English + Chinese characters for Cantonese: Number 1!

Andy Lau being presented with the calligraphy scroll discussed in this postJoel of Danwei has posted about an interesting calligraphy scroll presented to Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau.

The characters read “You Are No. 1!”

That’s not a translation: the Cantonese pronunciation of the characters 腰呀冧吧温! (”yiu a nam ba wan!”) approximates the English sentence.

I just love stuff like this.

Read in Mandarin this is just gibberish, especially the character .

Read the whole post for details.

The technique also recalls the cover of Visible Speech, by John DeFrancis, which renders part of the Gettysburg Address phonetically in various scripts, some more closely than others (see the bottom line for Chinese characters with Mandarin pronunciations):
'four score and seven years ago' in lots of different scripts

source: If you can read this, you’re Number One!, Danwei, December 6, 2007

2 thoughts on “English + Chinese characters for Cantonese: Number 1!

  1. Another one along the same lines that I’ve heard while here in China is “三颗药为你妈吃 sān kē yào wèi nǐ mā chī”, which literally means “three pills of medicine for your mother”, but if you say it just right sounds a little bit like “thank you very much”.

    I also heard this (bad) Chinglish joke: Why don’t vampires (吸血鬼) like Sichuan food? Because they like 不辣的 (bù là de).

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