When words fail, use idioms… Hokkien style (59)

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.

死啊未曉倒落去 si-ah bue hiao to lô k’i doesn’t know how to fall down even when dead too ignorant to know one’s own failure
貓哭老鼠 niao k’ao lo tsi cat cried for the mouse fake compassion, describing hypocrisy and insincerity
樹要樹皮,人要面皮 tsiu bê tsiu p’e, lang bê bin p’e trees need bark, people need facial skin trees need bark to shield themselves from elements while people need facial skin to shield from shame
一心要死,一心要吃米 tsit sim bê si, tsit sim bê tsia bi wholeheartedly wants to die and yet wants to eat rice describing indecisiveness and being half-hearted
偷吃不曉擦嘴 t’au tsia bue hiao tsit tsui to pilfer food but fail to wipe mouth crime committed with clear evidence
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