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A Swan in the Sky


1. In Romanised Teochew (without Tone Indicators)

Thi` ten zeg jiad go.
A ti u bou, a hia` bo.
A ti  se` kia` kio tua ped.
Tua ped thia` tiod bo nai ho.
Siu kai pao kou kue Siam Lo.
Ai` kher Siam Lo  khan ter ko.
U ziad, bo ziad, than thig tho.

“Siam Lo zun ai` khui.
Si zod  chen nan bo lai tui.
Hai zui phiao phiao.
Pe bo zin hiao.
Lao phua bo chua.
Cher hen nan siao.”

2. In Romanised Teochew

Thi`3ten4 zeg10 jiad01go1 .

A3ti2 u20bou4 , a3hia`3 bo1 .

A3ti2 se`3 kia`4 kio54 tua0ped0 .

Tua0ped0 thia`3 tiod10 bo10 nai20ho1 .

Siu3 kai10 pao3kou4 kue54 Siam10Lo1 .

Ai`54 kher54 Siam10Lo1 khan3 ter3ko3 .

U20ziad1 , bo10ziad1 , than54 thig01tho1 .


“Siam10Lo1 zun1 ai`54 khui3 .

Si42zod10 chen3nan1 bo10 lai10tui3 .

Hai42zui4 phiao3 phiao3 .

Pe20bo4 zin3 hiao3 .

Lao20phua1 bo10chua0 .

Cher42hen2 nan10 siao3 .”



3.  Direct Translation

Sky above one goose/swan.
Younger brother had wife, elder brother had not.
Younger brother begot child greeted elder paternal uncle.
Elder paternal uncle heard unbearable.
Packed a bag go across Siam. (old name for Thailand)
Wanted go Siam lead boar (on a leash)*.
Have eat, don’t have eat, earn leisurely travel.

“Siam ship about open/depart.
Died out relatives did not come chase.
Sea water drift drift.
Father mother real heartless.
Wife did not marry in.
That hatred difficult dissipate.”


4.  Proper Translation

In the sky there was a swan.
Younger brother had a wife but elder brother had not.
Younger brother begot child who greeted elder paternal uncle.
Elder paternal uncle could not bear to hear it.
Packed his belongings to emigrate to Siam (old name for Thailand).
Wanted to emigrate to Siam to live a simple life*.
Whether have food or not, have enjoyment.

“Ship going to Siam is about to depart.
Curse the relatives for not coming to dissuade.
Sea water drifting by (i.e. ship is sailing).
(My) parents are really heartless.
Did not get (me) a wife.
That is difficult to forgive.”

5. Chinese Translation


有 食 无 食     

人 无 来

婆 无 娶


*In the old days, there was no artificial insemination for breeding pigs, and it was not cost-effective to keep boars as they do not bear piglets and their meat is not suitable for consumption due to very strong odour. So pig farmers hired boars to inseminate their sows.  So there were people, often old bachelors, who kept a few boars each to provide this service.  When such service was required, the old man would lead one of his boars to the farm to provide the service.  Such work was simple but did not earn much.

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