As part of my Penang Hokkien clickfest, I also came across an old blog post by David Chan about how we Northerners speak Hokkien. It's highly entertaining, especially if you speak Penang Hokkien. And it also made me think about the various words only found in Penang Hokkien.
The words I cover here may or may not be part of the actual Penang Hokkien vernacular, some of them could simply be unique to my family. That's why these posts are called stories, not facts. 🤷
Generally, Penang Hokkien includes a bunch of remixed Malay and English words, which are then pronounced in our unique accent such that you might even miss the fact that they are borrowed words.
David's post covered the word “k-ouk” very well. In formal terms, “k-ouk” is an adverbial connector, like “lah”. But you cannot simply stick a “k-ouk” at the end of any phrase or sentence. If you use it wrongly, it will just end up being a joke.
“K-ouk” is most commonly used with “not yet”. For example, if someone asks have you eaten, you can answer “not yet k-ouk” (probably best to just listen to the audio version of this 👇). It sort of means “yet” when used this way. Like, has not come “k-ouk”, haven't finished “k-ouk”, you get the picture.
But you can also use “k-ouk” to mean “still have”, as in I still have something left. If someone asks you whether there are any biscuits left in the tin, you can say “have k-ouk” (again, audio version makes so much more sense 👇).
Finally, “k-ouk” can also change the meaning of an answer from definitive, to temporary. Let me explain. If you ask me, do you want this piece of cake, and I say “don't want k-ouk”, it's a different meaning from an outright “don't want”. The addition of “k-ouk” implies I don't want it yet, but I probably want it later. So don't eat the cake. 🍰