Hokkien and English/Contrastive Grammar

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Ten Sentences

1. I chit-má bô teh tha̍k Gô-bûn--ah. He is no longer studying Russian.

2. Hit chhut tiān-iá góa jú lâi jú siu-beh khòa. I would like to see that movie more and more.

3. Lí kám ē-tàng kā chit kóa Ing-pōng ōa-chò Bí-kim? Can you change these British pounds into American dollars?

4. Góa kin-á-jı̍t ê kong-khò í-keng ôan-sêng--ah. I’ve already finished today’s homework.

5. Gín-á ài àn sè-hàn khai-sí chiah ē-tàng ióng-sêng hó sı̍p-kòan. Successfully raising children with good habits must begin when they are young.

6. Góa jú lâi jú kah-ì lí ê pêng-iú. I like your friend more and more.

7. Ha̍k-seng chheh the̍h--leh. The students are holding their books.

8. Àm-tǹg chia̍h liáu, góa ū teh lim tê. I drink tea after dinner.

9. Chúi-chi-teng àn chhù-téng tiàu--leh. Crystal lights are hanging from the ceiling.

10. I tī chhia thâu-chêng khiā-leh. She is standing in front of the car.

11. Âng-e-á ū teh kóng ōe! The baby is talking!

12. Mn̂g lóng koaiⁿ--leh. All the doors are closed.

Differences

1. In Hokkien, when a verb signals a new state or situation, the anterior aspect marker 矣 -- ah is added to the end of the clause or sentence. However, English does not have such an aspect marker.

  • (nan) I chit-má bô teh tha̍k Gô-bûn--ah. → (eng) He is no longer studying Russian.
    (nan) I<prn> chit-má<adv><prn> teh <v> tha̍k<v> Gô-bûn<n> ah<det> → (eng) He<prn> is<v> no<det> longer<adv> studying<v> Russian<n>
  • (nan) Góa kin-á-jı̍t ê kong-khò í-keng ôan-sêng--ah. → (eng) I've already finished today's homework
    (nan) Góa<n> kin-á-jı̍t<adj> ê<det> kong-khò<n> í-keng<adv> ôan-sêng<v> ah<det> → (eng) I've<n> already<adv> finished<v> today's<adj> homework<n>


2. In Hokkien, adverbs occur before verbs, while in English, adverbs can occur after or before verbs.

  • (nan) Hit chhut tiān-iá góa jú-lâi-jú siu-beh khòa. → (eng) I would like to see that movie more and more.
    (nan) Hit chhut<det> tiān-iá<n> góa<prn> jú-lâi-jú<adv> siu-beh<v> khòa<v> → (eng) I<prn> would<v> like<v> to<pr> see<v> that<det> movie<n> more and more<adv>
  • (nan) Góa jú-lâi-jú kah-ì lí ê pêng-iú. → (eng) I like your friend more and more.
    (nan) Góa<prn> jú-lâi-jú<adv> kah-ì<v><prn> ê<det> pêng-iú<n> → (eng) I<prn> like<v> your<prn> friend<n> more and more<adv>


3. To emphasize that an action is occurring in the present, the dynamic continuous aspect marker 咧 teh is used in conjunction with 有 ū in Hokkien, however English doesn't.

  • (nan) Àm-tǹg chia̍h liáu, góa ū teh lim tê. → (eng) I drink tea after dinner.
    (nan) Àm-tǹg<n> chia̍h liáu<adv> góa<prn> ū teh<det> lim<v><n> → (eng) I<prn> drink<v> tea<n> after<adv> dinner<n>
  • (nan) Âng-e-á ū teh kóng ōe! → (eng) The baby is talking!
    (nan) Âng-e-á<n> ū teh<det> kóng<v> ōe<det> → (eng) The<det> baby<n> is<v> talking<v>


4. The verb suffix leh, which emphasizes an action that is in a persistent state or condition, exists in Hokkien but not in English.

  • (nan) Chúi-chi-teng àn chhù-téng tiàu--leh. → (eng) Crystal lights are hanging from the ceiling.
    (nan) Chúi-chi-teng<n> àn<v> chhù-téng<n> tiàu<v> leh<det> → (eng) Crystal<n> lights<n> are<v> hanging<v> from<pr> the<det> ceiling<n>
  • (nan) I tī chhia thâu-chêng khiā-leh. → (eng) She is standing in front of the car.
    (nan) I<prn><v> chhia<n> thâu<pr> chêng<n> khiā<v> leh<det> → (eng) She<prn> is<v> standing<v> in<pr> front<n> of<pr> the<det> car<n>


5. English uses an article, the, while Hokkien doesn't.

  • (nan) Ha̍k-seng chheh the̍h--leh. → (eng) The students are holding their books.
    (nan) Ha̍k-seng<n> chheh<n> the̍h<v> leh<det> → (eng) The<det> students<n> are<v> holding<v> their<prn> books<n>
  • (nan) Mn̂g lóng koai--leh. → (eng) All the doors are closed.
    (nan) Mn̂g<n> lóng<adv> koai<v> leh<det> → (eng) All<adv> the<det> doors<n> are<v> closed<v>