[Editor's note: This post was written by Kris Cheng and originally published on Hong Kong Free Press on August 6. It is republished on Global Voices under a content partnership agreement.
Chinglish refers to spoken or written English influenced by the Chinese language. In Hong Kong, where the majority of residents speak Cantonese, the term “Kongish” helps capture the distinctive character of Cantonese-style Chinglish.
“Kongish” is used mainly in written form via SMS, chatrooms and social media as some find the Chinese character input system less convenient than English when using mobile devices.]
A Facebook page presenting Hong Kong news in the island's distinct brand of “Chinglish” attracted more than 15,000 likes overnight.
Kongish Daily, the motto of which is “Hong Kong people speak Hong Kong English,” became an instant sensation locally after it published a number of stories only people fluent in both Cantonese and English could understand.
The page uses phrases like “even ng eat ng play” (literally “even not eat not play”), which means “even if we do not spend money on food and fun.”
In another post, Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan was referred to as someone “with so much rice”. This expression in Cantonese describes an individual who is rich.
Cantonese is widely accepted to have six tones. In 1993, the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong developed Jyutping, a Cantonese romanisation scheme. The system uses numbers next to romanisations of Cantonese words, which indicate their tones.
On the Kongish Daily, however, posts do not include tones. Readers have to guess the tone of a word based on romanised English words.
As such, readers need to have a strong grasp of Cantonese as well as Hong Kong pop culture to understand its articles.