"Jesus talk" and "human speech" in Hong Kong

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Editorial by Geremie Barmé in China Heritage (10/6/20): "Hong Kong & 講耶穌 gong2 je4 sou1".  Here are the opening paragraphs of this installment of "Hong Kong Apostasy":

The Cantonese expression 講耶穌 gong2 je4 sou1, literally ‘to give a sermon about Jesus’, or ‘to preach’, means to prattle, or to speak in a boring and vacuous fashion. When I worked for The Seventies Monthly in Hong Kong in the late 1970s, colleagues would regularly mock Mainland propaganda as being nothing more than 講耶穌 gong2 je4 sou1, boring harangues.

In the decades since the People’s Republic subsumed the former British colony, its people have been increasingly exposed to Communist officialese, be it in the form of government speeches, media pronouncements or just everyday palaver. On the Mainland, blathering partyspeak has long been derided for being 假大空 jiǎ dà kōng, ‘mendacious, hyperbolic and fatuous’. Nonetheless, Communist logorrhea also disguises serious, often deadly, intent. (See ‘Mendacious, Hyperbolic & Fatuous — an ill wind from People’s Daily, China Heritage, 10 July 2018.)

Along with all of that ‘Jesus-talk’ 講耶穌, Hongkongers have also to deal with local forms of official speech 官話 guān huà that is over-the-top 大話 dà huà and glaringly disingenuous 廢話 fèi huà. Following the imposition of the National Security Law on 30 June 2020, overnight everyone was expected simply to 聽話 tīng huà, that is to submit. For them to still expect to hear clarifying discourse 亮堂話 liàngtang huà, let alone to demand that local politicians who serve at the pleasure of Beijing to ‘speak like human beings’ — 講人話 gong2 yan4 wa6jiǎng rén huà — was but to invite censure.

The main feature of this issue of China Heritage is a skit by Tsang Chi-ho 曾志豪 and Ng Chi Sam 吳志森 about the outspoken journalist Nabela Qoser 利君雅. titled "Speak Like a Human Being!" by Nabela Qoser, a Hong Kong journalist and broadcaster.  Fluent in Cantonese, Qoser was born in Hong Kong to Pakistani immigrant parents.


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1 Comment

  1. Dean Baxendale said,

    October 10, 2020 @ 1:24 pm

    We are with you


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