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

New Words   
English – Mandarin – Formal Romanization – Ours 
I love you – 我爱你 – ua ain le – wa ai ler 
Want – 爱(要) – ain – ai 
I like you – 我舒合你 – ua su gah le – wa su kah ler


Podcast Transcript | Teochew: How Do You Say “I Love You”

Hello everybody and Happy Valentine’s Day to you! This is Eugene, from LearnDialect.sg. Well, love is in the air this week, isn’t it? How did you feel when you first heard someone, probably your family or your partner, telling you “I love you”? These three words, though simple sounding, is an important expression in a relationship that indicates emotional attachment. So how do Teochews say these three important words? Let’s find out on today’s How Do You Say podcast. 

You’ll often hear Mandarin speakers saying “I love you” as “我爱你”. But did you know that Teochew speakers in Singapore rarely use this exact phrase? In daily Teochew conversations, the word “爱” represents “want” more often than “love”. For example, “你爱(要)食乜个(什么)?” means “what do you want to eat?”. Or “你爱(要)做物(怎样)呾(讲)?” refers to “how do you want to say or react?”. As such, if you express “I love you” in Teochew as “我爱你”, it sounds more like “I want you” instead.

So then, how do Singapore Teochews say “I love you”? Now, here’s the unique point about Singapore Teochews! We borrow the word “suka” from the Malay language. “Suka” means “like” in Malay. So in Teochew, we say it in the exact sound too – 舒合.

In terms of the written characters, we pick words with similar meanings. “舒” means “comfortable” while “合” means “together”. So there you go… when you are in the company of your loved ones, do you feel comfortable? “我舒合你” has become the go-to expression for Teochews to express “I love you” in Singapore. Personally, I like how subtle this expression is as well as how it reflects the relatively more reserved Chinese culture. In the olden days, love was usually unspoken within Chinese families, be it between husbands and wives, or parents and children! You know… Not outrightly “I love you”, but well… I’m really comfortable being together with you.   

So when was the last time you said “I love you” or “我舒合你”? Feel free to share with us your love story by leaving us a comment! Thank you for listening in to our Teochew – How Do You Say on LearnDialect.sg. I am Eugene and see you on the next podcast!


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.