Hokkien: How Do You Say “What’s Your Phone Number?”

by | Feb 20, 2019 | Hokkien, Hokkien - How Do You Say

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “What’s Your Phone Number?”

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New Words

EnglishHokkienOur Romanization
Phone电话Dian weh
Number号码Ho beh
Handphone手机Ciu gi
Call here敲(打)来Ka lai

Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “What’s Your Phone Number?”

Hello everybody and welcome back to this week’s Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast. This is Eugene, from Imagine having one of the best conversations in your life with someone in Hokkien but you have to rush off abruptly. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you didn’t get the person’s contact number to stay in touch? Or, if you are a healthcare professional or social worker, there may be times when you’ll need the phone number of your patients or their next-of-kin. How do you ask someone for their phone number in Hokkien then?

In Hokkien, we would say 你的电话号码是什么?

Over here, 电话 refers to “telephone”, which if you are interested to know, literally translates into English as “electric words”! I guess this is because in the old days, the core function of the phone is to transmit words electronically. Isn’t it amazing how we piece words together? Now, 号码 means “number”, so by saying, 电话号码, it simply means “phone number”. If you would like to be more specific and ask for the person’s handphone number, we would say 你的手机号码是什么? The term – 手机 – literally translates into “hand machine” and has been widely used by Hokkiens to refer to “handphone”.

Let’s side-track a little… before handphones were widely used, many Singaporeans used pagers as a means of mobile communication. To find out who was trying to reach them, Singapore Hokkiens would give a call to the return number and then typically ask 谁敲pager? In a similar note, when we return a missed call on our mobile phones today, Hokkien speakers tend to find out who had called by asking 谁敲电话? Are you still following me?

Back to phone numbers, when someone asks you for your phone number and you will like to provide it, you can say 我的电话号码是12345678, 你可以敲来觅我. The 2nd half of the phrase – 你可以敲来觅我 – means “You can call and look for me here”. Now, if you are not willing to provide your number, you can tell them that you don’t have a phone, by saying 我无电话.

So there we go! I hope these phrases will be useful to you. Let me repeat one more time for you.

What is your phone number? 你的电话号码是什么?

What is your mobile number? 你的手机号码是什么?

Who called me on my phone? 谁敲电话?

My number is… 我的电话号码是…

You can call and look for me. 你可以敲来觅我.

I don’t have a phone. 我无电话.

Well, hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast. My name is Eugene 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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