Idioms...Hokkien style

When words fail, use idioms… Hokkien style (4)

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
添腳添手t‘in k’a t’in tsiuadd legs and handsadding true and untrue stories to an original story
人來客去lang lai k’e k’ivisitors come and godescribing many people coming to a place
離頭散仙di t’ao sam sianhair not in orderdescribing someone whose hair is not combed
水流破布tsui lao p’oa powater flows thru a broken clothdescribing someone making several stops before going to his destination
無影無跡bo yan bo tsiâno shadow no imagesomething imaginary and untrue

First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 28, no. 6 (August 18-September 7, 2015): 12.