How to know when chha means "better" and when it means "worse"?

"Chha" can mean "be different", "be better", "be worse".

  • Án-ne bô chha. That doesn't make any difference.

  • Chia̍h io̍h-á chia̍h-liáu ū khah chha--chi̍t-sut-á. He's a little better after taking the medicine.

  • Góa ê tōa-hàn--ê chin gâu tha̍k-chheh, sè-hàn--ê ū khah chha--chi̍t-sut-á. My older son is a good student; the younger one is not such a good student.

Is there a way to determine whether it means "better" or "worse" in a randomly given sentence? Like how would I know that "chha" in the last sentence means "worse (student)"? Maybe it says that the younger one is even better? And in the second sentence, maybe after taking the medicine I feel even worse. So just guessing doesn't work here.

And sometimes it's even hard for me to determine whether it means "different" or "worse"/"better".

  • Kin-á-ji̍t ê thiⁿ-khì chha cha-hng chha chin-chē;cha-hng khah joa̍h.
    Does it mean that todays' weather differs a lot from yesterday's, or does it mean that the weather today is better than yesterday's weather (because yesterday was hotter and the speaker prefers cooler weather), or does it mean that the weather today is worse than yesterday's (because it's hotter, and the speaker actually prefers the hotter weather)?

I think chha as a verb does not judge. It just means to be different. Chha as an adjective is judging. And it means worse.

Chha in Sentence 1 and 4 is a verb. Chha in Sentence 3 is an adjective.

Sentence 2 is tricky. For example,

Chiú khah mài lim hiah chōe.
Taⁿ ba̍k-chiu khah ū khoàⁿ.

In both cases khah is followed by a verb. I think it applies here. That chha is a verb. However, this analysis is a bit shaky.


Unless there is a sentence before or after, this one I will translate into:

"There is a little difference after taking the medicine."

→ "chha" here still means "difference". If you feel a bit different after taking a pill, usually it means you fell better.

If you don't, you will say "Io̍h-á chia̍h-liáu mā bô khah hó." [I] Don't feel better even after taking medicine.

This one I will translate into:

"My older son study well, while the younger one is a bit worse. "

Since [good student] can be either one who behaves good or the one studies well.

In my opinion, it is hard to tell whether "chha" means [worse] or [different] unless you accumulate enough experience.

Similar thing happens whenever we study a new language. :thinking:


M̄-koh chāi góa ê gí-kám chit-kù ū-iáⁿ sī ū khah hó, iā bô hit-ê khah bái ê ì-bī.

That's an interesting interpretation. So in sentence 4, chha just means "to differ"? And there's no pragmatic implication on whether it's better or worse?

I didn't mention it, but all the translations are from Maryknoll's book 2. If "chha" still means "difference" here, then probably the authors simplified things a bit and decided to translate it as "feel better" because, as you said, if there's a difference after taking a medicine, it's pragmatically implied that the difference is positive.

What's gí-kám? I didn't find it on (the English part of) ChhoeTaigi. And what is chāi in this case?

Gí-kám is a literal translation from the German word Sprachgefühl.語感

Chāi: From such and such perspective, according to such and such.


tsha (chha) means having a difference. The difference by itself has no positive or negative meaning attached to it. So you just have to infer from the rest to figure out if the effect of the difference is good or bad.


My understanding is that chha is not just a difference, but rather a difference that is qualitatively opposite from any known context.

If A chha B, and B has a connotation of "desirability", A would be "undesirable". Or vice versa. Or same for any other context.

This is why:

  • Chia̍h io̍h-á ū khah chha (= feels better, since context is being sick)
  • Chi̍t ê gâu tha̍k chheh, chi̍t ê khah chha (= not good at school, since context is being good at school)
  • Thiⁿ-khì chha chăng; chăng khah joa̍h (= it's cooler, and depending on what you know about their speaker or tone of voice when spoken, this may be good or bad)

I have the opposite reading on the first sentence and feel like my grandma as a native speaker would spontaneously contruct the sentence with /ho/ instead of /tsha/

No, chha is a better usage.

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