In the Hokkien song 男人的汗 (Min title 查埔人的汗, lyrics here, there is the following line:

人生行到遮 地位亲像山

It should sound:

Lin-sing kiann kau tsia    te-ui tshin-tshiunn suann

Instead, in the video, both at 00:31-00:38 and at 2:04-2:10, it sounds:

Lin-sing kiann kau tsia    tek-ui/te-kui tshin-tshiunn suann

First thing that comes to mind is to fix it as 地塊, but that would be te-khuai, and no a is heard, nor any aspiration. So I tried browsing my reference for characters read kui, and found the following:

  1. 關 | kuinn
  2. 刮 | kuih
  3. 規 | kui
  4. 歸 | kui
  5. 胿 | kui
  6. 龜 | kui
  7. 機 | kui
  8. 圭 | kui
  9. 鬼 | kúi
  10. 癸 | kúi
  11. 幾 | kúi
  12. 軌 | kúi
  13. 詭 | kúi
  14. 貴 | kuì
  15. 癸 | kuí
  16. 季 | kuì
  17. 挂 | kuì
  18. 劌 | ku`
  19. 瑰 | kuì
  20. 桂 | kuì
  21. 季 | kuì
  22. 膭 | kuī
  23. 櫃 | kuī
  24. 跪 | kuī
  25. 饋 | kuī
  26. 葵 | kuî

Could any of these be the right character here? If so, which? Otherwise, how can I explain this tek-ui/te-kui which should be te-ui?

1 Answer 1


The [q]/[k] sound came from the glottal stop [ʔ] which must be placed between「地」and「位」when speaking the word. Contrary to its conventional phonetic notation,「位」actually has a glottal plosive consonant before the vowel. So 'te-ui' is actually read as [te11ʔui22] rather than [te11ui22] without separation between the two letters. The difference is similar to that between "come in" [khamʔin] and "comin'" [khamin]. Because this guy is singing, it is easy for the glottal stop to corrupt into an uvular [q] or a velar [k] plosive. (Having a full glottal stop in the middle of a phrase will spoil the legato. )

  • Does this glottal stop appear every time there is a hiatus, only on this word, or somewhere between these two extremes?
    – MickG
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 10:52
  • Generally speaking, it happens to every word without an initial(零聲母). Some examples are: 有 [ʔu33]、友 [ʔiu52]、學[ʔoʔ52]. This is because words beginning with a vowel need a glottal stop before them to avoid being slurred in speech. (Same goes for English as well. )
    – Sati
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 12:04

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