Threatening letters in Cantonese

Nothing says “welcome to the neighborhood” like a threatening letter scrawled with red ink in Cantonese:

This is the second such letter we’ve received since moving into our new place here in Hong Kong. The first letter was in black ink. Red and with lots of “x”s seems to be an escalation.

We’ve had the letters read by a Cantonese speaker at my husband’s office. Someone who used in live in this house apparently skipped out on a mighty big debt. The loan sharks, however, don’t know that their defaulter doesn’t live here anymore…

We’ve alerted the landlord who has alerted the police. The letters have both been mailed to the house and do not have return addresses. Right now I’m trying to think of ways to make it obvious that a new family lives here. An American flag? New potted plants? Garden nome?

Any keen Cantonese speakers care to enlighten me as to the exact wording of the letter? I’m hideously curious. I’m sure it’s a horrid threat of some kind as my husband and his work colleague remain rather vague when I ask them for details.

17 responses to “Threatening letters in Cantonese

  1. Intriguing – and pretty scary. I have friends in Hong Kong who told me that they know folks who moved into an apartment only to find that the previous tenants skipped town without paying their taxes so now they get weekly letters from the government (addressed to the previous tenants). Yours is scarier I think.

    • Yeah, I vacillate between thinking it’s funny and being rather scared (visions of bricks through windows). Now I really need that dim sum 😉

  2. Woah, very scary! Not really the welcoming comity you were hoping for. I hope it gets sorted- I would be curious what exactly it says too!!

  3. It does appear scary, but you shouldn’t be too worried – I’m sure that loan sharks in HK wouldn’t want to mess with Caucasians and will know you’re not the “droids” they’re looking for (sorry, just saw Star Wars for the 50th time) pretty quickly.

    • I figured if they saw us they’d realize we weren’t the right guys. Just had some late night fears over rocks through windows. Certainly doesn’t help that we actually did have a rock tossed through the window of our rented-out Seattle house just last week… (a break in).

  4. The words itself don’t seem to be all that threatening although accusatory. I can understand why it would be scary with all that big red characters screaming out at you.

    Here is what I can tell from the note, from left to right:
    1st line – sounds like a lady’s name (Ms Lau)
    2nd line – sounds like a guy’s name (Mr Wong) with the last character of the name X-outed as if the writer didn’t know the entire name.
    3rd line – owe 147,xxx,xx (I’m not sure where the comma ends and the decimal begins and so it could be 147K and change or 14M and change)
    4th line – money owed must be repaid…. (I couldn’t quite make out the last 2 or 3 character scrawl).

    It’s probably good that the cops were notified.

  5. That looks like something my two-year old drew last week 😉

    Hope you get it sorted out soon and that everything is OK back at your house in Seattle!

    • Thanks! I really can’t believe someone threw a rock through a front window to break into a house. Seems rather noisy and sure to arouse suspicion. Apparently they were scared off before taking too many of our tenant’s things–they had open suitcases on the floor ready to fill… Glad I wasn’t the one living there at the time.

      • Our house back in the US is vacant right now, so I’m always worried that something bad like that will happen. Luckily, we have a very nosey retired woman who lives across the street who keeps an eye on it for us!

  6. Pingback: Loan sharks at the door? | Expat Lingo·

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