Two Ways of Saying ‘Thank You’ in Hong Kong Cantonese: m-goi vs. do-ze

  • Jock Wong
  • Congyi Liu
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 20)


While in English there is only one main way of thanking someone using the phrase ‘thank-you’ or one of its variants (e.g. ‘thanks’, ‘ta’), in Hong Kong Cantonese there are two phrases, m4-goi1 and do1-ze6, both of which could be translated to English as ‘thank you’. While in some instances it is clear which one of the two Hong Kong Cantonese phrases one should use, in other situations both could be used. This suggests that the two Hong Kong Cantonese phrases have different meanings and that learners of Hong Kong Cantonese could be confused. However, the meanings of and differences in meaning between the two phrases have hitherto not been articulated with any degree of clarity, making it rather difficult for learners of Hong Kong Cantonese to understand precisely how they are used in native Hong Kong Cantonese culture. The objective of this paper is thus to articulate the meaning of each of these two phrases using a maximally clear and minimally ethnocentric metalanguage. It is hoped that this study could help learners of Hong Kong Cantonese understand one aspect of Hong Kong Cantonese culture.



We are grateful to Brian Poole for reading an earlier version of this paper and giving us useful feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jock Wong
    • 1
  • Congyi Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for English Language CommunicationNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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