Hakka Dialogues

The following Hakka Dialogues come from Mantaro Hashimoto's "The Hakka Dialect, A Linguistic Study of its Phonology, Syntax and Lexicon", Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-20037-7, 1973 . There is currently a lack of materials for learning Hakka written in English on the internet, and though the Dialogues are very basic in nature, they can serve to provide users with a starting point.

Hashimoto's Hakka informant is called Vong Pin-fa and the phonology of his dialect differs in some way to standard Hakka dialect paradigm as given in recent Meixian Hakka Dialect dictionaries, such as the ones by the mainland Hakka-Chinese authors/editors Zhang Weigeng, Li Rong & Huang Xuezhen, and Rao Bingcai]. In particular, the imformant merges some words others begin with [h] and [s] into [s]. The informant also merges [au] and [O] rimes into [O].

The original Dialogues in Mantaro Hashimoto's book are given in psuedo-IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). I have decided to romanise the passages and vocabulary, with minor adjustments to account for vowels which are lacking in the original text. As with any romanisation, we must normalise it with a standard, IPA, and because we have taken the Dialogues from a pseudo-IPA souce, we must also give the equivalents provided by the original source.

I also strongly feel that though I ought to put in Chinese characters, they are a distraction here, since the object is to learn Hakka. If a user already knows Chinese characters themselves, and they have understood the text only from the Chinese characters alone, they lose out in the understanding of the word order or phrasing underlying the Hakka sentences themselves.

As a Hakka speaker not from the Meixian (Moiyen) dialect catchment area, one notices many similarities with one's own dialect, however, there are things which stand out as being significantly different. I felt it may be helpful to distinguish these differences, so that users are aware of them, if they encounter other Hakka speakers whose speech differ from Hashimoto's informant. Every comment is preceded by an abbreviation of my name, "Dyl:" and enclosed in rounded brackets.

Please, please, please, send me feedback. I want to know your comments, suggestions and constructive criticisms about what you find here.


Dyl = Dylan's romanisation
MH = Mantaro Hashimoto's pseudo-IPA
IPA = International Phonetic Alphabet


b b
p p
m m
f f
v v
d d
t t
n n
l l
g g
k k
h h
z dz
c ts
s s
y j


a a
e e
i i
o o
u v,u


1 1 44
2 2 11
3 3 31
4 4 53
5 5 1
6 6 5

The lowest pitch is represented by 1, highest pitch represented by 5. Therefore a pitch of 53 is 

high-falling, whilst 31 is mid falling, 11, is a low-level pitch etc.

Dialogue 1

a. man3-ngin2 na1? Who (is it)? 

b. ngai2. It's me. 

a. ngi2 loi2 ya1! Welcome 

b. gi2 ye1? How about him (Has he come?)

a. gi2 mo2 loi2. He hasn't come yet.

b. gi2 zo4 mak5 gai4 mo2 loi2? Why hasn't he come?

a. gi2 m2 loi2 ya1. He won't come.

b. m2-me4. gi2 yit5-tin4 voi4 loi2 den3 yit5-ha4-vi3 kon4. Yes (That's not right)! 

He'll certainly come. Why don't we wait and see.


. man3-ngin2 : who

(Dyl: man3-ngin2=la4-ngin2 by other speakers)

. na1 : (sentence particle; < a1)

. ngai2 : I

. ngi2 : you (Sing.)

. loi2 : to come

. ya1 : (sentence particle)

. gi2 : (3rd person singular pronoun)

. ye1 : (question particle)

. mo2 : (perfective negative)

(Dyl:  Some -o (rhymes with core, sore, bore etc) type rhymes are pronounced -au 

(rhymes with cow, how, now etc) in other speakers. So, mo2=mau2)

. zo4 mak5-gai4 : why, to do what

. m2 : (imperfective/neutral negative)

. m2-me4 from m2

+he4 = m2 (negative)

+ he4 : to be (copula) . yit5-tin4 : certainly, surely . voi4 : will (possibility verb) (Dyl: voi4 is also pronounced foi4) . den3 : to wait . yit5-ha4-vi3 : for a while (Dyl: -vi3 is like a particle expressing expectation) . kon4 : to see, to look at

+ Moiyen Pronouns

    person  first            second          third         question


singular    ngai2            ngi2            gi2           man3-ngin2

plural      ngai2-den3-ngin2 ngi2-den3-ngin2 gi2-den-ngin2

(Dyl: den3 can be pronounced as deu3 or deu1 in other dialects.)

+ Aspect and Tense

Imperfective                                      : /

Perfective   aspect indicated by the verb suffix  : e3

Continuative aspect indicated by                  : den3

Experiential aspect indicated by                  : guo4

Non-Past                                          : /

Past         tense  indicated by the auxilliary   : yiu1

oi4 : (want) 

si3-mong4 : (hope)

(Dyl: si3-mong4 is pronounced as hi3-mong4 in other dialects. In some Hakka dialects, 

h- has changed into s-, follow the example of Mandarin, though, it may not be a rule 

of thumb.)

Incidentally, voi4 (able) is also a verb - and incomplete verb in our analysis. Contrary 

to some Hakka grammars written by Western missionaries, we treat such constructions as 

verbs expressing possibility. We thus have no 'future tense' in Hakka.

+ Negative : m2, mo2

+ Interrogative

man3-ngin2 : who

mak5-gai4 : what

(Dyl: -mo2? isn't it?  (mo2=mau2))

Dialogue 2

a. man3-ngin2 kok6 mun2 na1? Who is knocking at the door?

b. he4 gi2 lo1. (It) is he.

a. ngai2 hi4 kon4 yit5-ha4. I'll go (there) and see.

b. man3-ngin2 na1? Who (is it)?

c. ngai2. (It is) me.

a. ciang3 ngip6-loi2. Please come in.

c. ngi2 ho3 mo1. How are you?

a. ho3 o1. ciang3 co1. Fine. Please sit down.

c. ngi2 ho3 zo3 loi2 ya1? Did you come (here) long time ago?

b. ciu4-dang4 loi2 I've just come.

c. dui4 m2 cu4. ngai2 loi2 ci2 e3. I'm sorry. I am late.


. kok6 : to knock

(Dyl: kok6 may be gok6 in some dialects.)

. mun2 : door

. lo1 : (sentence particle expressing conjecture or supposition)

. hi4 : to go

. yit5-ha4 : once

. ciang3 : please; to beg, to request

. ngip6 : to enter

. ho3 : good

(Dyl: ho3 is also pronounced hau3)

. co1 : to sit

. ho3 : very

(Dyl: ho3 = hau3)

. zo3 : early

(Dyl: zo3 = zau3 )

. ciu4-dang4 : just now

(Dyl: ciu4-dang4 = ciu4-zang4 )

. dui4 : to face

. -m2-cu4 : can not hold, dare not

. ci2 : late

+ Frequency

number + ha4 : times

number + bai3 : times

+ Potential marker

potential mode : e3 - na1 ve3 tung4 (to be able to move)

               : det5 -(affirmative)

               : m2 - (negative) na1 m2 tung1 (to be unable to move)

Dialogue 3

. li3-ye4 he4 man3-ngin2-ne4? Whose is this?

. he4 ngai2 -ye4. (It) is mine.

. mak5-gai4 si2-heu4 mai1-ye4 a1? When did you buy it?

. kiu4-ngian2-ngi3 mai1-ye4 (I) bought (it) last year.

. ngi2-nge4 e1? (How about) yours?

. gin1-ngian2 mai1-ye4. (I) bought (it) this year

. ngi2 git5-do1 cien2 mai1-ye4 ya1? How much was it (With how much money did you buy it)?

. ngai2 si4-sip6 kuai4-cien2 mai1-ye4. Forty dollars (I bought it with forty dollars)

. ngi2-nge4 e1? (How about) yours?

. ngai2 yit5-bak5 kuai4-cien2 mai1-ye4. One hundred dollars (I bought it with one hundred dollars)

. ngiong3-ban1 gong3 an3 gui4 ya1? How come it is so expensive?

. m2-gui4. gin1-ngian2 du1-he4 gan2-ngiong4-nge4 ga4-cien2. guo4-ngian2 han2 kok6 gui5 ya. (It is)

not expensive. This year are all this expensive. Next year (they will be) more expensive.


. li3-ye4 : this

. e4 : (genitive particle)

. mak5-gai4 : what

. si2-heu4 : time (mak6-gai4 si2-heu4 : when)

. mai1 : to buy

. kiu3-ngian2 : last year

. gin1-ngian2 : this year

. git5-do1 : how many, how much; from gi3 

+ do1 . cien2 : money . si4-sip6 : forty . kuai4-cien2 : dollar . yit5-bak5 : one hundred . ngiong4-ban1 gong3 : how come, why (literary: how speak) (Dyl: ngiong4-ban1 gong3 = ngiong4-ben1 gong3) . an3 : so, this much, that much (Dyl: an3 may be pronounced an2) . gui4 : expensive . du1 : all . gan2-ngiong4 : this kind of (Dyl: gan2-ngiong4 may be an2-ngiong4, or an2-nung1) . ga4 cien2 : price . guo4-ngian2 : next year . han2 : still . gok6 : more, comparatively (Dyl: gok6 = guo4) near far indefinite demonstrative li3-ye4 : this ge4-ge4 : that na3-yit5-ge4 :which li3-deu1 : these ge4-deu1 : those mak5-gai4 : what manner gan2-ngiong4 ngiong3-ban1 this way or that way how degree an3 git5-do1 this much or that much how many place li3-ye1 : here ge4-ye1 : there nai3-ye1 : where

+ Embedding Particle

e4 is usually described as a generative particle

(Dyl: Some explantion: the e4 particle also changes depending on the ending of the preceeding

 syllable ending, so if last syllable ends in a vowel e4 changes to ye4, it it ends in -m, e4 

becomes me4 etc)

ngai2-ye4-su1 : my book

ngai2-ye4 : mine

kiu4-ngian2-ngi1 mai1-ye4 : (the thing which) I bought last year

+ Numerals

yi5  : one     liuk : six     bak5  : hundred

ngi4 : two     cit5 : seven   cien1 : thousand

two  : liong3 (Dyl: not really a counting number, liong3 is to mean two of something)

sam1 : three   bat  : eight   van4  : ten thousand

si4  : four    giu3 : nine    yit6  : one hundred million

ng3  : five    sip6 : ten     lang2 : zero

Dialogue 4

b. ngi2 li3-gian1 vuk5 an3 ho3. he4 ngi2 ci4-ga1-ve4 mo2? This house of yours is very good. 

Is (it) your own?

a. he4 ngai2 ci4-ga1-ve4. (Yes this) is my own.

c. he4 ngi2 ci4-ga1-ve4 zo4-ve4 ya1? Is (this a house) you yourself built?

a. m2-me4. he4 mai1-ye4. No. (This) was bought.

c. mak5-gai4 si2-heu3 mai1-ye4 a1? When did you buy (it)?

a. kiu4-ngian2-ngi3 mai1-ye4.  (I) bought (it) last year.

c. kiu4-ngian2 mak5-gai4 si2-heu4? What time last year? 

a. kiu4-ngian2 sam1-ngiat6. March, last year.

c. git5-do1 cien2 mai1-ye4 a1? How much was it (With how much money did you buy it)?

a. sip6-ngi4 van4 ng3-cien1 kuai4-cien2 mai1-ye4. (I bought it with) one hundred and 

twenty five thousand dollars.

b. ge4 gan2-ngiong4 tai4 pien2-ngi2 ne1. gin1-na4 mai1 dung3 oi4 ng3-liuk5 sip6 van4 na1. 

That's very cheap. If you buy now, (it will cost at least) five or six hundred thousand dollars.


. -gian3 : (classifier for houses, buildings, etc.

(Dyl: some dialects pronounce -gan3)

. vuk5 : house

. an3 : very

. ci4-ga1 : oneself

. zo4 : to make, to build

. m2-me4 : the contraction of m2 not + he4 to be

. ngiat6 : month

(Dyl: some pronuounce ngiat6 as ngiet6)

. sam1 ngiat5 : March

. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 : then, in that way (from ge4-gan2-yong4)

. tai4 : too (much)

. pien2-ngi2 : cheap, inexpensive

. ne1 : (sentence particle)

. gin1-na4 : now

. dung3 : certainly, generally

(Dyl: actually this should be du1)

. oi4 : must, need, have to

+ Classifiers Classifier Concurring nouns -ge4 neutral -gian1 buildings -tiau2 slender objects -bun3 bound paper -kuai4 square objects

+ Time Adverbials [time phrase] verb_phrase

+ si2-heu4 gi2 loi2-ye3 ge4 si2 heu4

Dialogue 5

d. ciang3 ngi2 yim3 ca2 a1. Please drink tea.

b. & c. do1 cia4. Thank you

c. gi2 he4 ngi2-nge4 a1-moi4 mo2. Is she your younger sister?

a. he4 e. he4 ngai2-ye4 se4 a1-moi4. Yes. (she) is my younger sister.

b. gi2 git5-do1 se4 a1? giu3 se4 a? How old is she? Is she nine?

a. gi2 dang1 cit5 se4. She is only seven.

c. ng2-den3-ngin2 ga1-du3-ve4 yiu1 an3 do mang3-ngin2? Who are there in your family 

(Who and how many people are there in your family)?

a. a1-ba1, a1-me1 yit5-ge4 a1-zi3, yit5-ge4 a1-go1, yit5-ge4 lo3-tai4, liong3-ge4 lo3-moi4, 

lien2 ngai2 yit5 kiung4 bat5-ge4 ngin2. gi2 he4 ze4 se4 ye4. Father, mother, one elder sister, 

one elder brother, one younger brother, two younger sisters; including myself, there are in 

all eight people. She is the youngest.


. yim3 : to drink (liquid)

. ca2 : tea

. do1 cia4 : thank you (from do1 : many + cia4 : thanks)

. a1-moi4 : younger sister

. se4 : small, young

. se4 : age

. dang1 : only

(Dyl: dang1 should be zang4 [tsa?53] )

. ga1 : family, house, home

. du3-ve4 : inside, in

(Dyl: here, ve4 is derived from e4)

. yiu1 : to have, to exist

. a1-ba1 : father

. a1-me1 : mother

. ge4 : (the neutral classifier)

. a1-zi3 : elder sister

(Dyl: for some speakers, a1-zi3 should be a1-zia3.)

. a1-go1 : elder brother

. liong3 : two, pair

. lo3 moi4 : younger sister

(Dyl: lo3-moi4 = lau2 moi4)

. lien2 : even, also

. yit5-kiung4 : together, including

. ze4 : the most (superlative)

(Dyl: ze4 = zui4)

+ Kinship Terms

                                (Dyl: zia3-gung1 = zia3-po2)

     a1-gung1  =   a1-po2         ngoi4 a1-gung1 = ngoi4 a1-po2

     paternal      paternal       maternal          maternal

     grandfather   grandmother    grandfather       grandmother

        |______________|              |______________|

                 |                           |

               a1-ba1                     a1-me1

               father                     mother



   |             |             |               |              |

        (Dyl: a1-zia3                      lau3-tai1)

a1-go1        a1-zi3         ngai1         lo3-tai4        lo3-moi4

elder brother elder sister   I             younger brother younger sister

               (Dyl:  lau3-gung1 = lau3-po2)

                      lo1-gung1 = lo1-po2

                       husband      wife



        |                                       |

(Dyl: lai4-zu1)                                    (Dyl: se4-long2)

    lai1-yi3 = sim1-kiu1                      moi4-yi3 = ng3-se4

    son        daughter-in-law                daughter   son-in-law

        |__________|                             |__________|

      ________|_______                         ________|_______ 

     |                |                       |                |

sun1-zu3       sun1-ng3                ngoi4 sun1-zu3 ngoi4 sun1-ng3

grandson        granddaughter           daughter's son  daughter's daughter


              |        |       |       |       |

(Dyl: a1-ngiong2=)

bak5-me1 = a1-bak5  a1-gu1  a1-ba1  a1-gu1  a1-suk5 = suk5-me1

aunt       uncle    aunt    father  aunt    uncle     aunt


              |        |       |       |       |

kiu1-me1 = a1-kiu1  a1-yi2  a1-me1  a1-yi2 a1-kiu1 kiu1-me1

aunt       uncle    aunt    mother  aunt   uncle   aunt

(Dyl: tai4 (to indicate the relative is older is usually appended to distinguish him/her 

with younger relatives of mother's generation as follows :


                              |        |       |       |       |

     tai4-kiu1-ngiong2 = tai4-kiu1 tai4-gu1 a1-me1 a-yi2 a1-kiu1=kiu1-ngiong2)

ya2-oi4 : parents 

siung1-ti4 : brothers


zi3-moi4 : sisters

+ Place Adverbials coi1

+ noun_phrase

Dialogue 6

a. ge4-ge4 he4 man3-ngin2-ne4 biau1-vi3. Whose watch is that?

b. ge4 m2 he4 ngai2-ye4, yit5-tin4 he4 gi2-ye4. That's not mine; (that) must certainly be his.

c. dui4 ye, he4 ngai2-ye4. Right. (that) is mine.

a. gin1-na4 git5-do1 diam3-zung1? What time is it now?

c. gin1-na4 yit5-giu3-ve4 diam3 ci4. It is one forty five now.

a. ni2-nge4 biau1 man4 yit5-dit6-di3, gin1-na4 he4 liong3-diam3-zung1. dui4-m2-cu3, liong3 

diam3 pan4 zung1 ngai2 oi4 cut5-hi4 yit5-ha4-vi3, ngi2-den3-ngin2 sien1 co4 yit5-ha4. Your 

watch is a little bit slow; it's two-thirty now. I'm sorry, but I've got to go out for a 

while at two-thirty. You people stay a while.

b. m2 lo1. ngai2 ya1 oi4 cut5-hi4. No. I've got to go out, too.

c. ngai2 ya1 oi4 cut5-hi4. I must go out also.

a. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 ngai2-den3-ngin2 yit5-ha4 cut5-hi4 ye1. Then why don't we all go out together.


. biau1 (-vi3) : watch

. dui4 : correct

. diam3 (-zung1) : o'clock

. ci4 : a character or a numeral on watches (hence representing each five minutes; 

yit4-ge4 ci4 : five minutes, liong3-ge4 ci4 : ten minutes

(Dyl: ci4 = su4, where su4 means a "character" or refers to the numbers on the clockface)

. man4 : slow

. yit5-dit6 (-di3) : a little (bit)

. pan4 : half

(Dyl: pan4 should be ban4)

. cut5-hi4 : to go out

. yit5-ha4 (-vi3) : for a while

. sien1 : first, for the time being

. co4 : to sit

. ya1 : also

. yit5-ha4 : all, together

+ Measure Words

[verb]+[number]+[measure word] limits the extent of the verb's action

Action verbs :

cut5 yit5-ha4-vi3 : to go out for a while

yim3 yit5-bi1 : to drink one cup

sit6 yit5-von3 : to eat a bowl (of rice)

Stative verbs :

man4 yit5-dit6-di3 : a little bit slow

yan3 yit5-dit6-di3 :  a little bit far

(Dyl: like vi3, di3 derives from -i3 a particle of expectation)

+Affirmative Adverbs

he4 : copula can take the following types of adverbs of affirmation

yit5-tin4 he4 : certainly is...

zin1 he4 : truly is...

sit6-cai4 he4 : actually is...

pa4 he4 : perhaps is...

ci4-yan2 he4 : naturally is

ya1 : also might be considered as part of this category. However, it can only be 

used in agreement or confirmation to a sentence topic which has already been uttered 

by another person.

a: ngai2 hi4. : I go

b: ngai2 ya1 hi4 : I also go

Only if there is a previous statement for affirmation of the same topic should ya1 be used.

Dialogue 7

b. ngi2 do4 nai3-ye1 hi4 ya1. Where are you going

a. ngai2 do4 giai1-hong4 hi4,  ngi2-den3-ngin2 ne1? I'm going to town, how about you all?

b. ngai2-den3-ngin2 ya1 do4 giai1-hong4 hi4. We are also going to town.

a. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 han2 he4 yit5-ha4 hi4 gok6 ho3. Then it's better for all of us to go together.

c. ngiong3-ban1 hang2. How (shall we) go?

a. man2-mien4 hi4 ho3 m2 ho3? (Shall we) go by the southern way? What do you think?

b. gan2-ngiong4 hang2 yan3 yit5-dit6, han2 he4 yit5 cit6 hang2 gok6 ho3. Going that way involves 

a rather long detour. After all, it is better to go straight.

c. yit5-cit6 hang2, kiun4 yit5-dit6? Is it a short cut if (we go) straight?

a. m2 mi4 kiun4, dan4-he4 lu4 ho3 hang2. It is not a short cut, but the road is better.


. do4 : till, up to, to

(Dyl: do4 = dau4 by other speakers)

. giai1-hong4 : town

(Dyl: giai1 = gai1 by some speakers)

. gok6 : comparatively, relatively

(Dyl: gok6 = guo4, ho3 = hau3)

. ngiong3-ban1 : how, in what way, in what manner

(Dyl: ngiong3-ban1 = ngiong4-ben1 and could be mutated to liong4-ben1, or even liau4-men1)

. hang2 : to walk, to go

. nam2-mien4 : south, to the south, the south side

. gan2-ngiong4 : in this way or in that way (from gan2-yong4)

. yan3 : far, remote

(Dyl: yan3 = yen3)

. yit5-cit6 : straight, all the way, all the while

. kiun4 : close to, near

(Dyl: kiun4=kiun1 by some speakers)

. yi4 : very (m2-mi4 is from m2 : not + yi4 : very)

(Dyl: This may be a mis-translation by Hashimoto, since in the text it says m2-mi4 kiun4 

should derive from m2-he4 kiun4, = [m2:neg][he4:copula][kiun4:close])

. dan4-he4 : however, but

. lu4 : road

(Dyl: again, ho3 = hau3 by some speakers)

Dialogue 8

b. ngi2 ngiong3-ban1 di1-det5 li3-tiau2 lu4 ho3 hang2? How did you find out that this route is better?

a. ngai2 mi1-ngit5 hang2. ngai2 mi1-ngit5 hang2 li3-tiau2 lu4 hi4 hok6-tong2-ha4.

 ngai2-den3-ngin2-ne4 hok6-tong2 ho3 kiun4, ngi2-den3-ngin2-ne4? I walk it every day. 

Everyday I walk this route to go to scool. Our school is close to it. How about yours?

c. ngai2-den3-ngin2-ne4 hok6-tong2 gok6 yan3-dit6. Our school is a little bit farther (than yours).

b. ngai2 hi4 hok6-tong2 oi4 hang2 ban4-ne4 zung1-teu2. I have to walk thirty minutes to go to school.

a. ngi2-ge4 vi4 mo2 tien4-ca1 va1? Isn't there any train around your place?

b. mo2 o1. (No, there) isn't.

c. siua3-sim1! si4-ca1 loi1 yo1. Watch out!. There came a car.

a. li3-tiau2 lu4 hang2 he4 ho3 hang2, dan4 he4 ca1 do1. tai4-ga1 siau3-sim1 dit6-di3. This street 

is good to walk, but there are too many cars here. Let's be careful.


. di1-det5 : to know

(Dyl: di1-det=di1-dau4)

. tiau2 : (classifier for something slender and long, like raod, strings, lines, etc.)

. mi1-ngit5 : everyday

(Dyl: mi1=mui1)

. hok6-tong2 : school

(Dyl: hok6-tong2=hok4-gau3 : school in more recent parlance)

. ha4 : under, inside

. zung1-teu2 : hour

. vi4 : place

. tien4-ca2 : electric train, street car

(Dyl: tien4-ca2 = tien4-ca1 meaning streecar/tram)

. siau3-sim1 : to be careful, pay attention to

. si4-ca2 : automobile, motor-car

(Dyl: again si4-ca2=hi4-ca1)

. tai4-ga1 : everyone

+ Duration

The duration of action is expressed by time words that follow verbs, like:

hang2 ban5-ne4 zung1 teu2 : to walk for half an hour

They are regarded as a kind of measure word.

(Dyl: ne4 is a kind of classifier, akin to zak5)

Dialogue 9

a. ngi2-den3-ngin2 han2 oi4 hang2 ma1? ngai2 ciu4 kioi4 lo1. Do you people still want to walk. 

I'm tired.

b. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 ngai2-den3-ngin2 co1 ca1 hi4 ya1. Then why don't we take a car?

c. co1 mak5-gai4 ca1 hi4 ya? Take what kind of car?

a. co1 si4-ca1 hi4, ngiong3-ban1? How about taking a taxi, what do you think?

c. ngai2 siong3 han2-he4 tien4-ca1 ho3, yiu4 kuai4 yiu4 pien2-ngin2. I still think we should 

take a tram-car; it's faster, and cheaper as well.

b. tien4-ca1 cam4 coi4 nai3-ye1 ya1? Where is the street-car stop?

a. coi4 ge4-ye1. (It') there.

b. ca1-cam4 co3-bien1-ne4 tai4 vuk5 he4 mak5-gai4? What is the large building on the left side of 

the street-car stop?

a. ge4-ge4 he4 yiu2-zin4-kiuk6. That's the Post Office.

a. tien4-ca1 loi2 yo1. kuai4 dit6 hang2. The street-car has come. Let's go fast.


. oi4 : want to, endeavor to

. ciu3 : (an adverb for presenting a case in contrast to the other)

. kioi4 : tired, fatigued

. co1 : to sit, to take trains, boats, airplanes, etc.

. siong3 : to think, want to

. yiu4 : again, also

. kuai4 : fast, also

. cam4 : (railroad)station, stop, depot

(Dyl: cam4=zam4 by other speakers)

. coi4 : to exist

. co3-bian1 : the left side

(Dyl: co3=zo3 [tsO] left hand side, bian1=bien1=ben1 by other speakers)

. tai4 : large, big

. yiu2-zin4-kiuk6 : post office

Dialogue 10

c. tien4-ca1 oi4 koi1-yi3 yo1, kuai4 dit6 song1 ca1. The street-car will start pretty soon; why 

don't you get in quickly.

a. ngai2-den3-gin2 loi2-det5 ngam1. li3-ye4 he4 kuai4-ca1. ngai2 tung2 ngi2-den3-ngin2 mai1 

ca1-piau4. We are lucky. This is the express car. I'll buy you all tickets.

b.c. do1-cia4. Thank you.

b. ca1 du3-ve4 an3 ngiat6, ngi2 da3-koi1 cung1-mun2 ho3 mo2? It's really hot in this car, would you 

open the window.

c. li3-ye4 cung1-mun2 da3 m2 koi1 ye1. This window doesn't open.

b. tui1-song1 hi4, ciu4 koi1 lo1. ngi2 tui1-tui1 kon4. If you push upward, it will open. Why don't 

you try to push?

c. han2-he4 tui1 m2 koi1. (It) still doesn't open

a. ngi2 co4-lo6 loi2, yit5-ha4 ciu4 do4 lo1. You better sit down; we are pretty soon arriving.


. oi4 :  to be going to, be about to 

. koi1 : to turn on, to start

(Dyl: koi1=hoi1 by some speakers)

. song1 :  to climb up

. ngam1 : to fit, suit; exactly

. kuai4-ca2 : express train

(Dyl: again -ca2=-ca1 in some dialects, ca2/ca1 means a cart, and in recent times, it has been 

applied to vehicles such as cars and trams and trains)

. tung2 :  for, for the sake of

. ca2-piau1 : train ticket

. ngiat6 : hot

(Dyl: ngiat6=ngiet6)

. da3-koi1 : to open

(Dyl: da3-koi1=da1-hoi1)

. cung1-mun2 : window

. tui1 : to push, press

. co4-lok6 : to sit down

(Dyl: co4=co1)

. do4 : to arrive, reach

(Dyl: do4=dau4)

Dialogue 11

a.  tang4-gong3 gin1-na4 gung1-yan2 du3-ve4-ye4 fa1 sip6-fun1 ho3 kon4. I heard that the flowers in

 the park are very pretty.

b. ngi2 siong3 hi4 kon4 mo2? Do you want to go (there) to see (them)? 

a. he4, ngai2 ho3 fon1-si3 kon4 fa1. Yes, I like to see flowers very much.

c. ngai2 ya1 ho3 fon1-si3, ngai2-den3-ngin2 tsiu4 yit5-ha4 hi4 kon4. I like to (see them) very much, 

why don't we go to have a look at (them)?

b. ngi2 kon4! ge4-deu1 fa1 yiu1 fung2-nge4, ...yiu1 pak5-ge4... Look! These flowers; some of them 

are red, .... some of them are white.

a. ya1 yiu1 vong2-ge4. There are some yellow ones, too.

c. ge4-ge4 vong2-ge4 han2 det6 ngin2 siak5 ga1. These red ones are really lovely.

b. ngi2 oi4 na3 yit5 zung3? What kind do you like?

c. du1 ho3 kon4, ngai2 du1 oi4. The are all pretty. I like them all.


. gung1-yan2 : park, public garden

(Dyl: yan2=yen2)

. fa1 : flower

. sip6-fun1 : fully, sufficiently, very much

. ho3-kon4 : pretty, beautiful

(Dyl: ho3=hau3)

. ho3 : very much, really

(Dyl: ho3=hau3

. fon1-si3 : to like (something), to be fond of

(Dyl: fon1-si3=fon1-hi3 (For listeners not of Hashimoto's informant's particular variety of speech,

 it can be turn out that si3 as a syllable meaning "to die" and "faeces", which would be rude, 

humourous, or wholly unexpected.)

. -deu1 : classifier for plural objects

. fung2 : red

. pak5 : white

. vong2 : yellow

. det6-ngin2 siak5 : to make people like (something), lovely

. oi4 : to love, to like

+ det5-ngin2-

det5-ngin2 -siak5 : to love - lovely

det5-ngin2 -nau1 : to get vexed - disagreeable

det5-ngin2 -pa4 : to fear - dreadful

det5-ngin2 -seu2 : sad - saddening

det5-ngin2 -vui4 : to fear - fearful

+ -deu1

used to signify the plural used with demonstrative and pronouns in many Hakka dialects

ngai2-den3-ngin2 / ngai2-deu1-ngin2 : we

ngi2-den3-ngin2 / ngi-deu1-ngin2 : you

gi2-den3-ngin2 / gi2-deu1-ngin2 : they

Dialogue 12

a. ngi2 kon4! fi1-gi1 ... fi1-gi1 .... Look! An aeroplane, an aeroplane...

c. a3, bi1-det6 an3 kuai4. Oh, it flies so fast.

b. mo2-ca1. ge4-ge4 he4 hi4 nai3-ye1-ye4 ya1? Right. Where does it go?

c. tai4-koi4 he4 do4 ngoi4-guet5 hi4-ye4. Probably it goes abroad.

b. pa4 he4. Possibly.

a. a3. kon4 m2 do3 ve3. Ah, (it) flew away.

b. o3. ngi2 dai4-ye3 biau1 mo2? Do you have a watch?

a. ngai2 mo2 dai4. I don't have (it)

c. ngai2 dai4-den3 ne1 e, si4 diam3-zung1. I do; it is four.

b. si2-gan1 m2 zo3-ve3 yo1, ngai2 sien1 zon3-hi4. zai4-gian4. It's late. I'll go home first. Goodbye!

a.c. zai4-gian4. Goodbye.


(Dyl: a3 : oh, an exclamation)

. fi1-gi1 : airplane

(Dyl: fi1-gi1 = fui1-gi1)

. bi1 : to fly

(Dyl: bi1=bui1=fui1)

. an3 : so

(Dyl: an3=an2)

. ca1 : to mistake, differ

. tai4-koi4 : generally speaking, on the whole

. ngoi4-guet5 : foreign countries

(Dyl: guet5=gok5)

. pa4 : to be afraid of, probably

. dai4 : to wear, put on

. si2-gan1 : time

. zon3 : to turn, return

. zai4-gian4 : to see (one) again, good-bye

(Dyl: gian4=gien4=gen4)

Dialogue 13

a. ngai2 siong3 mai1 yit5-bun3 su1. I want to buy a book.

c. mai1 mak5-gai4 su1? What kind of book (do you want to) buy?

a. yit5-bun3 siau3-sot5. A novel.

c. li3-gian1 su1-diam4 an3-tai4, mak4-gai4 su1 du1 yiu1. This bookstore is very big; (they) have any 


a. ngai2 sien1 cim2-yit5-cim2 kon4... yiu1 lo1, yiu1 lo1. Let me look for it... (I) found it, (i) 

found it.

c. tang4-gong3 li3-bun3 su1 ho3 yiu1 yi4-si1 ve4. I've heard that this book is very interesting.

a. he3. ho3 yiu1 yi4-si1 ve4. ngi2 siong3 kon4 mo2? ge4-gan2-ngiong4 ngai2 kon4-van2-ne3 zai4 

zia4-bun4 ngi2. Right, (this book) is very interesting. Do you want to read (it)? If so, when I 

finish reading, I'll lend it to you.

c. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 sip6-fun1 ho3-o1. ngi2 mak5gai4 si2-heu4 kon4-van2 ne3? That's very good. When 

will you finish reading (it)

a. ngai2 tai4-koi4 si4-ng3-ngit5 ciu4 kon4 van2 lo1. I'll probably finish reading (it within) four 

or five days.

c. man4-man4 kon4, man4-man4 kon4. No rush, no rush (Read (it) slowly, read (it) slowly)!


. -bun3 : (classifier for bound paper, like books, notebooks, etc.)

. su1 : book

. siau3-sot5 : novel, story

. -gian1 : (classifier for buildings)

(Dyl: -gian1=-gan1

. su1-diam4 : book shop

. du1 : all, every

. cim2 : to look for, seek

. yi4-si1 : meaning

(Dyl: actually, I was wondering how to romanise si1 as Hashimoto only gives s1, I pronounce it su1, 

but it is pronounced in Moiyen as halfway between i and u, hence yi4-si1=yi4-su1).

. yiu1 yi4-si1 : interesting, amusing

(Dyl: as previously yi4-si1=yi4-su1)

. van2 : to finish, to complete

(Dyl: van2=yan2=yen2 and some speakers say von2)

. zai4 : again, then (finish doing one thing, then do another)

. zia4-bun4 : to lend to (someone)

(Dyl: bun4=bun1 means "to give" and other speakers may say bin1)

. ngit5 : day

. man4 : slow

+ Question words and indefinite words

Like other Chiense dialects, question words can be used as indefinite words in Hakka without any 

morphological changes:

mak5-gai4 : what?; mak5-gai4 du1 yiu1 : (there) is everything

mak5-gai4 si2-heu4 : when?; mak5-gai4 si2-heu4 du1 ko3-yi1 : anytime (you want) will be fine.

man3-ngin2 : who?; man3-ngin2 du1 yiu1 : everybody has (it).

nai3-ye1 : where; nai3-ye1 du1 yiu1 : (it) exists anywhere.

+ Stative expressions

The word yiu1 : to have, exist is not a stative verb. Thus following is ungrammatical (Dyl: as indicated by the asterisk):

*ngi2 ho3 yiu1 geu3 mo2? Do you have many dogs?

(Dyl: ho3=hau3)

where the degree adverb ho3 : very is modifying the verb yiu1. However, once yiu1 constitutes 

adjectival phrases, the whole phrase can perfectly take the same degree adverbs:

ho3 yiu1 yi4-si1 : very interesting

ho3 yiu1 lit6 : very powerful

ho3 yiu1 tau4li1 : very reasonable

Dialogue 14

a. ngi2 kon3, leu2-hong4 ho3 ciong4 han2 yiu1 su1. Look, it seems that there are some more books on 

the second floor.

c. leu2-hong4 mai1-ye4 he4 ngoi4-guet5 su1. The books sold on the second floor are  foreign books. 

Do you want to go (up) to take a look?

a. ngoi4-guet5 su1 ngai2 m2 yi4 sit5, ngi2 sit5 da1. I don't understand foreign books; do you 


c. ngai2 ya1 m2 sit5. ngi2 han2 yiu1 su1 oi4 mai1 mo2. I don't understand them, either. Is there any 

other book you want to buy?

a. ngai2 siong3 mai1 yit5-bun3 si4-diam3. I want to buy a dictionary.

c. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 ngai2-den3-ngin2 han2 he4 song1 leu2 hi4. Then let's go upstairs.

c. gi2-den3-ngin2 gong3, ge4-bun3 su4-diam3 mai1-van2-ne4, ngiong3-ban1 ho3 o1? They say that the 

dictionary has been sold out; what shall we do?

a. li3-ye fu4-kiun4 han2-yiu1 piet6-de4 su1-diam4 mo2? Are there any more bookstores around here?

c. mo2, lang4-ngi4-bai2 zai4 loi2. There isn't any; let's come again.

a. ya1-ho3. Fine.


. leu2-hong4 : upstairs, the second floor

(Dyl: leu2-hong4=leu2-song4 by other speakers.)

. ho3 ciong4 : to look as if...

(Dyl: ho3=hau3

. *ngian4-yi4 : to wish, desire

. *song1-hi4 : to climb up

(*these didn't appear in the above text!)

. sit5 : to know, recognize, understand

. su4-diam3 : dictionary

(Dyl: this should actually be su4-dian3=su4-diam3)

. fu4-kiun4 : near to

. piet6 : other

. lang4-ngi4-bai2 : next time, the second time

+ Desire "auxilliaries"

The following lists exhausts those expressions for desire which traditional grammars treat as 

"auxilliary verbs" but which we interpret as verbs that require complement sentences:

ngian4-yi4 : to want to

oi4 : to love

fon1-si3 : to like  (Dyl: fon1-hi3)

siong3 : to feel like ....ing

+ Usage of han2

1. Time : gi2 han2 coi4 li3-ye1 : He is still here.

2. Extent : han2 yiu1 mak5-gai4 mo2? : Is there anything else?

3. Interrogative: ngi2 sit6 ng2, han2-he4 sit6 ngiuk5? Do you eat fish or meat?

Dialogue 15

a. zo4 vu1-yim1 tien1-ngi1 yo1, kuai4 voi4 lok6 yi3 ye1. The sky has become cloudy; (it) might rain 

pretty soon.

c. li3 gi3-bun1 ngit5 dan1 oi4 lok6-yi3. For the past several days (it) has been raining very often.

a. ngai2 siong3 ciung2-bien1 kon4 tien4-yang3, ciung2-bien1 pit5 yi3, ho3 m2 ho3? I want to see a 

movie so that we can, at that time, take shelter from rain. What do you think?

c. tien4-yang3 si4-yan4 coi4 na3-ye1 ya1? gak5 gak4-gai4 kiun1 mo2? Where is the movie theater? Is 

(it) near around here?

a. yi4 kiun1. ciu4 coi4 ge4-pien1. Very close. (It) is just over there.

c. li3-ye4 tien4-yang3 si4 ngai2 kon4-guo4-ve3. mo2 mak5-gai4 yi4-si1. I've already seen this move; 

I don't want to see (it) any more.

a. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 ngiong3-ban1 ho3 ve1? Then what shall we do?

c. cim2 ge4 ti4-fong1 loi2 yim3 ca2, ho3 m2 ho3? (Let's) look for a place to drink tea, all right?

a. ngai2 siong3 cim2 ge4 gok6 cin4 dit6-ge4 di4-fong1 ho3 loi2, ngi2 di1-det5 m2 di4-det5? I think 

it would be nice if we can find a quiet place. Do you know any?

c. di4-det5. ngi2 ten2 ngai2 loi2 ya1. (I) know (one). (Why don't) you follow me.


. zo4 :to become

. vu1-yim1 : cloudy, dark

. tien1-ngi3 : day

(Dyl: actually refering to the sky being cloudy, as tien1, ngi3 is a sentence particle with no 

particular meaning)

. voi4 : can, might (possibility)

. lok6 : to fall

. yi3 : rain

(Dyl: some Hakka speakers would say lok6-sui3 instead of lok6-yi3)

. gi3-bun1 : several

. zin1 : really, indeed

. ciung2-bien1 .... ciung2-bien1 : on the one hand ... and on the other 

(Dyl: I would say this is a mistake, and it should actually be ciu2-bien1 ... ciu2-bien1)

. tien4-yang3 : movie

. pit5 : to avoid

. si4-yan4 : theater

(Dyl: si4-yan4=hi4-yen4)

. coi4 : to exist

(Dyl: coi4=coi1)

. gak5 : to part, separate, apart

. gak5-gai4 : here, this place

. ge4-pien1 : there, that place

. -guo4 (express experiences in the past)

. ti4-fong1 : place

. cin4 : quiet, calm

. ten2 : to bind up, involve, follow

(Dyl: ten2 should be cen2, but this sounds awkward, I would say gen1 : to follow)

+ Usages of voi4

(Dyl: also pronounce foi4)

voi4 is primarily for expressing possibility. It this can be used as an ability verb:

gi2 voi4 bi1, voi4 tiau4 : He can both fly and leap.

(Dyl: gi2 foi4 fui1, foi4 tiau2)

But it can also mean a simple future, where there is no ability implied in the given context.

gi2 voi4 loi2 : He will come.

(Dyl: gi2 foi4 loi2)

+ Usages of oi4

1. to love : gi2 oi4 sit6 ng2. He loves to eat fish.

2. must : gi2 oi4 hok6 ho3. He must learn to behave well.

3. to do often: zin1 oi4 lo6 yi3. (It) often rains.

Dialogue 16

c. ngi2 kon4! yi3 lok6 loi2 yo1. Look! It began to rain.

a. lok6-den3 an3 tai4. (It) rains very hard.

c. ngai2-den3-ngin2 yit5-ha4 zeu3 m2 det5. ngi2 zai4 yim3 yit5-bi1 ya1. We won't be able to walk for 

a while. Why don't you drink one more cup.

a. ngai2 siong3 zai4 sit6 yit5-kuai4 diam3-sim1. I want to eat one more piece of cake.

c. li3-kuai4 diam3-sim1 ngi2 sit6-da3 ngiong3-ban1? What do you think of this cake (after you ate 


a. yi4 ho3 sit6. Very delicious.

c. han2 m2-me4 mo2? ngai2 mi1-ci4 do4 li3-ye1 loi2 yit5-tin4 oi4 sit6-de4. True! Every time I come 

here, (I) never fail to eat it!

a. a3, yi3 tin2 ngio1-ngai2 oi4 zon3-hi4 lo1. Oh it has stopped raining. I've got to go home.

c. ngai2 ya1 oi4 zon3-hi4 lo1. tiam1-guong1-ngit5 han2 yiu1 gung1-ko1 ne1. I have to go home, too. 

I've have a class tomorrow.

a. do1-cia4 ngi2 na1. zai4-gian4. Thank you very much. Good-bye.

c. zai4-gian4! Good-bye!


. bi1 : cup, classifier-measure word for cups

(Dyl: bi1=bui1)

. -kuai4 (classifier for clods, lumps, etc.)

. diam3-sim1 : snack, cake

. m1-ci4 : every time

. tiam1-guong1-ngit5 : tomorrow

(Dyl: that should be tian1-guong1-ngit. It is tien1-gong1-ngit5 by other speakers)

. gung1-ko1 : class

(Dyl: actually this nowadays would mean school homework)

+ Suffix -det5 -det5 is normally used to form a group of verbs for mental activities: di1 : di1-det5 : to know siau3 : siau4-det5 : to understand (Dyl: siau3=hiau3) This suffix -det5 is clearly distinguished from the potential verb form we discussed earlier. The negative formative can never be moved to the post verbal position: ngai2 m2 di1-det5. I don't know. gi2 m2 siau3-det5 sia3 si4. He doesn't know how to write Chinese characters. (Dyl: gi2 m2 hiau3-det5 sia3 su4) but ngai2 zeu3 m2 det5. I cannot go (out) gi2 tang1 m2 det5. He can't hear.

+ Usages of zai4 zai4 is often translated as 'again'. This translation works well as long as two actions of the same actor are involved: zai4 gong3 yit5-ha4. Say (it) once more. where it is implied that the same actor 'said' already once before. However, zai4 can be used where two different actions are involved: sit6-de4 fan4, zai4 hi4 ho3 mo2? (First) eat rice, and (after that) go (out) all right? Thus the correct function of zai4 should be described as expressing one action done in addition to the preceeding one.

Dialogue 17

e. tien1 am4-me3 yo1. ngiong3-ban1 han2 m2 koi1 tien4-den1 na? It became dark. Why don't (you) turn 

on the light?

a. den1 koi1 m2 guong1, pa4-he4 den1-pau4 voi4 fai4 ye1. (I did, but it) isn't turned on; (I'm) 

afraid the filament has snapped.

e. von4 yit5-ge4 sin1-ne4 ya1. Exchange it for a new one.

a. von4-song1 nge1. ngi2 kon4 git6 guong1-ne4 ya1. Exchanged. Look, how bright it is.

e. ngi2 he4 m2 he4 heu1-ngit5 yiu1 kau3-si4 a1? yi4-pi4 ho3-ve3 mo2? Haven't you an exam the day 

after tomorrow? Have you prepared for it well?

a. yi4-pi4 he4 yi4-pi4 ye1, han2 yiu1 m2 min2-pak6 ge4 ti4-fong1. I prepared, indeed, but there are 

still parts I don't quite understand.

e. m2 min2-pak6 ge4 ti4-fong1 do1 m2 do1? Are there many parts you don't understand?

a. ya1 m2 son4 seu3. Not too few.

e. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 ngi2 yit5-tin4 kau3 m2 ho3 lo1. Then your exam will certainly be no good.

a. mo2 siong1-gon1, den3-ha4 yiu1 pen2-yiu1 loi2 bong1 ngai2. Never mind, pretty soon a friend of 

mine is coming to help me.


. am4 : dark, to become dark

. koi1 : to turn on (the electric light)

(Dyl: koi1=hoi1)

. tien4-den1 : electric lamp

. guong1 : to shine, bright

. pa4 : to be afraid, probably

. den1-pau4 : electric bulb

(Dyl: den1-pau4=den1-dam3 in some areas)

. voi4 : can, possibly

(Dyl: foi4)

. fai4 : to spoil, ruined

. von4 : to exchange, alter

. sin1 : new

. -song4 : to complete

(Dyl: -song4 does not mean to complete, it means 'up'. In the context of this sentence, it means

 that the bulb has been placed up, therefore the action has been completed, but it should include 

the ending particle -nge1 to make this phrase mean what it was translated as.)

. git6 : extremely

(Dyl: git6=git5 and functions similarly to the English adverb 'how', so git5-guong1 should be 

translated as "how bright (it is)".)

. heu1-ngit5 : the day after tomorrow

. kau3-si4 : examination, test, quiz

. yi4-pi4 : to prepare

. min2-pak6 : clear, apparent

. ti4-fong1 : part, place

. son4 : to estimate

. seu3 : few, little

. kau3 : to take examination

. siong1-gon1 : relationship, connection

. den3-ha4 : soon, to wait a while

. pen2-yiu1 : friend

. bong2 : to help, assist 

+ Usages of voi4

voi4 primarily expresses possibility, and it thus can be translated into potential form or the 

future tense as previously. However, we can give no precise translation to the following:

pa4 he4 den1-pau4 voi4 fai4 ye1. (I'm) afraid the filament may have snapped.

voi4 in the above  sentence merely presents the case as a possibility.

+ Usages of von4

The verb von4 means 'to change' as in:

ngi2 ko3-yi1 von4 sam1. You can change cloth([sic] Dyl: 'cloth' should be "clothes"]).

With the same Verb

+Object construction, it could also mean 'to change into (something)': von4 yit5-kian4 sin1 sam1. Change for a new cloth!(Dyl: [wrong!] Change a new piece of clothing)

+ Reduplicate concessive clause

Reduplicate concessive clauses in Hakka are normally construted with he4 (a copula) or ciu4 (namely) 

(Dyl: actually, this is an odd translation of ciu4, and would be better translated as 'although'):

ciang3 he4 ciang3-nge3, han2 mo2 loi2. Although (I) invited (him), he has not yet come.

ciang3 ciu4 ciang3-nge3, han2 mo2 loi2. Although (I) invited (him), he has not yet come.

(Dyl: nge3 derives from the perfective aspect particle -e3, and changed according to the ending of 

the previous syllable)

Dialogue 18

e. ngi2-nge3 pen2-yiu1 loi2 yo1. Your friend has come.

a. ciang3 ngi2 ham4 gi2 do4 gak5-ai4 loi2.  Would you please let him in here?

a. a3, ngi2 loi2-ye3. Oh, welcome.

f. ngai2 loi2-ye3. Oh, welcome!

a. ngai2 den3-den3 ngi2 ne1. gin1-bun1-ngit5 m2 me4 li1-bai4 sam1 mo2? kau3-si4 ciu4 coi1 

heu4-ngit5 lo1. I've been waiting for you. Today is Wednesday, right? (Our) exam is the day 

after tomorrow.

f. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 ngai2-den3-ngin2 sien1 yi4-pi4 yi4-pi4 ya1. ngai2 den3-ngin2 oi4 duk6-ge4 an3 

ko1 va1. Then, why don't we prepare first? There are many things we have a read.

a. li3 yit5-ton4 niong3-ban1 gong3 nga1? How do you understand this passage.

f. ngai2-den3-ngin2 na1 ci4-diam3 ca2 ca2. Let's check with the dictionary.


. ham4 : to call, let (someone do something)

. gak5-ai4 : here (-gak5-gai4)

. -den3 : (suffix for the continuative aspect)

. gin1-bun1-ngit5 : today

(Dyl: gin1-bun1-ngit5 = gin1-ngit5 )

. li1-bai4 : week

. li1-bai4 sam1 : Wednesday

. duk6 : to read, study

(Dyl: duk6 should ought to be tuk6.)

. ton4 : passage, study

. gong3 : to speak, understand, mean

. na1 : hold, with

. ci4-diam3 : dictionary

(Dyl: ci4-diam3=su4-dien3)

. ca2 : to check, examine

+ Days of a week

li1-bai4 or li1-bai4 ngit5 Sunday

li1-bai4 yit5              Monday

li1-bai4 ngi4              Tuesday

li1-bai4 sam1              Wednesday

li1-bai4 si4               Thursday

li1-bai4 ng3               Friday

li1-bai4 liuk5             Saturday

+ loi2-ye3

ngi2 loi2-ye3 which literally mean 'You have come' is used as a kind of greeting word, like 

English 'welcome' or 'hello'. The same phrase can be used bu the addressee, as well as by 

addressant; thus:

ngi2 loi2-ye3. Welcome (Dyl: literally 'you come (in)'

ngai2 loi2-ye3. Hello.

Dialogue 19

e. tiet5 yung4-gung1 nge1. du3-si3 ngo4-ve3 e1. ngi2 coi4 li3-ye yit5-ha4 sit6 fan4, ho3 m2 ho3? 

You worked very hard! (You) must be hungry. Why don't you eat here together, OK?

f. m2 si3 gi1-li1. Please don't trouble.

e. mo2 mak5-gai4 ho3 sit6 de4. (There) isn't anything delicious.

f. ngiong3-ban1 gan2-ngiong4 gong3 nga1? ngi2 li3 ye coi4 du1 ho3 sit6. Why (do you say like that)? 

Your (place's) dishes are all delicious.

a. ngi2 ou4 sit5 ng2, han2 ne4 oi4 sit6 ngiuk5? Which do you like (to eat) better, fish or meat?

f. ngai2 oi4 sit6 ngiuk5, ngi2 ne1? I like to eat meat; how about you?

a. ngai2 ya1 oi4 sit6 ngiuk5, tet6-piet6 oi4 sit6 ngiu2-ngiuk5. ngi2 zai4 sit6 yit5-von3 fan4 na1. 

I also like (to eat) meat -- particularly beef. Eat one more bowl of rice.

f. do1-cia4. ngai2 sit6-bau3-ve1 lo1. Thank you, but I ate enough.


. tiet5 : excessively, very much

. yung4-gung1 : to study

. du3-si3 : the stomach

(Dyl: du3-si3 is called du3-pat6 by other speakers)

. ngo4 : to be hunger

. sit6 : to eat

. fan4 : rice, meal

. gi1-li1 : courtesy, decorums

(Dyl: gi1-li1 may be replaced by hak5-hi4)

. ho3-sit6 : delicious

(Dyl: ho3=hau3)

. coi4 : dishes

. du1 : all, every

. ng2 : fish

. ngiuk5 : meat

. tet6-piet6 : especially, special

. ngiu2 : cattle

. -von3 : bowl (measure word)

. bau3 : satisfied, full

+ m2 si3 gi1 li1

literally means 'no need to use adhering to the propriety'

gi1-li1 is used like Mandarin ke4-qi4 (Dyl: =hak5-hi4) 'formality'.

Dialogue 20

a. li3-ye4 ca2 he4 pen2-yiu1 sung4-nge4. This tea was sent to me by my friend.

f. zung1-guet5 ca2 bi3 ngit5-bun3 ca2 siong1-det5 do1. Chinese tea is more fragrant than Japanese 


a. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 ng2 do1 yim3 yit5-bi1, li3-ye yiu1 gun3 se3. Then drink one more cup; here is 

hot water.

f. geu3 lo1, geu3 lo1. kau3-si4 van2-ne3 ngi2 da3-son4 do4 mak5-gai4 ti4-fong1 hi4 gau3 va1? I've 

had enough. After the exame, where do you plan to go to have fun?

a. ngai2 siong3 do4 siong1-ha4 hi4 hang2 yit5 hang2. I want to go to the countryside for a while.

f. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 sip6-fun1 ho3, ngai2 ya1 tung2 ngi2 yit5-ha4 hi4. That is very good. I'll go 

together with you.

[su1-yim1-gi1 : gin1-na bo4-go4 sim1-vun2... Radio: Now we'll present the news for you....]

f. ge4 m2 me4 guong3-bo1 sim-vun2 na1? Isn't that the news broadcast?

a. he4, mi1 am4-bu1 giu3-diam3 zung1 koi1-ci3. Yes, it starts at six every evening.

f. ya4-ve3 yo1, ngai2 oi4 zon3-hi4 yo1/ (It's) late; I have to go back.

a. ge4-gan2-ngiong4 ngai2-den3-ngin2 tiam1-guong1 ngit5 zai4-gian4. Then, see you tomorrow.


. sung4 : to send, to give

. zung1-guet5 : China

(Dyl: guet5=gok5)

. bi3 : to compare, in comparison

. ngit5-bun3 Japan

. siong1 : to be fragrant

(Dyl: siong1=hiong1)

. -bi1 : cup

(Dyl: -bi1=-bui1)

. gun3 : to boil

(Dyl: gun3 is replaced by bui4 in other Hakka dialect speakers)

. se3 : water

(Dyl: se3=sui3)

. geu3 : enough, satisfied

. van2 : to finish, complete

(Dyl: van2=yen2)

. da1-son4 : to plan

. gau3 : to play, amuse oneself, have fun

. siong1-ha4 : countryside

(Dyl: siong1-ha4 = hiong1-ha4)

. tung2 : together, and

. su1-yim1-gi1 : radio

. bo4-go4 : to report

(Dyl: bo4-go4 = bau4-gau4)

. sim1-vun2 : news

. guong3-bo1 : broadcast, to broadcast

. mi1 : every

(Dyl: mi1=mui1)

. am4-bu1 : evening, night

. koi1-ci3 : to start

(Dyl: koi1=hoi1)

. ya4 : to be late, become evening

+ Comparative construction

The comparative markers in Hakka are bi3, yiu1, and tung2:

ngai2 yiu1 ngi2 an3 go1. I am as tall as you (are)

(Dyl: go1=gau1 : tall also in examples below)

ngai2 bi3 ngi2 go1 sam1-cun4. I am taller than you three inches

ngai2 tung2 ngi2 yit5-yong4 go1. I am as tall as you are.

ngai2 gim1-bun1 ngit5 bi3 ngi2 co2-bun1-ngit5 han2 kioi4. Today I am more tired than you were 


(Dyl: co2-bun1-ngit5=cam4-bu1-ngit5 by other speakers.)

It is easy to see from these examples that bi3, yiu1 or tung2 is more than a preposition. We 

interpret the comparative construction as an embedding construction. As one of the degree adverbs, 

we assume the comparative formative COMP, which consists of the comparative marker COMM (bi3, yiu1, 

and tung2 an embedded S (the compared S), an intensifier (han2, gok5, etc.) and a measure phrase 

(sam1-cun5, etc.) COMP is counted as one of the degree adverbs. Even certain adverbs can take COMP, 

as long as they can take degree adverbs.


*ngai2 bi3 ngi2 loi2 yit5 diam3-zung1.

is ungrammatical, but the following is grammatical:

ngai2 bi3 ngi2 zo3 loi2 yit5 diam3-zung1 giu3. I came (here) one hour earlier than you.

(Dyl: Hashimoto's text is ngai2 bi3 ngi2 zo3 loi2 yit5 diam3-d:   which I presume ends in -dzuN1

 only, but I need to insert giu3 (length of time) to make the sentence work. zo3=zau3). 

Comparative marker   Intensifier

bi3                  han2, gok5 (Dyl: gok5=guo4)

yiu1                 an3

tung2                yit5-yong4

+ Double object

The basic construction for double object sentences in Hakka is as follows

*gi2 bun1 yit5-bun su1 bun1 ngai2. He gave me a book.

(Dyl: the above sentence is hypothetical to illustrate a grammar point, and the duplication of

 'bun1' hence the asterisk, bun1=bin1 here and below)

where the prepositional phrase bin1 ngai2 'to me' ( the preposition bun1 'to' plus ngai2 'I') 

constitutes an adverbial phrase. This bun1 should be clearly distinguished from the preceding bun1 

'to give' which is a full verb. Thus, this verb bun1 'to give' could be any other verb:

gi2 sung4 yit5-bun3 su1 bun1 ngai2. He sent me a book.

gi2 mai1 yit5-bun3 su1 bun1 ngai2. He bought me a book.

The direct object can be transposed to the preverbial position as in any other transitive verb 


gi2 yit5-bun3 su1 sung4 bun1 ngai2. He sent me a book.

gi2 yit5-bun3 su1 mai1 bun1 ngai2. He bought me a book.

Only in case we find two bun1's the verb bun1 and the preposition bun1, in succession, one is 

eliminated. Thus from gi2 bun1 yit5-bun su1 bun1 ngai2, we get the following

gi2 yit5-bun3 su1 bun1 ngai2. He gave me a book. 

If the preposition bun1 is deleted, what remains will become the type of word order we find in 

Cantonese double object sentences:

gi2 bun1 yit5-bun su1 ngai2. He gave me a book.

The direct object can also be put at the end of the sentence:

gi2 bun1 ngai2 yit5-bun3 su1. He gave me a book.

from gi2 yit5-bun3 su1 bin1-ngai2.

gi2 sung4 bun1 ngai2 yit5-bun1 su1. He sent me a book.

from: gi2 yit5-bun3 su1 sung4 bun1 ngai2, which is from gi2 sung4 yit5-bun3 su1 bun1 ngai2. 

The word order of these sentences is precisely what we find in Mandarin double object sentences.

The copyright on the original text belongs to the late Mantaro J. Hashimoto. The rest of the information provided by myself, and the romanisation may contain errors of transcription, for which I am responsible.

Hakga Index

© Dylan W.H. Sung

This page was created on Thursday 17th October 2002.
It was last modified on Monday 21st October 2002.