Hainan Island, Part Three: “Ho Gai Da Mi!”

Jim, my ex-husband, likes kids and there were a lot of them in All Beauty. Jim got the idea of learning to say, “What is this?” in Hainanese then letting the kids take him around the village and teach him words.

Everyone was fascinated by his beard. Jim let the kids examine it and then asked them, “Ho gai da mi?”

“Shu!”

This went on the our first day on All Beauty. “Ho gai da mi? Ho gai da mi? Ho gai da mi?”

Jim learned words for lots of things. Chest, book, tree, beds, baby, chicken. At dinner the little kids asked their mom/aunt, “They don’t have these things in America? The American doesn’t know what a tree is or a book or anything.”

Our friends told us later and taught Jim to say, “What do you call this?”

I don’t remember that phrase, unfortunately. We did learn a phrase that is absolutely profound and beautiful to express the sensation of having no clue at all about what’s going on, “Ah-kyak-a-looie.” It literally means, “As a baby duck listens to thunder.”

7 thoughts on “Hainan Island, Part Three: “Ho Gai Da Mi!”

  1. “We did learn a phrase that is absolutely profound and beautiful to express the sensation of having no clue at all about whatโ€™s going on, โ€œAh-kyak-a-looie.โ€ It literally means, โ€œAs a baby duck listens to thunder.โ€” That is so fitting, and provides a most excellent imagery to go along with. Phrases, and imagery between languages are very eye opening.

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