Min Nan

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Southern Min
Min Nan
閩南語 / 闽南语 Bân-lâm-gú
Koa-a Books, literature of Min Nan written in Chinese characters.
Native to China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, United States (New York City), Japan and other areas of Southern Min and Hoklo settlement
Region Southern Fujian province; the Chaozhou-Shantou (Chaoshan) area and Leizhou Peninsula in Guangdong province; extreme south of Zhejiang province; much of Hainan province(if Hainanese or Qiong Wen is included); and most of Taiwan.
Native speakers
47 million  (2007)[1]
Sino-Tibetan
Dialects
Official status
Official language in
None (Legislative bills have been proposed for Taiwanese (Amoy Southern Min) to be one of the 'national languages' in Taiwan); one of the statutory languages for public transport announcements in the ROC [1]
Regulated by None (The Republic of China Ministry of Education and some NGOs are influential in Taiwan)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 nan
Glottolog minn1241[2]
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Distribution of Southern Min.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
Southern Min
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese 閩南語

Southern Min, or Min Nan (simplified Chinese: 闽南语; traditional Chinese: 閩南語; pinyin: Mǐnnán Yǔ; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Bân-lâm-gí/Bân-lâm-gú; literally: "Southern Fujian language"), is a family of Chinese languages or varieties spoken in parts of China such as southern Fujian, eastern Guangdong, Hainan, and southern Zhejiang, and in Taiwan. The languages are also spoken by descendants of emigrants from these areas in diaspora.

In common parlance, Southern Min usually refers to Hokkien. Amoy and Taiwanese are both combinations of Quanzhou and Zhangzhou speech. The Southern Min family also includes Teochew. Teochew has limited mutual intelligibility with the Amoy.

Hainanese and Puxian Min both originated from Minnan. However, both these dialects are generally not considered to be mutually intelligible with any other Southern Min variants phonologically although the grammar and most vocabulary is very similar as they come from the same roots as Minnan.

Southern Min forms part of the Min language group, alongside several other divisions. The Min languages/dialects are part of the Chinese language group, itself a member of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Southern Min is not mutually intelligible with Eastern Min, Cantonese, or Mandarin. As with other varieties of Chinese, there is a political dispute as to whether the Southern Min language should be called a language or a dialect.

Geographic distribution[edit]

Southern Min is spoken in the southern part of Fujian province, three southeastern counties of Zhejiang province, the Zhoushan archipelago off Ningbo in Zhejiang, and the eastern part of Guangdong province (Chaoshan region). The Qiong Wen variant spoken in the Leizhou peninsula of Guangdong province, as well as Hainan province, which is not mutually intelligible with standard Minnan or Teochew, is classified in some schemes as part of Southern Min and in other schemes as separate.

A form of Southern Min akin to that spoken in southern Fujian is also spoken in Taiwan, where it has the native name of Tâi-oân-oē or Hō-ló-oē. The (sub)ethnic group for which Southern Min is considered a native language is known as the Holo (Hō-ló) or Hoklo, the main ethnicity of Taiwan. The correspondence between language and ethnicity is generally true though not absolute, as some Hoklo have very limited proficiency in Southern Min while some non-Hoklos speak Southern Min fluently.

There are many Southern Min speakers also among overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia. Many ethnic Chinese emigrants to the region were Hoklo from southern Fujian, and brought the language to what is now Burma (Myanmar), Indonesia (the former Dutch East Indies) and present day Malaysia and Singapore (formerly Malaya and the British Straits Settlements). In general, Southern Min from southern Fujian is known as Hokkien, Hokkienese, Fukien or Fookien in Southeast Asia and is very much like Taiwanese. Many Southeast Asian ethnic Chinese also originated in the Chaoshan region of Guangdong province and speak Teochew, the variant of Southern Min from that region. Southern Min is reportedly the native language of up to 98.5% of the community of ethnic Chinese in the Philippines, among whom it is also known as Lan-nang or Lán-lâng-oē ("Our people’s language"). Southern Min speakers form the majority of Chinese in Singapore with the largest being Hoklos and the second largest being the Teochews.

Classification[edit]

The variants of Southern Min spoken in Zhejiang province are most akin to that spoken in Quanzhou. The variants spoken in Taiwan are similar to the three Fujian variants and are collectively known as Taiwanese. Taiwanese is used by a majority of the population and is quite important from a socio-political and cultural perspective, forming the second most important, if not the most influential pole of the language due to the popularity of Taiwanese Hokkien media. Those Southern Min variants that are collectively known as "Hokkien" in Southeast Asia also originate from these variants. The variants of Southern Min in the Chaoshan region of eastern Guangdong province are collectively known as Teochew or Chaozhou. Teochew is of great importance in the Southeast Asian Chinese diaspora, particularly in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sumatra and West Kalimantan. The Philippines variant is mostly from the Quanzhou area as most of their forefathers are from the aforementioned area.

The Southern Min language variant spoken around Shanwei and Haifeng differs markedly from Teochew and may represent a later migration from Zhangzhou. Linguistically, it lies between Teochew and Amoy. In southwestern Fujian, the local variants in Longyan and Zhangping form a separate division of Min Nan on their own. Among ethnic Chinese inhabitants of Penang, Malaysia and Medan, Indonesia, a distinct form of Zhangzhou (Changchew) Hokkien has developed. In Penang, it is called Penang Hokkien while across the Malacca Strait in Medan, an almost identical variant is known as Medan Hokkien.

Cultural and political role[edit]

The Min Nan (or Hokkien) language can trace its roots through the Tang Dynasty. Min Nan (Hokkien) people call themselves "Tang people," (唐人, Tn̂g-lâng) which is synonymous to "Chinese people". Because of the widespread influence of the Tang culture during the great Tang dynasty, there are today still many Min Nan pronunciations of words shared by the Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese languages.

English Chinese characters Mandarin Chinese Taiwanese Hokkien[3] Korean Vietnamese Japanese
Book Chheh Chaek Tập/Sách Saku/Satsu/Shaku
Bridge Qiáo Kiô Kyo Cầu/Kiều Kyō
Dangerous 危險 Wēixiǎn Guî-hiám Wiheom Nguy hiểm Kiken
Flag Ki Cờ/Kỳ Ki
Insurance 保險 Bǎoxiǎn Pó-hiám Boheom Bảo hiểm Hoken
News 新聞 Xīnwén Sin-bûn Shinmun Tân Văn Shinbun
Student 學生 Xuéshēng Ha̍k-seng Haksaeng Học sinh Gakusei
University 大學 Dàxué Tāi-ha̍k (Tōa-o̍h) Taehak Đại học Daigaku

Phonology[edit]

Main articles: Hokkien dialect and Teochew dialect

The Southern Min language has one of the most diverse phonologies of Chinese variants, with more consonants than Mandarin or Cantonese. Vowels, on the other hand, are more or less similar to those of Mandarin. In general, Southern Min dialects have five to six tones, and tone sandhi is extensive. There are minor variations within Hokkien, but the Teochew system differs significantly.

Southern Min's nasal finals consist m, n, ŋ, ~.

Varieties[edit]

Xiamen speech is a hybrid of Quanzhou and Zhangzhou speech. Taiwanese is also a hybrid of Quanzhou and Zhangzhou speech. Taiwanese in northern Taiwan tends to be based on Quanzhou speech, whereas the Taiwanese spoken in southern Taiwan tends to be based on Zhangzhou speech. There are minor variations in pronunciation and vocabulary between Quanzhou and Zhangzhou speech. The grammar is basically the same. Additionally, Taiwanese includes several dozen loanwords from Japanese. In contrast, Teochew speech is significantly different from Quanzhou and Zhangzhou speech in both pronunciation and vocabulary.

Vowel shifts[edit]

The following table provides words that illustrate some of the more commonly seen vowel shifts. Characters with same vowel are shown in parentheses.

English Chinese character Accent Pe̍h-ōe-jī IPA Teochew Peng'Im
two Quanzhou, Taipei li˧ jĭ (zi˧˥)[4]
Xiamen, Zhangzhou, Tainan dzi˧
sick (生) Quanzhou, Xiamen, Taipei pīⁿ pĩ˧ pēⁿ (pẽ˩)
Zhangzhou, Tainan pēⁿ pẽ˧
egg (遠) Quanzhou, Xiamen, Taiwan nn̄g nŋ˧ nn̆g (nŋ˧˥)
Zhangzhou nūi nui˧
chopsticks (豬) Quanzhou tīr tɯ˧ tēu (tɤ˩)
Xiamen tu˧
Zhangzhou, Taiwan ti˧
shoes (街)
Quanzhou, Xiamen, Taipei ue˧˥ ôi (tɤ˩)
Zhangzhou, Tainan ê e˧˥
leather (未) Quanzhou phêr pʰə˨˩ phuê (pʰue˩)
Xiamen, Taipei phê pʰe˨˩
Zhangzhou, Tainan phôe pʰue˧
chicken (細) Quanzhou, Xiamen, Taipei koe kue koi
Zhangzhou, Tainan ke ke
hair (兩) Quanzhou, Taiwan, Xiamen mng mo
Zhangzhou mo
return Quanzhou hoan huaⁿ huêng
Xiamen hai hâiⁿ
Zhangzhou, Taiwan hing hîŋ
Speech (花) Quanzhou, Taiwan oe ue
Zhangzhou oa ua

Mutual intelligibility[edit]

Spoken mutual intelligibility[edit]

Chao-Shan, including Swatow (both of which are variants of Teochew speech), has very low intelligibility with Amoy speech,[5] and Amoy and Teochew are not mutually intelligible with Mandarin. However, many Amoy and Teochew speakers speak Mandarin as a second or third language.

Written mutual intelligibility[edit]

See also: Written Hokkien

Southern Min dialects lack a standardized written language. Southern Min speakers are taught how to read Mandarin in school. As a result, there has not been an urgent need to develop a writing system. In recent years, an increasing number of Southern Min language speakers have become interested in developing a standard writing system (either by using Chinese Characters, or using Romanized script).

See also[edit]

Related languages[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Southern Min". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ 台文/華文線頂辭典. (Tâi-bûn/Hôa-bûn Sòaⁿ-téng Sû-tián. Taiwanese/Chinese Online Dictionary.) Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  4. ^ for Teochew Peng'Im on the word 'two', ri6 can also be written as dzi6.
  5. ^ Ethnologue: Min Nan

Further reading[edit]

  • Branner, David Prager (2000). Problems in Comparative Chinese Dialectology — the Classification of Miin and Hakka. Trends in Linguistics series, no. 123. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-015831-0. 
  • Chung, R.-f (196). The segmental phonology of Southern Min in Taiwan. Taipei: Crane Pub. Co. ISBN 957-9463-46-8. 
  • DeBernardi, J. E (1991). "Linguistic nationalism--the case of Southern Min". Sino-Platonic papers, no. 25. Dept. of Oriental Studies, University of Pennsylvania. 
  • "Southern Min Grammar" (3 articles), Part V, Sinitic Grammar, Hilary Chappell (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford 2001. ISBN 0-19-829977-X.

External links[edit]