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Auspicious Common Sayings

Common sayings in Guangzhou are rich in auspicious meanings. Local people tend to sprinkle their conservations with sayings full of auspicious meanings.

Historically, one of the most frequently used phrases among Guangzhou people was "Great Blessings", as it was commonly believed that uttering this phrase could help people evade bad luck. For example, if someone sneezed constantly, people around him would say "Great Blessings". When someone ran into a funeral procession in the street, he would murmur "Great Blessings" to himself. When someone dropped a chopstick during a meal, he would also say "Great Blessings". And, before a new house was built, a Buddhist or Taoist priest would be invited to hold a sacrificial ceremony. The priest would write the words "Auspicious Work Commencement" on a red sheet of paper, and people would say "Great Blessings" when the ground was broken.

Guangzhou people use antonyms to describe bad things, believing that this would turn bad things into good ones. For example, as the word in the local dialect for "empty" has the same pronunciation as the word for "ominous", an "empty house" is often referred to as an "auspicious house", and buying a house is commonly called "obtaining auspiciousness". Likewise, "bitter melons" are often referred to as "cool melons", money as "water" or "water head", and "dry" things as "moist" stuffs; for instance, "pork liver" is referred to as "pork moistness", "pork liver soup" as "gold and silver moistness", and drinking at banquets as "sipping victory".

The Chinese word for "die" is a very ominous word and is a taboo word. In mandarin Chinese, when someone died, he is said to have "passed away", "left the world", "reached 100 years of age", "returned to the West", "vanished like an immortal", or "gone to sleep forever". In the Guangzhou dialect, when someone is dead, he is said to have "turned around", "been no longer around", and "returned to his original place". In recent years, as inhumation has been increasingly replaced by cremation, when someone died, he would be referred to "have gone to the big chimney". In the Chinese language, the word for "coffin" has the same pronunciation as the words for "official" and "wealth", but as "coffins" are associated with death, they are referred to as "long life" or "longevity wood".

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