Penang Hokkien is a fascinating dialect and is only spoken in Penang and the northern states of peninsular Malaysia. The dialect is very different from Taiwanese and Singapore Hokkien, indeed many Singaporeans are attracted to Penang to hear and learn the dialect. You will find Malay, Tamil and English mixed up (cham cham) with local Hokkiien, in fact the dialect is like a lot of Penang food, ”use whatever comes to hand”. There are not many foreigners who can speak even a few words of Hokkien and so when locals hear your attempts they will surely be curious. This curiosity leads on to conversation which can develop into lasting friendship. These few words can also save you money at the market!
Good morning: Gau-Cha
How are you:loo hoe bo? response: wah hoe (I’m good)
How are you: hoe say oh? response: hoe say
Fine, thank you: Hoe, kam sia
Have you eaten yet? (the most common greeting): Loo chiak par aboey
I have eaten: wah chiak liouw
I haven’t eaten yet: wah aboey chia
The food is delicious : Hoe Chiak
Thank you: Kam sia
What is your name: loo mia ha mee?
My name is John: wah mia John
Please: Toh Long
Excuse me (Getting attention): use the Malay Toh Long?
Good bye: Ban kee ah
Do you speak English?: Loo kong ang mor wah?
Help!: Tau ka chew (lend a hand)
I don’t understand: wah mm chai
No problem : boh boon tay
It doesn’t matter : bee ouw kin
How much?: kooi looi
How: Aun chua
When: kee see
Where : ta low
What : ha mee
Why: ha mee soo
Now you know a little Penang Hokkien try using it.