Hokkien in the Philippines

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Hokkien is a Southern Min language spoken by part of the ethnic Chinese population of the Philippines. The use of Hokkien in the Philippines is influenced by Tagalog and Philippine English. Hokaglish is an oral contact language involving Philippine Hokkien, Tagalog, and English.


The term Philippine Hokkien is used when differentiating the variety of Hokkien spoken in the Philippines from those spoken in Taiwan, China, and other Southeast Asian countries.[1][2]

Native speakers of Philippine Hokkien refer to their language as lan nang oe (Chinese: 咱人話; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Lán-lâng-ōe; literally: 'our people's speech').[3][2][1]

Sometimes, it is also colloquially known as Fookien[3] or Fukien[4] around the country.


Only 12.2% of all ethnic Chinese in the Philippines have a variety of Chinese as their mother tongue. Nevertheless, the vast majority (77%) still retain the ability to understand and speak Hokkien as a second or third language.[5]


As of 2019, the Ateneo de Manila University, under their Chinese Studies Programme, offers Hokkien 1 (Chn 8) and Hokkien 2 (Chn 9) as electives.[6] Chiang Kai Shek College offers Hokkien classes in their CKS Language Center.[7]

Linguistic features[edit]

The contractions, (sap) and (lia̍p), used on a grave tablet in the Manila Chinese Cemetery.

Philippine Hokkien is largely derived from the Jinjiang dialect of Quanzhou but has possibly also absorbed influences from the Amoy dialect of Xiamen and Nan'an dialects of Quanzhou.[8][9]

Although Philippine Hokkien is generally mutually comprehensible with any Hokkien variant, including Taiwanese Hokkien, the numerous English and Filipino loanwords as well as the extensive use of colloquialisms (even those which are now unused in China) can result in confusion among Hokkien speakers from outside of the Philippines.[citation needed]

Some terms have been shortened into one syllable. Examples include:


Philippine Hokkien, like other Southeast Asian variants of Hokkien (e.g. Singaporean Hokkien, Penang Hokkien, Johor Hokkien and Medan Hokkien), has borrowed words from other languages spoken locally, specifically Tagalog and English.[3] Examples include:[3]

  • manis /ma˧ nis˥˧/: "corn", from Tagalog mais
  • lettuce /le˩ tsu˧ tsʰai˥˩/: "lettuce", from English lettuce + Hokkien ("vegetable")
  • pamkin /pʰam˧ kʰin˥/: "pumpkin", from English pumpkin

Philippine Hokkien also has some vocabulary that is unique to it compared to other varieties of Hokkien:[3]

  • 車頭 /tsʰia˧ tʰau˩˧/: "chauffeur"
  • 巴塗 /pa˧ tʰɔ˩˧/: "cement"
  • 山猴 /suã˧ kau˩˧/: "country bumpkin"
  • 義山 /ɡi˩ san˧/: "cemetery"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gonzales, Wilkinson Daniel Wong (2016). Exploring trilingual code-switching: The case of ‘Hokaglish’ (PDF). Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society.
  2. ^ a b Lin, Philip T. (2015). Taiwanese Grammar: A Concise Reference. Greenhorn Media. ISBN 978-0-9963982-1-3.
  3. ^ a b c d e Tsai, Hui-Ming (2017). 菲律賓咱人話(Lán-lâng-uē)研究 [A Study of Philippine Hokkien Language] (PhD) (in Chinese). National Taiwan Normal University.
  4. ^ Chan Yap, Gloria (1980). Hokkien Chinese borrowings in Tagalog (PDF). Canberra: Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University. ISBN 9780858832251.
  5. ^ Teresita Ang-See, "Chinese in the Philippines", 1997, Kaisa, pg. 57.
  6. ^ "Minor in Chinese Studies". Ateneo de Manila University. Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  7. ^ "CKS Language Center". Chiang Kai Shek College. Chiang Kai Shek College. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  8. ^ 蔡惠名; 王桂蘭. "菲律賓福建話初步調查成果" [Preliminary Research Results on Philippine Hokkien]. 海翁台語文學教學季刊 (11): 52. doi:10.6489/HWTYWHCHCK.201103.0046.
  9. ^ Gonzales, Wilkinson Daniel Ong Wong (2018). Philippine Hybrid Hokkien as a Postcolonial Mixed Language: Evidence from Nominal Derivational Affixation Mixing (M.A.). National University of Singapore.
  10. ^ "Entry #799". 臺灣閩南語常用詞辭典 [Dictionary of Frequently-Used Taiwan Minnan]. Ministry of Education, R.O.C. 2011.
  11. ^ "Entry a00433". Dictionary of Chinese Character Variants (教育部異體字字典).
  12. ^ "Entry #1398". 臺灣閩南語常用詞辭典 [Dictionary of Frequently-Used Taiwan Minnan]. Ministry of Education, R.O.C. 2011.