What is this short phrase that I heard at a Chinese restaurant?
February 20, 2016 3:19 PM   Subscribe

We heard the owner of a Chinese restaurant speak the words "Ha chin tao" in an angry tone, and I was curious if anyone recognized the phrase and could translate it for us.

At a Chinese restaurant the other day, the owner's granddaughter was being fussy, crying and screaming. Eventually the owner's daughter showed up to get the child, and as she was leaving, the owner shouted what sounded like "Ha chin tao" to her.

I have no idea which dialect she spoke, but a friend of mine told me that the phrase is not Cantonese.

Can anyone enlighten me?
posted by newfers to Writing & Language (9 answers total)
I don't know Chinese but do you happen to remember the pitch/tone of what was said? Each word could be: same pitch (monotone), falling (high to low), rising (low to high), or something else (e.g. high to low to high), and this changes the meaning.
posted by sninctown at 3:51 PM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have no exact recollection of the pitch/tone other than, to my untrained ears, it seemed to be spoken angrily. Wish I'd paid more attention.
posted by newfers at 4:17 PM on February 20, 2016

He was probably saying "See you later", 遲啲見
posted by My Dad at 4:26 PM on February 20, 2016

Is it possible that it was "hajima" which basically means "don't!" or "stop it!" in Korean?
posted by karbonokapi at 4:26 PM on February 20, 2016

It doesn't sound any word or phrase I can think of in Mandarin....it does sounds a little like it could be a name,though.

Fujianese dialect (language,really), which is completely and totally different from both Mandarin and Cantonese, is spoken in many places in the US due to the large numbers of immigrants from Fujian province in the US, so it could also be Fujianese.

Also, though, it is difficult to say what language/word it is by what you have typed because it's your interpretation of the sounds....so I wouldn't rule out Cantonese either even though your friend didn't recognize it. hope someone knows, though.

re: tones- yeah, Chinese is a tonal language but you can usually distinguish phrases from context,even if you don't know the tones. Plus, someone who doesn't know Chinese is not going to really be able to pick out tones. So I don't think you should worry about that here.
posted by bearette at 5:32 PM on February 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Could you have heard "Tā zhēn chǎo!" (她真吵) i.e. "she's so noisy"? Robot audio here that's really proper and not angry sounding.
posted by rhythm and booze at 6:08 PM on February 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

Maybe I'm pointing out the obvious, but to my untrained European ears, people in Chinese restaurants often sound angry, even when they're just chatting normally. The syllables sound abrupt and loud compared to my own language.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:37 AM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'd guess something like 下次见咯! In Cantonese that sounds sorta like "ha tsee geen lwo!"---"Yo! See you next time !" If in another dialect, probably something similar.
Most Westerners have the same reaction as Omnomnom to Cantonese, that it sounds loud and angry when actually people are just happily talking. The grandma was almost certainly not angry at all. That would be very unusual. Young children, especially those say under the age of 5 or 6, are expected to be loud and rambunctious, sometimes whiny, and are benevolently ignored as they burst forth with energy. You'll see that all the time at a popular dim sum restaurant. Kids running around, babies crying, screams and peals of laughter, lots of loud talking. It's charming. It's called 熱鬧 (renao in Mandarin) which means lively happy chaos.
posted by mono blanco at 6:34 AM on February 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Charming? Phew.

posted by newfers at 5:37 AM on February 23, 2016

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