Listen to Podcast | Cantonese: How Do You Say “Facebook” or “Instagram” 

New Words   
Have – 有 – yao


Podcast Transcript | Cantonese: How Do You Say “Facebook” or “Instagram”

Hello! Today’s Cantonese – How Do You Say Podcast will be a rather interesting one for you, especially if you use Facebook to stay in contact with friends or use Instagram to share insta-worthy pictures. How do you ask in Cantonese whether someone has a Facebook or Instagram account? Before we go into that, how do you even say Facebook or Instagram in Cantonese? My name is Eugene from LearnDialect.sg and we will be exploring this topic together today! 

If I were to approach a senior who only speaks Cantonese to ask for his or her Facebook account, I would ask “你有冇Facebook?”. If the person has an account, he or she would reply “有Facebook”, otherwise, the response would be “冇Facebook”. Similarly, to ask for his or her Instagram account, I would ask “你有冇Instagram?”. As you could tell, for everyday Cantonese conversations in Singapore, we do not deliberately use Cantonese for Facebook or Instagram. I mean, to begin with, they are indeed the names of the social media services and that’s what we are all familiar with, isn’t it? In fact, let me share with you a little tip that works most of the time! For words created recently and especially for Western brands or company names, it’s likely that we will simply use the English equivalent.  

I want to take this chance to highlight that not all languages evolve in the same manner. As such, translations from English to Cantonese are often not as straightforward. In fact, there are many instances where Cantonese in Singapore borrow words from other languages. More than often, we use them simply as it is in our everyday Cantonese conversations. For example, remember what we talked about in previous podcasts? We can simply say hello by using “hello” and bid farewell by saying “bye“. The same applies to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. While these are clearly not Cantonese words, we borrowed them from another language and used them as it is.  

Yet, there are times where, instead of using these borrowed words as it is, Cantonese in Singapore adapted them into the local Cantonese language. Let me give you an example. Many Cantonese in Singapore commonly refer to money as “lui”. However, do you know that this word is probably borrowed and adapted from the Dutch word, “duit“? If you want to say it in Cantonese properly, it should be “cin”. But interestingly, you will find that in Singapore, we hardly use this word. Instead, we borrowed “duit” and then adapted it locally as “lui”.  

Well, back to the topic… In Cantonese, we typically use “你有冇” for a “Do you have…” question. So, let’s recap a little.  

“你有Facebook?” means ”Do you have Facebook?”  

“有Facebook” means “have Facebook” 

Facebook” means “don’t have Facebook” 

Now, this is our 15th podcast. By now, you might have observed that the word “” can be used in both a question and a reply. If you respond using “冇” prior to an action or noun, you are negating that specific action or noun. So “冇 Facebook” means “No Facebook”. This is similar to our last podcast where “我冇电话” means “I don’t have a phone“.  

If you listen to our Teochew or Hokkien podcasts on this topic, you’ll find that their sentence structure is a little different. However, if you were to phrase it as “你有Facebook冇?”, Cantonese speakers would still understand you generally. 

So how has your Cantonese learning journey been? Have you been picking up useful words and phrases from our podcasts? For more fun facts as well as information on our upcoming Cantonese classes, do follow us on our Facebook or our Instagram (@learndialect). Thank you for listening in to our Cantonese – How Do You Say Podcast. I’m Eugene and see you next week! 


Our Philosophy for Learning Cantonese in Singapore

At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Cantonese fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, rather than figuring out which of the 10 or more Cantonese romanization system to use (e.g. JyutpingYale or Cantonese Pinyin etc.), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Cantonese words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “Sik” using Jyutping and “Sihk” using Yale. However, in our “Have You Eaten?” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “sek”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “sake”, “xig”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear.