In the dialogue, In-Sook Chappell uses a host familiar and unfamiliar words and phrases to pepper the language and dialect of the characters, with some brilliant comic and dramatic effect. We’ve put together a short glossary for Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok to help along your understanding.
Cantonese – is a Chinese language most spoken in the province of Guangzhou in south-east China
Mandarin – is a Chinese language most spoken in northern and south-west China.
Siu mai – an aromatic Chinese dumpling, the smell evokes a memory of home for Helen in the play.
Dai pai dongs – a typical open-air food stall in Hong Kong
Guangzhou – the capital city of the Guangdong province in southern China
Char siu belly pork – a kind of barbecued pork dish, using thin slices of pork and spices, typically Cantonese cuisine
Popo – term of affection, shortened form for Maternal grandmother
Cheongsam – is a body-hugging one-piece dress worn by some women
Dim sum - Dim sum is a style of Chinese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in steamer baskets or on plates, typically 3 pieces to share. Dim sum dishes are usually served with tea and eaten at midday
Amah - a girl or woman employed by a family to clean, look after children, and perform other domestic tasks. In India amahs are called an aya or amma (Hindi language)
Triads - a triad is one of many branches of Chinese transnational organised crime syndicates or gangs based in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and also in other countries with significant Chinese populations
Lap cheong - Chinese sausage is a generic term referring to the many different types of sausages originating in China.
Mahjong – is a very popular traditional Chinese board-game which uses tiles to knock out your opponents. Players often bet and gamble on who will win.