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Hong Kong culture

Why Oxford nod was an ‘add oil’ moment for Hong Kong culture

  • Hong Kong’s local culture has been authenticated by an international authority. This makes Hong Kong people especially proud and excited
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2018, 7:33am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2018, 8:42am

I am writing in response to the article, “‘Add oil’ entry in Oxford English Dictionary is just latest Cantonese phrase to hit mainstream”, (October 17).

The English version of the Cantonese expression “ga yau” has recently been added to the Oxford Dictionary. Although it is not a first for Hong Kong English, the inclusion surprised a lot of Hongkongers, for the phrase holds special meaning for people in the city, even though it has a Mandarin equivalent, “jia you”. Bilingual youngsters in Hong Kong would actually say “add oil” to each other in Chinglish as a term of encouragement, and the phrase gained traction during the 2014-15 umbrella movement. Even the dictionary entry puts it as “chiefly Hong Kong English”.

Hong Kong has always been called “a part of China’”. Therefore, achievements by Hong Kong people may not be seen as distinct from those of Chinese across the border, and China as a whole enjoys the applause. However, in this particular instance, Hong Kong’s local culture has been authenticated by an international authority. This makes Hong Kong people especially proud and excited.

Isa Chu, Tsuen Wan