Is “paid area” Hong Kong English?

There is this short article in the English section of today’s Ming Pao:

Thinking about English﹕Paid Area Publishing Date: 2010/4/26

【明報專訊】Does anyone know of any other place in the world which uses the description “paid area”? I think this is Hong Kong English, of which MTR English is a distinct sub-species.

by John Wotherspoon

Is this Hong Kong English, and hence problematic?

“Paid area” is acceptable.  (See:

Noun phrases having a similar contruction are “married quarters” (quarters for married staff), and “disabled toilet” (toilet for disabled people). If we give it a bit of time, we’ll be able to find many other similar examples. In fact, we use a lot of shorthand expressions in daily life. Otherwise our speech will be unnecessarily cumbersome.

Even if this is Hong Kong English, if it serves a particular purpose and context, it should be accepted. I am sure there are many expressions in each of the major English-speaking countries which are incomprehensible to people in other English-speaking countries. Is that a ‘problem’?

Finally, just treat ‘paid area’ as a compound noun, that is, a combination of two words that produce a noun with a special meaning.


5 thoughts on “Is “paid area” Hong Kong English?

  1. Yes, that’s an example. So, if Singaporeans all agree to call a ticket office a control station, then what right have we got to comment on their choice of word?

  2. Pauline

    Every variety of English is important for its community of speakers and therefore it shouldn’t be up to anyone to decide whether it’s proper or not! Actually, people tend to think that we should stick to either British or American English and this is what is meant by proper English. Is this really the case?

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