Hokkien: How Do You Say – Country Names

by | Jun 27, 2019 | Hokkien, Hokkien - How Do You Say

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say – Country Names

Psst… You can find our How Do You Say Podcasts on Spotify too! Head to Spotify – or search for on Spotify.

New Words

EnglishHokkienOur Romanization
Singapore新加坡Sin ga po
Malaysia州府Jiu hu
Hong Kong香港Hiang gang
Taiwan台湾Dai wan
China中国 / 唐山Diong gok / Dng sua
Japan日本Lit boon
Australia澳洲Ou jiu
Europe欧洲Au jiu
America美国Bee gok

Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say – Country Names

Hi there! Welcome back to our Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast. My name is Eugene from As promised, I will be touching on names of various countries in today’s podcast. Here we go!

To begin, let’s start off with where is based, Singapore. Singapore in Hokkien is pronounced as 新加坡. Next, we have Singapore’s neighbour, Malaysia. Instead of using the Chinese characters of Malaysia’s name and translating it into Hokkien, Singaporean Hokkiens and Teochews typically call Malaysia 州府, as it was a term used under the British colonial rule.

Now, learning Hokkien is useful for your travels in Taiwan – pronounced as 台湾 – as Taiwanese people speak a variant of Hokkien, otherwise better known as Southern Min language locally. Just a short flight away is Hong Kong or 香港 in Hokkien, which is a country well-known for tax-free shopping and dim sum.

Hokkien, similar to Teochew and Cantonese, originated from China. China is known as 中国 but you may also hear senior Hokkien speakers still referring to the country as 唐山, literally translated as the “Tang mountain”. This is due to the prominence of the Tang dynasty in Chinese history where Chinese culture is widespread. China, is also regarded as a prosperous country during the Tang dynasty. This is why Chinatowns in countries outside China are often known as 唐人街 in Mandarin, literally translated as “Tang people street”.

Personally, my favourite country for travel within Asia is Japan or 日本 in Hokkien, as it has a good balance of city life, nature and good food. Looking outside Asia, I would consider travelling to Australia, Europe or America, respectively known as 澳洲, 欧洲 and 美国 in Hokkien. This would allow me to experience and interact with people of a different culture.

Hope the above list covers a country that you like. If not, please leave a comment and share with me the country that you would like to travel to. My name is Eugene from and see you the next week!

Love what you are reading? We’ve got lots more to share during our Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese express workshops. Join us to pick up words and phrases for everyday use in Singapore. More importantly, you can help to keep these languages alive!

Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version.

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear.


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