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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is Hokkien My ‘Mother Tongue’? - Alfian Sa’at

Is Hokkien My 'Mother Tongue'? - Alfian Sa'at - A most enlightening article written by the famous poet and a whole string of interesting discussions.
 

Is Hokkien My 'Mother Tongue'?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009, 5:58 pm | 2,734 views

Alfian Sa'at

A long time ago, a Chinese man saw some Malays eating a fruit. It had a spiky shell, but its insides were filled with large seeds covered by yellow, buttery flesh. He had never seen (nor smelt!) a fruit like it before, in his native village in Fujian. He asked them what the fruit was called.

'Durian', they replied. This was from the Malay word for duri, which means 'thorn'. And so the Chinese man went back and told his friends about this new fruit. As the word spread, it became incorporated into the Hokkien vocabulary as loo lian.

Then one day, a new fruit made its appearance, native to South America, possibly brought in by colonial travelers. It was also green, with a spiky exterior. In English, it was known as 'soursop'.

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