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In Cantonese, 唔知邊個打邊個 means "don't know (confused) who is who"

The verb 打 (hit; attack) here seemingly occupy the position of 'is' in this phrase

But the meaning of 'is' is not included in the 打 entry in dictionaries

So what is the role of 打 in this expression exactly?

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My theory is, 打 in 唔知邊個打邊個 should be interpreted literally as 'hit/attack/fight'. The whole phrase means "don't know who fights who" and "can't tell who is who" is an extended meaning.

There are many expressions we use today were from Chinese opera. Imagine watching a group fight on stage, everyone is fighting with everyone else. The audience might get confused and can't tell who is fighting who.

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This expression sounds to me more likely to be used when someone watches a group/team fights/plays against another one, and the person doesn't know the name of the two groups/teams.

For example, 今日又場球賽,但我唔知邊個打邊個。

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Arron Qiu is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
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“打” here means 對 / 配對。instead of “is”, it should be better translated as “matches” or “associate with”.

Other examples: 打成一片。 猜謎。打一物。

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M Cheng is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
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  • Do you have any sources to support your theory?
    – L Parker
    Sep 12 at 23:33
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My understanding, or the way I remember it, is that "打" (da) is the "lazy" pronunciation of "搭" (daap), without the 'p' sound. 搭 usually means "matching" like in 搭配, so the expression would literally mean "don't know which matches with what".

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