How do you say ‘stirrer’ in Cantonese?
I recently initiated a discussion on Facebook, which somehow developed hilariously. Here is the discussion:
Paul Sze: If you have a cup of coffee at a starbucks, you need a stirrer to stir the sugar. How do you say stirrer in Cantonese? I really want to know.
Connie Yip: 攪攪棒
Leo W: 請問有冇「棍」？(做埋攪攪手勢)
Benjamin AuYeung: 唔該俾枝野我攪丫.
Paul Sze: Thanks, but what I want is a noun (not a circumlocution) in Cantonese that refers to the thiin stick that is for stirring coffee. Any other ideas, folks?
Benjamin Au Yeung: i think the issue hinges on the morphology (or maybe the syntax) of chinese and english. it’s easier for english to make a noun via affixes. another example is left-hander. of course a direct translation can be 左手者, but native cantonese is sth like 佢係用左手o既. i.e. chinese likes verbs/ predicates more.
Paul Sze: Thanks Ben for pointing out that in this regard, Chinese often has to settle for a verb/predicate construction. The term I heard used by a McDonald’s counter staff member is 攪棍. But for me, 棍 has to be at least 3 inches in diameter. Also, this term makes me think of the very rude 3-character slang word (someone who stirs up troubles). Anyway, at this moment, if I must settle for one, I will go for Connie Yip’s 攪攪棒, although for me, 棒 will still be much bigger and thicker than a thin stirrer. But I like the duplicated 攪攪, which according to Cantonese morphology, means 攪 a little. This vividly captures the actual action of ‘stirring a little’. 攪攪棒 also sounds quite cute.
Benjamin Au Yeung: Sze sir, do you really dare to use this cutie term 攪攪棒 when you go to starbucks or macdonald at weekend? sth like this: 唔該俾枝攪攪棒我丫 or 唔該有冇攪攪棒?
Paul Sze: Ben, you’re right. Actually I won’t use it myself; otherwise the staff might think I’m stirring trouble for them. But one day, if the stirrer becomes so common that it’s being used by Maxim’s, Cafe De Coral, and even local tsa tsaan teng, then there will be the need to coin a word for the object, instead of continuing to use a circumlocution. When that day comes, then 攪攪棒 is a quite a good choice.
Benjamin Au Yeung: My wife used 攪攪棍.I think 棍is more Cantonese-like than 棒. you can see that the stuff used in macdonald still remains the shape of a spoon while that in starbuks the stick shape.
Paul Sze: Haha, this is getting more and more technical. I have to add that the stirrer they use in a McCafe is the same as that used in a Starbucks. Now, I’m beginning to think that 棍 can be either thick, or thin. Last night, 任煒雄 said on TV that we should not 一棍毆死年青人. This is evidence that 棍 has to be very thick. But later my wife reminded me of the word 雪條棍, which is very thin. So, now I admit that 棍 can be thick or thin, so that 攪攪棍 is OK (although it’s close to the rude 3-character slang word which means a trouble-maker).
Leo W: I think 咖啡棍 is good althought we use that to stir tea as well.
Benjamin Au Yeung: McCafe is ‘higher’ than macdonald so they use stirrer rather than the stick-like spoon. use the suffix 仔as in 棍仔, and then it will look and sound thinner.
Ka Yan Karen: “搞搞棍”? 😛
Paul Sze: I’ve just done an on-site check: Fairwood also gives out stirrers for cofee and tea. (For lemon tea, they still give you plastic spoons.) So, the day will come very soon when we need a Cantonese word for ‘stirrer’, and we could make a big fortune by patenting the name now!
Paul Sze: I’ve just realised that we’ve been making a fuss about nothing, so we have just been 攪攪震.