Vocabulary of Hong Kong protest slogans and new characters

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The Hong Kong extradition bill protesters have developed a vocabulary of slogans and newly invented polysyllabic characters which they wield deftly.  Here are two instances from the Twitter feed of Ryan Ho Kilpatrick documenting this weekend's protest activities on the way to and in the Hong Kong International Airport.  If you scan through the photographs and short videos from the top to the bottom (there are some pretty rough, raw scenes), you can get a sense of the tension that continues to build after 11 weeks of protests that have convulsed Hong Kong, at times with hundreds of thousands or even millions of people on the street expressing their firm opposition to the heavy-handed policies of the Beijing government.

This is an example of brush-written (not spray-painted) political graffiti.  The vertical lines on the left and right columns, apparently written on the back of a road sign near the Hong Kong airport this afternoon (Hong Kong time), say "Liberate Hong Kong" and "The revolution of our times".  The two novel graphs in the center are each composed of elements of two other graphs:


hak1 黑 of hak1 se5 wui6*2 黑社會 (lit., "black society", i.e., "organized crime; the triads; gangsters")

ging2 警 of ging2caat3 警察 (lit., "alert / vigilant observe / examine / inspect", i.e., "police")

This intimates that the police are in collusion with the thugs who are out beating people on trains, in subway stations, in stores, and elsewhere.

2. bou6zing3 暴政 ("tyranny")

Here's the second instance of a currently circulating political slogan in Hong Kong:


Note that it speaks to the truth that underlies words:

mò dé zǒu wénzì

mò bu zǒu zhēnxiàng


"You can scrub away our words,

but you can't scrub away the truth."

Hence such an outpouring of words.

For a lengthy list of posts on the language and writing of the Hong Kong protesters, see the "Readings" at the conclusion of "Hong Kong protesters messing with the characters, part 2" (9/1/19).

[Thanks to Chris Fraser]

1 Comment

  1. jin defang said,

    September 1, 2019 @ 10:30 am

    do the two characters in calligraphy imply that the police are in collusion with the thugs, or that the police are the thugs? I read it as the latter.

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