹹魚有咩分別呀?
  • Romanization: zou6 jan4 jyu4 gwo2 mou4 mung6 soeng2, tung4 tiu4 haam4 jyu2 jau5 me1 fan1 bit6 aa3?
  • English Meaning: If we don’t have any dreams in life, we are no different than a salted fish.


4. Fist of Fury (1972)

  • Cantonese Title: 精武門
  • Romanization: zing1 mou5 mun4
  • Director: Wei Lo
  • Stars: Bruce Lee; Nora Miao; James Tien

Fist of Fury (also known as The Chinese Connection) is a Cantonese action film starring the greatest martial arts icon Bruce Lee in his second major role after The Big Boss (1971). The martial arts master played a student of Huo Yuanjia, who fought to defend the honor of the Chinese against foreign aggression and to seek revenge for his master’s death.

  • Famous Quote from Movie (Cantonese Speech Form): 我少讀書,你唔好呃我 。
  • Romanization: ngo5 siu2 duk6 syu1, nei5 m4 hou2 aak1 ngo5.
  • English Meaning: I am not well educated. Don’t lie to me.


5. Police Story (1985)

  • Cantonese Title: 警察故事
  • Romanization: ging2 caat3 gu3 si6
  • Director: Jackie Chan; Chi-Hwa Chen
  • Stars: Jackie Chan; Maggie Cheung; Brigitte Lin

Police Story is a Cantonese action film written and directed by the famous Jackie Chan, who also starred in the lead role. In the movie, Jackie (the cop) is framed and has to prove his innocence with both wit and power. A cool fact: The theme song of this movie, The Story of a Hero, has become one of the songs that represents the actual Hong Kong Police Force!

  • Famous Quote from Movie (Cantonese Written Form): 你别管我,命是我的,我有分寸。
  • Romanization: nei5 bit6 gun2 ngo5, meng6 si6 ngo5 dik1, ngo5 jau5 fan1 cyun3 。
  • English Meaning: Leave me alone; this is my life, I know what I’m doing.


6. A Simple Life (2011)

  • Cantonese Title: 桃姐
  • Romanization: tou4 ze2
  • Director: Ann Hui
  • Stars: Andy Lau; Deanie Ip

A Simple Life (also known as Sister Peach) depicts the relationship between a man and his aging maid. This heart-warming movie has earned numerous awards and its lead actress, Deanie Ip, won the Best Actress Award at the 68th Venice International Film Festival.

  • Famous Quote from Movie (Cantonese Written Form): 即使沒有別人給你理由,生命依然值得堅持。
  • Romanization: zik1 sai2 mut6 jau5 bit6 jan4 kap1 nei5 lei5 jau4, sang1 ming6 ji1 jin4 zik6 dak1 gin1 ci4.
  • English Meaning: Even if there is no reason to, life is still worth living.


7. A Better Tomorrow (1986)

  • Cantonese Title: 英雄本色
  • Romanization: jing1 hung4 bun2 sik1
  • Director: John Woo
  • Stars: Lung Ti; Leslie Cheung; Yun-Fat Chow

Starring the handsome Yun-Fat Chow and the multi-talented Leslie Cheung, A Better Tomorrow centers around the tension between an ex-gangster and his policeman brother. It became a blockbuster not only in Hong Kong, but also in other parts of Asia. Proof? The most famous game show host in Korea, Yoo Jae Suk, can still recite some of its most famous quotes and its Cantonese theme song after almost thirty years! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y95U6UE6YpA)

  • Famous Quote from Movie (Cantonese Speech Form): 「你信唔信有神?」 「信,我咪係神 !」
  • Romanization: 「nei5 seon3 m4 seon3 jau5 san4?」 「seon3, ngo5 mai6 hai6 san4!」
  • English Meaning: “Do you believe in god?” “Yes, I am god.”


8. Ip Man ( 2008 )

  • Cantonese Title: 葉問
  • Romanization: jip6 man6
  • Director: Wilson Yip
  • Stars: Donnie Yen; Simon Yam; Siu-Wong Fan

Ip Man is a martial arts movie based on the real life of Bruce Lee’s teacher, who fought for dignity during the Sino-Japanese War. Donnie Yen’s portrayal of Ip Man has earned him international attention and he soon became a new martial arts icon.

  • Famous Quote from Movie (Cantonese Speech Form): 我要打十個!
  • Romanization: ngo5 jiu3 daa2 sap6 go3!
  • English Meaning: I want to fight with ten people at the same time!


9. Love in the Puff (2012)

  • Cantonese Title: 春嬌與志明
  • Romanization: ceon1 giu1 jyu5 zi3 ming4
  • Director: Ho-Cheung Pang
  • Stars: Miriam Chin Wah Yeung; Shawn Yue

Love in the Puff is a Cantonese romantic comedy sequel to the 2010 film Love in a Puff, featuring Miriam Yeung and Shawn Yuen as an ex-couple, who find it difficult to get over each other. As the story is relatable and the lines are colloquial, this movie became an instant hit in the city.

  • Famous Quote from Movie (Cantonese Speech Form): 成世人流流長,總會愛上幾個人渣。
  • Romanization: seng4 sai3 jan4 lau4 lau4 coeng4, zung2 wui2 oi3 soeng5 gei2 go3 jan4 zaa1.
  • English Meaning: Life is long, no wonder we would fall in love with a few bastards in our lifetimes.


10. Ten Years (2015)

  • Cantonese Title: 十年
  • Romanization: sap6 nin4
  • Director: Jevons Au; Zune Kwok; Chow Kwun-Wai; Ka-Leung Ng; Fei-Pang Wong
  • Stars: Jevons Au; Fun-Kei Chan; Peter Chan

Ten Years is a Cantonese speculative fiction movie composed of five different short films. It envisions Hong Kong in the year 2025, with diminished freedom of speech and human rights. Even though it was produced under a tight budget, this movie was a hit when it was released and influenced the city both culturally and politically.

  • Famous Quote from Movie (Cantonese Written Form): 我不想做到這一刻,才放棄原則。
  • Romanization: ngo5 bat1 soeng2 zou6 dou3 ze5 jat1 hak1, coi4 fong3 hei3 jyun4 zak1.
  • English Meaning: I don’t want to give in and betray what my beliefs after all the efforts.


11. Bonus: A Local Cantonese Cartoon that Warms Your Heart

McDull, Prince de la Bun (2004)

  • Cantonese Title: 麥兜菠蘿油王子
  • Romanization: mak6 dau1 bo1 lo4 jau4 wong4 zi2
  • Director: Toe Yuen

McDull is the “flawed” mascot of Hong Kong. He’s a cute and kind piglet cartoon character that was featured in several TV shows and movies. Even though he’s not very smart, his warm nature has captured the hearts of both kids and adults. If you’re looking for a touching movie with strong local Hong Kong elements, this is your movie!


12. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

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