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From the Hong Kong Free Press:

"Hong Kong Chinglish page wins the internet overnight" (8/8/15)

The article begins:

A Facebook page presenting Hong Kong news in “Chinglish” attracted more than 15,000 likes overnight.

Kongish Daily, the motto of which is “Hong Kong people speak Hong Kong English,” became an instant sensation in the SAR after it published a number of stories that only people fluent in Cantonese and English could understand.

After a big spread of the masthead and slogan, it continues:

One of the first posts on the page was the “$400k helicopter proposal” story, which has garnered more than 11,000 likes at the time of going to press.

The page used phrases like even ng eat ng play, literally “even not eat not play”—which means “even if we do not spend money on food and fun.”

The HKFP article closes with some linguistic notes:

Cantonese is widely accepted to have six tones. In 1993, the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong developed Jyutping, a Cantonese romanization scheme. The system uses numbers next to romanisations of Cantonese words, which indicate their tones.

In Kongish Daily, however, posts do not include tones. Readers will have to guess the tone of a word based on romanised English words.

As such, readers will need to have a strong grasp of Cantonese as well as Hong Kong pop culture to understand its articles.

Here's a direct link to the Kongish Daily, if you haven't found it on your own already.

A couple of samples of typical prose from the Kongish Daily:

HKTV Wikipedia Wong’s baa hei god reply save jor HKTVMall from PR crisis.

A Kong man buy jor more than HKD400 ge yea from HKTVMall bcoz he want to get a free coffee machine. Ng g hai bcoz your-face-your-fate ding hai bcoz magic moment, before pay bill, the kong man ge coffee machine sudden bin jor honey melon. Angry Kong man of coz, like most other Kong man Kong lui, must make complain la. He e

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I suppose that some might wish to refer to Kongish as a topolect of Chinglish.  In truth, though, Kongish is more coherent and integral than Chinglish.  Chinglish is more amorphous and doesn't really have any rules.  Everything in Chinglish is pretty much ad hoc and spontaneous (anything goes), whereas Kongish — because Hong Kongers have been developing it for decades and are apt to actually exchange whole sentences and even series of sentences in it — has a body of mutually agreed upon usages and a higher degree of intelligibility for its own speakers.  In this sense, it resembles Singlish (Singaporean English) more than Chinglish.  Perhaps we may say that Kongish and Singlish are both lects of English, and that Chinglish is a work that is forever in progress.

[hat tip Geoffrey Wade]


  1. Ralph Hickok said,

    August 6, 2015 @ 10:23 am

    I thought this would be about King Kong's language.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    August 6, 2015 @ 10:30 am

    I'm surprised they didn't call it Konglish.

  3. Mark Liberman said,

    August 6, 2015 @ 10:35 am

    See "More on infixation and code-mixing in Cantonese", 10/6/2010, for some links to scholarly studies of English-Cantonese and English-Cantonese-Mandarin mixture in Hong Kong, e.g. Joyce Chan, P.C. Ching, & Tan Lee, "Development of a Cantonese-English Code-mixing Speech Corpus", InterSpeech 2005.

  4. Martin said,

    August 6, 2015 @ 1:09 pm

    In case someone has never been on the innernets before, I must note that the Kongish Daily clearly apes the style of The Onion.

  5. Martin said,

    August 6, 2015 @ 1:16 pm

    Actually, I take that back. Other than the logo, there might not be much similarity. I mislead myself because some of the stories seemed just a bit outlandish.

  6. Sergio said,

    August 6, 2015 @ 2:00 pm

    @Victor Mair: I think Konglish refers to Korean English.

  7. Victor Mair said,

    August 6, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

    Thanks, Sergio. I thought there had to be some reason.

  8. David Morris said,

    August 6, 2015 @ 5:18 pm

    When I first saw the term 'Konglish', I assumed it meant 'Hong Kong English'. I later discovered that it means 'Korean English'. When I first saw the title of this post, I read it as 'Konglish'.
    By the way, I will start work as a 'Foreign Assistant Professor' at a medium-sized university in a medium-sized city in South Korea at the end of this month.

  9. Chenxin J said,

    August 6, 2015 @ 6:04 pm

    Hello –

    Thank you for posting this!

    I'm almost certain that "Kongish" as represented in the Kongish Daily is meant to be a parody of the way in which Hong Kongers code-mix, rather than an accurate representation of a body of "mutually agreed usages." For instance, I doubt anyone would ever say "Kong man kong lui" (港man港女, an exaggeratedly code-switched version of 港男港女), even though a speaker of Hong Kong Cantonese/English would have no trouble figuring out what the writer means.

    NB the informal romanization of Cantonese, of the sort that the Kongish Daily uses, does actually occur frequently—e.g. "ng g hai" in the excerpt quoted, for 唔知係—in internet usage. In fact, I'm almost certain that it's way more intuitive for most Cantonese speakers to understand than Jyutping, tones or no tones.

  10. Victor Mair said,

    August 6, 2015 @ 8:32 pm

    "The rise of Singlish"


  11. julie lee said,

    August 6, 2015 @ 11:23 pm

    I found the excerpt of Kongish (a mixture of English and Cantonese) very amusing. I was surprised I knew enough Cantonese to understand it. For those readers here who don't know Cantonese, here is the excerpt with my English translation in square brackets:

    "A Kong man buy jor [-ed, i.e., buy-ed or bought] more than HKD400 ge yea [of things] from HKTVMall bcoz he want to get a free coffee machine. Ng g hai [Don't know if it was] ] bcoz your-face-your-fate ding hai [must have been] bcoz magic moment, before pay bill, the kong man ge [ 's ] coffee machine sudden bin jor [turned into] honey melon. Angry Kong man of coz, like most other Kong man Kong lui [Hong Kong men and Hong Kong women], must make complain la [you know]. He e… "

    For those who

  12. Chas Belov said,

    August 8, 2015 @ 4:21 pm

    In the reference Joyce Chan, P.C. Ching, & Tan Lee, "Development of a Cantonese-English Code-mixing Speech Corpus", I was surprised at the assertion of Cantonese as a dialect and that pronouncing initial "n" as "l" and initial "n" dropping were mistakes rather than pronunciation shifts. (Elsewhere, probably on Language Log, I've read that peevers were hyperincorrecting "oi" love to "ngoi" (an example of which appears in the song 請勿客氣 by Softhard on the album Broadcast Drive Fans Murder)).

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