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Cantonese Slang of the Week: HEA

By Jenny Leung 4 April 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 Hong Kong slang on the internet. We guarantee it will score you a few extra points with the locals!

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HEA

To put it in the simplest of terms, to Hea means to procrastinate, be lazy, and basically try to kill time. When using ‘hea’ to describe a person, the meaning usually slightly alters to indicate that a person may be unproductive, or that their work is not up to standard. It is said that the word ‘hea’ originated from the English phrase “hang around” or “lounge around”, but some people claim it actually developed from the Hakka Chinese language. This is also one of the many local terms that doesn’t actually have a Chinese character, and is completely made up!


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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.

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