Cantonese: The Language of Protest 粵語: 示威的語言

Cantonese slang, puns, wordplay and sometimes even curse words have featured prominently in recent mass protests in Hong Kong. The creative and effective use of Cantonese has turned it into one of the defining characteristics and powerful tools of the city’s pro-democracy movement. Speakers on this diverse panel will explore what makes Cantonese a unique language of protest and how the city’s lingua franca will continue to evolve in future campaigns.


In this discussion, jointly organised by PEN Hong Kong and Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, as part of the Cha Reading Series [], we discuss the creative and at times controversial use of Cantonese in protests in Hong Kong and the role of this language in fostering a distinctive Hong Kong cultural, linguistic and political identity. Are there other languages used in the protests? How do they interact with each other?


粵語: 示威的語言
Date: Wednesday 24 July 2019
日期: 2019年7月24日(三)
Time: 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.
時間: 下午7時半至9時
Venue: Kafnu Hong Kong (2F, Kerry Hotel, 38 Hung Luen Rd, Hung Hom)
地點:Kafnu Hong Kong (紅磡嘉里酒店2樓)
Language: Cantonese (with some English)

Moderators: Tammy Lai-Ming Ho and Jason Y. Ng
主持:何麗明 及 Jason Y. Ng
Speakers: Petula Ho Sik Ying, Kris Cheng, Mary Hui, and Lian-Hee Wee
講者:何式凝, 鄭樂捷, 許錦汶 及 黃良喜
Contact: Tammy Ho ([email protected])
聯絡:何麗明 ([email protected])


Kris Cheng is the Editorial Director of Hong Kong Free Press HKFP, an English-language online news outlet based in Hong Kong. He is a journalist with an interest in local and regional politics as well as diplomacy. He is also an executive committee member of PEN Hong Kong. His work has been cited by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg, Quartz, Time, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as well as numerous Hong Kong and Taiwan media. Besides Hong Kong Free Press, his work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Guardian, Public Radio International, Quartz, and Hong Kong Economic Times.

鄭樂捷為《Hong Kong Free Press》編輯總監。他是香港新聞工作者,專注報導本地政治新聞。其文章刊登於《華盛頓郵報》、《國際公眾電台》及《香港經濟日報》等。他畢業於香港中文大學社會學系,現為香港筆會執行委員會成員。

Tammy Lai-Ming Ho is the founding co-editor of the first Hong Kong-based international Asian-focused journal, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, an editor of the academic journals Victorian Network and Hong Kong Studies, and the first English Editor of 聲韻詩刊 Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine. She has edited or co-edited seven volumes of poetry, short fiction and essays, the most recent one being Twin Cities: An Anthology of Twin Cinema from Singapore and Hong Kong (Landmark Books, 2017). Her literary translations have been published in World Literature Today, Chinese Literature Today, Pathlight, among other places, and by the Chinese University Press. Tammy is an Associate Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University 香港浸會大學, where she teaches poetics, fiction, and modern drama. She is also the President of PEN Hong Kong, a Junior Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities, an Advisor to the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing and an Associate Director of One City One Book Hong Kong. Tammy’s first collection of poetry is Hula Hooping (Chameleon 2015), for which she won the Young Artist Award in Literary Arts from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. Her first short story collection Her Name Upon The Strand (Delere Press), her second poetry collection Too Too Too Too (Math Paper Press) and chapbook An Extraterrestrial in Hong Kong (Musical Stone) were published in 2018. Her first academic book is Neo-Victorian Cannibalism (Palgrave, 2019). She recently guest-edited a Hong Kong Feature for World Literature Today (Spring 2019) and the Hong Kong special issue of Sweden PEN’s The Dissident Blog.

何麗明是香港首本網上文學期刊《Cha: An Asian Literary Journal》的創辦人及聯席編輯,並同時編輯學術期刊《Victorian Network》及《Hong Kong Studies》,以及首位《Voice and Verse Poetry》英文編輯。她曾編著或聯編七本詩集、短篇小說以及文集,包括 Twin Cities: An Anthology of Twin Cinema from Singapore and Hong Kong (Landmark Books, 2017), We, Now, Here, There, Together (AJAR Press, 2017), Quixotica: Poems East of La Mancha (Chameleon, 2016), Desde Hong Kong: Poets in conversation with Octavio Paz (Chameleon, 2014), Love & Lust (Hong Kong Writers Circle, 2008) 以及Hong Kong U Writing: An Anthology (Department of English, University of Hong Kong, 2006)。她的翻譯作品在World Literature Today, Chinese Literature Today, Pathlight, 以及 Drunken Boat中曾經發表,也有被中文大學出版社發表。她現任香港浸會大學英文系助理教授,與學生一同探究小說美學、詩歌藝術及現代戲劇。她也是香港筆會的主席、香港人文學院院士以及The Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing。何麗明於2015年出版她的第一本詩集Hula Hooping (Chameleon 2015),她亦憑此獲得香港藝發局藝術新秀獎(文學藝術)。她的第一本短篇小說集 Her Name Upon The Strand (Delere Press)、第二本詩集Too Too Too Too (Math Paper Press)以及小冊子An Extraterrestrial in Hong Kong (Musical Stone) 在2018年相繼出發。她的第一本學術書籍是Neo-Victorian Cannibalism (Palgrave, 2019),她亦正籌備其他學術書籍。最近她正編著 World Literature Today (2019春天)的香港冊,並受邀為瑞典筆會編撰了 The Dissident Blog的香港特別刊。

Petula Ho Sik Ying is Professor in the Department of Social Work & Social Administration at The University of Hong Kong - HKU - 香港大學. Her main research and teaching interests are in the area of gender/sexuality issues and the impact of social movement on personal life. Her recent work is Sex and Desire in Hong Kong, co-edited with Ka Tat Tsang. She is also author of I am Ho Sik Ying, 55 years old (2013), Everyday Life in the Age of Resistance (2015), and co-author of Umbrella Politics Quartet (2015). Her current projects include using documentary films and multi-media theatre to explore the integration of arts and scholarship. They include: 22 Springs: The Invincible; The “Kong-lo” Chronicles, The Umbrella Movement: A Collaborative Focus group Analysis, and Carrie Lam, Bring Out the Freedom-Hi (Freedom Pussy) in You! (LINK:

▍ABOUT MARY HUI (speaker)
Mary Hui is a reporter for Quartz based in Hong Kong, where she covers Asia business and geopolitics. She was previously a freelance journalist, writing for outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, Quartz, Citylab, and South China Morning Post. Prior to that she worked at the Washington Post in Washington D.C. She's also an avid trail runner and loves the endless trails that Hong Kong has to offer.

▍ABOUT JASON Y. NG (moderator)
Jason Y. Ng is a lawyer, civil rights defender, and the author of three books that describe the postcolonial developments in Hong Kong: Hong Kong State of Mind (2010), No City for Slow Men (2013), and his latest: Umbrellas in Bloom (2016). He was the President of PEN Hong Kong (2016-2019) and is now an executive committee member. He is also one of the current convenors of Progressive Lawyers Group 法政匯思.

Jason Y. Ng的著作包括於2010年出版的 《HONG KONG State of Mind》及2013年出版的《No City for Slow Men》。他於2016年出版的最新作品《Umbrellas in Bloom》是首部紀錄雨傘運動的英文著作,也是講述我城後殖民時代發展──香港三部曲的壓軸作品。另外,他也是香港筆會前主席(2016-2019),現為法政匯思其中一位召集人。

Lian-Hee Wee is Professor of Linguistics at Hong Kong Baptist University 香港浸會大學. His studies develop mainly on phonologically related issues of Hong Kong and Singapore Englishes as well as tonal patterns in various Chinese languages. He recently provided a comprehensive acoustic analysis at Stand News, proving that the police made derogatory expletives on freedom and female genitalia. His recent notable publications include "Hong Kong Food Runes" in World Literature Today (Spring 2019), Phonological Tone (Cambridge University Press, 2019), and Cultural Conflict in Hong Kong (eds.) (Palgrave, 2018)". His poetry sometimes makes it into Cha: An Asian Literary Journal and 聲韻詩刊 Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine. He was recently quoted in Quartz for saying, "Cantonese is the Language of the (Hong Kong) Resistance".

黃良喜,浸會大學語言學教授,音系學人,主要研究新加坡香港英語及漢語聲調。最近於《立場新聞》提供了較全面的語音分析證明香港警察以女陰辱罵自由。近期主要著作包括"Hong Kong Food Runes" 載 World Literature Today (2019春), Phonological Tone (劍橋大學出版社, 2019), and Cultural Conflict in Hong Kong (eds.) (Palgrave, 2018)"。 他的詩歌偶能見於Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 及《聲韻詩刊》。Quartz 引用黃良喜:“粵語是(香港的)抗爭語言”。

Cha Reading Series {} takes the online journal out into the physical world. It brings together poets, writers, translators and artists who are in some way or other affiliated with Cha. Readings will take place in various impromptu locations across the city, in public and private rooms, lecture halls, on park benches, in front of billboards, next to a window scratched by tree branches. They will read their work informally or seriously. They will discuss issues, argue, debate and exchange. We also hope to form dialogue and explore specific pertinent topics that inspire or beset the contemporary world. Suggestions for future events can be sent to [email protected]