A new online Cantonese dictionary ‘words.hk’, which started public testing last month, has included more than 30,000 words as of now, including some trendy phrases such as “Gun jam bing”.
“Gun jam bing” refers to a poor male who enters into a symbiotic relationship with a girl. The person is subservient to the girl and is essentially a slave to her, yet he is not recognized as having any romantic relationship with her, and may not even have a chance to hold hands with her, according to words.hk.
Gun Jam — Kwun Yam in some official Cantonese translation, or Guan Yin in mandarin — is a female god in Buddhism. In the Chinese fictional novel “Journey to the West” that was published in the 16th century, a lot of soldiers, or Bing, completed various difficult tasks for Gun Jam.
More words will be included in the dictionary going forward. The target is 100,000 words, but there is no timeline at the moment, according to a Wednesday report by Metro Daily. On a public testing day last month, netizens posted “Sorry… there is no XXX in the dictionary” messages on its Facebook page when they failed to find some words and phrases in the online tome.
Words.hk is edited by Lau Chaak-ming who began working on the dictionary eight years ago while at university. At that time, he had to abandon it midway as he couldn’t get enough capital to support the operation.
He was encouraged to pick up the unfinished Cantonese dictionary after he was once asked by a primary four student why school teachers speak either Putonghua or English, while parents and school workers speak Cantonese, the report said.
Lau is afraid that Cantonese will become a worker-level language in the future. He noticed that 70 percent of the primary schools and 40 percent of secondary schools in Hong Kong are using Putonghua to teach the Chinese language.
Lau started editing the dictionary again after getting the nod from his previous supervisor who currently works in Singapore. He has recruited some editors on a volunteer basis and also has some paid interns.
“Now we have computers to help edit the dictionary. There is no excuse for not doing it, other than laziness,” the report quoted him as saying.
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