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The Cantonese phrase "Ng Goi" has many meanings;

  • "Excuse me"
  • "Thanks" (casual)
  • "Hey"

Does it have a 普通话 equivalent? And how can I write it in pinyin? Is it even possible?

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Just as a side note, it's generally pronounced "mh goi" rather than "ng goi". –  Zannjaminderson Dec 14 '11 at 19:41
    
To me it sounds like "m goi", but I know lots of the "m" sounds get romanised as "ng". Officially should it be "mh goi" or "ng goi"? There isn't much romanisation here in HK. –  Matthew Rudy 马泰 Dec 15 '11 at 6:55
    
I guess it depends on what romanization you're using. The romanization you see around Hong Kong - for example district names like "Tsim Sa Tsui" and "Tai Koo Shing" is hardly romanization at all and gives no clue (or a bad idea) about how to pronounce a name if you're an English speaker. "Mh goi" is the Yale Romanization version of the phrase (sans accent marks for the tone on "mh", which I need to figure out how to type). –  Zannjaminderson Dec 16 '11 at 18:13
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I just wanted to note that it's always prounounced m̀h gōi and never ǹgh gōi. Negation words in Chinese all evolved from words that had initial labial consonants, namely m- or p-/b- sounds (as an aside, some of the former evolved into w- in Mandarin and most of the latter evolved into f- in both Cantonese and Mandarin, one notable exception being 不). Because m̀h didn't originally have a written representation, 唔 was chosen to represent it. The original pronunciation of the character is ǹgh, but it doesn't mean that the word m̀h should be prounounced ǹgh. –  Claw Dec 28 '11 at 16:48
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It should be noted that it doesn't actually mean 'excuse me', but people have shortened the phrase 'mh goi tze tze' (please move out of my way) to simply 'mh goi'. Likewise, 'hey' is actually 'mh goi _____' where the blank is the person you're trying to get the attention of, e.g. 'mh goi gor gor' for 'please, young man'. –  Sam Jun 27 at 3:01

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Ng Goi is written as 唔該 which in simplified is 唔该 or Wú gāi in pinyin.

The only thing I can think of that may be similar, although it definitely doesn't mean thanks is 劳驾 Láojià which you could use for "excuse me" or "hey" but not for thanks.

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Thanks. "wu gai"... will have to remember that. –  Matthew Rudy 马泰 Dec 14 '11 at 4:16
    
@MatthewRudy马泰 I think you misunderstand. You can't say "wu gai" to a Mandarin speaker and expect them to understand anything. That's just how you would pronounce the characters in Mandarin. –  Stumpy Joe Pete Sep 3 '12 at 19:49
    
yeah @StumpyJoePete, I understand. But I live in Hong Kong, and can only type in Pinyin. So if I want to send an email or whatsapp with 唔该, I need to remember the pinyin. –  Matthew Rudy 马泰 Oct 29 '12 at 10:02
    
@MatthewRudy马泰 Point taken. –  Stumpy Joe Pete Nov 2 '12 at 20:03

Similar to 劳驾, you could say 不好意思. It doesn't mean "Thank you" though. It can be used as "Excuse me" or "Sorry" or "Hey".

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Arguably the best translation of "ng goi," is PLEASE. From this, one can see its use as "excuse me," or "you're welcome," or "hey," but not "thank you." It is roughly equivalent to the German word "Bitte,"

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I don't think this is an appropriate answer. The OP is asking for a Mandarin equivalent, not an equivalent in another language. –  Orion Dec 15 '11 at 5:26

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