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Table of contents
1 Nhang's origins as a contemporary word
2 The meaning of Nhang
3 Variations of Nhang
4 Link

Nhang's origins as a contemporary word

Nhang, or nhãng, is a Vietnamese word with many meanings, which has been used as slang in parts of South London since the end of the 20th Century. In Vietnamese nhang means incense and nhàng nhàng means not thin not fat, slim. Nhãng means forget. Nhăng means nonsensical. Tracing the precise origin of the word's use by English speakers has not been achieved by philologists. However a core group of people are known to have pioneered its use: namely Felix May, Sam Niechcial, Tom Liffen and later Oliver Stannard. From these protagonists the word has spread throughout many social groups. The word has become recognised as both the calling card of this core group and as a way of recognising other members in much the same way as the freemason's secret handshake. Nang (a variation in spelling only) has been used as a tag by a graffitti artist.

The meaning of Nhang

Nhang is an example of a highly organic word that can be interpreted in different ways according to context. It may be uttered appreciatively upon smelling a freshly lit incense stick. The alliterative nhang nhang is used to mean so-so or no more no less. It is frequently used as an interjection to express the frustration of embarking upon some course of action, but then forgetting what one had set out to do. When involved in an absurd situation one might say nhang interrogatively, to draw others' attention to the situation and in order verify its absurdity. The response might be nhang nhang, implying just so, but not so.

Variations of Nhang

Some different uses of nhang are in circulation, expressed by intonation or by using additional suffixes. Some examples are nhang-o-lang, nhang-anang, nablang and nhazang. The meanings of these variations vary widely, depending on the source. Nang is another way of spelling Nhang, but the latter is preferred as it emphasises the initial soft 'n'.


Vietnamese dictionary