1st Thing To Learn When Travel In Penang

If you come from other countries or other states of Malaysia, particularly from southern and eastern site of Malaysia who able to speak Hokkien (a common tongue originating from Minnan region in China), you might get confuse at first when you hear on what the Penangites communicate! Is like the dialect you could only understand partially or, totally doesn’t understand what they talk about. This dialect is widely spoken not only by majority of the Penang’s Chinese community but also by some members of Penang’s Indian and Malay as well. Yes, learn the language are part of the fun activity during Penang tour.

Penang Hokkien is a subdialect of Zhangzhou China, over time, the language has changed after having some local flavour mixed into it including Malay and English, eventually grown into an entirely unique language on its own. Spoken widely in the north of Malaysia such as Penang, Kedah, Perlis and northern of Perak. Unlike like Southern Peninsula of Malaysia like Melaka & Johore which mostly resembles Taiwanese Hokkien. The Hokkien spoken are different strongly believe due to the original settlers came from different cities in Fujian province. The northern part the peninsula mainly came from Zhangzhou, whereas those on the southern part came from Quanzhou and Xiamen. For further detail of the history of the Penang Hokkien, you may get more materials from the internet like Wikipedia and the others.

Learn to speak when travel in Penang

penang hawker food tour


Penang travel

- learn to talk when order food from the hawker



Here I like to teach you few key words to learn when you travel to Penang so you can impress the locals.  Before that, same with mandarin, you need to aware that the Penang Hokkien also carry four tones (high, low, rising, high falling)

  1. Hello, how are you? – Har1 lo1, Lu4 Ho4 boh2?
  2. My name is Peter –Wa1 mia3 si3 Peter.
  3. And your name is? - Lu4 mia3 ha1mik1
  4. Nice to know you –Hua3hee4 but3 tiok1 lu4
  5. Thank you – Kam1siah33
  6. Have you taken your meal? – Lu1 ciak3 pa4 boey3?
  7. I have taken my meal – Wa1 ciak3 pa4 liao4? (“Liao” is like a tone to express you have done the thing/action)
  8. Delicious! – Ho1 chiak1 lo4!
  9. Let’s go! – Ki1 kia2 liao4!
  10. I am thirsty – Wa1 chui1 ta1
  11. How much? (asking about the price) – Gui1 Lui1
  12. I am not comfortable – Wa1 bo2 song4
  13. Crazy! – Kong3 Kam4 ar3! (“Ar” is like a tone to show annoyance/admiration)
  14. Superb / Marvellous – Keat3 ar3
  15. Where you going – Lu4 ki3 ta1 lok1
  16. Don’t know – Um3 zai1
  17. I know – Wa1 zai1


As I mentioned, there are some words translate from Malay, example like the below.

English – Hokkien (Malay)

  1. Bread – Lo3 ti1 (Roti)
  2. Coffee – Ko1 pi1 (Kopi)
  3. Damn it – Ji3 la3 ka3 (Celaka)
  4. Police – Ma1 ta2 (Mata-mata)
  5. Soap – Sa1 bun2 (Sabun, via Malay from Portuguese)
  6. Towel – Tua3 la1 (Tuala, via Malay from Portuguese)
  7. Toilet – Jam1 ban2 (Jamban)
  8. But – Ta3 pi4 (Tetapi)
  9. Marriage – Kaw3 in2 (Kahwin)
  10. Diamond – Ber3 len2 (Berlian)

While some words borrowed direct from English which you may express directly and the locals will understand. Such as

English - Hokkien

  1. Hello – Har1 lo1 
  2. Thank you – Tang1 kiu4
  3. Sorry – So1 ri4
  4. Excuse me – Aes3 kius1 mi4

Others like brake, pipe, pump and the others.

penang night market tour in Macallum road

Penang Tour - you may try to negotiate with the seller in the night market in local dialect.

Penang Tour

KIKIA provide online booking for private tour guiding service, charter car to make you travel with easy and fruitful.  I am more than happy to share more local dialect with you if you choose me as your preferred guide during tour in Penang.

Created at November 11 at 9:14 PM