Chng Kak Hwa

(Version in Hokkien)

Ch’ng Kak Hwa

Chow Bi Bi

Chow Lin Eh Tng Snuar Bo Liow Si

Oo Beh Pang Lai Khiar

Boe Beh Pang Lai Chay

Kim Hwa Tia

Kim Huah Tnia

Si Leh Lang Thai Gu

Pek Leh Lang Thai Eow

Philing Phalang Lang Chua Sin Neow

Sin Neow Hor Huay Sio

Knia Sai Puak Lo Kio

Chneh Mm How How Kio

How Mi lai

How Buek Chiak Tong Chai

Tong Chai Ar Buay Chu

How Buek Chiak Gniau Chu

Gniau Chu Ar Buey Thai

How Buek Chiak Ong Lai

Ong Lai Ar Buay Saik

How Buek Pek Chneo Paik

Puak Lok Lai

Khar Chnui Saik.

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(Version in English)

Fingernail Flower

Your fragrance is unbearable

There is no need to go back to your native land

There are horses in the stable

But no horses for us to ride

Golden flower

Ornamented bridal chamber

Golden flower ornamented wok

There are four baskets of slaughtered cows

And another eight baskets of slaughtered lambs

And a bustling preparation to welcome the bride

But the bride perished in a fire

And the groom jumps from the bridge

And the mother-in-law was seen grieving

Why was she grieving?

She grieves because of her craving for preserved vegetables

But the preserved vegetable hasn’t been prepared

She grieves because of her craving for mouse meat

But the mouse hasn’t been prepared

She grieves because of her craving for pineapples

But the pineapples is still not ripe

She grieves because she longs to climb over the other side

But she fell

Sustaining bruises on her buttocks.

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About this rhyme/ditty:~

Ch’ng Kak Hua, is a colloquial Hokkien term for ‘fingernail flower’ scientifically known as “Lawsonia Inermis”. This rhyme/ditty tells about a tragedy that befalls a certain marriage.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin…

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Chow Mek Kong

(1st Version in Hokkien)

Chow Mek Kong, Gau Chee Gu

Gu Ta Lok, Gu Beh Gin

Gin Ta Lok, Gin Chuar Bor

Bor Ta Lok, Bor Sneh Knia

Knia Ta Lok, Knia Sneh Soon

Soon Ta Lok, Soon Khnua Aak

Aak Ta Lok, Aak Sneh Nooi

Nooi Ta Lok, Nooi Chnia Lang Khek

Lang Khek Ta Lok, Lang Khek Pang Sai

Sai Ta Lok, Sai Ark Chai

Chai Ta Lok, Chai Keat Chee

Chee Ta Lok, Chee Chnua Eu

Eu Ta Lok, Eu Tiam Huay

Huay Ta Lok, Huay Hor Chau Mek Kong Pun Sit..

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(1st Version in English)

This old grasshopper is a good cowherd

So where is the cow? The cow had been sold for silver taels.

So where are the silver taels? The silver taels is being used as dowry for a wife.

So where is the wife? The wife has given birth.

So where is the child? The child had given birth to grandchildren.

Where are the grand children? The grand children are herding the ducks.

So where are the ducks? The ducks are laying eggs.

So where are the eggs? The eggs were offered to the guests.

And where are the guests? The guests are easing themselves.

So where are the nightsoil? The nightsoil are turned to manure.

And where are the vegetables? The vegetables started producing seeds.

So where are the seeds? The seeds were fried to extract oil.

So where is the oil? The oil was used to fuel fire.

So where is the fire? The fire was extinguished by the old grasshopper..

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(2nd Version in Hokkien)

Chow Mek Kong, Gau Chee Gu

Gu Beh Gin, Gin Chua Bor

Bor Sneh Knia, Knia Sneh Soon

Soon Khnua Aak, Aak Sneh Nooi

Chit Liap Chiak, Chit Liap Khng..

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(2nd Version in English)

This old grasshopper is a good cowherd

The cow sells silver, the silver got married

The wife gave birth, the child gave birth to grand children.

The grand children are looking at the ducks, the ducks are laying eggs.

One to be eaten, the other to be kept.

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About this rhyme:~

Chow Mek Kong means ‘ Old Grasshopper’ in Hokkien. This is a children’s verse alternating between questions and answers. It goes a full circle ending back to where it started the old grasshopper. I cannot tell you exactly for sure if this rhyme came from China but I know for sure that “Chau Mek Kong” is one ditty I grew up listening to. Most rhymes are lively and a lot of them are not as refined as we wish them to be. But these ditties gave us an identity and it seeks to remind us of the good old days and the sacrifices our ancestors has made to give us, the younger generation a footing towards a new dawn.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

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Hoay Kim Chneh

(1st Version in Hokkien)

Hoay Kim Chneh

Chap Goh Meh

Chnia Lin Eh Ku War Lai Lim Teh

Teh Sio Sio

Knia Lor Bay Kin Chio

Kin Chio Bey Ki Pek

Knia Lor Khi Bay Chek

Chek Bey Ki Thark

Knia Lor Khi Bay Or Bak

Or Bak Bey Ki Buar

Knia Lor Khi Bay Chuar

Chuar Bey Ki Liak

Knia Lor Khi Bay Kha Khiak

Kha Khiak Bey Ki Cheng

Knia Lor Khi Bay Ka Leng

Ka Leng Kang, Ka Leng Bo

Chnia Lin Eh Ku Wa Sio Ean Toh..

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(1st Version in English)

Fireflies

On the fifteenth night

Invite your in-laws to come over for tea

Tea is hot

Go buy some bananas

Bananas unpeeled

Go buy some books

Books unread

Go buy ink sticks

Ink sticks not grounded

Go buy snakes

Snakes not caught

Go buy some wooden clogs

Clogs unworn

Go buy some mynahs

Male mynahs, female mynahs,

Invite your in-laws for a wrestling match..

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(2nd Version in Hokkien)

Hoay Kim Chneh

Chap Goh Meh

Chnia Lu Eh Ku War Lai Chiak Teh

Teh Sio Sio

Knia Lor Bay Kin Chio

Kin Chio Bey Ki Pek

Knia Lor Bay Chek

Chek Bey Ki Thark

Knia Lor Bay Or Bak

Or Bak Bey Ki Buar

Knia Lor Bay Chuar

Chuar Bey Ki Liak

Knia Lor Bay Kha Khiak

Kha Khiak Bey Ki Cheng

Knia Lor Bay Ka Leng

Ka Leng Ko, Ka Leng So

Chnia Lu Eh Ku Wa Lai Thit Thoe

Thit Thoe Nyar

Chiak Kam Chiak

Kam Chiak Tnee

Chiak Lychee

Lychee Ang

Knia Sai Phar Tniau Lang

Tniau Lang Chow Khi Snua

Bay Bak Char Tu Knua

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(2nd Version in English)

Fireflies

On the fifteenth night

Invite your in-laws to come over for tea

Tea is hot

Go buy some bananas

Bananas unpeeled

Go buy some books

Books unread

Go buy ink sticks

Ink sticks not grounded

Go buy snakes

Snakes not caught

Go buy some wooden clogs

Clogs unworn

Go buy some mynahs

Male mynahs, female mynahs,

Invite your in-laws out to play

If you win, come have some sugar cane

Sugar cane is sweet

Come have some lychee

Lychees are red

Bridegroom beat in-laws

In-laws ran up to the hill

Buy some meat to fry with pork liver (a traditional Hokkien dish).

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(3rd Version in Hokkien)

Hoay Kim Chneh

Chap Goh Meh

Chnia Lu Ku War Lai Lim Teh

Teh Sio Sio

Bay Kin Chio

Kin Chio Chiak Bo Liow

Ah Ku Khi Puak Kiow

Kiow Su

Ah Ku Khi Liak Tu

Tu Chow

Ah Ku Khi Liak Kow

Kow Bui

Ehya Ehya Chay Tham Phui.

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(3rd Version in English)

Fireflies

On the fifteenth night

Invite your in-laws to come for tea

Tea is hot

Go buy some bananas

Couldn’t finish the bananas

Uncle went a-gamble

No luck in gambling

Uncle went pig catching

Pig ran

Uncle went dog catching

Dogs Bark

Dwarfs sits on the spittoon.

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About this rhyme/ditty:~

Hoay Kim Chneh is a ‘Hokkien’ word literally translated to mean ‘Fireflies’. However in another version, “Guek Kim Chneh” was used~ “Guek” meaning the moon and “Kim Chneh” , the stars and therefore, “Guek Kim Chneh, Chap Goh Meh”  were to mean “the moon and stars on the fifteenth night” which is also quite apt because the 15th night of Chinese New Year is an auspicious night where one gets to witness the full moon and stars lighting up the night sky! In the early days of the Chinese Settlers in Penang, Chinese of young or old will recite their favourite ditties to wile away their time while children especially will also dance to the beat and rhythm of the recital provided by two pieces of bamboo clanking against each other.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

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