Phrase of the day – Dead man’s bones 這是什麼死人骨頭?

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這是啥物死人骨頭? chit sī siánn-mih sí-lâng kut-thâu?

Note: 啥物, sometimes written phonetically as “蝦米” means 什麼 in Mandarin or “what” in English

My coworker told me about this phrase recently, meaning “What the heck is this?”, or “What’s this nonsense?”, though it literally means “What kind of dead man’s bones are these?” – kind of equivalent to “這是什麼鬼?” in Mandarin. It can be used for comic effect, when someone does, has, wears or says something weird:

For example when looking at the “Retrospective tea” advertised on a sign at a Gongguan teashop featured above, one might ask one’s friend: “這是啥物死人骨頭?”

Beware though, it can be offensive if you use it on strangers.

Here’s the updated Google doc, noting patterns between Mandarin and Taiwanese or lack thereof.

 

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