白头偕老 is a set expression in Mandarin, meaning
to get old together, in a loose translation. I found it in a Hokkien song called 牵阮的手 (Mandarin
While you hold my hand). In the linked video, it is pronounced in a way that sounds like
pe̍h-thiô-kai-nóo making it rhyme with the rest of the lyrics. In a CD I have, though, I hear it pronounced something like
pe̍h-thâu-kai-láu, losing the rhyme. In both cases, the accurate sounds and the tones are reconstructed from the 台湾闽南语常用词辞典. In fact, in the second one, I am not sure whether to put
lāu. I chose the former since it is indicated as
文 (literary), whereas the former is indicated as
白 (vernacular), and this looks like a set phrase possibly stemming from Classical CHinese, which makes a literary reading seem more appropriate. Anyway my question is: is either of these right? Or is none of these right? And if so, which is the right one?
These two are both for literary pronunciation. Since
白頭偕老(白头偕老) is a traditional Chinese idiomatic expression (成語 Chengyu), we tend to pronounce it in the literary way.
The difference between these two might be in the sub-dialect aspect. I'd pronounce it as
pe̍h-thâu-kai-ló since it's easier for me to pronounce. But I reckon that
pe̍h-thiô-kai-nóo is considered more sophisticated and authentic generally.
These are indeed two common pronunciations for
老. But I humbly argue that these two are not very likely to be used in this particular context
白頭偕老(白头偕老) (at least in my neighborhood).
I have recorded a clip saying
pe̍h-thâu-kai-ló, so you can cross-check with the CD that you mentioned above. Go to
pe̍h-thâu-kai-ló if you don't mind my Donald Duck voice.
- Hokkien has many sub-dialects, so sometimes people (like myself) might need to be more open-minded about "what is the right way to say a certain word?".
Note and reference:
My parents are from the northern part and the middle part of Taiwan. They use Hokkien(Min Nan) as their first spoken language.
The singer in the music video is from southern part of Taiwan.
I use Mandarin as my first spoken language.
If using the literal pronounciation totally like reading classical chinese, it might be "Pi̍k thiô Kai ló" (Zhangzhou dialect) or "Pi̍k thôo Kai nóo" (Quanzhou dialect.) It seems that ló/nóo and thiô/thôo only differs in accents.