updated 10:35 AM CET, Jan 26, 2022

Learning to speak 'expat'


The American Expat Financial News Journal's Expat Lexicon


Singapore MerlionAh beng – A Southeast Asian gangster stereotype, described as typically having dyed hair, wearing loud fashion and predominantly speaking a Chinese dialect  (The female equivalent is an ah lian)
Ah lian – The female equivalent of an ah beng (Southeast Asian gangster stereotype)  
Ang mo – Singlish term for a western person, expat (a Hokkien term which literally means “red haired”)
Hong bao – A traditional red envelope filled with money and given over the Chinese New Year, as in other places where Chinese culture is present; can be seen as a bribe in some contexts, as in "he was looking for a little hong bao to smoothe out the deal" 
Lah – A word added to the end of a sentence to add emphasis (“Hurry lah!” means “come on, let’s go!”) Said to derive from Hokkien dialect, spoken by certain Chinese from the Fujian province and other parts of Asia
Meh – Similar to lah, a Hokkien word that expresses incredulity
Singlish – The name given to the patois spoken by many Singaporeans. In addition to incorporating words from Chinese and other languages that are part of Singaporean culture, it has some of its own idiosyncrasies, such as a fondness for acronyms. The Marina Bay Sands casino and hotel complex, for example, is the "MBS"; others include "UOB", pronounced "yoh-bee", for the United Overseas Bank, a major Singaporean institution; GFC, for the global financial crisis; HDB for the Singporean Housing Development Board; ORQ, for One Raffles Quay (an office building); and "F & B" for "food and beverage" as in "F&B outlets"; TPG is the Tanjong Pagar station on Singapore's MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) underground train line.  


Comeover – Someone who has lived on the Isle of Man for fewer than 10 years

Stopover – Someone who has lived on the Isle of Man for between 10 and 30 years
Stayover – Someone who has lived on the Isle of Man for 30 or more years
Manx – Born on the Isle of Man
Truly Manx – In addition to having been born on the Isle of Man, both parents and both sets of grandparents were also born there
Traa dy liooar – “Tme enough”
Manannán’s Cloak – The Isle of Man's famous, flight-delaying fog
Yessir – Colloquial expression similar to "mate", though precise definitions vary
Baltic yesssir – It's very cold
Longtail, ringies – words used by suspicious Manx people to avoid using the word "rat"; said to have origins among the island's sailors 
Skeet – news, gossip
There's always a boat in the morning – If you don't like it here, leave
The adjacent isle – England, Scotland and Wales
Alright baaaay! or bay! – Slang variations on hello, hi 


Les corbins – Local vernacular for crows, a traditional reference to Sark residents
Les crapauds – Traditionally derogatory term for Jersey residents; French for toads, which Jersey has that Guernsey is said to lack
Les ânes – Channel Islands term for residents of Guernsey, supposedly because donkeys were much used in steep-hilled St Peter Port in years past, but also, it is said, for the temperament of the locals
Clameur de haro – a legal term that dates back to Norman times, and permits a person who feels he or she has been wronged to declare this fact, in a prescribed manner – on their knees, with hands in the air. In August 2018, a Guernsey woman attempted to use the Norman ritual to stop roadworks she strongly objected to from going ahead, but was unsuccessful, as Sky News and other media outlets reported at the time. 
Les lapins – Name for Alderney residents; Alderney being known for having lots of rabbits


Dim sum market – reference to the market for Chinese-currency denominated bonds, currently sold to non-mainland investors only through Hong Kong, known for its dim sum cuisine. (Sterling bonds are known as bulldog bonds, while Japanese, yen-denominated bonds are called Samurais.)
F.I.L.T.H. – Acronym for "Failed in London Try Hong Kong", more in use before global centre of wealth creation began to shift to the east
Guanxi – A Chinese term used to describe certain kinds of relationships or connections that are beneficial in a business sense; a bit like “networking”. Said to be one of the first words a business gwailo (see below) learns upon arriving in China
Gwailo – Literally, "ghost man", a centuries-old reference to foreigners in the Southern China/Hong Kong region
Haigui – “Sea turtles”, the nickname the Chinese give to young Chinese who have studied overseas and returned to Mainland China
Hongbi – Chinese for "redback" and a reference to the renminbi, which China is known to be keen to see rival the US "greenback" as a global currency
Honkers – Expat slang for Hong Kong
Honkers & Shankers – Slang for the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, known to most of the world as HSBC
Half-pat – Refers to expatriates who are hired on a local contract rather than a (more generous) expatriate one
Red chips – State-backed mainland Chinese companies incorporated outside the mainland; a variation of the term "blue chips". An example is China Mobile, incorporated in Hong Kong.
P-chips – The private Chinese equivalents of red chips.  Shenzhen-headquartered, Hong Kong-listed Tencent, domiciled in the Cayman Islands, is an example of a P-chip, a recent article in the Financial Times noted. 
Wealth mist – Local euphemism for the much-loathed pollution that wafts over Hong Kong from China, a function of its disproportionate number of power plants and factories 

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