Ep05: Where are you from? | Lí tó-uī-á ê lâng 你佗位仔的人?

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Bite-size Taiwanese | Elementary
Ep05: Where are you from? | Lí tó-uī-á ê lâng 你佗位仔的人?

In this episode, we’ve learned several ways to talk about identity.

(These show notes use tables and rich formatting. Please visit the episode webpage for an optimal viewing experience.) 

Tsioh-mn̄g, lí tó-uī lâng? Excuse me, where are you from?
Tshiánn-mn̄g, lí sī tó-uī-á ê lâng? May I ask, where are you from?
Guá sī Bí-kok-lâng. I’m American.
Bí-kok The United States of America
Tâi-kiâu overseas Taiwanese (some people also casually use “Tâi-kiâu” to refer to the 2nd and later generations)
Guá tuì Ka-ná-tāi lâi--ê. I come from Canada.
Tān-sī guá sī Ing-kok-lâng. But I’m British.
Guá tī Tâi-uân tshut-sì. I was born in Taiwan.
tshut- to be born
Guá tī Ò-tsiu tuā-hàn. I grew up in Australia.
tuā-hàn to grow up; older in age; to have a large physique
Guán tau tuà (tī) Sydney I live in Sydney; My home is in Sydney.
tau one’s home, family or place

*Syllables requiring tone changes have been greyed out.


You may have noticed that sometimes we put the location before the verb, and sometimes after the verb.

1) Before the verb: as a backdrop for the main action

e.g. Guá Tâi-pak tuā-hàn.
I in Taipei grew up

Most of the time, this “location phrase” is placed before the verb. You can think of the location as the backdrop for the main action, e.g. “to grow up”. If you took out the location, you should still have a sentence that makes sense.

2) After the verb: position, movement, or placement
In some situations, the location comes after the verb. There are certain verbs that have to do with position, movement, or placement, where you need to include the location to have a complete meaning.

e.g. Guá tuà () Tâi-pak.
I reside in Taipei

If you just said, “I reside...”, “I live in…” or “I’m staying in...” it feels like you’re lacking something. Those verbs often need a location with it to feel complete. Especially if there is no other object in the sentence, the focus or main information is really the location. In those cases, the location would come after the verb.

For more examples of this grammar point, or to learn how to say other countries and nationalities, check out our workbook. The workbook also gives you some more culture and grammar explanations, and great exercises to reinforce what you’ve learned in this episode.


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 a saying related to the word “tuā-hàn” (to grow up):

Sè-hàn thau bán pû, tuā-hàn thau khan

This Taiwanese saying literally means: “If a person harvests someone else’s gourds when little, then he’ll lead away someone else’s cow when grown-up.”

People use this phrase to emphasize how important it is to teach children good habits, otherwise, bad habits may become more serious when they grow up. Let’s break down the sentence:

sè-hàn / suè-hàn not grown up; younger; physically small
tuā-hàn to grow up; older; to have a big physique
thau to steal; secretly, stealthily
bán to pick (fruits, vegetables); to pull (teeth)
khan to pull; to lead

Music Credit: TeknoAXE

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