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HK Magazine Archive

Oxford English Dictionary Adds Hong Kong Words: "Yum Cha" Now Totally Legit

"Get Char Siu and Milk Tea from the Dai Pai Dong before we use our Guanxi with the Shroff"

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 May, 2016, 6:16pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 5:07pm

No need to rack your brains for an explanation when an English speaker asks you what a “dai pai dong” is. Along with over 500 new entries including “vlog,” a total of 13 Hong Kong English words have made it into the latest update of the Oxford English Dictionary.

These newcomers portraying all kinds of facets of our culture, from food to money to love—but mostly food.

Some are loanwords from Cantonese, while others are locally used word formations which you rarely find elsewhere.

Instead of BBQ pork (which always sounded a little off), you can now officially use the Cantonese loanword “char siu,” which is defined as “roast pork marinated in a sweet and savory sauce, typically served sliced into thin strips.”

Other additions include “milk tea,” “shroff” and “compensated dating”—students providing companionship and sexual favors for gifts or cash.

New word formations like “sandwich class” have also entered the OED. Not to be confused with “sandwich generation,” “sandwich class” refers to the lower middle-class who are not poor enough to enjoy most government subsidies, but also unable to scrape together enough for a private residence. Now that’s a Hong Kong term for sure.

Judging from the rise of Hong Kong vocabulary, our hopes are high that “add oil” will soon find its way into the OED too. Here’s the full list:

  • char siu: delicious roast pork.
  • compensated dating: companionship and sex for cash.
  • dai pai dong: an outdoors eatery.
  • kaifong: a neighborhood association.
  • guanxi: connections, networking and trust-based relationships.
  • lucky money: lai see.
  • sandwich class: lower-middle-class Hongkongers.
  • milk tea: best drink in the world.
  • shroff: the guy you pay at the car park.
  • sitting-out area: public chill-out zone for geriatrics.
  • siu mei: roast meats.
  • yum cha: going for dim sum.
  • wet market: fresh vegetables and meat, opposite of "dry" goods.