Smoke! Is it just me or has Central become unbearable after the smoking ban was implemented? I’ve become one of those middle-aged hags who sniffily wave her hand in front of her face while walking, or rather, negotiating the palls of smoke hanging over each dustbin between the ferry pier and my office. (“My office” being of course Honolulu Coffee and Cake Shop where I work as dogsie bodie.)
In Cantonese,’to smoke’ is 食煙,(sek yin – eat smoke). In the olden days we used to be asked 食唔食煙呀？(sek m sek yin ah? – Eat not eat smoke?) and if not eat smoke, be seated at least 5 cm from the nearest smoker… Happy times.
This week my first specialised crash course kicked off, with two excellent and fast learners, working titles ah-Lei and ah-Ga. In only two and a half hours, they learnt enough Cantonese to go into any →
Chinese characters (normal, not simplified) are beautiful, aren’t they? Even ordinary words like ‘toilet’ look somehow elevated to a higher sphere when they’re written with a brush, or printed for that matter. Not that the →
People are busy and don’t always have time to commit to one or two hours of studying Cantonese every week. But does that mean you can’t learn Cantonese? NO! With Happy Jellyfish Language Bureau’s many →
Everyone who travels in China for more than, say, five minutes, has something to say about her toilets. But I stand by my column (above) – they are nothing! Nothing, compared to only a few →
There are as many types of Chinese food as there are people in China; approximately 1.3 billion different dishes at last count. That's more dishes than you and I go through in an average month! →
In January, okay, I admit it, I waited until the first week of February, came my annual ordeal: The visit to the vet. Why ordeal? It’s just some injections, and they’re not even on me. →
Chinese New Year saw the Lo Uk Tsuen Country Club full of people coming to learn the basics of Sichuan cooking. Mature and younger, Lantau people and people from as far away as Britain – →
It’s Chinese new year and the streets (and Facebook) reverberates to foreigners calling out to each other: “KUNG hei fat choi!” For one thing it should be GUNG hei, but hey. The tradition of spelling →
About those language teaching videos (one Cantonese for beginners, one Cantonese for the more adventurous and, yes! I admit it! Even a survival Mandarin video called Stay Grounded) – all these years they’ve had this →
Oh China. I love you so much. This is Siu Heng, the town where, on top of the many scraggy crags, there are signs (signage) exhorting people not to “parapet”. No Parapeting! the signs say →
Yesterday I went on a high-speed boat trip ruining my hair, but it was worth it. As soon as we got off the open boat, it started raining like – well, normal Hong Kong style. →
Yammmmm! Yam me doooown! That’s right, I don’t spell the word you say when something tastes good, with a U. I prefer the letter A. Take a word like 蚊， (man, meaning mosquito but also →
I’ve almost given up going to restaurants in Hong Kong. I find the food tasteless, the chefs complacent. But there’s one place right here in throbbing metropolis Mui Wo, the venerable Rome Restaurant, that I →
“Oh sorry, I’m so sorry” this woman is probably not saying. Naw, she’s just serving me some excellent Sichuan food, probably. Anyway, I can’t begin to think how weird it must be for the people →
It was cold, foggy and not without drizzle, yet we were glad to be up so early and by ourselves at this Trollveggen that I had heard so much about but never visited. It looked →
There’s a big hullabaloo in the South China Morning Post this week. Historian Jason Wordie wrote about the so-called Third Culture Kids (born in one country, moved to Hong Kong, sent to boarding school in →
As any newcomer to Hong Kong trying to get a handle on the local language can attest to, taxi drivers are excellent language teachers. At the same time, they can also get very angry if →
I have just (“just” meaning three weeks ago) come back from Norway, and while I was there I sent various postcards, among them to an uncle in my village. What, your uncle lives in your →
I needed an excuse to publish this photo. It was taken in Shenzhen (naturally) in what used to be an excellent little forest just across the square from the train station but which is now →
Ah, young love. It is splendid. ‘taller than’ is 高過 (gou go) whereas just ‘taller’ is 高啲 (gou di)。Could it be any easier?
The mainland is all well and good, in fact better than well and certainly better than good, but there other countries around here. Japan for example. Not that this tiny island that’s much closer to Hong Kong than it is to Tokyo is much like Japan as I know it. It’s just – itself!
Miyako belongs to Okinawa prefecture and has its own language and culture. And unlike China, Japan isn’t trying to eradicate this language and this culture. The Miyako people are – guess what – just getting on with it without interference!
Sure, they use hiragana, katakana and kanji (Chinese characters) but use the hiragana to write words in the Okinawa language.
Meanwhile Hong Kong is being flooded with simplified characters and the faux, esperanto-like Mandarin writing, the communist party’s take on Chinese history and with the Mandarin language itself.
It really makes me irate, vexed and dismayed.
宮古島 – Gong Gu Dou (Palace Ancient Island/Miyakojima)
日本 – Yat Bun (Sun Area/Japan)
簡體字 – Gan Tai Tsi (simplified characters)
WEI! Everybody everywhere! I’m off to the motherland for a long but not long enough weekend, to make programmes about … oh, I can’t talk about it. OK, Mandarin. Anyway, when I get back next week, does anyone want to do:
1. Guerrilla Cantonese
and 2: Learn how to read and write Chinese characters without really trying?
Number 2 will be early afternoon, number 1 early evening followed by pub crawl. Roll up, roll up!!!!
And Sunday: Sichuan food at my personal restaurant?