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Hoi hoi! Everybody everywhere, I can’t say this often enough: When you’re learning Cantonese: Get your course material in order. Something like the folder above, purchased by R, separating the material into categories, clearly labelled.

Cantonese – The Movie Episode 32!!!!

The simplified characters menace is growing. Businesses all over Hong Kong are falling over themselves to accommodate mainlanders only, showing in a not very subtle manner that they’re not interested in local customers: by using

Ridiculous System

This morning I had a Canto-lesson on my roof (Lantau people: Come to Pui O to learn Cantonese this summer!) and mentioned the word 雀仔(jeuk tsai) -bird. What? my student cried, aghast. Her daughter went

Frightening Mandofication

Working hard on our new film Simply The Worst, a frightening sci-fi look at what happens when the government forces simplified characters on us. So I suddenly remembered the above film about speech-making communist language

Have You Seen a Doctor?

It’s no secret that Hong Kong people are very enthusiastic about fraternising with people from the medical profession at any opportunity. Last night one of my students turned up to the glorious Canto session with

Gagging To Go

Hi people! I’m going to take Adventure Trip off my new website as there wasn’t a big market for going into Guangdong province (weird) but the trips still go on, of course. There are so

China Bound

This year is the first summer for ages I’m not going north and I don’t like it! I want to go to Xinjiang in August. Meanwhile if you’re going anywhere in China this year and

Creeping Simplification

Who is supposed to be the mainlander, who the HK guy in this photo, advertising a big fiscal cooperation between the two entities? Who knows. But they will make shitloads of money, with the help

New Service!

Ah – so beautiful, so civilised. Doesn’t she look like an advert for a particularly expensive brand of tea? But guess what, she’s not. She’s just having her weekly dose of lovely Cantonese, right in

Order On The Table, Order In The Head

I have some victims who have been at it (learning Cantonese) for a while, and have dozens if not hundreds of pages of course material. In loose sheets. When I suggest they try to put

Mandarin Schmandarin


Last month I was feeling a little down in the dumps; I felt that life was a cruel joke and nothing was going my way. For a while I didn’t even have that old chestnut, my health, normally so dependable, due to a bout of shark flu. Also Flying Eagle was leaving and that rammed home how transient life is and Hong Kong in particular. Where else in the world do you have to get an entirely new set of friends every three years?


I felt I was up knob creek without a paddle, quite frankly. So I dusted off my feminine side and let it rip to a friend over lunch and wine. And then she said this thing (trying to be helpful, I know!): “Why don’t you teach Mandarin? I’m sure that’s more profitable than Cantonese.” I said “Friend, have you ever met me? I hate Mandarin! I hate hearing it everywhere in Hong Kong and I hate the way the mainland government think they have a monopoly on Chinese and Chinese characters. I hate it! I’d rather rip off my arm and stuff it up my nostril!”

“I think it’s a beautiful language,” she said.


Look, it’s not the language per se, okay? I’m sure it’s fine, in fact when I arrived in Beijing fresh of the train from Norway in 1988 I thought it was a heavenly sound and set about learning it post haste. No, it’s what it stands for that I hate. Neo-imperialism, communism, control, suppression, cultural arrogance, violence and domination, and not least, simplified characters. Mandarin seeks to obliterate Cantonese and the Hong Kong culture, replacing it with plastic crap. Why should I be instrumental in hastening this process? Why should I go against my principles and actively trample on all I believe in just to make a few dollars?


But the good thing was, her innocent remark made me want keep fighting for Cantonese. Every time I get a new student, there is one more of us and one fewer of them!

國語 – Gok yu (National language/Mandarin)
簡體字 – Gan tai ji (Simplified characters)
道德 – Dou dak (Moral, ethics)

Today’s Expression: 霧 (including Today’s Weather Condition)

嘩!今日好大霧呀。Wah! Gam yat hou daai mou ah. (“Wow! Today well big fog ah”)  –  My but it’s foggy today.

Oh, and if you’re surprised that it’s foggy, you could say: 咦?咁大霧嘅? Yi? Gam daai mou geh?  (“Yi? Such big fog geh?”) What a heavy fog? (I expected lighter or no fog.) 

You can also say: 霧好犀利呀 。Mou hou sai lei ah. (Fog well formidable ah)  or 0的霧好犀利呀。Di mou hou sai lei ah.

Yep, it’s foggy, and has been for quite some time. But you’ll be glad to know that while you fumbled around with three meter visibility this weekend, I was in glorious Guangdong province, rejoicing in perfect weather conditions, my friend even getting a sunburn.

Oh, the pig get-up? We were shooting a Cantonese video about swine flu. You can watch it on YouTube soon. And if you want to see the place above, which is very close to this place

you can come with me on a China Tour. You won’t believe how close to Hong Kong this place of no fog 冇霧 (mou mou) is.

Today’s Classifier: 隻

Yes I know I’ve done 隻 (jek) before, but then I saw this 水牛,seoi ao, yesterday morning, and was lost in classifier-ation once again.
It seems that classifiers are simplifying and that people often use 個, goh, (piece) the most common classifier, for more and more things where other classifiers would be more appropriate. Therefore, if you say 一個水牛 yat goh seoi ao, instead of 一隻水牛 yat jek seoi ao, you won’t get taken outside and shot or anything.

It’s just that using the right classifier is more elegant. So 隻 is used for mammals, round things, boats, things of which there are two, like feet, shoes … and of course 三隻手 saam jek sao (three hands) – a pickpocket!



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