Different Ways of Forming Questions

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
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Ah-bin
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Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by Ah-bin » Fri Mar 11, 2011 2:26 pm

Hello everyone.....

Àm-mê•, wá siāuⁿ kúi-hang míh-kiàⁿ, hō• wá khùn bē khì!

(Some things have been keeping me awake at night!)

Wá siāuⁿ, tòa chí-lê sè-kài, beh khùn khì ê tiám-siaⁿ, kan-na ū wá chi-lê-lâng siāuⁿ án-ne-khoán ê míh-kiàⁿ.

(I must be the only person in the world who thinks about this sort of thing before I go to sleep. Plaes correct these two sentences if they sound unnatural)

There are some different ways to form questions in Hokkien (of course I'm mainly interested in Northern Malaysian Hokkien, but I am interested in hearing about other types too).

I sī-m-sī Tng-lâng? I sī Tng-lâng bô?

The first one is more like "She's Chinese, isn't she?", and the second more like "Is she Chinese?" where the person asking the question has no idea what the answer will be. Or maybe these have the same meaning?

These ones I find more confusing:

Lú ài khì ....bô?
Lú ài mài khì.....?
Lú ài khì......mài?

For "Do you want to go to......?"

I am wondering which one is more common, or whether they have subtly different meanings.

In this question below, for "Can you.....?" I think the second construction is more common in Taiwanese than other sorts of Hokkien, and the first more common in Penang Hokkien.

Lú ē-hiáu ......bô?

Lú ē-hiáu....... bē?

Many thanks in anticipation of your replies!
Mark Yong
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by Mark Yong » Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:40 pm

From my limited knowledge and experience... :oops:
I sī-m-sī Tng-lâng?
Actually, this one comes closer to mean "Is he/she Chinese?". It's the more commonly-heard sentence structure.
I sī Tng-lâng bô?
This one translates better as "Is he/she Chinese or not?" Contextually, it tends to carry a mild negative imperative, i.e. the person in question is, in fact, Chinese (but perhaps not behaving like one!) with a tinge of sarcasm.
Lú ài khì ....bô?
Lú ài mài khì.....?
Lú ài khì......mài?
The first form is more common, and is the equivalent of the Mandarin 你要不要去?

The second form is also used, but very slightly less common, and I would venture to state that it is a mark of Mandarin/Cantonese grammatical intrusion.

The third form is also used, but normally in a reprimanding context (e.g. when the person in question is being tardy, and the speaker is getting impatient to get a move on).
AndrewAndrew
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by AndrewAndrew » Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:48 pm

Thanks for starting this topic - I've been meaning to ask some similar questions.

Penang Hokkien seems to have the final particle ô? which serves as a catch-all: e.g. Lu ai khi ô? I si tng-lang ô?

So you could say

Lu ai khi ô?(Do you want to go?), or
Lu ai khi (a) mai khi? (Do you want to go or don't you?)

Not sure about the others.

Generally, forms like I si tng-lang a m? seems never to be used. U obviously has the negator bo, and e has be, which can however be used, e.g. Lu u tiam-siann bo? Lu e tso be?

Other questions:
Lu ai khi à? (So you want to go? (I wasn't sure/I didn't think you did))
Lu ai khi mée? (You want to go? (I'm incredulous))
SimL
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by SimL » Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:15 pm

AndrewAndrew wrote:Penang Hokkien seems to have the final particle ô? which serves as a catch-all: e.g. Lu ai khi ô? I si tng-lang ô?
What a strange co-incidence that you mention this now, Andrew. For the past few months, I've been wondering why I use this particle "o5". After some reflection, I decided that it's just an elided form of "bo5", but I have no way of knowing this for certain, of course.
Ah-bin
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by Ah-bin » Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:37 pm

Thanks for all the answers! Actually after three years of regular listening to the PGHK podcast I still was not 100% sure about things. I'll respond to the points in the order you have written them.
The third form is also used, but normally in a reprimanding context (e.g. when the person in question is being tardy, and the speaker is getting impatient to get a move on).
That would explain why "Lú ài mài?" sounds a bit impatient.
The second form is also used, but very slightly less common, and I would venture to state that it is a mark of Mandarin/Cantonese grammatical intrusion.
Actually, I read somewhere (in a study of Singapore Hokkien that I found in Amoy University library a few years back) that the "Lú ài mài khì?" type question was especially Singaporean (could have meant Southeast Asian). Actually I think for 北佬 the natural Mandarin construction is "你要去嗎?" rather than "你要不要去?", which is southern-style Mandarin.
Penang Hokkien seems to have the final particle ô? which serves as a catch-all: e.g. Lu ai khi ô? I si tng-lang ô?
Yes, actually that must have been what I was hearing on the podcast! I was suspicious of my own intuition though, and I had thought it was perhaps an "à" too, but maybe only used in very casual speech. Now I know it is it often loses its tone, I feel. I am guessing that it is actually an elided form of bô, but I'll probably start writing it with an 噢, I think.

When there is an ū in the sentence (indicating past or habitual action) then is it more likely to have bô I wonder?

Lú ū kà i kóng bô? or Lú kà i kóng bô? (with the ū dropped)

As opposed to

Lú ài kà i kóng ô? "Do you want to tell him?"

Where there is no ū

Actually, from my own limited experience "Lú ū kà i kóng ô?" sounds quite natural too....so "all purpose" is a good way to describe it.

Off the topic, I think I heard one of those elisions on the PGHK podcast last week

"ák-hán" is how I heard it, and it is what happens when you say "Án-ne-khoán" quickly at the end of a sentence! As I have said before, I'm very fond of these contractions. I heard one in English I haven;t noticed before which was "Ahna" short for "I'm going to"!
amhoanna
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by amhoanna » Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:50 pm

Took me yrs to pick up a working knowledge of Hoklo question structures. With the usual caveat (not a native spkr, etc.), here's some of my mental notes:
I sī-m-sī Tng-lâng? I sī Tng-lâng bô?
As far as I know, in TW, the first structure expects a yes, the second structure is neutral. Neither one seems to be favored in TW. Esp. the second sentence seems to be uncommon in mainstream TWese. The favored structure is using kam2.
* I kam2 si7 Tng5-lang5?

"Kam2" questions can actually project a built-in attitude of askance... But they can also be neutral, and usually are. It depends on context, tone of voice, facial expressions, etc.

Si7-m0 and hioh0 (<-- si7-bo0) are common, but not neutral... Also hONh0 (nasal open o with glottal stop). I think in TW you're more likely to hear

* I si7 Tng5-lang5 hONh0?

than "I sī-m-sī Tng-lâng?" ... aside from Tng5-lang5 not existing in TWese vocab. :wink:

One more thing. The "Mandarin-minded" in TW will use the sī-m-sī structure just like Mand shi-bu-shi, i.e. all the time, w/o expecting a yes.

And one more thing. Don't know what happened to final particle "bo" in mainstream TWese. It seems to be confined to "u7" questions, "beh" questions, "ai" questions, etc. I was surprised when I went to Haikhau (Hainam) and the people used "bo" instead of "ma" in their Mandarin. Bo5-tiann7 i-lang5 kong2 Hai2-lam5-oa7 e5 tiam2-siann pun si7 an2-ne1 hounnh?
Lú ài khì ....bô?
Lú ài mài khì.....?
Lú ài khì......mài?
I think only the first one works in TW: Li2 beh khi3 bo0?

The second one is definitely out. The third sounds weird.

It's possible mai3 is used that way in some parts of TW by older people. Mai3 is pretty restricted in TW... There's a S'porean movie where a bus driver says, "Ai3 khi2 khi2, mai3 khi2 loh8, mai3 bo5-chai2 goa2 e5 si5-kan." What a simple and elegant sentence. Not kosher in TW, partly b/c of the first mai3. A grammatically complex dialect collapsing under its own weight :?:
In this question below, for "Can you.....?" I think the second construction is more common in Taiwanese than other sorts of Hokkien, and the first more common in Penang Hokkien.

Lú ē-hiáu ......bô?

Lú ē-hiáu....... bē?
Yeah, although in mainstream TWese I think "Li2 kam2 e7-hiau2..." is a heavy favorite, and the "...bo0" structure is heard too, kind of as a minor mistake, a grey area usage. I use it all the time and nobody bats an eyelash. In TW that means you're on the right track. :mrgreen: I'm under the impression that "...be0" and "...bo0" are esp. under-used up north. Not sure.
Generally, forms like I si tng-lang a m? seems never to be used.
This is common in TW, and neutral. I've yet to piece together its ins and outs. It wasn't in the books. :oops:
Lu ai khi à? (So you want to go? (I wasn't sure/I didn't think you did))
In my natural, native Mandarin, I use a3 (low-falling) the exact same way. I wonder where I or we got it from. I don't use that particle anymore outside the home environment. In TW I found that people interpreted it the wrong way, although I think it works in certain contexts (in Mand, not Hoklo)...

In TW Hoklo, final a3 (or ah4, a7, a1) is the same thing as PgHK final "liau2" (liau0?).
Lu ai khi mée? (You want to go? (I'm incredulous))
One of my favorites along with Mand/Canto lou1! Not available in TW in any language, unfortunately. Always fun to talk w/ South Seas folk and dust this one off.

I recall Niuc saying they use this in Bagan-oe too? Teochew connection, maybe? And liau2 vs. ah too? I might be rehashing an old topic w/o knowing it. Sorry if so!
I heard one in English I haven;t noticed before which was "Ahna" short for "I'm going to"!
I use "I'ma" in my natural English. It may shade into "Ah'ma" after a week in the bayou. Outside the "English asli" zones, I have to use "I'm gonna" instead, otherwise the other party will just go "Huh?"
Ah-bin
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by Ah-bin » Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:14 pm

As far as I know, in TW, the first structure expects a yes, the second structure is neutral. Neither one seems to be favored in TW. Esp. the second sentence seems to be uncommon in mainstream TWese.
Aha! That's where I picked up my initial feelings from! The "kam" one I know isn't used in Penang.
AndrewAndrew
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by AndrewAndrew » Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:35 pm

amhoanna wrote:
Lú ài khì ....bô?
Lú ài mài khì.....?
Lú ài khì......mài?
I think only the first one works in TW: Li2 beh khi3 bo0?

The second one is definitely out. The third sounds weird.

It's possible mai3 is used that way in some parts of TW by older people. Mai3 is pretty restricted in TW... There's a S'porean movie where a bus driver says, "Ai3 khi2 khi2, mai3 khi2 loh8, mai3 bo5-chai2 goa2 e5 si5-kan." What a simple and elegant sentence. Not kosher in TW, partly b/c of the first mai3. A grammatically complex dialect collapsing under its own weight :?:
Sorry, why is the first mai3 not acceptable?

The Lu ai mai? / Lu ai khi mai khi? definitely has a note of exasperation in PGHK. I don't think you can say Lu ai khi mai?
amhoanna
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by amhoanna » Sat Mar 12, 2011 5:07 pm

Sorry, why is the first mai3 not acceptable?

The Lu ai mai? / Lu ai khi mai khi? definitely has a note of exasperation in PGHK. I don't think you can say Lu ai khi mai?
"Lu ai mai khi" is a V-not-V structure, assuming mai = m + ai... TW Hoklo doesn't allow V-not-V constructions. The only exception I can think of right now is si7-m7-si7. And that might actually be loaned. There's tio8-m7-tio8, but I don't think tio8 is a verb in that context.

"Lu ai khi mai khi" sounds well-formed to me (in a TW context, vocab differences aside)... Not sure if a native spkr of TW Hoklo would agree.

I should add that "ai" is used differently in TW too. In the context of "khi3", it usually (or can only?) mean NEED. It can mean WANT in other contexts, like in the context of "cia8". Taiwanese "ai" is restricted compared to MY/SG "ai". That might go hand in hand with the restricted "mai".
niuc
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by niuc » Sat Mar 12, 2011 6:15 pm

Ah-bin wrote:Àm-mê•, wá siāuⁿ kúi-hang míh-kiàⁿ, hō• wá khùn bē khì!
Wá siāuⁿ, tòa chí-lê sè-kài, beh khùn khì ê tiám-siaⁿ, kan-na ū wá chi-lê-lâng siāuⁿ án-ne-khoán ê míh-kiàⁿ.
Initially I thought these two were examples, then I realized they were about you! :mrgreen:

In my variant, I'd say:
暝時仔 有幾項物件 予我 想到𣍐睏兮!
Mî_si_a ū-kuí-hāng-míh-kiāⁿ hō•-guá siūⁿ-(k)ah-buē-khùn_e!

我想 佇即兮世界 抵仔有我 當欲睏兮時陣 佇想即款物件.
Guá_siuⁿ tī-cit-ê-sè-kài tú-ah-ū-guá tng-berh-khùn-ê-sî-cūn lih-siuⁿ-cit-khuán-míh-kiāⁿ.

Guá_siuⁿ = Guá_khuàⁿ
I sī Tng-lâng bô?
Lú ài mài khì.....?
These constructions are not found in my variant and sound strange to me.
Lú ài khì ....bô?
This sounds less strange to me but "Lú ài khì......mài?" sounds more natural. In my variant it's "Lír berh-khìr......á-mài?"
Lú ē-hiáu ......bô?
For me this sounds a bit unnatural, as usually bô (bo0) is paired with ū, while ē with buē(bue0)/bē(be0) such as in "Lú ē-hiáu....... bē".
Ah-bin
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by Ah-bin » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:17 am

Here is another brain-teaser (for me perhaps, but not for all the native speakers)

How do you change these sentences into questions:

伊唔是唐儂 。 I m-sī Tn^g-lâng. He is not Chinese.
汝唔是先生。 Lú m-sī sin-se•ⁿ. You are not a teacher.
王太太唔是暹儂。 Ông thài-tài m-sī Siam-lâng. Mrs. Ong is not Thai.
黃先生唔是學生。 Ûiⁿ Sin-se•ⁿ m-sī hák-seng. Mr. Ooi is not a teacher.

to say

Isn't he Chinese?'
Aren't you a teacher?
Isn't Mrs. Ong Thai?
Isn't Mr Ooi a teacher?

Do you just attach "me" to the end of the sentence? That is my feeling.
I suppose in Taiwan you could use kam-m, but even then there should be a final particle on the end of the sentence.

Mandarin can attach ma to the end of a negative sentence,

他不是華人嗎?
你不是老師嗎?
王太太不是泰國人嗎?
黃先生不是老師嗎?
SimL
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by SimL » Tue Jun 21, 2011 6:54 pm

Adding "mé•" is fine. In all 4 cases, the "mE2" at the end would mean that there is a little bit of "disbelief" that the original (i.e., without the "mé•") is correct (perhaps very mild disbelief or doubt, but there has to be a tiny hint of it).

I m-sī Tn^g-lâng mé•? He is not Chinese ? (I thought he was...) or (I thought he was!)
Lú m-sī sin-se•ⁿ mé•? You are not a teacher? (I thought you were...) or (I thought you were!)
Ông thài-tài m-sī Siam-lâng mé•? Mrs. Ong is not Thai? (I thought she was...) or (I thought she was!)
Ûiⁿ Sin-se•ⁿ m-sī hák-seng mé•? Mr. Ooi is not a teacher? (I thought he was...) or (I thought he was!)

I suppose the English equivalents:

Isn't he Chinese?'
Aren't you a teacher?
Isn't Mrs. Ong Thai?
Isn't Mr Ooi a teacher?

all have this element of doubt as well.
Ah-bin
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by Ah-bin » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:56 pm

Ah, wonderful! I thought this might be the case, thank you, Sim.

Actually it's a case of a Mandarin deficiency in not having the "mé•" particle!
SimL
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by SimL » Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:37 pm

BTW, you translated "hak-seng" as "teacher", in your last sample sentence.
amhoanna
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Re: Different Ways of Forming Questions

Post by amhoanna » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:15 pm

TWese "kám m̄" has that same "raised eyebrow" effect. Well-formed "kám m̄" sentences usually don't take a final particle...

I still prefer me· :)

TWese "hioh", e.g. *I m̄ sī Siamlâng--hioh? ...

(Asterisk b/c orang Taiwan would say "Thàikoklâng.)

... This would mean SO HE'S NOT SIAMESE, HUH? I THOUGHT AS MUCH, BUT, HEY, JUST MAKING SURE.
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