Saturday, August 22, 2009

'Jiak' and the Hokkien

Food is very important to the Hokkien so much so that they will ask “Lu Jiak Par Bui?” (Have you eaten?) whenever they meet one another. The reply is invariably “Jiak liau, lu ni?” (I have eaten. How about you?”

To earn a living is ‘t’an jiak’ (earn to eat) in the lingua of the Hokkien. Again food is involved.

To work for others for pay is ‘jiak t’au lor’ to the Hokkien. Here again “jiak” (eat) is linked to ‘t’au lor’ (job)

When you ask the Hokkien, “Lu aei seng lee jou liau ang chuai?” (How is your business?), the businessman will reply “t’an jiak, t’an jiak, kneah.” (Just enough for eating (food) only). See, eating or food is again associated with business.

The saying ‘jiak ka lau, oh ka lau’ which literally means ‘eat until old, learn until old’ (life-long learning) is what the Hokkiens used to say when old people are still willing to learn new things. The word ‘jiak’ or ‘eat’ is mentioned.

So much for ‘jiak’ and the Hokkien.

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