Understanding Cantonese: 8 Unique Canto Sayings To Learn

23 January 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
Andrew Wulf

You know what they say, learning Cantonese can be a very tricky thing to do because most of the language is made up of rich slang phrases. This sounds really cool at first, but can also be a little difficult for those first who are trying to learn the language. But don't fear; if you want to gain more insight into Canto local culture, then learning some simple sayings is your first and best bet. Without further ado, here's a quick glossary of words to get you started on your new learning chapter.

    A quick note for those who don’t know: Cantonese is a variety of Chinese spoken by people living in Southeastern China, Macau, Hong Kong, and more communities around the world. Cantonese has actually retained more Ancient Chinese compared to other Chinese languages. It is typically written using traditional Chinese characters, with a few extra characters having different meanings from written vernacular Chinese because it contains words that are either not found in standard Chinese or correspond to spoken Chinese.

  • 煲電話粥 (boh din wah juk)
    Literal Meaning: to boil telephone congee
    Meaning: to have a long phone conversation

  • 無啦啦 (mo la la)
    Literal Meaning: without a la la
    Meaning: used to explain something unexpected

  • 濕濕碎 (sup sup soi)
    Literal Meaning: no literal meaning
    Meaning: to describe something easy

  • 仆街 (pok gaai)
    Literal Meaning: to fall over
    Meaning: to drop dead

  • 麻麻哋 (ma ma dei)
    Literal Meaning: no literal meaning
    Meaning: so-so; okay

  • 鹹濕 (haam suup)
    Literal Meaning: salty and wet
    Meaning: perverted

  • 黐黐地 (chi chi dei)
    Literal Meaning: somewhat sticky
    Meaning: referring to something that is crazy or insane

  • 香噴噴 (heung pun pun)
    Literal meaning: fragrant spray
    Meaning: to smell good