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, expressions||Hokkien pronunciation||Literal translation||Meaning|
|莫知死活||um tsai si wa||don’t know if dead or alive||a carefree person who does not think far ahead|
|無像鬼||bo tsiun kui||not like a ghost||behaving shamelessly or mischievously|
|無心無肝||bo sim bo kuan||no heart and liver||apathetic or cruel-hearted|
|急腸急肚||kip teng kip to||tense intestine and stomach||being very impatient and in a hurry|
|呂宋街 易乾易濕||di song kue kue ta kue tam||Luzon streets get dry and wet easily||the 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.