Made-up vocabulary only known to locals, words that consist of a mix of both English and Chinese, and double-entendres that make absolutely no sense – these are just a few of the things that make Cantonese one of the hardest languages to learn. So, we thought it was about time we gave you folks a quick lesson on some funny terminology, common phrases, and the latest Internet slang. We guarantee it will score you a few extra points with the locals!
A Pig Cage in the Water | ‘Ju Lung Yap Sui’
Chinese New Year is only a few days away, and if you want to welcome the Year of the Pig like a true local, ‘ju lung yap sui’ is a festive Cantonese greeting that you must know about.
To break it down, ‘ju lung’ means a pig cage in Cantonese, and ‘yap sui’ means in the water, or to enter the water. In olden days, farmers would transport pigs around in a cylinder-shaped cage made from bamboo lashing, which meant it was lightweight and easier to carry. However, this also meant that the cage would have large gaps in between, and therefore if a cage was ever to enter a lake or a river, water would come rushing inside it. Because of this, many people started to use this imagery as a way to describe fortune or wealth, and how they wish for it to come rushing in – just like a pig cage in water. Yeah, we know this sounds like a bogus story and a little far-fetched, but hey, that’s the beauty of the Cantonese language!
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