Carrie Lam's mother

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Via Jeff DeMarco on Facebook comes this imagined conversation between the leaders of China and Hong Kong, Xi Jinping and Carrie Lam.

A translation of the Cantonese from Abraham Chan:

ngo4 mui2, gan6 paai2 san1 fu2 nei5 laak3.
Carrie, it must have been hard for you these days.

ping4 go1, ngo5 m4 san1 fu2, kei4 taa1 jan4 caam2 ze1, ngo5 mou5 si6.
Ping, I’m doing fine. It’s somebody else’s nightmare. I’m OK.

teng1 man4 nei5 bei2 jan4 naau6 dou3 fei1 hei2 wo3.
But I’ve heard that you’ve been berated.

naau6 ngo5? mou5 aa3, hoeng1 gong2 mou5 mat1 jan4 naau6 ngo5 wo3.
Scolding me? No, not that many people scold me in Hong Kong.

gam2 hoeng1 gong2 jan4 naau6 gan2 bin1 go3?
So whom are people in Hong Kong scolding?

ngo5 lou5 mou2.
My mother.

If you don't think the last line is funny, then you need to familiarize with China's "national curse" (guómà 国骂).  The "national curse" may be referred to with the abbreviation "TM", which is short for "tāmāde 他妈的" ("his mother's").  The celebrated author, Lu Xun (1881-1936), has a great essay about it. You can probably guess what "his mother's" is referring to and what is to be done to it.

Selected readings


  1. rone said,

    January 30, 2022 @ 12:19 pm

    Funny, in Castilian that would also be TM for "tu madre" which almost sounds the same

  2. Peter B. Golden said,

    January 30, 2022 @ 1:17 pm

    That national curse is hardly limited to Chinese. In Russian мат (mat) is used to cover the whole range of curse words/obscenities. It is based on мать (mat' "mother") as used in ёб твою мать, the most widely used mother curse (in English "go fuck your mother," Spanish "chinga tu madre"), which is so common that sometimes it is used to merely express surprise (like English "no kidding" or "you don't say"). I know people who can barely get a sentence out without putting in a ёб твою мать.

  3. S. Frankel said,

    January 30, 2022 @ 6:24 pm

    Awesome. A "yo mama" joke* in Cantonese.

    *not to be confused with a "Yo Yo Ma" joke.

  4. Jerry Friedman said,

    February 2, 2022 @ 11:18 am

    Spanish equivalent:

    A quién corresponda:

    Debido a que ya me encuentro fastidiada, el día de hoy me dirijo
    a toda la comunidad de mexicanos para hacer una atenta aclaración.

    Yo no sé de donde pudo venir el rumor pero lo que sí sé es que es muy molesto que constantemente me adjudiquen personas que generalmente ni conozco, en algunos casos es, por poder del dominio público pero lo que yo sí quiero que quede bien claro por lo constante que ha sido es que:

    Ni Diaz Ordaz (1964 – 1970)
    Ni Echeverría (1970 – 1976)
    Ni López Portillo (1976 – 1982)
    Ni De la Madrid (1982 – 1988)
    Ni Salinas de Gortari (1988 – 1994)
    Ni Ernesto Zedillo (1994 – 2000)
    Ni el próximo … (2000 – 2006)


    La Chingada

    The punchline is hard to translate. In Spanish, at least in Mexico, one can insult a man as "son of the whore" (hijo de la chingada, where the last word is literally 'fucked woman'). Here's the best I can do, but there are a couple places where I can't follow it.

    To whom it may concern:

    Finding myself annoyed, today I address the whole community of Mexicans to make a courteous clarification.

    I do not know where the rumor could have come from, but I do know that it's very annoying that people constantly connect [allocate?] me to individuals whom I generally do not know, in some cases it's by the power of the public domain [?] but what I do want to be quite clear no matter how constant it has been [?] is that

    Neither Diaz Ordaz (1964 – 1970)
    Nor Echeverría (1970 – 1976)
    Nor López Portillo (1976 – 1982)
    Nor De la Madrid (1982 – 1988)
    Nor Salinas de Gortari (1988 – 1994)
    Nor Ernesto Zedillo (1994 – 2000)
    Nor the next one … (2000 – 2006)

    IS MY SON.

    The Whore

  5. Philip Taylor said,

    February 6, 2022 @ 12:26 pm

    Somewhat amused, when passing one of our chef's many bookshelves today, to notice that Messrs Chang and Mehan have published a book entitled Momofuku. Probably not a surprise to residents of the East Village in New York, but certainly a surprise to me.

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