In this episode, we’ve learned several ways to introduce oneself and to ask for someone’s name.
(These show notes use tables and rich formatting. Please visit the episode webpage for an optimal viewing experience.)
|Lí hó, guá sī ...||Hi, I am…|
|Guá sènn ...||My surname is…
Culture note: in Taiwanese it’s not uncommon to introduce yourself using only the surname.
|sènn||family name, surname; to be surnamed|
|Guá sènn … , (miâ) kiò-tsò ...||My full name is...
(literally: My surname is..., my name is…)
|miâ||given name; name|
|kiò-tsò||to be called|
|Tshiánn-mn̄g, lí sī siánn-lâng?||May I ask who you are?|
|tshiánn-mn̄g||May I ask; could you please tell me|
|Lí kiò-tsò siánn-mih miâ?||What is your name/full name?
(literally: you are called what name?)
|Lí kuì-sènn?||What is your surname?
Usage note: “Lí kuì-sènn?” is more formal and polite than “Lí kiò-tsò siánn-mih miâ?”. To answer this question, you can give only your surname or your full name if necessary.
|kuì||expensive; as an honorific in “kuì sènn”|
*Syllables requiring tone changes have been greyed out.
In Taiwanese culture, there seems to be a stronger emphasis on family over the individual than in English and some Western cultures. Here are a few cultural differences:
- When Taiwanese people say their full names, the surname comes first and the given name last.
- In English, people often just use their given names even in formal settings. In Taiwanese, it’s usually better to include your surname. Using only the given name may sound very casual or informal.
- It’s more polite to ask for someone’s name by asking “lí kuì sènn?” (what is your surname?). It’s also not uncommon to use only the surname and say “guá sènn Tân” (I’m surnamed Tan). In fact, in most formal and business situations, it is more common to exchange only the surnames and only ask for the given name later if necessary.
Here are the top 10 most common surnames in Taiwan, which make up about 50% of the population (Ministry of the Interior, 2016):
|RANK||SURNAME||% OF POPULATION WITH SURNAME|
Now you know how to say the surnames of half of the Taiwanese people!
“A-” is a prefix to address people as a term of endearment, which is the same used for “a-kong” (grandpa) and “a-má” (grandma), “a-bú” (mom), and “a-pah” (dad). Most Taiwanese people have 2-syllable given names and you can put an “A-” before one of the syllables to form a nickname, like “A-tîng”, “A-iông” or “A-tsì”.
Another common term of endearment is the diminutive suffix “--á”. It’s like in English when you change a name from Edward to Ed or Eddie, or Deborah to Deb or Debbie. You can just attach the suffix “--á”, to one of the syllables of the given name. You might also hear people use both the “A-” prefix and “--á” suffix, e.g. “A-iông--á”.
For all those overachievers out there, we will try to throw in a little something each episode that is a bit more challenging.
The One Bite Challenge for this episode is:
“Tshiánn-mn̄g, lán án-tsuánn tshing-hoo?”
May I ask, how should I address you?
“Guá sī Phil Lin. Lí ē-sái kiò guá Phil tō hó.”
I’m Phil Lin. You can just call me Phil.
|lán||you and I, we/us, including the listener. It’s used as a polite and indirect way to say “you” in this context.|
|Guán||we/us, excluding the listener|
|tshing-hoo||title, appellation; to be addressed, to be called|
|ē-sái||can; may, to be allowed to|
|… tiō hó / tō hó||just … is fine; it’s good to just ...|
“Lán” means “you and I”, or the so-called “inclusive we”, which is different from “guán”, or the “exclusive we”. It’s like “Lán lâi-khì...”, which is often used as an invitation: “let’s go (to)...” In some cases, using “inclusive we” to say “you” is a way to bring the listener and the speaker closer. So “lán án-tsuánn tshing-hoo?” has the feeling that what I use to call you is not just something I want, but something that “we” both agree to.
For more ways to introduce yourself, be sure to check out our downloadable workbook.
Music Credit: TeknoAXE