Articles from the original website

Guangdong Province! The Best Province with the Best People. It’s Yuge!

Guangdong is the best province in China, and not because of Cantonese! It’s got the friendliest people and the best hovelage. And today I’m off to savour her charms again! I just thought I’d share

Hainan Highlights and Playing on a Swing

Last night I had a wonderful time in Central with my friend formerly known as J. Yes, I said ‘formerly’! For that was her name in the many South China Morning Post columns she appeared

CantoNews: Cecilie and Nick Venture Forth to Graze

… all the way to the throbbing metropolis of Mui Wo – La Pizzeria to be exact!

Chatting with Author

Listen to the interview with famous Lantau author Jane Huong who isn’t Vietnamese or Malaysian, but married to a Hong Kong guy who wanted to spell his surname (Hung) differently from the herd. And talking

CantoNews Live from the Throbbing Metropolis of Mui Wo

Nick (a.k.a. Cassette) and I go to an Italian restaurant in the throbbing metropolis of Mui Wo, centre of the universe and make a programme about lots of interesting things – specifically the idiotic spelling

Books Books Books

Can you learn Cantonese from a book? I would say no, not least because of the crazy spelling that bear little or no resemblance to the sound of the words. Can you indeed learn any

How Now, Guangdong Prov?

I’m just about to write my last column ever for South China Morning Post; ever! When I was told the page would be discontinued, I was so sad. How now would I be able to

CantoNews 5 Live From Roof!

Hello everybody, welcome to my roof! I normally arrange Sichuan dinners and lunches there, but this time it doubled as a recording studio for the best Cantonese news currently available on cassette! (And telex.) Talking

CantoNews Live From Oi Kwan Hotel

Oh Cassette! Two weeks ago we went up to Guangzhou to see him live in his stand-up glory at a place called… Panda something? No! Paddyfield, an Irish pub right behind the Garden Hotel. Cassette

Bye, Bye, Column

All good things come to an end, apparently. Even life! Yes, compared to dying, losing a twice-monthly column in an increasingly obscure Asian newspaper is certainly a small thing. But oh! I loved that column.

Enemy at 12! Avoiding Foreigners in China


Just for the record, in the first sentence of this column I wrote “.. black family that has – gasp – managed to become middle class and live in a posh neighbourhood.”

I think the term “African American” is ridiculous, especially seeing people don’t routinely say “German-American” “Norwegian-American” etc. and that they are sixth, seventh or eighth generation Americans who have never set foot in Africa.

The “gasp” was meant to be ironic, as I don’t think it’s very strange or unusual and certainly not “against all odds” that a black family is middle class in today’s America.

I just wanted to point that out. Very strongly.

美國人 – Mei Gok yan (American person)
非洲 – Fei Jau (Evildoing Continent/Africa) Chinese will now rush in and say: It doesn’t mean evildoing! It’s just a sound! Yes, maybe. But the other place with Fei in the name, 菲律賓 (Fei Leut Bahn) uses 菲 (luxuriant and fragrant) not 非 (not, non- negative, wrongdoing, evildoing)

Interviewing Zein outside Garden Cafe

Interviewing Zein outside Garden Cafe

Today’s Classifier: 0的

Well, it’s not really a classifier as such, because classifiers are used to classify specific things, as we’ve seen before in for example:  我有兩隻狗,(o yau leung jek gau) – I have two dogs.

0的 (di) meaning “some” or unspecified amount of, plural or when put in front of uncountable nouns, can be used to describe the scene above.

(This is an increasingly common sight in sleepy backwater Pui O where locals rent out their land to be filled up with building rubble to accommodate the incessant influx of people who can’t just move into village houses as they are, but have to strip them to the bone and do them up to look like Bondi Beach. )

有0的垃圾 (yau di lap sap) There is (some) rubbish

Some other examples:

有0的人唔鍾意曾蔭權  (yau di yan m jong yi Tsang Yam Kuen) There are people who don’t like Donald Tsang

呢0的0野全部都係我 (li di ye tsuen bou dou hai o) This stuff is all mine

我唔想講0個0的0野 (o m seung gong go di ye) I don’t want to talk about that stuff (those things)

(You know the zero in front of some characters stands for 口 (hau) mouth, don’t you? It means that the word sounds like the word next to it, but means something else.)

0的 is also the open comparison suffix.

美國好大,中國大0的  (mei gok hou dai, jung gok dai di) The US is big, China is bigger.

This is a topic I’ll no doubt get back to (to which I will no doubt get back) so toodeli-bye for now, my little Canto-mongers! Life is great.

CantoNews Live from the Throbbing Metropolis of Mui Wo

Nick (a.k.a. Cassette) and I go to an Italian restaurant in the throbbing metropolis of Mui Wo, centre of the universe and make a programme about lots of interesting things – specifically the idiotic spelling of Cantonese words and the confusion to which it leads.


And some mountain talk. And once and for all, the real pronunciation of the name of the richest geezer in Hong Kong! (When you click on the link and get to Radio Lantau, for heaven’s sake, scroll down!)

我唔記得你叫咩名 - O m gei dak lei giu meh meng (I don’t remember what your name is)
羅馬 – Lo Ma (Rome)
李嘉誠 – Lei Ga Seng (“Li Ka Shing”)

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