99 Teochew Expressions in Their Actual Chinese Characters - Difference Between Our Language & Mandarin

One of the biggest misconception existing in numerous books and the media today is that of Chinese as a language, when it is in fact a writing system, much like Latin or Arabic. The historical adoption of Hanzi 漢子 - also known as Deng-nang ji 唐人字 in Teochew, in non-Sinitic languages such as Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese shows this.

The cause of this situation is the politically-driven representation since the 1920s of all major varieties of spoken Chinese as dialects of Mandarin, even though they are mutually unintelligible and recgonised according to international linguistic classifications to be at least seven separate language families. 

Teochew, like Cantonese and Hokkien, has a literary form that traces to at least the 10th century during the Tang dynasty and a spoken vernacular that is probably even older. It is certainly not a debased form of Mandarin, which linguists have properly established to have been evolved in northern China only after the 13th century.

The fundamental difference between the Teochew and Mandarin can be amply illustrated by the written forms of a simple sentence like "you call her children to run over there": 

Teochew: "爾呌伊個囝走去許塊" (le gie yi gai gia zao ke he go)

 

Mandarin: "你叫她的孩子跑到那里"

Below is a (non-exhaustive) list of 99 Teochew expressions in their actual Chinese characters, as opposed to Mandarin ones that they are commonly confused with:

No.

English term

Spoken Teochew expression

Chinese character in Mandarin

Actual Chinese character in Teochew

1.       

You (second person)

Le

爾/汝

2.       

He/she (third person)

Yi

他/她

3.       

We/us (including the listener)

Nang

我們

4.       

We/us (excluding the listener)

Uang

我們

5.       

You (plural)

Nin

你們

6.       

Elder brother

Hia

7.       

Elder sister

Ze

8.       

Child 

Gia

9.       

Face

Ming

10.    

Hair

Mo

11.    

Eye

Mak

12.    

Tooth

Ki

13.    

Neck

Am

脖子

14.    

Right-hand

Zia-ciu

右手

正手

15.    

Left -hand

Do-ciu

左手

倒手

16.    

Buttocks

Ka-ceng

屁股/臀部

尻倉

17.    

Why/how

Zo-ni

為什麼/怎樣

怎呢

18.    

What

Mi-gai

什麼

乜個

19.    

Who

Di-diang

底滇

20.    

When

Diang-si

什麼時候

滇時

21.    

Where

Di-go

哪裡

底塊

22.    

This

Ziah-gai

這個

只個

23.    

That

He-gai

那個

許個

24.    

Many

Zoi

25.    

How many

Jieh-zoi

多少

若㩼

26.    

Not yet

Bhue

還沒

27.    

Must not

Mai

不要

28.    

No need

Miang

不用

29.    

No good

Mo

不好

30.    

Must

Dieh

31.    

Don’t want

Mai

不想要

32.    

Unable to

Bhoi

不會;不能

𠀾

33.    

Don't

M

34.    

Forget

M-gi

忘記

毋記

35.    

Dislike

Lou

討厭

36.    

Want to

Ai

37.    

See

Toi

38.    

Speak

Da

39.    

Call

Gie

40.    

Smell

Pi

41.    

Eat

Ziah

42.    

Drink

Lim

43.    

Sleep 

I; Ngh

44.    

Enter

Jip

45.    

Find /search

Cue

46.    

To do

Mueh

47.    

Walk

Gia

48.    

Run

Zao

49.    

Stand 

Kia

50.    

Swim 

Siu

51.    

Bathe

Soi-eg

沖涼

洗浴

52.    

Urinate

Bang-jie

拉尿

放尿

53.    

To have diarrhea

Lao-sai

拉肚子

漏屎

54.    

Wipe

Cig

55.    

Sun (to dry)

Pag

56.    

Take

Kieh

57.    

Catch

Liah

58.    

Hit/beat

Pah

59.    

Knock

Ka

60.    

Throw

Ham

61.    

Fall

Buag

62.    

Slaughter

Tai

63.    

Descend

Loh

64.    

Most/best (superlative)

Siang

65.    

Just enough

Du-ho

剛好

拄好

66.    

All together

Long

全部

67.    

Beautiful

Ngia

68.    

Fragrant

Pang

69.    

Difficult

Oh

70.    

Small

Soi

71.    

Young

Hao-se

年輕

後生

72.    

Impoverished

Kiao

73.    

Tired

Heg

74.    

Lazy

Dua

75.    

Dirty

Ci-ghi

淒疑

76.    

Fast

Me

77.    

Slowly

Mang-mang

慢慢

緩慢

78.    

Late

Ua

79.    

Black

Ou

80.    

Day

Jig

81.    

Morning

Ming-ki

早上

眠起

82.    

Night

Me

83.    

Sun

Jig-tao

太陽

日頭

84.    

Weather

Ti-si

天氣

天時

85.    

Cold

Ngang

86.    

Typhoon

Huang-tai

颱風

風臺

87.    

Caught by rain

Ag-hou

淋雨

沃雨

88.    

Clothes

Sa

89.    

House

Cu

90.    

Home

Lai

91.    

Bed

Ming-ceng

眠床

92.    

Cigarette

Hun

93.    

Letter

Poi

94.    

Fruits

Ci-gue

水果

鮮果

95.    

Carrot

Cai-tao

蘿蔔

菜頭

96.    

Porridge

Mue

97.    

Chopsticks

De

筷子

98.    

Things

Mueh-giah

東西

物件

99.    

Store

Pou

 

~o0o~

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Comment on this post (2 comments)

  • Alim says...

    Don’t do Mai zo
    Or cannot do mo zo
    In text don’t is m ?
    Please explain difference

    August 21, 2021

  • Lim says...

    Is this based on Teo-yio (潮陽)pronunciation?
    Gie (叫) supposes to be Gio to non Teo-yio
    Bang-jie (小便) supposes to be Bang-jie.
    Teo-yie (潮陽)supposes to be Teo-yio.
    Jie-say (這樣) Hie-say (那樣)supposes to be Jio-say, Jio-say to non Teo-yio.

    August 23, 2017

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