LKK/老扣扣/洛可可/老硞硞 láu kho̍k-kho̍k Out of touch/ fuddy duddy

LKK/老扣扣/洛可可/老硞硞  láu kho̍k-kho̍k (audio available here) Out of touch/ fuddy duddy

This is an adjectival phrase that most commonly appears using the roman letters LKK . It means old and out of touch and has the sense of being behind the times or of an older order. Surprisingly the roman letters often appear in news articles and novels as opposed to the Chinese characters. This took me by surprise as I thought that using roman letters was usually something quite informal – like the 火星文 that features widely on BBS.


When I asked my coworkers for examples, one of them cited Andy Lau’s attempts at street dancing as LKK.

I also found the following examples on the internet:

為了不讓自己顯得LKK,我決定在生活中多學習新世代用語 (I have decided to learn phrases used by the younger generation, so as not to not appear so out of touch)

from the Liberty Times in which it is used as an adjective.

這屆海峽兩岸圖書交易會將邀請知名作詞人方文山、製作人王偉忠等人出席相關活動,吸引年輕人參加,讓圖交會不再「LKK」。 (Renowned lyricist Vincent Fang and TV producer Wang Wei-Chung, among others, will attend this year’s Cross-strait Book Fair, in order to get young people to attend and to prevent the book fair from being out of touch with the younger generation.)

from CNA, in which it’s used as an adjective.

And this rather more current example from ET Today:

網評/得網路者得天下 屁孩成就國民黨LKK的慘敗 (Social media: Whoever rules the internet, rules the world; the brat generation succeed in defeating the out of touch KMT)

In this last example I had to rearrange the words in the translation, but essentially LKK is an adjective here too, describing it as an “out of touch crushing defeat”.

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

Photo credit: Politics & 2P

Font Matters 字體異型

I’ve noticed certain interesting irregularities in Chinese fonts. The book I’m reading at the minute (《馬橋詞典》; the edition was originally published by 聯經出版社/Linking Books) in Feb. 2011, and this copy is the second printing) uses the form of the character 感 seen in the top line of the image below, as opposed to the one on the bottom. The character on the top line has a 丿that encloses the entire character, as opposed to the one on the bottom line in which the heart radical at the bottom is separate.
ganI’ve noticed similar differences in other characters before and was curious if anyone else had spotted any other slight differences that come to mind. Also curious if this is influenced by historic instances of difference in the way the character can be written.

The interesting thing for me as a Cangjie user is that it should technically change the way the character is written in Cangjie, as instead of 戈口心 it should follow the example of 威 (戈丿一女) and be written 戈丿一心, although obviously this is just a font.

Which form do you come across the most in the books you are reading? What are the names of the different fonts that use this form?

有的沒的 ū ê bô ê Something and nothing/nonsense/trivialities

The phrase “melter” in Belfast slang refers to someone who prattles on endlessly without seemingly ever saying anything that means anything, hence the phrase, “I’m going to go over there now, you’re melting my head!” Taiwanese has a similar sentiment manifested in the phrase “有的沒的”, meaning “Something and nothing/nonsense/trivialities” which can be used in both Mandarin (you3de5mei2de5) and Taiwanese (ū ê bô ê – audio available here).


The handy thing about this phrase is that you can use the Taiwanese in Mandarin and in Taiwanese, or you can just use the Mandarin if you can’t recall the Taiwanese.

It can be used as a noun or an adjective and I’ve included an example below:

你不要在那邊講那些[有的沒的/ū ê bô ê], 無聊死了!

I wish you’d stop going on about all this crap, it’s so dull!

The ū ê bô ê in question can either be something trivial, or in some contexts gossip, but expresses the speaker’s opinion that they are above gossip.

These are various examples I’ve found on the internet:


有的沒的聊了幾句便睡 *Note – in this phrase 有的沒的 is used as an adverb with the 地 omitted.

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

A Review of Li Ang’s ‘Everyone Chews on Sugarcane by the Side of the Road’ 李昂的《路邊甘蔗眾人啃》書評

lubianWarning: there is adult content in this post.

This is Li Ang’s much anticipated follow up to her 1997 book Everybody sticks it in the Beigang Incense Burner (《北港香爐人人插》), which I’ve yet to read. At first glance it is an irreverent look at the misogynistic self-aggrandizement that characterizes the generation of democracy campaigners who rose to fame after being imprisoned in the martial law era in Taiwan, some of whom later formed the Democratic Progressive Party and went into government under former president Chen Shui-bian. The book also deals with the symptomatic nature of the way the February 28 incident and the White Terror continue to manifest themselves in the political arena. Although this might seem a rather obscure or outdated theme, it can give us an insight into the background of the political mindset in today’s Taiwan, particularly in light of the recent Sunflower Movement and the problems in governance that it has highlighted. The attempt to smear the participants of the Sunflower Movement in March and April as violent rioters, for example, is reminiscent of the Kuomintang’s rhetoric against democracy protesters during the 1980s and 1990s that features in the book.

The book centres around the life of Chen Junying (陳俊英) from his youth as a dissident during the Martial Law era, to his slow drift into irrelevance as a retired politician living in the US in his later years. Li Ang goes to great pains in the introduction, stating several times that the character isn’t based on any one person in particular – her protestations are so frequent however that it’s almost as if she’s prompting us to take this denial with a pinch of salt.

Chen feels owed by Taiwanese society and Taiwanese women in particular and he has a mantra that recurs throughout the book which rationalizes his misogynistic behavior:

(My translation) He was forever the one being let down, it wasn’t just the Taiwanese people who owed him, didn’t Taiwanese women owe him too‽ So it was natural for him to sleep with a good number of women when he came out of jail.

The book can be read as a satire up to a point and parts of it are quite funny, recalling the satirical bite of Wang Chen-ho’s Rose, Rose, I Love You /玫瑰玫瑰我愛你》, like the protagonist’s assumption that he will ejaculate more than other men because of the years he spent in prison, and because he thinks so much of his own masculinity:

(My Translation) She discovered that Chen Junying was excessively liberal with toilet paper after making love. When he climaxed, he didn’t leave that much ejaculate in her (his sperm wasn’t particularly greater in volume than other men, nor did it smell fishier), and not much of it would drip out of her vagina after they’d finished, so one or two sheets of toilet paper would have been enough to absorb it all. He would grab a handful of tissue from the box, however, and pass her a pile, watching her as she meticulously wiped herself clean of any trace until all of the tissue was used up.

In the same vein, Chen takes a very chauvinistic attitude during sex, as, despite being reviled as a dissident by many women in his youth, he still finds time to grumble about the only girl who is willing to get together with him, and treats her with scorn, viewing her status as the product of a “mixed marriage” between a mainland soldier and an aborigine as below his – with a lot of his fellow dissidents using the phrase 「無魚蝦也好」 (bô hî, hê mā ho – If there’s no fish, you can make do with shrimp) to  tease him Continue reading

An alms bowl by any other name 盋/砵/缽/鉢 bō

3542008756_b127c70724_oEver seen buddhist monks on the street collecting money with an alms bowl? Did you notice what it was made of? It’s interesting when you come across variants in Chinese based on the difference between the materials used to make it.

The Taiwanese Ministry of Education dictionary lists 缽 Bō as an alms bowl. I also found 缽 in 《馬橋詞典》:


I came across the character 盋 online and when I presented it to two Taiwanese colleagues, neither of them were able to identify it, however when I said it was pronounced Bō, one wrote 鉢 and the other wrote 缽.

盋 is a rare variant of Bō, made up of 犮 quǎn – itself a variant of 犬 (hound/dog) – and 皿 mǐn (dish/shallow container). 

The other three characters all combine 本 běn, which seems to be a phonetic component, with three different materials 缶 fǒu (pottery), 石 shí (stone) and 金 jīn (metal): 缽 砵 鉢

If you know of any other variants that follow this pattern, hit the comments section and I’ll feature them in a future post.

Photo credit: 心道法師

Side by side or top and bottom? Varying it up with variants

m500_22024607701OK – just a quick post today! Am reading 《馬橋詞典》(Dictionary of Maqiao) by 韓少功 (Han Shaogong) at the minute and came across a word for a woman’s period or menstruation – 例假 – that I hadn’t seen before. For some reason I read this as 例期 however and looking it up I found the variant 朞 – a bottom top variant of 期 – combining 其 and 月. This reminded me of a few other variants that follow this pattern, like 峰 and 峯 feng1 “summit,” and 群 and 羣 for “qun1” crowd.

There’s also 鑒 and 鑑 jian4 which have their ingredients stirred around a little.

Let me know if you know of any others!

Battlefield Report: One of the More Amusing Campaign Leaflets

10807986_10101716801634539_746013710_nOne of the more amusing campaign leaflets from this guy Kang Mingdao who obviously has expert Photoshop skills.

It says “Battlefield report” on the left.

On the right, under the heading: “Taiwan’s number one gang, the party of dragons, tigers and leopards” is a picture of Jiang Yi-huah, Ma Ying-jeou and King Put-sung (I originally thought it was Hau Lung-pin, thanks for the correction Les) in their Sunday best. The stamp on the right in red is the title of a Hong Kong film Born to be King (《勝者焉王》)although the title is more akin to “History makes the victor a King, and the loser a scoundrel”), the successor to the Young and Dangerous movies (《古惑仔》), based on the Teddyboy manga series by Cantonese manga artist Ngau Lo (牛佬) – which are said to have formed the main stereotypes about the triads. To the right in the vertical text it says, “The three bandits challenge the 23 million Taiwanese people.”

Below it says:

-[They] allowed dodgy edible oil manufacturer Ting Hsin to pose a risk to precious Taiwanese lives by poisoning them.

-In six years, they undermined the stability of Taiwan’s political scene.

-They ask young people to marry and have kids, despite the paltry NT$22,000 a month salary.

-Let’s not let them leave Taiwan when their term in office is over.

This is not an endorsement.