檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
Mark Yong
Posts: 684
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:52 pm

檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by Mark Yong » Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:57 pm

I realise this is quite unrelated to colloquial Hokkien, so this is mainly a sharing post, not really expecting many (if any!) comments.

I have started downloading and reading the early issues of the 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe (http://libapps2.nus.edu.sg/sea_chinese/ ... 20poe.html*), the predecessor of today's 光華日報 Kwong Wah Yit Poh. The scan quality is awful for the earlier issues, but still worth a browse-though where legible.

* For some reason, the Forum does not allow insertion of the BB code for URL's.

My objective of the exercise is to get an idea of what it was like for a typical early-generation Penang Hokkien-speaking resident to read a Chinese newspaper. What makes the 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe an interesting specimen is that it made its debut only two decades before the promulgation of Mandarin as the standard, so that puts it not that far off from the Modern Standard Chinese era, and yet still within the 文言文 Literary Chinese era.

My 文言文 Literary Chinese is not quite good enough for me to understand the longer articles without reading them twice (made more difficult by the absence of punctuation, which is also a characteristic of Latin). But the shorter product/services advertisements are a nice treat. Below is an excerpt from a typical advertisement:

啟者本號代理...出售...物美價廉童叟無欺...諸君賜顧請到...此佈...謹啟。

khe2 cia2 pun2 ho5 tai7 li2...chut4 siu7... but8 bi2 kE3 liam5 tong5 sO2 bo5 khi1... cu1 kun1 su3 kO3 chiaⁿ2 tau3...chu2 pO3...kin2 khe2.
(I have deliberately put in 講話音 for some words, for the benefit of readers not fluent in the literary language or literary readings to make the connection easier.)

Paraphrasing (as literally as possible, to maintain the sequence of characters):
To Whom It May Concern: Our company is an agent for... selling... our prices are exquisite yet inexpensive, and we are honest (literally, “we do not cheat, young or old”)... gentlemen, if you are interested to purchase, please go to... hereby notifying... respectfully announcing.

It is interesting to imagine how:
1. Just over a century ago, Penang Hokkien speakers were reading and writing such texts on a regular basis
2. Such a brief excerpt like that above contains so many words that have fallen out of use in spoken Hokkien today (I counted 10, not including duplicates).
3. Distant the literary language then was from the colloquial spoken language, and how it must have been like for the readers to make the psychological connection (of course, if any of them were alive today, they would just as validly wonder how their late-20th / early-21st century descendents cannot see the connection!).

One exercise I would like to conduct is to spot as many (if any) words that are clearly indicate intrusion of the Hokkien vernacular into the literary language (of course, I do not expect to find any straight-out non-canonical dialect characters). As an example, I spotted the word in one of the hardware advertisements... I wonder if it referred to tiaⁿ2 (frying pan).

There is an interesting article in the 29th August 1895 issue on gambling. Excerpt from the first line:

嚴禁花會議
giam5 kim1 hua2 hue3 gi7

賭博之爲害不自今日始也古之人有行之亦有言之者矣...
tO2 pok4 ci1 ui7 hai7 put4 cu7 kim1 jit8 si2 ia2 kO2 ci1 jin5 iu2 gian5 ci1 cia2 i2...

Paraphrasing:
The ills caused by gambling is not something that originated recently; people of olden times have indulged in it, while others have discussed about it...

This is the part where I play Devil's advocate again, and bravely suggest that the poah in poah-kiau is a possible corruption of . (Do I see rotten tomatoes coming my way...? :lol: )
Last edited by Mark Yong on Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Ah-bin
Posts: 830
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:10 am
Location: Somewhere in the Hokloverse

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by Ah-bin » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:47 pm

I realise this is quite unrelated to colloquial Hokkien, so this is mainly a sharing post, not really expecting many (if any!) comments.
I have to disagree, there will be many terms to do with government and the legal system in this wonderful resource. Thank you for pointing it out, Mark.

I've already found something interesting on the first page I looked at - The Netherlands are written as 和蘭 rather than 荷蘭. There will be all sorts of clues in there as to the native speech of the writers, just from the way they render English and Malay names into Chinese. For instance the Sydney Chinese Herald used 喜馬結 or something like that for "Haymarket", and 鳥修威 for "New South Wales", which made it obvious that they were transcribing into Cantonese.

The language is rather similar to that of the Sydney Chinese Herald, definitely literary style, but a simple literary style to get the meaning across rather than to show off the author's erudition.


Another good thing to look for is what characters they use to transcribe Malay words. If one wants to write Malay words in characters, it is good to look in this sort of thing for a pedigree of sorts.


I think the print quality is what has made some sections illegible, rather than the scanning.
Ah-bin
Posts: 830
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:10 am
Location: Somewhere in the Hokloverse

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by Ah-bin » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:53 pm

Another great one:

各色香雪文發售

"Phang sat-bun" is lying just below the surface!

Just edited to add (from 1906_02_12 p.4):

土庫烏糖 "thO-kO O thng"

"Warehouse brown sugar"....this shows that Penangites understood the word 土庫, almost everywhere you go in Amsterdam Chinatown, you can find shops with "toko"...and this is the original word for it, meaning a 'store' and extended, as in American usage.

(edited again to add)

a later page has Burmese and Jawi sections!
Mark Yong
Posts: 684
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:52 pm

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by Mark Yong » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:19 pm

Ah-bin wrote:
各色香雪文發售
Did I miss that?? :shock: Which issue did you see it? Woo-hoo... :mrgreen: A pity they did not take it a step further and go for , but I guess that is where the use of standard characters starts to kick in (even Barclay does not use for phang in his Chinese character supplement of Douglas' dictionary).

There are a few more gems of old Singaporean newspapers in those archives:
1. Lat Pau 叻報
2. Thien Nan Shin Pao 天南新報
3. Sing Po 星報
It appears 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe is still the oldest. But it annoys me that its successor, the 光華日報 Kwong Wah Yit Poh, is printed entirely in Simplified Characters (all the mainstream Malaysian Chinese dailies at least print the headlines in Traditional Characters). :evil:

Thanks, Ah-bin. At least this thread did not die at infancy. :lol:
Ah-bin
Posts: 830
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:10 am
Location: Somewhere in the Hokloverse

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by Ah-bin » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:27 pm

Did I miss that?? :shock: Which issue did you see it? Woo-hoo... :mrgreen:
Now I have to ask, is that a modern Western Woo-hoo or a Classical Chinese 嗚呼? I'm guessing modern Western :lol:

Ah...now I can't find the soap one, it had a picture of an elephanton it.

1906 is a good year for clarity.

I also found ads for
腳踏車 and 紅毛灰!

and 烏理骨濃
(Eau de Cologne)!
Last edited by Ah-bin on Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
amhoanna
Posts: 912
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2010 12:43 pm

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by amhoanna » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:33 pm

Picked up a copy of the Siongpò 商報 on my last day in Manila. There were two or three pages of notices, mainly deaths, in the Local section of the paper, all written in literary Chinese. I'll put some files up on the internet for U guys to look at soon.
This is the part where I play Devil's advocate again, and bravely suggest that the poah in poah-kiau is a possible corruption of 博.
Seems to fit. Also, would seem to be cognate to Mandarin bo2 GAMBLING. Wonder what the pedigree of the character is.
Ah-bin
Posts: 830
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:10 am
Location: Somewhere in the Hokloverse

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by Ah-bin » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:39 pm

I hope the intellectual content of the Chinese newspapers has improved in the Philippines. The ones I have read from the 1920's were just like society pages!
aokh1979
Posts: 180
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:32 pm
Location: George Town, Malaysia
Contact:

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by aokh1979 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:59 pm

This is really great resource ! You know what, I am downloading the entire library into my hardisk. Thank you !
Mark Yong
Posts: 684
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:52 pm

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by Mark Yong » Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:19 pm

amhoanna wrote:
Picked up a copy of the Siongpò 商報 on my last day in Manila. There were two or three pages of notices, mainly deaths, in the Local section of the paper, all written in literary Chinese. I'll put some files up on the internet for U guys to look at soon.
That would be lovely, thank you. I tried locating archived copies of old Indonesian Chinese newspapers (one that was mentioned on the Web was the 訊報 Sun Po), but was unsuccessful.

Obituaries in the Malaysian Chinese dailies are also quite literal, even until today. They normally start with a big bolded 訃告 on the middle-right.

As an aside: I remember when I got married a few years ago, I made the card printers correct the draft of the Chinese section seven times, just so that the language and format came out correct (I had seen way too many wedding invitation cards where the Chinese section was clearly a copy-and-paste off a standard text with only the names, dates and addresses changed). One character added to it was (as in 翌晚, as the wedding banquet was held on the day after the church solemnisation - which was an unusual arrangement).
aokh1979
Posts: 180
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:32 pm
Location: George Town, Malaysia
Contact:

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by aokh1979 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:41 pm

I have been reading since morning - whenever colleagues are not around. :P

I am downloading the whole folder, I think it's a great resource for my dictionary ! Whatever words already used in here should be considered "approved", like 雪文 although etymologically it does not make much sense. ^^

Did you realise there's no address in advertisement ? Most of the shops / brands are alien to me. I wish I knew more about the past. Looks like the newspaper was only distributed in George Town, I suspect most people who lived in George Town could easily locate all these shops, hence address was not needed.

I was excited to find out that 住 was used as "at" !

住 = tuā
駐 = tuà
Mark Yong
Posts: 684
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:52 pm

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by Mark Yong » Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:53 pm

腳踏車 kha taq chia. That is very Hokkien. Now I am thinking about the subtle difference between saying taq and lap (don't know the character for it). E.g. you say 踏腳車 taq kha chia (to ride a bicycle), not lap kha chia.
Mark Yong
Posts: 684
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:52 pm

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by Mark Yong » Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:02 pm

aokh1979 wrote:
Did you realise there's no address in advertisement ?
There isn't? :shock: The first 3-4 advertisements that I read all had 諸君賜顧請到 XXX 路門牌 YYY .

E.g. If you refer to Page 2 of the 31st August 1895 issue, the advertisement regarding 機器車雜貨出售 specifically states that their address is at 義興街二十六號門牌 (wherever the heck 義興街 Gi Hin KE is!).
aokh1979
Posts: 180
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:32 pm
Location: George Town, Malaysia
Contact:

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by aokh1979 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:21 pm

義興街 is the one right in front of Penang Chinese Town Hall. The Hokkien name of Church Street, walking distance from court house.
SimL
Posts: 1407
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:33 am
Location: Amsterdam

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by SimL » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:43 pm

Mark Yong wrote:腳踏車 kha taq chia. That is very Hokkien. Now I am thinking about the subtle difference between saying taq and lap (don't know the character for it). E.g. you say 踏腳車 taq kha chia (to ride a bicycle), not lap kha chia.
I know "lap" only very vaguely. Isn't "tah8" more "tread on", "step on", i.e.: "press downwards with your foot", and "lap8" more "stamp on", i.e.: "move your foot up and down rapidly, several times"?
Mark Yong
Posts: 684
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:52 pm

Re: 檳城新報 Penang Sin Poe

Post by Mark Yong » Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:03 am

Am provisionally (but reluctantly :evil: ) using for lap, as it seems to be the commonly-accepted character.

Back in the 1980's, my mum's friend from Penang (who moved to KL to work) used the term 䟜油 lap iu to step on the car accelerator. Many years later, I discovered that in Penang, most people say 踏油 taq iu instead. Same with stepping on the brakes.

lap would be used, e.g. in 䟜着屎 lap tioq sai, 䟜着儂之尾 lap tioq lang e boe, i.e. the act of stepping (on something) is either part of the person's natural walking/running motions at the time and/or is not meant to step on that something.

On the other hand, it looks like the use of taq is directed more towards:
1. A deliberate act of treading on something for a specific purpose
2. Stepping on foot-operated levers or other mechanisms

So, Sim - you are right in that sense, as ‘treading’ in the English sense seems to connote ‘a calculated act of stepping with the foot for a designed purpose’. One runs on a treadmill, but does not stamp on a bicycle! :lol:

That's about as best as I can enunciate what is normally sub-conscious usage for me!
Locked