How do I say this adjective?

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.

Post by Andrew »

jilang wrote:
What does 五八四 stand for?
Where have you heard this. I wonder what this means too (besides a bunch of numbers).
It was used a lot at school to mean the same as ham sap lo

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Post by SimL »

Hi Jilang & Andrew

五八四 was quiet a common expression in Penang in my youth. I think it meant something very similar to 五支须. People would say "i goo peh si".

In fact, the phrase was so well-known that in our Malaysian English, we even said: "He's five eight four".

I'll have to ask my parents: 1) If I recall the *meaning* more or less correctly (of the *existence* of the phrase, I have no doubt), and 2) If there was a subtle difference between 五八四 and 五支须. (But these are slightly awkward matters to bring up with one's parents!)


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Post by jilang »

I wonder what the significance of those three numbers are. I've never heard it translated into English.

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Post by SimL »

ong wrote:It is from those books about lottery number.584 is 猪八戒
I can't see what is the point for using it.
Jilang: Ong indicates that it comes from those lottery number books, and that he doesn't know the significance of using it to mean "dirty minded".

Had YOU heard the term before (in it's original Hokkien form I mean - I realise you said you hadn't heard it translated into English)?

I checked with my parents, and neither of them had ever heard of 五八四 / 猪八戒 goo-peh-si. I guess it could have been school slang, perhaps restricted to those few years. I was glad to see that Andrew seems to be familiar with it too though. That's why I'm curious to know if you (or any other readers) know it.

Andrew: where did you go to school? I went to Wellesley Primary School, on Northam Road, and Penang Free School, on Green Lane.


In Penang, "hiau5" is used to mean "dirty minded" for ANYONE, men and women (and I guess said more often about men than about women, because women were supposed to be chaste and non-sexual). I was hence very surprised when I found the word in the Douglas dictionary, with the following definition:

“hiau5”: lewd, lascivious (only said of vile women)
- “hiau5-khang2”: ditto.
- “hiau5-siau2”: ditto.
- “hiau5-lin1-long1”: exceedingly lascivious (woman).
- “lau7-hiau5”: an old and lewd woman.

I mean, I was particularly surprised that Douglas said it was restricted to women, never men.

So, I checked with my parents, and my mother confirmed that it was only in Penang that "hiau5" could be used for men. In her youth, in southern peninsular Malaysia, it was exactly the same usage as Douglas, i.e. could ONLY be used for women.

She explained that there was even a Malaysian-English term for "hiau5" in her youth, namely "itchified"!

I was also surprised that it wasn't at all embarassing to speak about these terms with my parents.


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Post by ong »

I think it started with hiau also mean busybody or 自作多情 for man too.However it is found in dict which means pruriency for man and woman .


Post by Andrew »

I don't think I've ever heard hiau5 used to refer to men. I think I would have used ham-sap or 584.