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To my ear, 冧巴 (lam1baa2, meaning "number") sounds a lot like the English word "number". Is this a coincidence, or is this a loanword from English?

If it is a loanword, what word was used in its place before Chinese contact with the English-speaking world? Is 冧巴 only used in Hong Kong, or is it used in Guangdong as well?

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冧把/lam1 baa2/ is a loanword for "Number" In Hong Kong

If a term is used in Hong Kong, it would inevitably spear to Guangdong

冧把 is the noun for 號碼 or 號數. Wherever you can use the word "號碼/號數", you can replace it with 冧把. That makes the sentence more colloquial

Example:

工作證號碼 = 工作證冧把

你的電話號碼是什麼? = 你嘅電話冧把係幾號?

攞個冧把之後等叫名 = Take a number and wait to be called

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Most "Hong Kong Chinese" actually came from Guangzhou. Guangzhou was the economic and cultural centre of South China. Hong Kong didn't start developing until somewhere around the 1960s, and then picked up speed in 1970s.

冧把 is a transliteration of the English word "number" and is used the same way as 號碼, but it's fading out.

You may sometimes see a Taiwanese saying 南波萬. 南波 is number in English and 萬 is one in English. It's generally used in a sacarstic fashion.

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