Posts by Rosalyn S

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Cantonese Tuesdays: Triad and Tested

 

Triads are in the public eye again, after thugs with triad connections were accused of being involved in street violence during Hong Kong’s democracy protests. As with anything to do with organised crime, it’s open house at the rumour mill. In the last decades, the triads are said to have branched out into more legitimate business, but it’s still a murky world.

Without the requisite machetes, we can instead arm ourselves with some triad terms, again courtesy of Rosalyn S, so if you can’t walk the walk then at least you can talk the talk. Here are a few of the most useful triad terms.

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Cantonese Tuesdays: Hong Kong insults

 

Ed: Yes, it’s Wednesday, sue me. Another Hong Kong themed post in our mini series from across the border. In the light of fresh clashes between occupiers, police, angry residents and pro-mainland agents provocateurs, some colourful language is being thrown around. Hong Kongers (香港人 xiānggǎngrén) blame mainland Chinese (大陆人 dàlùrén) for being uncouth and under the heel. Mainlanders accuse Hong Kongers of being arrogant and unpatriotic. Here are a few insults necessary to keep up with the mudslinging, from Rosalyn S.

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Cantonese Tuesdays: Umbrella Evolution

Terms and symbols from the Hong Kong protests – by Rosalyn S

 

All eyes are on the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong. But because the biggest gatherings are at Admiralty up the road, some local newspapers have renamed the movement from 佔中 (zhànzhōng – zim3 zung1) to the identically pronounced 佔鐘, where the second character is a stand in for Admiralty (金鐘 jīnzhōng – gam1 zung1).

Occupy Central isn’t the only misnomer. After pictures of unarmed protesters using umbrellas to shield against police attacks appeared next to international headlines, the foreign media has coined the catchy sound bite, Umbrella Revolution (雨伞革命 yǔsǎn gémìng – jyu5 saan3 gaak3 meng6).

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The Kwan Family Chronicles

A diary of old Hong Kong – translated by Rosalyn Shih

 

From the translator:

A few months ago, an old newspaper article about my great-grandfather resurfaced, leading to a huge family discussion. To make sure the family record wouldn’t slip from memory, my grandmother, Kwan Yuek Laan, began writing our family history at the ripe age of 93. She was born and grew up in Hong Kong but currently lives in Toronto with her daughters, who immigrated decades before Hong Kong’s handover. I’m delighted to share my grandmother’s writing with the Anthill, and here is a translated, fact-checked and edited excerpt.

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Cantonese Tuesdays: If Elephants Could Fly

 

Earlier this year, Hong Kong cartoonist Ah Toh (阿塗) published a Cantonese comic through the independent magazine Passion Times that became an instant viral hit. Based on Netherlandish Proverbs, a sixteenth century Flemish painting, Ah Toh’s version includes illustrations of 81 Cantonese idioms. See the full image with English explanations for all the proverbs here.

The cartoon shows just how colourful Hong Kong and southern Chinese idioms are. These include four-character idioms (成语 chengyu) such as “for the elephant to fly across the river” (飛象過河 fei jeuhng gwo hoh – to do something unexpected or break the rules), and everyday slang like to stir-fry squid (炒魷魚 chaau yau yu) for to get fired.

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