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I saw the title of a video: 關於福麵嘅N件事. 福麵 is a brand of noodles with a huge 福 writing on the packaging. What then is N件事? Is it a Cantonese slang I am unaware of?

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  1. It means 'numerous/several facts about Fuku Noodle'.

  2. The slang N has an algebraic etymology which denotes an unspecified but large number (e.g., 1, 2, 3, ..., N). Apparently this emerged in the early eighties (see more here).

    is the counter for ('a thing; a matter', here its meaning is fairly abstract and dummy-like, meaning whatever that is about Fuku noodle). In fact it is common to add counters after N: N樣嘢 ('many things'), N次 ('many times'), N年前 ('many years ago') etc.

    Of course, we don't expect countlessly many facts in a short video. Using N is often exaggeration.

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'n' is a common symbol for 'unknow number' in the maths textbook,

N年前 = so many years ago/ unknown number of years ago

N樣嘢 = so many things/ unknown number of things

I did wonder why use 'n' but not X or Y for unknown numbers? Then I thought, oh, the word 'number' starts with an 'n'

I also wondered since 'n' can be a small number, why we use it for numerous, Then I thought, small number is easy to remember, If there are only a few things about 福麵, we would just state the exact number. We say 'N件事' because there are too many things that the exact number became unknown

Example:

我妹妹有兩個男朋友,我點知你講邊個? - My sister has two boyfriends, how do I know which one you are talking about?

我妹妹有咁多個男朋友,我點知你講邊個? - My sister has so many boyfriends, how do I know which one you are talking about?

我妹妹有N個男朋友,我點知你講邊個? - My sister has numerous boyfriends, how do I know which one you are talking about? (I stopped counting after the fifth)

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