A new expression in Cantonese

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Next Media's Apple Daily (1/23/16) had an article with this headline:

Gǎngdàshēng guà xīn xiàomíng kàng chìhuà


"Hong Kong University students hang [a banner with] the 'new school name' to resist redification"

A large photograph accompanying the article shows the students hanging the banner with the following words written on it:

Xiānggǎng shì dì yī Rénmín Dàxué


"First People's University in the city of Hong Kong"

Among other things it's their grim, sarcastically humorous response to the Hong Kong government's high-handed interference in the management of Hong Kong University.

Bob Bauer, who kindly called this article to my attention, observes:

In the headline of the article you will notice the phrase 抗赤化 kong3 cek3 faa3, literally, "resisting redification", i.e. resisting the Chinese communization of Hong Kong..This is the first time I've seen this phrase used, but I suspect it's already been in use for a while.

One of the characteristics of the people of Hong Kong that has enabled them not only to survive, but to thrive, is their gutsy humor, and they acquire it while they're still quite young.


  1. Keith said,

    January 26, 2016 @ 10:54 am

    Playing around a bit, I found that 赤化 (that you give in pinyin as chìhuà and then in Yale as cek3 faa3) is rendered by Google translate as being pronounced Sekka in Japanese, with the proposed translation "reddening".

  2. The suffocated said,

    January 26, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

    赤化 is a very common phrase that is by no means new. See, e.g. the first news article in the 1950-01-05 issue of Chinese Times:


    It's probably a loan word from Japanese, though.

  3. Mark Mandel said,

    January 26, 2016 @ 1:31 pm

    Coincidentally, I saw this right after following a link on imgur from your next post (Love transformed) to this:

    A group of high schoolers in Tulsa ditched class to sneak into a Trump rally and get this shot taken before being swiftly escorted out. They win the internet this week.

  4. Mark Mandel said,

    January 26, 2016 @ 1:33 pm

    Sorry, I didn't realize that comments here don't accept images. The page I refer to is http://imgur.com/gallery/BvvXA5X .

  5. Guy_H said,

    January 26, 2016 @ 3:26 pm

    I don't know if it is a new expression or not, but I think its a bit of a politically loaded word. 赤 means red (like in the Chinese story 赤壁 or Red Cliff). 赤化 is probably the Chinese equivalent of saying "turning red" in English or referring to someone going Communist. As someone noted above, I wonder if it is a loanword from Japanese, as that is the most common kanji in Japan for the color red (and much less common among Chinese speakers).

  6. John said,

    January 26, 2016 @ 4:09 pm

    Oh, red-ification. I parsed it as re-dification, and had no idea what that meant.

  7. Jerry Friedman said,

    January 26, 2016 @ 4:20 pm

    John: Ditto.

  8. David Morris said,

    January 26, 2016 @ 5:19 pm

    So the government is trying to reddit?

  9. Richard W said,

    January 26, 2016 @ 8:47 pm

    Kenkyusha defines Japanese 赤化 as "turning [going] red; bolshevization; sovietization" and Guoyu Cidian defines Chinese 赤化 in similar terms: 凡國家或地區為共產黨占領或統治,稱為「赤化」。如:「越南、高棉已被赤化。」

    Here are some examples of usage in Mandarin from "Taiwan Panorama" magazine:
    And while the Taiwan experience serves as an inspiration for other developing nations, it has also provided the island with its best guarantee against ever being made communist.

    「赤化」的威脅如此具體而巨大 The threat of "Communization" loomed large and real [when South Vietnam fell to the Communist North].

    在1975年越南赤化後,ever since Vietnam became a communist state in 1975,

    抗赤化 appeared in this Sept. 2013 article (in relation to Hong Kong): http://goo.gl/X20cML

  10. Lai Ka Yau said,

    January 28, 2016 @ 1:10 am

    I confirm that 赤化 has been in use in Hong Kong for a long time as well. 抗赤化 isn't really an established word in my opinion; it's more like a VP with a VP object [VP [V 抗] [VP 赤化]]. (Incidentally, I saw them mounting the banner; I had just eaten at Bijas Vegetarian and noticed a group of people putting it up with a ladder.)

  11. Lai Ka Yau said,

    January 28, 2016 @ 1:12 am

    By the way, 香港市 is a reference to CY Leung's use of 本市 instead of 本港.

  12. Jichang Lulu said,

    January 28, 2016 @ 6:22 pm

    I was wondering if Bijas Vegetarian 一念素食, the HKU campus restaurant from near which Lau Ka Yau saw the counter-redification sign being put up, is named after बीज bīja, Sanskrit for 'seed'. The fact that the restaurant's own logo has a macron on the i would indeed suggest so.

    And indeed:

    Bījas can be seen as a pre-sandhi form of the nominative of bīja (before pause it becomes bījaḥ). It's still unusual to cite a Sanskrit noun in the nominative. (The convention is to cite the noun stem: people typically say Nāgārjuna, rather than Nāgārjunas or Nāgārjunaḥ.) I wonder why they chose that form in -s.

  13. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    January 30, 2016 @ 10:16 pm

    @John — Yes, expectations can make unhyphenated words confusing. I initially saw it like you did, and was reminded of my frequent misreading of infrared as infrar-ed now that it's lost the hyphen.

    As an editor, I'd argue that red-ification should appear with the hyphen. It helps the reader by immediate disambiguation.

  14. K Chang said,

    January 31, 2016 @ 5:00 pm

    Maybe we need to coin a new word: commie-fication.

    Less allegorical like red-dification, but makes the context quite clear.

  15. Alex said,

    February 5, 2016 @ 4:59 pm

    Somebody I met from Hong Kong was very embarassed that the Apple Daily was one of the main news sources considering that it's just like an American or British tabloid. Apparently the name comes from the fact that eating the Forbidden Fruit gave gossip columnists something to talk about. (?)

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