kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
Locked
Mark Yong
Posts: 684
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:52 pm

kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by Mark Yong »

Was reading my 古文觀止, and it just dawned upon me – could the 本字 for the kiăm in kiăm-siăp be ? The character has the definition in the 說文解字 as 約者, 不敢放侈之意, i.e. one who is frugal. Though, kiăm-siăp is used in Hokkien to mean specifically ‘stingy’.

I also considered the possibility that it could be the khiām in khiām-iŏng, which means precisely ‘frugal’ or ‘thrifty’ in Minnan. However, the 反切 provided (从人。僉聲。巨險切) suggests that the initial is not aspirated. I have not considered the tones yet.

Here is a link to the character and excerpts of the definitions from the 說文解字 Shuowen Jiezi and 康熙字典 Kangxi Zidian:
http://www.zdic.net/zd/zi/ZdicE5Zdic84Zdic89.htm

If it is kiăm-siăp, any idea what the character for siăp is?

* Disclaimer: Before posting this topic, I searched our forum archives to see if anyone has posted this before – apparently not. :P

amhoanna
Posts: 912
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2010 12:43 pm

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by amhoanna »

What about 鹹澀?

SimL
Posts: 1407
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:33 am
Location: Amsterdam

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by SimL »

Hi Everyone,

I've been away from home for 5 weeks, and after I got home, I got a bad flu, so that's why I've been so quiet for so long. I hope to start contributing again on a regular basis.
amhoanna wrote:What about 鹹澀?
Exactly what I've always thought :mrgreen:. Someone who is stingy has salty and astringent*** blood flowing through their veins.

***: When I was young, "astringent" was the word I was taught to use as the English equivalent of "siap4". However, having lived in a native English-speaking culture for many years - and now that I'm linguistically more aware - I realise that they might be "logically equivalent" (in terms of pure meaning) but are really quite different in their usage. In Hokkien, "siap4" is a perfectly normal word, like "tiN1", "suiN1" or "kiam5", but in English, "astringent" is quite an uncommon word, compared to "sweet", "sour", "salty". Some directionaries give "tart", "acerbic" as meanings for "澀", and these are also perfectly good translations for "siap4", but again, not really common words like "sweet", "sour", "salty". Of the 3 ("tart", "acerbic", "astringent"), I guess "tart" is the most 'everyday' in tone and register.

niuc
Posts: 734
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2005 3:23 pm
Location: Singapore

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by niuc »

Mark, 當代泉州音字彙 and 台文-華文線頂辭典 list 儉 as khiām, matching my variant's usage; also 鹹澀 for kiâmsiap.

Sim, you are right about 澀. I hardly ever read of reading those English words!

SimL
Posts: 1407
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:33 am
Location: Amsterdam

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by SimL »

niuc wrote:Sim, you are right about 澀. I hardly ever read of reading those English words!
Hi niuc,

I suppose it's because taste, like colour is also partly determined by culture.

The example which comes to mind is the Japanese "umami" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umami). Now, I've seen stuff about umami (in my 'peripheral' vision) for the last 10 years, but still don't really have a clear idea what it is. (I seem to recall some article which said that (Japanese) "fish flakes" when dissolved into soup, give the soup "umami").

According to the wikipedia article, it's the 5th taste, after sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. I'm surprised that "hot" (as in "spicey") isn't considered a taste as well. So, I suppose, from my Hokkien background, I distinguish 6 different tastes: "tiN1", "suiN1", "kiam5", "khO2", "luah8", "siap4" (= "sweet", "sour", "salty", "bitter", "hot", and "astringent"), with the first 3 being very basic - i.e. tastes that I would immediately think of, if asked to name the different tastes - and the last 3 more 'obscure' - i.e. I might forget to name them, if I didn't think long enough, or if I weren't reminded.

PS. My grandmother from Amoy had a 'saying' related to cooking: "kiam5 tiN1, ciaN2 bo5-bi7" (loosely translated: "if it's salty, it's delicious, if it's not salty, it's boring"). Sadly, Dutch cooks in restaurants seem to have adopted this as a working rule: most of the time, the food one gets in Dutch restaurants is too salty.

niuc
Posts: 734
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2005 3:23 pm
Location: Singapore

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by niuc »

Hi Sim

Thank you for sharing. Sorry for my typo (extra "reading") in previous post. Previously I only thought of "astringent" as severe/harsh; acerbic for something acidic, and tart in "egg tart"! Is 澀 related to acidic? I always assume that acidic is related to sour. I wonder what is the good translation for 苦澀 meaning both taste and feeling. Another term is 粗澀 chor-siap, usually meaning expensive or need a lot of resources.

Umami, the taste of MSG, if I understand it correctly, is "gurih" in Bahasa Indonesia and 'sor' ("rich") in my Hokkien variant. I think this 'sor' is 酥. Another 'sor' means luxurious, grand e.g. referring to a house; not sure if actually the same word. So this can add the list to be 7?

脆 chèr = crisp, [落]風 làuhuang = soggy, these are considered what? not taste, right? If I still remember Indonesian correctly, these can be referred to as "rasa" (taste).

SimL
Posts: 1407
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:33 am
Location: Amsterdam

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by SimL »

Hi niuc,

Looks like I never learn! I wrote a really long reply here, but my Internet Explorer crashed before I did a submit, so I lost it all :twisted:. I'll think about it on the weekend, and try and write it again.

aokh1979
Posts: 180
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:32 pm
Location: George Town, Malaysia
Contact:

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by aokh1979 »

I would vote for kiam-siap to be written as 儉嗇......

Ah-bin
Posts: 830
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:10 am
Location: Somewhere in the Hokloverse

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by Ah-bin »

Tart has three meanings I know in English

1) the cake or pastry

2) a woman of immoral character.....like "loti" in Penang Hokkien

These two, according to the OED, come from French tarte (13th cent.), an open tart, in our sense 1b (a), = medieval Latin tarta (1103 in Du Cange); of uncertain origin.

French tarte was held by Diez to be altered from Old French torte, French tourte, a disc-shaped cake or loaf, also a pasty, a pie, late Latin torta panis, a kind of loaf or bread (Vulgate); and the two words certainly sometimes run together in use: compare Italian (Florio) torta, tortara ‘a tart’ (Baretti), torta ‘a pasty’; Spanish (Minsheu) torta, tarta ‘a tart’, modern Spanish torta a covered pasty, tarta a tart; but there are phonetic difficulties in the identification, which is rejected by Hatzfeld and Darmesteter. Dutch taart, tart, is from French The Welsh torth, Breton tors round loaf, are from Latin torta or Old French torte.


3) to be bitter
This one derives (according to OED) is from Old English teart; ulterior derivation obscure: by some referred to root of ter-an to tear v.1

The sense-history is also deficient. Teart appears in Old English only in reference to punishment, pain, or suffering, which use of tart, after many centuries, reappears late in 16th cent. In the Middle English period, the word is known only by a single instance in Chaucer (if this is the adj.), continued after 1500, in sense ‘of a sharp, pungent, or sour taste’. In 1500 it is also applied to a sharp or pungent weapon; and about 1600 to sharp, bitter, caustic, or stinging words. It is difficult from these data to infer the sense-development; and the order here followed is provisional.


I didn't write all this out myself....just copied and pasted from the OED

SimL
Posts: 1407
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:33 am
Location: Amsterdam

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by SimL »

Hi Ah-bin,

>> 3) to be bitter

Thanks for the "tart" definitions. For the 3rd usage, which OED gives as "to be bitter", my usage actually differs quite a bit from it. I use "tart" for "acidic"/"pungent" and not for "bitter".

Now, it's hard with these sorts of 'sense' things to *really* know what another person is perceiving, i.e. do two different people 'sense' the same thing, when they both say that a thing is "red" (or "sweet", etc). That's a deep philosophical thing, but really, as long as two different people agree that a long list of objects all are "red" (or "sweet" etc), when we can say that they are using the same concept of "red" (or "sweet" etc), even if we can't know what they are actually perceiving in their individual brains.

So, having made that qualification, my distinction between "bitter" and "acidic/pungent" is that dark chocolate, "khO kua" (= "bitter melon", "bitter gourd") [= 苦瓜] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitter_gourd) are "bitter", not "acidic" or "pungent".

So, for me, "tart" goes with "acidic" or "pungent", and all three will make my eyes water in their most extreme form, whereas something which is "bitter" will not make my eyes water, even in its most extreme form.

Then I need to try and pin down the difference between "acidic"/"pungent"/"tart", and "sour". Again, the "eye-watering test" works for my perceptions. Lemons, limes, and unripe mangos are "sour" but not "acidic"/"pungent"/"tart", because excessively sour things will not make my eyes water.

The last thing is to try and pin down the difference between "acidic"/"pungent"/"tart" and "hot/spicey". Here, I think "pungent" should move more into the "hot/spicey" family, even though for the other contrasts (i.e. with "bitter" and "hot/spicey", "pungent" did belong with "acidic/tart"). This one is difficult, as extreme forms of "acidic/tart" and "hot/spicey" both do make my eyes water. Here, I suppose I would use the "hairy-tongue" test. If it leaves a "hairy" feeling on my tongue, then I think of it as "acidic/tart", whereas if it leaves a glowing feeling in my whole mouth, then I think of it as "hot/spicey". This is for me exactly the difference between "siap" and "luah" in Hokkien. Unripe guavas (jambu biji), and both persimmons [according to Wikipedia = ] and quinces [according to Wikipedia = 榲桲] at any stage except very, very ripe are all "acidic/tart" - they leave a soapy/hairy feeling on the tongue, but no 'glow' afterwards, whereas pepper, chilli, wasabi, raw garlic, ginger, and mustard are "hot" - they leave a 'glow' but no soapy/hairy feeling. So, I group "acidic/tart" with "astringent", which, as I said, is another word I use for "siap".

Interestingly, when doing research to write up this reply, I came across the word "astringent" 3 times in Wikipedia! In the article on Persimmons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persimmon) there is the line "The fruit has a high tannin content which makes the immature fruit astringent and bitter. The fruit has a high tannin content which makes the immature fruit astringent and bitter." In the article on Quinces (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quince), there is the line "Most varieties of quince are too hard, astringent and sour to eat raw unless 'bletted' (softened by frost and subsequent decay)." Finally, in the article on Diospyros kaki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diospyros_kaki), also known as Japanese Persimmon or Sharon Fruit, there is the line "In many cultivars, known as the astringent varieties, the fruit has a high tannin content which makes the immature fruit astringent and bitter." I found these while looking up the proper names of the fruits which I knew - from my real -world experience - to be "siap", so it looks "astringent" is a pretty good English word to use for "siap".

So, to summarize the above and relate it back to Hokkien, my taste descriptions and the corresponding things I think of as having them is given below:

khO2 = bitter: dark chocolate, bitter melon
suiN1 = sour: lemons, limes, unripe mangos
luah8 = hot/spicey: pepper, chilli, wasabi, raw garlic, ginger, mustard
siap4 = tart/astringent: unripe guavas, non-overripe persimmons and quinces

and for completeness:

tiN1 = sweet: sugar, beetroot
kiam5 = salty: salt, light soy sauce

Interestingly, the Wikipedia article on taste (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taste) recognizes 5 of my 6, and adds "umami". It doesn't recognize "tart/astringent" as a basic taste, possibly because it's considered a sub-taste of sour or bitter:

"For a long period, it was commonly accepted that there is a finite and small number of "basic tastes" of which all seemingly complex tastes are ultimately composed. Just as with primary colors, the "basic" quality of those sensations derives chiefly from the nature of human perception, in this case the different sorts of tastes the human tongue can identify. Until the 2000s, the number of "basic" tastes was considered to be four (bitterness, saltiness, sourness, and sweetness). More recently, a fifth taste, "savory" or "umami", has been proposed by a large number of authorities associated with this field.[17] In Asian countries within the sphere of mainly Chinese, Indian and Japanese cultural influence, Piquance has traditionally been considered a sixth basic taste."

Ah-bin
Posts: 830
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:10 am
Location: Somewhere in the Hokloverse

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by Ah-bin »

Interestingly, the Wikipedia article on taste (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taste) recognizes 5 of my 6, and adds "umami". It doesn't recognize "tart/astringent" as a basic taste, possibly because it's considered a sub-taste of sour or bitter:
Very interesting, I was thinking this as I was reading through your post. I think you are right about it being a sub-taste of bitter in English, whereas Hokkien makes a firm distinction.

A similar thing exists in English with "tired" and "sleepy" where "tired" is the catch-all for "chhoan" and "ai-khun", and "sleepy" is a subset of "tired" and is used more by children. Japanese also makes the distinction, so some people I taught English to would try and say things like "I'm not tired, I'm sleepy", which is a bit strange in English, but makes complete sense in Japanese.

amhoanna
Posts: 912
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2010 12:43 pm

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by amhoanna »

Interesting. "In my book", there's a picture of soâiⁿ'ácheⁿ 檨仔青 GREEN MANGOES right next to the definition for siap. They're definitely also suiⁿ! According to a Vedic / Ayurvedic formula I rd somewhere, "astringent" foods are good for me. Now the word "astringent" had never made an impression on me in decades of speaking English. Then I browsed the Wiki and I was like, "Cool! It means siap!" So every other city I go, I seek that soâiⁿ'acheⁿ.
Now, it's hard with these sorts of 'sense' things to *really* know what another person is perceiving, i.e. do two different people 'sense' the same thing, when they both say that a thing is "red" (or "sweet", etc). That's a deep philosophical thing, but really, as long as two different people agree that a long list of objects all are "red" (or "sweet" etc), when we can say that they are using the same concept of "red" (or "sweet" etc), even if we can't know what they are actually perceiving in their individual brains.
Chim! On a related note, before I learned Hoklo, I used to really enjoy the sound of the language. I could just sit there and listen to people talking in Hoklo on the radio and it was great. It was something very subjective. Now that I can speak Hoklo, I can't relive that feeling in my mind at all. It's gone, totally erased from the old memory bank. Also I can't remember what it was like to not be able to read kanji. I guess I must've just breezed through Tn̂glângke all the time w/o paying them signs no mind. 8)

SimL
Posts: 1407
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:33 am
Location: Amsterdam

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by SimL »

amhoanna wrote:Chim! On a related note, before I learned Hoklo, I used to really enjoy the sound of the language. I could just sit there and listen to people talking in Hoklo on the radio and it was great. It was something very subjective. Now that I can speak Hoklo, I can't relive that feeling in my mind at all. It's gone, totally erased from the old memory bank.
Very interesting (and of course, heartwarming!) to hear this. A (white) friend of mine had his first slight exposure to Hokkien many years ago. He told me that the "nasalness" of it was something which really struck him. As with your present situation (but even more so for me, because I grew up speaking Hokkien), I am unable to "hear" this "nasalness" (though I am of course aware that - from the point of view of descriptive linguistics - these nasalized vowels are very common in Hokkien - "The 'French' of the sinitic variants"? :mrgreen:***). Another friend (also white, Ah-bin has met him) says that non-released post-vocalic stops are "impossible to pronounce"!
amhoanna wrote:Also I can't remember what it was like to not be able to read kanji. I guess I must've just breezed through Tn̂glângke all the time w/o paying them signs no mind. 8)
Sounds like you could relate to what I wrote earlier, about how up to a short while ago, my mind would just snap shut as an automatic response "oh, Chinese characters, I can't read them". It would appear that this response disappears a while after one has become familiar with Chinese characters.

I hope that I get there one day. I gather both you and niuc didn't grow up reading kanji, and nevertheless mastered it as adults! Kudos to you both - I'm having so much trouble still. On the Easter weekend, I revised all the kanji I theoretically knew (I think it must be around 1500 characters), and since my last major revision (about 6 months ago), perhaps 5% had slipped from my mind.

***: Postvocalic nasals disappearing and causing the vowel to become nasalized is of course a very common linguistic phenomenon. In Western Europe alone already, French and Portuguese have it. I think one of the slavic languages has it as well, but I'm not sure if that's so, and if so, which one.

SimL
Posts: 1407
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:33 am
Location: Amsterdam

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by SimL »

Hi niuc,

Sorry it's taken so long, but I'll try and reconstruct the last parts of my lost reply - the ones which weren't covered in my later reply to Ah-bin. You'll see from this why I was rather frustrated at losing it. (There was even more, but I'll leave that for another time, as it isn't directly related to anything in this thread.)
niuc wrote:Umami, the taste of MSG, if I understand it correctly, is "gurih" in Bahasa Indonesia and 'sor' ("rich") in my Hokkien variant. I think this 'sor' is 酥.
Very interesting to learn that both Bahasa Indonesia and your variant of Hokkien have a word for "umami".

I don't know this Hokkien word at all. What's the tone? Does it have anything to do with "bi3-sO3/7", which is the word I use for "taste": "i cu e thng phaiN ciah ka puaN-si - bo bi-sO e" (= "his soup is horrible - there's no taste"). The "bi3" I'm pretty sure is , but I don't know the character (or meaning) of "sO3/7" in this context - I don't use it anywhere else than in the combination "bi-sO". From meaning, it very well might be the same "sO" as the one you use for "umami" (if the tone for your "sor" is 3/7).
niuc wrote:脆 chèr = crisp, [落]風 làuhuang = soggy, these are considered what? not taste, right? If I still remember Indonesian correctly, these can be referred to as "rasa" (taste).
Yes, I wouldn't consider either of these to be a "taste" - interesting that Bahasa Indonesia does. Nevertheless, they are important concepts in Chinese cuisine. When I was young, my parents got a beautiful "Time-Life" book on "Chinese Cuisine", and I still vividly remember them reading this sentence out of the introduction (though I'm paraphrasing the wording, of course): "In Chinese cuisine, not only taste, but also texture and colour are of extreme importance". [Of course we all 'knew' this, implicitly, but it was interesting for us to see it stated explicitly like that.] So, I think your 脆 chèr = crisp, [落]風 làuhuang = soggy would fit into the category of "texture".

By co-incidence, I've recently had quite a long discussion with my parents about "chèr" (in Penang Hokkien, "che3"). Not so much because of the word itself, but because of another word, "khiu7". The reason is that both "che3" and "khiu7" could be translated as "crunchy", "crisp(y)" in English, but in Hokkien, they are very, very different - not even overlapping - in the things they describe. The reason that there was such a long discussion about it (actually on two separate occasions, lasting 10-15 minutes both times, I think!), was that we found it quite hard to define "khiu7".

The first word, "che3" is more straightforward. It corresponds roughly to things in English which are "crunchy" or "crisp(y)", if they are dry. So, "potato crisps" (=British usage, American usage calls them just "chips") and krupuk can be "che3". However, even for this word, I have some doubts. Can biscuits be "che3"? Can peanuts be "che"? (I.e. do they have to be quite flattish and thin, to be "che3"?)

The "if they are dry" part of the definition is precisely because of Hokkien "khiu7". My parents and I thought for a long time about this word, and could only find two types of food which could typically be called "khiu7", namely "hai-the" (= "(cured) jellyfish"), and "bok-ni" (particularly the thicker ones, when cooked in a soup or a 'wet' dish). Both of these would be described as "crunchy" in English. So, we tentatively decided that Hokkien "khiu7" corresponded to things which were "crunchy" in English, if they were "wet and leathery". The additional qualification "wet" was to exclude all the dry stuff covered by "che3", and the additional qualification "leathery" was to exclude things like tau7-gE5 and (iceberg) lettuce, (both) lightly cooked in soup. Both of these are "wet" and "crunchy" in English, but both my parents decided that they would definitely not be described as "khiu7" in Hokkien - the additional "leathery" feel - present in "hai-the" and "bok-ni" - are needed, before something can be called "khiu7".

So, in the same way as with the tastes, I summarize and list the things which are 'archetypically' "che3" and "khiu7", and ask readers to supply additional examples in their usage (and of course, if their usage differs, I'd be glad to know that too).

che3: potato crisps, krupuk
khiu7: (cured) jellyfish, bok-ni

---

Some additional notes:

1. Douglas lists "khiu7" with the appropriate meaning, but there is no character given in the edition with handwritten characters. Interestingly, he gives the tone as "khiu7" (which is why I write is as such here), whereas I would have said it was "khiu3". [As I've mentioned earlier, these two tones sound identical to me, but I give it "khiu3" because when replicated, I say "khiu1-khiu3" rather than "khiu3-khiu7" (sandhi tone written for the respective first syllables).]

2. Even in English, there doesn't seem to be a watertight distinction between "crunchy" and "crisp(y)". At first, I thought that "crisp(y)" was for dry things, and "crunchy" for both wet and dry, but my parents pointed out that - in Australia, at any rate - lettuce (which I would consider more 'wet' than 'dry') is "crispy", never "crunchy".

3. I've always preferred British usage of calling those thin, flat, salty munchies "crisps" rather than "chips", because it distinguishes them very easily from the other long, squarish in cross-section things which one eats with "fish and chips". In Australian and American usage, both are called "chips", and one has to distinguish from context.
Last edited by SimL on Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

amhoanna
Posts: 912
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2010 12:43 pm

Re: kiăm-siăp (stingy) and khiām-iŏng (thrifty)

Post by amhoanna »

I was leafing through a paper on a Kwongsai Hoklo ("Minnan") dialect and it showed that same phenomenon, of postvocalic nasals falling off and the vowels turning phonologically nasal. One example I remember is kaⁿ 柑 (vs. typical Hoklo kam).

This was in the book mall that Ah-bin mentioned in another thread. There were no Teochew materials on offer today, but Cantonese books and CDs were on display in a big way and drew abundant interest. There were also a couple of academic journals on the shelves. I skimmed an article on Bangkok Teochew and another on Yangon Hoisan. They both mentioned the use of a word "山巴/山芭", meaning 鄉下 COUNTRYSIDE (Bangkok Teochew) or 山林/農村 VILLAGE/WOODED HILLS (Yangon Hoisan).

Locked