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Lesson Transcript


Hi, everybody! Olivia here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Cantonese questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: What are some common loanwords?
Since Hong Kong was a British colony before 1997, lots of English words were adopted and modified into Cantonese words and are widely used nowadays in Hong Kong.
Let's get into more details.
Most of the loanwords are from English because Hong Kong was a colony of England before 1997. Even after the handover of 1997, English is still the official language besides Chinese under the Hong Kong Basic Law.
So are most loanwords applicable in other Cantonese speaking regions?
Most loanwords are only commonly used in Hong Kong and are not applicable in other Cantonese speaking regions. For example 巴士 (baa1 si2) is the loanword from "bus" in Hong Kong, but people call the bus 公車 (gung1 ce1) and 公交車 (gung1 gaau1 ce1) in Taiwan and mainland China respectively.
Another example of loanwords is from the menu: 吉列(gat1 lit6) which means "cutlet".
Besides English, some of the loanwords are from Japanese, too.
奸爸爹(gaan1 baa1 de1) comes from がんばって(ganbatte) and, as in Japanese, it is commonly used to encourage people to do their best.
烏冬(wu1 dung1), meaning "udon noodle," is also a common loanword from Japanese.


How was it? Pretty interesting right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
"See you next time!", 下次見! (haa6 ci3 gin3!)