Saturday, March 5, 2011

Random Toisan Phrases

Over at Toisan Pride, Toisan Girl (台山妹) provides some common Taishanese words and phrases with her own pronunciations. I’ve provided Chinese characters for some of the words below, but I don’t know them all! Hopefully in future posts, I’ll be able to provide pronunciations according to the two accents in the Toishan Basic Course and the Kaiping dictionary. In the meantime, maybe some readers more fluent and literate in Chinese than I am can help me out with the words I don’t know…

Basic Pronouns:

  • GNOY 我 – I/me
  • NAY 你 – You
  • KOOEY 佢 – He or She

NEW Phrases:

  • NAY HO MA? 你好嗎? – How are you?
  • HECK FANN MAY YEH? 吃飯未呀? – Have you eaten yet?
  • MWHAT KOY HENG-GOH GNUI (DOI). 乜個聽教女(仔)! – What an obedient girl (boy)!
  • GNOT PANG PANG __噴噴 - Stinky stinky!
  • JEEN HAI? 真係 - Really? For real?
  • COY KAY KO 怪奇該 - How odd…
  • SAI HAAI-MOH 洗頭毛 – Wash hair
  • SAI SEEN 洗身 – Take a shower or bath
  • GUY 鷄 - Chicken
  • JOM GUY 斬鷄 – Chop the chicken
  • GUY HONG 鷄湯 – Chicken soup/broth
  • JEE FANN 煮飯 – Cook food (rice)
  • BOH HONG 煲湯– Boil soup
  • HECK TOI 吃菜 – Eat vegetables
  • CHA 叉 – Fork
  • O-DOI 刀仔 – Knife
  • SEE-GHANG 匙羹 – Spoon
  • FAI – DOOH 筷子 – Chopsticks
  • SAI-VWOAN 洗碗 – Wash dishes

The phrases I’m most unfamiliar with writing are gnot pang pang “stinky stinky,” mwhat koy heng-goh gnui “what a smart obedient girl,” haai-moh “hair.” I also guessed on a number of words above, so any corrections you might like to offer would be much appreciated!

If you haven’t checked out her blog, you should definitely visit Toisan Pride. I’m a dedicated reader, even if I don’t comment all that much.

Update: Many thanks to Facebook friends and to @fivesheep on Twitter who quickly gave me comments! Keep it coming!


  1. Aaron, Cool Blog! Thanks for checking out my blog and mentioning it on your's - this is great to discover new fellow Toisanese folks around the world. Btw, I stand corrected on my phrase "Mwhat goi heng-go nui/doi" which literally translates as "Obedient" girl or boy. "Leck nui/doi" would be more accurate to say "Smart" girl or boy".

    Anyways, I'll mention your blog and put the link onto mine soon too. AND get some Chinese characters to go w/ the phrases thanks to you and another follower. Many Thanks! ~ Toisan Girl

  2. It sounds more like heng-gao than go or goh. Chop sounds more like jalm rhymes with calm than jom. Also in some dialects, wash is more like thlai with a bit of an s slurring mixed in. Awesome site, btw.

  3. I am an ABC. My parents were born born in TOISAN during early 1900s. I can’t read Chinese, can speak enough Toisan.
    TODAY, TOISAN = HOISAN. Originally, TOISAN = ‘Thee Yip & HOISAN = ‘Tham Yip’.
    Here are phonetic corrections, there is a standard, my father knew it, I don’t.
    NOTE: NEE 你 – You
    • NEE HO MA?
    • NGAT NGAT, NOTE: pang = DIAPER
    • COY KAY KO , NOTE: sounds unfamiliar, never use ‘how odd’ literally
    • THIGH HOW-MOH Wash hair
    • THIGH SEEN 洗身 – Take a shower or bath
    • GUY HONG/GHANG 鷄湯 – Chicken soup/broth
    • JEE FANN 煮飯 – Cook RICE (FOOD)
    • BOH HONG/GHANG 煲湯– Boil BROTH /soup
    • ALL-DOI 刀仔 – Knife
    • THIGH-WOIN 洗碗 – Wash dishes