Taiwanese word of the day: to fall off your motorbike (but forget to let go of the handles) 犁田 (雷殘) lê-chhân

I was discussing Taiwanese expressions that are quite hard to translate today with my coworkers over lunch, and one word they mentioned really stayed with me because it evokes a very comic picture in your mind. The phrase is 「犁田」lê-chhân and is often rendered phonetically into Mandarin as 「雷殘」. It’s original meaning is to plough fields, but it has been extended to mean when people fall off the back of their motorbikes but keep holding on to the handles so that they get dragged behind, like a man driving a plough, although it can be applied to falling off your bike or motorbike in general. It is a jokey term, so only really appropriate for minor scrapes. It is another of these Taiwanese terms that you can use in Mandarin, the equivalent (but without the comic image) is 「摔車」. Drive safe people!

The Ministry of Education’s Taiwanese dictionary provides this example:

伊昨暗車騎無好勢,犁田矣。I cha-àm chhia khiâ bô hó-sè, lê-chhânah. (他昨晚車子沒騎好,就摔車了) Last night he wasn’t driving carefully, and fell off his bike.

Feel free to contact me with any cool Taiwanese words or phrases you hear and want featured on the blog.

2 thoughts on “Taiwanese word of the day: to fall off your motorbike (but forget to let go of the handles) 犁田 (雷殘) lê-chhân

  1. Haha. Some words are simply better explained with a picture, 「犁田」 is one of them. I remember my friend struggling to explain its meaning, and then had to resort to Google Images!

    By the way, how come your Taiwanese romanization differs from the one used from the Ministry of Education (lê-tshân)?

    About the Taiwanese dictionary from the MoE, there exists another site, created by 零時政府, with a better interface https://www.moedict.tw/%27%E7%8A%81%E7%94%B0 I’m a fan of it so I thought I’d share 🙂


    • Hey Taiwanvore,

      Nice blog by the way! I know what you mean, sometimes you have to go through something or see it to know what someone means. It’s like that moment you find a situation in which you can actually use of of those chengyus you’ve learned (although usually someone changes the topic of conversation before you get the chance to).

      I mentioned in a previous post that I’m using this site http://ip194097.ntcu.edu.tw/q/q.asp as I like it’s simple look and the fact that everything is displayed at once and the fact that the pronounciation can be linked to posts- there’s not much difference between the two systems, however, just ts instead of ch and a couple of other things. I also like it because it (usually) distinguishes quite well between 本字 and borrowings.

      Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll have to check it out in more detail – and see if I should upgrade!

      Liked by 1 person

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