Three Must-Have Mobile Apps for Learning Teochew Language Part 2: What Teochew Say (WhatTCSay)

Following up on our review of the 潮語作田人 (TeoAPP) app last week, The Teochew Store cast our eyes on something many of us overseas Teochews have long wished for – What Teochew Say (WhatTCSay in short), a Teochew language learning app for English speakers!

WhatTCSay App Introduction

WhatTCSayWhatTCSay is the world’s first (and till now the only) English-Teochew dictionary and phrasebook app for iOS and Android. Originally released back in 2012, it was produced by two Teochews from the US, Ty Eng Lim (who co-founded also the and Khiem Lam. The project was generously funded by donors in a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. 

Android (Android 3.0 and up) and Apple versions of the app are available for US$1.99 in Google Play and iTunes App Store respectively.
[UPDATE: WhatTCSay is now available for FREE .]




WhatTCSay App Features

The WhatTCSay App dictionary features 4000+ word entries. It has a word search tool that allows you to search by a single word or a short expression (for example, “let’s go”, “don’t like”) in English. Results are presented in traditional Chinese characters, Teochew peng-im (romanization) and English. To hear the Teochew reading of a particular entry, just click it.

What is particularly useful is that the search result does not just show the Teochew correspondent to your query item, but all entries containing the search item. So by searching for the word “late”, you get also results for “to arrive late”, “later”, “see you later”, etc, which may actually be what you intend to look for in the first place. Besides, you have the option to add any entry to a favorite list by pressing on a star-sign by the side. The favorite list you create can be viewed from the top toolbar.

Whether you are a new learner in speaking Teochew, or someone has lost touch and wish to refresh your memory of the language, the WhatTCSay phrasebook is a handy companion. Besides an introduction to a Teochew Pengim system developed by the group, it has an extensive vocabulary list touching on everyday conversational topics.

These contents are organised into 14 topics: Basic, Time, Introductions, Food and Shopping, Travel, Nature, Health, Home, Clothing, Character, School and Work, Technology, Life, and People.  Each topic is further subdivided into multiple subtopics. For example under Character, you can find a Love, Sex, Relationships subtopic where you can learn to say “I love you” in Teochew to your special somebody. How cool is that?

WhatTCSay App Review

Words and phrases are the basic building blocks of a language. As a dictionary and phrasebook put together, WhatTCSay fulfils a pressing need for English-speakers (or non-readers of Chinese) wishing to pick up Teochew. Equalling pleasing is that the app is by and large smooth and easy-to-use.

Even with this said, WhatTCSay is more than a tool for beginner-learners. Like the previously reviewed 潮語作田人 app, Teochew words and phrases are represented here by their authentic Chinese characters, and not Mandarin substitutes or homophones. Because of its developers’ special effort in ensuring this, WhatTCSay is useful also for anyone aiming to learn to write in Teochew, or conduct research into Middle Chinese (中古漢語), the literary language of the Chinese civilisation in its golden age between the Tang (618–907) and Song (960–1279) dynasties.

If we must nitpick, the app can be more complete if searches can be conducted in Chinese or Pengim. Besides it is not difficult to notice that the words are read with a discernible Southeast Asian accent. But this is hardly an issue since Southeast Asian influences are undeniably part of the heritage of many of us. Moreover the reality is there is no “correct” version of spoken Teochew and even in the Teochew homeland, the mother tongue is spoken in contrasting accents and tones that vary from district to district, and even from one village to the next.  

WhatTCSay is not a free app, but it costs less than a cup of Starbucks coffee. And from reading the user reviews in Google Play, you are assured that it is worth every cent.  


You can also find in The Teochew Store a wide collection of free for download or for purchase resources for learning Teochew

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Comment on this post (5 comments)

  • Lulu says...

    I hv been wondering the reasons why TCSay does not allow zooming or copying. It’s difficult to see the strokes of some words. I want to learn to speak as well as how to write. Not allowed. Well, as disappointing as it is, I’ve learned many words. Perhaps the authors hv the Apple concept in mind, territorial. Make a dictionary that works normally, zoom & copy & I’m confident many like me wd buy it. Can’t complain to much as it’s free. Crumbs are better none.

    June 04, 2022

  • Sarah says...

    I speak teochew with my mom and her side of the family but some vocabulary are not said in conversation. Whenever my mom suddenly brings up a vocabulary that I never heard of. I would have to ask but then I forget it in a few min and I wouldn’t hear the word said again. Then I would need to record myself saying it right after I get the chance to but I believe I pronounce part of it wrong. Sometimes she just throws out an idiom and I don’t know what it means , so I’m happy there’s an explanation for some of them in the app. I have a teochew dictionary but I don’t know how to pronounce the tones and I don’t know a lot of chinese characters. There’s rarely an youtube videos or resources teaching teochew. I am very happy I found this app now I can improve on this dialect and not replace some vocabulary with english or mandarian or cantonese 😂. I want to speak fluent teochew but there’s rarely any teochew people from where I live so yeah.

    April 19, 2020

  • Sy Hiong says...

    Awesome app!
    I m learning new words every day… and teach my children too!

    September 10, 2018

  • Iv says...

    There used to be passages, recording of conversations which were very useful. Pls bring it back to the app.

    October 07, 2017

  • Khiem says...

    Awesome site! Thanks for reviewing WhatTCSay! I just want to make a quick correction. WhatTCSay is now free as of Feb. 1st. Here’s our blog announcement for why we decided to make the app free:


    February 19, 2016

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