When words fail, use idioms… Hokkien style (39)

Hokkien, on the tongues of Tsinoys, has grown and evolved, taking on a life of its own. Sometimes words simply fail us. With some creativity, Tsinoys have strung together words to form colorful phrases that simply hit the bull’s eye. Here are some expressions unique to Hokkien as favored by Tsinoys.

無字無墨

bo di bo bak no words no ink

meaning no written record

到嘴無到喉

kao tsui bo kao aw reaching the mouth but not the throat

not being satisfied due to too little food portion

沓沓呑

ta ta t’oon dry swallowing

eating and swallowing something dry

紅面赤髭

ang bin tsia tsiu red face and moustache

to describe energetic, vigorous people

白紙黑字

pe tsua o di white paper with black writing

to describe documented material, as in “everything must be in black and white”

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