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Thread: Cantonese help?

  1. #31
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    ttt for 2018!

    Just Saying by Yonden Lhatoo
    Is ‘gweilo’ really a racist word? Hong Kong just can’t decide
    Yonden Lhatoo shakes his head at the on-again, off-again debate over the use of the word that is obviously racist in its roots, but has become benign due to widespread acceptance among Caucasians themselves



    PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 September, 2018, 4:19pm
    UPDATED : Saturday, 08 September, 2018, 10:32pm
    Yonden Lhatoo
    yonden.lhatoo@scmp.com

    Here we go again. The same old question that Hong Kong can never give a straight answer to after all these years: is it acceptable to use the word gweilo for Caucasian people, or anyone who’s not Chinese for that matter?

    The latest catalyst for this on-again, off-again debate is the case of a British man who has filed a discrimination lawsuit against a construction contractor he worked for, citing what he called a “general underlying hostility towards non-Chinese employees”, who were referred to as “gweilo in a derogatory sense”.

    The offending Cantonese term literally translates as “ghost man”, the pejorative intent harking back to the unpolitically correct days when passive-aggressive natives perceived those pale Europeans who colonised Hong Kong as being ghostlike foreign devils.

    There’s no denying the xenophobic roots of the word, but the fact is, it’s now used so widely and commonly in this city that most of those pesky foreign devils don’t take it as a racist epithet.

    Now, of course, that can change depending on the situation as well as the tone and delivery of the term, and it can be used as a disparaging descriptor.

    But where do you draw the line? Some of you might remember the controversy back in 1998, when, during a debate in the legislature about attacks on the local currency, veteran politician James Tien Pei-chun referred to international speculators as gweilo.


    James Tien once used the word to refer to international speculators. Photo: Sam Tsang

    “We should never let the gweilo know our last card,” he said. He defended it as just a slip of the tongue at the end of a long speech, when foreign diplomats complained it would spread prejudice against non-locals – an “us versus them” mentality.

    The thing is, two decades later, not a single Caucasian colleague I’ve asked in my office feels unduly offended by the word. Many of them see no problem in regularly using it to describe themselves.

    And one of them reminded me of the successful Gweilo Beer brand in Hong Kong, the brainchild of a bunch of – yes – gweilo, who have no qualms about using the word to make money.


    A can of Gweilo beer in Hong Kong. Photo: Jonathan Wong

    “The trademark registry is quite conservative,” co-founder Ian Jebbitt, an intellectual property lawyer, told the Post. “It did initially reject it on the basis of it being derogatory, but I spent three months putting together a legal submission showing how the word is not being used in this racially deprecating manner … and it was accepted.” There you go, folks.

    But I must remind you that our in-house Cantonese specialist at the Post, the lovely Luisa Tam, has reservations about using gweipo, the feminine version of the word. And this one has more to do with being sexist than racist. The word po, as she rightly points out, refers to older, rather than younger women. And we can’t have that.

    I’m neither white nor fluorescent in any way to justify the tag, but I do get called a gweilo myself like any other member of an ethnic minority group in this city. Not South Asians and Africans, though – the Chinese have separate nicknames for them that are not so benign when it comes to offensive impact.

    Just the other day, I was taking the lift to my flat when three construction workers got in. “See, I told you, there are so many gweilo in this building,” one of them said to his mates in Cantonese, making it obvious I was the evidence to prove his point.

    I wasn’t in the least offended, but I did feel I should clarify matters right there and then, employing my limited grasp of the local dialect.

    “I’m not a gweilo, dai lo [big brother],” I told him. “I’m ethnic Tibetan. Are you saying I’m a foreigner in this country?”

    The lift doors opened for my floor just then, and I had to leave them hanging like that, jaws agape. Sticks and stones may break my bones...

    Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the Post
    Gweilo beer. That's awesome.

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    Gene Ching
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  2. #32
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    Fuk the haters!

    SCMP Columnist
    My Hong Kong
    by Luisa Tam
    The F word ‘fuk’ represents one of Chinese culture’s greatest values, and Hong Kong gin brand’s name is meant to celebrate, not curse
    Fok Hing Gin’s trouble with UK watchdogs over its name highlights a lack of cultural awareness about a word that means ‘fortune’ or ‘good luck’ in Chinese
    Hong Kong is full of innocuous street names that could upset the faint of heart – just look at Wan King Path and Fuk Man Road in Sai Kung

    Luisa Tam

    Published: 10:45am, 20 Nov, 2021

    Never would I imagine feeling so protective towards the “f” word, but this particular “f” word probably isn’t the one that you are thinking of.
    The Chinese word fuk, which means “fortune” or “good luck” in English, encapsulates one of the greatest values in Chinese culture.
    In Hong Kong, when we hear people say zuk fuk to someone, it means they want to impart a blessing of luck, success, prosperity and happiness onto the recipient.
    During the Lunar New Year, you will see front doors adorned with the Chinese character fuk on red paper and turned upside down for extra luck.

    Unfortunately, its Cantonese pronunciation is similar to a certain Western swear word.
    That’s why the Hong Kong-based brand Fok Hing Gin, named after Fuk Hing Lane in Causeway Bay, a popular shopping area on Hong Kong Island, has run into some trouble.
    The brand is trying to break ground in the UK but has been deemed offensive by an industry watchdog comprising British alcoholic beverage producers and brewers.
    It has been asked to expand on its brand story after a complaint from a member of the British public who said: “The name of the product is clearly intended to shock and be pronounced as an offensive term. Personally, I wouldn’t want to see this product on family supermarket shelves.”

    UK-based fashion brand French Connection UK is often initialised as “FCUK”and, despite some initial controversy after the rebranding in 1991, continues to be known as such today. Photo: FCUK
    Some consumers may agree, but the consensus – at least on this side of the world – is that these complaints are rooted in a lack of cultural awareness.
    The phrase fuk hing spells luck, fortune and thriving growth, so to speak. Who wouldn’t want to name their product or business after that?
    There is nothing wrong with creating a memorable brand identity and Fok Hing Gin has done exactly what it has set out to do, which is to pay homage to Hong Kong and its colonial roots. But please don’t ever say the Chinese word fuk is profane.
    Incognito Group, the owner of the label, should go the whole nine yards and use the original Romanised spelling “Fuk” rather than “Fok”. There is no shame in paying homage to Fuk Hing Lane as a means of celebrating Cantonese language and its culture. The brand has doubled down by pushing clever marketing phrases like “Fok the haters”.

    Fok Hing Gin claims to celebrate the language, culture and heritage of Hong Kong. Photo: Facebook / Fok Hing Gin
    A British friend, MJ, who is a long-time Hong Kong resident and fluent Cantonese speaker, is infuriated by the complaint. “These people have nothing better to do with their lives than to pick holes in an obvious joke. They should be looking at more important things such as global warming.”
    My Irish friend, Paul, points out the double standards of this cultural controversy by drawing attention to the 1990s rebranding of French Connection.
    The UK-based global fashion retailer and wholesaler rebranded itself as “French Connection UK” in 1991, which is often initialised as “FCUK”. Despite some controversy at the initial stage of its rebranding, French Connection remains known as “FCUK” today.
    “I have no problem with the brand Fok Hing,” Paul says. “In this case, any obscenity lies in the mind of the beholder, not the name itself. Moreover, alcohol is usually sold in places that minors shouldn’t be allowed to access.”
    An Italian friend, Alex, says: “It’s a local name intended to preserve its company’s heritage. It’s not racist or ****phobic or insulting to a targeted group of people. In fact, it’s great to see Hong Kong products abroad.”
    If you look around the city, there are scores of innocuous street names that could upset the faint of heart. Just look at Wan King Path and Fuk Man Road, both of which are found in Sai Kung, known as the “back garden of Hong Kong” in the New Territories.
    Even the Hong Kong Trade Development Council has on its sourcing website a company called Fuk Hing Manufacturing.

    Fuk Hing Manufacturing is included on the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s website. Photo: Fuk Hing Manufacturing
    If we were to take these complaints against Fok Hing Gin seriously, perhaps the Hong Kong Tourism Board should “rebrand” certain street names for the sake of appeasing these priggish complaints.
    This is far from the first time that a brand name has offended British sensibilities. In 2015, a London coffee shop kowtowed to legal pressure and changed its shop name from “****offee” to “F*ckoffee” after some consumers took offence at the name. The general public mood was that some people simply couldn’t take a joke; even then-London mayor Boris Johnson supported the business’ humorous intentions.
    But some food for thought. There are a handful of English words that don’t go down well in some other countries.
    For example, the word “pick” sounds a lot like the Norwegian word for male genitals pikk; “lull” is spelt and pronounced similarly to the word lul in Dutch, which also means male genitals. You might be surprised to know that “cookie” means something different in Hungary. Yes, you guessed right, it pertains to male genitalia (but of a more diminutive stature).
    I probably need a Fok Hing Gin and tonic after all that.
    Cheers!


    Luisa Tam is a Post correspondent who also hosts video tutorials on Cantonese language that are now part of Cathay Pacific’s in-flight entertainment programme
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    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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