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Minnan phrasebook

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Minnan (閩南話/闽南话 Bân-lâm-ōe) is the main language of Southern Fujian and has spread from there to other areas. It is known by several different names: in mainland China, it is Minnan hua (South Fujian speech), in Taiwan, Taiwanese (臺語/台语 tâi-gí), in most of Southeast Asia, Hokkien (福建話/福建话 Hok-kiàn-ōe) from the Minnan word for Fuijan, and in the Philippines, the overseas Chinese call it "Our People's Language" (咱儂話/咱侬话 Lán-lâng-ōe). Penang and Medan are examples of Southeast Asian cities with large and influential Hokkien-speaking communities, such that most ethnic Chinese (and a good number of non-Chinese) can converse in Hokkien regardless of their native language/dialect.

Each of the major cities of Fujian's Minnan-speaking areas — Xiamen, Quanzhou and Zhangzhou — as well as each part of Taiwan and each overseas region where the language is spoken has its own slightly different variant. The overseas variants are influenced by other local languages; Taiwanese has some Japanese loanwords, Hokkien has some from Malay/Indonesian, Teochew and Cantonese, and so on. All these variants, however, are mutually intelligible to a great extent. The prestige dialect of Minnan is the Xiamen dialect in mainland China, and the Tainan dialect in Taiwan.

Minnan is not mutually unintelligible with Mandarin, Cantonese or other Chinese "dialects", not even with the other Min (Fujian) languages such as Mindong (Fuzhou Hua), Minbei and Puxian. Languages classified as closely related to Minnan are Teochew, which has only partial mutual intelligibility with Minnan, and Hainanese which has almost none.

All Chinese languages, in general, use the same set of characters in reading and writing in formal settings, based on standard Mandarin. This means that a Minnan speaker and a Mandarin speaker cannot talk to each other, but either can generally read what the other writes. However, when writing Minnan in a more colloquial form, there are significant lexical differences from standard Mandarin, sometimes necessitating the use to extra non-standard characters, meaning that a Mandarin speaker will not be able to make everything out. Use the Chinese phrasebook for reading most writing in Minnan-speaking areas.

Mandarin is an official language in China, Taiwan and Singapore, and widely used in education and media. Today, most Minnan speakers in mainland China and Taiwan also speak Mandarin, and most foreign residents of those areas choose to learn Mandarin rather than Minnan.

Minnan is written with simplified Chinese characters in mainland China, and with traditional Chinese characters in Taiwan. In this phrasebook, where differences exist, traditional characters are written before the slash (/), and simplified characters after the slash.

Pronunciation[edit]

Like all other Chinese languages and their dialects, Minnan uses Chinese characters but employs its own 'unique' pronunciation. However, similar to Japanese kanji, most characters have two or more pronunciations in Minnan, which means that many characters would be pronounced differently depending on context, even if their Mandarin pronunciation remains the same in both instances. The two different pronunciations of characters are often called the literary reading (文读/文讀 bûn tha̍k), which is based on the pronunciation of Tang Dynasty Chinese, and the colloquial reading (白读/白讀 pe̍h tha̍k), which is based on the pronunciation of Han Dynasty Chinese.

But while different pronunciations for characters are a minor phenomenon in Mandarin or Cantonese, colloquial and literary pronunciations are a prevalent feature of Minnan. Most characters have at least two pronunciations, and some have more:

“一”: 白 [chi̍t] vs. 文 [it]

“大”: 白 [tōa] vs. 文 [tāi]

“学/學”: 白 [o̍h] vs. 文 [ha̍k]

An example with 3 readings : “石頭/石头” [chio̍h thâu],“石榴” [sia̍h liû],“藥石/药石” [io̍k se̍k]. That is, “石” can be read “chio̍h”, “sia̍h” or “se̍k”.

For example, the words ài and beh both roughly mean 'want', so they are usually written with the character 要 (although they are also written with 愛 and 欲 respectively). Consequently, the pronunciation of the character 要 can change between ài, beh and iàu depending on context.

The ordinary word for person, lâng, is usually written with the character 人, which also has the reading jı̂n or lîn. The character 生 is is pronounced seⁿ or siⁿ as a verb used alone, but the word 人生 is pronounced lı̂n-seng.

Words written with the same Chinese characters often employ different pronunciations to convey different meanings; for instance, in Xiamen (but not in Taiwan, which only uses the latter reading), 大学/大學 is pronounced tōa-o̍h to mean "university", but pronounced tāi-ha̍k to refer to one of the Four Books of Confucianism.

Also, note how the words m̄ (is not, does not) and bē/bōe (cannot) are all often written with 不, so while 不要 might be read as m̄-ài or m̄-beh, 不能 or 不可 can be read as bē-sái or bōe-sái.

For referring to oneself, 我 góa is used in more informal contexts while 阮 gún is more formal and 恁爸 lı́n-pē (male) / 恁母 lı́n-bú (female) is very derogatory but used very commonly. (No cognates exist in Mandarin or Cantonese although phrases with the same meaning do.) Unlike in Mandarin, there are two equivalents of the English word "we", with 咱 lán used when the subject includes the listener(s), and 阮 goán used when the subject excludes the listener(s).

Pronunciation varies from region to region (e.g. 你 (you) can be either lı́, or lír). This can make comprehension slightly difficult sometimes even between 'native' speakers from Quanzhou and Zhangzhou. It should also be kept in mind that most speakers of the dialect often mix Mandarin phrases into their speech due to the influence of Standard Mandarin.

Pronunciations in this guide will make use of the Pe̍h-ōe-jī (POJ) Romanization system, which was developed by Christian missionaries working in Xiamen, Tainan and overseas Chinese communities in the 19th century. While learning POJ is useful for foreigners trying to learn Minnan, it is virtually never learned by native speakers, so stick to Chinese characters for written communication.

Tones[edit]

Like other varieties of Chinese, Minnan is tonal; tones must be correct in order to convey the correct meaning. Like other Min dialects, Minnan has a complex tone sandhi system, which makes it harder to learn than Mandarin. In general, all syllables other than the final syllable of a word undergo tone sandhi in Minnan.

The following table shows the values of the different tones in some places, and does not show the pronunciation of the tones or tone sandhi of many areas, but may give an idea of the approximate values.

Tones of Minnan
Number Name POJ Pitch Description After tone sandhi
1 yin level a 55 high 7
2 yin rising á 51 falling 1 (Zhangzhou), 5 (Quanzhou)
3 yin departing à 31~21 low falling 2
4 yin entering ah 32 mid stopped 2 (h final), 8 (otherwise)
5 yang level â 14~24 rising 3 (Taipei, Quanzhou), 7 (Tainan, Zhangzhou)
6 yang rising á 51 falling unchanged
7 yang departing ā 33 mid 3
8 yang entering a̍h 4 high stopped 3 (h final), 4 (otherwise)

Consonants[edit]

While Mandarin only distinguishes between aspirated and unaspirated (unvoiced) consonants, and English only distinguishes between voiced and unvoiced consonants meaning-wise, Minnan makes a distinction in both cases. This means that aspirated unvoiced (pʰ, tʰ, kʰ, tsʰ), unaspirated unvoiced (p, t, k, ts), and unaspirated voiced (b, g, dz) are all separate phonemic consonants in Minnan. This means that pronouncing everything correctly is going to be a challenge for native English or Mandarin speakers. However, unlike in Mandarin, there is no "tongue rolling" (pinyin zh, ch, sh, r) initial consonant.

To highlight the distinction, the words for "open" (開/开) and "close" (關/关), in some pronunciations (khui and kuiⁿ respectively) sound almost identical to a native English speaker, the difference being that "open" uses an aspirated initial consonant, and "close" uses an unaspirated initial consonant with a nasalised vowel.

Initial consonanats of POJ
Letter IPA English example Notes
b b ban English 'b'
p p span pinyin 'b'
ph pan pinyin 'p'
j dz/ʑ jam English 'j'
ch ts/tɕ cats pinyin 'z' or 'j'
chh tsʰ/tɕʰ - pinyin 'c' or 'q'
s s/ɕ sun pinyin 's' or 'x'
g g get English hard 'g'
k k skin pinyin 'g'
kh kin pinyin 'k'
t t Stan pinyin 'd'
th tan pinyin 't'
h h hat English 'h'
m m map English 'm'
n n net English 'n'
l l line English 'l'
ng ŋ sing English 'ng'

Like Cantonese but unlike Mandarin, Minnan retains all the final consonants (m, n, ŋ, p, t, and k) of Middle Chinese. In POJ, the nasal consonants m, n and ng are pronounced the same as English, but the others are different.

The stop consonants p, t and k are unreleased. This means that the mouth moves into the position of making the consonant, but no burst of air is released.

Final consonanats of POJ
Letter IPA English example Notes
p p span pinyin 'b'
k k skin pinyin 'g'
t t Stan pinyin 'd'
m m map English 'm'
n n net English 'n'
ng ŋ sing English 'ng'

Furthermore, an h at the end of a syllable in POJ represents a glottal stop (ʔ); this is the sound in the middle of the English word 'uh-oh'.

Vowels[edit]

The vowels a, e, i, o, u are pronounced as they are in many languages, such as Spanish and Italian. Minnan also has the vowel [ɔ] written as (with a dot) or oo.

Vowels of POJ
Letter IPA English example Notes
a a father
e e whey
i i see
o o soap
ɔ law also written 'oo'
u u goose

Vowels in Minnan can be nasalized, and in POJ this is indicated with a superscript n 'ⁿ' after the vowel. It can also be indicated with a capital n (N) or a double n (nn). IPA notes this with a tilde (~) above the last vowel.

Common diphthongs[edit]

There are many diphthongs in Minnan, and their pronunciations from the POJ spellings are generally fairly obvious. However, note that oe is "ui/uei" and oai is "uai".

Diphthongs of POJ
Letter IPA English example Notes
ai my pinyin 'ai'
au cow pinyin 'ao'
ia ɪa -
io ɪo -
iu iu -
oa ua - pinyin 'wa'
oe ue way pinyin 'wei'
ui ui - pinyin 'ui'
iau ɪaʊ - piyin 'yao'
oai uai why pinyin 'wai'

Phrase list[edit]

Basics[edit]

To be or not to be?

Minnan, as in Mandarin, does not have words for "yes" and "no" as such; instead, questions are typically answered by repeating the verb. Common ones include:

To be or not to be
是 sı̄, 毋是 m̄-sı̄
To have or not have / there is or is not
有 ū, 無/无 bô
To be right or wrong
著/着 tio̍h, 毋著/毋着 m̄-tio̍h
Hello. 
汝好。 lı́ hó (Li huh)
How are you? 
汝好無?/汝好无? lı́ hó bô?
How are you? 
食飽未?/食饱未? chia̍h-pá-bē / chia̍h-pá-bōe ()("have you eaten?")
Not bad 
袂歹 bōe-phái (buay pai)
Fine, thank you. 
好,多謝。/好,多谢。 hó,to͘-siā (Taiwan) / 好,感謝。/好,感谢。 hó,kám-siā. (Xiamen & Singapore)
Thank you
感谢/感謝 kám-siā (Xiamen & Singapore) / 多谢/多謝 to͘-siā (Taiwan)
What is your name? 
汝叫什物名? lı́ kiò sím-mi̍h miâ? (Xiamen and Singapore) / 汝叫啥物名? lı́ kiò siáⁿ-mı̍h miâ? (Taiwan)
My name is ... . 
我的名是... góa ê miâ sı̄...
Nice to meet you. 
Please... (before a request)
請.../请... chhiáⁿ...
Please. 
拜託/拜托 Pài-thok (Bai-toh) or 好心ㄟ(hó-sim ē)
You're welcome 
免客氣/免客气 bián kheh-khı̀ ("don't be polite")
Excuse me. (getting attention
勞駕/劳驾 lô-kà
Excuse me. (begging pardon
歹勢/歹势 phái-sè (pai say)
I'm sorry. (informal) 
歹勢/歹势 phái-sè (pai-say)
I'm sorry. (formal)
失禮。/失礼。sit lé. (shit-leh)
Goodbye 
再見/再见 chài-kiàn (tsai gian).
I can't speak Minnan. 
我袂曉講閩南話。/我袂晓讲闽南话。 góa bōe-hiáu kóng Bân-lâm-ōe.
I don't know how to speak English 
我袂曉講英語。/我袂晓讲英语。 góa bōe-hiáu kóng Eng-gú (Wah mbay hyow gong eng-gu)
Do you speak English? 
請問汝會曉講英語袂?/请问汝会晓讲英语袂? chhiáⁿ-mn̄g lı́ ē-hiáu kóng Eng-gú bōe? (Li gah-ay-hyow gong eng-yee)
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
請問有人會曉講英語無?/请问有人会晓讲英語无? chhiáⁿ-mn̄g ū lâng ē hiáu kóng Eng-gú bô? (Jiah gam ou lung eh hiao gong eng gyi?)
Help! 
救命! kiù-miā!
Look out! 
小心! sió sim!
Good morning. 
賢早。 gâu-chá.
Good evening. 
好暗暝。 hó-àm-mî (Amoy Hokkien)
Good night. 
Good night (to sleep
好睏。 hó khùn (sleep well)
I don't understand. 
我聽無。/我听无。góa thiaⁿ bô.
Where's the bathroom? 
廁所佇佗落?/厕所佇佗落? chheh-só͘ tī tó-lo̍h? (in Xiamen)/ 便所佇佗位 piān-só͘ tī tó-ūi? (in Taiwan)
You are beautiful 
汝真媠 lı́ chin suí

Problems[edit]

Go away 
走 cháu/chó͘ (tzow/zao)
Don't touch me! 
莫摸我 mài mo góa (mai mo1 wa) / (Mai gah-wah mbong)
I'll call the police. (Informal)
我叫警察 (Wah kah gien tsah.)
I'll call the police (Formal)
(Wah ay kah hoh gien tsah.)
Police! 
警察 kéng-chhat (gien tsah) / ma-ta (from malay)
Stop! 
擋 tòng (dohng) / 停 thêng (tng2)
I need your help. 
我需要你的幫忙 góa su-iàu lı́-ê pang-bâng (Wah soo-yow *dee-ay bahm-mahng) or 我需要你替我斗相共 óa su-iàu lı́ tek góa tau sann kang
I'm lost. 
(Wah mbo-key)
I lost my purse/wallet. 
我不見[?]我的皮包 Wah pahng-key wah-ay pay-bow
I'm sick. 
我破病了 góa phòa-pīⁿ liáu (Wah pwah bee liao) or Wah gahng koh
I've been injured. 
我著傷 (Wah dyuh shohng)
I need a doctor. 
我[?]醫生 (Wah dah-ai ee-sheng)
Can I use your phone? 
我甘可用你的電話[?] (Wah gah-ay sai yen * li-ay dyeng-way)
Don't lie to me! 
勿假! mài ké!

Numbers[edit]

Numbers in Minnan are basically the same as numbers in other varieties of Chinese.

0
空 khòng (kong)
一 chi̍t (chjit) / it (it)

Note: "it" is used in the ones and tens place (except the number 1 itself) and for ordinal numbers, whereas "chi̍t" is used for multiples of numbers 100 and greater, as well as before counter words.

兩/两 nn̄g (nng) / 二 jī (jee)

Note: 二 jī is used in the ones and tens place (except the number 2 itself) and for ordinal numbers, whereas 兩/两 nn̄g is used for multiples of numbers 100 and greater, as well as before counter words.

三 saⁿ (sa)
四 sì (si)
五 gō͘ (gaw)
六 la̍k (lak)
七 chhit (chit)
八 poeh / peh (bpui)
九 káu (kau)
10
十 cha̍p (tzhap)
11 
十一 cha̍p-it (tzhap-it)
12 
十二 cha̍p-jī (tzhap-li)
13 
十三 cha̍p-saⁿ (tzhap-sa)
14 
十四 cha̍p-sì (tzhap-si)
15 
十五 cha̍p-gō͘ (tzhap-gaw)
16 
十六 cha̍p-la̍k (tzhap-lak)
17 
十七 cha̍p-chhit (tzhap-chit)
18 
十八 cha̍p-poeh (tzhap-bpui)
19 
十九 cha̍p-káu (tzhap-kau)
20 
二十 jī-cha̍p (li-tzhap)
21 
二十一 jī-cha̍p-it (li-tzhap-it)
22 
二十二 jī-cha̍p-jī (li-tzhap-li)
100 
一百 chi̍t-pah (chit-pah)
200 
兩百/两百 nn̄g-pah (nng-pah)
222
兩百二十二/两百二十二 nn̄g-pah-jī-cha̍p-jī (nng-pah-li-chap-li)
1000 
一千 chi̍t-chheng (chit-cheng)
2000 
兩千/两千 nn̄g-chheng

Like Mandarin, Minnan groups numbers starting from 10,000 into units of four digits starting with 萬/万 bān. "One million" would therefore be "one hundred ten-thousands" (一百萬/一百万) and "one billion" would be "ten hundred-millions" (十億/十亿).

10,000 
一萬/一万 chi̍t-bān
20,000 
兩萬/两万 nn̄g-bān
100,000 
十萬/十万 cha̍p-bān
1,000,000 
一百萬/一百万 chi̍t-pah bān
10,000,000 
一千萬/一千万 chi̍t-chheng bān
100,000,000 
一億/一亿 chi̍t-ik
1,000,000,000 
十億/十亿 cha̍p-ik
10,000,000,000 
一百億/一百亿 chi̍t-pah ik
100,000,000,000 
一千億/一千亿 chi̍t-chheng ik
1,000,000,000,000 
一兆 chi̍t-tiāu
number _____ (train, bus, etc.) 
_____號 hō
half 
半 pòaⁿ
less 
少 chió
more 
濟 chōe

Ordinal numbers[edit]

Ordinal numbers in Chinese are expressed by prepending the number with '第', pronounced in Minnan.

First 
第一 tē-it (day-it)
Second 
第二 tē-jı̄ (day-ji)
Third 
第三 tē-saⁿ (day-sa)
Fourth 
第四 tē-sı̀ (day-si)
Fifth 
第五 tē-gō͘ (day-go)

And so on, for any number:

Twentieth 
第二十 tē-jı̄-cha̍p (day ji-tzap)
Hundredth 
第一百 tē-chı̍t-pah (day chit-pah)
Thousandth 
第一千 tē-chı̍t-chheng (day chit-cheng)

Time[edit]

what time is it? 
幾點 kúi tiám (kwee tiam)?
now 
這馬 chit-má (jeemah) / 這陣 chit-tsūn (jeetzoon)
later 
kah dahng-ay or shuh dahng
before 
ee jun
early 
早 chá (dtsah)
earlier 
較早 kah chá (kah dtsah)
morning 
早起 chá-khí
afternoon 
下晡 ē-po͘
evening 
暗晡 àm-po͘ (around 5-6 pm) / 暗頭仔 àm-thâu-á (around 6-7 pm)
night 
暗暝 àm-mı̂ / 暗時仔/暗时仔 àm-sî-á
tonight 
今暝 kim-mı̂
noon 
中晝 tiong-tàu (dyong dow)
midnight 
半暝 puàⁿ-mî (bpua mi)

Clock time[edit]

1:00 
一点/一點 chi̍t-tiám
2:00 
两点/兩點 nn̄g-tiám
2:30 
两点半/兩點半 nn̄g-tiám-pòaⁿ / 两点三十分/兩點三十分 nn̄g-tiám saⁿ-cha̍p-hun
3:00 
三点/三點 saⁿ-tiám

Duration[edit]

_____ minute(s) 
_____ 分鐘/_____ 分钟 hun-cheng
_____ hour(s) 
_____ 點鐘/_____ 点钟 tiám-cheng
_____ day(s) 
_____ 日 ji̍t / _____ 工 kang
_____ week(s) 
_____ 禮拜/_____ 礼拜 lé-pài
_____ month(s) 
_____ 月 goe̍h
_____ year(s) 
_____ 年 nî

Days[edit]

today 
今仔日 kin-á-jit
yesterday 
昨日 chah-jit
tomorrow 
明仔載/明仔载 miâ-á-chài / 明仔日 miâ-á-ji̍t
the day after tomorrow 
後日 āu-ji̍t
this week 
這禮拜 chit lé-pài
last week 
頂禮拜 téng lé-pài
next week 
下禮拜 hě-lé-pài
Sunday 
禮拜日 lé-pài-jı̍t / 禮拜 lé-pài
Monday 
拜一 pài-it
Tuesday 
拜二 pài-jı̄
Wednesday 
拜三 pài-saⁿ
Thursday 
拜四 pài-sı̀
Friday 
拜五 pài-gō͘
Saturday 
拜六 pài-la̍k

Months[edit]

January 
一月 it-go̍eh
February 
二月 jı̄-go̍eh
March 
三月 saⁿ-go̍eh
April 
四月 sı̀-go̍eh
May 
五月 gō͘-go̍eh
June 
六月 la̍k-go̍eh
July 
七月 chhit-go̍eh
August 
八月 poeh-go̍eh
September 
九月 káu-go̍eh
October 
十月 cha̍p-go̍eh
November 
十一月 cha̍p-it-go̍eh
December 
十二月 cha̍p-jı̄-go̍eh

Colors[edit]

color 
色 sek
black 
乌色/烏色 o·-sek
white 
白色 pe̍h-sek
grey 
灰色 hoe-sek
red 
红色/紅色 âng-sek
blue 
蓝色/藍色 nâ-sek
yellow 
黄色/黃色 n̂g-sek
green 
青色 chhiⁿ-sek
orange 
柑仔色 kam-á-sek : ("mandarin orange color")
purple 
茄色 kiô-sek : ("eggplant color")
brown 
涂色/塗色 thó·-sek : ("dirt color")

Transportation[edit]

Bus and train[edit]

Ticket 
[?]票 phiò (dyu pyuh)
One ticket 
一票 chit phiò (jeet-pyuh)
How much is one ticket? 
一票是幾箍? chit phiò sī kuí khoo (Jeet-pyuh shee gwee-koh?)
bus 
公車 / 客運 (kay-wun)
train 
火車 hóe-chhia (whey-chiah)
Where does this bus go? 
chit-ê (Dze-day kay-wun kee-dah?)
Does this train go to ____? 
(Dze-day whey-chiah gah-oo kee ____?)
What time does this train leave? 
(Dze-day whey-chiah gwee diam tsooh-whaht?)
What time will this bus arrive? 
(Dze-day kay-wun gwee diam ay gow-wee?)
Please stop! 
拜託,擋! pài thok,tòng (Pbai-toh, dong!)

Directions[edit]

走 or 行

While the character 走 (cháu) means "to walk" in modern Standard Mandarin, Minnan retains the Classical Chinese meaning of the character, in which it means "to run" (a meaning that is also retained in other southern dialects and Japanese). Instead, the character 行 (kiâⁿ) is used to mean "to walk" in Minnan.

How do I get to ____? 
請問汝按怎去____啊?/请问汝按怎去____啊? chhiáⁿ-mn̄g lí án-chóaⁿ khì ____ ah?
...the train station? 
火車站/火车站 hué-chhia-chām
...the bus station? 
(kay-wun dyoo?)
...the airport? 
飛機場/飞机场 hui-ki-tiûⁿ
...downtown? 
市區/市区 chhī-khu
...the hotel? 
旅館/旅馆 lú-kuán
...the restaurant? 
飯店/饭店 pn̄g-tiàm
Where are there a lot of ____? 
佗落有真濟____啊?/佗落有真济____啊? tó-lo̍h ū chin chōe ____ ah?
Do you have a map? 
(*lee gah-oo day-doh?)
street/road 
路 lō͘/lo̍h
left 
倒 tò
right 
正 chiàⁿ
in front of the _____ 
_____頭前/_____头前 _____ thâu-chêng
behind the _____ 
_____後尾/_____后尾 (_____āu-bóe)
turn left 
斡倒手 oat-tò-chhiú
turn right
斡正手 oat-chiàⁿ-chhiú
straight ahead 
直直去 tı̍t-tı̍t khı̀ / 直直行 ti̍t-ti̍t kiâⁿ / 行直 kiâⁿ ti̍t
inside 
內面/内面 lāi-bīn
outside 
外口 gōa-kháu

Taxi[edit]

Taxi 
的士 tek-sî (mainland China) / 計程車/计程车 kè-thêng-chhia (Taiwan)
Drive me to ____ 
載我去____ 。/载我去____ 。 chài góa khì ____.
How much to go ____ 
欲去____幾箍?/欲去____几箍? beh khì ____ kúi kho͘?

Lodging[edit]

Do you have any rooms available? 
有房間無?/有房间无? ū pâng-king bô?
How much for one room? 
一間[?]? (Jeet gyun, wah-tsay gyee?)
One person 
一個人/一个人 chı̍t-ê-lâng
Two persons 
兩個人/两个人 n̄ng-ê-lâng
Does it have ____? 
敢有____? kám-ū ____ ? (Gah oo ____ ?)
a bathroom 
便所 piān-só͘? (Taiwan) / 廁所/厕所 chheh-só͘ (mainland China)
a telephone 
電話/电话 tiān-ōe (dyung way?)
a TV 
電視機/电视机 tiān-sī-ki
May I see it first? 
[?]先看?(Gah-ay-dahng shung kwah?)
Do you have something more ____? 
敢有較____? kám-ū khah (Gah oo kah)
big 
大的 tōa-ê (dwah-ay)
cheap 
俗的 sio̍k-ê (siok-ay) (China and Taiwan) / 偏的 phiⁿ-ê (Singapore)
OK, I'll sleep here for ____ nights. 
好,[?]暗 Huh, mbay-kuhng ____ ahm.
Is there another hotel? 
[?]有[?] 旅館 (Gah oo bahg-ay *lee-guang?)
What time is breakfast? 
早頓幾點?/早顿几点? chá-tǹg kúi-tiám?
Please clean my room 
拜託 我的 房間 (Pbai toh kyeng wah-ay bahn-gyun)
Can you wake me at ... ? 
,好無?... gah-way gyuh kiah, huhbuh?

Money[edit]

Credit card 
刷卡 (swah kah)
Where can I exchange money? 
(Dway ay-dahng wah gjee?)

Eating[edit]

I'm a vegetarian. 
我食齋。/我食斋。 góa chia̍h che. / 我食素。 góa chia̍h sò͘.
drink tea 
啉茶 lim tê
brew tea 
泡茶 phàu tê
breakfast 
早頓/早顿 chá-tǹg (dzah-dun)
lunch 
中頓/中顿 tiong-tǹg
dinner 
暗頓/暗顿 àm-tǹg
snack 
點心/点心 tiám-sim
I want... 
我欲 góa beh (gwah beh)
tea 
茶 tê (teh)
coffee 
咖啡 ka-pi (kopi) / ko-pi (in Singapore and Malaysia, from Malay)
chicken 
雞/鸡 ke / koe
duck 
鴨/鸭 ah
beef
牛肉 gû-bah
pork
豬肉/豬肉 ti-bah / tu-bah
mutton
羊肉 iûⁿ-bah / iôⁿ-bah
eggs 
雞卵/鸡卵 ke-nn̄g / koe-nn̄g / ke-nūi / 卵 nn̄g / nūi (the former specifically refers to chicken eggs, the later can be used generally for any type of egg)
fruit 
水果 chúi-kó, 果子 kóe-chí / ké-chí
vegetable 
菜 chhài
fish 
魚仔/鱼仔 hî-á (hee-ah) / 魚/鱼 hî / hû (hhu2/hhw2; sounds like a long 'huh' without the vowel)
bread 
麵包/面包 mī-pau (mee-bao) / pahng (in Taiwan, from Japanese) / lō-ti (in Singapore and Malaysia, from Malay)
noodles 
麵/面 mı̄ (mee)
rice (uncooked) 
米 bı́ (bee)
rice (cooked) 
飯/饭 pn̄g (buhng)
congee / rice porridge 
糜 bê
milk 
牛奶 gû-ni / gû-leng (in Penang) or 奶 ni (the former refers specifically to cow's milk, while the latter can be used for milk in general)
water 
水 chúi
beer 
啤酒 pi-chiú (bee chiu)
salt 
鹽/盐 iâm (yahm)
pepper 
胡椒粉 hô͘-chio-hún (hhoh chjio hun)
sugar 
糖 thn̂g
soy sauce 
豆油 tāu-iû
butter 
牛油 gû-iû
done eating 
食飽了/食饱了 chia̍h-pá-liáu (jyah pah lyow)
delicious (eating) 
好食 hó-chia̍h (huh jyah)
delicious (drinking) 
好啉 hó-lim (huh lim)

Bars[edit]

Shopping[edit]

How much? 
幾錢? (gwee chee)
How many dollars/yuan? 
幾箍? kúi kho͘ (gwee koh)
Too much 
傷 shyoo-(gke4) zwuei3
Don't want 
莫/勿 mbwai / mmm...-mai3
I need... 
(Wah dah-ai...)
...toothbrush 
齒抿 khí-bín (kee-mbeeng)
...soap 
茶箍 tê-kho͘ (day koh)
...shampoo 
洗頭毛 sóe thâu-mn̂g (suay tow-mun) (literally "wash hair")
...paper 
紙 chóa (dzwah)
...pen 
筆 pit (mbeetd / pbeet)
...books 
冊 chheh (tz-cheh)

Authority[edit]

I haven't done anything wrong. 
我無做歹代誌。 (góa bô chò phái tāi-chì.)



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