Zung Ga Ma

A Zung Ga Ma is thought to be the Sloth. Sloths are very hairy creatures, with an almost human appearance with incredibly long claws that live in trees, giving this animal its aura of superstition. Though in real life it is a very slow creature, in Hakka myth it is a children eating monster. It is a crafty and yet dumb creature, if you read the following story, you'll realise why. Basically, kids should not talk to strangers, especially if you have an inkling that they are likely to eat you!

Pronunciation Table
Kiu tin si yiu liong tsi moi he la gia jia po Once upon a time there were two young sister who were going to visit their grandmother, or nanna.
Ban lu ngi dau tsak zung ga ma. Half way there, they met a Zung Ga Ma or a Sloth
Ai zung ga ma mun ai liong tsi moi The sloth asked the two girls
Ngia liong tsak ngin he lai vui o? Where are you two going?
Nga liong tsi moi he la nga jia po o We two sisters are going to visit our nanna.
Ngia jia po mak gai zong ai o What does your nanna look like?
Jia po ai ha ngang yiu tsak tden lo pi ai o Nanna has a mole (lit. snail shell) on her chin
Ai zung ga ma tdang dau me bu dai boi toi ai ho lak ben la dao tsak tden lo hok, ngiam ai ha ngang gok hi. When the Sloth heard this it bent over the stream and picked up a fragment of snail shell and stuck it onto her chin.
Ngai he ngia jia po o, kai di loi, ngai dai ngia liong tsak ngin tson vuk ka. I am your nanna! Quickly come, I'll take you both to my home
Ai man, ai zung ga ma tsu dau hau do dung si bin giar liong tsi moi sit That evening, the Sloth cooked many dishes of food for the two sisters to eat
La ngin sit bau sen yiu tdung ngai soi min tong tdiu, ai zung ga ma ham Whoever finishes first can sleep at the head of the bed with me, said the Sloth
Ai tdai ai moi tsai di dau gi he zung ga ma man man sit fan o The older girl knew that this was a Sloth so she ate slowly
Ai se ai lau moi sit bau sen. So the younger sister finished first
Ai man za ai tdai ai moi tsai soi min to mui, ai se ai moi tsai tdung ai zung ga ma soi min tong tdiu. That night the older girl slept at the bottom end of the bed and the younger girl slept at the head of the bed with the Sloth
Ban za ai zung ga ma si si sa sa sit hoi ai moi tsai ai lau moi. In the middle of the night, the sloth ate the younger girl noisily
Ai tdai moi tsai gam kong. The older girl was really afraid now
A jia po, ngai si tut o, Nanna, I want to do a poo-poo
Me hi ai tsau gung ten ai o Well, go to the fireplace then
Em hau, tsau gung ten yiu tsau gung, ngai em hi ai o No, the fireplace has the hearth spirit, I shall not poo there.
Me hi ai mun sin ai vui o, Then go to the door then
Em hau, mun sin ai vui yiu mun sin gung o, ngai em hi ai o No, the door has the door guardian spirits, I shall not poo there
Me hi ai tdi tsu za ai vui o, Then go to the floor over there,
Em hau, tdi tsu ai vui yiu tdi tsu za, ngai em hi ai o No, the floor over there has the floor spirit, I shall not poo there
An nung ngi hi lai o a? Then where do you want to poo then?
Ngai tut hi o si jia po, ngai chiu tson o. I shall go out side, nanna, and shall be back soon
Ai moi tsai mui mui kai kai tsak ai mun fui ai tut, hem den The girl rushed out the door and shouted
Zung ga ma, zung ga tsi, sit hoi nga moi, tsa em di Sloth, stupid sloth, you ate my little sister and pretended otherwise!
Ai zung ga ma tdang dau me tsui den hi. The Sloth heard this and chased after her
Ai moi tsai pa song su he, ai zung ga ma diak den song. The girl climbed into a tree and the Sloth chased her up there
Ai moi tsai toi gia sam tdoi la tut ba so tsai loi The girl took a comb out of her pocket
Jia po, ngai tdung ngi so mau Nanna, I would like to comb your hair
Ai zung ga ma di dau ai moi tsai tsiu em lot me bin gi so gia ai mau The sloth knowing that the girl could not escape let her comb its hair.
Ai moi tsai zit so zit su mau, tdau ai su hi, so so ha, ai zung ga ma bin gi tdau ai su ai vui vun vun. The girl brushed and with each stroke, she tied the hair to the tree branches. After a while, the Sloth was well and truly tied to the tree
Ai moi tsai tdiau ai ha, pau pau fui fui mui mui giak giak jiu, hem den The girl jumped down and ran as fast as she could shouting
Zung ga ma, zung ga tsi, sit hoi nga moi, tsa em di Sloth, stupid sloth, you ate my little sister and pretended otherwise!
Fui dau gi ngi dau tsak lau go la ba to toi ban lu la tden She ran until she met a man halfway with a shovel going to work in the paddy fields
Ai zung ga ma toi ai su tdau den mang mang ha gia mau bin gi ti ga bang chiu lot hoi. The Sloth by now was pulling itself so hard that all its hair had been torn from its scalp
Sang tsak tdiu tsu het tsit tsit, diak den ai moi tsai hi It was all bloody but it chased after the girl
Tsui tsui ha ngi dau ai la tden ai lau go, It chased until it met the field worker
Ai ya, nga tdiu an nung zong liau men hau o Oh what shall I do to sooth my scalp?
Ai la tdien ai lau go me ham, toi ai ho lak sui lem ha gi a The field worker then told it to dip its head into the stream to soothe it
Ai zung ga ma me tdang gi ham, tui dai ai ho lak he. La tden ai lau go zi to diu he da si ai zung ga ma. The Sloth believed him and bent down to the stream. The man picked up his shovel and killed the Sloth
Ai lau go sung ai moi tsai tson gia vuk ka The man took the girl back to her home
Tden gong tsau sin ai lau go he la tden kon dau tam man ngit ai zung ga ma toi ai ho lak ben ben hoi zit doi fu ki The next day when the field worker went to his fields, he saw that where the Sloth had been beside the stream yesterday, it had turned into a pile of leeches
Dau gin na, ai lau ngin tsui foi gong, ai fu ki he zung ga ma ben Since then, old folks have always said that leeches are made from Sloths

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This page was created on Wednesday 22 October 1997.

© Dylan W.H.S. 1996-1997

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