La la li la tam pong

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
Eng Wai

La la li la tam pong

Post by Eng Wai » Sat Dec 25, 2004 6:45 pm

When I was small (even now), I always play a childish game called "la la li la tam pong". We normally use this to eliminate people from a group, for some purpose, eg to decide who got excempted from punishment/obligation etc, or to determine who will get the benefit.

For instance, 5 people are playing

We will say
*************La la li la tam pong

while saying this sentence, everyonge sways their palm to the left and right. When pong is said, everyone shows their palms, either facing down or up. If 4 show palms facing up, then the only 1 will be eliminated and game continuesd. If there is no unique person, continue the game with 5 people.

Then we will say
**************A pek chiak a pong
Same game rules apply. Eliminate the person if he is unique.

Then
**************A pong chi no hai

Then
**************A pek chiak gau sai

The song/poem/whatever has this 4 sentence.

Do you know what they mean? Pardon me for my own romanised version of hokkien.

La la li la tam pong
A pek chiak a pong
A pong chi no hai
A pek chiak gau sai

I know
a pek = an man about uncle age
a pong = mamak famous flour bread
chiak gau sai = eat dog ****

How about the others? Do you know what they mean? Or do I pronounce wrongly? Can you correct me?

Eng Wai
hong

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by hong » Sun Dec 26, 2004 12:46 am

I just saw a malay show about cooking called ala-ala kampung which used la la li tam pong at the end of the show.I also interested to know is lalitapong is a malay or minnan?
Tang Loon Kong

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by Tang Loon Kong » Mon Dec 27, 2004 9:14 am

Hai Eng Wai

I remember the la la li la tam pong as this:

La La Li La Tam Pong
Ah Pek Beh Ah Pong .............(Ah sells apong)
Ah Pong Lin Lok Hai ............ (The apongs fall into the sea)
Ah Pek Chiak Kau Sai ............(Ah Pek has nothing to eat . . i.e. eat dog ****)

This poem brings out the embededness of Hokkien language into the host countries that it had been given a place in.

Tang Loon Kong
Shanghai, China
Eng Wai

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by Eng Wai » Wed Dec 29, 2004 10:03 am

Ya, it should be

La1 La1 Li4 La1 Tam3 Pong1
Ah3 Pek3 BEIH3 Ah3 Pong1
Ah1 Pong ??? Lok3 Hai4
Ah3 Pek3 Chiak3 Kau1 Sai4

The tones are the approximate Mandarin tones but indeed the sound is nearly the same of you pronounce it in Mandarin tones.

It should be Beih (sell) for the second sentence.
I can't recall clearly what is the third word for the third sentence, probably Lin as A Tang said. I will verify it later with my firend.

For the frist sentence, Tam might be wet, Pong be the flour bread, the 4th La be the la1 (pull in Mandarin), which indicate the making of the flour bread. Then La La Li is just sound for fun.

!?

Hong, what did yuo mean "used la la li tam pong at the end of the show"?

Eng Wai

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hong

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by hong » Wed Dec 29, 2004 12:10 pm

They used as an intro- lalilatampong than follow by malay song.this is why I am wondering is that a malay or minnan.I think you should ask are there any malay out there also singing lalalitampong.
Eng Wai

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by Eng Wai » Tue Jan 04, 2005 10:15 am

Another game for interest

"som3 tri4" (mandarin tone)

Everybody knows scissors stone cloth (jian dao shi tou bu). "som tri" is similat to this but scissors are replaced by cup (instead of showing 2 fingers, 5 fingers are shown with the heads touching each other). And cloth is not cloth, but sea.

I played this game when I was small. The game rules are same as scissors stone cloth with cup defeating sea, sea defeating stone, stone defeating cup.

I wonder if this is an exclusive Penang game, or hokkien game, or whatever, because when I was in KL (capital of Malaysia) no one seems to know this game. What I observe is that a lot of people, including China Chinese know the scissors cloth stone game.

Do yo know "som tri" this game? If you do, do you know the meaning of it?

Happy New Year

Eng Wai
Eng Wai

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by Eng Wai » Thu Jan 06, 2005 9:57 am

I am just trying to push this thread above all to gain more attentions from everyone.

Do you know this game "som tri"?

Eng Wai
Andrew Yong

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by Andrew Yong » Sun Jan 09, 2005 10:47 am

I always thought it was "buys" rather than sells. You cannot distinguish tones in singing.

I thought the word was "tim" as in throw. Maybe someone else threw them into the sea.
Eng Wai

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by Eng Wai » Mon Jan 10, 2005 10:21 am

Do you sing "La la li la tam pung" ? I always chant it only, never sing it. The word "beih" is quite clear to be "sell", not buy.

Do you know thw game "som tri"? Anyone else knows it? Can't be that I am the only one who knows it.
Sim

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by Sim » Mon Jan 10, 2005 12:18 pm

Don't worry Eng Wai - the "game" you mention was very common in my youth. I never heard it called "som tri" though. We always called it "one two som". Even when speaking Chinese, we would call it this. The name comes from the action itself. When two people are trying to determine who is the "winner" and "loser", then they hide their hands behind their head and both say out loudly together: "one", "two", and on the word "som" both players have to display their chosen symbol.

As in your case, we had "cup" (5 fingers bunched up at the fingertips), "stone" (a fist), and "sea" (the flat palm of the hand): "stone" defeats "cup" because it can break it, "cup" defeats "sea" because it can scoop water out of it, and "sea" defeats "stone" because a stone falling into the sea is lost. This seemed perfectly logical to me as a child (although it seems a bit odd to me now).

I'd like to add some comments to this whole discussion.

1) Neither "la la li" nor "one two som" were games *in themselves*. Rather, they were used (at the beginning of a game) as the means to determine who had to be "it". Like in the case of "chase" (which we called "a ci lot" or "a ci lut"), the person who had to be the chaser was determined with these methods; or in the case of "hide and seek" (I don't remember what we called this), the person who had to close his/her eyes and count to 50 was also selected in this way.

2) In determining who was "it", *both* "la la li" and "one two som" had to be used. This is because "one two som" can only determine the winner and loser from 2 people. When there are 3 or more people playing a game, first "la la li" was used to eliminate people: the whole group would stand in a circle and chant "la la li etc". [In my memory, we would wave our outstretched hands in the centre of the circle]. On the word "pong", each person would display either a palm upwards or a palm downwards. The "odd one out" (i.e. the person who had his/her palm up (or down) when all the others had their palm down (or up)) would be eliminated. Often there would be no single "odd one out", so the whole "la la li etc" would have to be repeated. Statistically though, it happens often enough that from a group of 4-6 people (the usual size of such children's groups) one will have a different palm-direction than all the others, so in this way, gradually, individuals would be eliminated, one by one, until there were only two people left. With two people, obviously "la la li" doesn't work any more, so then they switch to "one two som", and the final loser is "it".

Cheers,
Sim.

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Eng Wai

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by Eng Wai » Mon Jan 10, 2005 1:28 pm

Wonderful explanation Sim, it shows that you are the model sample of Penangite : )

I know "one two som" is another common name for the game "som tri". But it seems to me like "one two som" is more used by the English educated children/people. Maybe this is just the stereotype image i got from my limited english educated friends. I always used "som tri".

I wonder if there is any meaning for "som" or "tri" !?

I don't know the term "a ci lot" or "a ci lut". But you remind me about another game I would like to know the proper pronounciation and meaning of it.

"zhui1 lou4 zhui1 peng3 peng1
zhui3 zhui3 chiak3 pa4 cou1 lang3 peng1"

This game is played extensively to divide a bunch of people into groups. For instance, if 10 children are to play football or chase,2 groups of 5 people can be decided with this game eventually: Each word in the chant is pointed to each person, so if the first zhui1 is for the first person, cou1 (the tenth word) for the tenth, lang3 again for the first person, thus peng1 for the second person. This 2nd person will be singled out. The chant is repeated without this person and everytime the singled out person is allocated alternatively to 2 different groups (or any other depending on the situation).

What is the meaning of the chant?

I think peng3 peng1 is "soldier soldier" (bing1 bing1 in mandarin), zhui3 zhui3 is "who who" (shui2 shui2 in mandarin), chiak3 pa4 is "eat full" (chi1 bao3 in mandarin), cou1 lang3 peng1 is "become human soldier" (zuo4 ren2 bing1 in Mandarin). Pardon me again for my own version of romanisation. All the tones indicated are Mandarin tones.

But what is the proper words and pronounciation for the whole chant? I couldn't speak Hokkien when I was small, so I memorise the pronounciation of them without understanding it.

Eng Wai
Sim

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by Sim » Tue Jan 11, 2005 11:22 am

Hi Eng Wai,

I'm sorry, I don't know this game, nor the chant. The translation you've given for the second line makes a lot of sense though. My Hokkien is not good enough to work out what the first line might mean - hopefully other readers of the forum will be able to.

What is your background? Did you grow up in Penang? How come you know some Hokkien but don't speak it?

Sim.
hong

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by hong » Tue Jan 11, 2005 12:00 pm

Sim,
He is henghua(Putian or xianyou?two different in pitch)and his mother is hakka,so it is fair for his family to use mandarin.He knows minnan because he is from Penang.
Eng Wai

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by Eng Wai » Tue Jan 11, 2005 1:18 pm

Sim

I was born in Penang and grew up in Penang. My dad is a Heng Hua from Penang Road, Penang. My mum is a Hakka from Kulim, Kedah. Since I was born my parents communicate with me in Mandarin but my parents converse in Penang Hokkien, not Heng Hua / Hakka as Kedah people know Hokkien like Penang people. The reason my parents speak Mandarin, I guess, most probably right, is that Mandarin is the official/educational Chinese language, and there is a written language for Mandarin.

I went to Chinese primary school and Chung Ling High School. In primary school, my peers were all speaking Hokkien though they can understand limited Mandarin, through education. It was quite irritating at times because I can't communicate freely with them. When I was in secondary school, more and more people (especially those good boy type) are speaking Mandarin, thus the communication restraint less and less pronounced. My understanding of Hokkien grows when I become older and older. I went to college after secondary school. There I spoke Hokkien to my friends (English educated people and those Hokkien speaking people who are not forced to speak Mandarin anymore). At that time I have accumulated enough Hokkien language knowledge to speak Penang HOkkien freely though I never really spoke it before.

Hope this background information helps. : )

Eng Wai

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Sim

Re: La la li la tam pong

Post by Sim » Tue Jan 11, 2005 3:03 pm

Hi Eng Wai,

Thanks for the background information. I was curious because in my generation (I was born in the 50's), I didn't know any Penang Chinese who didn't speak Penang Hokkien (even if they were Cantonese etc).

I guess Mandarin education progressed even more lately, so that there are Penang families who only speak Mandarin at home.

On the other hand, I only went to English school, so perhaps all my Chinese friends were naturally not Mandarin speaking, and so, if they spoke any Chinese at all, they would speak Penang Hokkien.

Great to see that you are so interested in Hokkien. Keep writing on the Forum!

Sim.

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