Yeltsin Speaks Cantonese// the logic of messing up unexpected questions

It’s been about five days since the last dinner with the in-laws, but they were in the area to get their fingerprints done for the new HKID card, so off we went to the nearby shabu shabu place.

Shabu Shabu = 90 minutes of hot pot, all you can eat and drink

Unfortunately, I was the one who went ahead to get the ticket. Usually, when this happens, I’ll ask the staff in Cantonese how long we have to wait for a table or do they have a table straight away, but this time they sucker punched me with a ‘how long…’ question of their own.

Jung yau gei loi do?

Gei loi is ‘how long’, jung yau is something like ‘still have’, and do is a short way to say ‘arrive’…so I could understand what was said, the problem was, what did it mean?

My brain ran through the logical options: how long until the other people in your group arrive, how long are you willing to wait for a table, how long have you been in Hong Kong, how long does it take to arrive in places generally…

But none of them seemed to fit, so I replied, ‘gei loi meh?’[how long for what?] which was probably quite rude, but I didn’t have a clue what they were saying.

They said the same thing again, I stared back at them blankly, and then the ultimate frustration…a guy standing nearby stepped in and translated for me. They want to know how long your friends will take to arrive, he said.

Ah, that makes sense. Continue reading

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