Discovering old Xiamen in street and alley names

2018-02-07

Adam: Today I saw a very interesting name of an alley, “Sanshiliu qi.” My Chinese is not great but does it mean “Rugged 36 Alley”?

今天我看到了一个有趣的小巷名字,叫三十六崎。我的中文不那么好,它的意思是崎岖不平的36小巷吗?

 

Li Mei: You mean the one near the sixth market in Siming?

你说的小巷在思明第六市场附近?

 

Adam: Yes. I recognize the characters for the number 36 and I think that qi(崎) is often used to describe rugged land. But what do these things mean in combination?

是的。我认识“Sanshiliu”,是指数字三十六,“qi”(崎)是用来形容地面崎岖不平。但和在一起有什么含义吗?

 

Li Mei: Qi does mean rugged in Mandarin but in the local Minnanhua dialect it's a quantifier word. Basically, 36 qi means thirty six steps.

你对“qi”(崎)在普通话中的意思理解是正确的,但是在闽南话中,台阶的量词也发音为“qi”,所以三十六qi就是指三十六级台阶。

 

Adam: Oh that makes sense. I did see some stone stairs at the entrance of the alley, the stairway must have 36 steps.

哦,这就对了。我确实看到巷口有个石阶,那石阶肯定有36级台阶了。

 

Li Mei: You got it. Lots of local alleys and street names only make sense in Minnanhua. Their written forms in Chinese are transliterations with an unrelated meaning when read in Mandarin.

你说对了。厦门有很多小巷和街道,你要是不懂闽南话,就很难懂这些街巷名字的意思。它们的中文形式是从厦门话的发音中转写过来的。

 

Adam: Maybe I should learn some Minnanhua.

看来我应该学学闽南话了。

 

Li Mei: Why not? You'll find it really rewarding and locals will be super impressed.

可以啊。你住在这,学闽南话真的有用,本地人听了准保赞叹不已。

 

Adam: Are there other alleys with names that have different meanings in Minnanhua and Mandarin?

还有没有别的巷名在闽南话里的意思和它们的字面意思不一样的?

 

Li Mei: There are lots of examples including Caima (菜妈) Street, which is between Xingfu Road and Gugong Road.

有啊,例如菜妈街,在幸福路和故宫路中间。

 

Adam: What does it mean in Minnanhua and Mandarin?

它在闽南话里什么意思?字面意思又是什么?

 

Li Mei: Ma refers to an adult woman or mother in both Minnanhua and Mandarin. But cai in Mandarin is a general term for food dishes while in Minnanhua it specifically refers to vegetarian dishes. There used to be several temples and many female Buddhists along this street.

在闽南话和普通话里都可以指老年女性或妈妈。但是,在普通话里可泛指所有的菜,但是在闽南话里,它指斋菜。早前,在这街道附近,曾经有几个寺庙和许多老年的女佛教信徒。

 

Adam: Wow, street and alley names are like windows into the past. Very interesting.

哇,这些街巷的名字就像窗口一样,人们透过它可以看到历史文化。太有趣了!

 

Li Mei: You bet.

当然。

 

Adam: And you've inspired me to learn a bit of Minnanhua.

你已经引起我学习闽南话的兴趣了。

 

Li Mei: Glad to hear it. My Minnanhua is pretty good so you can always ask me for help.

很高兴听到你这么说。我的闽南话很溜,如果学习方言时遇到任何问题,一定要来问我哦。

 

Adam: Thanks in advance.

那提前谢谢啦。

 

 

By Sun Shaowen

[ Web editor:Robin Wang    Source:Common Talk ]