Monday, June 13, 2005

Hokkien - telling it like it is

I love my dialect group. It's so rude and completely straight to the point. It's the Dr. Phil of Chinese dialects, but with hair.

An aunt of mine (who shall remain unnamed - Ching, if you would like this entry deleted, do let me know) used to breed terriers. Very cute ones. Anyway, as she was driving around the neighbourhood one day, she spotted a rather fetching cocker spaniel that she thought would make a good, erm, donor to her stable. So she decided to borrow it for a couple of days. And before you decide to pile on the recriminations, let me remind you that this is South East Asia we're talking about. People either let their pets roam free or chain them up all day. Sometimes they end up as other people's lunches. I've seen dead cats on top of rubbish bins and bits of dogs, well, let's just not go there. I'm not condoning it, but that's how it is. A dog here, an underage sweat-shop worker there, meh, it's all the same to some people.

So she lures the dog into the 4WD with some biscuits, and manages to smuggle it home, where she sets it up with one of her desperate ladies and waits for the fireworks to happen. The dog just sits there. Shoving the dog closer to the target and, at one point, lifting said dog into position have no effect whatsoever.

My grandmother happens to walk past, takes a single look at the situation and sums it up in three words: "BO LAM PAH!"

A closer check does indeed, reveal, that if our dog were human, he would be singing soprano and loving pastels (gross generalisation, I know). Hee.

Hokkien is also very good for swearing at impolite people, but only in countries without a large migrant Asian population. Colourful epithets regarding the genitalia of the man who just shoved you on the escalator, or the current occupation of the mother of the woman who stole your place in the queue, may all be freely bandied about without fear of imputation. So - no storing up of tiny balls of rage and raising the blood pressure, and public swearing without getting in trouble. It's all win-win :)

1 Comment:

Ching said...

OMG! That's me mum you're talking about there. Hahahaha, Ange. Serious, girl. Get to writing a book and I'll hawk it for you. Sorry I haven't replied to your e-mail. I've had a series of pregnancy scares and have had to spend hours over weeks at the hospital, etc. Ange is the best. She really is. I soooooo remember our Ama (grandma) saying Bo lam pah. Apparently, not everybody has a grandma strips her cotton top off to air herself and her boobs when the weather gets too hot. That's with all assorted family walking in and out of the house all day long. It was a real dinner conversation killer. Joe's mates still look at me in a funny way...