Saturday, 3 May 2014

Chop-chop - A Chinese Hurry

A dish of two pork chops and salad
Two pork chops. Well do you have any better ideas?
(photo by Stuart Webster Photography)


Adverb & interjection. Colloquial (originally Pidgin English). Mid-19th century.
[An obscure formation rendering Chinese dialect kuai-kuai.]

Quick, quickly; hurry up!

Chop-chop! How many words of Chinese origin are there in English? Not a huge amount, really, but they are out there, although most of them are immediately identifiable as such (such as chop suey, for example, and ginseng). I like chop-chop, though, exactly because it's not immediately identifiable as Chinese; in fact, it sounds rather posh, British, and middle class. However, once you know it's Chinese, it suddenly seems obvious, an 'Oh yeah' moment and a feeling that you should have always known that. Anyway, the day marches on, so I'd better ... y'know ... hop to it ...

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