Wording It Right

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Wording It Right

Learn to recognize a few basic Cantonese expressions such as "lei-ho?" ("hello, how are you?") and "mm-goi" ("excuse me" or "thank you"). Hong Kong's official languages are Chinese and English, but the native dialect is Cantonese. Mandarin Chinese has gained popularity here and in Macau.

In hotels, large stores, international restaurants, and clubs, most people speak English. Many taxi and bus drivers and staffers in small shops, caf├ęs, and market stalls do not.

Ask MTR (Mass Transit Railway) employees or English-speaking policemen, identifiable by their red striped epaulets, for directions. Get your concierge to write down your destination in Chinese if you're headed off the main trail.

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