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Cantonese Slang of the Week: A Pig Cage in the Water

By Jenny Leung 31 January 2019
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!

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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! [caption id="attachment_137458" align="aligncenter" width="553"] Image credit: 广韵刘声[/caption]
Read more! Discover more funny stories about Hong Kong on Localiiz.

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Jenny Leung

Senior editor

Born in Hong Kong and raised in the UK, Jenny grew up with the best of both worlds. She loves just about anything to do with music and doesn’t shy away from belting out a tune or two when it comes to karaoke. If she’s not out and about exploring the city and practising her photography skills, she’s probably tucked up in bed with a book or glued to her laptop doing her online shopping.