Ep08: $10K Red Envelope | Âng-pau pau tsi̍t-bān 紅包包一萬

Bite-size Taiwanese - Cover Art - Newbie - 2500x2500
Bite-size Taiwanese | Newbie
Ep08: $10K Red Envelope | Âng-pau pau tsi̍t-bān 紅包包一萬

In this episode, we’ve learned some higher numbers in Taiwanese and talked about the “red envelope” and weddings. Also, earlier this year, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage!

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

Let’s take a look at the numbers between 100 and 10,000:

tsi̍t-pah nn̄g-pah sann-pah sì-pah gōo-pah
100 200 300 400 500
la̍k-pah tshit-pah peh-pah káu-pah tsi̍t-tshing
600 700 800 900 1,000
tsi̍t-tshing nn̄g-tshing sann-tshing sì-tshing gōo-tshing
1,000 2,000 3,000 4,000 5,000
la̍k-tshing tshit-tshing peh-tshing káu-tshing tsi̍t-bān
6,000 7,000 8,000 9,000 10,000

*Syllables that require tone changes have been greyed out.

For numbers higher than “ten thousand”, there is a new term for every four places in Taiwanese. In contrast, in the western numbering system, it’s based on every 1000, or every three places:

tsi̍t-bān tsa̍p-bān tsi̍t-pah-bān tsi̍t-tshing-bān tsi̍t-ik
Taiwanese 1 0000 10 0000 100 0000 1000 0000 1 0000 0000
English 10,000 100,000 1,000,000 10,000,000 100,000,000

Here are some numbers mentioned in this episode:

tsi̍t-tshing tsi̍t-pah = tshing-it 1,100
nn̄g-tshing nn̄g-pah = nn̄g-tshing- 2,200

20 0000

200 thousand

(the estimate number of people who attended Taiwan Pride on Oct 26, 2019)

nn̄g-tshing sann-pah-bān

2 300 0000

23 million

(the population of Taiwan)

la̍k-tsa̍p-káu-bān peh-tshing la̍k-pah-káu-tsa̍p-

69 8694


(the National Palace Museum in Taiwan has a collection of 698,694 pieces of art and historic work)

âng-pau red envelope
khoo dollar(s)
pān-toh Literally “arrange a table” or “prepare a table”

Culture note:pān-toh” is a traditional Taiwanese banquet held outdoors usually in a covered tent with lots of round tables of 10 or 12. Also, called a “roadside banquet“. People might “pān-toh” for all sorts of occasions like funerals, birthdays of local gods, company year-end events, or weddings. A lot of traditional Taiwanese cuisine originated from the “roadside banquet” dishes.

toh table

The amount to be put into the red envelope for weddings can be complicated. Here is a quick guideline for you:

  1. Avoid 4s because it sounds similar to “death” (), and avoid odd digits like 1, 3, 5, 7, 9.
  2. The first two digits ideally should end in 2, 6 or 8 for good luck.
  3. Some people avoid 8 because it sounds like “to leave” (pia̍t), but others think it’s lucky because it’s similar to “to become rich” or “to flourish” (huat).
  4. Try to get a rough table price of the restaurant you are going. Divide the number by 10 so you get the price per person. Your red envelope has to be more than that number (e.g. double the amount).
  5. The amount also depends on how close you are to the couple, did you bring a plus one (or your family), are you more senior to the couple (in which case you would contribute more), and so on.

Below are some more widely acceptable amounts:

1,200 tshing-= tsi̍t-tshing nn̄g-pah

1,600 tshing-la̍k = tsi̍t-tshing la̍k-pah

2,000 nn̄g-tshing

2,600 nn̄g-tshing-la̍k = nn̄g-tshing la̍k-pah

3,200 sann-tshing-= sann-tshing nn̄g-pah

3,600 sann-tshing-la̍k = sann-tshing la̍k-pah

6,000 la̍k-tshing

6,600 la̍k-tshing-la̍k = la̍k-tshing la̍k-pah

For additional vocabulary with characters, pronunciation notes, grammar explanations, culture tips, and fun exercises to help your practice, go check out our downloadable workbook!

Music Credit: TeknoAXE

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