Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
amhoanna
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by amhoanna » Sun May 06, 2012 2:27 am

Sim, 鄭良偉 Robert Cheng of Academia Sinica and the U. of Hawai'i put out a slew of essays and books in the 80s and 90s comparing Mandarin and Hoklo on every level. He published charts like the one you described.

He translated some of his own essays to English, and even the pieces written in Mandarin are pretty sparing, word-count-wise, so U might be able to take them on.

Recently, in a correspondence with the man, I hinted that it might be time to compare Hoklo to some other languages too, like Vietnamese or Siamese. Didn't get a reply. EQ has never been my forté. 8)
FutureSpy
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by FutureSpy » Mon May 07, 2012 9:20 pm

There are some very high frequency "vulgarisms" in almost any Hoklo kanji text. Examples:
一 / tsi̍t
人 / lâng
欲 / beh
So, if we were to write in an etymologically correct way, these couldn't be written in hanji?

Thanks for sharing your thesis, Ah-bin.
Yeleixingfeng
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by Yeleixingfeng » Tue May 08, 2012 8:36 am

FutureSpy wrote: So, if we were to write in an etymologically correct way, these couldn't be written in hanji?
We can always invent new ones. Hanji is quite flexible too. ^^
SimL
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by SimL » Tue May 08, 2012 10:17 am

Hi amhoanna,

Thanks for the tip. I vaguely recall his name as one of the prominant "Hokkien nationalists" but I don't know much more about him. Do you have access to most of his papers? Or should I mail him and ask? Do you have his email address?
SimL
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by SimL » Tue May 08, 2012 10:20 am

Yeleixingfeng wrote:We can always invent new ones. Hanji is quite flexible too. ^^
In the modern age, it's important to be able to 1. produce searchable electronic documents, and 2. communicate quickly and efficiently on the net. To do this with Chinese characters one needs to have them as standardized codepoints in Unicode.

Inventing one's own characters (aside from the fact that other people might not agree with the ones one invents, and might not know about what word they're trying to convey) has the disadvantage that they will not be standardized codepoints in Unicode.

For this reason, it's not really my preferred option.
amhoanna
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by amhoanna » Tue May 08, 2012 10:47 am

So, if we were to write in an etymologically correct way, these couldn't be written in hanji?
Usually, but not always.

Many people believe 儂 is the 本字 for lâng, for example.

A lot of Hokkiens and Taiwanese seem hell-bent on finding a 本字 for every word... It probably has something to do with Chinese nationalism. In my limited observation, :P most of the guys (never girls) who obsess over this ... are also very Chinese-nationalistic. :mrgreen:

The Vietnamese "solved" this problem by inventing characters for almost the entire 白話層 colloquial layer. No Chinese nationalism, hence no need to "find" all the 本字. Not an elegant solution, though, either, from my POV.
I vaguely recall his name as one of the prominant "Hokkien nationalists" but I don't know much more about him. Do you have access to most of his papers?
"Hokkien nationalist"? No, not AFAIK.

His papers and books can be found in every major research library around the world with an East Asian collection ... and some bookstores too, in TW at least. Look for books by Robert Cheng 鄭良偉, esp. published by the Univ. of Hawai'i Press.
SimL
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by SimL » Tue May 08, 2012 11:08 am

Hi amhoanna,

Ok, thanks!
FutureSpy
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by FutureSpy » Tue May 08, 2012 6:22 pm

Many people believe 儂 is the 本字 for lâng, for example.
Exactly as you said:
但有學者研究認為,「人」這個字的唯一發音是「jîn」,也就是說「人」字並沒有「lâng」的發音。「lâng」的正確用字應該是「儂」,因為樂府詩〈子夜四時歌夏歌〉中,「赫赫盛陰月,無儂不握扇。」當中的「儂」就是「人」的意思。「儂」不但有「人」的 意 思,也 有「lâng」的發音,所以應該就是「lâng」的本字。
(Source: http://140.111.56.95/hanji/annesia/pdf/ ... 325pdf.pdf)

That's also what Hokkienese (鹭水芗南-闽南语部落) uses for lâng. Excuse my ignorance, but isn't Mandarin rén at all related to Hokkien lâng? Now I'm really tempted to use 儂 too... :|

Using invented hanji really reduces readability of a text, so romanization is perhaps a better idea...
Mark Yong
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by Mark Yong » Wed May 09, 2012 3:26 am

Hi, FutureSpy,

Now you’ve got me started... :mrgreen:

The reason why I (stubbornly) adhere to the “漢字 for writing Hokkien model” is because, contrary to the late Prof. John DeFrancis’ views, I still see 漢字 as a binding force that links the various Chinese spoken dialects together.

Take, for instance, phāng or “fragrant”. Mandarin and Cantonese both tend to use , in the guise of xiāng1 and heung1, respectively. Now, without the aid of 漢字, one would not see that phāng is actually , which also means “fragrant” in Mandarin and Cantonese (fāng1 and fong1, respectively) and just about all the other dialects.

Now, I do agree that for non-Hokkien speakers, saying means “person” in the spoken dialect, when most others just use , would be baffling to the uninitiated. But on the flip-side, what about phrases like 幹嘛, 甚麼 and 這/那? With Mandarin as the de facto Chinese standard, we take all these “Northern-isms” so much for granted today, not realising that many of these are (or rather, were) just as colloquial in the North as láng is in Hokkien.

To answer your question: Honestly, my limited knowledge does not allow me to say with any certainty whether láng is really or just a colloquial reading for - though, strictly-speaking, I am inclined to believe it is the former.

That said, would I write the spoken phrase nÒⁿ láng “two persons” as 兩人 or 兩儂? My personal answer would be “It depends”. If I were writing a stage script where I required the speakers to say the words ad verbatim, then I would write 兩儂, so that the words nÒⁿ láng are articulated by the actors unambiguously (it’s the same when Hong Kong writers write 我們 in most formal contexts, but use 我哋 when the words are clearly meant to be recited colloquially). But if it was a text meant to be “read by the eyes, not the ears”, then I would write 兩人, and expect the Hokkien-speaking reader to read it as liÒng-jín in his mind (Point in context: Why láng for person, but 私人 sù-jín for “private”?). Actually, I might even take it a step further and write it as 二人 and expect the Hokkien-speaking reader to read/recite it as jǐ-jín in his mind!

That last example of 二人 is me making a statement. When it comes to the optimal (note: not perfect) model for writing, I still adhere to the 文言文 Literary Chinese model. My reason being, ample examples have been put forth (and this thread is no exception) on the difficulties in writing pure spoken Hokkien exclusively using 漢字. My reason for not adopting the Romanisation has been stated above - not only does it cut Hokkien off from its links (however weak today) with the greater body of Chinese dialects, but also within the sub-dialects of Hokkien itself. By writing nÒⁿ and nⁿg as different Romanised morphemes, the common connection with is lost. But to me, adopting Modern Standard Chinese, derived from another spoken colloquial, is just... wrong. The skewed argument will always be “Well, if you are going to adopt Mandarin as the written standard, why not also drop Hokkien and adopt Mandarin as the spoken standard, rather than have two separate spoken and written standards?” With 文言文 Literary Chinese, the playing field is level.

That said, I do not expect Hokkien speakers to wax lyrical in the streets and speak in prose a’la 李白 to the barista when ordering a cup of coffee. My personal stand is, when conversing with fellow Hokkien speakers, by all means, be as colloquial as you want - after all, it is the colloquialism that brings uniqueness and colour to the individual dialects. But when reading (and this includes reciting), it payeth to know whence thy words cometh from.

As Sim once quite rightly put it, and most of the older Forumers here will attest, I am very much a “prescriptive” linguist. I have my own quirky ideas on how the Chinese written language should be, e.g. writing 『地滑愼步』 rather than 『小心地滑』. But that’s just me. :P

And lest I forget my manners... “Welcome to the Minnan Forum!”
Last edited by Mark Yong on Thu May 10, 2012 12:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
amhoanna
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by amhoanna » Wed May 09, 2012 1:45 pm

There are many approaches to this issue. Mark's approach is one! :mrgreen:
Excuse my ignorance, but isn't Mandarin rén at all related to Hokkien lâng?
They're at best related the way Mandarin fēng 風 and Japanese kaze 風 are related: they mean the same thing, and they've been associated with the same kanji. The etymological connection is not there, if U look into it, even though on the surface they sound kind of similar.
Now I'm really tempted to use 儂 too... :|
But before U go there...

First, it's not really established that lâng = 儂. It's definitely possible, and the sound change aspect is rock-solid, but the semantics look shaky to me.

Second, if we're going to use kanji, why not use them the way they were meant to be used? 人 is an image of a person, so why not use it for whatever word means PERSON in the language at hand?
Using invented hanji really reduces readability of a text, so romanization is perhaps a better idea...
Yes and no. This is a complex, nuanced problem. Personally, I think a Japanese-type solution would be much better than either pure kanji or pure romaji.

We've been discussing this on Facebook recently. It occurred to us that differing attitudes toward kanji lie at the core of almost all disagreements over how Hoklo should be written.

The idea that kanji can be paired with non-kanji elements and used together seems to feel heretical to a lot of people. This feeling of heresy in them is something I'd like to challenge and see challenged more and more in the yrs to come. History reveals that we are part Sino. Why shouldn't our writing also be part Sino? Why should we submit to a pure kanji script riddled with "fake kanji"? That would be "re-ligion" in its original Latinate sense: a "tying back". And the rest is politics. :mrgreen:
Mark Yong
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by Mark Yong » Thu May 10, 2012 1:11 am

Footnote to my previous post: In one of the older threads, I quoted 『閩臺方言的源流與嬗變』 as proposing that the 漢字 for in tǎ-pÒ “man” is . amhoanna objected to it, and frankly, I have to agree with him that I myself have reservations about arbitrarily force-fitting a 漢字 to it on the basis of compatible sound and a loose definition fit (I mean, if it is correct, then fine - but it has not been validated to date), simply because of a personal wish to make every Hokkien word 漢字-writable. Mandarin did it with 幹嘛 gan4-ma2 and made it gospel, Hong Kong Cantonese did it with 乜嘢 mǎt-yē (which, I read somewhere, is really 物也) and the power of the media forced it down our throats; echoing Sim’s sentiments, I am not sure if I want to see Hokkien follow suit and go on its own path with similarly-contrived characters with all those ugly mouth-radicals tacked on. :evil: That, I feel, would be contrary to the spirit of shared Sinitic origins (even if it is not 100%) that I see in the use of 漢字.
amhoanna
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by amhoanna » Thu May 10, 2012 4:58 am

I am not sure if I want to see Hokkien follow suit and go on its own path with similarly-contrived characters with all those ugly 口 mouth-radicals tacked on. :evil:
The backlash against mouth radicals has gone so far ... that some people don't even wanna use the mouth radical for words that have do with talking, drinking or eating! :lol:
That, I feel, would be contrary to the spirit of shared Sinitic origins (even if it is not 100%) that I see in the use of 漢字.
Yes!

Although Literary Chinese-based 訓用 kanji, as shown in Japanese, are a different story... Even taking into account that Hoklo doesn't have a complete, full-service pre-Sinitic layer the way Japanese does.
SimL
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by SimL » Thu May 10, 2012 10:38 am

Mark Yong wrote:As Sim once quite rightly put it, and most of the older Forumers here will attest, I am very much a “prescriptive” linguist.
Of course older Forumers know that we're on opposite ends of the descriptivist-prescriptivist spectrum. But as you also know, I've never had a problem with your opinions. They're well thought out, and very reasonably and clearly expressed. I may not agree with your take on this issue, but it still remains (to me) a perfectly good / reasonable / coherent take on this issue. :P. I really like the fact that we both understand one another's points of view and respect them. And you're also not extreme in defence of your views, and nor am I.

You may have noted that I even used as an example of where I'm totally in support of your viewpoint.

[When I was making the point, I forgot to mention that for most of my life I also thought that "se3" (= "small") was , for the reasons we've both given. It was really a surprise to me to learn that it's . I don't know how many other "naive" Hokkiens make this mistake too. Strangely, nobody ever gets confused about meaning "walk" in Mandarin and "run" in Hokkien. Perhaps because because Hokkien "kiaN5" and Mandarin "pao3" don't sound like cognates of their semantic equivalents in the "other" language.]
FutureSpy
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by FutureSpy » Thu May 10, 2012 10:40 pm

Thanks for this warm welcome, Mark :mrgreen:

Since I can't speak/read/write in Mandarin at all, this 漢字 "game" is a little bit more complicated to me. That might be an advantage thinking my mind won't instictively look for cognates and make assumptions, but it's also a handicap since I'm taking my limited Japanese knowledge as a starting point. Anyway, I should say I'm enjoying this attempt to try to learn some bits of Hokkien, and I'm really thankful to all you guys for being so nice and answering my questions whenever possible.

Writing in "vernacular" is a trend. While I find it's great being able to write the way you speak, I don't think literary language should completely fade away in spite of spoken language, 'cos spoken language usually isn't the most compact way to convey a message, and if written it has many flaws and gaps which are usually made up with elements in one's voice, facial expressions or gestures. Nevertheless, I remember having read PRC students aren't learning (much or at all) Classical Chinese. I wonder if PRC Chinese people can still read it... Just how useful learning Classical Chinese would be for someone trying to pick up Chinese languages (or "dialects")? As useful as learning Latin to a Romance language student?

Personally, if I were to write in Hokkien, I guess I'd rather write etymologically, and use romanization where no correct character has been assigned yet (or words from a non-Sinitic substratum). But I'm not totally convinced that's the best choice, and your opinions add some counterbalancing weight to my decision. And since I'm just learning for fun, perhaps I'd better just learn it and stop thinking too much. Assigning a 漢字 that etymologically has nothing to do with the word seems just wrong or awkward to me. But then I see solutions such as 𨑨迌, and while I don't have enough knowledge to judge it, I find them a little bit suspect. Anyway, if scholars in Taiwan or elsewhere in the Hoklosphere ever establish a real standard rather than provisional recommendations, I'd try to follow it as much as possible and just accept it even if it doesn't look right. Anyway, I'm probably contradicting myself, but I kinda like amhoanna solution. I mean, either write it mixed hanji + romanization but etymologically, or all hanji but in a semantically coherent way (and not random based on Mandarin pronunciations as some do). That's how I would like to learn how to write in Hokkien. Maybe I should just shut up and learn, even if it's awkward?
Mark Yong
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Re: Hanji pronunciations in Taiwanese

Post by Mark Yong » Fri May 11, 2012 1:09 am

FutureSpy wrote:
Since I can't speak/read/write in Mandarin at all, this 漢字 "game" is a little bit more complicated to me. That might be an advantage thinking my mind won't instictively look for cognates and make assumptions...
Not necessarily so. You said “can’t speak/write in Mandarin” - not “Chinese”. It’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, you may not have the advantage of identifying words that are cognates between Hokkien and Mandarin; on the other hand, you will not be ‘dumbed’ into the “Hey, but Mandarin says it like this, why is it like that in Hokkien?” mindset.
FutureSpy wrote:
...but it's also a handicap since I'm taking my limited Japanese knowledge as a starting point.
I am not sure how much Japanese you can read, but I am assuming you are familiar with a decent number of 漢字 Kanji. I own a copy of Nelson’s Japanese Character Dictionary, and regularly amuse myself by flipping through the pages and discovering words that are so close in definition to Chinese.
FutureSpy wrote:
While I find it's great being able to write the way you speak, I don't think literary language should completely fade away in spite of spoken language, 'cos spoken language usually isn't the most compact way to convey a message...
This gap between the written and spoken word is not unique to Chinese. Even in English, there are differences between the way we write and the way we speak - sentence structure, choice of words.
FutureSpy wrote:
I wonder if PRC Chinese people can still read it...
From what I know about PRC, not much anymore. Probably more in Taiwan - amhoanna will be in a better position to give you a scoop on that. My personal experience has been that Taiwanese tend to write in a much more literary style than their PRC counterparts.
FutureSpy wrote:
Just how useful learning Classical Chinese would be for someone trying to pick up Chinese languages (or "dialects")?
Again, a double-edged sword. On one hand, Hokkien has a generous sampling of words from Classical Chinese that is still retained in its lexicon, but now supplanted in Mandarin and many of the other dialects. On the other hand, one must not then fall into the trap of using that to ‘equate’ Hokkien as some form of pure archaic Chinese. Retention of old words points to its high degree of conservatism, but the Min language family as a whole has several strata in its development and absorption of non-Han elements - this is far out of my knowledge sphere, and I best defer to the much more knowledgeable Forum members (Ah-bin and amhoanna can probably help) on details.
FutureSpy wrote:
Personally, if I were to write in Hokkien, I guess I'd rather write etymologically...
Believe me, I would love to do that, too! But as Yeleixingfeng once pointed out to me (in a separate Facebook page) when I suggested that hawker signboards in Penang that write mÓi “porridge” as should have them corrected to read (plus a couple of other examples, e.g. 烏秫米 instead of 黑糯米 for Ò tsǔt-bî “black glutinous rice”), the reality is that there has to be an economic compromise between being etymologically-correct and being readable by the masses (and regrettably, history has dictated that ‘readable’ = congruent with Mandarin :evil: ). I can’t say that I like it, though, and therefore I still silently campaign for the acceptance of these bona fide characters into the mainstream. I mean, as an example, the 粿 in 粿條 kôey-tiáu is actually not a common character in 普通話 Putonghua, but is recognised and widely seen throughout Malaysia and Singapore. So, in principle, there is little reason why others cannot be gradually accepted.
FutureSpy wrote:
Maybe I should just shut up and learn, even if it's awkward?
Oh, no, keep talking. :) That’s what we are all here for, to share our thoughts and insights.

We only have one (1) unspoken rule in this Forum:
“Do not rudely make assertions (to others’ discredit) as if they are gospel truth, especially if they can clearly be proven to be nonsense.” :mrgreen:
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