When words fail, use idioms… Hokkien style (13)

First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest | 19 January – 01 February 2016, vol. 28 nos. 15-16 |

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.

Idioms, expressionsHokkien pronunciationLiteral translationMeaning
苦死k’o sidislikesomeone getting angry if being criticized.
腹斗夏草繩pak to ha tsao setying a twine on the stomachdescribing someone who is too hungry and has nothing to eat
吃自己tsia kai kieating oneselfmeaning you are on your own with no one to assist you
有二步七wu di po tsithas two steps or sevendescribing someone who shows some talents unexpectedly
咬牙齒根ka tsui k’i kunbiting one’s teethenduring suffering or misfortune

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