Jan 8, 2009
Be quick; hurry up.
This little reduplicated term has its origins in the South China Sea, as a Pidgin English version of the Chinese term k'wâi-k'wâi. The earliest known citation of chop-chop in print is from the English language newspaper that was printed in Canton in the early 19th century - The Canton Register, 13th May 1834:
We have also... 'chop-chop hurry'.
A slightly fuller account was printed two years later, in a monthly journal which was produced by and for American missionaries in Canton - The Chinese Repository. In January 1836 it contained an article headed 'Jargon Spoken in Canton', which included:
"Chop-chop - pidgin Cantonese phrase for 'Hurry up!'"