December 7, 2022

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Innovation Leader

Wordle: As word puzzle takes over the internet, Hong Kong professor creates Cantonese version

When cryptically coloured squares began flooding Lau Chaak-ming’s social media feeds earlier this month, the 37-year-old linguistics professor didn’t take much notice. But curiosity soon got the better of him, and it wasn’t long before Lau was waiting until midnight – when the daily puzzle refreshes – to play Wordle, the word game that has taken the internet by storm.

Last Friday, while eating breakfast at a local cafe with a co-worker, Lau realised that many of the items on the menu were Wordle-length. Things like saido (French toast), hofun (rice noodles) and gaafe (coffee) were all five letters long when written in Jyutping, a romanisation system used to spell out Cantonese words.

Zidou, a Wordle spin-off in Cantonese. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP

One of his friends had already made a variation of Wordle using Cangjie, a system for typing characters. Inspired, Lau, who works at the Education University of Hong Kong, also set out to make a puzzle variant in his native language. He called it Zidou, which means “know.”

Wordle: As word puzzle takes over the internet, Hong Kong professor creates Cantonese version