Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
Ah-bin
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Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by Ah-bin » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:43 am

Hokkien has a rich oral literature of rhymes and sayings, so I thought I'd put a short rhyme up on the forum to encourage others to remember and transcribe some that they know.
Here's a Penang Hokkien rhyme I found in Raymond Kwok's "Charm Charm Rhymes and Ditties" It was the first one I have got around to putting into POJ and characters. I've translated the English again to make it more natural.

A-kong bô lui,
阿公有鐳,
When Grandpa is poor

Châng-ék cháp-táu pún chhàu.
沯浴十搗呠臭
He can wash ten times and still be smelly.

Kiáⁿ-sun pún àu.
囝孫呠□
His grandchildren are stale too.

A-kong ū lui,
阿公無鐳
When Grandpa is rich,

Bô châng-ék chít lê ē•.
無沯浴一嚟下
He doesn't wash even once
Kiáⁿ-sun kui tòa ē•.
囝孫歸蹛下
But his grandchildren crowd around him.

The line "Bô châng-ék chít lê ē•" I'm not so sure about, RK spells it "bo ch'ang aik, ch'it lay air" and translates it as "doesn't even need to wash". But RK often uses ' to mark where there is no aspiration, so I think my POJ is all right. The character and meaning of àu I am also unsure of.
aokh1979
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by aokh1979 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:19 am

Hi Ah-bin:

First of all, you mix up 有 and 無 in your Chinese translation. Let's look at the au, which I am 96.47% sure it means "puke", 嘔 in Chinese. Regarding the sentence you point out, I do not understand it no matter how I change the tones. I may need Raymond to read it. Ha !

:lol:

PS: I use Chinese to record my Penang Hokkien thought, too. I write 倴 for "pun" from Malay. 2 reasons:

1. 喯 or 呠 with 口 both mean to "spurt" or "blow" in Chinese. 倴 is used in names, only. I prefer something that does not mean anything specific in Chinese to avoid confusion.
2. Having a 口 often makes me feel informal, like many characters invented and used in Hong Kong today. To me, both Cantonese and Hokkien are OFFICIAL languages, so I try to avoid using 口...... :twisted:
niuc
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by niuc » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:20 pm

As a kid, we were told not to point to the full moon, as it could cut our ears (referring to the condition of “scar” behind one’s ear that I saw some but have never known what that is). If anyone ever done that, we were taught a rhyme to avoid being cut. Although that is untrue, I still find the rhyme interesting:

月娘刀鈍, 囝仔刀利;
ger8-niu*5 to1 tun1, gin2-a8 to1 lai7;
Moon’s knife is blunt, children’s knife is sharp;

拜汝三拜, 指汝無事;
pai3-ly2 sa*1-pai3, ki2-ly2 bo5-tai7;
worship you three times, to point at you is harmless;

呒通舉金刀共阮割金耳;
m7-thang1-gia8-kim1-to1 ka7-gun2-kua8-kim1-hi7;
do not use golden knife to cut our golden ears;

金耳是阮的.
kim1-hi7 si7-gun2-e5.
golden ears are ours.

Were you guys taught this rhyme too? Or any similar ones? :mrgreen:
aokh1979
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by aokh1979 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:09 pm

We were warned the same in Penang but we did not have any rhyme like that to sing along. Maybe some did, but I certain did not sing any lovely folk like that when I was a child.
:P
SimL
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by SimL » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:45 am

Hi Ah-bin,

Thanks for starting this thread.
Ah-bin wrote:Kiáⁿ-sun pún àu.
囝孫呠□
His grandchildren are stale too.
aokh1979 wrote:Let's look at the au, which I am 96.47% sure it means "puke", in Chinese.
This makes sense based on the . In that case, it should be transcribed "áu" ("vomit" or "puke", as aokh says). I don't know if this is the same "áu" as in "au-long5". We used "au-long5" to mean food that had gone off, putrid. If so, then that also ties in with the translation "stale".

However, there is one other possibility, also with sandhi-tone-1 (which could, for Penang Hokkien, come from citation-tone2 or citation-tone-1), namely "au-bin7". I think in this case, it's "au3-bin7". "au3-bin7" means "sulky (faced)". If someone is pouting or sulky or angry about something, and you don't know why, then you could ask: "i kiaN-jit ha-mi su an-nE au-bin?" (= "why is he looking so sulky/angry/grim today?"). This fits the general meaning of the poem, but doesn't fit the translation of "stale" at all, so probably is better.

So, basically, if you can hear the poem recited, if it's "áu" then , and if it's "àu", then it's the "sulky" one.
Ah-bin wrote:The line "Bô châng-ék chít lê ē•" I'm not so sure about, RK spells it "bo ch'ang aik, ch'it lay air"
Based on the "sense" of the line, I'd say almost definitely not aspirated, i.e. the POJ "chit8", my "cit8" (), with the "lay" being simply the transformed form of the "e5", the Hokkien possessive/relative particle / , with "intrusive-L". Have we spoken about transcribing it before? The character doesn't look familiar to me.
SimL
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by SimL » Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:03 am

PS. I just looked up on the unihan database (http://www.unicode.org/cgi-bin/GetUniha ... point=569F). I guess you're borrowing this character to write the "intrusive-L" form of / .
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by SimL » Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:21 am

Hi Niuc,

I found the poem that you posted fascinating. There are wonderful pieces of historical "sociological" information recorded in such poems. Thanks very much for posting it.

As a child, I remember distinctly being told not to point at the moon, but I only vaguely remember the consequences about a cut to the ear. I didn't know this poem to go with the belief. I only remember that it was explained to me that because the moon was sacred, it was disrespectful to point at it. In that context, I can share that I was 11 when the Apollo 11 mission put the first man on the moon, in 1969. I remember at the time that some of my relatives said that they had heard other people discussing whether one should still pray to the moon, because people had now walked on it, and that it might hence no longer be sacred.

On a slightly different tack, there was the belief that peeping at things one shouldn't (particularly looking through keyholes) would lead to a "stye" in the eye. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stye.
SimL
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by SimL » Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:02 pm

Douglas has both "au-long" and "au-bin".

au3-long5 臭膿: p7 very stinking, as a dead rat, &c., said also in scolding men or women; p322 very stinking (said in vile scolding).

This is again one of those rather awkward situations where it is claimed that a character (in this case ) is used for a syllable where we have another, very common and different pronunciation for it. Even more extreme is the case Niuc mentioned recently of 事事 for "tai-ci", and one I mentioned a long time ago 公公 for "ang-kong" (this one suggested by Douglas), both written with the same character, read in two different (phonetically unrelated) ways.


au3-bin7 [面+幼], bin7-au3-au3 [面+幼][面+幼]: p7 angry face.

Actually, the handwritten character given for au3 on p7 - [面+幼] - has a instead of a , but I’m pretty sure this is the character intended. Contrary to Douglas' usual thoroughness, au3-bin7 and bin7-au3-au3 are not – as far as I can see - listed under on p20-21.
SimL
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by SimL » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:04 pm

Just as a totally irrelevant side-note, when I was young, I used to think that "au2-long5" as 嘔狼. I suppose I associated something putrid with the "vomit of a wolf", but I now realise that if it had meant that, it would have been written 狼嘔 or 狼的嘔. :mrgreen:
niuc
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by niuc » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:16 am

Hi Sim

Although theoretically praying to the moon (or sun etc) should be quite natural to Chinese folk religions, I never saw any, neither in Bagansiapiapi (one of the most Chinese town in Indonesia) nor in Singapore. May be because I was born after Apollo 11! :mrgreen: Was it done in Penang last time?

We were taught that peeping would cause stye (thanks for the term!) too. It is called (生) 目尖 '(si*-) bak8-ciam1' in my variant. In Mandarin it is 針眼, which can be 目針 in Hokkien. Although is 'ciam1' in many Hokkien variants, it is 'cam1' in mine. Anyway the rhyme regarding this seems to confirm that it is in my variant.

To cure it, we were told that one should touch the corner (below the buttons or button holes) of his shirt slowly and lightly to the stye while saying: 衫裾有尖, 目珠無尖; ‘sa*1-ky1 u7-ciam1, bak8-ciu1 bo5-ciam1’; “the border of the shirt has a pointed corner, but not the eye”. I think even last time the people who practised this 秘方 ‘pi4-hng1’ (“secret formula”) also put on medication, as Chinese usually do not see any contradiction between science and mystical/spiritual, beside typically are willing do practically anything to get the good result. Although I do not believe in this “cure”, I think the rhyme (“spell”! :mrgreen: ) is about psychological effect, reminding yourself (subconscious mind?) of the reality that it is the shirt that should have pointed corner, not your eye. Also the rhyme about the moon reminds (or even warns :P ) the moon (actually comforting the child) that the moon’s knife is blunt and the child’s knife is sharp.

Another interesting 秘方 we were told is when you get 脫枕 ‘thut8-cim2’ (stiff or sprained neck after sleep), you should go to the main door, each leg at each side of the threshold/sill (‘ho`7/5-tai*7’ ->anyone knows the hanji?) and use your hand to “chop” (‘tai*2’ -> hanji?) the affected part of the neck as many times as the number of your age. I think this does have physiotherapy (the “chopping”) benefit, though I don’t see why you have to stand that way across the threshold. :mrgreen:
SimL
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by SimL » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:23 pm

niuc wrote:Although theoretically praying to the moon (or sun etc) should be quite natural to Chinese folk religions, I never saw any, neither in Bagansiapiapi (one of the most Chinese town in Indonesia) nor in Singapore.
Indeed, my experience is identical to yours. After I wrote what I did, I thought about it last night, and realised that, in actual fact, I had never seen any Chinese actually explicitly worshipping the moon. The "hau-thiN-kong" (i.e. "worshipping Heaven") was very common when I was young, on one specific day of the 15-day Chinese New Year Festival (I forget which), but no moon stuff, as far as I know, on any day of the year (one would expect the 15th of the lunar month, of course). So, yes, I'm now also slightly puzzled by my relatives' remark (while, just like you, realizing that it doesn't at all seem contradictory with what we know about Chinese Folk Religion, for them to worship the moon). I will ask my father about this the next time we speak.

Thanks very much for sharing those 秘方 with us. I really love that sort of cultural fine detail! Also, I've always wondered what the "-ciu1" in "bak8-ciu1" is, so now I know :mrgreen:. Up to now, I had only known the pronunciation "chu1" for this character (e.g. when we were discussing "pearls" ("chu1") vs "beads" ("manek")).

Indeed, I agree with you 100% about the Chinese being practical, and doing all/any thing(s) to achieve the result that they want, even if (from a Western perspective) the different things they do might be contradictory. My father tells some stories about how, when he was young, if people (particularly the children) were sick, the elders would go to the temple to seek advice from the gods, see a sin-sEN (Chinese TCM practitioner), and see a Western physician!
niuc
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by niuc » Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:40 pm

Hi Sim

My mom says that some did (or may be still) pray to the moon on Capgomeh (Lunar 15/1) and Mid-autumn (15/8). May be they pray to 月裡嫦娥 ‘guat8-li2-Siong7-Ngo`5’ (Chang-e).

Worshipping Heaven (孝/拜天公 hau3/pai3-Thi*1-Kong1) is on 9th day of Chinese New Year. It is only done by Hokkiens. It is said that during Yuan dynasty there was a year when Hokkiens couldn’t celebrate New Year due to war, a lot of them hiding in the sugar cane plantations. When it ceased on the 8th day, they celebrated the 9th day and gave thanks to Heaven with many offerings including 2 big sugar canes.

About 目珠, I got it from online dictionary. It does make sense, however I used to think it were some obscure hanji, e.g. imagining +. :mrgreen:
SimL
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by SimL » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:18 pm

Hi Niuc,
About 目珠, I got it from online dictionary.
It made total sense once you posted it here! Just because I was curious, I did look it up on the etymology page, and it confirmed that "chiu1" was a known pronunciation, besides "chu1".

Thanks for the additional information on worshipping the moon on 15/1 and 15/8 (lunar calendar).

As for the sugar-cane - my grandmother had one on each side of the main door every Chinese New Year. This was so normal that I never thought anything about it. It was only years later - as an adult past 40 - that I read that this was a uniquely Hokkien custom. That mades it into an extra special childhood memory for me :P. I suppose I must have read the explanation you gave, but I had forgotten the details (only remembering that it was uniquely Hokkien). Thanks for those details too.
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by aokh1979 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:30 pm

目珠 is an interesting word. I grew up thinking it was 目睭 because that was what I saw from TV and Hokkien lyrics, too.

睭 means "deep", it's a rare character.

If you study the history of Manchuria, you will realise that 滿洲 was called 滿珠 long time ago. According to what I understand, 洲 and 珠 pronounced the same in the past. Manchurians did not get 珠 right when they started learning Chinese (which was possibly something similar to Hokkien). 滿珠 then later was read as 滿洲.

If that's true, it does make sense that 珠 is pronounced as ciu.

Another example just occurred to me. In Penang, we say ju-thor-kha as "mop the floor". However, there are significantly many people who pronounce jiu-thor-kha. Could it somehow be 2 variants that later got mixed up in each other ?
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Post by SimL » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:16 pm

aokh1979 wrote:Another example just occurred to me. In Penang, we say ju-thor-kha as "mop the floor". However, there are significantly many people who pronounce jiu-thor-kha. Could it somehow be 2 variants that later got mixed up in each other ?
Because of my limited Hokkien, I can't comment on "ju" vs "jiu", but I can confirm that I'm one of the people who say "jiu5" (in fact, I didn't know until now that some people say "ju"). It's a word I mentioned to Ah-bin when we met up in Australia. I suppose it started out meaning "to wipe with a damp or wet cloth" - e.g. "jiu5-toh4-i2" (= "wiping down the tables and chairs"), which (for example) occurs in some Chinese poem about being a good wife. However, in my usage (and probably those of lots of other Hokkien speakers, as with aokh), it now covers mopping the floor with a (Western) mop as well. In fact, if anything, this is probably the more primary meaning nowadays. The reason for the extension is obvious: originally, the Chinese would have "mopped" down a floor with a wet cloth, and when Western mops started being commonly used, the same action of "wet-cleaning" a floor got given the same name. Very similar to the "cang-ek" discussion we had earlier.
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