Ep14: End-of-Year Party | Tsia̍h bué-gê 食尾牙

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Bite-size Taiwanese | Elementary
Ep14: End-of-Year Party | Tsia̍h bué-gê 食尾牙

In this episode we’ve talked about the traditions and food that are associated with the end-of-year party held by most workplaces in Taiwan.

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


bué- end-of-year party for workplaces; also refers to the last offering of the year to the land god
tsia̍h bué- To celebrate the end-of-year party
thiu-tsióng a raffle or lottery for prizes
kuè- Lunar New Year holiday
sing-lí-lâng merchants or business people
Thóo-tī-kong the land god (Lord of the Soil and the Ground)
tsò- a ritual offering to the land god every 2nd and 16th of each month in the lunar calendar
thâu- the first offering of the year to the land god
lūn-piánn / lūn-piánn-kauh a fresh spring roll filled with cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, shredded pork, firm tofu, cilantro, and peanut powder
ko-lê-tshài cabbage
âng-tshài-thâu / li̋n-jín carrot
tāu-tshài bean sprouts
bah-si shredded pork
tāu-kuann firm tofu
iân-sui cilantro
thôo-tāu-hu peanut powder
pak-pōo the northern region
tiong-pōo the central region
lâm-pōo the southern region
Tshing-bîng Tomb-Sweeping or Ancestor’s Day
kuah-pau A half-moon-shaped steamed bun filled with pork belly, pickled mustard greens, cilantro, and peanut powder, also known as a “pork belly bun” or “Taiwanese Hamburger”.
It is also sometimes referred to as hóo-kā-ti “tiger bites pig” because the bun resembles a mouth biting the piece of pork.
sam-tsân-bah a thick slice of pork belly
kiâm-tshài pickled mustard greens
tsînn-tē-á a wallet
pe̍h-sa̍h-ke / pe̍h-tsām-kue a dish of chopped boiled chicken

Culture note: Traditionally, a dish of chopped boiled chicken was served with the head of the chicken pointing to a specific employee meaning that the employee would be fired. It was an indirect tactic to show that the employer is unhappy with the performance of the employee but doesn’t want to say it directly.

nî-siúnn-kim year-end bonus
thâu-tsióng top prize
sî thâu-lōo to resign, to quit
khì hōo lâng sî thâu-lōo to be fired
sing-kuann to be promoted
thiann-kóng… / thiann lâng kóng... I’ve heard…. / I’ve heard people say...
siūnn kóng to think that...
siá kóng to write/read that...
Ū lâng kā guá kóng Somebody told me that...

*Syllables that have been greyed out require a tone change

To learn more about the end-of-year party and related words in Taiwan, check out our workbook. It gives you some additional vocabulary, culture and grammar explanations, and great exercises to reinforce what you’ve learned in this episode.


When reporting what others (or yourself) have said, you can use direct or indirect speech. Direct speech uses the exact words of what someone has said. For example,

My brother said, “Taking the subway after 11pm is dangerous”.

On the other hand, indirect speech paraphrases and focuses on communicating the gist of what has been said. For example,

My brother told me that the subway is dangerous late at night.

Note for indirect speech, we can use “that” to set off what has been said, but this can also be left out when talking informally. For example,

My brother told me the subway is dangerous late at night.

Here are 3 ways to use indirect speech to report what has been said:


In Taiwanese, for the verb kóng (to say), there’s no need to use a word like “that” to set off the reported speech. Instead, a slight pause is given between kóng and the reported speech. Note that the tone of the verb kóng changes to the first tone.

I kóng... in kong-si nî-siúnn-kim sī sann kò gue̍h.”
“She said the year-end bonus of her company is 3 months’ salary”


Another way to report indirect speech is to not specify whom you’ve heard it from. You can use the expression, thiann-kóng..., or thiann-lâng-kóng, basically “I’ve heard…” or “I’ve heard people say”...

Guá thiann-kóng i āu kò gue̍h ē khì hōo lâng sî thâu-lōo.”

“I’ve heard that he will be fired next month.”


Here’s another common phrase used to report indirect speech that leaves out who exactly told you the information: Ū lâng kā guá kóng... “Somebody told me…”

Ū lâng kā guá kóng lí kin-ē sing-kuann.”

“Someone told me that you will be promoted this year.”

To learn more about this grammar point, check out our workbook. It also gives you some additional vocabulary, culture and grammar explanations, and great exercises to reinforce what you’ve learned in this episode.


Our One Bite Challenge this week is a saying about employees at their end-of-year party:

Tsia̍h thâu-gê, lián tshuì-tshiu; tsia̍h bué-gê, bīn iu-iu.

Literally, it means “Eating at the year’s opening party you’ll be playing with your beard, but eating at the end-of-year party and your face will look worried. ” Let’s break down the sentence:

lián to roll or twist sth. with fingers; to play/to fiddle around with
tshuì-tshiu beard, moustache, facial hair around the mouth
bīn face
iu-iu worried, anxious

This saying basically describes anxiety and worry that employees have at the end-of-year party because of a fear of getting fired.

Some people also say it in the opposite order:

Tsia̍h bué-gê, bīn iu-iu; tsia̍h thâu-gê, lián tshuì-tshiu.

While layoff, resignation and other personnel changes have already been determined at year end, at the year’s opening party the employees are usually more relaxed and positive.


Music Credit: TeknoAXE

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