‘Games’…. in Cantonese

The psychological game – NIGYSOB i.e. ‘Now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch’

Sorry.   This is another post which probably only my Cantonese readers would be interested.

I am re-reading the book ‘Games People Play’ by Eric Berne on Transaction Analysis.   It is very helpful in identifying unconscious processing on interpersonal or group level which actually undermines the stated objectives.    But I am here discussing the concepts. There are a lot of material online e.g. Tom Butler Bowdon’s blog explains the concepts quite concisely.

Instead I want to reflect on the games’ names. There is some magic in how Berne named each game   For example, he called the first game in the book ‘If It Weren’t For You IWFY’.   (I highlight briefly at this article end what he meant by ‘Game’ and this particular one IWFY)      The use of such colloquial language helps capture not only the meaning of the game but also the general sensation one would have when we say or hear such language.   And there is some fun in it!   

But such colloquial language by nature resonates well only to the native speakers.  (And I believe there are local games particular to different cultures / social groups.) This prompts me to have some fun in coming up names in my mother tongue – Cantonese on a few games as follows.   What else will you think of which carries the sensation even better?

NIGYSOB – ‘Now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch’ – Somehow allowing others to take advantage on self on trivial matters , and feeling justified in venting almost unlimited rage against the person.   Actually has been looking for similar injustices, received them with delight and exploited them with the same vigour.

>> There is a popular Cantonese saying for that – ‘你今次仲唔死, 契弟!’ 

SWYMD – ‘See what you made me do’ – Somehow allowing self to make a small misfortunate / mistake as a result of an interruption in order to give him a lever for ejecting the intruder.

>> Again, this popular one – ‘睇你搞成我咁’ is probably the equivalent.

WAHM – ‘Why does this always happen to me’ – Repeatedly getting oneself into misfortune or choosing to see the misfortunate aspect.   Trying to win the contest of misfortune.

>> How about ‘點解成日都係我’? Or even a more contemporary one ‘我正一係地獄黑仔王’?

IWFY – ‘If it weren’t for you’ – Somehow got self into a constraining situation in order to avoid confronting fear outside those constraints…. and enjoy the potential compensation by complaining to the one who imposes those constraints.

>> I think of this one – ‘如果唔係為咗你’. Unfortunately, this line is what some parents say to the kids often in order to influence with guilt. Oh, and there is sometimes a more aggressive version – ‘如果唔係為x咗你’

(Game – Berne defines it as ‘an ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined, predictable outcome’.   Basically, we engage into unconscious patterns of behavioral interaction with others in order to achieve some hidden gains.  For example, in IWFY, a woman complains regularly how her husband restricts her activities e.g. starting a career.   Actually, she gains by not having to face the anxiety in finding a job, and she can complain about the restrictions which makes her spouse feel uneasy and gives her all sorts of advantages. Of course, men do this as well.)

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