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Chinese and from Hong Kong? I need your help!

Chinese and from Hong Kong? I need your help!

I suddenly have an exciting chance to go on a South-East-Asia jaunt via Vietnam to Hong Kong. The trouble is, I’m Chinese and I don’t speak a word of Cantonese, the local language.

Obviously, people are going to assume I can speak and read Cantonese – but when people realise that I can’t, are they just going to sit there and laugh at me before charging me the stupid tourist prices for everything, or will they just deal with me in English as they would with any other customer?

I mean, it’s bad enough when I walk into a Chinese restaurant in the UK, have to order in English and I can just see the waiter rolling his eyes…


  • Sheff

    So what was that language you used to speak to your mother at home? Just some family secret code you all invented?

  • Hakka – the Chinese equivalent of a Cornish dialect, spoken by a few
    (million) mostly agricultural peasant folk in South West China.

    In that context, Cantonese would be Welsh (spoken by a few million
    more folk in a certain corner of China) and Mandarin would be English
    (imposed by the national government on everyone…)

  • Adrian

    Same sort of thing happens to British Indians going to India, in fact, at some of the tourist attractions there are different prices for locals, foreigners and "overseas Indians". I think they are seen as something apart – a mixture of jealousy, snobbish contempt, recognition… Good luck!

  • Heard from most of my chinese looking friends that when they went to HongKong but couldn't speak cantonese, the local people usually quite rude and talk something like "you are chinese but couldn't speak chinese". They refer "chinese" as cantonese.
    Hope it's just them having a bad luck.

    On the other hand, though, my anglosaxon friends said that they were being treated well there, unless they actually didn't hear what the local said in cantonese behind their back.

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