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Phrasebooks > Teochew phrasebook

Teochew (潮汕话 Diê⁵suan³ uê⁷ or 潮州话 Diê⁵ziu¹ uê⁷), also Romanized as Chiuchow, is the main language of a region in Eastern Guangdong, around the cities of Shantou and Chaozhou. It is also fairly common in Hong Kong and among overseas Chinese, especially countries in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Singapore, and the dominant language in Bangkok's Chinatown.

Teochew is closely related to Minnan Hua and Hainanese, but only partly mutually intelligible with Minnan Hua and mutually unintelligible with Hainanese. Teochew is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin or Cantonese, but it is common for Teochew speakers to also know one or both of those. Foreigners in the region usually choose to learn Mandarin rather than Teochew because it is much more widely used.

Pronunciation guideEdit

Peng'im, which was developed by the Chinese government in 1960, is generally the most common system for Romanizing Teochew, and will be used in this guide. See Wikipedia for details if needed. However, as most native speakers do not know how to read Romanized Teochew, stick to Chinese characters for written communication. As formal written Chinese is based on standard Mandarin, see the Chinese phrasebook for reading most writing in Teochew-speaking areas.

VowelsEdit

The letters a, i and u are pronounce as in Spanish.

Vowels of Peng'im
Letter IPA English example Notes
a a father
e ɯ no equivalent in English, like Estonian õ or Korean eu
ê e whey
i i see
o ɔ law
u u goose

Vowels can also be nasalized in Teochew. In Peng'im, this is represented by an n at the end of the syllable after the vowel.

Vowel combinationsEdit

Vowel combinations of Peng'im
Letter IPA English example Notes
ai ai my pinyin 'ai'
ao au cow pinyin 'ao'
ia ia -
ie -
io -
iu iu -
oi ɔi -
ou ou - pinyin 'ou'
ua ua - pinyin 'wa'
ue way pinyin 'wei'
ui ui -
iou iou -
uai uai why pinyin 'wai'

ConsonantsEdit

While Mandarin only distinguishes between aspirated and unaspirated (unvoiced) consonants, and English only distinguishes between voiced and unvoiced consonants meaning-wise, Teochew makes a distinction in both cases. This means that aspirated unvoiced (p, t, k, c), unaspirated unvoiced (b, d, g, z), and unaspirated voiced (bh, gh, r) are all separate phonemic consonants in Teochew. Pronouncing everything accurately is therefore 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.

Initial consonanats of Peng'im
Letter IPA English example Notes
bh b ban English 'b'
b p span pinyin 'b'
p pan pinyin 'p'
r dz/ʑ jam English 'j'
z ts/tɕ cats pinyin 'z' or 'j'
c tsʰ/tɕʰ - pinyin 'c' or 'q'
s s/ɕ sun pinyin 's' or 'x'
gh g get English hard 'g'
g k skin pinyin 'g'
k kin pinyin 'k'
d t Stan pinyin 'd'
t 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'

Teochew retains some final consonants of Middle Chinese that Mandarin has lost, such as b, g, and m. On the other hand, Teochew has lost the n final consonant that Mandarin has retained. The final m and ng are pronounced as in English, but b and g are different. They are similar to English p and k but unreleased. This means that the mouth moves into the position of making the consonant, but no burst of air is released.

Final consonanats of Peng'im
Letter IPA English example Notes
b p span pinyin 'b'
g k skin pinyin 'g'
m m map English 'm'
ng ŋ sing English 'ng'

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

TonesEdit

Teochew is a tonal language, meaning that the tone must be correct in order to convey the correct meaning. Tone sandhi is particularly common and rather complex in Teochew, which makes it a little harder to learn than Mandarin.

Teochew has 8 different tones, denoted with a superscript number after the syllable in Peng'im.

Tones of Teochew
Number Name Pitch Description After tone sandhi
1 yin level 33 high 1
2 yin rising 52 falling 6
3 yin departing 213 low falling 2 or 5
4 yin entering 2 mid stopped 8
5 yang level 5 rising 7
6 yang rising 35 falling 7
7 yang departing 1 mid 7
8 yang entering 4 high stopped 4

Phrase listEdit

BasicsEdit

To be or not to be?

Teochew, 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 si6, 唔是 m6-si6
To have or not have / there is or is not
有 u6, 无 bho5
Hello. 
你好。 le2 ho2
How are you? 
你好无? le2 ho2 bho5
Fine, thank you. 
好,㩼谢。 ho², coi⁷ sia⁷hò, qȍi sȉa
What is your name? 
汝個名是乜個? le² kai⁽⁷⁾ miaⁿ ⁵ si⁽⁷⁾ mih⁽⁸⁾ kai⁸ ?
My name is ______ . 
我個名是 ______ . ua² kai⁽⁷⁾ miaⁿ ⁵ si⁽⁷⁾ ______ .
Nice to meet you. 
. ()
Please. 
请。 (cian2)
Thank you. 
㩼谢。 coi⁷ sia⁷qȍi sȉa
You're welcome. 
. ()
Excuse me. (getting attention
. ( )
Excuse me. (begging pardon
. ( )
I'm sorry. 
. ( )
Goodbye 
. ( )
Goodbye (informal
. ( )
I can't speak name of language [well]. 
[ ]. ( [ ])
Do you speak English? 
? ( ?)
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
 ? ( ?)
Help! 
! ( !)
Look out! 
! ( !)
Good morning. 
. ( )
Good evening. 
. ( )
Good night. 
. ( )
Good night (to sleep
. ( )
I don't understand. 
. ( )
Where is the toilet? 
? ( ?)

ProblemsEdit

Leave me alone. 
. ( .)
Don't touch me! 
! ( !)
I'll call the police. 
. ( .)
Police! 
 ! ( !)
Stop! Thief! 
 ! ! ( ! !)
I need your help. 
. ( .)
It's an emergency. 
. ( .)
I'm lost. 
. ( .)
I lost my bag. 
. ( .)
I lost my wallet. 
. ( .)
I'm sick. 
. ( .)
I've been injured. 
. ( .)
I need a doctor. 
. ( .)
Can I use your phone? 
 ? ( ?)

NumbersEdit

一 (jêk8)
兩 (no6)
三 (san1)
四 (si3)
五 (ngou6)
六 (lak8)
七 (chik4)
八 (poih4)
九 (kao2)
10
十 (jap8)
11
十一 (jap(4) ik4)
12
十二 (jap(4) yi6)
13
十三 (jap(4) san1)
14
十四 (jap(4) si3)
15
十五 (jap(4) ngou6)
16
十六 (jap(4) lak8)
17
十七 (jap(4) chik4)
18 
十八 (cap(4) poih4)
19 
十九 (cap(4) kau2)
20 
二十 (ri(7) cap8)
21 
二十一 (ri(7) cap(4) ik4)
22 
二十二 (ri(7) cap(4) ri6)
23 
二十三 (ri(7) cap(4) san1)
30 
三十 (san1 cap8)
40 
四十 (si(2) cap8)
50 
五十 (ngou(7) cap8)
60 
六十 (lak(4) cap8)
70 
七十 (chik(8) cap8)
80 
八十 (poih(8) cap8)
90 
九十 (kau(6) cap8)
100 
壹百 (cêk(4) beh4)
200 
( )
300 
( )
1,000 
( )
2,000 
( )
1,000,000 
( )
1,000,000,000 
( )
1,000,000,000,000 
( )
number _____ (train, bus, etc.) 
( )
half 
( )
less 
( )
more 
( )

TimeEdit

now 
( )
later 
( )
before 
( )
morning 
( )
afternoon 
( )
evening 
( )
night 
( )

Clock timeEdit

one o'clock AM 
( )
two o'clock AM 
( )
noon 
( )
one o'clock PM 
( )
two o'clock PM 
( )
midnight 
( )

DurationEdit

_____ minute(s) 
( )
_____ hour(s) 
( )
_____ day(s) 
( )
_____ week(s) 
( )
_____ month(s) 
( )
_____ year(s) 
( )

DaysEdit

today 
( )
yesterday 
( )
tomorrow 
( )
this week 
( )
last week 
( )
next week 
( )
Sunday 
( )
Monday 
( )
Tuesday 
( )
Wednesday 
( )
Thursday 
( )
Friday 
( )
Saturday 
( )

MonthsEdit

January 
( )
February 
( )
March 
( )
April 
( )
May 
( )
June 
( )
July 
( )
August 
( )
September 
( )
October 
( )
November 
( )
December 
( )

Writing time and dateEdit

ColorsEdit

black 
( )
white 
( )
gray 
( )
red 
( )
blue 
( )
yellow 
( )
green 
( )
orange 
( )
purple 
( )
brown 
( )

TransportationEdit

Bus and trainEdit

How much is a ticket to _____? 
( )
One ticket to _____, please. 
( )
Where does this train/bus go? 
( )
Where is the train/bus to _____? 
( )
Does this train/bus stop in _____? 
( )
When does the train/bus for _____ leave? 
( )
When will this train/bus arrive in _____? 
( )

DirectionsEdit

How do I get to _____ ? 
( )
...the train station? 
( )
...the bus station? 
( )
...the airport? 
( )
...downtown? 
( )
...the youth hostel? 
( )
...the _____ hotel? 
( )
...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate? 
( )
Where are there a lot of... 
( )
...hotels? 
( )
...restaurants? 
( )
...bars? 
( )
...sites to see? 
( )
Can you show me on the map? 
( )
street 
( )
Turn left. 
( )
Turn right. 
( )
left 
( )
right 
( )
straight ahead 
( )
towards the _____ 
( )
past the _____ 
( )
before the _____ 
( )
Watch for the _____. 
( )
intersection 
( )
north 
( )
south 
( )
east 
( )
west 
( )
uphill 
( )
downhill 
( )

TaxiEdit

Taxi! 
( )
Take me to _____, please. 
( )
How much does it cost to get to _____? 
( )
Take me there, please. 
( )

LodgingEdit

Do you have any rooms available? 
( )
How much is a room for one person/two people? 
( )
Does the room come with... 
( )
...bedsheets? 
( )
...a bathroom? 
( )
...a telephone? 
( )
...a TV? 
( )
May I see the room first? 
( )
Do you have anything quieter? 
( )
...bigger? 
( )
...cleaner? 
( )
...cheaper? 
( )
OK, I'll take it. 
( )
I will stay for _____ night(s). 
( )
Can you suggest another hotel? 
( )
Do you have a safe? 
( )
...lockers? 
( )
Is breakfast/supper included? 
( )
What time is breakfast/supper? 
( )
Please clean my room. 
( )
Can you wake me at _____? 
( )
I want to check out. 
( )

MoneyEdit

Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars? 
( )
Do you accept British pounds? 
( )
Do you accept Euros? 
( )
Do you accept credit cards? 
( )
Can you change money for me? 
( )
Where can I get money changed? 
( )
Can you change a traveler's check for me? 
( )
Where can I get a traveler's check changed? 
( )
What is the exchange rate? 
( )
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)? 
( )

EatingEdit

One peculiarity of Teochew is that it does not distinguish between eating and drinking. As such, the verb 食 (chiah) is used to refer to both eating and drinking.

A table for one person/two people, please. 
( )
Can I look at the menu, please? 
( )
Can I look in the kitchen? 
( )
Is there a house specialty? 
( )
Is there a local specialty? 
( )
I'm a vegetarian. 
( )
I don't eat pork. 
( )
I don't eat beef. 
( )
I only eat kosher food. 
( )
Can you make it "lite", please? (less oil/butter/lard
( )
fixed-price meal 
( )
a la carte 
( )
breakfast 
( )
lunch 
( )
tea (meal
( )
supper 
( )
I want _____. 
( )
I want a dish containing _____. 
( )
chicken 
鸡 (goi1)
beef 
牛肉 (ghu5 nêg8)
pork 
猪肉 (de1 nêg8)
fish 
鱼 (he5)
ham 
( )
sausage 
( )
cheese 
( )
eggs 
卵 (neng6)
salad 
( )
vegetables 
菜 (cai3)
(fresh) fruit 
( )
bread 
( )
toast 
( )
noodles 
( )
rice (cooked) 
饭 (bung7)
congee / rice porridge 
糜 (muê5)
beans 
( )
May I have a glass of _____? 
( )
May I have a cup of _____? 
( )
May I have a bottle of _____? 
( )
coffee 
( )
tea (drink
茶 (5)
juice 
( )
(bubbly) water 
( )
(still) water 
水 (zui2)
milk 
奶 (ni6)
beer 
( )
red/white wine 
( )
May I have some _____? 
( )
salt 
盐 (iam5)
black pepper 
( )
butter 
( )
Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
( )
I'm finished. 
( )
It was delicious. 
( )
Please clear the plates. 
( )
The check, please. 
( )

BarsEdit

Do you serve alcohol? 
( )
Is there table service? 
( )
A beer/two beers, please. 
( )
A glass of red/white wine, please. 
( )
A pint, please. 
( )
A bottle, please. 
( )
_____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please. 
( )
whiskey 
( )
vodka 
( )
rum 
( )
water 
水 (tzui)
club soda 
( )
tonic water 
( )
orange juice 
( )
Coke (soda
( )
Do you have any bar snacks? 
( )
One more, please. 
( )
Another round, please. 
( )
When is closing time? 
( )
Cheers! 
( )

ShoppingEdit

Do you have this in my size? 
( )
How much is this? 
( )
That's too expensive. 
( )
Would you take _____? 
( )
expensive 
( )
cheap 
( )
I can't afford it. 
( )
I don't want it. 
( )
You're cheating me. 
( )
I'm not interested. 
(..)
OK, I'll take it. 
( )
Can I have a bag? 
( )
Do you ship (overseas)? 
( )
I need... 
( )
...toothpaste. 
( )
...a toothbrush. 
( )
...tampons. 
. ( )
...soap. 
( )
...shampoo. 
( )
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen
( )
...cold medicine. 
( )
...stomach medicine. 
... ( )
...a razor. 
( )
...an umbrella. 
( )
...sunblock lotion. 
( )
...a postcard. 
( )
...postage stamps. 
( )
...batteries. 
( )
...writing paper. 
( )
...a pen. 
( )
...English-language books. 
( )
...English-language magazines. 
( )
...an English-language newspaper. 
( )
...an English-English dictionary. 
( )

DrivingEdit

I want to rent a car. 
( )
Can I get insurance? 
( )
stop (on a street sign
( )
one way 
( )
yield 
( )
no parking 
( )
speed limit 
( )
gas (petrol) station 
( )
petrol 
( )
diesel 
( )

AuthorityEdit

I haven't done anything wrong. 
( )
It was a misunderstanding. 
( )
Where are you taking me? 
( )
Am I under arrest? 
( )
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen. 
( )
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate. 
( )
I want to talk to a lawyer. 
( )
Can I just pay a fine now? 
( )



This Teochew phrasebook is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!