Translating Penang Hokkien to English with ease

17 Aug 2016 / 12:23 H.

THE next time someone says, “lu an-chua?” (how are you?), you do not have to look puzzled – but reply with "ho" which means “good” in Hokkien.
You can thank Sunway University, which recently launched the Penang Hokkien – English Dictionary. This is the first dictionary of Penang Hokkien, a unique language which uses loan words from Malay and English, and covers over 12,000 entries.
The dictionary, designed to be user friendly to both Hokkien native speakers and learners, includes definitions of Hokkien words and phrases in English, as well as a separate glossary of English-Penang Hokkien to help the user find Hokkien words.
Developed by former Sunway University's Centre for English Studies (CEL) lecturer Tan Siew Imm, the dictionary aims to help maintain the Penang Hokkien dialect in the face of growing influence and use of Mandarin among various ethnic Chinese groups in Malaysia.
"I have seen situations, where a grandmother and a mother speak Hokkien among themselves, but when speaking with the child, they speak in Mandarin ... and a couple speaking Hokkien among themselves, but when they speak to their son, they converse in Mandarin.
“The number of youngsters speaking Hokkien is declining,” she said.
Tan added that the dictionary took about five years of research and development. The dictionary was funded by a research grant during Tan’s tenure with the university at CEL, and is published by the Sunway Education Group.
Penang Hokkien – English Dictionary can be obtained from the university.

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