Cantonese Slang (2) : 雞同鴨講

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21st August 2017

Chicken speaks to a duck. — Is that possible?!  Yes!

My Cantonese teacher William and I are facing a communication issue. It happens quite often, that when he talks, I simply do not get it. And when I share a 爛gag (flat joke), he does not get it either.  We are talking at cross-purposes. It seems we are simply not on the same wave-length.

Because of all these incidents, he taught us following Cantonese slang.

“雞同鴨講 (gai1 tung4 aap3 gong2)”

Ok, let me breakdown this word first. It consists of four words

“雞 (gai1) = chicken,  同 (tung4) = same/with,
鴨 (aap3) = duck, 講 (gong2) = to speak”

So, it literally means “Chicken speaks to a duck” = The chicken and the duck are “talking” in their own language, but just do not get each other, because in this case they are talking two different languages.

Again can the chicken speak to a duck? — Yes! The chicken can speak to a duck, BUT they cannot communicate and understand each other!

There are few things I feel amazed of

  • The incident, that my teacher and me are talking at cross-purposes. This Cantonese slang is out of our learning topic. If we had not all these accumulating incidents, we would not learn it. This incident gave us the opportunity to learn another Cantonese slang!
  • Expression based on animals. Cantonese language contains  a lot of animal expressions!  It makes learning Cantonese (for me) much more fun!
  • The source of this slang. “雞同鴨講” is also a title of a Hong Kong movie directed by the comedian Michael Hui and is exactly about talking at cross-purposes. Sounds fun! Let me share with you  more after I watch this movie!

Want to learn more about Cantonese Slang? Please feel free to check out my entry “Cantonese Slang (1): 掃街” and/or future entries!

Graduated from Basic Cantonese Class

Learning Cantonese & Slang, 香港 HongKong 6 Comments »

18th August 2017

How time flies! I cannot imagine that I have been now learning Cantonese for 4 months! Amazing!

Recently I have graduated from the basic class (50 hours).
\\( ⌒▽⌒ )// Yippie yippie yeh!

It was an awesome class! I did not only learn the Cantonese language, but also more about HKG itself, its festivals, got to know new friends. And I re-discovered my love for learning languages.

Because of our heung hong jeui leng jai ge lou c (most handsome teacher in HKG), called William,  and his teaching style,  I was  able to pick up the Cantonese language easy and quick. He was indeed demanding and encouraging at the same time.  Moreover, after class, I was able to apply the new Cantonese knowledge into my present life with my landlord, the vegetable hawker, my colleagues and friends. It makes life so much easier! AND there is no greater joy than speaking newly learned Cantonese sentences in daily life!

Therefore, I am going to keep learning in the intermediate class. In future, there will be further posts about Cantonese to share my experience and thoughts with you. (∩_∩) As you may have recognized already, I have added a new category:  “Learning Cantonese“.  楽しみに しててね! Join my journey of learning, practising, speaking Cantonese!


Happy Harvesting & Cantonese

Body language/word battles, Learning Cantonese & Slang, Village Life, 香港 HongKong 3 Comments »

7th June 2017

Yesterday morning I was super super happy! And I cannot stop beeing happy, when I am looking back.

So, what happened?

I was looking for my landlady in order to pay my rent. My landlady is typical Hakka lady in her 80ies and she is my neighbor, too! Knowing she is an early bird, I went to her home at around 7am in the morning. The door of her house was open, but all the lights are off. So, I knew she must be at home, but not IN the house. Finally, I found her in the backyard, where she was harvesting something with a long pole.

Me: Po po! Po po! Jou san! Jou san!
Me: Old woman! Old woman! Good morning! Good morning!

She: Jou san, Nobu!
She: Good morning, Nobu!

She (pointed on the tree, stopped harvesting): Lei sik m sik a? Lei jung m jung yi?
She (pointed on the tree, stopped harvesting): Do you eat it? Do you like it?

My thought: Awesome, myself! I CAN understand two sentences in a row! Wow!

Me: Ghoh di hai m hai man go?
Me: Are those Mangoes?

She: … hai ya!
She: … yes!

Me: M sik! M jung yi!
Me: I eat! I like!

The landlady turned the back to me. She took the long pole and kicked the mangoes. One mango fell down from the tree to the ground. “Boong”, when it fell down to the the ground. “Boong” a second one fell down. A third one. I got very excited! I witnessed a mango harvesting! Wow!

She bent down to pick two mangoes, washed them and was going to give me a bag.

Me: Doi, m sai!
Me: Bag, I do not need!

She handed over the freshly harvested mangoes to me.

Me: Dor je!!! Ngo hou hou hoi sum! Hou heung!
Me: Thank you! I am so so happy! So good smelling.

That was the moment, when I realized, it was not a mango. It was a green papaya… So fragnant and so sweet!! How much have they grown in the garden?

The landlady – I call her Popo – then used her hand to inform me how to eat and how to cook it.

She took her flat hand and slide over the surface of the papaya.
(my interpretation: I need to peel it)
Then she pretended to bite into the Papaya and then cross her two index fingers.
(my interpretation: Do not eat the papaya as it is).

Then she pointed on her arm, accompanied with the word “Jyu”, which means pork. Then she put her hands continuously up and down.
(my interpretation: cook the papaya with pork in a pot with fire – probably in a soup?).

Followed by her smile. And my smile, accompanied with my nodding head.

This made my day! I love my village life! I love her kindness! I love our smiles! I love the way of our communication! And I love the papaya!






The long white pole was the tool for harvesting the papaya. Popo’s eye must be good, that she can see them clearly!








Cantonese smalltalk @street market

Entries, Learning Cantonese & Slang, Village Life, 香港 HongKong 2 Comments »

5th June 2017

From time to time I see an old lady selling vegetables on a footbridge. Her skin is well tanned from the sun, her fingertips’ skin is hard, her fingers are crooked and her back is round. She refused to be on a photo, so, I will describe her in words as much as possible. We hardly talk as she is talking  Hakka-Cantonese (which is much different than the “standard” Cantonese). Nevertheless, she smiles, when she sees me (maybe because I am her customer ?) and speaks extra slowly Cantonese to me.

I am not sure, but I guess she has grown these vegetables in her own garden/field/farm and she has harvested it.  So far, I bought three times at her little hand made booth, presenting vegetables on a huge plastic mat. The vegetables are per-weighted and she is selling it by “bunches”.

“E ghoh, gei chin?” [How much is this?] I pointed on the garlic leaves. She looked up – she is much smaller than me.  She smiled at me, took my hand and with the other fingers’ of the other hand, she showed me how much it is.  Additionally, she answered with a rough voice “Ng mon!” [5 dollar]. “Ngo yiu liang ghoh!” [I need two of these!] I answered. I love garlic leaves!

In fact, I love her vegetables. They are crunchy, juicy, full of flavor … and there are turning bad naturally after few days. It sounds weird, hm? For me this is a sign, that these vegetables are natural. Some of the veggies in HKG are just not that natural (from my own experience).

Beside her vegetables, I love that lady. She is adorable! I wish one day I could talk more with her!! e.g. when she will be back (^▽^喜), so I will not miss her and her yummy vegetables! Joi kin! [See you next time!]

My “harvest” at her booth. –>

Yeah!~♪ (★^▽^)V

I am looking forward to my dinner!


Happy Cantonese!

Body language/word battles, Entries, Learning Cantonese & Slang, 香港 HongKong No Comments »

15th May 2017

Today I am very happy, because I had my first “kind of proper” CANTONESE conversation with my landlady when I was going to pay the rent at her home.

My landlady is a typical Hakka lady in her 80ies. I used to communicate with her with the help of her daughter, the property agent and/or my friends. Although I know she does not understand Mandarin, I kept speaking with her in Mandarin, in the big desperate hope, she would understand one or two words.

Her house’s door is always open, when she is at home. She does not have a bell, the only way to ask her come out, is shouting.

Me: Po po! Po po! Jou san! Jou san! chin lai a!
Me: Old woman! Old woman! Good morning! Good morning! Money arrived!

She ( somewhere from the house): bin ghoh x x x  ngo a?
She: Who x x x  me?

Me: ngo hai a! Ngo hai Nobu!
Me: It is me! It is Nobu!

She: dang dang! Ngo lai x x x
She: Wait for a while! I come x x x


She: lei x x x  hoi sum
She: You x x x  happy!

Me (to be humble): m hai! Po po, lei sik jor fan mei a?
Me (to be humble): Nooooo, I am not! Old woman, have you eaten?

She: sik jor la! Lei le?
She: I have eaten already! What about you?

Me: dai sik jor la!
Me: I have already eaten, too.

Frankly, speaking I have not understand each word, but I think I got the key words. I also did not know the word for “rent” or “pay”, I just used words I have learned in my Cantonese class during the last 4 weeks so far.

The conversation was simple and yet so fruitful and so happy!

Everyone, have a happy Monday!

The sound of Cantonese language

Entries, Learning Cantonese & Slang, 香港 HongKong 2 Comments »

11th May 2017

Recently I have started to learn Cantonese. Not just words here and there. And give up. And pick it up again. No, in a course with a teacher, classmates, on a regular basis, daily practice with strangers as well as friends.

I have been here so long time, and all these years I did not really need Cantonese. There was always a way to communicate with body language, English or Mandarin. In fact, I resisted learning Cantonese. First of all, I felt Cantonese is an aggressive language. It sounds like a machine gun. Every time when I listened to the news I had the feeling that the reporters were angry, and that they quarreled and shouted at each other. Not seldom I got headache by just listening the news. Secondly, I was afraid to mix up Cantonese and Mandarin.

So, why did I start learning Cantonese now?

I have a desire: I would like to communicate with my local friends, join more volunteer activities,  gain a deeper knowledge about the local life and be able to communicate with my landlord (without translator).
PLUS I am confident enough that I am not going to mix up Cantonese and Mandarin.

During the class, I have realized Cantonese is not an aggressive language, but an energetic one. It requires a lot of mouth and face movement. It is almost like a mouth+face yoga!

The Cantonese teacher encourages the students to write the sounds in our own languages, additionally to the Yale-System (= Cantonese Pinyin).  I found it quite helpful to use another language to learn a new language (without getting confused!). I am using now Japanese and German to remember the Cantonese word.  Can you recognize them in the picture?

Not only that, it is also fun! In this way, pronunciation is much easier and – in my case – also lowers the resistance level to talk. (P.S. Tones cannot be remembered by this method.)

Through the Cantonese lessons, I have discovered again the joy of learning a new language! There will be further entries about Cantonese! So, stay tuned!

Cantonese Slang (1): 掃街

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10th May 2017

I came across an interesting Cantonese word while I was reading a food magazine:

“掃街” (sou3 gaai1*)

What is that!?

Ok, let me breakdown this word first. It consists of two words

掃 (sou3*)  = to sweep, to broom  &  街 (gaai1*) = street

So, it literally means “sweep the street”.

But why  “掃街” is mentioned in a food magazine and what is the relationship between “sweeping the street” and food?

Well, “掃街” describes the action of walking along the street and eating different street food and snacks e.g. egg waffle, stinky tofu, curry fish balls, sweet-sour soup, chicken wings, deep fried veggies, . All kinds of food-to-go!

In fact, “掃街” is a popular activity in Hong Kong. I also did it a lot, especially when I have just arrived in Hong Kong. Mong Kok, Prince Edward, Hung Hom etc. –  without knowing that this activity has a Cantonese word!

What is your favorite district/area/street to “掃街”ing?


* Cantonese Pinyin is based on “Yale system”.

The street I was living

Learning Cantonese & Slang, 香港 HongKong 1 Comment »

9th August 2015

For me some words in Chinese sounds same, although the meaning is totally different. And for sure I don’t know it, until I something (usually) unpleasent happened or somebody tell.

I use to live on Suspicious streetCooke Street (some people write it wrong as “Coke street” or even “Cock Street”). I have  heard a lot of ppl saying “Pokk gai” and I believed I was living on “Pokk gai”.

One day I took a cab and said to the cab driver “Pokk gai!”. It seems he did not understand, so I repeat it a bit louder “POKK GAI!!!” and … the cab driver got angry “!??hoswifhsdklofsnjdlfkhso!” What the hell happened? Ok, he won’t take me to “Pokk gai” and I stopped another cab. I asked a bit more friendly this time “Pokk gai…. ?” And same the cab driver refused to take me.

Desperately I was, I asked my friend for help. And then I found out that “Pokk gai” have this meaning: CLICK HERE 

And actually I was living in “Cokk gai”……



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