Cantonese: How Do You Say – Country Names

by | Jun 27, 2019 | Cantonese, Cantonese - How Do You Say

Listen to Podcast | Cantonese: How Do You Say – Country Names

Psst… You can find our How Do You Say Podcasts on Spotify too! Head to Spotify – or search for on Spotify.

New Words

EnglishCantoneseJyutpingOur Romanization
Singapore新/星加坡San1 /sing1 gaa1 bo1San/sing gaa bor
Maa5 loi4 sai1 ngaa3Maa loi sai aa
Hong Kong香港Hoeng1 gong2Hoeng gong
Taiwan台灣(湾)Toi4 waan1Toi waan
China中國(国) / 唐山Zung1 gwok3 / Tong4 saan1Zung gwok / Tong saan
Japan日本Jat6 bun2Yat bun
Australia澳洲Ou3 zau1Ou zau
Europe歐(欧)洲Ngau1 zau1Au zau
America美國(国)Mei5 gwok3Mei gwok

Podcast Transcript | Cantonese: How Do You Say – Country Names

Hi there! Welcome back to our Cantonese – How Do You Say Podcast. My name is Eugene from As promised, I will be touching on names of various countries in today’s podcast. Here we go!

To begin, let’s start off with where is based – Singapore. Singapore, in Cantonese is pronounced as 新加坡 but sometimes, you may hear older generation Cantonese speakers pronouncing it as 星加坡, possibly due to the five stars on our nation’s flag. This difference is more pronounced in Cantonese versus Hokkien or Teochew. Next, we have Singapore’s neighbour, Malaysia, otherwise known as 馬來西亞. It is also usually pronounced as 馬來西 to serve as a shortcut.

Now, learning Cantonese is very useful for your travels in Hong Kong, pronounced as 香港, given that it is the language most spoken by the locals there. And, just a short flight away is Taiwan or 台灣 in Cantonese, where people speak Hokkien, otherwise known as Southern Min language locally.

Cantonese, similar to Hokkien and Teochew, originated from China. China is known as 中國 but you may also hear senior Cantonese speakers still referring to the country as 唐山, literally translated as the “Tang mountain”. This is due to the prominence of the Tang dynasty in Chinese history where Chinese culture is widespread. China, is also regarded as a prosperous country during the Tang dynasty. This is why Chinatowns in countries outside China are often known as 唐人街 in Mandarin, literally translated as “Tang people street”.

Personally, my favourite country for travel within Asia is Japan or 日本 in Cantonese, as it has a good balance of city life, nature and good food. Looking outside Asia, I would consider travelling to Australia, Europe or America, respectively known as 澳洲, 歐洲 and 美國 in Cantonese. This would allow me to experience and interact with people of a different culture.

Hope the above list covers a country that you like. If not, please leave a comment and share with me the country that you would like to travel to. My name is Eugene from and see you the next week!

Love what you are reading? We’ve got lots more to share during our Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese express workshops. Join us to pick up words and phrases for everyday use in Singapore. More importantly, you can help to keep these languages alive!

Our Philosophy for Learning Cantonese in Singapore

At, 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. Jyutping, Yale 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.


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