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Category Archives: Hokkien

Hokkien: How Do You Say – Delicious Cooked Food

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say – Delicious Cooked Food

New Words   
Food – 食的物件(食物) – Jiak eh ming kia
Delicious – 好食(好吃) – Ho jiak
Cook – 煮 – Zih or Zu


Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say – Delicious Cooked Food

Hello everyone! My name is Eugene and thanks for tuning into our Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast. In this session, we will be touching on one topic that Singaporeans hold very close to our hearts – food!

While the term “food” is commonly used in English, the same cannot be said in Hokkien within the Singapore context. Instead, we usually refer to food as “things to be eaten” or “食的物件”. Specifically, “物件” means “things”. Now, I would suggest for you to keep this in mind, as you’ll soon find that “物件” is a very versatile phrase. In fact, I’ll encourage you to observe how this phrase is commonly used in Hokkien conversations and try to pick up the different ways of application!

So how do we translate “Food is delicious” into Hokkien then? We do so by saying, “物件真好食”, where “好食” means “delicious” or “yummy”. Of course, if you have a specific food item in your mind, you can simply replace “物件” with the dish name. For example, “福建面真好食” means “Hokkien noodles is delicious”.

Now, I’m a big foodie myself and when I come across a dish that is really yummy, I’ll like to give credits to the person who cooked it, be it the chef or my loved ones. After all, I know that cooking is not easy! Well, for a simple praise, I’ll say, “你煮的物件真好食”. This means “the food that you cooked is really delicious”. “Cook” can be pronounced as either “Zih” or “Zu” and will be understood by Hokkiens in Singapore.

A quick recap of what we have learnt today:

  • 食的物件, which means “food”;
  • 物件真好食, which means “food is delicious”; and
  • 你煮(zih)的物件真好食 or 你煮(zu)的物件真好食, which means “the food that you cooked is really delicious”.

There you go. Hope these phrases are useful for your next conversation over a good meal! My name is Eugene from LearnDialect.sg and see you next week!


Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version.

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear. 

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Hokkien: How Do You Say – Country Names

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say – Country Names

New Words   
Singapore – 新加坡 – Xin gar po
Malaysia – 州府 – Jiu Hu
Hong Kong – 香港 – Hiang gang
Taiwan – 台湾 – Dai wan
China – 中国 / 唐山 – Diong gok / Teng suah
Japan – 日本 – Jit bun
Australia – 澳洲 – Ou chiu
Europe – 欧洲 – Au chiu
America – 美国 – Bee gok 


Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say – Country Names

Hi there! Welcome back to our Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast. My name is Eugene from LearnDialect.sg. As promised, I will be touching on names of various countries in today’s podcast. Here we go! 

To begin, let’s start off with where LearnDialect.sg is based, Singapore. Singapore in Hokkien is pronounced as 新加坡. Next, we have Singapore’s neighbour, Malaysia. Instead of using the Chinese characters of Malaysia’s name and translating it into Hokkien, Singaporean Hokkiens and Teochews typically call Malaysia “州府” as it was a term used under the British colonial rule. 

Now, learning Hokkien is useful for your travels in Taiwan – pronounced as “台湾” – as Taiwanese people speak a variant of Hokkien, otherwise better known as Southern Min language locally. Just a short flight away is Hong Kong or “香港” in Hokkien, which is a country well-known for tax-free shopping and dim sum. 

Hokkien, similar to Teochew and Cantonese, originated from China. China is known as “中国” but you may also hear senior Hokkien speakers still referring to the country as “唐山”, literally translated as the Tang mountain. This is due to the prominence of the Tang dynasty in Chinese history where Chinese culture is widespread. China, is also regarded as a prosperous country during the Tang dynasty. This is why Chinatowns in countries outside China are often known as “唐人街” in Mandarin, literally translated as “Tang people street”. 

Personally, my favourite country for travel within Asia is Japan or “日本” in Hokkien, as it has a good balance of city life, nature and good food. Looking outside Asia, I would consider travelling to Australia, Europe or America, respectively known as “澳洲”,” 欧洲” and “美国” in Hokkien. This would allow me to experience and interact with people of a different culture. 

Hope the above list covers a country that you like. If not, please leave a comment and share with me the country that you would like to travel to. My name is Eugene from LearnDialect.sg and see you the next week! 


Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version. Paragraph

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear. 

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Hokkien: How Do You Say “Favourite Country for Travel”

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Favourite Country for Travel”

New Words   
Most – 上(最) – Siong
Which one – 佗一个(哪一个) – Toh jit eh
Country – 国家 – Gok gar
Play – 𨑨迌(玩) – Chit tou 


Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Favourite Country for Travel”

Arrgh… would you agree with me if I say that holidays are always too short? So how do you usually spend your holidays? Personally, the one thing that I look forward to during holidays is to travel and experience different cultures. Speaking of travelling overseas, do you know how to ask someone what is their favourite country for travel? My name is Eugene from LearnDialect.sg and in today’s Hokkien “How Do You Say” podcast, we will be exploring more on this topic. 

So first up, here are some new words that you will be learning today –  

“最” which means “most”;  

“佗一个” meaning “which one”; 

“国家” which means “country” and 

“𨑨迌” means “play”. 

To ask someone where is their favourite country for travel, I would tap into words we have learnt on the podcast previously and say,  

“你最舒合去佗一个国家𨑨迌?”. This translates literally into “You most like go which one country play?” 

Now, we’ve learnt “舒合” in one of our earlier How Do You Say “I Love You” podcast. Just a quick recap for you, “舒合” means “like” or “love”. Combining this with the new word, “最”, we literally get “most like” and hence, “最舒合” is one way to express “favourite” in Hokkien!  

Apart from “舒合” which Singapore Hokkiens borrow from the Malay language, did you also know that “𨑨迌” is a term unique to Min language speakers, including Hokkiens and Teochews? If you are keen to learn more about the unique language features of Hokkien, let me sidetrack a little and shamelessly throw in an ad here… do join us on our Hokkien Workshop for Beginners. Just visit our website at LearnDialect.sg and look under the tab on “Upcoming Classes”. 

Ok, back to today’s podcast. “Where is your favourite country for travel?”, translated to Hokkien will be “你最舒合去佗一个国家𨑨迌?”  

We’ve now learnt that the phrase, “𨑨迌” means “play”. So why do we use this phrase to infer travel in this scenario? This is simply a colloquial language shortcut. After all, similar to playing, you’ll have lots of fun travelling to a country that you like, isn’t it? 

So I really want to know, 你最舒合去佗一个国家𨑨迌? Please share with me in the comments. In our next podcast, I will teach you the names of some countries in Hokkien. My name is Eugene from LearnDialect.sg and see you the next week! 


Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version. Paragraph

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear. 

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Hokkien: How Do You Say “School Holidays”

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “School Holidays”

New Words   
School – 学堂(学校) – Oak tng
Holidays – 放假(假期) – Pang keh
Go – 去 – Ki
Study – 读册(读书) – Tak ce
Play – 耍(玩) – Sng 


Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “School Holidays”

As a child, don’t we just love the June and December school holidays? It’s a time when we can look forward to a long break from school, head out for the latest movies during weekdays and travel overseas to our dream destination. Hi there! If you are still studying, how has your school holidays been? I’m Eugene from LearnDialect.sg and in today’s How Do You Say podcast, we will be learning how to say a few school-holiday related phrases in Hokkien. 

Well, my maternal grandmother took care of me when I was young as my parents were often at work. I recalled that whenever it came to the school holidays, I would always ask my Grandma for permission to play with my neighbour, Aaron. In Hokkien, this would sound like, “学堂放假免去读册,我可以佮Aaron去耍无?”. 

Let me break it down for you.  

Firstly, “学堂“ means “school” while “放假” means “break for holidays”. Combining them together, we’ll get “学堂放假”, that is, “school holidays”. 

“免去读册” literally means “no need to study”.  

Thus, putting them together, the first half of the phrase becomes, “学堂放假免去读册”. This literally translates to, “school holidays no need to study”.  

Now, the second half of the phrase, “我可以佮Aaron去耍无?” means “Can I play with Aaron?”. 

There you go! I’ll repeat the whole sentence for you – “学堂放假免去读册,我可以佮Aaron去耍无?”. Do it with a nice smile and I’m sure you’ll pretty much get your way! 

Suppose I would like to ask for Grandma’s permission to head out and have a meal with Aaron instead. Do you know how to say that in Hokkien? Pause the audio and have a think about it. When you are ready, play the audio again and listen to how I would say it.  

Ready? Ok, I would make a tweak in the latter part of the phrase by saying, ”我可以佮Aaron去食无?” So here’s the full sentence for you, “学堂放假免去读册,我可以佮Aaron去食无?”. Did you get it? 

Before we end the podcast today, here’s a quick recap of the new words that we’ve learnt today: 

  • “学堂放假” means “school holidays”;  
  • “读册” means “studies”; and, 
  • “耍” means to “play”. 

Hope you have picked up a phrase or two from this Hokkien podcast. The team at LearnDialect.sg wishes you happy school holidays! 


Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version. Paragraph

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear. 

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Hokkien: How Do You Say “No Problem”

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “No Problem”

New Words   
No problem / No questions – 无问题 – Boh boon dueh 


Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “No Problem”

Hi everyone! My name is Eugene and once again, welcome to  How Do You Say on LearnDialect.sg. In today’s podcast, we will be covering a useful Hokkien phrase for daily conversations that has dual meaning. This Hokkien phrase is “无问题”. Once you learn how to pronounce this phrase, you can either use it to express “no problem” or to indicate that you have “no questions”. Talk about killing 2 birds with 1 stone!  

Now, let’s start by learning how to express “no problem”. For example, if I wasn’t able to help you buy Hokkien noodles, but yet you are totally fine with it, this is how our conversation would sound like,  

I’ll say, “对唔住,我无买你要食的福建面”. 

You’ll say, “无问题”! Well, by now, you should be quite familiar with this word, “无”, as I’ve taught it a couple of times. “无” means “no” and “问题” – the new phrase today – refers to “problem”. So “无问题” literally means “No problem”. 

Or the next time someone tells you that he/she is running a little late but you are ok to wait, you can practise saying, “无问题”! 

Besides referring to a problem, another meaning for “问题” is “question”. So sometimes, you may hear someone asking, “有问题无?” This translates into, “Any questions?”. If yes, you can respond by simply saying “有”. However, if you have no further questions, you will say “无问题”.  

So how? 有问题无? I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast. Feel free to share with us your thoughts by leaving us a comment. My name is Eugene from LearnDialect.sg and see you the next week! 


Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version. Paragraph

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear. 

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Hokkien: How Do You Say “Slower” & “Faster”

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Slower” & “Faster”

New Words   
Slower – 慢慢 – ban ban
Faster – 较紧(快点) – kah geen 


Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Slower” & “Faster”

Hello everyone, welcome back to our Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast on LearnDialect.sg. If you have been listening to our podcast, 你有学着什么物件无? 有什么爱我讲加一次无? 你掠有球无? Was I speaking too fast or too slow for your liking? How do you ask someone to talk slower or faster in Hokkien then? My name is Eugene and let’s find out how to do that today! 

Hokkiens use the word “慢” to mean “slow”. Hence, to emphasize the need to slow down, the word is repeated twice. For example, “慢慢讲” means “speak slower”, “慢慢行” means “walk slower” and “慢慢食” means “eat slower”. On the contrary, if you need someone to be faster, Hokkiens use the words “较紧”. As such “较紧讲” means to speak faster, “较紧行” means to walk faster and “较紧食” means to eat faster. 

Now, here’s a fun fact for you. Did you know that while Hokkiens, Teochews and Cantonese people in Singapore use similar Chinese characters to represent “slower”, they have different ways of expressing “faster”? If you are keen to find out how Teochews and Cantonese people in Singapore express “faster”, do check out our Teochew and Cantonese podcasts too!

So in today’s podcast, we have learnt “慢” means slow, “紧” means fast while “慢慢” means slower and “较紧” means faster. Try using and practising these words in your daily Hokkien conversations. My name is Eugene from LearnDialect.sg and look forward to seeing you next week! 


Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version. Paragraph

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear. 

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Inside Scoop: How Romeo Tan Conquered Dialect Drama, Ho Seh Bo

Celebrity Interview with Romeo Tan, 陈罗密欧 

When we interviewed Romeo Tan, he was upfront in admitting that he speaks neither Hokkien nor other dialects prior to filming Ho Seh Bo. Yet, in the dialect drama, he delivered his lines in Hokkien, alongside other co-stars who spoke Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese. Why did he then take on the role and how did he overcome the language challenges? Was it due to his humility, quick-wit or tenacity? We’ll leave it to you to suss it out. One thing is for sure, Romeo is an inspiration to dialect learners.

LearnDialect.sg: Can you tell us more about your dialect background?

Romeo Tan:  Actually, before you ask me this question, I had no idea. Then, I called my family and my dad said that we are Hokkiens from “An Kui” [Hokkien pronunciation of An Hui, 安徽], Fu Jian Province (福建省). To be honest, I have no idea where this is. Within my family, we speak only a little Hokkien. Since young, I have been speaking Mandarin with my parents and English with my siblings. As such, I didn’t really have a chance to practice speaking Hokkien except with my Ah-Ma [grandmother]. I guess I am not very talented in speaking Hokkien as my Ah-Ma also gave up talking to me in Hokkien. *laughs* So, my Ah-Ma would use simple Hokkien words to speak to me and if the conversation is more complex, she will ask my father to translate for me in Mandarin. 

We must say, we love your candid NG shots at the end of every Ho Seh Bo episode. We’ve also watched a Toggle video interview where you had to introduce yourself in Hokkien and we learnt that you do not speak Hokkien at home. Can you share with us your initial thoughts when you knew you had to act mainly in Hokkien? What made you want to take up this role as Xiao Gandang (萧敢当)? 

During the press conference, that is, before filming the show, I would say that my Hokkien knowledge is almost zero, or maybe just 10%. It’s very minimal. So why did I pick up this role? I guess I always believe that Singapore is multi-cultural. It is very natural to mix different languages together in our conversations, be it English with Chinese, English with Malay, or English, Chinese, Malay and Hokkien altogether. It just feels very natural and there’s always a sense of familiarity and closeness. When the executive producer asked me if I knew how to speak Hokkien, I was very frank with him. I said that my Hokkien is quite “jialat”, quite lousy. After that, I thought that my chance of getting this role might be quite low. So I am really happy that I was given this chance to be in Ho Seh Bo. 

Picking up Hokkien is not an easy task, much less with a short time frame and the need to then act in Hokkien. How did you pick up Hokkien so quickly for the show?

Actually I didn’t pick up Hokkien fast. What you see on TV was produced after all the NG [No-Good] takes. It was a nightmare to have so many NGs! I was struggling with some lines, but the production crew are very nice. They would always speak to me in Hokkien in between breaks. In that way, I could keep practising Hokkien. I also have two very very good teachers, Liu Qian Yi [Richard Low, 刘谦益] and Lim Ru Ping [Anna Lim, 林如萍]. I call them, “老师” [teacher], the Hokkien guru. Whenever I had any problems, I used WhatsApp audio. I would ask them, “How do you pronounce this word?”, or “How would you say this sentence in Hokkien?”. I would ask both of them as sometimes, they have either different accents or choice of words. From these two versions, I’ll then pick and adapt the one that sounded most like how my role, Xiao Gandang, would speak it. 

To act alongside Chen Li Ping, who speaks predominately Teochew in the show, and then with Sheila Sim and Richard Low who speak Hokkien, and then with Mi Xue (Michelle Yim) who speaks Cantonese, did these different languages pose as an additional challenge for you to prepare for the role? How did you overcome it? 

Chen Li Ping, Liu Qian Yi and Mi Xue [Michelle Yim, 米雪] are all veterans. Yes, one speaks Teochew, one speaks Hokkien and another speaks Cantonese. I struggled with the languages at times and needed to find my balance. But at the end of the day, I still think it is the 演戏的默契 [acting chemistry]. So with their expressions and emotions, I can figure out what they are saying. We also had a script to follow, so it was not too much of a problem. In fact, I’ve acted with Chen Li Ping for quite some time, so our chemistry is already there. For Liu Qian Yi, he’s my teacher. So it was very fun to be speaking Hokkien with him. As for Sheila, we are from the same generation, so there wasn’t any problem. Sometimes, we do mix English in our conversations so it’s quite fun too!

The only struggle, I would say, is maybe with Mi Xue because I don’t really understand Cantonese. There was a scene where her role finally found her son, Gandang, but they had a quarrel in the park. It was a heavy scene with lots of dialogues and emotions. Mi Xue was supposed to cry in that scene, so I was really worried that I would NG too many times and affect both her emotions and acting. That was a bit of struggle for me because I had to listen very carefully to her last word in every sentence. So for example, I would ask Mi Xue, “For this line, what is the last word? How do you pronounce it?“. Then I will make an effort to remember those Cantonese words and their pronunciation, so that I could continue acting from there. That’s the little trick that I used. All that said, after a few rehearsals, I guess we got the momentum. I thought the scene was quite nicely taken!

Can you leave some words of encouragement for the younger generations to pick them their dialect? Any learning tips that you can share with younger generations who speak mainly English and Mandarin these days? 

I also need some encouragement on this! *laughs* I think I am just like most of the new generation kids who seldom speak Hokkien. I believe the easier way out is to speak with your Ah-Gong [grandfather] and Ah-Ma, or your father and mother. That is the fastest way to learn Hokkien. Sometimes, I’ll mix Hokkien into my daily conversations with my parents, especially ever since I filmed Ho Seh Bo. I think it’s important to practise and recap, if not, all that I’ve learnt would go down the drain. Another way, I guess, is to watch more dialect shows. It’s a good time now to learn from local TV too, as we have dialect dramas. I really hope this drama will continue for many seasons. In that way, many Singapore citizens or the younger generation can learn more content through this TV show.

Another advice is not to worry too much and just speak it. For example, I was quite worried initially that I would mess up this whole production. But apparently, it turned out pretty well and many audiences like this show. I have also received a lot of good feedback. The best part? I did not have to do any post-dubbing. Usually, after a TV production, there will be a post production process where some words may be fine-tuned. For example, maybe your pronunciation was not right. Or perhaps you used the wrong words. In these instances, we will then go back to the audio room and dub that few lines. So, I was super surprised that I was not called back for dubbing at all. Not even a single word! *laughs* I am not sure if it is a good thing or not, but personally, I think it is very encouraging that they approved of my Hokkien accent or the way that Gandang spoke Hokkien in the show. 

Thanks for the interview! I hope that my little interview can help encourage more youngsters to pick up their dialects.

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很用功的小孩。 📷 Esther

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Image Credits: Romeo Tan’s Instagram and Facebook

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Hokkien: How Do You Say “Understand”

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Understand”

New Words   
Understand – 明白 – meng pek
Road – 路 – lor
Understand (Singlish) – 听有路 – tia wu lor 


Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Understand”

Hello everyone, welcome to our Hokkien – How Do You Say podcast on LearnDialect.sg. Well, would you agree with me that during conversations, the last that we want is miscommunication? To minimize any misunderstandings, I think it’s great if we can make an effort to check if everyone is on the same page. Now what are some Hokkien phrases that we can use? My name is Eugene and in less than 5 minutes today, we will explore some ways to ask whether someone understands what is going on in a conversation.

First, you may want to ensure that the other party can hear you audibly, especially if your background is noisy. You’ll ask, “你听有无?”, which means “Can you hear me?”. The response to this question is either “听有” (which means “I hear you”) or “听无” (which means “I can’t hear you”). 

Now, during the conversation, if you want to ask “Do you understand?” in Hokkien, you’ll express it as, “你会明白无?”. If someone understands fully, then the response would be a simple “明白”. If not, you’ll hear, “未明白”. Easy, right? Let’s carry on! 

In Singapore, sometimes, you’ll find people asking, “你听有路无?”. This is a Singlish expression of “Do you understand?” and literally translates into “Are you hearing any roads?”. Does this make any sense to you? Let me sort this out! Have you heard of this phrase, “All roads lead to Rome”? Roads lead us to somewhere, thus when someone asks “你听有路无?”, it means “Are you making any headway in this conversation?”. That’s a cool expression to learn, isn’t it? So, if you understand, you’ll say “听有路”. If not, you can say, “听无路”. We did cover another Singlish expression to indicate a lack of understanding in Hokkien previously, do you remember what it is? As a hint, it has to do with catching a ball. Did you get it? Yes, it’s “掠无球”! 

To sum up, the Hokkien phrases today are: 

  • 你听有无? 
  • 你会明白无? and 
  • 你听有路无?  

I hope the above is useful for you to reduce any miscommunication in Hokkien. Once again, I’m Eugene from LearnDialect.sg and if 你听无路, feel free to let us know any questions you may have and we will do our best to answer. See you the next week! 


Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version. Paragraph

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear. 

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Hokkien: How Do You Say “Sorry”

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Sorry”

New Words   
Sorry – 对唔住(对不起) – dui mm zu 
Buy – 买 – mai 
Embarrassed or Shy or Excuse me – 歹势(不好意思) – pai seh 


Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Sorry”

Hi there! My name is Eugene and welcome to our Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast on LearnDialect.sg. In your daily conversations, how often do you have to apologize? For me, I apologize all the time as I am rather clumsy, often knocking things over. As such, knowing how to say sorry is rather important for me. 

In Hokkien, we express sorry as “对唔住”. For example, “对唔住,我无买你要食的福建面” which translates into “Sorry, I did not buy the Hokkien noodles that you wanted”. I would say “对唔住” generally represents a more serious manner of apology. If the situation is not too serious, you can use “歹势” to express your apology. For example, “歹势,我无Facebook”. By saying 歹势, you convey a sense of embarrassment or shyness too. Or to admit that I’m wrong, I would say, “歹势,我 salah了”. “Salah” is actually a loan word from Malay that Hokkiens often use to represent being wrong. 

Typically, I would use 歹势 together with 请问, especially when I am asking for directions. For example, “歹势,请问你MRT怎么行?”. You’ll find that in such context, “歹势” translates better as “excuse me”.  

Last but not least, you can also use the exact English word “Sorry” to express your apology, but with a slight tweak in pronunciation. Local Hokkiens in Singapore have adapted the usage of “Sorry” and pronounce it as “Sor-li”. So you can say “Sor-li, 我无买你要食的福建面”. 

Once again, apologies are expressed by Hokkien people via: 
– 对唔住 
– 歹势 & 
– Sor-li 

Hope you find the varying degrees and ways of apologizing in Hokkien useful. Feel free to share with us your thoughts by leaving us a comment. I’m Eugene from LearnDialect.sg. See you the next week! 


Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version. Paragraph

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear. 

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Multi-talented Wallace Ang thinks speaking dialect is cool and fun! Here’s why.

Celebrity Interview with Wallace Ang, 洪圣安  

We must admit, our disdain for Ma Deliang (马德良) grows with each episode of the dialect drama, Ho Seh Bo. His career-mindedness and self-centeredness landed his father into a depression. But can you blame us? Wallace Ang delivered such a convincing portrayal of an unfilial son, that you wouldn’t have guessed this was his first Hokkien performance. Wallace enthusiastically shares his thoughts and personal experiences, upon knowing our hope to encourage younger generations to learn dialects.  

LearnDialect.sg: There’s no doubt that you are bilingual in both English and Mandarin, given your performances in Channel 5, Channel 8 as well as your radio presenter role in Love 97.2FM. We were pleasantly surprised to hear you being so fluent in Hokkien as well in Ho Seh Bo! Can you tell us more about your dialect background? Do you speak Hokkien frequently at home? When did you start learning Hokkien?

Wallace Ang: I started speaking Hokkien and Teochew as a child to communicate with my grandparents. My paternal grandparents spoke mostly Hokkien whereas my maternal grandparents were Teochew speakers. However, I must admit that I am far from being fluent. I often find the need to pepper my sentences with Mandarin and English.

Can you share one or two interesting/funny anecdotes when you were learning Hokkien?   

Because of the fact that I grew up listening to both dialects, I sometimes find myself incapable of telling them apart. There have been many instances where I thought I was saying something in Hokkien only to be corrected that it was, in fact, Teochew.

What were your initial thoughts when you knew you had to act mainly in Hokkien? What made you want to take up this role as Ma Deliang?

I was actually quite thrilled! I’ve done many English & Mandarin projects, but I’ve never done anything in Hokkien. I am thankful that the EP, Geping Da Ge [Zheng Geping] and the production team took a leap of faith and entrusted me with the role of Ma Deliang. I’m always up for a good challenge. I just hope that I wasn’t too huge a challenge for the directors and the crew though!

We can imagine that it is difficult to translate a Mandarin script into Hokkien and thereafter having to emote and act in Hokkien. How did you prepare for this role?  

It was quite a nightmare actually (laughs). I translated the easier lines myself, got my father and brother-in-law to help me with the more difficult ones, then WhatsApp-ed my on-screen father, Richard Low (Qian Yi Da Ge) to assist me with the most difficult lines! I also spent A LOT of time practising each line to make sure that my pronunciation and enunciation weren’t too far off. And because I memorised the lines by heart, the one thing I was most afraid of was to be corrected during filming and had to learn new words or lines on the spot! 

You’ve released 2 albums. What are your thoughts of producing some Hokkien songs? We would be excited to hear! 

I’d love to write and release a Hokkien song in the near future! But I’d probably need a lot of help with the Hokkien lyrics… Any volunteers? (laughs)

The younger generations don’t speak as much dialect today. Can you leave some words of encouragement for them to pick them their dialect?

It is pretty sad that dialect has been devalued and marginalised. Every language is unique and beautiful, so is our dialect. Our dialect is not merely a tool to communicate with our grandparents, it is also an important link to our roots and culture. And to those who dismiss dialects as being “uncool”, can you actually think of an equally cool, fun and on point alternative to “Ho Seh Liao!”, “Bo Jio!” , “Jialat!” , “Chi Sin!” or “Boh Din Wah Juk”? (laughs)

Image Credits: Wallace Ang

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