Meixian dialect

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Meixian
Yue-Tai
Native to Southern China, Taiwan
Region Meixian
Native speakers
(no estimate available)
Sino-Tibetan
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog yuet1238[1]

Meixian dialect (Moiyen), also known as Meizhou (梅州話), Moiyen, and Yue-Tai, is the prestige dialect of Hakka Chinese and the primary form of Hakka on Taiwan. It is named after Mei County, Guangdong.

Phonology[edit]

Initials[edit]

There are two series of stops and affricates in Hakka, both voiceless: tenuis /p t ts k/ and aspirated /pʰ tʰ tsʰ kʰ/.

  Labial Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal /m/ m /n/ n [ɲ] ng(i) ~ /ŋ/ ng*  
Plosive plain /p/ b /t/ d /k/ g (ʔ)
aspirated /pʰ/ p /tʰ/ t /kʰ/ k  
Affricate plain /ts/ z ~ [tɕ] j(i)*
aspirated /tsʰ/ c ~ [tɕʰ] q(i)*
Fricative /f/ f /s/ s ~ [ɕ] x(i)*   /h/ h
Approximant /ʋ/ v /l/ l /j/ y    

* When the initials /ts/ z, /tsʰ/ c, /s/ s, and /ŋ/ ng are followed by a palatal medial /j/ i, they become [tɕ] j, [tɕʰ] q, [ɕ] x, and [ɲ] ng, respectively.

Rimes[edit]

Moiyen Hakka has seven vowels, [i ɨ ɛ a ə ɔ u], that are romanised as i, ê, a, e, o and u,[clarification needed] respectively. The palatisation medial ([j]) is represented by i and the labialisation medial ([w]) is represented as u.

Moreover, Hakka rimes exhibits the final consonants found in Middle Chinese, namely [m, n, ŋ, p, t, k] which are romanised as m, n, ng, b, d, and g respectively in the official Moiyen romanisation.

vowel medial + vowel -i -u -m -n -p -t -k
Syllabics         m   ŋ      
  a   ai au am an ap at ak
    ia iai iau iam ian iaŋ iap iat iak
    ua uai     uan uaŋ   uat uak
  ɛ     ɛu ɛm ɛn   ɛp ɛt  
          iɛn     iɛt  
          uɛn     uɛt  
  i     iu im in   ip it  
  ɔ   ɔi     ɔn ɔŋ   ɔt ɔk
          iɔn iɔŋ     iɔk
          uɔn uɔŋ     uɔk
  u   ui     un   ut uk
      iui     iun iuŋ   iut iuk
  ɨ       əm ən   əp ət  

Tone[edit]

Moiyen has four tones, which are reduced to two in a checked syllable. The Middle Chinese fully voiced initial syllables became aspirated voiceless initial syllable in Hakka. Before that happened, the four Middle Chinese 'tones', ping, shang, qu, ru, underwent a voicing split in the case of ping and ru, giving the dialect six tones in traditional accounts.

Moiyen tones
Tone number Tone name Hanzi Tone letters number English
1 yin ping 陰平 ˦ 44 high
2 yang ping 陽平 ˩ 11 low
3 shang ˧˩ 31 low falling
4 qu ˥˧ 53 high falling
5 yin ru 陰入 ˩ʔ 1 low checked
6 yang ru 陽入 ˥ʔ 5 high checked

These so-called yin-yang tonal splittings developed mainly as a consequence of the type of initial a Chinese syllable had during the Middle Chinese stage in the development of Chinese languages, with voiceless initial syllables [p- t- k-] tending to become of the yin type, and the voiced initial syllables [b- d- ɡ-] developing into the yang type. In modern Moiyen Hakka however, part of the Yin Ping tone characters have sonorant initials [m n ŋ l] originally from the Middle Chinese Shang tone syllables and fully voiced Middle Chinese Qu tone characters, so the voiced/voiceless distinction should be taken only as a rule of thumb.

Hakka tone contours differs more as one moves away from Moiyen. For example the Yin Ping contour is ˧ (33) in Changting[disambiguation needed] (長汀) and ˨˦ (24) in Sixian (四縣), Taiwan.

Entering tone

Hakka preserves all of the entering tones of Middle Chinese and it is split into two registers. Meixian has the following:

  • 陰入 [ ˩ ] a low pitched checked tone
  • 陽入 [ ˥ ] a high pitched checked tone

Middle Chinese entering tone syllables ending in [k] whose vowel clusters have become front high vowels like [i] and [ɛ] shifts to syllables with [t] finals in modern Hakka[2] as seen in the following table.

Character Guangyun Fanqie Middle Chinese
reconstruction[3]
Hakka Main meaning in English
之翼切 tɕĭək tsit˩ vocation, profession
林直切 lĭək lit˥ strength, power
乗力切 dʑʰĭək sit˥ eat, consume
所力切 ʃĭək sɛt˩ colour, hue
多則切 tək tɛt˩ virtue
苦得切 kʰək kʰɛt˩ carve, engrave, a moment
博墨切 pək pɛt˩ north
古或切 kuək kʷɛt˩ country, state

Tone sandhi[edit]

For Moiyen Hakka, the yin ping and qu tone characters exhibit sandhi when the following character has a lower pitch. The pitch of the yin ping tone changes from ˦ (44) to ˧˥ (35) when sandhi occurs. Similarly, the qu tone changes from ˥˧ (53) to ˦ (55) under sandhi. These are shown in red in the following table.

Moiyen tone sandhi
+ ˦ Yin Ping + ˩ Yang Ping + ˧˩ Shang + ˥˧ Qu + ˩ʔ Yin Ru + ˥ʔ YangRu + Neutral
˦ Yin Ping + ˦.˦ ˧˥ ˧˥.˧˩ ˧˥.˥˧ ˧˥.˩ʔ ˦.˥ʔ ˧˥
˥˧ Qu + ˥˧.˦ ˥ ˥.˧˩ ˥.˥˧ ˥.˩ʔ ˥˧.˥ʔ ˥

The neutral tone occurs in some postfixes. It has a mid pitch.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Yue-Tai". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ http://www.sungwh.freeserve.co.uk/chinese/cjkvnum.htm
  3. ^ http://kanji-database.sourceforge.net/dict/sbgy/v5.html