I've come across Zhang Shaolin's Hoi-nam kai-fan (characters 海南鸡饭, lyrics only in subtitles), a song in Hakka. It is split into three parts. This question concentrates on part 3, part 2 being here and part 1 here. I have trouble translating it. The lyrics from the subs are:


# 涯正宗嘅鸡饭


Ha-ha-ah-ha (两次)

Listening to the video carefully and accurately representing the sounds I hear, and subsequently tweaking the spelling for a "standard" spelling, I got the following transliteration:

Hoi-nam kai-fan

Ngai cin-zung ke kai-fan
M he hak-ka phen-phen chut-miang Hoi-nan
Nyin-nyin tu ti yiu kan Lung-mun-sing pian
An hau sit kong cak-cak lei pong-cham
Nyi oi chat cui liang kai-fan
Ka-chien he phu-phu-thung-thung kong loi hau phiang
Hak-cai cau-fu yit-liu
Sit-pau yiu sung ki nga-cia

This is a possible mandarin rendition:


# 我正宗的鸡饭


Ha-ha-ah-ha (两次)


  1. 涯 is actually meant to have a person radical rather than a water radical, but I can't input it on my computer so I used the closest match; it means "I" and is pronounced "ngai"; replaced with "wǒ";
  2. 讲 is kong, Hakka standard for "say"; replaced with "shuō";
  3. 唔 is m/ng, a standard Hakka negation; replaced with "bù" in many cases;
  4. 只 can be used as a classifier; according to my reference, it's cak when classifier and cii when "only"; doubled, it should mean "every", like doubled classifiers can in Mandarin; replaced with gègè, since I interpreted it as "everyone" = "every person";
  5. 晓 is hiau; I have learnt this means "can", though this meaning is in my reference only under "晓得"; replaced with "néng";
  6. 按 is an; my reference says 恁 (an) means "very"; replaced with "hěn";
  7. 嘅 is ke; my reference spells that 个, distinguished from classifier 個, and says it means "de"; replaced accordingly;
  8. 仔, cai, is a common noun suffix, like 子; after kè it should mean "kèrén"; replaced accordingly;
  9. 系 and 係 are both he; that is "shì"; replaced accordingly;
  10. 嚓 is cat, or the likes; according to my reference, 擦 means "módòng, kāishì", i.e. "rub"; supposing a misspelling, I interpreted it like Italian "spazzolare", which means to eat thoroughly, cleaning out every bit of something; replaced it with "chī";
  11. There are some strange pronunciations: 张惠妹 is pronounced with Mandarin pronunciation (save for sh = s), 来 is sometimes pronounced lei instead of loi, 好 and 无 (actually 冇) are hau and mau, and the reference states they should be mo and ho, 两 is lioeng (compare Cantonese loeng).

With all that, my attempt would be:

Hainanese Chicken rice

# My actual chicken rice
Is not Hakka, but always the famous one from Hainan.
Everyone knows there is a Long-meng-xing-dian
It's very good to eat, so everyone helps financially.
If you want to eat the best chicken rice,
The price is very common, and one may say even rather low.
Guests look for first quality,
Eat their fill and leave a toothpick (as a tip).


Ha-ha-ah-ha (两次)

As you can understand, the problems are many. I will make a few points. I am going to split this tomorrow, but I really wanted to lay down all the points, so feel free to answer only those related to the first verse if you see this question complete.

  1. Is that interpretation of chat right?
  2. I know zhāohu is "say hello", but it was natural for me to "mistranslate" it that way; is it right?

Edit: A translation in a comment reads thus:

Hainang Chicken Rice

# Ah traditional Hainang Chicken Rice,
not the place of invention but became famous there anyway,
everyone knows of the shop selling delicious rice,
customers enjoys the rice and chatters in the village,
you can enjoy the best chicken rice,
the price is reasonable and everyone likes,
best customer services,
free toothpicks serving when you're done with your meal,

ha-ha-ha-ha (repeat # excerpt twice) 

It ought to be Hainan as far as I know, not Hainang. Anyway I gather the following points:

  1. cing-cung (zhengzong) is traditional or old-school; OK that's right;
  2. ngai became ah; now it is true that ngai is also the reading for , but that means "to suffer"; can it be used as an interjection too? And why was it spelt with the standard character for the ngai meaning "I" then?
  3. The second line I can't understand how it is formulated; maybe it is "Is not Hakka [in origin] but [anyway] became famous in Hainan [which is a Hakka place]"? So chut-miang + place = become famous in + place?
  4. lung-mun-sing-tiam was translated to "the shop selling delicious rice"; is that a loose translation taking into account that that is the name of a restaurant, probably the one in which the singer 开一间海南鸡饭? Or is it a literal translation? And if the latter, how does that "name" have the translation in it?
  5. What happens in the 4th line? I can guess the first part is "It's very good [for people] to eat [the rice] and speak [with others in the restaurant]", but what about the rest? How does it "code" the translation given, which is "chatter in the village"?
  6. Given the translation "enjoy", I guess my interpretation of chat wasn't that wrong after all :);
  7. The 3rd-to-last line became "the price is reasonable and everyone likes"; phu-thung translates to "reasonable", better than my "common"; but "everyone likes"? Was it supposed to be "alike for everyone", i.e. "similar for everyone", "without big differences from person to person"? And then why should the price be different from person to person? And otherwise, how is that translation present in the original?
  8. So cau-fu is "service"? It does mean "take care of", so maybe keren zhaohu does mean "customer service";
  9. The last line is "After you've eaten your fill [they, the customer service] give you toothpicks [for free]". OK.

Edit 2: That "Nyi oi chat" should be "nyi oi cak", spelt "汝爱摘", which translates roughly to "你要吃", I should think, but I'm waiting for confirmation on a fb group.

  • Hainang Chicken Rice # Ah traditional Hainang Chicken Rice, not the place of invention but became famous there anyway, everyone knows of the shop selling delicious rice, customers enjoys the rice and chatters in the village, you can enjoy the best chicken rice, the price is reasonable and everyone likes, best customer services, free toothpicks serving when you're done with your meal, ha-ha-ha-ha (repeat # excerpt twice)
    – Unihedron
    Sep 20, 2014 at 9:20
  • @Unihedron please see the edit.
    – MickG
    Sep 20, 2014 at 12:21
  • I'm only blindly guessing, please take my comment with a spoon of rice (pun intended). I'm not entirely sure, hopefully another user can shed some light.
    – Unihedron
    Sep 20, 2014 at 12:22
  • I seem to remember someone suggesting, in another part, that pong-cham might mean "be my guest". So "An hau sit kong cak-cak lei pong-cham" = "It's very nice to eat and chatter, and everyone comes to be my guest", maybe?
    – MickG
    Sep 26, 2014 at 8:49
  • 1
    嚓 sounds like Cantonese caat3 - to eat a lot, usually written 擦 or 刷. His variety of Hakka has heavy influence from Cantonese, so it is likely to be the same word. Dec 6, 2017 at 20:43

2 Answers 2


I looked up the singer. He is of Chinese Hakka descent, and was born in Malaysia. In reading the comments for the video, it seems like the restaurant really was his at some point, but no longer. Because of this, my two cents on line 2 is:

  • That his chicken rice is genuine (or rather, the best), despite that it isn't Hakka like he is,


  • That his chicken rice is genuine and the best even though he technically isn't from or descended from Hainan.

Partial translation. Focus here is to help you understand it better, literally.

  • # 涯正宗嘅鸡饭
    My genuine chicken rice!

  • 唔系客家偏偏出名海南
    Not Hakka but came to fame Hainan

  • 人人都知有间龙门星店
    Everyone knows about my restaurant (龙门星店 is the name of the shop; 龙门 dragon gate is a popular name for restaurant / hotel-esque places, 星 is star)

  • 按好吃讲只只来帮衬
    So delicious, everyone frequents (帮衬 means to help, a polite way to say customers are visiting your shop = everyone helps you out帮衬)

  • 你要嚓最靓鸡饭
    you want "blank" best chicken rice ("blank" because I also cannot place this word, sorry)

  • 价钱係普普通通讲来好平
    price is average, but really, so cheap

  • 客仔招呼一流
    best customer service (literally, "customer" "say hello" "the best". "Say hello" loosely literally translates to greet, too. A shopkeeper or a host will 招呼 the customers by taking care of them)

  • 吃饱又送支牙签
    Literally, eat full and gift toothpick. A generally accepted translation could be, you get a full meal here AND a free toothpick!

Hope this helps.

Me (Able to understand Hakka, not a fluent speaker) http://baike.baidu.com/subview/1316645/5959946.htm https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%A9%AC%E6%9D%A5%E8%A5%BF%E4%BA%9A


Hainan Chicken rice would work coz this is just a dish of cooked rice and chicken mixing together plus some chicken oil to make it smell good… u could find it in Singapore or other SE Asian countries where there are Chinese, and of course the Hainan province of China

  • note that u have to spell it as HAINAN coz that is how it goes in pinyin... Sep 30, 2014 at 0:37
  • 4
    Yes OK but that is not the question. The question is about a song, not the dish. Plus, I have Wikipedia to know about the dish. -1.
    – MickG
    Sep 30, 2014 at 11:37

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