I was flicking through one of Wu Nien-zhen’s plays the other day, called Human Condition 2 (《人間條件2》) and came across two phrases that I thought sounded rather funny. The first was 莊腳面 chng-kha bīn (click for pronounciation) , basically meaning that someone’s face looks like they’re from the countryside, or a bumpkin – which got me wondering what this kind of face looks like. It’s not always used in the negative, as it can imply innocence or directness and honesty too, I guess it depends on what your opinion on people from the countryside is. I found an answer on Yahoo which gives quite a good explanation of 莊腳 and other terms, although I’m not sure if the first three are still used in Taiwanese:
莊頭 進入村莊前緣的地方 The beginning of the village
莊內 村莊中心的地方 The main part of the village
莊尾 村莊末端的地方 The tail end of the village
莊腳 chng-kha 村莊外圍偏遠的地方 The places on the outer margins of the village
So, this would make 莊腳 the bumpkin of bumpkins, as even the people in the village think he’s a bit rustic. The second phrase is 古意 (lit. ancient meaning) kó͘-ì meaning earnest, frank and honest. I thought that it was interesting, because the Chinese characters imply an image of the ancients. The context the two words are mentioned in is below:
Old Yuki: Oh… It’s you? My whole life I could never forget… recently I was going on to someone about how the youngster who is running for president looked like someone I’d seen when I was younger… I was talking about you… a face from the countryside, earnest, but a little stubborn, a little scared of losing face, but sometimes overly proud…
By the way, don’t panic if a lot of the above seems unintelligible. I’ve listed some of the Taiwanese expressions that aren’t the same as Mandarin below, and might go into them further in other posts.
一世人 chi̍t-sì-lâng a lifetime, life, in (my) lifetime; Mando一輩子
驚 kiaⁿ to be scared of; Mando 怕
見笑 kiàn-siàu to lose face; Mando 不好意思 or 丟臉
三不五時(十) sam-put-gō͘-sî often or sometimes; Mando 不時, 偶而
臭屁 chhàu-phùi to boast; Mando 自誇
Just want to say thanks to Taiwan Explorer for the shout-out on their blog, which I’ve been following for a while.
Feel free to contact me with any cool Taiwanese words or phrases you hear and want featured on the blog.