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Taiwanese Drama Primer


This is a very much tongue-in-cheek countdown of the top 5 must know phrases for viewing Taiwanese dramas(本土戲):

5)     講煞袂矣

kóng-suah bē–ah


Have you finished? ; Are you done yet? (Talking) (Question asked in the rhetorical sense)

A simple one to start with. This is high frequency and can be found in any decent argument about child paternity.

4)     無證無據

bô tsìng bô kù


There’s no evidence.

When you are the rich CEO of a multi-national corporation and you have got to the top by any means possible (不擇手段), you will meet a lot of your adversaries along the way accusing you of everything under the sun. This is the only reply you need. It also highlights a special pattern in Taiwanese, not as common in Mandarin, when an adjective is split into the form 無A無B. Other examples include 無要無緊, 無意無思  and 無代無誌.

3)     人咧做,天咧看

Lâng teh tsò, thinn teh khuànn


This is literally “whatever one is doing, the heavens are watching”, but perhaps suits a more biblical phrase such as “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good!” (Proverbs 15:3).

2)     絕對袂放你煞

tsuat8-tuì bē pàng lí suah


I will never let you be. ; I won’t forgive you.

This has to be mentioned for sheer frequency. It is a must for every episode and thus also features a few times in the embedded video.

1)      飯會當烏白食,話毋通烏白講

png7 ē-tàng oo-peh8 tsiah8 ,uē m7-thang oo-peh8 kóng


This is by far my favorite of the need-know vocab. It literally means “One may eat his food in a disorderly manner, but one musn’t talk in a disorderly manner”, perhaps a more idiomatic translation would be “You can eat rubbish (trash), but don’t talk rubbish (trash)”

– If anybody was thinking of making as big of a sacrifice as I have for their language studying by watching this kind of stuff, then the name of the drama from the clips is 家和萬事興. A quick search on youtube gives results for hours of episodes.

From → Taiwanese

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