Hokkien: How Do You Say “What are you talking about?”

by | Mar 7, 2019 | Hokkien, Hokkien - How Do You Say

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “What are you talking about?”

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New Words

EnglishHokkienOur Romanization
You all你人
Li lang
What are you all talking about?你人在讲什么?Li lang le gong sih mih?
I have never heard of this before我无(没)听过Wa bo tia geh
Can you tell me more?你可以讲给我听无(吗)?Li eh sai gong hor wa tia bo?
I don’t understand我掠无
Wa liak bo
One more time加(多)一次Geh zit bai
Can you say it one more time?你可以讲加(多)一次无?Li eh sai gong geh zit bai bo?

Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “What are you talking about?”

Hi everyone and a warm welcome to all of our listeners! This is Eugene from Well, so far, you’ve picked up quite a few conversation starters as well as phrases for self-introduction. Now, imagine you had just turned up at a social gathering. What can you say to join an ongoing conversation? Let’s find it out on today’s Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast!

Personally, to join a conversation, I’ll like to ask for a quick download, so that I can contribute constructively. To do that, I would typically say 你人在讲什么?

你人 means “You all”. So to ask the question of “What are you all talking about?”, you can phrase it as 你人在讲什么?

Now, I’ll like to be prepared for the worst situation. What if it’s a conversation topic that you are totally not familiar with? You can say 我无听过, 你可以讲给我听无? This translates to, “I have never heard of this before. Can you tell me more?”

Ok, here’s one more useful phrase for you.

At any point of the conversation that you feel lost again, try saying this – 我掠无, 你可以讲加一次无? This means “I don’t get it. Can you say it one more time?”

The interesting phrase here is 掠无, which literally means “catch nothing”. In fact, if you want to sound even more local that means the same thing, you can say 我掠无球 – a Singlish term that means “I catch no ball”!

Summing up today’s podcast, here are the new phrases for this week:

What are you talking about? 你人在讲什么?

I have never heard of this before. Can you tell me more? 我无听过, 你可以讲给我听无?

I don’t get it. Can you say it one more time? 我掠无, 你可以讲加一次无?

Well, let me know how your next Hokkien conversation go! Feel free to share with us by leaving us a comment on Facebook or Instagram. Remember, keep practising! Thank you for listening in to our Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast. I’m 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.


  1. Yat

    I’ve loved listening to people conversing in Hokkien since the late 90s ( a Malay). But I understand Mandarin better than Hokkien. I don’t know what makes the language special. But I just love it.


      Hey Yat, we totally agree. There’s something very special about the Hokkien language. We’re always loving it! :)

  2. Kan

    Please help…Bo Lan Ai tia, Zen hu bo guan liao..what does this mean?


      Hey Kan, based on what we can guess from the romanization, it means, “no one wants to listen. Government is not caring already”. Hope this helps!


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