Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Please Have Pork on Me. I Beg You

Zhuang is a language mainly spoken in China, belonging to the Tai language family. There are about 1,980,000 speakers (2007). (source) The Zhuang ethnic group is the largest minority in China.

Zhuang speakers have an interesting way of expressing gratitude. To say "thank you", one literally says "(I) beg for (your) pork" which in Zhuang is gyo'mbaiq [k(h)jo.?baaj], making up of gyo "to beg" and mbaiq "pork".

The Zhuang "thank you" is an idiom deriving from the Zhuang culture and tradition. When one is invited to a celebration, he gives pork to the host who in return gives a portion of the pork back before the guest leaves the party. By doing this, the host is expressing his gratitude for the guest's kindness.

The word gyo is a cognate of Thai kʰɔ̌ɔ (ขอ) "to beg, to ask for".

Just for fun: What will learners of Zhuang who do not eat pork think of this phrase?

Information provided by Hienjningz Luengz via Facebook.

1 comment:

John Doe said...

It seems that the Tai people are really larger in number than we think. Spread across the continent of Asia, from Assam in India and from China down to Southeast Asia. I have also seen a documentary of Tai peoples living in Malaysia. Maybe the number of Tais in the world reaches up to 100 million people. Is Zhuang similar to สิบสองพันนา at all?