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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?

  • 2
    Just as a side note, it's generally pronounced "mh goi" rather than "ng goi". – Zann Anderson 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). – Zann Anderson 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 '14 at 3:01
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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.

  • @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
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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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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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