Today’s blog post is about a curious feature of Hong Kong English — “know more” — that is increasingly commonly used to encourage you to click on a hyperlink. You can see it in the first image above performing this job. By contrast, in the second image it is part of the title of a food safety campaign.
The grammatical form of this expression “know more’ is imperative; in other words, grammatically this is a command in English. The verb ‘know’ here has a similar grammatical form to the verbs in expressions like “Click here”, or “Contact us”, or “Work faster”.
However, it is logically impossible in English to command someone to “know more”. This is because ‘knowing’ is not an action like “clicking’ or ‘contacting” or “working” that one person can compel another person to do.
In standard English, invitations to click on a hyperlink for more information never use the verb ‘know’. Instead, they generally take one of these two forms:
* Find out more
* Learn more
“Find out more” is probably the most common in standard English. The term “find out” means to acquire more information about something; it is an active and dynamic verb (unlike ‘know’) which carries a sense of making an effort to learn something. It is therefore an ideal expression to use in contexts like the mygovhk hyperlink shown above. However, many Hong Kong users are not confident using ‘find out’, perhaps because it’s a phrasal verb and seems too informal to some.
It can be found on a few government websites (the example below is from the Environmental Protection department website), but it’s time to use this expression far more widely in Hong Kong — and stop using ‘Know more”!
About this blog
This blog arises from keeping an eye on English in Hong Kong. I often use signs, notices and advertisements that I see as starting points to write about English issues that commonly challenge Hong Kong writers.