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Cantonese Slang of the Week: Primary school chicken

By Jenny Leung 29 March 2019 | Last Updated 8 December 2020

Made-up vocabulary known only 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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Primary school chicken: 小學雞 (siu2 hok6 gai1)

If silly jokes about farts and private parts appeal to your sense of humour, then don’t blame us for calling you a “siu hok gai.” Literally translated to “primary school chicken,” the term came about from the imagery of small primary school children running around the playground or lining up in the canteen for food, just like little chicks on a farm. It is also frequently used to describe people who are immature, petty, and go out of their way to pick fights, so this is one insult that can be applied to anyone, regardless of their age.

How to use:

“Brett ghosted me over the weekend after six months of dating—he’s such a ‘primary school chicken.’”

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Jenny Leung

Former 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.

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