Tuesday, September 5, 2006

A Hokkien Poem

Malaysia is a multi-racial country. Even the Chinese community is made up of people from different dialect groups, i.e., Cantonese, Hokkien (Fujian), Hakka, Teochew, Hainanese, and others, and even these can further be subdivided into various sub-dialects. However, the amazing thing is that all dialects use the same common written form, the Chinese characters.

In Malaysia, each area or city somehow has a dominant dialect, e.g., in Kuala Lumpur, the lingua franca is Cantonese though other dialects are also spoken but to a lesser extent. However, in Penang, Hokkien is the main dialect used.

And talk about Hokkien, here's a poem for you, Hokkien lang. ** Special note to the uninitiated: "kia" is Hokkien for "a child of" or an equivalent.

Children is kina kia
Bird is chiao kia
Korean Car is Kia
Give birth is seh kia
Furniture is Ikea
Police is mata kia
Small house is chu kia
Country name is Czechoslovakia
Puppy is kao kia
Kitten is ngiao kia
Chicken is kuey kia
Pig is tu kia
H/phone is nokia

I'm Hokkien kia,
Malay is huan kia
Hindu is kit leng kia
Kuai lou is ang mo kia
Chinese is t'ng lang Kia
Japanese is jit pun kia
Bad Guy is phai kia
Good Guy is ho kia

Person who read this message is Gong Kia
If you laugh, you are Siow Kia



  1. Happy,

    You tease gong kia to laugh, then hit them below the belt calling them siow kia...which means you're a phai t'ng lang kia.

  2. haha.. all kia.. no char boh meh?

    I like the joke abt Malaysian sending man to space to make teh tarik.

  3. Joe, haha! No lah, just in jest. Also, I'm no poet. 'Phai t'ng lang kia'...LOL!

    Robin, I thought kia is generic/unisex? And there is tah por kia and char bor kia?

    I think that teh tarik thing is not a joke lah. I saw the headline but have not read the story. Really a joke? I must go read it.

    Btw, noticed the change of avatar to the award-winning kitty. Metta needs a break? hehe..

  4. Ha...ha...
    So, Happy is a Huan Gong Siow Kia.

  5. Anonymous4:40 PM

    I don't understand at all...
    But then I smiled...

  6. 'wah si siow gong kia' then!

  7. PP, not Huan lah but t'ng lang. As for gong and siow - maybe a little of each otherwise life would be no fun, right? haha..

  8. Z, you don't understand Hokkien? Ooh, what a shame as it's the easiest dialect to pick up. And if you can speak Hokkien, then Teochew is a piece of cake. But nevermind, we love you just as you are. ;)

    Maybe I should do a translation of that rhyming poem for the benefit of you and our non-Hokkien speaking friends.

  9. FH2o, haha... confession accepted! Just kidding. Btw, the word is 'Gua' instead of 'Wah'. Learn a word a day, eh?

  10. no money drive a kia ...my little contribution! :-)

  11. See Fei, no lah. No money, kia... as in to go on foot. hahaha..

  12. Z, on second thought, there is no need for translation as you already know what 'kia' is, so the word preceding it would mean what is spelt out in English. As simple as that.

  13. Anonymous8:21 PM

    Now I get it...
    Sorry ah... a bit the slow lately

  14. 我抱歉。我不瞭解。

    I thought I was getting the gist of it for a while, and then I became TOTALLY CONFUUUSSSSSED!!!!!!!!!

  15. 3 main dialects use by sarawak kias


  16. Anonymous11:08 AM

    Ah...I'm getting to know more about you now and learnt that interesting Hokkien dialect, Happy!

    Well..I know there are two ang mo kias in here. :-p


  17. MM, so sorry we lost you. Would you rather I do the translation?

    R Sponge, Hakka is top of the list?
    If so, I am surprised.

  18. Pandabonium, I am impressed. You've got it! Siow. haha..

    PP, LOL. Yes, we have two ang moh friends here.

    MM, Pandabonium --
    Ang moh literally means "red-haired" which really means Caucasian. It's non-derogatory, just a local expression.

  19. hey hey xiao lian kia, don't bully ang moh kia yoh...

    I have just been certified as a qualified Siow Kia.

  20. Hey, hey, hey, YD - welcome back! We missed you. Certified qualified Siow Kia. haha...

  21. Learning the difference between a cat's tail and a pacifier - the hard way.

  22. I think I understood the language bit okay, but I had trouble understanding.

    Be kind to us poor ang mo kia!

    (Red hair??!? And I thought it was bad enough being told by my Japanese boss that I had to have blond hair to be respected as a "real" foreigner in Japan...)

  23. Pandabonium, LOL.

    MM, and I suppose you're glad you're not blonde!

    Red hair is just a generic expression. I suppose there were more redheads being sent here then. haha...

    There is something frustrating about learning languages in that there's no fixed rule and the rules sometimes contradict each other - but you already know that.

    Even inflection can cause a misunderstanding which the Chinese words are formed based on this (inflection feature).

    For example, in Cantonese, a wrong inflection or tone for the word 'crab' can spell disaster. For those who speak Cantonese, do you agree? We could probably come up with a whole long list of these interesting words just for some laughs.

    We have now come to the end of today's lesson. Thank you for joining us.

  24. Both Malaysia and Singapore are places where there's a rojak of languages and dialects :)