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Commonly used colloquial sounds/ words

Shi Tong

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I was just pottering around on here and came across streaming internet radio, and also a placed called (I think) London Chinese Radio, or something like that.

Anyway, point is that there was a woman and a man speaking, the woman sounded more southern, and the man a little more northern, I thought the woman might be of Taiwanese origin, but couldn't be too sure.

Then something happened- she said "ho"... something which phonetically sounds like: ㄏㄛ(fourth tone).

Now I thought that this little word was a "fujianhua" word, because this is something I've heard in Taiwan a lot. It's like an end particle which means "do you agree?". I found it quite a surprise because I thought this was "strictly" a Chinese station, but of course, it depends on how many people understand this "word" and where and how often it's used coloquially?

Does anyone know what this word is, and how widely it's used?

Does anyone have more unusual coloquial words which people always use, which come from non Mandarin, but are used by fluent Mandarin/ mothertongue Mandarin speakers?

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Is it 'ho' as in santa hohoho or 'hoh/hohr/hor' that's used at the end of sentence by fujiannese speakers? I think this fits your description .

It's a particle in the same vein of 吧,啊,嘛,啦 etc

It would be the equivalent of xxxxxxxxx, right? 'hor'='right?'

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Does anyone know what this word is, and how widely it's used?

It is used in Cantonese as well and pronounced as "ho" ("haw") with a rising tone in Hong Kong. I think should be widely understood in southern China. I have seen it written informally as 呵 and「可」.

Edited by sebhk
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It is a Hokkien particle that has found its way into some people's Mandarin. The people are not necessarily native Hokkien speakers either, the person who I know uses it most was a native speaker of Atayal, not Taiwanese, and she used it even to break up sentences. It's kind of like "isn't it?" asking for agreement or confirmation.

Actually it's nasalised as well, ho'N - and it doesn't really have a character. You could write it with that Cantonese character, but the ho sound for the element 可 (without an initial k ) is specific to Cantonese. So the character 呵 doesn't really fit with the sound system of Hokkien - it would be read kho.

這樣可以,ho'N? It's fine to do it like this isn't it?

你明天去,ho'N? You're going tomorrow aren't you?

你是台中來的,ho'N? You're from Taichung aren't you?

Then sometimes it seems just put in anywhere in the sentence, like "yaknowwhaddamsayin?"

我昨天ho'N, 跟阿華去看電影 "Yesterday I went to the movies with Ah-hua"

Maybe here it's just making sure the other person is listening!

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So the character 呵 doesn't really fit with the sound system of Hokkien - it would be read kho.

I'll correct myself here before someone else does...

Seems like the character 呵 has an initial h- in Mandarin too, not just Cantonese. No nasal, though.

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I did think it probably had a nasal element to it, which seems relatively odd to most Mandarin speakers who aren't familiar with Fujianhua.

It is very useful though.

我昨天ho'N, 跟阿華去看電影.. I think this is almost as a hesitation particle too, and I've heard this kind of sentence.. it's similar to a kind of English sentence as such:

"Yesterday.. erm.. I went to see a film with ahua"

Or it's to emphasise the fact it was yesterday.. or, as you said, to make sure the person is listening:

"Yesterday-- oi-- I went to see a film with ahua".

Either way, I like this particle and I've used it loads.. still do! :D


Just thought of another couple of really nice little particles which I'm interested in. One of these is "oh".. and you can use it in the same place is the ho'N above.. (我昨天oh.. 跟阿華去看電影) This is like a hesitation particle because it's usually in responce to asking someone a question like so:


我昨天oh.. think think.. trying to remember.. 跟阿華去看電影

The other is "wa(4)!" pronounced as the pinyin on the left.. this means "wow!!".

Where do these little treasures come from? :)

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Hello Calibre, are you talking about the bit where they suddenly speak a bit of Taiwanese at about this point?

I'm not sure I hear the "heh" bit.. I'll have to listen a few more times!! :D

No no when I say Taiwanese I don't mean taiwan people not 閩南話.

It's at 3:29, the host goes 'hhhhehh...'

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  • 9 months later...

I hear this all the time. I don't think it's just a southern thing -- I've run into plenty of Mandarin speakers who will add a "haw" or "huh" to the end of what they say, I guess for emphasis (我过去哈,咱们开始吃哈, etc). It's weird, because while things like 啊 and 咯 and even 耶 get recorded, this one never does. It seems like it should be 哈, though it could be 呵...it doesn't really sound like either, to be honest. Could even be 噢. That link above is just about it.

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