Why Hong Kong people should preserve traditional characters

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The "gate" 門 radical scrawled above and to the sides of the character for "west" 西, pronounced "hi" in Cantonese, where it also signifies female genitals, references the composite, polysyllabic character discussed in this post:

"Hong Kong protest puns" (6/20/19)

"Zi6jau4 自由 hi" ("freedom hi") sounds innocent enough (this is a hashtag too), but it was actually an imprecation shouted by the police at the protesters, whom they were calling "zi6jau4 hai1 自由閪" ("freedom cunts"). (Hai1 閪 is pretty much the foulest of the foul in Canto profanity.)  Whereupon the protesters shouted back, "Rather be a freedom cunt than an authoritarian turtle (i.e., prick) (gik6kyun4 gwai1 極權龜)!"

[h.t. Anders Corr]


  1. Gabriel Faure said,

    October 8, 2019 @ 12:07 am

    While I agree with the tweet's sentiment and admire the protesters' linguistic ingenuity in this and many other cases, I don't see how this is an argument for preserving traditional characters. Clearly, exactly the same thing would be possible in simplified by overlaying the simplified radical 门 instead.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    October 8, 2019 @ 5:24 am

    No, that's not clear, because then you wouldn't have the 自由 ("freedom") echo.

  3. ~flow said,

    October 8, 2019 @ 9:27 am

    Where is that 自由 / freedom echo in 閪 that is missing in the simplified form?

  4. ~flow said,

    October 8, 2019 @ 9:30 am

    Oh you mean because the traditional form is used in HK but not on the mainland?

    But if so, shouldn't one rather write 门 over 西 to express that a person is a 'Mainlander' (as opposed to a freedom-loving HKer)?

  5. Victor Mair said,

    October 8, 2019 @ 10:06 am

    Reread this post and the linked post ("Hong Kong protest puns" [6/20/19]) more carefully.

  6. The Other Mark P said,

    October 8, 2019 @ 2:32 pm

    Because other writing systems simply cannot do word play?

    Why not just say that a reason for keeping traditional characters is that it allows you write down words?

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