Hokkien: How Do You Say “Facebook” or “Instagram”

by | Feb 28, 2019 | Hokkien, Hokkien - How Do You Say

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Facebook” or “Instagram”

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Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Facebook” or “Instagram”

Hello! Today’s Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast will be a rather interesting one for you, especially if you use Facebook to stay in contact with friends or use Instagram to share insta-worthy pictures. How do you ask in Hokkien whether someone has a Facebook or Instagram account? Before we go into that, how do you even say Facebook or Instagram in Hokkien? My name is Eugene from and we will be exploring this topic together today!

If I were to approach a senior who only speaks Hokkien to ask for his or her Facebook account, I would ask 你有Facebook无?

If the person has an account, he or she would reply, “有Facebook”; otherwise, the response would be “无Facebook”. Similarly, to ask for his or her Instagram account, I would ask 你有Instagram无?

As you could tell, for everyday Hokkien conversations in Singapore, we do not deliberately use Hokkien for Facebook or Instagram. I mean, to begin with, they are indeed the names of the social media services and that’s what we are all familiar with, isn’t it? In fact, let me share with you a little tip that works most of the time! For words that are created recently and especially for Western brands or company names, it’s likely that we will simply use the English or Mandarin equivalent.

I want to take this chance to highlight that not all languages evolve in the same manner. As such, translations from English to Hokkien are often not as straightforward. In fact, there are many instances where Hokkiens in Singapore borrow words from other languages. More than often, we use them simply as it is in our everyday Hokkien conversations. For example, remember what we talked about in a previous podcast? We can simply bid farewell by saying “bye“. The same applies to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. While these are clearly not& Hokkien words, we borrowed them from another language and used them as it is.

Yet, there are times where, instead of using these borrowed words as it is, Hokkiens in Singapore adapted them into the local Hokkien language. Let me give you an example. Many Hokkiens in Singapore commonly refer to money as “lui”. However, do you know that this word is probably borrowed and adapted from the Dutch word, “duit“? If you want to say it in Hokkien properly, it should be “cee”. But interestingly, you will find that in Singapore, we hardly use this word. Instead, we borrowed “duit” and then adapted it locally as “lui”.

Well, back to the topic… let’s recap a little.

你有Facebook无? means “Do you have Facebook?”;

有Facebook means “have Facebook”; and

无Facebook means “don’t have Facebook”.

Now, this is our 15th podcast. By now, you might have observed that the word – 无 – can be used in both a question and a reply. In Hokkien, we typically use 无 at the end of a sentence to indicate a question. Conversely, if you use 无 prior to an action or noun, you are negating that specific action or noun. So “无Facebook” means “No Facebook”. This is similar to our last podcast where 我无电话 means “I don’t have a phone“.

Right, so how has your Hokkien learning journey been? Have you been picking up useful words and phrases from our podcasts? For more fun facts as well as information on our upcoming Hokkien workshops, do follow us on our Facebook or our Instagram (@learndialect). Thank you for listening in to our Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast. I’m Eugene and see you 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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