Canto 101: Three-inch men

Just when you were running out of insults for the short men in your life (there’s only so many times you can call him shortie, lil guy, midget and Willow before he goes numb), here’s another one for ya: three-inch nail (saam chyun deng, 三寸釘 ). 
Yup, leave it to the Cantonese to come up with slang that’s both creative and totally appropriate! Let’s examine the ways in which 3-inch nails are similar to short men: they’re both steely and cold, not quite long enough to be useful, and both can turn out to be complete pricks!
Haha, just kidding… of course that all applies to normal men as well. But, add to the fact that ‘inch’ in Canto also sounds like the word for ‘arrogant,’ and the whole thing starts to make more sense than you think. 
Maybe I’ve got it wrong and three-inch nail is actually an endearing term for vertically challenged men. Anyone out there know? And if so, does that mean that three short men make 9-inch nails? 
\m/ |>_<| \m/

2 thoughts on “Canto 101: Three-inch men

  1. 'Saam chuen deng' is quite a deep insult to the over-50s, in fact. It means short, but it ALSO means troublesome in the sense of everyone having to 'work' around him/her – like a nail jutting a bit up from the floorboard that forces everyone to walk around it to avoid tripping. I'm sorry to say that additional meaning is pretty much forgotten.

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