Listen to Podcast | Teochew: How Do You Say “Goodbye”

New Words  
English – Mandarin – Formal Romanization – Ours
Grandma / Female Senior – 阿嬷 – a ma – ah ma 
Grandpa / Male Senior – 阿公 – a gong – ah gong 
First / In advance – 先 – soin – soin  
Run – 走(跑)- zao – zao  
Walk – 行(走) – gian – ghia 
I’ll make a move first – 我先走/行了 – ua soin zao/gian liou – wa soin zao/ghia liao 
Goodbye / See you again – 再见 – zai gian – zai giang


Podcast Transcript | Teochew: How Do You Say “Goodbye”

Bye bye, butterfly! See you later, alligator! How many ways of saying goodbye do you know in English? Well, did you know, we have a few ways to say goodbye in Teochew too? 你好我个名是 Eugene and right now, we will learn some interesting ways of saying “Goodbye” with today’s How Do You Say podcast on LearnDialect.sg.  

Saying goodbye in Teochew can be as simple as saying, “阿嬷 or 阿公, bye bye!”. Yes, we can use the word, “bye”, as it is understood by most, if not all, Teochew speakers in Singapore.  

Often, you will hear local Teochews saying “我先走了”, which means “I will make a move first”. The new word “先” means “first” or “in advance” but the most important word here is “走”, which means “run” in Teochew.  

Now… why do we make a move by running and not walking? 

Actually, to say goodbye in Teochew, we can also say, “我先行了”, where “行” refers to “walk”. 

And here’s a fun fact for you – did you know that when mentioning that someone had passed away, Teochews in Singapore tend to express the deceased as “先行了”? Literally, this means – as compared to themselves (the survivors) – the deceased had first taken a step into the afterworld. 

As such, to prevent any reference to death, many prefer to use “我先走了” instead of “我先行了”. Of course, you can always say goodbye by saying “我先行了” and people would still understand. However, personally, I will make an attempt to stick to “我先走了”, especially if festivals such as the Lunar New Year or the Hungry Ghost Festival is just around the corner. Seriously, I only want to run into the good stuff, wouldn’t you? 

To our audience who are Mandarin-educated and who are reading our Podcast transcript (oh yes, we do have a Podcast transcript available and you can always find it on our main website, LearnDialect.sg or on our YouTube channel), you may find it confusing given that the written word in Teochew to represent “run” is the same word as “walk” or “走” in Mandarin. There is no mistake here. This is because Teochew is a dialect that adheres to Classical Chinese text (文言文) more closely than Mandarin. As such, Teochews use the Mandarin written characters, “走” for “run” and “行”  for “walk”.

Now, the most formal way to say goodbye is to say “再见”. This literally means “see you again” and is often heard in more formal settings or on TV or radio shows.  

Summing up today’s podcast, these are the 3 ways to say goodbye: 

“我先走了” 

“我先行了” and 

“再见” 

㩼谢你 for listening in to How Do You Say on LearnDialect.sg. Hope you now have a deeper understanding of saying goodbyes in Teochew. If you have specific phrases that you’ll like to learn, please leave us a comment on our Facebook page. We want to know how we can help you! 再见!  


Our Philosophy for Learning Teochew in Singapore

While we include formal romanization for Teochew words, we are advocates of easy learning. Hence we encourage you to form your own phonics so that you make an association with these Teochew words quickly. To illustrate, the formal romanization of “Teochew” is “diê ziu”. However, in our “Can You Teach Me” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “teo chew”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “dio chew”, “dio jiu”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear.