金門話

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
FutureSpy
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Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:23 pm

金門話

Post by FutureSpy » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:50 am

SimL
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Location: Amsterdam

Re: 金門話

Post by SimL » Wed May 01, 2013 6:02 pm

Hi FutureSpy,

So glad to see that you're still involved with Taiwanese. Hope you're making lots of progress! :P.
FutureSpy
Posts: 167
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:23 pm

Re: 金門話

Post by FutureSpy » Thu May 02, 2013 2:35 am

Hi Sim!

Yeah, actually I took a long break (~7.5 months) because of university. Meanwhile, I was trying to find someone from the Philippines to teach me Hokkien. Since their Hokkien is very close to Taiwanese, my books would still be useful, and what I learn from one could (at least in most cases)complement the other. But the problem was, very few people in the PH use Paypal. Online shopping isn't a trend there even to this day, so most of them don't own international credit cards. Fortunately, two months ago I found this Cebuana Tsinoy (the other 3 were Manileños) and have been since taking classes with her.

It was a little hard to get used to her Hokkien because of the lack of nasalization. I don't know if it's a feature of Hokkien as spoken in Cebu (according to amhoanna, Manila and Zamboanga do have nasals), but amhoanna told me 石獅 in China doesn't have them either. AFAIK, she still retains them in names such as , , , etc. It's been also positive because that way I can learn alternatives to some Japanese loans in Taiwanese.

Anyway, Sim, I'm glad to see you're still around. I've been silently watching this forum from time to time, and apparently there hasn't been much activity here :mrgreen:
Last edited by FutureSpy on Thu May 02, 2013 4:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
SimL
Posts: 1407
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Location: Amsterdam

Re: 金門話

Post by SimL » Thu May 02, 2013 3:54 am

Hi FutureSpy,

Yeah, it's much quieter these days than in its heyday. But I think the regulars still look in every now and again.

It's great to have you back :P. Did you have a look at that Taiwanese B&W film I posted a link to? What's the level of your Taiwanese now, compared to when you last posted here? Has the break meant that you are basically still at the same level?
FutureSpy
Posts: 167
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:23 pm

Re: 金門話

Post by FutureSpy » Thu May 02, 2013 4:10 am

I was watching it during my lunch time before writing that reply for you, but I still haven't finished. I still don't understand much of it tho :cry:

I really learned something during the past 2 months, but I also forgot many things during those 7.5 months, so yeah. Overall I'm still at the same level... Anyway, one month ago or so, a friend took me to a small Taiwanese bookstore/café in my hometown to drink 多多綠 (Yakult Green Tea). I talked for a while with the clerk in Taiwanese, and despite my completely wrong tones, I could somehow make myself understood while talking about simple things such as where I live, why I was learning Taiwanese, what I study at university, my family, where in Taiwan she was from, how long she's been here, etc. But as soon as she went away from these basic things, I felt completely in the dark and stepping on an unknown ground haha :lol: Good thing she couldn't speak much Portuguese, otherwise we'd end up switching to it...
niuc
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Re: 金門話

Post by niuc » Mon May 06, 2013 6:16 pm

Thanks a lot, FutureSpy! My "father tongue" is actually 金門話, but I grew up speaking 同安話 (which is my mother tongue). Anyway, I found them very similar to each other. The vowels are practically identical, including nasalization of 揀 as káiⁿ (instead of kíng). From that website, 金門話's tones are quite similar but not identical and overall having higher pitch & accent than my version of 同安話.

Also, it's interesting to know that some Hokkien variants do not have nasal vowels! If you can visit the Taiwanese bookstore/café quite often, conversing with the clerk can surely help you to improve. :mrgreen:
SimL
Posts: 1407
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Location: Amsterdam

Re: 金門話

Post by SimL » Mon May 06, 2013 9:14 pm

Hi FutureSpy,

Well, it's sad that you forgot quite a lot of stuff during the break, but it's very encouraging that you could do so much with that Taiwanese at the bookstore/café, despite this.

Indeed, it was excellent that she didn't speak Portuguese, for the purposes of forcing you to speak Taiwanese. A similar thing almost happened to me about 2 years ago. I was going into a Chinese restaurant here in Amsterdam, and a Chinese man was coming out. He addressed me in Mandarin as soon as he saw me. But I was so surprised and tongue-tied that I just said (in English) "I'm sorry, I don't speak Chinese". He (apparently) didn't speak *any* English, as he then just shrugged and moved on. 30 seconds later, I had recovered from my embarrassment and realised that that would have been a perfect opportunity for me to practice what little Mandarin I could at the time.

It was just an unfortunate thing - I've had a whole lifetime of having people (tourists) coming up to me and addressing me in Mandarin, and me saying with embarrassment that I couldn't speak it. So that was my first instinctive reaction. Only after I had calmed down did I say to myself "Hey, hold on, you *can* say some things in Mandarin now. You didn't have to give your standard response at all!".

Last night someone I know vaguely introduced me to a Chinese woman in a cafe. She's from the PRC and has lived in the Netherlands for 5 years. She was very drunk, and speaking rather incoherently. This gave me the confidence to actually say a few things to her in Mandarin. But her Dutch was quite good, so she answered half of the time in Dutch (and the other half of the time in English). I don't know if that was a comment on the poor quality of my Mandarin!

Another vaguely similar experience to yours was about 10 years ago. I was in the night-train from Copenhagen back to Amsterdam. In the same compartment as me was a Frenchman, who was a migrant to Denmark. He spoke 1) absolutely no English, and 2) quite limited Danish. "1" meant that if I wanted to speak to him at all, it had to be in Danish (I speak absolutely no French), and "2" meant that I didn't feel shy about my limited Danish, because his wasn't much better! So, that was another occasion when I've spoken a language I'm not very good at.

Aside from that (the drunk PRC woman and the French migrant to Denmark, over a period of 10 years!), I hardly do this. I'm very shy about languages which I'm not good in speaking (I'm even shy about speaking German, and my German is quite adequate for basic conversation). So, I tend to do exactly what you (and others) say one should avoid doing: just learning and practicing my (new) language alone, in book-based situations; where I can take as much time as I need to work out what's being said in the other language, and to formulate my sentences back.

In any case, it's great that you're stimulating lots of discussion on the Forum!
FutureSpy
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Re: 金門話

Post by FutureSpy » Tue May 07, 2013 9:12 am

niuc wrote:My "father tongue" is actually 金門話, but I grew up speaking 同安話 (which is my mother tongue).
I like the accent, sounds very musical and easy on the ears. It's like first time too I hear those kind of E and I in Hokkien. Are your vowels like that too? The ones they represent by er and ir?
SimL wrote:I don't know if that was a comment on the poor quality of my Mandarin!
I don't think so. But you probably have a noticeable non-native accent and she probably thought it was easier for you if she switched to either Dutch or English. Maybe if you keep talking in the language she'll realize you can actually speak it and switch to it too. It's instinctive. I did that before with Spanish when someone asked me something with a thick accent. :mrgreen: Then I realized how frustrating it can be if the person is actually making an effort to learn it and you simply switch to his/her language. But believe me, more often than not, intentions are good.
SimL wrote:I'm very shy about languages which I'm not good in speaking (I'm even shy about speaking German, and my German is quite adequate for basic conversation). So, I tend to do exactly what you (and others) say one should avoid doing: just learning and practicing my (new) language alone, in book-based situations; where I can take as much time as I need to work out what's being said in the other language, and to formulate my sentences back.
Bingo! I do exactly the same, at least when it comes to speak to other people. I usually miss most opportunities I have to practice any language I'm learning/learned. But I love to attempt to write a blog entry, watch stuff or listen to music in my target language, or chat with natives. Just that the latter is getting harder everyday with people being less open-minded towards online friendship. People in language learning communities usually are no longer interested in making friends or mutual help. They are seeking for free teachers! Or I'm very unlucky to stumble on this kind of people all the time! Sometimes I just want to make friends with a native, not asking for help, but meh...

Something that really puts me down is that whenever you say you're interested in a minority language, people ask you "Oh, why don't you learn _PUT HERE THE NATIONAL LANGUAGE NAME_? Pretty much everyone in the country can speak it!" without even knowing the reasons I have to learn it. I do languages for fun, so I don't choose mine by the number of speakers, politics, business or whatever reason they might have in mind. I'm not asking for advices on what to learn either. I made up my mind, I'm interested in _X_ and I want to learn more about it, that's why I'm posting. But people still have that silly -I do languages so that I can get a better job- mentality. I have no problem with people asking me why am I learning it, but people trying to change others' mind really drive me nuts. That reminds me over one year ago when I came to this forum and you told me:
Indeed, a student sinologist asked me the other day if it was worthwhile learning "obscure languages", and my reply to him was that many people learn a language because they're interested in the relevant culture. So it makes total sense (to me) to learn Icelandic or Tibetan, even if these languages have a very small number of speakers, in global terms. His question was related to European languages with a small speaker-base, but in your case, I'm of course *delighted* that your choice is Hokkien/Taiwanese :mrgreen:.
And I totally agree and made me feel great about it. Whenever I say I'm learning Hokkien, people still keep assuming "Oh, so you can already speak Mandarin!". One might also choose a language by its sounds. Many are against it, but I don't see why it's wrong. I chose Catalan many years ago because of that (and because the language kept coming after me, but that's a long story), and I don't regret it. In fact, it's my favorite language in the world. My late teenage years were enlightened by it. Whenever I felt sad, I'd listen to something in Catalan and it would boost my mood. I really can't conceive my life without it :lol:
SimL wrote:30 seconds later, I had recovered from my embarrassment and realised that that would have been a perfect opportunity for me to practice what little Mandarin I could at the time.
Regret always comes too late. I know that feeling!
Ah-bin
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Location: Somewhere in the Hokloverse

Re: 金門話

Post by Ah-bin » Tue May 07, 2013 1:29 pm

Can't resist replying to this!
Something that really puts me down is that whenever you say you're interested in a minority language, people ask you "Oh, why don't you learn _PUT HERE THE NATIONAL LANGUAGE NAME_? Pretty much everyone in the country can speak it!"
Well.... my slightly offensive answer to people who say this is that people who speak English already can get on in life without learning any foreign language, so they have the privilege of learning languages as a hobby rather than as a necessity. The kind of people who ask this question are usually not the kind you are going to have a long and interesting relationship with anyway, so offending them a bit doesn't matter too much. I might add that I often pretend I don't know Mandarin in order to get people to speak to me in Hokkien or Cantonese

Here is what i have found the most enjoyable consequence of learning Hokkien (and a bit of Hakka):

It really screws with the Chinese national and ethnic group consciousness. If you are talking to a group of Chinese in English or Mandarin, you may feel sometimes that there is a kind of "us and them" mentality going on. If you are not Chinese, people may use "us" to talk about Chinese as if they represent a single block of humanity. "We do it this way, you foreigners do it that way etc. etc." When you can speak to a member of a group of Chinese in his or her own native language, you suddenly remove them from that group, and bring them incredibly close to you (in a linguistic way, at least) in a way that only their family and childhood friends can be. The illusion of Chinese uniformity is shattered. You can speak to them in a secret language while the other Chinese stare on nonplussed, the situation is switched and you are suddenly in the "in-group" and the rest of the Chinese are in the "out-group". I have done this in Beijing and on a bus in southern China, and here as well. It never failed to make an impression on the person I spoke to and those who witnessed it. When speaking to a native speaker of Hokkien they are usually overjoyed to speak it back. They will never forget me..... :)

One more thing, a quote from a book on learning languages I have back in NZ

"The rewards you gain from others from learning their language are inversely proportional to the necessity you have to learn it"

Quite true, in my experience.
FutureSpy
Posts: 167
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:23 pm

Re: 金門話

Post by FutureSpy » Wed May 08, 2013 2:07 am

Thailand expat forums are full of these stupid old farangs (I guess that's the Thai equivalent to ang mo) with that mentality. I used to ask questions about Isaan (Lao) or Lanna/Kham muang there. Most replies used to get are the one I told you and "Master Thai first and then you can focus on a dialect (sic)" and then more people agreeing with them.

But I've had a similar experience with native speakers as well. Many years ago, I met a native Oirat speaker from Xinjiang teaching Chinese, English and Mongol through Skype. As soon as I learned he was from Xinjiang I asked him if he could speak Oirat, and he told me it was his native language. I was all excited and booked soon a lesson. During the whole hour, he kept trying to push me Chakhar instead of Oirat, trying to convince me it's more useful, as it's close related to Khalkha (Standard Mongolian from Mongolia) as well. Then I realized how delicate low-esteem about your own culture and language can be. I don't know how to deal with people like that. All my attempts to express my interest and appreciation for his culture were completely useless. From what I was told, smaller languages from Mongolic family lost prestige along the years since Chinese government changed the language policy (first, being replaced for Chakhar, and then Mongolian schools being closed down). I know about a Kalmyk (Oirat settled in Russia) researching Oirat in China, but there wasn't much she could do for me since there isn't much material in English. I also tried some Kalmyk associations in the US, but no luck. There's also a few books in Russian on Kalmyk, but you can hardly find any speakers there. That's how the story ends: I never got to learn Oirat, nor Mongolian alphabet, nor Todo Bichig. :/

You know, I'm aware I was supposed to study English, but I don't feel like doing so. I'm from a generation where many learned English due to exposure. I learned it from playing games, watching subtitled TV shows and movies and reading stuff on the internet with all imperfections of passive learning. I tried English classes 7 years ago, but I quit it frustrated in the middle of the semester 'cos I couldn't speak English at all. A grammar textbook should be enough to help me improve my grammar, but looking at the typical textbooks they use in English courses, I don't think they'd be of much use for me to expand my vocabulary. I tried reading English novels (I have lots of them, but even those aimed at teenagers are too hard for me), but unlike articles and more technical stuff, if you skip a word or two it does have an impact in the comprehension, and looking up every unknown word in the dictionary is really daunting. For pronunciation, I bought a Canadian accent acquisition textbook to see if it helps me to improve my pronunciation, but I can't say it's working :oops:
Last edited by FutureSpy on Wed May 08, 2013 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
SimL
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Location: Amsterdam

Re: 金門話

Post by SimL » Wed May 08, 2013 2:23 am

Hi FutureSpy,

As I was the first time I met you, I'm very heartwarmed by your attitude to "less well-known" languages. I got interested in Danish in exactly the same way, and I too can still remember all the times when people said "Why don't you learn Swedish" (though I'd forgotten until you reminded me by bringing up the issue). I suppose here the attitude was even more extreme, because the idea behind their question was "if you're silly enough to learn something as obscure as a Scandinavian language, then why not at least choose the least obscure of them all". And my reply was exactly the same as yours: "Because I find the sound of Danish fascinating (fascinatingly ugly, but never mind :mrgreen:), and I'm really impressed with their culture and society.

Hi Ah-bin,

Lovely reply about the "Chinese vs. Europeans" vs. the "Hokkien speakers vs. 'other Chinese'". I found it really eye-opening, and something I had never though of before.

I'm going to be away from the net for quite a number of days. I wonder what sorts of discussions will have arisen while I'm away :P!
FutureSpy
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Re: 金門話

Post by FutureSpy » Wed May 08, 2013 10:19 am

Cathy, if I'm not mistaken, I remember have read someone describing something similar as being one of the reasons why one should take some time learning Shanghainese. I'm just not sure who and where to quote it here...

Since I still can't speak Taiwanese, I still haven't had such an experience. But every Taiwanese I've met who had it as their mother tongue are extremely nice to me after I tell I'm learning it. Not sure if it's because of the language itself, or it's just their natural hospitality, but their reactions never fail to positively surprise me :mrgreen:

Sim, Scandinavian languages are nice ones! I tried to learn Norwegian in the past, but I was never diligent enough and lacked discipline. I'll leave it up to you to guess how it all ends... :lol: I guess I got a little bored 'cos I couldn't find anything I really liked to listen in Norwegian. It's extremely hard to find artists singing in Norwegian (I didn't really like the few ones I found), and I guess it's the same with Danish. They all sing in English! There are Swedish artists singing in Swedish tho. Given the Scandinavian continuum still exists, I wonder how are cross-border relationshisp between Norway and Sweden and their relationship with their respective official languages...

See you once you're back, Sim!
amhoanna
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Re: 金門話

Post by amhoanna » Wed May 08, 2013 12:26 pm

This thread about bahasa Kimbng has taken a nice turn. It's not surprising that people on a Hokkien forum would have these kinds of thoughts. Personally I am more in the Kadri (Ah-bin) camp. I like to stick a nightstick up people's nationalisms, etc. I tend to be active with the languages I learn. I turn myself loose in a language relatively early compared to F-Spy, apparently -- let alone Sim. I like port city tongues, not just for their saltwater taste, but for their potential to subvert the national languages. Can't do that with "obscure tongues", that's why I don't go in for obscure tongues much. But I must admit that much can be learned from obscure tongues, much more than from the port city market languages I tend to chase. And Kadri's other pt is very true, that the reward increases with "impracticality". I must admit it confuses me to see F-Spy learn languages but then not use them! Why not go reap that reward? But I can respect your pursuit for what it is.

Speaking of 金門, the National Quemoy University recently put itself on the map as just that, instead of National Kinmen University.

http://www.nqu.edu.tw/eng/index.php
Ah-bin
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Re: 金門話

Post by Ah-bin » Wed May 08, 2013 1:38 pm

FutureSpy wrote:Cathy, if I'm not mistaken, I remember have read someone describing something similar as being one of the reasons why one should take some time learning Shanghainese. I'm just not sure who and where to quote it here...
I am guessing it's William Hannas in his "Asia's Orthographic Dilemma", describing the joy of speaking Wu to people in Taiwan in the 60's.
FutureSpy
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Re: 金門話

Post by FutureSpy » Thu May 09, 2013 2:05 am

amhoanna wrote:I turn myself loose in a language relatively early compared to F-Spy, apparently -- let alone Sim.
Indeed. Yesterday, I was in the supermarket with a friend of mine, and two French girls approached him and asked in English if he knew where the eggs were. I should have said something in French, but I was too shy to do so. :evil: And now I wonder why didn't I ask them where they were from... What if they spoke Occitan, omg? Or perhaps Alsatian? They looked somehow Germanic... :lol:

I hope something changes when I leave Brazil for the first time. :mrgreen:
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