Min Chinese

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Min
閩語/闽语
Geographic
distribution:
Mainland China: Fujian, Guangdong (around Chaozhou-Swatou and Leizhou peninsula), Hainan, Zhejiang-Shengsi, Putuo[disambiguation needed] and Wenzhou, Jiangsu- Liyang and Jiangyin; Taiwan (Overseas, United States-New York City)
Linguistic classification: Sino-Tibetan
Subdivisions:
Glottolog: minn1248[1]
{{{mapalt}}}
Min Chinese
Minyu.png
Bân gú / Mìng ngṳ̄ ('Min') written in
Chinese characters
Traditional Chinese 閩語
Simplified Chinese 闽语
Hokkien POJ Bân gú
A map of the primary varieties of Min.

Min or Miin[a] (simplified Chinese: 闽语; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Mǐn yǔ; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Bân gú; BUC: Mìng ngṳ̄) is a broad group of Chinese languages spoken by 60 million people in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian as well as by migrants from this province in Guangdong (around Chaozhou-Swatou, or Chaoshan area, and the Leizhou peninsula), Hainan, three counties in southern Zhejiang, Zhoushan archipelago off Ningbo, some towns in Liyang, Jiangyin City in Jiangsu province, and Taiwan. The name is derived from the Min River in Fujian.

There are many Min speakers also among overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia as well as in New York City in the United States. The most widely spoken variety of Min outside Fujian (the Min Province) is Hokkien, which includes Taiwanese and Amoy, amongst other dialects, while in Fujian, Min Dong is considered the standard.

Classification of varieties[edit]

Min is usually described as one of seven or ten groups of Chinese dialects but has greater dialectal diversity than any of the other groups. The varieties used in neighbouring counties, and in the mountains of western Fujian even in adjacent villages, are often mutually unintelligible.[2]

Early classifications, such as those of Li Fang-Kuei in 1937 and Yuan Jiahua in 1960, divided Min into Northern and Southern subgroups.[3][4] However, in a 1963 report on a survey of Fujian, Pan Maoding and colleagues argued that the primary split was between inland and coastal groups. A key discriminator between the two groups is the evolution of the voiced and unvoiced lateral consonants reconstructed in the ancestral form of Min. In coastal dialects these merged as /l/, while in inland dialects the voiceless lateral became a voiceless fricative /s/ or /ʃ/.[4][5] While coastal dialects can be derived from a proto-language with four series of stops or affricates at each point of articulation (e.g., /t/, /tʰ/, /d/, and /dʰ/), inland dialects contain traces of two further series, which Norman termed "softened stops" due to their reflexes in some dialects.[6][7] Coastal dialects also feature some uniquely Min vocabulary, including pronouns and negatives, where inland dialects use forms cognate with vocabulary in Hakka and Yue.[8]

Pan et al. divided the coastal dialects into three groups:[9]

Pan et al. divided the inland dialects into two groups:[9]

The Language Atlas of China (1987) includes three additional groups besides the five identified by Pan et al.:[11]

  • Shaojiang dialects, spoken in the northwestern Fujian counties of Shaowu and Jiangle, were classified as Hakka by Pan and his associates.[4] However, Jerry Norman suggested that they were inland Min dialects that had been subject to heavy Gan or Hakka influence.[12]
  • Leizhou Min, spoken on the Leizhou Peninsula in southern Guangdong, had previously been included in Southern Min.
  • Hainanese, spoken on the island of Hainan, had also previously been included in Southern Min.
 Min  
Inland Min
Northwestern
Min Bei (Nanping prefecture)

Jianyang



Jian'ou



Songxi



Shibei



Shaojiang (disputed)[b]

Shaowu



Jiangle




Min Zhong (Sanming prefecture)

Sanming



Yong'an



Shaxian




Coastal Min
Northeastern

Manhua


Min Dong

Fuzhou



Ningde (Ningde prefecture)




Youxi



 Southern 
 Min Nan 
 Hokkien 

Quanzhou



Zhangzhou



Amoy/Taiwanese




Teochew (eastern Guangdong)



 Puxian 

Xianyou



Putian



 Qiong-Lei 

Leizhou



Hainanese




Datian





History[edit]

There are controversies among scholars about when Min Chinese initially emerged as a recognizable dialect group. But it is generally consensus that several huge immigrations from Zhongyuan greatly shaped and influenced Min Chinese. By the Middle Chinese period, Min Chinese had already split off,[13] just like Ba-Shu Chinese.

Writing system[edit]

See also: Written Hokkien

When using Chinese characters to write a non-Mandarin form, standard practice is to use characters that correspond etymologically to the words being represented, and to invent new characters for words with no evident ancient Chinese etymology or in some cases for alternative pronunciations of existing characters, especially when the meaning is significantly different. Written Cantonese has carried this process out to the farthest extent of any non-Mandarin variety, to the extent that pure Cantonese vernacular can be unambiguously written using Chinese characters. Contrary to popular belief, a vernacular written in this fashion is not in general comprehensible to a Mandarin speaker, due to significant changes in grammar and vocabulary and the necessary use of large number of non-Mandarin characters.

A similar process has never taken place for any of the Min languages and there is no standard system for writing Min, although some specialized characters have been created. Given that Min combines Chinese languages from several different periods and contains some non-Chinese vocabulary, one may have trouble finding the appropriate Chinese characters for some Min vocabulary. In the case of Taiwanese, there are also indigenous words loaned from the Taiwanese aborigines, as well as a substantial number of loan words from Japanese. In Singapore and Malaysia, the Min variants spoken have borrowed heavily from Malay and to a lesser extent, from English and other languages. The result is that cases of Min languages written purely in Chinese characters do not represent actual Min speech, but contain a heavy mixture of Mandarin forms.

Attempts to faithfully represent Min speech necessarily rely on romanization, i.e. representation using Latin characters. Some Min speakers use the Church Romanization (Chinese: 教會羅馬字; pinyin: Jiaohui Luomazi). For Min Nan the romanization is called Pe̍h-ōe-jī (POJ) and for Min Dong called Bàng-uâ-cê (BUC). Both systems were created by foreign missionaries in the 19th century (see Min Nan and Min Dong Wikipedia). There are some uncommon publications in mixed writing, using mostly Chinese characters but using the Latin alphabet to represent words that cannot easily be represented by Chinese characters.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The double ii represents the dipping tone in Mandarin, as in the province of Shaanxi.
  2. ^ While it is usually classified with Minbei, sometimes it's excluded from Min and classified as Gan instead.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Min". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ Norman (1988), p. 188.
  3. ^ Kurpaska (2010), p. 49.
  4. ^ a b c d Norman (1988), p. 233.
  5. ^ Branner (2000), pp. 98–100.
  6. ^ Norman (1988), pp. 228–230.
  7. ^ Branner (2000), pp. 100–104.
  8. ^ Norman (1988), pp. 233–234.
  9. ^ a b Kurpaska (2010), p. 52.
  10. ^ Norman (1988), pp. 232–233.
  11. ^ Kurpaska (2010), p. 71.
  12. ^ Norman (1988), pp. 235, 241.
  13. ^ Mei Tsu-lin (1970) "Tones and Prosody in Middle Chinese and The Origin of The Rising Tone," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 30:86–110
  14. ^ 《晉書•地理志》“閩越遐阻,僻在一隅。永嘉之後,帝室東遷,衣冠避難,多所萃止。“
  15. ^ 《閩書》 “衣冠始入閩者八族,所謂林、黄、陳、鄭、詹、丘、胡是也。”
  16. ^ 《汉语方言学基础教程》, 李小凡, page 52, “唐初,陈政、陈元光父子四代驻守闽南漳、泉二州。“
  17. ^ 《汉语方言学基础教程》, 李小凡, page 52, “唐朝科举兴盛,崇尚文教,《切韵》音系作为文读系统也进入了闽语。“

Sources

  • Branner, David Prager (2000), Problems in Comparative Chinese Dialectology — the Classification of Miin and Hakka, Trends in Linguistics series 123, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-015831-1. 
  • Kurpaska, Maria (2010), Chinese Language(s): A Look Through the Prism of "The Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects", Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-021914-2. 
  • Norman, Jerry (1988), Chinese, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-29653-3. 
  • —— (2003), "The Chinese dialects: phonology", in Thurgood, Graham; LaPolla, Randy J. (eds.), The Sino-Tibetan languages, Routledge, pp. 72–83, ISBN 978-0-7007-1129-1. 
  • Yue, Anne O. (2003), "Chinese dialects: grammar", in Thurgood, Graham; LaPolla, Randy J. (eds.), The Sino-Tibetan languages, Routledge, pp. 84–125, ISBN 978-0-7007-1129-1. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]