Eighty-One Cantonese Proverbs in One Super-Cool Illustration

Lexicon Valley
A Blog About Language
March 4 2014 11:42 AM

Eighty-One Cantonese Proverbs in One Super-Cool Illustration

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Ah To, a graphic designer and part-time cartoonist who is concerned about the survival of Cantonese, recently published a comic called "The Great Canton and Hong Kong Proverbs" on Passion Times, an independent media site in Hong Kong.

From this Brueghelian illustration, you get a sense of what Cantonese language, culture, and society are like. For example, the following close-up depicts a loose string monkey, which is a very naughty child or someone no longer under the control of their guardian:

cantoneseproverb22a

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This big frog hopping around the street implies that something is too good to be true:

cantoneseproverb32

For an explanation of all the proverbs, check out this page on Cantonese Resources.

A version of this post appeared on Language Log.

Victor Mair is a professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania.

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