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  • Writer's pictureYK CHEUNG

Over-height = 超高?

AVOID UNNECESSARY NEOLOGISM


An electronic notice has been displayed on motorways in Hong Kong in recent weeks: 'No Over-height Crane'. The Chinese translation reads: 吊臂不可超高. While there is 超重 in Chinese, meaning 'overweight', chao gao 超高 meaning excessive height sounds unnatural to Chinese ears.


Chao 超 may serve as a verb as well as an adverb (in spoken Chinese). Although it is common to say chao gao when the meaning is 'exceedingly tall', where chao is an adverb, chao gao as a bi-syllabic lexeme meaning excessive height does not seem to be frequently seen in idiomatic Chinese.

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