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The Cantonese phrase "M 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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  • 2
    Just as a side note, it's generally pronounced "mh goi" rather than "ng goi". Dec 14, 2011 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. Dec 15, 2011 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). Dec 16, 2011 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, 2011 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, 2014 at 3:01

3 Answers 3

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M 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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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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  • this is definitely the closest. (it's closer than "请" which is a translation of "please")
    – Arthur Yip
    Sep 17, 2020 at 3:52
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above comments already address that "Excuse me" / "Hey" are a result of shortened phrases.
So with respect to "Thanks" (casual), this is what i was taught as a kid...

多谢 and 唔该 are spoken in cantonese but both written in chinese as 谢谢
多谢 is used when receiving a gift "thanks"
唔该 is used when someone does you a favour - i understand it to be another case of shortened phrase possibly from 你唔应该... or “you shouldn't have..."

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