Mini-bus language angst

When you take a “Public Light Bus” or mini-bus around Hong Kong, you have to call out to the driver when you want to be let off.

And sure, you can just say in English “Next stop, please,” and the driver will acknowledge you and let you off the bus. But where is the fun in that when you could also memorize a simple Cantonese phrase to make the same thing happen. There are several ways to ask the driver to stop:

下 一 站 haah yat jhaam, m’goi (Next stop, please.)

有 落 yauh lohk (This stop. Literally: “fall down.”)

(Partially from Lesson 4 of RTHK’s “Naked Cantonese.” Transcript available here.)

The trouble is that in my neighborhood there are loads of Western expats and maids from the Philippines who all just yell out in English.

So every time the bus approaches my stop, I start a mini-internal-debate:

“Should I call out in Cantonese?”

“Will I look like a tool if I do since the driver obviously understands the English phrase?”

“Do I care if I look like a tool?”

“Nah, screw it, I’ll say it in Cantonese.”

And then right when I’m ready to shout out, one of the maids calls out in English: “Next stop, please!”

(Photo from Wikipedia.)

12 responses to “Mini-bus language angst

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  3. I’m always trying in Latvian and they always answer me in English! I’ve almost given up so fair play to you for trying – or at least having an internal monologue about it 😉 Thanks for the like!

    • My attempted use of Cantonese has steadily declined. I mainly use it for eavesdropping now, but can only understand when people are talking about eating or children. It’s back to studying Mandarin Chinese for me, where in Mainland China on trips it remains a real life-saver.

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  5. That’s interesting. I’ve not heard haah yat jhaam, m’goi ever spoken on a minibus. If I don’t know the landmark/number where I want to get off I say Bus-ee Jau M’goi (as do locals around my area in the same predicament). I’m lucky that I live in a more local area and the drivers appreciate the effort of using the local lingo. 🙂
    Fascinating how different a response can be depending on where you live I guess!

    • You’re right, I don’t actually hear that one “in the field” much either. At any rate, I’ve since gotten over my angst and happily shout out “yauh lok, m’goi” will wild abandon!

  6. I’ve started learning some Cantonese through Stephen Chow movies (may have already mentioned these). Apparently, DOH heep means “apologize.” Also, you can start addressing me by the honorific “siu pengyou…”

    (Yes, I despise pinyin too, but the objective was different this time)

    • 小朋友: Oh I gave up on Cantonese ages ago (after I learned numbers and a few useful simple things) and re-doubled my Mandarin efforts. (Much more satisfying than starting from scratch.)

  7. heheh love the mini internal debate you have each time you need to get off the bus! =) Do you also do it when saying thank you? Have never figured out which cantonese thank you is for which occasion!

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