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|
|大人物||tua din boot||big person||very important person|
|横木抬入灶||hui tsa ka dip tsao||to put wood horizontally into the stove||someone insisting he is correct even if he is wrong|
|牛仔什識虎||gu-ah mm pat ho||calf does not recognize the tiger||one who doesn’t realize he is in danger|
|大面青筍筍||tua bin tsin soon soon||big face turning pale||greatly frightened|
|軟土深掘||neng t’o tsim koot||soft soil can be dug deeper||take advantage of the situation|
First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 29, no. 9 (October 4-17, 2016): 13.