Different variants of minnan

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
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xng
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by xng » Tue Mar 30, 2010 3:35 pm

hohomi wrote:
niuc wrote:what is 'ua ping' in the clip? It sounds like interjection "wah piang" in Singlish :roll:
I've no idea about "wah piang" in Singlish.
"gua-ping" is an interjection used to show that you are surprised. Sometimes I hear people say "gua-piang".
Wah Piang is the corrupted version of Gua Piang which is another corrupted version of Gua Ping ? :lol:

Is below correct ?

思 (意思) Quanzhou Sɯ, xiamen Su, Zhangzhou Si
aokh1979
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by aokh1979 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 1:56 am

niuc wrote:
xng wrote:It's not that they are ashamed of their 'dialect', it is the lack of standard that is hindering the progress of the language.
...Since they are living in Xiamen, having the same Hokkien variant as taught in some schools in their own very city, what kind of standard do they still waiting for? ...
I agree with niuc. We're Hokkien speakers, I don't think we're actually talking about any outsider or newcomer in this case. I was merely pointing out that both husband and wife from Xiamen, speak the same Xiamen variant, prefer to converse with their child entirely in Mandarin, without any single word in Hokkien. This is what I see today in Xiamen. And believe me, their Mandarin is not considered very good. Some of them even have problem pronouncing the words begin with F and N. They prefer a broken Mandarin than a good Xiamen variant of Hokkien. Why don't they leave Mandarin to those who speak it well to teach their child ? Like teachers, maybe ?

Sorry if I sound negative and nasty. I am just very upset with what's happening to Hokkien now.

Seriously, what kind of standard are we / those people still waiting for ? Xiamen has been considered the STANDARD for a long time, even in Ai FM, Malaysia, Xiamen variant is used for Hokkien news reading. How many % of "variances" do we actually see from Tsiang Tsiu, Tsuan Tsiu and Amoy variants ? I don't believe that speakers of those variants cannot hold a conversation. I witnessed myself before, a Tsuan Tsiu shopkeeper talking to a Swatow customer, both spoke their own variant. I understood Tsuan Tsiu variant, I could grab about 60% of the Tio Tsiu variant from their conversation. They could do it for an hour bargaining on prices. If I live in Penang, then Penang Hokkien will be the standard.

I have heard a Hong Kong friend talking to her old neighbour. She spoke perfect and modern Hong Kong variant but the granny spoke Toi-San variant. I did not see any problem. My cousin never went to Chinese school, he knew nothing about Chinese characters but he spoke perfect Penang variant, then he started going to college talking to new friends in broken Mandarin. He came back to Penang last month and I was indeed very surprised, that he spoke Mandarin exactly like any Chinese-educated high school student, although he still knew not much about Chinese characters. That's the "standard", we achieve "standard" from practical use of the language.

Seriously, most Malaysians or Singaporeans don't speak "standard" Mandarin, but we're exposed to a new Mandarin world, everyone has to speak - and "variants" will start to shrink, a "standard" will then be achieved. Either you adopt mine, or I adopt yours. Frankly, we don't go to school for Hokkien anymore, we're not going to sit down and learn "standard" from anyone, we just need to SPEAK it proudly and loudly, we will watch Hua Hee Dai, and we will pick up some vocabulary from Taiwan, and we may even use them in daily conversation very naturally. The "standard" is forming without us even knowing it.
xng
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by xng » Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:02 am

You guys are talking about 'intelligibility' when you already know the differences and been interacting for years.

That is not the case for new guys/children/foreigners who had first contact with the other variants. When I had first contact with the other variants, I only had limited intelligibility. words like Cit ma, Tak ma, No dumbfounded me.

I can also say understanding cantonese is a cinch because I have contact with it for many years or HK people understanding mandarin. The fact is, new people do have trouble understanding the different variants.
aokh1979
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by aokh1979 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:02 am

True. I don't refer to outsider or newcomer in my statement. I am just very upset that people with their own variant (at least a consistent one) even refuse to speak to their children in Hokkien. It's just saddening.

Personally, I think for outsider or newcomer can start off with Taiwan. Taiwan variant (although it's a mixture, too) is the only one I can see, supported by government. At least there's online dictionary, there's input method, there's a standard phonetic system, there's institution, there's famous TV series or other entertainment elements to help out. I can understand Taiwanese better even though I spent 7 years in Xiamen. Of course, I realised how much I owe it to Hokkien only some 3 years ago. I hope it's not too late for us to discuss, discover and develop Hokkien from here now.

8)
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by SimL » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:21 am

hohomi wrote:
SimL wrote: Only for genuinely traditional Hokkien puppet shows, or if you're speaking to a 88 year-old peasant who can't speak anything else.
That is so untrue.

When I was very young, primary schools in Quanzhou city forbid the students to speak Hokkien at school. That was because nearly every student spoke Hokkien at home. They needed to practise their Mandarin.
At that time(in the 1990s), Mandarin was definitely the weaker language compared to Hokkien - it was only used at schools.

I couldn't speak Mandarin properly before I went to primary school.

They allowed us to speak Hokkien in middle schools. Because, we had been practising speaking Mandarin for six years before attending middle school.
Hi hohomi,

Thanks for sharing that with us. It is a relief for me to hear from you (as I've said before) that Hokkien is a lot more alive (and a lot less repressed) than some of us may think.

Just to clarify, I wasn't saying that that was what the situation was, in Fujian (or in any other part of non-Mandarin speaking PRC). I was only paraphrasing the translation of the legislation which Ah-bin had posted here.
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by SimL » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:34 am

aokh1979 wrote:Seriously, most Malaysians or Singaporeans don't speak "standard" Mandarin, but we're exposed to a new Mandarin world, everyone has to speak - and "variants" will start to shrink, a "standard" will then be achieved. Either you adopt mine, or I adopt yours. Frankly, we don't go to school for Hokkien anymore, we're not going to sit down and learn "standard" from anyone, we just need to SPEAK it proudly and loudly, we will watch Hua Hee Dai, and we will pick up some vocabulary from Taiwan, and we may even use them in daily conversation very naturally. The "standard" is forming without us even knowing it.
Hi aokh,

I like this approach very much! Many languages in N.W. Europe slowly moved towards the standard (for example, English, from the 15th to the 17th century) without the help of standardization bodies, governments etc. Just the fact that people from different regions came into contact with one another in the capital and major university cities (London, Oxford, and Cambridge) resulted in a gradual levelling of regional differences, exactly as you describe. Nowadays we have the internet and other modern forms of communication, so we can get the same exposure without having to physically live in the same place.

As niuc, Ah-bin, and others have said repeated in the past, it's only a matter of having pride and positive feelings towards Hokkien, which will then result in speaking it to our peers and to the next generation.
xng
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by xng » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:33 pm

SimL wrote:
I like this approach very much! Many languages in N.W. Europe slowly moved towards the standard (for example, English, from the 15th to the 17th century)
English has a standard.

If an outsider ie. cantonese, hakka, ang moh wants to learn hokkien, which version do they learn ? They would be as confused as the hokkien themselves because there are 3 different ways to speak the same thing. I wouldn't be surprised if they give up.
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by aokh1979 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:25 am

I will keep an open-mind on the "giving up" part.

Let me share with you what I have in mind. English has standards, not just one, several. We speak English in our country that's why we don't have much problem understanding English variants. I live in China for more than 7 years now. I work in an American company, day in day out all our e-mail, MSN, most importantly, spoken language during meeting will be English and Mandarin. Mandarin, from all over China, some colleagues speak with a very heavy Sichuan accent. Then English, people in China adopt American accent, since they have more exposure to American media. I manage Europe region, most of the time I listen to English with very heavy Irish accent. Some of my buddies manage Australia, they have to get used to the heavy Australian accent. I grew up in half-English environment, I don't have much problem catching words with slightly different pronunciation. But those Chinese colleagues of mine, they don't speak English at home or anywhere else in the city, except in the company.

Question to the version which an outsider should learn. If he's going to spend most of his time in Penang, like a Dutch author here, why does he need to be so concerned about Taiwan variant or Xiamen variant ? He needs to make sure he has the fundamental ability to communicate, in a local variant, before he embarks to learning other variants. If he's not going to live in a Hokkien-speaking region, he can decide any variant that he wants. Like a Beijing resident, a Taipei resident, are we really convinced that people from both cities speak exactly the same "standard" Mandarin ? I personally, would say, the answer is NO. They just have to learn and absorb from each other. They have a Mandarin background, they speak Mandarin, they just need to fill up the possibly 20% gap. At the end of the day, both of them will be 120% Mandarin speaker because none of them needs to give up what they originally know about anything in their own variant.

I learned French, my teachers were French. Then I met a Canadian friend previously, I found it very difficult to understand Canadian French. Phonetically, some words are not pronounced the same, they have differences in accents, too. Vocabulary, Canada and France both have different ways of saying things. I heard from my teacher before, that he had problem talking to Canadian. Then, he managed to listen to Canadian French, respond in European French.

Personally, I don't consider Hainan or Teochew a "variant" in Hokkien. When one person starts to learn Hokkien, he's going to face Xiamen, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Taiwan. I also don't believe that we have so much variances among the 4. If, when he learns Quanzhou and he finds it difficult to understand Zhangzhou, he can ask the speaker to speak more slowly. If he doesn't know how to ask, he's not ready in the language yet.

We hear people speaking the same Cantonese today because everyone tries to learn from Hong Kong TV series, my family is one of them. Personal thought, there's no standard in Cantonese, there's only trend in Cantonese. People pick up words and lines from what they hear. None of my friends actually learns Cantonese by sitting in class. That's why, I encourage people to learn Taiwan variant because that's by far the only region that produces media to help you learn Hokkien. Learn from the variant that you will most likely come in contact with. Like I said, Xiamen variant "may" be the 1st to extinct even though it is the "standard" in China. If a foreigner comes to Malaysia, does he need to worry about Indonesian variant ? Master Malay, then he will be able to start absorbing differences in Indonesian.

I apologise if I sound a little offensive when it comes to this. I love Hokkien, I will help as much as I can, if anyone's about to give up.
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by SimL » Thu Apr 01, 2010 5:40 am

aokh1979 wrote:I apologise if I sound a little offensive when it comes to this. I love Hokkien, I will help as much as I can, if anyone's about to give up.
Not at all! You express yourself very carefully and with well thought out opinions. I really like all of what you said in the previous posting.

I'd just like to highlight one of your many sensible thoughts for comment:
aokh1979 wrote:Like a Beijing resident, a Taipei resident, are we really convinced that people from both cities speak exactly the same "standard" Mandarin ? I personally, would say, the answer is NO. They just have to learn and absorb from each other.
Exactly. Ah-bin and I have been saying this a number of times in the past (Ah-bin quoted an example from Maori; I'll include it at the end of this posting, in order not to break the flow). That's one of the reasons I'm always pleased to learn that a certain Penang Hokkien phrase or word is not used in other variants. (That is to say, I'm pleased when I become aware that a normal term I use may not be understood by speakers of other variants, not (of course) that I'm (specifically) pleased that there is a lack of standardization (though of course, I accept it)). And I'm also pleased to learn what the term is which I must use in conversations with people who speak other variants. Furthermore, I seem to remember that some other Forum member once even praised the "wonderful variation and diversity in Hokkien". Each variant has "local colour", which we can take pride in too.

So, thank you again for your very well-expressed thoughts.

SimL

Here's the quote from Ah-bin. It's from viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7017&sid=ac0637d172 ... b11b106114:
Ah-bin wrote:Several of the issues of standardisation are the same. Hokkien and Maori were both mainly spoken languages rather than written, and there were quite a few different dialects. Every Maori teacher I've met told us to learn the language of the place where we lived, rather than an official standard, and told us to use our local words but be aware of all the different ways to say things, and have respect for them. In that way, people eventually learnt just to understand each other and still go on using their own ways of saying things and their own pronunciation.
xng
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by xng » Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:33 am

aokh1979 wrote:I will keep an open-mind on the "giving up" part.
We are not talking about intelligent people like you or the many linguists here who are obviously, above average in IQ.

We are talking about the average person who even have trouble grasping one language let alone so many variants.

You cannot quote yourself as an example of 'average' person. Few people in Malaysia can write as well as you or the members in this forum in English.
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by Ah-bin » Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:43 am

Most people can only understand/master TWO languages, one of them must be mandarin, the other could be English or mother tongue.


Xng, that's just rubbish. It may be true for you, but don't go and say it's true for "most people".

People now over 40 in Holland mastered three foreign languages as children. My Malaysian Chinese friends could all speak Cantonese, English, and then slip into Malay when they wanted to keep secrets from me and the Hongkies. Aboriginal people in Australia who live in the north can usually speak at least three languages.
Multilingualism was also the norm in Eastern Europe before World War II. Most ordinary people could speak German, Hungarian, Croatian and Romanian natively.

Does that mean they are/were cleverer than all other people in the world? No. The reason why some people can't do it any more is because of changes in the education system and the ethnic makeup of the areas (people are now organised into nation-states with well-defined boundaries).

If it wasn't for these reasons then we just have to conclude that people have become more stupid in certain places and at certain times. I know that Lee Kwan-yew said that people didn't have enough space in their brains to master more than two languages, but people who actually know what they are talking about (experts in language learning and neurolinguistics) say otherwise.
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by Ah-bin » Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:52 am

Another thing, if instead of complaining about how everyone else's Hokkien is so bad and non-standard, people would actually get off their arses and start broadcasting or making podcasts/youtube videos in their own variety, we might actually get to listen to it and understand it.

No change ever came from just whining on internet forums about one's personal dislikes. The only way to succeed is by direct action, speaking, writing, broadcasting, and learning how to romanise properly so the pronunciation can be set down accurately in writing. No-one will ever listen otherwise.
xng
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by xng » Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:54 am

Ah bin, please keep to a civilised discussion or do you want this forum to be a name-calling game just because you disagree with me.

I have met many people in Malaysia and Singapore, most people can't master more than one language.

The average person is half bucket here and half bucket there to put it 'half bucketly'. :lol:

I wouldn't call that proficient in more than one language. Or else why do forummers here ask simple questions regarding minnan which includes you ?

Do show your proficiency in the chinese language to me then. :lol:
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by hohomi » Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:48 am

Ah-bin wrote:start broadcasting or making podcasts/youtube videos in their own variety
I look forward to watching them. I am a supporter of language preservation. I hope every variant of Hokkien can be preserved to the next century rather than being supplanted by a "standard" variant.
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Re: Pronounciation of 還 - Return

Post by aokh1979 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:58 am

Yes, that's also what I am doing. I think every variant has its local colour, like what SimL says.

About that, Penang Hokkien is the only variant available in podcast. I don't know about others. hohomi, you grew up in Quanzhou, right ? Do something to present Quanzhou variant in a lively way. I do stage plays in Penang, we had one very successful production last year, where 70% of the lines were in Penang Hokkien. I am working on another one with 90% in Penang Hokkien end of this year.

Languages cannot be just academically recorded, it must be a living culture around us. I find most people actually portray "dialects" as a sub-standard culture, most video clips I see in Youtube use "dialects" as a "spamming engine". I want to do it in a more elegant way.

One thing I hate about Chinese schools in Malaysia, is the restriction of speaking dialects. I seriously don't understand why does one have to give up a language to learn another. I don't think Malay schools restrict students from speaking loghat-loghat Melayu. We're killing ourselves.

:cry:
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