*A good exposure to the Cantonese dialect is required to understand this article.
If you are a speaker of Mandarin/Chinese dialects, using some of these recommended phrases could add colour to your everyday conversation. Normally, the initial response of your listeners would be “Huh?”, but then the next moment they might give you a smile after realising what you are trying to convey 🙂
One leg kick = ‘yat geuk tet’
Usage – to describe a person who multi-tasks to a great extent
E.g. Managing own business in the beginning is like that lah… one leg kick!
Eat dead cat = ‘sik sei mau’
Meaning – to be accused of something and have no means of defence and/or clearing one’s name
E.g. What to do? Having a bad superior who said such a thing in front of the big boss – I have to eat the dead cat lah!
No eye see = ‘mou ngan tai’
Usage – to describe a situation where one feels so disappointed/helpless that he has given up hope to try to do anything
E.g. I no eye see… he’s a gone case.
Face black black/Face smelly smelly = ‘min hak hak/min chow chow’
Meaning – a facial expression characterised by anger or resentment
E.g. You dare to talk to him ah? His face black black.
Dead plank plank = ‘sei ban ban’
Meaning – to be rigid in one’s style of thinking or doing something
E.g. To be successful in business, you cannot be dead plank plank in your practices.
Quiet chicken chicken = ‘jing gai gai’
Meaning – very quiet
E.g. Business is bad these days… the whole street quiet chicken chicken.
Colder than water = ‘dung gor sui’
Meaning – a slim chance of something happening
E.g. Haih… looking at the company sales trend, I think our year-end bonus is colder than water!
Big head prawn = ‘dai tao har’
Meaning – a person who is very forgetful
E.g. Aiyah… you forgot your wallet again. Such a big head prawn!
Big ghost head = ‘dai gwai tao’
Meaning – someone who is the leader of the pack especially when they are up to no good
E.g. I knew it the moment I saw the mess! Ah Boy must the big ghost head.
Bile/gall grow hair = ‘dam sang mou’
Usage – to describe someone who has the guts to do something unexpected
E.g. You said that to the General Manager?! Your gall grow hair ah?
Spectacles drop = ‘dit ngan geng’
Usage – to describe someone who is embarrassed by the negative result of an event, especially one that he has been positive about all along
E.g. His spectacles really dropped this round. His team failed him terribly.
Swat flies = ‘pak wu ying’
Usage – to describe a quiet business day
E.g. – I wonder where all the passers-by have gone today! I swat flies at the stall only.
The following might be offensive:
Head big no brain = ‘tao dai mou lou’
Human head pig brain = ‘yan tao jue lou’
Brain big grow grass = ‘lou dai sang chou’
All three are used to describe someone who is really stupid.
E.g. Who thought of this idea? Head big no brain!