Multi-modal writing among Hong Kong teens

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From Jenny Chu:

Knowing your interest in multi-modal writing systems, I thought you might be amused by the attached screencap. It is from a WhatsApp group chat of S6 (final year) students in Hong Kong; one of them is asking the others what they would like to do on the afternoon of their last day of classes:

Hi on9s what 7 u want do after friday?

I am informed by one of the teenage interlocutors that:

on9s = plural of 戇 (ngong6 gau1, stupid penis[es])

what 7 = 乜 (mat1 cat3, WTF)

It's nothing new to see Cantonese profanity abbreviated into Arabic numerals; but I was particularly amused to see the plural form of 戇 is written as "on9s".

Selected readings


  1. Jenny Chu said,

    February 22, 2023 @ 10:18 pm

    Speaking of odd combinations of English and Chinese of HK teens, here's another recent one (from an Instagram post):

    人生第一個化妝IG PAGE

    Is this an infix or …?

  2. Ken said,

    February 23, 2023 @ 1:48 am

    Looks like the full translations of "on9" and "what 7" are missing their all-too-crucial vulgar characters in this post!
    "on9s" is the (English) plural of the Cantonese 戇鳩 (ngong6 gau1), which does literally mean "stupid penis" but is used with the same effect as "dumbass".
    "what 7" is 乜柒, which literally means "what penis" but is used more so like "what the fuck".
    So the full sentence is something like "Hi dumbasses what the fuck u want do after friday?"

  3. hatsu! said,

    February 23, 2023 @ 8:03 am

    @Jenny Chu

    I tried inputting that in GT TC and got those results

    “Yes, my little girl is new to the road. I set up the first makeup IG page in my life, so I would like to trouble all ministers to help me. FOL is beautiful and LOW grateful”

  4. Jenny Chu said,

    February 23, 2023 @ 11:26 am


    GT made a good effort, but it will take a few more years before they can understand the teenage mind!

    I am reliably informed that the word-for-word translation is:

    Just like that, little sister newly-handed sets out to launch her life's first makeup IG page
    So if you don't mind, I humbly request your help – please FOL- a nice -LOW, many thanks

    (I didn't know that you could put 個靚 in the middle of the word FOLLOW.)

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