Delay no more

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This is what happens when copy editors type what they're feeling and then forget to take it out again before it goes online:

This is from the following article in Coconuts Hong Kong:

"Delay what?! SCMP readers blast paper for headline innuendo" (1/12/16)

As the article explains:

As most Hongkongers know, "delay no more" is a homophone for "diu lei lo mo"*, which means "f*ck your mum". The common and irreverent phrase has inspired a range of products and even a short-lived lifestyle shopping centre from Hong Kong retailer G.O.D., dubbed the Delay No Mall.

*[VHM: diu2 nei5 lou5mou5-2 屌你老母]

What's even more incredible about the use of "delay no more" in this context is that the surface meaning of the phrase in English also is pregnantly applicable here:  it's as though the SCMP were telling Leung Chun-ying (CY Leung), the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, to get off his duff and do something about all the Hong Kong booksellers who have gone missing (i.e., have been "disappeared") in recent months.

"Delay No More", perhaps the most offensive of all Cantonese profanities, is the trademark slogan of the Hong Kong design and retail brand company called Goods of Desire (G.O.D.; zyu6hou2di1 住好啲), mentioned above in the quoted passage.

[h/t Mark Swofford]


  1. Jenny Chu said,

    January 12, 2016 @ 10:28 pm

    Well – it's a little bit misleading to call it a homophone – it's really just a phonetic euphemism (socially speaking I think it's something closer to saying "friggin A"). It's naughty and certainly not the tasteful headline choice for a mainstream newspaper (also rather flip/irreverent considering the seriousness of the issue), but if it were really phonetically equivalent to 屌 你老母 then there would have been much more outrage in Causeway Bay when the Delay No Mall signboard went up.

    Imagine if the Oakland Tribune had a headline that said, "Friggin A's: Mayor Schaaf murky on fate of missing baseball team members"

  2. Christian Saunders said,

    January 13, 2016 @ 5:43 am

    If it is "perhaps the most offensive of all Cantonese profanities" then a more appropriate equivalent might be: "See You Next Tuesday: Hong Kong leader murky…"

  3. richardelguru said,

    January 13, 2016 @ 7:43 am

    So the uses mentioned are a bit like fcuk in Britain?

  4. Keith said,

    January 13, 2016 @ 8:38 am


    Reading "delay no more" is a homophone for "diu lei lo mo", I thought "that's quite close to the swearing in James Clavell's books that I read over thiry years ago… probably Noble House, I think that Clavell wrote it as "dew lei no mo".

  5. BlueLoom said,

    January 13, 2016 @ 11:02 am

    I remember when the Boston Globe slugged in "Mush from the Wimp" (about Jimmy Carter), assuming it would be replaced later by a more appropriate headline.

  6. Jenny Chu said,

    January 13, 2016 @ 10:24 pm

    I talked with a few native Cantonese speaking friends yesterday and they actually thought "Delay No More" in a headline was a bit worse than I thought it was (as a non-native Cantonese speaker). So maybe my "Friggin A's" comparison is not quite right. I'm thinking now that it could be something more like "Mother Fracker: Energy company mum on fate of missing parent"

  7. Edward J. Cunningham said,

    January 14, 2016 @ 6:32 am

    Am I correct in assuming that if a native English speaker were to say the words "delay no more", it wouldn't sound EXACTLY like the Cantonese version of "F*** your mom", but that the similarity between these phrases is so well known in Hong Kong that the English phrase in print has become a euphemism for the Cantonese curse?

  8. Victor Mair said,

    January 14, 2016 @ 8:24 am

    From Geoff Wade:

    Liked that. I had not heard this expression, but have heard the original term more times than I care to remember. People, even middle-aged middle-class women, slot the "diu nei loh mo" into sentences almost as a stress marker or a conversation enlivener

  9. Victor Mair said,

    January 14, 2016 @ 8:32 am

    @Edward J. Cunningham

    Your assumption is correct.

    @Jenny Chu

    I'm glad that you wrote your second comment, because "Mother Fracker" is a much better analogy (actually quite brilliant to my mind) for "Delay No More" than "friggin A" (which fell rather flat, at least to me, though I appreciated the effort).

  10. Victor Mair said,

    January 14, 2016 @ 8:38 am

    I hope that Bob Bauer weighs in on this, because he will have more on how common the term is and its scope of usage.

    More here:

    Bolton, Kingsley and Christopher Hutton. "Bad Boys and Bad Language: Chòu háu and the Sociolinguistics of Swear Words in Cantonese." In: Evans, Grant and Maria Tam Siu-mi (editors). Hong Kong: The Anthropology of a Chinese Metropolis. University of Hawaii Press, 1997

  11. BZ said,

    January 14, 2016 @ 1:18 pm

    But is "Mother Fracker" really that offensive? Is it because the concept it represents inherently offensive no matter how you euphemize (?) it? Because I've certainly seen such euphemisms uncensored in common media (motherlover comes to mid). And of course that exact phrase (motherfrakker) appears uncensored in Battlestar Galactica multiple times, with the meaning identical to the original

  12. zythophile said,

    January 14, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

    Victor, I suspect you're entirely wrong about the copy editor "forgetting" to take the kicker (technical term) out of the sub-head: I'm sure it was entirely deliberate, and he/she hoped the bosses wouldn't notice. I never worked on the online subs' desk when I was at the SCMP, but from what I could see, spervision by those at the top of the tree was pretty mnimal – they were much more interested in the printed version.

  13. Victor Mair said,

    January 14, 2016 @ 5:31 pm


    Since it's only a suspicion on your part, then perhaps you should just say that I might be "wrong", not "entirely wrong".

    I myself all along have entertained the suspicion that the "Delay no more" might have been deliberately left in, if only subconsciously.

    If the orange highlighting was not added by the people at Coconuts Hong Kong, maybe it was there as an overt reminder to take it out.

  14. tempat tidur anak said,

    January 20, 2016 @ 11:23 am

    This is one very good information for me, I will bookmark your website so I can follow continuously the content of your content.
    But is "Mother Fracker" really that offensive? Is it because the concept it represents inherently offensive no matter how you euphemize

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