Hokkien

Hokkien (/ˈhɒkiɛn, hɒˈkiːɛn/;[a] from Chinese: 福建話; pinyin: Fújiànhuà; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Hok-kiàn-ōe)[b] or Minnan language (閩南語/闽南语), is a Southern Min Chinese dialect group originating from the Minnan region in the south-eastern part of Fujian Province in Southeastern China, and spoken widely there. It is also spoken widely in Taiwan and by the Chinese diaspora in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia, and by other overseas Chinese all over the world. It is the mainstream form of Southern Min.

It is closely related to Teochew, though it has limited mutual intelligibility with it, whereas it is more distantly related to other variants such as Putian dialect, Hainanese and Leizhou dialect due to historical influences.

Hokkien historically served as the lingua franca amongst overseas Chinese communities of all dialects and subgroups in Southeast Asia, and remains today as the most spoken variety of Chinese in the region, including in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and some parts of Indochina (particularly Thailand, Laos and Cambodia).[7]

The Betawi Malay language, spoken by some five million people in and around the Indonesian capital Jakarta, includes numerous Hokkien loanwords due to the significant influence of the Chinese Indonesian diaspora, most of whom are of Hokkien ancestry and origin.

Hokkien
Minnan language 閩南語
Quanzhang Minnan 泉漳片
Hokkien-Taiwanese 闽台泉漳语
閩南语 / 闽南语
Bân-lâm-ōe / Bân-lâm-uē
Native toChina, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and overseas communities
RegionMinnan region (Southern Fujian province) and other south-eastern coastal areas of China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia
EthnicityHoklo
Native speakers
~35 million in Southern Fujian, Taiwan and Shanwei city, 5-6 million in other overseas countries.
Dialects
Official status
Official language in
 Taiwan;[1][2][3] one of the statutory languages for public transport announcements in Taiwan [4]
Regulated byNone (The Republic of China Ministry of Education and some NGOs are influential in Taiwan)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottologhokk1242[5]
fuki1235[6]
Banlamgu
Distribution of Southern Min languages. Quanzhang (Hokkien) is dark green.
Hokkien Map
Distribution of Quanzhang (Minnan Proper) dialects within Fujian Province and Taiwan. Lengna dialect (Longyan Min) is a variant of Southern Min that is spoken in the urban cities in the east of Longyan prefecture.
Hokkien
Traditional Chinese福建話
Simplified Chinese福建话
Hokkien POJHok-kiàn-ōe
Hoklo
Traditional Chinese福佬話
Simplified Chinese福佬话
Hokkien POJHok-ló-ōe

Names

Chinese speakers of the Quanzhang variety of Southern Min refer to the mainstream Southern Min language as

  • Bân-lâm-gú / Bân-lâm-ōe (闽南语/闽南话; 閩南語/閩南話, literally 'language or speech of Southern Min') in Mainland China and Taiwan.[8]
  • Tâi-gí (臺語, literally 'Taiwanese language') in Taiwan.
  • Hok-kiàn-ōe (福建话; 福建話, literally 'Fujian speech') in Burma, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
  • Lán-lâng-ōe (咱儂話, literally 'our people's language') in the Philippines.

In parts of Southeast Asia and in the English-speaking communities, the term Hokkien ([hɔk˥kiɛn˨˩]) is etymologically derived from the Southern Min pronunciation for Fujian (Chinese: 福建; pinyin: Fújiàn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Hok-kiàn), the province from which the language hails. In Southeast Asia and the English press, Hokkien is used in common parlance to refer to the Southern Min dialects of southern Fujian, and does not include reference to dialects of other Sinitic branches also present in Fujian such as the Fuzhou dialect (Eastern Min), Putian dialect, Northern Min, Gan Chinese or Hakka. In Chinese linguistics, these dialects are known by their classification under the Quanzhang division (Chinese: 泉漳片; pinyin: Quánzhāng piàn) of Min Nan, which comes from the first characters of the two main Hokkien urban centers of Quanzhou and Zhangzhou.

Geographic distribution

Hokkien originated in the southern area of Fujian province, an important center for trade and migration, and has since become one of the most common Chinese varieties overseas. The major pole of Hokkien varieties outside of Fujian is Taiwan, where, during the 200 years of Qing dynasty rule, thousands of immigrants from Fujian arrived yearly. The Taiwanese dialect mostly has origins with the Quanzhou and Zhangzhou variants, but since then, the Amoy dialect, also known as the Xiamen dialect, is becoming the modern prestige standard for the language in Mainland China. Both Amoy and Xiamen come from the Chinese name of the city (simplified Chinese: 厦门; traditional Chinese: 廈門; pinyin: Xiàmén; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Ē-mûi); the former is from Zhangzhou Hokkien, whereas the later comes from Mandarin.

There are many Minnan (Hokkien) speakers among overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia as well as in the United States (Hoklo Americans). Many ethnic Han Chinese emigrants to the region were Hoklo from southern Fujian, and brought the language to what is now Burma (Myanmar), Indonesia (the former Dutch East Indies) and present day Malaysia and Singapore (formerly Malaya and the British Straits Settlements). Many of the Minnan dialects of this region are highly similar to Xiamen dialect (Amoy) and Taiwanese Hokkien with the exception of foreign loanwords. Hokkien is reportedly the native language of up to 80% of the Chinese people in the Philippines, among which is known locally as Lan-nang or Lán-lâng-oē ("Our people’s language"). Hokkien speakers form the largest group of overseas Chinese in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines.

Classification

Locations of Hokkien (Quanzhang) varieties in Fujian

Southern Fujian is home to three principal Minnan Proper (Hokkien) dialects: Chinchew, Amoy, Chiangchew, originating from the cities of Quanzhou, Xiamen and Zhangzhou (respectively).

Traditionally speaking, Quanzhou dialect spoken in Quanzhou is the Traditional Standard Minnan, it is the dialect that is used in and Liyuan Opera (梨园戏) and Nanying music (南音). Being the Traditional Standard Minnan, Quanzhou dialect is considered to have the purest accent and the most conservative Minnan dialect.

In the late 18th to the early 19th century, Xiamen (Amoy) became the principal city of southern Fujian. Xiamen (Amoy) dialect is adopted as the Modern Standard Minnan. It is a hybrid of the Quanzhou and Zhangzhou dialects. It has played an influential role in history, especially in the relations of Western nations with China, and was one of the most frequently learnt dialect of Quanzhang variety by Westerners during the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century.

The Modern Standard form of Quanzhang accent spoken around the city of Tainan in Taiwan is a hybrid of the Quanzhou and Zhangzhou dialects, in the same way as the Amoy dialect. All Quanzhang dialects spoken throughout the whole of Taiwan are collectively known as Taiwanese Hokkien or just the Taiwanese language. Used by a majority of the population,[9] it bears much importance from a socio-political perspective, forming the second (and perhaps today most significant) major pole of the language due to the popularity of Taiwanese-language media.

Southeast Asia

The varieties of Hokkien in Southeast Asia originate from these dialects.

The Singaporeans, Southern Malaysians and people in Indonesia's Riau and surrounding islands variant is from the Quanzhou area. They speak a distinct form of Quanzhou Hokkien called Southern Peninsular Malaysian Hokkien (SPMH).

Among ethnic Chinese inhabitants of Penang, and other states in Northern Malaysia and Medan, with other areas in North Sumatra, Indonesia, a distinct form of Zhangzhou Hokkien has developed. In Penang, it is called Penang Hokkien while across the Malacca Strait in Medan, an almost identical variant is known as Medan Hokkien.

The Philippines variant is mostly from Quanzhou or Amoy (Xiamen), as most of their ancestors are from the aforementioned area.

History

Variants of Hokkien dialects can be traced to two sources of origin: Quanzhou and Zhangzhou. Both Amoy and most Taiwanese are based on a mixture of Quanzhou and Zhangzhou dialects, while the rest of the Hokkien dialects spoken in South East Asia are either derived from Quanzhou and Zhangzhou, or based on a mixture of both dialects.

Quanzhou

During the Three Kingdoms period of ancient China, there was constant warfare occurring in the Central Plain of China. Northerners began to enter into Fujian region, causing the region to incorporate parts of northern Chinese dialects. However, the massive migration of northern Han Chinese into Fujian region mainly occurred after the Disaster of Yongjia. The Jìn court fled from the north to the south, causing large numbers of northern Han Chinese to move into Fujian region. They brought the Old Chinese spoken in the Central Plain of China from the prehistoric era to the 3rd century into Fujian. This then gradually evolved into the Quanzhou dialect.

Zhangzhou

In 677 (during the reign of Emperor Gaozong), Chen Zheng, together with his son Chen Yuanguang, led a military expedition to suppress a rebellion of the She people. In 885, (during the reign of Emperor Xizong of Tang), the two brothers Wang Chao and Wang Shenzhi, led a military expedition force to suppress the Huang Chao rebellion.[10] These two waves of migration from the north brought the language of northern Middle Chinese into the Fujian region. This then gradually evolved into the Zhangzhou dialect.

Xiamen (Amoy)

The Amoy dialect is the main dialect spoken in the Chinese city of Xiamen (formerly romanized and natively pronounced as "Amoy") and its surrounding regions of Tong'an and Xiang'an, both of which are now included in the greater Xiamen area. This dialect developed in the late Ming dynasty when Xiamen was increasingly taking over Quanzhou's position as the main port of trade in southeastern China. Quanzhou traders began traveling southwards to Xiamen to carry on their businesses while Zhangzhou peasants began traveling northwards to Xiamen in search of job opportunities. A need for a common language arose. The Quanzhou and Zhangzhou varieties are similar in many ways (as can be seen from the common place of Henan Luoyang where they originated), but due to differences in accents, communication can be a problem. Quanzhou businessmen considered their speech to be the prestige accent and considered Zhangzhou's to be a village dialect. Over the centuries, dialect leveling occurred and the two speeches mixed to produce the Amoy dialect.

Early sources

Several playscripts survive from the late 16th century, written in a mixture of Quanzhou and Chaozhou dialects. The most important is the Romance of the Litchi Mirror, with extant manuscripts dating from 1566 and 1581.[11][12]

In the early 17th century, Spanish missionaries in the Philippines produced materials documenting the Hokkien varieties spoken by the Chinese trading community who had settled there in the late 16th century:[11][13]

  • Diccionarium Sino-Hispanicum (1604), a Spanish-Hokkien dictionary, giving equivalent words, but not definitions.
  • Doctrina Christiana en letra y lengua china (1607), a Hokkien translation of the Doctrina Christiana.[14][15]
  • Bocabulario de la lengua sangleya (c. 1617), a Spanish-Hokkien dictionary, with definitions.
  • Arte de la Lengua Chiõ Chiu (1620), a grammar written by a Spanish missionary in the Philippines.

These texts appear to record a Zhangzhou dialect, from the area of Haicheng (an old port that is now part of Longhai).[16]

Chinese scholars produced rhyme dictionaries describing Hokkien varieties at the beginning of the 19th century:[17]

  • Huìyīn Miàowù (彙音妙悟 "Understanding of the collected sounds") was written around 1800 by Huang Qian (黃謙), and describes the Quanzhou dialect. The oldest extant edition dates from 1831.
  • Huìjí yǎsútōng shíwǔyīn (彙集雅俗通十五音 "Compilation of the fifteen elegant and vulgar sounds") by Xie Xiulan (謝秀嵐) describes the Zhangzhou dialect. The oldest extant edition dates from 1818.

Walter Henry Medhurst based his 1832 dictionary on the latter work.

Phonology

Hokkien has one of the most diverse phoneme inventories among Chinese varieties, with more consonants than Standard Mandarin, Cantonese and Shanghainese. Vowels are more-or-less similar to that of Standard Mandarin. Hokkien varieties retain many pronunciations that are no longer found in other Chinese varieties. These include the retention of the /t/ initial, which is now /tʂ/ (Pinyin 'zh') in Mandarin (e.g. 'bamboo' 竹 is tik, but zhú in Mandarin), having disappeared before the 6th century in other Chinese varieties.[18]

Initials

Southern Min has aspirated, unaspirated as well as voiced consonant initials. For example, the word khui (; "open") and kuiⁿ (; "close") have the same vowel but differ only by aspiration of the initial and nasality of the vowel. In addition, Southern Min has labial initial consonants such as m in m̄-sī (毋是; "is not").

Another example is 'da-po͘-kiáⁿ (查埔囝; "boy") and cha-bó͘-kiáⁿ (查某囝; "girl"), which differ in the second syllable in consonant voicing and in tone.

Finals

Unlike Mandarin, Hokkien retains all the final consonants corresponding to those of Middle Chinese. While Mandarin only preserves the n and ŋ finals, Southern Min also preserves the m, p, t and k finals and developed the ʔ (glottal stop).

Vowels

The vowels of Hokkien are /i, y, ɨ, u, e, ə, ɤ, o, ɛ, ɔ, a, ɐ/.

The following table illustrates some of the more commonly seen vowel shifts. Characters with the same vowel are shown in parentheses.

English Chinese character Accent Pe̍h-ōe-jī IPA Teochew Peng'Im
two Quanzhou, Taipei li˧ jĭ (zi˧˥)[19]
Xiamen, Zhangzhou, Tainan dʑi˧
sick (生) Quanzhou, Xiamen, Taipei pīⁿ pĩ˧ pēⁿ (pẽ˩)
Zhangzhou, Tainan pēⁿ pẽ˧
egg (遠) Quanzhou, Xiamen, Taiwan nn̄g nŋ˧ nn̆g (nŋ˧˥)
Zhangzhou nūi nui˧
chopsticks (豬) Quanzhou tīr tɯ˧ tēu (tɤ˩)
Xiamen, Taipei tu˧
Zhangzhou, Tainan ti˧
shoes (街)
Quanzhou, Xiamen, Taipei ue˧˥ ôi
Zhangzhou, Tainan ê e˧˥
leather (未) Quanzhou phêr pʰə˨˩ phuê (pʰue˩)
Xiamen, Taipei phê pʰe˨˩
Zhangzhou, Tainan phôe pʰue˧
chicken (細) Quanzhou, Xiamen, Taipei koe kue˥ koi
Zhangzhou, Tainan ke ke˥
hair (兩) Quanzhou, Taiwan, Xiamen mn̂g mo
Zhangzhou, Taiwan mo͘ mɔ̃
return Quanzhou hoan huaⁿ huêng
Xiamen hâiⁿ hãɪ˨˦
Zhangzhou, Taiwan hêng hîŋ
Speech (花) Quanzhou, Taiwan oe ue
Zhangzhou oa ua

Tones

In general, Hokkien dialects have 5 to 7 phonemic tones. According to the traditional Chinese system, however, there are 7 to 9 tones if the two additional entering tones (see the discussion on Chinese tone). Tone sandhi is extensive.[20] There are minor variations between the Quanzhou and Zhangzhou tone systems. Taiwanese tones follow the patterns of Amoy or Quanzhou, depending on the area of Taiwan. Many dialects have an additional phonemic tone ("tone 9" according to the traditional reckoning), used only in special or foreign loan words.[21]

Tones
陰平 陽平 陰上 陽上 陰去 陽去 陰入 陽入
Tone Number 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8
調值 Xiamen, Fujian 44 24 53 - 21 22 32 4
東 taŋ1 銅 taŋ5 董 taŋ2 - 凍 taŋ3 動 taŋ7 觸 tak4 逐 tak8
Taipei, Taiwan 44 24 53 - 11 33 32 4
-
Tainan, Taiwan 44 23 41 - 21 33 32 44
-
Zhangzhou, Fujian 34 13 53 - 21 22 32 121
-
Quanzhou, Fujian 33 24 55 22 41 5 24
-
Penang, Malaysia[22] 33 23 445 - 21 3 4
-

Dialects

Similar to England, the Hokkien language (Minnan) is spoken in a variatiety of accents and dialects across the Minnan region. The Hokkien spoken in most areas of the three counties of southern Zhangzhou have merged the coda finals -n and -ng into -ng. The initial consonant j (dz and ) is not present in most dialects of Hokkien spoken in Quanzhou, having been merged into the d or l initials.

The -ik or -ɪk final consonant that is preserved in the native Hokkien dialects of Zhangzhou and Xiamen is also preserved in the Nan'an dialect (色, 德, 竹) but lost in most dialects of Quanzhou Hokkien.[23]

Comparison

The Amoy dialect (Xiamen) is a hybrid of the Quanzhou and Zhangzhou dialects. Taiwanese is also a hybrid of these two dialects. Taiwanese in northern and coastal Taiwan tends to be based on the Quanzhou variety, whereas the Taiwanese spoken in central, south and inland Taiwan tends to be based on Zhangzhou speech. There are minor variations in pronunciation and vocabulary between Quanzhou and Zhangzhou dialects. The grammar is generally the same. Additionally, extensive contact with the Japanese language has left a legacy of Japanese loanwords in Taiwanese Hokkien. On the other hand, the variants spoken in Singapore and Malaysia have a substantial number of loanwords from Malay and to a lesser extent, from English and other Chinese varieties, such as the closely related Teochew and some Cantonese.

Penang Hokkien and Medan Hokkien are based on Zhangzhou dialect, whereas Southern Peninsular Malaysian Hokkien is based on Quanzhou dialect.

Mutual intelligibility

The Quanzhou dialect, Xiamen dialect, Zhangzhou dialect and Taiwanese are generally mutually intelligible.[24] The overseas varieties such as Penang Hokkien and Singaporean Hokkien are slightly less intelligible to speakers of mainland Min Nan and Taiwanese dialects due to the existence of foreign loanwords.

Although the Min Nan varieties of Teochew and Amoy are 84% phonetically similar including the pronounciations of un-used Chinese characters as well as same characters used for different meanings, and 34% lexically similar,, Teochew has only 51% intelligibility with the Tong'an Xiamen dialect of the Hokkien language (Cheng 1997) whereas Mandarin and Amoy Min Nan are 62% phonetically similar and 15% lexically similar. In comparison, German and English are 60% lexically similar.[25]

Hainanese, which is sometimes considered Southern Min, has almost no mutual intelligibility with any form of Hokkien.[24]

Grammar

Hokkien is an analytic language; in a sentence, the arrangement of words is important to its meaning.[26] A basic sentence follows the subject–verb–object pattern (i.e. a subject is followed by a verb then by an object), though this order is often violated because Hokkien dialects are topic-prominent. Unlike synthetic languages, seldom do words indicate time, gender and plural by inflection. Instead, these concepts are expressed through adverbs, aspect markers, and grammatical particles, or are deduced from the context. Different particles are added to a sentence to further specify its status or intonation.

A verb itself indicates no grammatical tense. The time can be explicitly shown with time-indicating adverbs. Certain exceptions exist, however, according to the pragmatic interpretation of a verb's meaning. Additionally, an optional aspect particle can be appended to a verb to indicate the state of an action. Appending interrogative or exclamative particles to a sentence turns a statement into a question or shows the attitudes of the speaker.

Hokkien dialects preserve certain grammatical reflexes and patterns reminiscent of the broad stage of Archaic Chinese. This includes the serialization of verb phrases (direct linkage of verbs and verb phrases) and the infrequency of nominalization, both similar to Archaic Chinese grammar.[27]

khì bué ū 錶仔pió-á bo
You-go-buy-have watch-no (Gloss)
"Did you go to buy a watch?"

Choice of grammatical function words also varies significantly among the Hokkien dialects. For instance, 乞 khit (denoting the causative, passive or dative) is retained in Jinjiang (also unique to the Jinjiang dialect is 度 thoo) and in Jieyang, but not in Longxi and Xiamen, whose dialects use 互 (hoo) instead.[28]

Pronouns

Hokkien dialects differ in their preferred choice of pronouns. For instance, while the second person pronoun (汝) is standard in Taiwanese Hokkien, the Teochew loanword (汝) is more common among Hokkien-speaking communities in Southeast Asia. The plural personal pronouns tend to be nasalized forms of the singular ones. Personal pronouns found in the Hokkien dialects are listed below:

Person Singular Plural
First person
góa
1, 3gún, góan

2, 3 or 俺
lán or án

我儂
góa-lâng
Second person




lín

恁儂
lín lâng
Third person
i
𪜶
in

伊儂
i lâng
1 Inclusive
2 Exclusive
3 儂 (-lâng) is typically suffixed in Southeast Asian Hokkien dialects

Possessive pronouns are marked by the particle ê (的), or its literary version chi (之). Plural pronouns are typically unmarked (the nasalized final serves as the possessive indicator):[29]

gún ang sìⁿ Tân
"My husband's surname is Tan."

Reflexive pronouns are made by appending the pronouns ka-kī (家己) or chū-kí (自己).

Hokkien dialects use a variety of differing demonstrative pronouns, which are as follows:

  • this - che (這, 即), chit-ê (即個)
  • that - he (許, 彼), hit-ê (彼個)
  • here - chiâ (遮), chit-tau (即兜)
  • there - hiâ (遐), hit-tau (彼兜)

The interrogative pronouns are:

  • what - siáⁿ-mih (啥物), sīm-mi̍h (甚麼)
  • when - tī-sî (底時), kuí-sî (幾時), tang-sî (當時), sīm-mi̍h-sî-chūn (甚麼時陣)
  • where - to-lo̍h (倒落), tó-uī (倒位)
  • who - siáⁿ-lâng (啥人) or siáⁿ (啥)
  • why - ūi-siáⁿ-mih (為啥物), ūi-sīm-mi̍h (為甚物), án-chóaⁿ (按怎), khah (盍)
  • how - án-chóaⁿ (按怎) lû-hô (如何) cháiⁿ-iūⁿ (怎樣)

Copula ("to be")

States and qualities are generally expressed using stative verbs that do not require the verb "to be":

goá 腹肚pak-tó͘ iau
"I am hungry." (lit. I-stomach-hungry)

With noun complements, the verb (是) serves as the verb "to be".

昨昏cha-hng 八月節poeh-ge'h-chueh
"Yesterday was the Mid-Autumn festival."

To indicate location, the words (佇) tiàm (踮), leh (咧), which are collectively known as the locatives or sometimes coverbs in Chinese linguistics, are used to express "(to be) at":

goá tiàm chia tán
"I am here waiting for you."
i 這摆chit-mái chhù lāi leh khùn
"He's sleeping at home now."

Negation

Hokkien dialects have a variety of negation particles that are prefixed or affixed to the verbs they modify. There are five primary negation particles in Hokkien dialects:

  1. (毋, 呣, 唔)
  2. bē, bōe (袂, 未)
  3. mài (莫, 勿)
  4. (無)
  5. put (不) - literary

Other negative particles include:

  1. biàu (嫑) - a contraction of bô iàu (無要), as in biàu-kín (嫑緊)
  2. bàng (甭)
  3. bián (免)
  4. thài (汰)

The particles (毋, 呣, 唔) is general and can negate almost any verb:

i bat
"He cannot read." (lit. he-not-know-word)

The particle mài (莫, 勿), a concatenation of m-ài (毋愛) is used to negate imperative commands:

mài kóng!
"Don't speak!"

The particle (無) indicates the past tense:

i chia̍h
"He did not eat."

The verb 'to have', ū (有) is replaced by (無) when negated (not 無有):

i chîⁿ
"He does not have any money."

The particle put (不) is used infrequently, mostly found in literary compounds and phrases:

i chin 不孝put-hàu
"He is truly unfilial."

Vocabulary

The majority of Hokkien vocabulary is monosyllabic.[30] Many Hokkien words have cognates in other Chinese varieties. That said, there are also many indigenous words that are unique to Hokkien and are potentially not of Sino-Tibetan origin, while others are shared by all the Min dialects (e.g. 'congee' is 糜 , bôe, , not 粥 zhōu, as in other dialects).

As compared to Standard Chinese (Mandarin), Hokkien dialects prefer to use the monosyllabic form of words, without suffixes. For instance, the Mandarin noun suffix 子 (zi) is not found in Hokkien words, while another noun suffix, 仔 (á) is used in many nouns. Examples are below:

  • 'duck' - 鸭 ah or 鴨仔 ah-á (SC: 鸭子 yāzi)
  • 'color' - 色 sek (SC: 顏色 yán sè)

In other bisyllabic morphemes, the syllables are inverted, as compared to Standard Chinese. Examples include the following:

  • 'guest' - 人客 lâng-kheh (SC: 客人 kèrén)

In other cases, the same word can have different meanings in Hokkien and standard written Chinese. Similarly, depending on the region Hokkien is spoken in, loanwords from local languages (Malay, Tagalog, Burmese, among others), as well as other Chinese dialects (such as Southern Chinese dialects like Cantonese and Teochew), are commonly integrated into the vocabulary of Hokkien dialects.

Literary and colloquial readings

The existence of literary and colloquial readings is a prominent feature of some Hokkien dialects and indeed in many Sinitic varieties in the south. The bulk of literary readings (文讀, bûn-tha̍k), based on pronunciations of the vernacular during the Tang Dynasty, are mainly used in formal phrases and written language (e.g. philosophical concepts, surnames, and some place names), while the colloquial (or vernacular) ones (白讀, pe̍h-tha̍k) are basically used in spoken language and vulgar phrases. Literary readings are more similar to the pronunciations of the Tang standard of Middle Chinese than their colloquial equivalents.

However, some dialects of Hokkien, such as Penang Hokkien as well as Philippine Hokkien overwhelmingly favor colloquial readings. For example, in both Penang Hokkien and Philippine Hokkien, the characters for 'university,' 大學, are pronounced tōa-o̍h (colloquial readings for both characters), instead of the literary reading tāi-ha̍k, which is common in Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese dialects.

The pronounced divergence between literary and colloquial pronunciations found in Hokkien dialects is attributed to the presence of several strata in the Min lexicon. The earliest, colloquial stratum is traced to the Han dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE); the second colloquial one comes from the period of the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 - 589 CE); the third stratum of pronunciations (typically literary ones) comes from the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) and is based on the prestige dialect of Chang'an (modern day Xi'an), its capital.[31]

Some commonly seen sound correspondences (colloquial → literary) are as follows:

  • p- ([p-], [pʰ-]) → h ([h-])
  • ch-, chh- ([ts-], [tsʰ-], [tɕ-], [tɕʰ-]) → s ([s-], [ɕ-])
  • k-, kh- ([k-], [kʰ-]) → ch ([tɕ-], [tɕʰ-])
  • -ⁿ ([-ã], [-uã]) → n ([-an])
  • -h ([-ʔ]) → t ([-t])
  • i ([-i]) → e ([-e])
  • e ([-e]) → a ([-a])
  • ia ([-ia]) → i ([-i])

This table displays some widely used characters in Hokkien that have both literary and colloquial readings:[32][33]

Chinese character Reading pronunciations Spoken pronunciations / explications English
pe̍k pe̍h white
biān bīn face
su chu book
seng seⁿ / siⁿ student
put not
hóan tńg return
ha̍k o̍h to study
jîn / lîn lâng person
siàu chió few
chóan tńg to turn

This feature extends to Chinese numerals, which have both literary and colloquial readings.[33] Literary readings are typically used when the numerals are read out loud (e.g. phone numbers), while colloquial readings are used for counting items.

Numeral Reading Numeral Reading
Literary Colloquial Literary Colloquial
it chi̍t lio̍k la̍k
jī, lī chhit
sam saⁿ pat peh, poeh
sù, sìr kiú káu
ngó si̍p cha̍p

Semantic differences between Hokkien and Mandarin

Quite a few words from the variety of Old Chinese spoken in the state of Wu, where the ancestral language of Min and Wu dialect families originated, and later words from Middle Chinese as well, have retained the original meanings in Hokkien, while many of their counterparts in Mandarin Chinese have either fallen out of daily use, have been substituted with other words (some of which are borrowed from other languages while others are new developments), or have developed newer meanings. The same may be said of Hokkien as well, since some lexical meaning evolved in step with Mandarin while others are wholly innovative developments.

This table shows some Hokkien dialect words from Classical Chinese, as contrasted to the written Chinese standard, Mandarin:

Meaning Hokkien Mandarin
Hanji POJ Hanzi Pinyin
eye 目睭/目珠 ba̍k-chiu 眼睛 yǎnjīng
chopstick tī, tū 筷子 kuàizi
to chase jiok, lip zhuī
wet jūn, lūn shī
black hēi
book chheh shū

For other words, the classical Chinese meanings of certain words, which are retained in Hokkien dialects, have evolved or deviated significantly in other Chinese dialects. The following table shows some words that are both used in both Hokkien dialects and Mandarin Chinese, while the meanings in Mandarin Chinese have been modified:

Word Hokkien Mandarin
POJ Meaning
(and Classical Chinese)
Pinyin Meaning
cháu to flee zǒu to walk
sè, sòe tiny, small, young thin, slender
tiáⁿ pot dǐng tripod
chia̍h to eat shí food
kôan tall, high xuán to hang, to suspend
chhuì mouth huì beak

Words from Minyue

Some commonly used words, shared by all Min Chinese dialects, came from the ancient Minyue languages. Jerry Norman suggested that these languages were Austroasiatic. Some terms are thought be cognates with words in Tai Kadai and Austronesian languages. They include the following examples, compared to the Fuzhou dialect, a Min Dong language:

Word Hokkien POJ Foochow Romanized Meaning
kha [kʰa˥] [kʰa˥] foot and leg
kiáⁿ [kjã˥˩] giāng [kjaŋ˧] son, child, whelp, a small amount
khùn [kʰun˨˩] káung [kʰɑwŋ˧] to sleep
骿 phiaⁿ [pʰjã˥] piăng [pʰjaŋ˥] back, dorsum
chhù [tsʰu˨˩] chuó, chió [tsʰwɔ˥˧] home, house
thâi [tʰaj˨˦] tài [tʰaj˥˧] to kill, to slaughter
() bah, mah meat
suí beautiful

Loanwords

Loanwords are not unusual among Hokkien dialects, as speakers readily adopted indigenous terms of the languages they came in contact with. As a result, there is a plethora of loanwords that are not mutually comprehensible among Hokkien dialects.

Taiwanese Hokkien, as a result of linguistic contact with Japanese[34] and Formosan languages, contains many loanwords from these languages. Many words have also been formed as calques from Mandarin, and speakers will often directly use Mandarin vocabulary through codeswitching. Among these include the following examples:

  • 'toilet' - piān-só͘ (便所) from Japanese benjo (便所)
    Other Hokkien variants: 屎礐 (sái-ha̍k), 廁所 (chhek-só͘)
  • 'car' - chū-tōng-chhia (自動車) from Japanese jidōsha (自動車)
    Other Hokkien variants: (hong-chhia), 汽車 (khì-chhia)
  • 'to admire' - kám-sim (感心) from Japanese kanshin (感心)
    Other Hokkien variants: 感動 (kám-tōng)
  • 'fruit' - chúi-ké / chúi-kóe / chúi-kér (水果) from Mandarin (水果; shuǐguǒ)
    Other Hokkien variants: 果子 (ké-chí / kóe-chí / kér-chí)

Singaporean Hokkien, Penang Hokkien and other Malaysian Hokkien dialects tend to draw loanwords from Malay, English as well as other Chinese dialects, primarily Teochew. Examples include:

  • 'but' - tapi, from Malay
    Other Hokkien variants: 但是 (tān-sī
  • 'doctor' - 老君 lu-gun, from Malay dukun
    Other Hokkien variants: 醫生(i-sing)
  • 'stone/rock' - batu, from Malay batu
    Other Hokkien variants: 石头(tsio-tau)
  • 'market' - 巴剎 pa-sat, from Malay pasar from Persian bazaar (بازار)[35]
    Other Hokkien variants: 市場 (chhī-tiûⁿ)
  • 'they' - 伊儂 i lâng from Teochew (i1 nang5)
    Other Hokkien variants: 𪜶 (in)
  • 'together' - 做瓠 chò-bú from Teochew 做瓠 (jo3 bu5)
    Other Hokkien variants: 做夥 (chò-hóe), 同齊 (tâng-chê) or 鬥陣 (tàu-tīn)
  • 茶箍 (Sap-bûn) from Malay sabun from Arabic ṣābūn (صابون).[35][36][37]

Philippine Hokkien dialects, as a result of centuries-old contact with both Philippine language and Spanish also incorporate words from these languages. Examples include:

  • 'cup' - ba-su, from Spanish vaso and Tagalog baso
    Other Hokkien variants: 杯子 (poe-á)
  • 'office' - o-pi-sin, from Spanish oficina and Tagalog opisina
    Other Hokkien variants: 辦公室 (pān-kong-sek)
  • 'soap' - sa-bun, from Spanish jabon and Tagalog sabon
    Other Hokkien variants:
  • 'but' - ka-so, from Tagalog kaso
    Other Hokkien variants: 但是 (tan-si)
    (em-ko)

Standard Hokkien

Hokkien originated from Quanzhou.[38] After the Opium War in 1842, Xiamen (Amoy) became one of the major treaty ports to be opened for trade with the outside world. From the mid-19th century onwards, Xiamen slowly developed to become the political and economical center of the Hokkien speaking region in China. This caused Amoy dialect to gradually replace the position of dialect variants from Quanzhou and Zhangzhou. From the mid-19th century until the end of World War II, western diplomats usually learned Amoy as the preferred dialect if they were to communicate with the Hokkien-speaking populace in China or South-East Asia. In the 1940s and 1950s, Taiwan also held Amoy Minnan as its standard and tended to incline towards Amoy dialect.

However, from the 1980s onwards, the development of Taiwanese Min Nan pop music and media industry in Taiwan caused the Hokkien cultural hub to shift from Xiamen to Taiwan. The flourishing Taiwanese Min Nan entertainment and media industry from Taiwan in the 1990s and early 21st century led Taiwan to emerge as the new significant cultural hub for Hokkien.

In the 1990s, marked by the liberalization of language development and mother tongue movement in Taiwan, Taiwanese Hokkien had undergone a fast pace in its development. In 1993, Taiwan became the first region in the world to implement the teaching of Taiwanese Hokkien in Taiwanese schools. In 2001, the local Taiwanese language program was further extended to all schools in Taiwan, and Taiwanese Hokkien became one of the compulsory local Taiwanese languages to be learned in schools.[39] The mother tongue movement in Taiwan even influenced Xiamen (Amoy) to the point that in 2010, Xiamen also began to implement the teaching of Hokkien dialect in its schools.[40] In 2007, the Ministry of Education in Taiwan also completed the standardization of Chinese characters used for writing Hokkien and developed Tai-lo as the standard Hokkien pronunciation and romanization guide. A number of universities in Taiwan also offer Taiwanese degree courses for training Hokkien-fluent talents to work for the Hokkien media industry and education. Taiwan also has its own Hokkien literary and cultural circles whereby Hokkien poets and writers compose poetry or literature in Hokkien.

Thus by the 21st century, Taiwan is one of the most significant Hokkien cultural hubs of the world. The historical changes and development in Taiwan had led Taiwanese Hokkien to become the more influential pole of the Hokkien dialect after the mid-20th century. Today, Taiwanese prestige dialect (Taiyu Youshiqiang/Tongxinqiang 台語優勢腔/通行腔), which is based on Tainan variant and heard on Taiwanese Hokkien media.

Writing systems

Chinese script

Hokkien dialects are typically written using Chinese characters (漢字, Hàn-jī). However, the written script was and remains adapted to the literary form, which is based on classical Chinese, not the vernacular and spoken form. Furthermore, the character inventory used for Mandarin (standard written Chinese) does not correspond to Hokkien words, and there are a large number of informal characters (替字, thè-jī or thòe-jī; 'substitute characters') which are unique to Hokkien (as is the case with Cantonese). For instance, about 20 to 25% of Taiwanese morphemes lack an appropriate or standard Chinese character.[32]

While most Hokkien morphemes have standard designated characters, they are not always etymological or phono-semantic. Similar-sounding, similar-meaning or rare characters are commonly borrowed or substituted to represent a particular morpheme. Examples include "beautiful" ( is the literary form), whose vernacular morpheme suí is represented by characters like (an obsolete character), (a vernacular reading of this character) and even (transliteration of the sound suí), or "tall" ( ko is the literary form), whose morpheme kôan is .[41] Common grammatical particles are not exempt; the negation particle (not) is variously represented by , or , among others. In other cases, characters are invented to represent a particular morpheme (a common example is the character 𪜶 in, which represents the personal pronoun "they"). In addition, some characters have multiple and unrelated pronunciations, adapted to represent Hokkien words. For example, the Hokkien word bah ("meat") has been reduced to the character , which has etymologically unrelated colloquial and literary readings (he̍k and jio̍k, respectively).[42][43] Another case is the word 'to eat,' chia̍h, which is often transcribed in Taiwanese newspapers and media as (a Mandarin transliteration, xiā, to approximate the Hokkien term), even though its recommended character in dictionaries is .[44]

Moreover, unlike Cantonese, Hokkien does not have a universally accepted standardized character set. Thus, there is some variation in the characters used to express certain words and characters can be ambiguous in meaning. In 2007, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China formulated and released a standard character set to overcome these difficulties.[45] These standard Chinese characters for writing Taiwanese Hokkien are now taught in schools in Taiwan.

Latin script

Hokkien, especially Taiwanese Hokkien, is sometimes written in the Latin script using one of several alphabets. Of these the most popular is POJ, developed first by Presbyterian missionaries in China and later by the indigenous Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. Use of this script and orthography has been actively promoted since the late 19th century. The use of a mixed script of Han characters and Latin letters is also seen, though remains uncommon. Other Latin-based alphabets also exist.

Min Nan texts, all Hokkien, can be dated back to the 16th century. One example is the Doctrina Christiana en letra y lengua china, presumably written after 1587 by the Spanish Dominicans in the Philippines. Another is a Ming Dynasty script of a play called Tale of the Lychee Mirror (1566), supposedly the earliest Southern Min colloquial text, although it is written in Teochew dialect.

Taiwan has developed a Latin alphabet for Taiwanese Hokkien, derived from POJ, known as Tai-lo. Since 2006, it has been officially promoted by Taiwan's Ministry of Education and taught in Taiwanese schools. Xiamen University has also developed an alphabet based on Pinyin called Bbánlám pìngyīm.

Computing

亻因 (in)
The character for the third person pronoun (they) in some Hokkien dialects, 𪜶 (in), is now supported by the Unicode Standard at U+2A736.

Hokkien is registered as "Southern Min" per RFC 3066 as zh-min-nan.[46]

When writing Hokkien in Chinese characters, some writers create 'new' characters when they consider it impossible to use directly or borrow existing ones; this corresponds to similar practices in character usage in Cantonese, Vietnamese chữ nôm, Korean hanja and Japanese kanji. Some of these are not encoded in Unicode (or the corresponding ISO/IEC 10646: Universal Character Set), thus creating problems in computer processing.

All Latin characters required by Pe̍h-ōe-jī can be represented using Unicode (or the corresponding ISO/IEC 10646: Universal Character Set), using precomposed or combining (diacritics) characters. Prior to June 2004, the vowel akin to but more open than o, written with a dot above right, was not encoded. The usual workaround was to use the (stand-alone; spacing) character Interpunct (U+00B7, ·) or less commonly the combining character dot above (U+0307). As these are far from ideal, since 1997 proposals have been submitted to the ISO/IEC working group in charge of ISO/IEC 10646—namely, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2—to encode a new combining character dot above right. This is now officially assigned to U+0358 (see documents N1593, N2507, N2628, N2699, and N2713). Font support is expected to follow.

Cultural and political role

Hokkien (or Min Nan) can trace its roots through the Tang Dynasty and also even further to the people of the Minyue, the indigenous non-Han people of modern-day Fujian.[47] Min Nan (Hokkien) people call themselves "Tang people," (唐人; Tn̂g-lâng) which is synonymous to "Chinese people". Because of the widespread influence of the Tang culture during the great Tang dynasty, there are today still many Min Nan pronunciations of words shared by the Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese languages.

In 2002, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, a party with about 10% of the Legislative Yuan seats at the time, suggested making Taiwanese a second official language.[48] This proposal encountered strong opposition not only from Mainlander groups but also from Hakka and Taiwanese aboriginal groups who felt that it would slight their home languages. Because of these objections, support for this measure was lukewarm among moderate Taiwan independence supporters, and the proposal did not pass.

Hokkien was finally made an official language of Taiwan in 2018 by the ruling DPP government.

English Chinese characters Mandarin Chinese Taiwanese Hokkien[49] Korean Vietnamese Japanese
Book Chheh Chaek Tập/Sách Saku/Satsu/Shaku
Bridge Qiáo Kiô Kyo Cầu/Kiều Kyō
Dangerous 危險 Wēixiǎn Guî-hiám Wiheom Nguy hiểm Kiken
Flag Ki Cờ/Kỳ Ki
Insurance 保險 Bǎoxiǎn Pó-hiám Boheom Bảo hiểm Hoken
News 新聞 Xīnwén Sin-bûn Shinmun Tân Văn Shinbun
Student 學生 Xuéshēng Ha̍k-seng Haksaeng Học sinh Gakusei
University 大學 Dàxué Tāi-ha̍k (Tōa-o̍h) Daehak Đại học Daigaku

See also

Notes

  1. ^ They are the most common pronunciations while there is another one cited from OxfordDictionaries.com, /hoʊˈkiːn/, which is almost never used actually.
  2. ^ also Quanzhang (Quanzhou-Zhangzhou / Chinchew–Changchew; BP: Zuánziū–Ziāngziū)

References

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Further reading

External links

Amoy dialect

The Amoy dialect or Xiamen dialect (Chinese: 廈門話; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Ē-mn̂g-ōe), also known as Amoynese, Amoy Hokkien, Xiamenese or Xiamen Hokkien, is a dialect of Hokkien spoken in the city of Xiamen (historically known as "Amoy") and its surrounding metropolitan area, in the southern part of Fujian province. Currently, it is one of the most widely researched and studied varieties of Southern Min. It has historically come to be one of the more standardized varieties. Most present-day publications in Southern Min are mostly based on this dialect.Spoken Amoynese and Taiwanese are both mixtures of the Quanzhou and Zhangzhou spoken dialects. As such, they are very closely aligned phonologically. However, there are some subtle differences between the two, as a result of physical separation and other historical factors. The lexical differences between the two are slightly more pronounced. Generally speaking, the Southern Min dialects spoken in Xiamen, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Taiwan, Southeast Asia and Overseas Communities are mutually intelligible, with only slight differences.

Haifeng dialect

Haifeng dialect, Lufeng dialect or Hailufeng dialect is a variety of Chinese mostly spoken in Shanwei, Haifeng County, and Lufeng, Guangdong. It classified as a variety of Southern Min (Min Nan) and it is also alleged by some to supposedly be a variety of Teochew dialect due to its close geographical and political ties, even though it is much more similar to the Hokkien language instead and Hailufeng Min Nan speakers see themselves as Hokkiens and separate from the Teochews. Since many of the pronunciations of Chinese characters, vocabulary, accent and slangs in Haifeng dialect are different from those in Teochew dialect because of different rimes in both dialects, Haifeng is considered to be independent of Teochew.

Such differences include the preservation of the final codas -t and -n in the Haifengese Hokkien which are completely lost in Teochew, as well as the absence of the -oi finals.

Hokkien mee

Hokkien mee is a Southeast Asian dish, popular in Malaysian and Singaporean cuisines, that has its origins in the cuisine of China's Fujian (Hokkien) province. In its most common form, the dish consists of egg noodles and rice noodles stir-fried with egg, slices of pork, prawns and squid, and served and garnished with vegetables, small pieces of lard, sambal sauce and lime (for adding the lime juice to the dish).

Hokkien pop

Taiwanese pop (Chinese: 台語流行音樂), Tai-pop, T-pop, Minnan Pop and Taiwanese song (台灣歌), is a C-Pop genre sung in Taiwanese Hokkien and produced mainly in Taiwan. Hokkien pop is the most popular amongst Hoklo people in Taiwan, Mainland China, and the Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia.

Hoklo Taiwanese

Hoklo Taiwanese (Chinese: 閩南裔臺灣人) are a major ethnic group in Taiwan whose ancestry is wholly or partially Hoklo. Being Taiwanese of Han origin, they are generally bilingual in Taiwanese Mandarin and Taiwanese Hokkien. Most descend from the Hoklo people of Quanzhou or Zhangzhou in Southern Fujian, China. The term as commonly understood signifies those whose ancestors immigrated to Taiwan before 1949.

Hoklo people

The Hoklo people are Han Chinese people whose traditional ancestral homes are in southern Fujian, China and speakers of Hokkien which is the prestige dialect of the Southern Min varieties. They are also known by various endonyms (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Hok-ló-lâng/Hō-ló-lâng/Ho̍h-ló-lâng/Hô-ló-lâng), or other related terms such as Banlam (Minnan) people (閩南儂; Bân-lâm-lâng) or Hokkien people (福建儂; Hok-kiàn-lâng). "Hokkien" is sometimes erroneously used to refer to all Fujianese people.

"Hoklo people" of this page refers to people whose native language is the Quanzhang Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese) spoken in Southern Fujian (China's province), Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and by many overseas Chinese throughout Southeast Asia.

There have been many famous Hoklo people throughout history, notably Koxinga, Shi Lang, Corazon Aquino and Su Song.

Loh Boon Siew

Tan Sri Dato' Loh Boon Siew (Chinese: 駱文秀; pinyin: Luò Wénxiù; 1915 – 1995) also known as “Mr Honda”, was a Penangite tycoon and the first sole distributor of Honda motorcycles in Malaysia.

Medan Hokkien

Medan Hokkien is a local variant of Hokkien spoken among the Chinese in Medan, Indonesia. It is the lingua franca in Medan as well as other northern city states of North Sumatra surrounding it, and is a subdialect of Zhangzhou (漳州) dialect, together with widespread use of Indonesian and English borrowed words. It is predominantly a spoken dialect: it is rarely written in Chinese characters as Indonesia had banned the use of Chinese characters back in New Order era, and there is no standard romanisation.

Ngo hiang

Ngo hiang (Chinese: 五香; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ngó͘-hiang), also known as heh gerng (Chinese: 虾卷; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: hê-kǹg) or lor bak (Chinese: 五香滷肉; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ngó͘-hiong-ló͘-bah) is a unique Hokkien and Teochew dish widely adopted in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines (where it is known as kikiam, que-kiam, or ngohiong), Singapore, and Thailand; in addition to its place of origin in eastern China.

It is essentially a composition of various meats and vegetables and other ingredients, such as a sausage-like roll consisting of minced pork and prawn (or fish) seasoned with five-spice powder (Hokkien: 五香粉, ngó͘-hiong-hún) after which it is named, rolled inside a beancurd skin and deep-fried, lup cheong, cucumber, century egg, ginger, deep-fried egg, deep-fried beancurd, fishball and many others. It is usually served with chili sauce and a house-special sweet sauce. Many stalls in Singaporean food courts and hawker centres sell fried bee hoon with ngo hiang; this combination is common for breakfast and lunch. In Indonesia, people enjoy ngo hiang with sambal sauce.

Penang Hokkien

Penang Hokkien (traditional Chinese: 檳城福建話; simplified Chinese: 槟城福建话; Tâi-lô: Pin-siânn Hok-kiàn-uā; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Pin-siâⁿ Hok-kiàn-ōa) is a local variant of Hokkien spoken in Penang, Malaysia. It is the lingua franca among the majority Chinese population in Penang, as well as the neighbouring states of Kedah, Perlis and northern part of Perak. This Chinese dialect is spoken as a mother tongue by up to 63.9% of Penang's Chinese community. It is also spoken by some members of Penang's Indian and Malay communities.Penang Hokkien is a subdialect of Zhangzhou (漳州; Hokkien: Tsiang-tsiu) Chinese, together with widespread use of Malay and English loan words. It is said that it most closely resembles that spoken in the district of Haicang (海滄) in Longhai (龍海; Hokkien: Liông-hái) county and in the districts of Jiaomei (角美) and Xinglin (杏林) in neighbouring Xiamen prefecture. In Southeast Asia, similar dialects are spoken in the states bordering Penang (Kedah, Perlis and northern Perak), as well as in Medan and North Sumatra, Indonesia. It is markedly distinct from Southern Peninsular Malaysian Hokkien and Taiwanese Hokkien.

Philippine Hokkien

Philippine Hokkien (Chinese: 咱儂話; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Lán-lâng-ōe; literally: 'our people's language'), is the variant of Hokkien as spoken by about 98.7% of the ethnic Chinese population of the Philippines. A mixed version that involves this language with Tagalog and English is Hokaglish.

Singaporean Hokkien

Singaporean Hokkien (Chinese: 新加坡福建话; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Sin-ka-pho Hok-kiàn-ōe; Tâi-lô: Sin-ka-pho Hok-kiàn-uē) is a local variant of the Hokkien language spoken in Singapore. In Chinese academic circles, this dialect is known as Singaporean Ban-lam Gu (新加坡閩南語, Sin-ka-pho Bân-lâm-gu). It is closely related to the Southern Malaysian Hokkien (南马福建话) spoken in Southern Malaysia, as well as to Riau Hokkien (廖内福建话) spoken in the Indonesian province of Riau. It also closely resembles Amoy (厦门话) spoken in Amoy, China, and Taiwanese Hokkien (台灣閩南語/台語/台灣話) which is spoken in Taiwan.

Hokkien, is the Min Nan pronunciation for Fujian province, China, and is generally the term used by the Chinese in South-East Asia to refer to the Banlam dialect (闽南语). Singaporean Hokkien generally uses Amoy as its standard, and its accent is predominantly based on a mixture of Quanzhou (泉州话) and Zhangzhou (漳州话) speech, with a greater inclination towards the former.

Like many spoken languages in Singapore, Singaporean Hokkien is influenced by other languages or dialects spoken in Singapore. For instance, Singaporean Hokkien is influenced to a certain degree by Teochew, and is sometimes regarded as a combined Hokkien-Teochew speech (福潮话). In addition, it has many loanwords from Malay and English.

Nevertheless, the grammar and tones of Singaporean Hokkien are still largely based on Minnan. When compared to Taiwanese's prestige accent (台语优势腔) spoken in Tainan (台南) and Kaohsiung (高雄), Singaporean Hokkien pronunciation inclines toward the Quanzhou accent (泉州腔), is also close to the pronunciation of Taipei and Amoy, and is less close to that of Tainan which has a greater inclination towards the Zhangzhou accent (漳州腔).

A Singaporean would likely not have trouble conversing with Taiwanese speakers in Singaporean Hokkien, with the exception of some Japanese loanwords. Similarly, Singaporean Hokkien is understood by Taiwanese speakers, with the exception of some Malay and English loanwords.

Southern Min

Southern Min or Minnan (simplified Chinese: 闽南语; traditional Chinese: 閩南語), literally "Southern Fujian" while "Min" is short for "Fujian" and "Nan" is "South", also known as Hokkien-Taiwanese, is a branch of Min Chinese spoken in certain parts of south and eastern China including Fujian (especially the Minnan region), most of Taiwan (many citizens are descendents of settlers from Fujian), eastern Guangdong, Hainan, and southern Zhejiang. The Minnan dialects are also spoken by descendants of emigrants from these areas in diaspora, most notably the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It is the largest Min Chinese branch and the most widely distributed Min Chinese subgroup.

In common parlance and in the narrower sense, Southern Min refers to the Quanzhang or Hokkien-Taiwanese variety of Southern Min originating from Southern Fujian in Mainland China. It is spoken mainly in Fujian, Taiwan, as well as certain parts of Southeast Asia. The Quanzhang variety is often called simply "Minnan Proper" (simplified Chinese: 闽南语; traditional Chinese: 閩南語). It is considered the mainstream Southern Min Chinese Language.

In the wider scope, Southern Min also includes other Min Chinese varieties that are linguistically related to Minnan proper (Quanzhang). Most variants of Southern Min have significant differences from the Quanzhang variety, some having limited mutual intelligibility with it, others almost none. Teochew, Longyan, and Zhenan may be said to have limited mutual intelligibility with Minnan Proper, sharing similar phonology and vocabulary to a small extent. On the other hand, variants such as Datian, Zhongshan, and Qiong-Lei have historical linguistic roots with Minnan Proper, but are significantly divergent from it in terms of phonology and vocabulary, and thus have almost no mutual intelligibility with the Quanzhang variety. Linguists tend to classify them as separate Min languages.

Southern Min is not mutually intelligible with other branches of Min Chinese nor other varieties of Chinese, such as Mandarin.

Southern Peninsular Malaysian Hokkien

Southern Malaysia Hokkien (simplified Chinese: 南马福建话; traditional Chinese: 南馬福建話; pinyin: Nán Mǎ Fújiànhuà; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Lâm-Má Hok-kiàn-oē) is a local variant of the Min Nan Chinese variety spoken in Central and Southern Peninsular Malaysia as well as in the Eastern Malaysian state of Sarawak. (Klang, Melaka, Muar, Tangkak, Segamat, Batu Pahat, Pontian, Johor Bahru and Kuching), Singapore, Riau and Riau Islands.

This dialect is based on the Quanzhou dialect. It is markedly distinct from Penang Hokkien and Medan Hokkien, which are based on Zhangzhou dialect.

Similar to the situation in Singapore, the term Hokkien is generally the used by the Chinese in South-east Asia to refer Min Nan Chinese (闽南语). Southern Malaysia Hokkien is based on Quanzhou dialect with some influence from Amoy dialect.

Southern Malaysia Hokkien is also subjected to influence from various languages or dialects spoken in Malaysia. This is influenced to a certain degree by Teochew dialect and is sometimes being regarded to be a combined Hokkien-Teochew speech (especially in Muar, Batu Pahat, Pontian and Johor Bahru). It has many loan words from Malay and English.

Taiwanese Hokkien

Taiwanese Hokkien (; Chinese: 臺灣閩南語; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tâi-oân Bân-lâm-gú; translated as Taiwanese Min Nan), also known simply as the Taiwanese (臺灣話; Tâi-oân-oē / 臺灣語; Tâi-oân-gú), is a variety of Hokkien Chinese spoken natively by about 70% of the population of Taiwan. It is spoken by the Taiwanese Hoklo people, who descended from immigrants from southern Fujian during the Qing dynasty. The Pe̍h-ōe-jī (POJ) romanization is a popular orthography for this variant of Hokkien.

Taiwanese Hokkien is generally similar to the speeches of Amoy, Quanzhou and Zhangzhou (branches of Chinese Minnan), as well as their dialectal forms used in Southeast Asia and are generally mutually intelligible. The mass popularity of Hokkien entertainment media from Taiwan has given prominence to the Taiwanese variety of Hokkien, especially since the 1980s.

Taiwanese Mandarin

Taiwanese Mandarin (Chinese: 臺灣華語; pinyin: Táiwān Huáyǔ) or national language of the Republic of China (Chinese: 中華民國國語; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Mínguó guóyǔ), is a variety of Mandarin Chinese and the lingua franca of Taiwan. It is based on the phonology of the Beijing dialect together with the grammar of vernacular Chinese.Standard Taiwanese Mandarin is almost identical to the official language of mainland China, called Standard Chinese (Pǔtōnghuà), with the exception of their writing systems. However, Mandarin as spoken informally in Taiwan has some notable differences in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation with Standard Mandarin, differences which have arisen mainly under influence from the languages of Taiwan, namely: Taiwanese Hokkien (the native variety of about 70% of the population of Taiwan), other mother tongues of Taiwan like Taiwanese Hakka (spoken natively by about 15% of Taiwanese) and Formosan languages, as well as English and Japanese from the prior Japanese period.

Teochew dialect

Teochew (Chinese: 潮州話 or 潮汕話; pinyin: Cháozhōuhuà or Cháoshànhuà, Chaozhou dialect: Diê⁵ziu¹ uê⁷; Shantou dialect: Dio⁵ziu¹ uê⁷) is a Southern Min dialect spoken mainly by the Teochew people in the Chaoshan region of eastern Guangdong and by their diaspora around the world. It is sometimes referred to as Chiuchow, its Cantonese name, due to the english romanisation by English colonial officials and explorers. It is closely related to some dialects of Hokkien, as it shares some cognates and phonology with it, though both are not largely mutually intelligible.

Teochew preserves many Old Chinese pronunciations and vocabulary that have been lost in some of the other modern varieties of Chinese. As such, many linguists consider Teochew one of the most conservative Chinese dialects.

Written Hokkien

Hokkien, a Min Nan variety of Chinese spoken in Southeastern China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia, does not have a unitary standardized writing system, in comparison with the well-developed written forms of Cantonese and Vernacular Chinese (Mandarin). Since there is no official standardizing body for Hokkien except the Republic of China Ministry of Education in Taiwan, there are a wide variety of different methods of writing in Vernacular Hokkien. Nevertheless, vernacular works written in the Hokkien are still commonly seen in literature, film, performing arts and music.

Zheng Jing

Zheng Jing, Prince of Yanping (Chinese: 鄭經; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tēⁿ Keng; 25 October 1642 – 17 March 1681), courtesy names Xianzhi (賢之) and Yuanzhi (元之), pseudonym Shitian (式天), was a 17th-century Chinese warlord, Ming dynasty loyalist and ruler of the Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan.

Transcriptions
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinFújiànhuà
Bopomofoㄈㄨˊ   ㄐㄧㄢˋ   ㄏㄨㄚˋ
Gwoyeu RomatzyhFwujiannhuah
IPA[fǔ.tɕjɛ̂n.xwâ]
Wu
RomanizationFoh ji ghae ho
Hakka
RomanizationFuk5-gien4-fa4
Yue: Cantonese
Yale RomanizationFuk1-gin3-wa6
Southern Min
Hokkien POJHok-kiàn-ōe
Tâi-lôHok-kiàn-uē
Eastern Min
Fuzhou BUCHók-gióng-uâ
Transcriptions
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinFúlǎohuà
Bopomofoㄈㄨˊ   ㄌㄠˇ   ㄏㄨㄚˋ
Gwoyeu RomatzyhFwulaohuah
IPA[fǔ.làu.xwâ]
Wu
RomanizationFoh loh ghae ho
Hakka
RomanizationFuk5-lau3-fa4
Yue: Cantonese
Yale RomanizationFuk1-lou2-wa6
Southern Min
Hokkien POJHok-ló-ōe
Tâi-lôHok-ló-uē
Eastern Min
Fuzhou BUCHók-ló-uâ
Datian Min
Hokkien
Teo-Swa
(Chaoshan)
Zhenan Min
Zhongshan Min
Unclassified
Major
subdivisions
Standardised
forms
Phonology
Grammar
Set phrase
Input method
History
Literary
forms
Scripts

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