Lian-Hee Wee, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University who studies Cantonese phonology, is slightly more optimistic in Hong Kong’s case. “We might see Cantonese becoming more expressive,” he said. “And there is a need to express so much now. The need comes about because there is no room for it: it’s precisely because you’re not allowed to speak that you need to speak.”

Image for article titled As in mainland China, Hong Kongers now use code to evade political censorship

Wee quoted a Chinese idiom that he roughly translated as, “To put a stop on the mouth of the people is as if you’re trying to stuff up the mouth of the river.” The fact that this saying exists suggests that Chinese people have long grappled with ways to express themselves in spite of censorship. “Talking in code is not new, and Hong Kongers are getting used to the fact that they have to,” he said, whereas during the protests last year and 2014’s Umbrella Movement, “they didn’t have to but they enjoyed doing so.” 

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