Special: A Short Story in Singapore Teochew – My Uncle

by | Oct 23, 2019 | Teochew, Teochew - How Do you Say

Listen to Podcast | Special: A Short Story in Singapore Teochew – My Uncle

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Podcast Transcript | Special: A Short Story in Singapore Teochew – My Uncle

Hello everyone! My name is Eugene and thanks for tuning into our Teochew – How Do You Say Podcast. For today’s podcast, we have a very special guest, Mr. Nigel Lim, 林仰忠老师. Some of you may be familiar with him, as apart from his experience as a radio DJ at Rediffusion and Capital 95.8FM, Mr. Nigel Lim has also performed in numerous television dramas in Singapore. For those who have attended our Teochew workshop before, you would also know that he teaches Teochew in Mandarin and is always very passionate to share about the Teochew language and culture! He is going to share with us a short story in our unique Singapore Teochew. We can’t wait, so let’s hear it now!

[本地潮州话版] 我的伯父



Well, thank you, Mr. Lim! Wow, aren’t you captivated by his storytelling? How much of the story did you understand?

Here’s how it would have sounded in English, loosely tranlsated.

A Short Story in Singapore Teochew – My Uncle

If I must tell you about my uncle, I must say that he is really very unlucky. He came to Singapore from China, lived and worked as a helper in my father’s shop. Even though he is quite old, he still likes to socialize with others. As soon as he came to Singapore, he married the local native Chinese woman. And after they got married, they quarreled all day long. My father couldn’t stand the noise, so he asked them to look for work outside.

Soon, they found a place in the market opposite Jalan Besar road and opened a stall there. One day, the government issued a subpoena to them. Frankly, I don’t know what illegal goods they had bought, but I knew that my uncle ignored the subpoena. As a result, the police, inspector, the plainclothes detective and the customs officer came to check. In addition to being detained, they were also charged in court. When they lost the case, they were fined by the government. However, they had no money to pay for the fine. As such, my father had to be their guarantor.

[普通话版] 我的伯父



If you need the English or Mandarin Transcript, you can always find it on our website, Personally, I think the story is so much more fascinating when it is narrated in Teochew. Don’t you agree?

Now, did you notice that we used loanwords, that is – words borrowed from English or Malay or other languages – as well as local slangs in the story? To list a few of them, they are:

EnglishTeochewFormal RomanizationOur Romanization
Marry交寅(结婚)Gao yin
Police马打(警察)Ma ta
Subpoena传票 (三万)Summons
Inspector警察长(大狗)(Local slang)
Plainclothes detective便衣警探 (暗牌)(Local slang)

Loanwords and slangs are partially why the Teochew language is unique in Singapore. It has a fair share of influences from the English, Malay and other languages too. Did you spot other loanwords being used? Or are you aware of other loanwords and slangs that are commonly used? If so, do share with us in the comments section below!

Once again, thank you, Mr. Nigel Lim, for sharing with us such a lovely story. My name is Eugene from and thank you for listening in to our Teochew – How Do You Say Podcast. See you the next time!

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 Teochew in Singapore

While we include formal romanization for Teochew words, we are advocates of easy learning. Hence, we encourage you to form your own phonics so that you make an association with these Teochew words quickly. To illustrate, the formal romanization of “Teochew” is “diê ziu“. However, in our ”Can You Teach Me” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “teo chew”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “dio chew”, “dio jiu“, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear.


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