Sunday, September 28, 2008

Diu (Cantonese)

Diu is a common profanity in Cantonese. It can be regarded as the Cantonese equivalent of the English fuck. In , it is equivalent to the English "dick". The character, in , is also used by young people in Taiwan to mean "cool" .

In classic Chinese

''Diu'' is a word in the Chinese language. It appears frequently in the text of the classic novel ''Water Margin'', and is written as . It is used as an emphatic adjective with a function similar to the English "fucking", "bloody" or "god damned". For example,

''Water Margin'', Chp. 29

''Diu'' means primarily the penis. It is written as 屌 when used in this sense, but usually as 鳥 when used as an emphatic adjective. For example,

''Romance of the West Chamber'' , Act 5, Scene 3

has its female equivalent in the traditional Chinese written language. In the , the word, meaning penis, is sometimes written as . For example,

''Jiu Fengchen'' , Act 1

In Hong Kong and Macau

The written form is mainly seen in Hong Kong, for example, on graffiti. In Cantonese, it is used as a transitive verb meaning to copulate. In a manner similar to the word fuck, it is also used to express dismay, disgrace, disapproval and so on. For example, someone may shout "diu nei!" at somebody when he or she finds that other person annoying.

"Diu nei loe moe!" or "Diu nei loe mei" , a euphemism, is a highly offensive profanity in Cantonese when directed against a specific person instead of used as a general exclamation. In Cantonese, the meaning "''I'' fuck your mother" is implied, as opposed to English, in which the phrase "motherfucker" is an imperative.

The form is absent in the Big-5 character set on computers. The Government of Hong Kong has extended Unicode and the Big-5 character set with the Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set , which includes Chinese characters only used in Cantonese, including the Five Great Profanities. The government explained that the reason for these characters being included is to allow for the Hong Kong Police to record criminal suspects' statements. Consequently, these characters are now also in Unicode.

In English, "damn" gives birth to its euphemism "darn"; similarly in Cantonese, especially Hong Kong Cantonese, ''diu'' has ''yiu'' and ''Tiu'' "siu" as its euphemisms.

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