At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


It's become a pattern: every time I walk into my barber's shop, he makes absolutely certain that every single other person there knows that I speak Cantonese, and he jokingly warns them to not talk smack about white people. Maybe he worries that they will. Or otherwise would.

It does not worry me.

For two reasons. I am remarkably thick-skinned when it comes to casual conversation, and I normally pay scant attention to any remarks that do not concern me.

The term 'kwailo' is used often enough that his calling white people 'lofan' when I'm around stands out. Lofan is a more sterile sobriquet, but really, we are kwailo. I am one hundred percent kwailo; 真係十分鬼佬.
I also use the term kwailo to refer to other kwailo.

It's all in the context.

Lofan doesn't sound right.

Not quite proper, somewhat off.

Kwailo is a familiar thing, something accepted as being normal and part of the general ambiance of the city, much like trees and cars and people. Lofan (佬番 / 老番), as it is used, posits the person as distinctly other, not Tongyan (唐人).

The point is that the Cantonese never had to come up with a neutral and common term for Caucasians other than kwailo, because kwailo almost never learned how to speak like normal people, and being 'kwai' always was their most salient characteristic.

Cantonese 'kwai', Mandarin 'guǐ'. Approximate pronunciation: k+why, or g+way if you're attempting to speak Mandarin. Meaning: ghost, devil, daemon; terrible, frightful; sinister, sly, crafty; too clever by half.

The 'lo' (佬) part is simply the male person who embodies what the preceding word implies, like in 'Kwongtunglo' (廣東佬 Cantonese dude), 'Fuklo' (福佬 a person who speaks one of the Minnan languages, a Fujianese), 'Seunghoilo' (上海佬 Shanghainese fellow), or 'Pakfonglo' (北方佬 a despicable Northerner).

[Minnan languages: 閩南話 ('man naam waa'), the koine from the north-east of Canton province (廣東 'gwong tung') through most of Fujian (福建 'fuk kin') and a small part of Chekiang (浙江 'jit gong'). The mother tongue used from Teochow (潮州) to Foochow (福州), as well as Hainan (海南 'hoi naam') and coastal Taiwan (臺灣 'toi waan').]

In the overwhelming majority of contexts, it is a rather neutral term.
When preceded by dead (死 'sei') or stinky (臭 'chau'), it is not.


Anyhow, I am please to announce that I've had my haircut, and now look and feel ten years younger. Yessir, this kwailo has style and pizzaz! Ming always makes my head look fabulous, and girls, you should take note!

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


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