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Since all the info I have about the song is in the Hakka Lyrics (facebook group) post I made about it, let me quote it as is, then proceed to ask the questions.

Nyi-teu-sa ti li siu ko kai Hak-boi he mai Hak-boi? [=Do you know what Hakka the Hakka of this song is?]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37SCGhnBVl4

Adding tone marks that reflect the tones given at hakka.dict.edu.tw for 南四县 Hakka. In particular, ` indicates the contour 31, ˍ the contour 11, ˆ the contour 24, ¯ the contour 55, nothing the contour 2 (checked tone), ˙ the contour 5 (checked tone 2).

There are a couple cases where the dictionary and what I hear don't quite line up. The most prominent case is 月, which I hear as ngiai and the dictionary gives as ngiȧt. I assume it is a colloquial evolution, so from contour 5 I assume the evolution was to contour 55, hence my ngiāi.

I have the impression that 結頭 should be 街頭, but I see no reason for that misspelling, since 街頭 exists in Mandarin and 結 and 街 have the same sound in both Mandarin and Hakka and a phonetic loan is hardly justified. EDIT: Scratch that: 街頭 is kiâi-the̱u, whereas "kiat" is clearly heard in the video.

哥系月亮妹系星–客家山歌

女:两條絲線長又長唉 | Liòng thia̱u sîi-siēn tsho̱ng yīu tsho̱ng ê
打個結頭丟過梁唉 | Tà kē kiat the̱u tîu kwō lio̱ng ê
千年呀唔見結頭散 | Tshiên nga̱n ya m̱ kiān kiat the̱u sān
妹子永久都愛郎 | Mōi-tsìi yòn-kìu tû ōi lo̱ng
唉呀都愛郎 | Âi-ya tû ōi lo̱ng
都愛郎 | Tû ōi lo̱ng
男:都愛郎 | Tû ōi lo̱ng
女:都愛郎 | Tû ōi lo̱ng
男:都愛郎 | Tû ōi lo̱ng
合:唉… | Ê…

男:阿哥結妹永唔丟唉 | Â-kô kiat mōi yùn m̱ tîu ê
除非柑樹結石榴唉 | Tshu̱-fî kâm sū kiat sȧg-le̱u ê
除非日頭西邊出 | Tshu̱-fî nyit-the̱u sî-piên tshut
除非河水向西流 | Tshu̱-fî ho̱-sùi hiōng sî li̱u
唉呀向西流 | Âi-ya hiōng sî li̱u
向西流 | Hiōng sî li̱u
女:向西流 | Hiōng sî li̱u
男:向西流 | Hiōng sî li̱u
女:向西流 | Hiōng sî li̱u
合:唉… | Ê…

女:汝話交情就交情唉 | Nyi̱ vā kâu-tshi̱n tshīu kâu-tshi̱n ê
交情愛交一生人唉 | Kâu-tshi̱n ōi kâu yit-sên-nyi̱n ê
哥係天上明月樣 | Kô hē thiên sōng bi̱n ngiāi-yōng
妹係星星伴月明 | Mōi hē sên-sên phān ngiāi bi̱n
唉呀伴月明 | Âi-ya phān ngiāi bi̱n
伴月明 | Phān ngiāi bi̱n
男:伴月明 | Phān ngiāi bi̱n
女:伴月明 | Phān ngiāi bi̱n
男:伴月明 | Phān ngiāi bi̱n
合:唉… | Ê…

男:两人相好心洽心唉 | Liòng nyi̱n siông-hàu sîm kiap sîm ê
千年鐵樹萬年青唉 | Tshiên nga̱n thiet sū bān nga̱n tshîn e
命有恁久情恁長 | Miāng yîu àn kìu tshi̱n àn tsho̱ng
交情越久情越深 | Kâu-tshi̱n ngiȧt kìu tshi̱n ngiȧt tshîim
唉呀情越深 | Âi-ya tshi̱n ngiȧt tshîim
情越深 | Tshi̱n ngiȧt tshîim
女:情越深 | Tshi̱n ngiȧt tshîim
男:情越深 | Tshi̱n ngiȧt tshîim
女:情越深 | Tshi̱n ngiȧt tshîim
合:唉… | Ê…

合:两人講過千年情[唉] | Liòng nyi̱n kòng-kwō tshiên nga̱n tshi̱n ê
两人相好心對心[唉] | Liòng nyi̱n siông-hàu sîm tūi sîm ê
牽手河邊照水影 | Khân-sù ho̱ piên tsāu sùi yàng
魚蝦都笑涯两人 | Ṉg ha̱ tû siāu ngāi liòng nyīn
唉呀涯俩人 | Âi-ya ngāi liòng nyīn
女:涯俩人 | Ngāi liòng nyīn
男:涯俩人 | Ngāi liòng nyīn
女:涯俩人 | Ngāi liòng nyīn
男:涯俩人 | Ngāi liòng nyīn
合:唉… | Ê…

Adjustments made to the character spelling [from the captions]:

Verse 1:

絲綫 -> 絲線
哎 -> 唉 (this one in general, not only verse 1)

Verse 4:

甲 -> 洽

Verse 5:

倆 -> 兩

Note that "ia" is always /ia/, never /ie/ as it is sometimes read under HV standard Phinjim styles (or should I say Ånton Xiè Phinjim style), where -ian and -iat (and maybe other such finals) are /ien/ and /iet/. Note also that "tshin | feeling" is sometimes pronounced with a "ch" sound rather than a"tsh" sound.

Translation attempt:

哥系月亮妹系星–客家山歌 | The boy is the moon and the girl is the stars - Hakka folk song

女:两條絲線長又長唉 | Two threads grow and grow
打個結頭丟過梁唉 | They hit a (結頭 | bond?, or "make a bond"?) and throw away a roof (marriage reference?)
千年呀唔見結頭散 | For 1000 years [they won't see?] the (結頭 | bond?) disperse (i.e. they won't break up?)
妹子永久都愛郎 | The girl will forever love the boy
唉呀都愛郎 | Ay yeah love the boy
都愛郎 | Love the boy
男:都愛郎 | Love the boy
女:都愛郎 | Love the boy
男:都愛郎 | Love the boy
合:唉… | Hey…

男:阿哥結妹永唔丟唉 | When a boy ties with a girl he never throws her away (i.e. breaks up, divorces)
除非柑樹結石榴唉 | Unless tangerine trees (tie? Does that mean "produce, make, bear"?) pomegranates
除非日頭西邊出 | Unless the sun rises from the west
除非河水向西流 | Unless the rivers flow westward
唉呀向西流 | Ay yeah flow westward
向西流 | Flow westward
女:向西流 | Flow westward
男:向西流 | Flow westward
女:向西流 | Flow westward
合:唉… | Hey…

女:汝話交情就交情唉 | You say [you]'ll be friends [with me] so be friends [with me]
交情愛交一生人唉 | We should be friends lifelong
哥係天上明月樣 | The boy is the bright moon in the sky
妹係星星伴月明 | The girl is the stars shining with the moon
唉呀伴月明 | Ay yeah shining with the moon
伴月明 | Shining with the moon
男:伴月明 | Shining with the moon
女:伴月明 | Shining with the moon
男:伴月明 | Shining with the moon
合:唉… | Hey…

男:两人相好心洽心唉 | The two [of us] will love each other and have joint hearts
千年鐵樹萬年青哎 | 1000 years sago-palm Nippon-lily (what is this metaphor?)
命有恁久情恁長 | The life is very long and the feeling will be very long
交情越久情越深 | The longer we're friends the deeper the friendship
唉呀情越深 | Ay yeah the deeper the friendship
情越深 | The deeper the friendship
女:情越深 | The deeper the friendship
男:情越深 | The deeper the friendship
女:情越深 | The deeper the friendship
合:唉… | Hey…

合:两人講過千年情[唉] | The two [of us] have said (i.e. agreed) to a 1000-year-long friendship (is this a metaphor for everlasting friendship?)
两人相好心對心[唉] | The two [of us] will love each other with hearts confronting each other
牽手河邊照水影 | Holding hands by the river (照水影 = ?)
魚蝦都笑涯两人 | All the fish and crabs smile at us two
唉呀涯俩人 | Ay yeah at us two
女:涯俩人 | At us two
男:涯俩人 | At us two
女:涯俩人 | At us two
男:涯俩人 | At us two
合:唉… | Hey…

How do I complete this translation? Is it correct for what I managed?

係南四县客家话无? [=Is this Southern Sixian Hakka?]

Any inputs on the translation or transliteration or characters are welcome. Here are my questions.

  1. Am I right in guessing the "ngiai-yong" I hear is a colloquial variant of "ngiat-yong | 月样"?
  2. What does l. 2 (打個結頭丟過梁唉 | Tà kē kiat the̱u tîu kwō lio̱ng ê) mean? Does "ta kiat-theu" mean "make a bond", i.e. marry or some analogous bond?
  3. Is the spelling of "kiat-theu" OK?
  4. Am I right in reading l. 3 (千年呀唔見結頭散 | Tshiên nga̱n ya m̱ kiān kiat the̱u sān) as "They will never break up for 1000 years"?
  5. Am I right in reading the "kiat" in the line "除非柑樹結石榴唉 | Tshu̱-fî kâm sū kiat sȧg-le̱u ê" as "bear, produce" (cfr. "bear fruit" for this use of "bear")?
  6. What does the line "千年鐵樹萬年青唉 | Tshiên nga̱n thiet sū bān nga̱n tshîn e" mean?
  7. Is the "thousand years" at the beginning of the last verse a hyperbole for "eternity", "forever"?
  8. What does "照水影" mean in the line "牽手河邊照水影 | Khân-sù ho̱ piên tsāu sùi yàng"?
  9. Is it correct to spell that apparent exclamative particle "e" as 唉, or is there a better option? And is that the right tone?
1

I will answer some Chinese related questions, no knowledge on hakka

  1. -

  2. 結頭 stands for knot (繩結頭), tying two threads together with a knot is a metaphor of love or bond.

  3. -

  4. Same as above, the knot won't get loose for thousand years. You got it correct in meaning.

  5. That translates to Unless pomegranates grows out from tangerine trees, here means bear fruit (結成果實)

  6. 千年鐵樹 and 萬年青 are two plants that are known for long lives and evergreen. Note that 千年 is just an adjective (time) for 鐵樹, but 萬年青 is an actual plant name.

  7. Yes, 10 thousands(萬年)also has similar meaning.

  8. It kind of literally means Look into the water reflection (like a mirror), just a general description used when dating near riverbank or sea.

  9. (used in the video) or is more neutral and proper, 唉 is more negative, like sigh.

  • How do the two plant names fit into the song? I mean, if I translate to English, and just drop the names in right there, they sound totally disconnected from the rest of the song... Maybe (including surrounding lines) "The two [of us] will love each other and have joint hearts / [Like] sago-palms [growing] 1000 years and Nippon-lilies / [Our] lives will be very long and [our] feelings will [last] very long"? – MickG Jun 7 '18 at 21:15
  • The actual meaning should be similar to our relation would be long and evergreen – William Chong Jun 8 '18 at 3:14
  • So in 打個結頭丟過梁唉, 打個結頭 means "make a [love] bond", but what does 丟過梁 mean? – MickG Jun 10 '18 at 10:07
  • 丟過梁 is throwing (the knotted strings) pass the house beam, should be symbolism of some kind of ceremony – William Chong Jun 10 '18 at 15:26
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My reply might be a little late but it sounds like Meixian dialect to me. My family came from a village that speaks a slightly different variant of Hakka but I can somewhat tell the differences. One big difference is the pronunciation of 向. In the Siyen/Siyan/Sixian dialect, they pronounce it as "Hiong" but it's pronounced as "Xiong" in the Meixian dialect (similar to the English Sh- sound in 'Sheep') like in the video. Also, I believe 好 is usually pronounced "ho" in Sixian, but "hao" like in the video.

Edit: I hear 月 as Ngiat, not Ngiai, which i've never heard in my life...

  • Here is my explanation on ngiai: a more accurate transcription may be ngiad, whereby I mean the voice of the vowel is carried over to the unreleased stop -t, and the -i I hear is due to the tongue movement that goes to create that unreleased stop. – MickG Jun 11 '18 at 10:14
  • I guess I couldn't go further into subdialects than the reference dictionary I have goes, so I said this was 南四县 because that is what best matched the video as far as the dictionary went. If you tell me Meixian matches even better (向 read xiong instead of hiong and 好 read hau instead of ho), then Meixian it is. After all, Meixian is (unless I'm much mistaken) grouped together with Sixian. – MickG Jun 11 '18 at 10:24

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