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I live in Beijing, and my landlord (who I think is from the Dongbei region) sent our group this WeChat message yesterday:

明天有人在家乜

明天有人在家乜

We're getting a new fridge delivered, and she wants to know if anyone will be at home at that time. The character 乜 surprised me, as I've never seen it before (and it only has 2 strokes!).

CC-CEDICT: 乜 (miē​) to squint / what? (Cantonese) / see also 乜嘢
CC-CEDICT: 乜嘢 (miē​yě​) what? (Cantonese) / Mandarin equivalent: 什麼|什么

It appears to be some kind of dialect thing, functioning somewhat like 吗. It may be some kind of trend, or Internet slang. It looks kind of cool, so I'm rather curious about this.

Question: What is 乜 doing in my landlord's message 明天有人在家乜?

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  • It's rather unusual to me if this is not a typo. Usually, I'd expect 吗 or 吧 in this sentence.
    – dan
    Jul 14, 2021 at 23:40
  • It should be 么 me. She added an additional "i" by mistake and it becomes "mie".
    – user
    Nov 18, 2022 at 15:34

2 Answers 2

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乜 is a Cantonese word "mat1" or "me1", meaning "what". And it makes no sense in this sentence.

My guess is that your landlord meant to say 明天有人在家嗎? and she uses "pinyin" or some kind of phonetic input. When she typed "ma" for 嗎, 乜 popped up, along with all the other "ma"s. She probably clicked on it by mistake and sent it out too fast. What she meant to say was “明天有人在家嗎?”

If you're familiar with pinyin input, you'll know that when you type a syllable, many similar-sounding (not homophonic, just similar-sounding) characters will pop up as well. It's easy, at that point, to click on a "wrong" character by accident.

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    /mat1/ and /me1/ is jyutping; 乜's pinyin is /mie1/. So, the landlord is using Cantonese jyutping?
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 15, 2021 at 0:23
  • No, I never said she was using Cantonese input. She could be using pinyin. I use pinyin input all the time, and many similar sounding characters (not homophones, just similar sounding) pop up. It's easy to click on a "wrong" word by accident.
    – monalisa
    Jul 15, 2021 at 0:35
  • Seems more like a notepad misunderstanding written input for 吗 than a pinyin input bizarrely listing mie high up in the list for m or ma, let alone 不 or 勿.
    – lly
    Jul 15, 2021 at 15:56
  • May be write 不 in handwriting input also result in the typo?
    – Alan Zzz
    Jul 15, 2021 at 18:49
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明天有人在家乜 doesn't make sense in Cantonese.

I think it is a typo. The note apparently means "明天有人在家不?" or "明天有人在家不勿?" (乜 sounds like both 不 and 勿) I know for sure some dialects use 勿 instead of 不 in this context

It makes sense to post "明天有人在家不/勿?" If the landlord wanted to know will there be someone at home tomorrow when a new fridge is coming

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