Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen in Hoklo

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Good news!

"German classic released in Hoklo

 FIRST IN A SERIES: The aim was to translate ‘Grimms’ Fairy Tales’ as closely as possible to the original while giving play to Hoklo’s characteristics, the translator said

    By Kayleigh Madjar / Staff writer, Taipei Times (6/21/21)

Some of our favorite things:  languages, topolects, translations, folktales.

National Cheng Kung University linguists on Wednesday released a bilingual version of Grimms’ Fairy Tales in German and Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), complete with voice recordings accessible via QR code.

Grimms’ Fairy Tales, a German collection of about 300 stories published in the 19th century, has been translated into more than 100 languages worldwide.

Hoklo is now joining the list thanks to a project spearheaded by Tan Le-kun (陳麗君), an associate professor in the university’s Department of Taiwanese Literature.

The fairy tale collection is the first in the series, to be followed by bilingual versions of French, Japanese, Russian, Vietnamese and US classics, among others, the university said.

“If language is a vehicle for culture, then writing is a repository for its dissemination,” Tan said.

Hopefully, the availability of literature can help Hoklo take root as a language and to no longer be treated as mere source material for slang, she added.  [VHM:  Amen!!]

The illustrator of the book, Aya Kondo, lives in Japan and is the granddaughter of renowned Hoklo expert Ong Iok-tek (王育德).

I'm especially pleased that the creators of this series are simultaneously issuing them in written and spoken versions.

A tiny suggestion:  do the same for Taiwanese folktales.


Selected readings


[Thanks to June Teufel Dreyer]


  1. Mark S. said,

    June 21, 2021 @ 8:07 am

    It appears to be mainly in Hanzi, with romanization sprinkled in. For sample pages, see here:

  2. Victor Mair said,

    June 21, 2021 @ 9:47 am

    @Mark S.

    Thanks for making those sample pages available to us.

    I encourage readers to take a look at the enlargeable pages and see how they write Hoklo with a combination of Hanzi and romanization.

  3. Lasius said,

    June 22, 2021 @ 3:58 am

    @ Mark S.

    Alas, for the German text they use a Standard German translation, thus changing the meaning and destroying the rhyming scheme.


    Standard German:

    Als Ihr in dem Brunnen saßt,
    Als Ihr ein Frosch wart.


    Als Ihr in dem Brunnen saßt,
    Als Ihr eine Fretsche wast.

  4. monscampus said,

    June 27, 2021 @ 11:46 pm


    As a speaker of Standard German without a trace of dialect I only know the variant with the allegedly destroyed rhyming scheme. I never heard *fretsche*, but found an explanation of the word here
    Deutung 4.2. Bedeutung des Wortes Fretsche

    It seems to be Frettchen (ferret) as pronounced in Hesse, which is hardly the same animal as a frog. Not a case for alas then. A frog is a frog is a frog…

    Das raffinier-
    te Tier
    tat's um des Reimes willen nur?

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