When words fail, use idioms… Hokkien style (30)

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
猴怪kao kuaimonkey trickclever trick
無名小卒bo bing sio tsootunnamed low-ranking soldiernot known to anyone
大小仙tua su-e sianbig and small personbrothers-in-law  (wives are sisters)
哭爹哭母k’ao pe k’ao bucrying father crying motherincessant complaints
無天無地bo tin bo tu-eno sky no groundmaking too many requests

First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 29, no. 9 (October 18-31, 2016): 12.

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