Swearing And Cursing In Chinese And Cantonese: The Profanities We Say, And Why

Swearing in Chinese culture is always a colourful affair. Some vulgar, curse words in both Chinese language and Cantonese dialect get straight to the point, while others are more subtle and rather hilarious.

When I was growing up, my parents threatened to slap my palm with a ruler if they heard me uttering a profanity in English (my first language), Chinese or Cantonese. Being the timid kid that I was, I never did. The years went by and today this is no longer true: I’m not anti-swearing and admittedly curse every now and then.

Some of us might find swearing and everything vulgar intimidating, and curse words make us feel small. Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski | Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up.

Some of us might find swearing and everything vulgar intimidating, and curse words make us feel small. Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski | Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up.

Swear words are said for certain reasons in certain situations at certain times. Quite a few of them in Chinese and Cantonese may seem confusing at first but breaking them down word by word, they translate into nothing really complicated and the meaning behind them is simple.

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Why Mental Illness Is Stigmatised in Asian Cultures: My Struggle With Anxiety

Mention metal illness in Asia and chances are you’ll get odd looks. It’s a topic usually unspoken here and within many Asian cultures, it’s a topic shunned and hushed.

I was born in Australia to stereotypical Chinese-Malaysian parents. No one in my household brought up the subject of mental health when I grew up. For a long time, I thought it couldn’t exist in the family. But earlier this year, I was diagnosed with both social anxiety and panic disorders.

Mental illness is one of life's curveballs - a time when you may feel alone and unloved | Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve.

Mental illness is one of life’s curveballs – a time when you may feel alone and unloved | Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve.

Anxiety is feeling stressed or worried on an ongoing basis. There are many forms of it, just as there are many kinds of mental illnesses – depression, anorexia, substance addiction and bipolar disorder for instance. Mental illness can affect anyone, and support towards overcoming it is all around today. But for someone from an Asian background, reaching out for that support doesn’t always come easy.

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Why Some Asians Like White Skin, And Makeup That Makes Skin Luminous

White, fair skin is skin quite a number of Asians long for and actually go after. With the help of makeup and beauty products, a fair complexion is very much achievable for any of us.

When I was younger, I considered alabaster skin – skin as pale as the typical Westerner’s fair face – the epitome of beauty and explained why in a previous blog post. Today my tune has changed: when I do my makeup, some days I go for a look that is lighter than the natural colour of my face while other days, darker.

Some of us go to great lengths to look fair-skinned | Weekly Photo Challenge: Sparse.

Some of us go to great lengths to look fair-skinned | Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare.

We all have our reasons for liking and looking a certain way. For some of us stereotypical Asians, having a light complexion is not only a marker of beauty, but also a marker of pride and status.

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The Art Of Chinese Gift Giving Etiquette: Best And Worst Gifts

Choosing and giving someone a gift can be hard. It could be a thank you gift, something for someone at their wedding, a parting present for someone on their last day at work or a birthday gift. To some of Chinese background, some gifts might be better than others.

Next week is my birthday. About a month ago, my Chinese-Malaysian parents asked me what I want for my birthday this year. That annoyed me – I don’t celebrate my birthday and don’t like attention. But I suppose they want to, and they know I’m a fussy person.

Sometimes when it's our birthday, we get cake after dinner. Our birthday gift | Weekly Photo Challenge: Dinnertime.

Sometimes when it’s our birthday, we get cake after dinner. Our birthday gift | Weekly Photo Challenge: Dinnertime.

There is much superstition surrounding gift giving in Chinese culture. There are gifts which some believe bring the receiver good luck, and others not as much luck.

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What Language Do You Speak At Home? One, Two Or More

When we are home, the language we speak may come naturally to us. Or not. Depending on who we’re talking to at home, we may switch between speaking multiple languages and that can either be easy, or a bit of an effort.

I was born in Australia, and English is the main language of instruction in this country. It is my first language and that was what I spoke to my teachers and classmates at school. But behind closed doors back then and up until today, I speak a mixture of English, broken English and broken Cantonese; Cantonese is my Chinese-Malaysian parents’ first language.

Behind each door can be one or many languages spoken.

Behind each door can be one or many languages spoken.

It can be tricky defining “first language” and “mother tongue”. In general, the terms refer to the language(s) we speak at home, and/or the languages spoken by family. As there are more diverse families around and we get opportunities to live in different places, it’s becoming more common for many of us to speak more than one language at home.

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