When words fail, use idioms… Hokkien style (17)

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
莫知死活um tsai si wadon’t know if dead or alivea carefree person who does not think far ahead
無像鬼bo tsiun kuinot like a ghostbehaving shamelessly or mischievously
無心無肝bo sim bo kuanno heart and liverapathetic or cruel-hearted
急腸急肚kip teng kip totense intestine and stomachbeing very impatient and in a hurry
呂宋街 易乾易濕di song kue kue ta kue tamLuzon streets get dry and wet easilythe poor can easily become rich and the rich become poor.

First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 28, no. 20 (March 15-April 4, 2016): 15.

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