November 08, 2013

Lat tali lat ...

Lat tali lat ... and then what? Of course ... TAM POM! Does this phrase rings a bell to you? If it does, you are probably in my generation or definitely older. Maybe some who is a little bit younger than me can still remember this phrase which is from a method used for selection (or exclusion) of participants in games we used to play ... well, I will not try to explain how it works here ... I am sure those who knows it remember how it works.

But then, do you remember the following phrases? Maybe your ‘kampung’ (village) have different following phrases but from where I grew up ...  the complete phrases are as follows:-

Lat tali lat tam pom’ ... really, I am not sure what language it is or what is the meaning.

Sik fan em sai soong’ (Cantonese) ... meaning having rice without any dishes.

Ah ma ta ngor ta em tung’ (Cantonese) ... meaning when my mother beats me, not too painful.

Ah pa ta ngor see futt tung’ (Cantonese) ... meaning when my father beats me, the backside hurts.

Selection methods like “Lat tali lat tam pom” will be forgotten very soon if not forgotten by many already. I have not seen anyone playing or even heard anyone mention the phrases for a very long time. And what about 'Whose shoe is the dirtiest?' The last time I saw children playing this was at least 10 years ago.

Another selection method was “tim chee ping ping” ... yes, remember? This method was used to choose who gets to be the ‘ping’ (meaning the soldier or the good guy) and who will be the ‘chak’ (meaning thief or the bad guy). Participants will hold each other’s thumbs to join hands and then the ‘tim chee ping ping’ phrase will be said out loud and one will count the hands up and down from syllable to syllable ... now, I am not going to explain how exactly it works because I am sure old boys like me will remember ... but I will tell you the two phrases just in case you have forgotten them ... they goes like this :-

Tim chee ping ping ... yat tim chung lei, lei cho ping

'Tim chee chak chak ... yat tim chung lei, lei cho chak

Loosely translated, the first phrase means ... touch and point to the soldier (ping), once it touches you, you be the soldier (ping). And in the second phrase, just change the ‘ping’ (soldier) to ‘chak’ (thief).

Anyone remember ‘kunci kunta’? The game played with two sticks or small branches (one long and one short) and a small hole in the ground ... this game is long forgotten ... I can’t remember exactly how it was played ... can someone refresh my memory?

What about ‘tai chi’? Not the ‘Tai Chi” kungfu but in Cantonese ‘tai chi’ means the letter (pronounced ‘tai' ... meaning big). We played this game at the badminton court where players have to spread out their arms and legs (which resembled the Chinese letter   ... hence the name) to block your opponents from crossing the certain lines ... I remember I always took the first available bus in the morning so I can get to school early to play a few games before the school starts.

Many old games, words and phrases will soon be forgotten. The same goes for many old terms and old name of places that are no longer use by the younger generation ... for example, I was partnering a young player in a badminton game not too long ago and when our opponents returned a high shot, I instinctively called out loud (to my younger partner) ... “square”. Look, to old school type of badminton players like me ... ‘square’ means retreat or move back to your own box (or square ... hence the term). But my younger partner was confused ... he looked at me and asked ... errrr Uncle ... what is ‘square’ ah? Later, I jested to myself ... nobody uses the term ‘square’ in badminton anymore you old fool!

Let me tell you a name of a place (in PJ) which no one uses anymore ... my friend and I were looking for a place to have lunch and I suggested that we go to ‘Sun Tow’ (in Cantonese). Puzzled at my suggestion, he asked ... Where is ‘Sun Tow’? I said ... State. Still a bit baffled, he asked me again ... Where is State? It did not occur to me that my young friend doesn't know the place which I called ‘State’ or  'Sun Tow’ in Cantonese ... the younger generation really don’t know that there is an old cinema called State Cinema in that area ... I am not sure if it is still called State now. Anyway, my friend told me that area is called PJ New Town.

Time flies, things changed, old names and phrases may have been forgotten by many but I still remember a lot of them. I like to talk and reminisce about the good old times we had, the old games we played, the old phrases we remembered, the old names we knew ... they bring back a lot of good memories  ... I like to remember them and I am glad I can still remember them.


Anonymous said...

Interesting article.

xelaser said...

i'm 25 and my friends still play lat ta li lat when deciding teams. an easy and (rather) fair way of randomising team selection! though singaporeans say 'orh yah peh yah soome'

there's pepsi cola (tapping the other person's foot with your foot knocks him/ her out of the game) that is one of my favourite. i'm determined to teach my kids these in the future