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Some of my chinese friends speak Chinese. I asked them how to say "I love you" in their language, but most of them said "wa ai lo" not "wo ai ni", how can this be?

I look for google translate, it says "wo ai ni" and not "wa ai lo".

Am I missing something here?

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5  
From which region are these friends coming? –  BertR Apr 27 '12 at 7:59
    
Could you ask you friends what the word exactly is? Do you mean 儂, which pronounces nong3, and in standard Mandarin the word should be 你, right which you suppose wrong. –  Shou Ya May 3 '12 at 1:22
    
In Cantonese it is Ngo Jung Yee Nei. –  Derek 朕會功夫 Jun 14 '12 at 20:24

6 Answers 6

All Chinese speakers can understand "wo ai ni" while only few Chinese in specific areas can understand "wo ai lo", because "wo ai lo" is dialect.

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If HE or SHE comes from Mainland of China, then you should say "WO AI NI". "WO AI NI" is a Chinese Mandarin / Han Yu.

If HE or SHE use Hokkien (Hokkian) AND from Indonesia (mostly from Medan city) or Singapore or Malay, then I suggest you to say "WA AI LO".

WA = I / me
AI = love / want (to)
LO = you

Some speaking of Hokkien ( Medan, Indonesia version ) :

Wa ai lo.
Means : I love you / I want you.

Wa ai khi.
Means : I want to go

Lo hokkien esai ?
Means : Can you speak Hokkien ?

Lo ciak liao boi ? Wa ciak hamik.
Means : Have you eat(breakfast/lunch/dinner) ? I'm already eat(breakfast/lunch/dinner).

Ce / No / Sa / Si / Nggo / Lak / Jit / Pek / Kao / Cap
Means : 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

PS: Sometimes I use this for conversations with my friends (from Medan, Indonesia).

Hope this help ^o^

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Agree! I think "Wa ai lo" is derived from Hokkien: "Gua ai lu". A lot of people outside the originated place where Hokkien being spoken usually pronounce it "Gua" as "Wa". :) –  mrjimoy_05 Dec 31 '12 at 13:37

I think "wa ai lo" is Wu, a chinese dialect used in Shanghai and Zhejiang,because Chinese dialects very different from each other. and as far as I know, only Wu pronunce "ni" with the vowel "o".

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Hello Yangzhe Lau and welcome to CL&U! Like I said under another answer, can you expand on your answer? –  Alenanno Apr 27 '12 at 16:44
    
According to wikipedia it's 我愛儂 ([ŋɯ; e noŋ]) in Wu. See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%90%B4%E8%AF%AD –  BertR Apr 27 '12 at 19:32
    
@Alenanno OK,I think "wa ai lo" is Wu,because Chinese dialects very different from each other. and as far as I know, only Wu pronunce "ni" with the vowel "o". –  Yangzhe Lau May 7 '12 at 15:13
    
@YangzheLau Please add that to your answer... Remember that the more you elaborate in your answer, the better it is. :) –  Alenanno May 7 '12 at 15:21
    
@BertR Yes, you're right [ŋɯ; e noŋ] is what I pronunce when say 'I love you'. But there isn't a standard in Chinese dialect. Even in Wu area people pronunce differently from city to city. –  Yangzhe Lau May 7 '12 at 15:22

Here's a list of how to say "I love you" in several Chinese languages:

Mandarin, Beijing: Wo ai ni

Mandarin, Southwest: Ngo ngai ni

Minnan, Taiwan: Gua ai li

Wu, Shanghai:

(1) Ngu oi nong

(2) Ngu huoe-xi nong

Hakka, Meizhou:

(1) Ngai ai ngi

(2) Ngai jung yi ngi

Yue, Canton:

(1) Ngo oi nei

(2) Ngo jung yi nei

The word for "love" in the second variant in Wu is "歡喜"; in the second variant of Hakka and Yue it is "中意". They are considered somewhat less serious than "愛".

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It is called Cantonese, not Yue. (Ngo jung yi nei is 我鐘意你) –  Derek 朕會功夫 Jun 14 '12 at 20:22
    
@Derek “粤”包括广东话 –  Stumpy Joe Pete Oct 22 '12 at 18:07

I'm a native Chinese, I know the right pronunciation is 我(wǒ)爱(ài)你(nǐ). Maybe your friend are learning 粤语 or 广东话, the China official language is Simplified Chinese that is 普通话。

Here is a pic http://i.stack.imgur.com/QSOci.png

I'm very happy can make English friends here.

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As I know in Cantonese they don't say 'wo ai lo' neither. –  Shou Ya May 3 '12 at 1:17
1  
普通话 = "Standard Chinese", "Standard Mandarin", or just "Chinese". The dialect based in Beijing and adopted in the rest of the country. Simplified Chinese = 簡體字, the simplified characters adopted since the 1950s in the People's Republic of China. –  Yang May 4 '12 at 3:37

"Wo ai ni" is right, while "lo" is a wrong pronunciation in Chinese. You cannot find "lo" in Mandarin. Note that wa ai lo is dialectal.

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1  
Can you expand on this? And are you sure? According to BertR comment above, it might be a regional thing. –  Alenanno Apr 27 '12 at 10:09
2  
@Alenanno Thanks for your reminder first.Generally speaking,there are seven dialects in Chinese language,includes Mandarin,Wu,Yue,Min,Xiang,Hakka and Gan,you can find all the information here.The difference of pronunciation between dialects is particularly large,one can not know them all.For this example "wa ai lo",yes it is "我愛儂", "儂" should be pronounced as "nong" in Mandarin,which have a different pronunciation in other dialects.Feel free to post what you want to say. –  withparadox2 Apr 28 '12 at 4:27
    
Can you include that in your answer? And make sure it's directed at the question, it would be a good answer! :) –  Alenanno Apr 28 '12 at 9:56
    
Accourding to wikipedia 儂 is pronounced in Wu as [noŋ]. I could be wrong, but that doesn't sound like "lo" to me. –  BertR Apr 28 '12 at 15:07
    
The newer generation of speakers for Shanghainese, Cantonese, etc. are gradually replacing the "n" initial with a "l". Also, a lot of them don't nasalize the ending when they're speaking quickly, or the asker just didn't catch it. –  Yang May 4 '12 at 3:41

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