A language tutor has revealed that certain popular English names have very different meanings when translated to Cantonese, and it’s going to have a lot of people thinking twice about their own names.
Dr. Candise Lin is a Chinese-born Mandarin and Cantonese tutor who has shared several common struggles experienced by non-native Cantonese speakers with her TikTok followers.
In a series of recent videos, she’s demonstrated how a number of very normal English names, when said using Cantonese phonetics, can end up taking on some bizarre, if slightly hilarious, meanings.
Some of the translations are harmless enough, if not slightly embarrassing. For example, when said in Cantonese, ‘Jeff’ sounds like ‘putting on pants’, while ‘Ryan’ sounds like ‘bad guy’.
But if you’ve got a name that contains an ‘s’ sound, there’s a chance you could take on a more inappropriate meaning. As Candise demonstrates in her video, ‘Cecilia’ becomes ‘sh*t is coming’, while common boys names like Miles and Max end up sounding like ‘sell sh*t’ and ‘wipe sh*t’.
According to Candise, there’s a long list of names that can take on alternative meanings when said in Cantonese, some of which aren’t even obvious to native Cantonese speakers themselves.
Candise’s videos have received hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok, with many people commenting to ask her to translate their own names for them.