Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fuzhou Dialect as explained by Wikipedia

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Fuzhou dialect in Traditional Chinese: 福州話 and Simplified Chinese: 福州话
Mandarin - Hanyu Pinyin: Fúzhōu huà Min - Min-nan POJ: Hok-chiu-oē - Min-dong BUC: Hók-ciŭ-uâ (IPA: [huʔ21 tsiu53 uɑ242]) Yue (Cantonese) - Jyutping: fuk1 zau1 waa2

Alternative Chinese name : Traditional Chinese: 平話 Simplified Chinese: 平话
- Hanyu Pinyin: Píng huà
- Min-dong BUC: Bàng-uâ
(IPA: [paŋ21 uɑ242])
Yue (Cantonese)
- Jyutping: ping4 waa2

Fuzhou Dialect
福州話 / 平話
Spoken in: People's Republic of China (Fuzhou); Republic of China (Matsu Islands); Malaysia (Sibu, Miri, Sarikei, Bintulu, Yong Peng, Sitiawan and Ayer Tawar); Singapore; and some Chinese communities in the west, particularly in the Chinatowns of New York and London.
Total speakers: Less than ten million
Language family: Sino-Tibetan
Min Dong
Fuzhou Dialect
Writing system: Chinese characters and Foochow Romanized
Official status
Official language of: none; one of the statutory languages for public transport announcements in the Matsu Islands, Republic of China [1]
Fuzhou dialect (福州話), also known as Foochow, Foochow dialect, Fuzhouhua or Foochowese, is considered the standard dialect of Min Dong, which is a branch of Chinese mainly spoken in the eastern part of Fujian Province. Native speakers also call it Bàng-uâ (平話), meaning the language spoken in everyday life.

Although traditionally called a dialect, Fuzhou dialect is a separate language in linguistic standard because it is not mutually intelligible with other branches of Min Language and other Chinese languages. Therefore, whether Fuzhou dialect is a dialect or a language is highly disputable.

Centered in Fuzhou City, Fuzhou dialect mainly covers eleven cities and counties, viz.: Fuzhou (福州), Pingnan (屏南), Gutian (古田), Luoyuan (羅源), Minqing (閩清), Lianjiang (連江, Matsu included), Minhou (閩侯), Changle (長樂), Yongtai (永泰), Fuqing (福清) and Pingtan (平潭). Fuzhou dialect is also the second local language in northern and middle Fujian cities and counties, like Nanping (南平), Shaowu (邵武), Shunchang (順昌), Sanming (三明) and Youxi (尤溪).

In some regions abroad, Fuzhou dialect is also widely spoken, especially in Sitiawan and Sibu, Malaysia, where it has been called "New Fuzhou" due to the influx of immigrants there in the 1900s. Similarly, the dialect has spread to the USA, UK and Japan as a result of immigration in recent decades.

The authoritative Foochow rime book Qī Lín BāyīnAfter Han China's occupation of Minyue (閩越) in 110 BC, Han people began its reign in what is Fujian Province today. Having lost their nationalities, the aboriginal Minyue people, a branch of Yue peoples (百越), were forced to speak Ancient Chinese and eventually assimilated into Chinese culture.

Fuzhou dialect came into being during the Tang Dynasty, and has been evolving separately as a branch of Chinese ever since. However, it is also worth noting that some fragments of the ancient Minyue language (閩越語) have been well-preserved for thousands of years. Therefore, Fuzhou dialect is in fact a mixed language evolving from Ancient Chinese and the ancient Minyue language.

The famous book Qī Lín Bāyīn (戚林八音, Foochow Romanized: Chék Lìng Báik-ĭng), which was compiled in the 17th century, is the first and the most full-scale rime book that provides a systematic guide to character reading for people speaking or learning Fuzhou dialect. It once served to standardize the language and is still widely quoted as an authoritative reference book in modern academic research in Chinese phonology.

Studies by early Western missionaries

Dictionary of the Foochow dialect, 3rd Edition, published in 1929In 1842, Fuzhou was open to Westerners as a treaty port after the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing. But due to the language barrier, however, the first Christian missionary base in this city did not take place without difficulties. In order to convert Fuzhou people, those missionaries found it very necessary to make a careful study of the Fuzhou dialect. Their most notable works are listed below:

1856, M. C. White: The Chinese language spoken at Fuh Chau
1870, R. S. Maclay & C. C. Baldwin: An alphabetic dictionary of the Chinese language in the Foochow dialect
1871, C. C. Baldwin: Manual of the Foochow dialect
1891, T. B. Adam: An English-Chinese dictionary of the Foochow dialect
1898, R. S. Maclay & C. C. Baldwin: An alphabetic dictionary of the Chinese language of the Foochow dialect, 2nd edition
1906, The Foochow translation of the complete Bible ([2], [3])
1923, T. B. Adam & L. P. Peet: An English-Chinese dictionary of the Foochow dialect, 2nd edition
1929, R. S. Maclay & C. C. Baldwin (revised and enlarged by S. H. Leger): Dictionary of the Foochow dialect

By the end of the Qing Dynasty, Fuzhou society had become largely monolingual. But in 20th century, the number of Mandarin speakers has been greatly boosted, which shows a clear tendency that Mandarin will replace Fuzhou dialect as the daily language. There are 5 main reasons accounting for that phenomenon:

Cultural identification: Fuzhou citizens generally identify themselves as Chinese, and some take it for granted that a Chinese should speak his national language only, and that all other regional dialects should be abandoned. These people have willingly given up teaching their children to speak the local language.
Language policy: Mandarin Chinese is the only official language in China, so the use of Fuzhou dialect is discouraged in media, education and other formal occasions. The National Language movements carried out by Kuomintang and Communist Party had been in fact based on the principle that Mandarin Chinese and Fuzhou dialect were contradictory rather than complementary.
Low degree of mutual intelligibility: Fuzhou dialect is not mutually intelligible even within its many varieties. In order to communicate with people from other regions, Fuzhou dialect speakers would have to learn Mandarin.
Population structure: The second half of the 20th century has witnessed a large immigration into Fuzhou, which greatly altered the structure of its population. Archaic and full of seemingly irregular changes, Fuzhou dialect is difficult for newcomers. Therefore, they and their offspring only speak Mandarin.
Educational importance: In general, most Chinese accept that standard Mandarin is the language of the educated and that the Fuzhou dialect's written elements are absent in contemporary Fujian society. Fuzhou dialect is seen by most native speakers as solely a spoken language, which few if any everyday speakers can read or write. The Fuzhou dialect are therefore considered as less prestigious.
Nevertheless, it should also be noted that Fuzhou dialect is currently widely spoken among some native speakers as an "endearing" language. Speaking Fuzhou dialect in Fuzhou often allows mutual speakers a certain level of familiarity. Even though Mandarin Chinese is more often heard in casual conversations on the city streets, the careful observer will notice that in more communal settings, such as small neighborhoods in the city or the surrounding countryside, Fuzhou dialect is often the dominant language. Many people today see Fuzhou dialect as a countryside language.

In Fujian, Chinese government promised to take measures against the decline of Fuzhou dialect, but so far nothing concrete has been done. In Matsu, Taiwan, the teaching of Fuzhou dialect has been introduced into elementary schools.


Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. See International Phonetic Alphabet for a pronunciation key.
Phonetically, Fuzhou dialect is a tonal language, which has extensive sandhi rules in the initials, rimes, and the tones. The sandhi rules make Fuzhou dialect one of the most complicated languages of all the branches of Chinese.

There are seven original tones in Fuzhou dialect, which reserves the tonal system of Ancient Chinese:

Name Tonal value Description Example
Ĭng-bìng (陰平) 55 high level 君
Siōng-siăng (上聲) 33 middle level 滾
Ĭng-ké̤ṳ (陰去) 213 low falling and rising 貢
Ĭng-ĭk (陰入) 24 middle rising stopped 谷
Iòng-bìng (陽平) 53 high falling 群
Iòng-ké̤ṳ (陽去) 242 middle rising and falling 郡
Iòng-ĭk (陽入) 5 high level stopped 掘

The sample characters are taken from the Qī Lín Bāyīn.

In Qī Lín Bāyīn, Fuzhou dialect are described as having eight tones, and that's how the book got its title (Bāyīn means "eight tones"). In spite of that, the name is somewhat misleading. In fact, a native speaker can never distinguish between Ĭng-siōng (陰上) and Iòng-siōng (陽上); therefore, only seven tones exist.

Ĭng-ĭk and Iòng-ĭk (or so-called entering tonal) characters are ended with either velar stop [k] or Glottal stop [ʔ].

Besides those seven tones listed above, two new tonal values, "21" (Buáng-ĭng-ké̤ṳ, 半陰去) and "35" (Buáng-iòng-ké̤ṳ, 半陽去) also occur in connected speech (see Tonal sandhi below).

Tonal sandhi
The rules of tonal sandhi (連讀變調) in Fuzhou dialect are complicated, even compared with those of other Chinese dialects. When two or more than two characters combine into a word, the tonal value of the last character remains stable but those of its preceding characters change in most cases. For example, "獨", "立" and "日" are characters of Iòng-ĭk (陽入) with the same tonal value "5", and are pronounced as [tuʔ5], [liʔ5] and [niʔ5], respectively. When combined together as the phrase "獨立日" (Independence Day), "獨" changes its tonal value to "21", and "立" changes its to "33", therefore the pronunciation as a whole is [tuʔ21 liʔ33 niʔ5].

The two-character tonal sandhi rules are shown in the table below:

Ĭng-bìng (陰平, 55) Iòng-bìng (陽平, 53)
Iòng-ĭk (陽入, 5)
Shǎngshēng (上聲, 33) Ĭng-ĭk (陰去, 213)
Iòng-ké̤ṳ (陽去, 242)
Ĭng-ĭk (陰入, 24)

Ĭng-bìng (陰平, 55)
Ĭng-ké̤ṳ (陰去, 213)
Iòng-ké̤ṳ (陽去, 242)
Ĭng-ĭk-ék (陰入乙, 24)
55 55 53 53
Iòng-bìng (陽平, 53)
Iòng-ĭk (陽入, 5)
55 33 33 21
Siōng-siăng (上聲, 33)
Ĭng-ĭk-gák (陰入甲, 24)
21 21 35 55

Ĭng-ĭk-gák (陰入甲) are Ĭng-ĭk (陰入) characters with glottal stop and Ĭng-ĭk-ék (陰入乙) with /k/.

However, the tonal sandhi rules of more than two characters are much more complicated than can be conveniently displayed in a single table.

There are seventeen initials in all:

Bilabial Alveolar Palatoalveolar Velar Glottal
Stop /pʰ/ (波), /p/ (邊) /tʰ/ (他), /t/ (低) /kʰ/ (氣), /k/ (求) /ʔ/ (鶯)
Fricative [β] /s/ (時) [ʒ] /h/ (喜)
Affricate /tsʰ/ (出), /ts/ (曾)
Nasal /m/ (蒙) /n/ (日) /ŋ/ (語)
Lateral /l/ (柳)

The Chinese characters in the brackets are also sample characters from Qī Lín Bāyīn.

Most Chinese linguists argue that Fuzhou dialect should be described as possessing a null onset. In fact, any character that has a null onset begins with a glottal stop [ʔ].

Some speakers find it difficult to distinguish between the initials /n/ and /l/].

No such labiodental phonemes as /f/ or /v/ exist in Fuzhou dialect, which is one of the most conspicuous characteristics shared by all branches in the Min Family, as well as Korean and Japanese.

[β] and [ʒ] exist in connected speech (see Initial assimilation below) only.

Initial assimilation
In Fuzhou dialect, there are various kinds of initial assimilation (聲母類化), all of which are progressive. When two or more than two characters combine into a phrase, the initial of the first character stays unchanged while those of the following characters, in most cases, change to match its preceding phoneme, i.e., the coda of its preceding character.

The Coda of the Former Character The Initial Assimilation of the Latter Character
Null coda or /-ʔ/ /p/ and /pʰ/ change to [β];
/t/, /tʰ/ and /s/ change to [l];
/k/, /kʰ/ and /h/ change to null initial (without [ʔ]);
/ts/ and /tsʰ/ change to /ʒ/;
/m/, /n/ and /ŋ/ remain unchanged.

/-ŋ/ /p/ and /pʰ/ change to [m];

/t/, /tʰ/ /s/ and /l/ change to [n];
/k/, /kʰ/ and /h/ change to [ŋ];
/ts/ and /tsʰ/ change to [ʒ];
/m/, /n/ and /ŋ/ remain unchanged.

/-k/ Any initials remain unchanged.

The table below shows the eleven vowel phonemes of Fuzhou dialect.

front fr. rounded back
close /i/ /y/ /u/
close-mid /e/ /ø/ /o/
open-mid /ɛ/ /œ/ /ɔ/
open /a/ /ɑ/

Eleven vowel phonemes, together with the codas /-ŋ/ and /-ʔ/, are organized into forty-six rimes.

Simple Vowels /a/ or /ɑ/(蝦 or 罷) /ɛ/ or /a/(街 or 細) /œ/ or /ɔ/(驢 or 告) /o/ or /ɔ/(哥 or 抱) /i/ or /ɛi/(喜 or 氣) /u/ or /ou/(苦 or 怒) /y/ or /øy/(豬 or 箸)
Compound Vowels /ia/ or /iɑ/(寫 or 夜) /ie/ or /iɛ/(雞 or 毅) /iu/ or /ieu/(秋 or 笑) /ua/ or /uɑ/(花 or 話) /uo/ or /uɔ/(科 or 課) /yo/ or /yɔ/(橋 or 銳) /ai/ or /ɑi/(紙 or 再) /au/ or /ɑu/(郊 or 校) /ɛu/ or /ɑu/(溝 or 構) /øy/ or /ɔy/(催 or 罪) /uai/ or /uɑi/(我 or 怪) /ui/ or /uoi/(杯 or 歲)
Nasal Coda /-ŋ/ /aŋ/ or /ɑŋ/(三 or 汗) /iŋ/ or /ɛiŋ/(人 or 任) /uŋ/ or /ouŋ/(春 or 鳳) /yŋ/ or /øyŋ/(銀 or 頌) /iaŋ/ or /iɑŋ/(驚 or 命) /ieŋ/ or /iɛŋ/(天 or 見) /uaŋ/ or /uɑŋ/(歡 or 換) /uoŋ/ or /uɔŋ/(王 or 象) /yoŋ/ or /yɔŋ/(鄉 or 樣) /ɛiŋ/ or /aiŋ/(恒 or 硬) /ouŋ/ or /ɔuŋ/(湯 or 寸) /øyŋ/ or /ɔyŋ/(桶 or 洞)
Glottal Coda /-ʔ/ /aʔ/ or /ɑʔ/(盒 or 鴨) /øʔ/ or /œʔ/(扔 or 嗝) /eʔ/ or /ɛʔ/(漬 or 咩) /oʔ/ or /ɔʔ/(樂 or 閣) /iʔ/ or /ɛiʔ/(力 or 乙) /uʔ/ or /ouʔ/(勿 or 福) /yʔ/ or /øyʔ/(肉 or 竹) /iaʔ/ or /iɑʔ/(擲 or 察) /ieʔ/ or /iɛʔ/(熱 or 鐵) /uaʔ/ or /uɑʔ/(活 or 法) /uoʔ/ or /uɔʔ/(月 or 郭) /yoʔ/ or /yɔʔ/(藥 or 弱) /ɛiʔ/ or /aiʔ/(賊 or 黑) /ouʔ/ or /ɔuʔ/(學 or 骨) /øyʔ/ or /ɔyʔ/(讀 or 角)

As has been mentioned above, there are theoretically two different entering tonal codas in Fuzhou dialect: /-k/ and /-ʔ/. But for most Fuzhou dialect speakers, those two codas are only distinguishable when in the tonal sandhi or initial assimilation. Therefore, most Chinese linguists think that the codas /-k/ and /-ʔ/ has merged together.

Close/Open rimes
All rimes come in pairs in the above table: the one to the left represents a close rime (緊韻), while the other represents an open rime (鬆韻). The close/open rimes are closely related with the tones. As single characters, the tones of Ĭng-bìng (陰平), Siōng-siăng (上聲), Iòng-bìng (陽平) and Iòng-ĭk (陽入) have close rimes while Ĭng-ké̤ṳ (陰去), Ĭng-ĭk (陰入) and Iòng-ké̤ṳ (陽去) have the open rimes. In connected speech, an open rime shifts to its close counterpart in the tonal sandhi.

For instance, "福" (hók) is a Ĭng-ĭk character and is pronounced as [houʔ24] and "州" (ciŭ) a Ĭng-bìng character with the pronunciation of [tsiu55]. When these two characters combine into the word "福州" (Hók-ciŭ, Fuzhou), "福" changes its tonal value from "24" to "21" and, simultaneously, shifts its rime from [-ouʔ] to [-uʔ], so the phrase is pronounced as [huʔ21 tsiu55]. While in the word "中國" [tyŋ53 kuɔʔ24] (Dṳ̆ng-guók, China), "中" is a Ĭng-bìng character and therefore its close rime never changes, though it does change its tonal value from "55" to "53" in the tonal sandhi.

The phenomenon of close/open rimes is unique to Fuzhou dialect and this feature makes it especially intricate and hardly intelligible even to other Min languages.

Phonological features

Most words in Fuzhou dialect have cognates in other Chinese languages, so a non-Fuzhou speaker would find it much easier to understand Fuzhou dialect written in Chinese characters than spoken in conversation. But it should also be noted, however, that false friends do exist: for example, "莫細膩" (mŏ̤h sá̤-nê) means "don't be too polite" or "make yourself at home", "我對手汝洗碗" (nguāi dó̤i-chiū nṳ̄ sā̤ uāng) means "I help you wash dishes", "伊共伊老媽嚟冤家" (ĭ gâe̤ng ĭ lâu-mā lā̤ uŏng-gă) means "he and his wife are quarreling (with each other)", etc. Sheer knowledge of Mandarin vocabulary does not help one catch the meaning of these sentences.

Words from Classical Chinese
Quite a few words from Classical Chinese have retained the original meanings for thousands of years, while their counterparts in Mandarin Chinese have either fallen out of daily use or varied to different meanings.

This table shows some Fuzhou dialect words from Classical Chinese, as contrasted to Mandarin Chinese:

Meaning Fuzhou dialect Foochow Romanized Mandarin Pinyin
eye 目睭/目珠 mĕ̤k-ciŭ ([møyʔ5 tsiu55]) 眼睛 yǎnjīng
you 汝 nṳ̄ ([ny33]) 你 nǐ
chopstick 箸 dê̤ṳ ([tøy242]) 筷子 kuàizi
to chase 逐 dṳ̆k ([tyʔ5]) 追 zhuī
to look, to watch 覷 ché̤ṳ ([tsʰøy213]) 看1 kàn
wet 潤 nóng ([nouŋ213]) 濕 shī
black 烏 ŭ/ū ([u55])([u33]) 黑 hēi
to feed 豢 huáng ([huɑŋ213]) 養² yǎng

1 "看" (káng) is also used as the verb "to look" in Fuzhou dialect.
2 "養" (iōng) in Fuzhou dialect means "give birth to (a child)".
And this table shows some words that are both used in Fuzhou dialect and Mandarin Chinese, while the meanings in Mandarin Chinese have altered:

Word Foochow Romanized Meaning in Classical Chinese and Fuzhou dialect Pinyin Meaning in Mandarin
走 cāu ([tsau33]) to flee zǒu to walk
細 sá̤ ([sɑ213]) tiny, small, young xì thin, slender
說 siók/suók ([suɔʔ24]) to explain, to clarify shuō to speak, to talk
讲 gōng to say, to declare jiǎng to say
懸 gèng ([keiŋ53]) tall, high, salty xuán to hang, to suspend (v.)
喙 chói ([tsʰui213]) mouth huì beak

Words from Minyue language
Some daily used words, shared by all Min languages, came from the ancient Minyue language. Such as follows:

Word Foochow Romanized Meaning
骹 kă/kā ([kʰa55])/([kʰa33]) foot and leg
囝 giāng ([kiaŋ33]) son, child, whelp, a small amount
睏 káung ([kʰɑuŋ33]) to sleep
骿 piăng ([pʰiaŋ55]) back, dorsum
儂 nè̤ng ([nøyŋ53]) human
厝 chió/chuó ([tsʰuɔ53]) home, house
刣 tài ([thai53]) to kill
徛 kiê ([khiɛ242]) to stand
歞 ngâung ([ŋɑuŋ242]) stupidity
伓 ng ([ŋ]) not (negative prefix, never used separately)

The literary and colloquial readings
The literary and colloquial readings (文白異讀) is a feature commonly found in all Chinese dialects throughout China. The literary readings (文讀) are mainly used in formal phrases and written language, while the colloquial ones (白讀) are basically used in vulgar phrases and spoken language.

This table displays some widely used characters in Fuzhou dialect which have both literary and colloquial readings:

Character Literary reading Phrase Meaning Colloquial reading Phrase Meaning
行 giàng [kiaŋ53] 行墿 giàng-diô to walk hèng [heiŋ53] 行李 hèng-lī luggage
生 săng [saŋ55] 生囝 săng-giāng childbearing sĕng [seiŋ55] 生態 sĕng-tái zoology, ecology
江 gĕ̤ng [køyŋ55] 閩江 Mìng-gĕ̤ng Min River gŏng [kouŋ55] 江蘇 Gŏng-sŭ Jiangsu
百 báh [pɑʔ24] 百姓 báh-sáng common people báik [pɑiʔ24] 百科 báik-kuŏ encyclopedical
飛 buŏi [pui55] 飛鳥 buŏi-cēu flying birds hĭ [hi55] 飛機 hĭ-gĭ aeroplane
寒 gàng [kaŋ53] 天寒 tiĕng gàng cold, freezing hàng [haŋ53] 寒食 Hàng-sĭk Cold Food Festival
廈 â [ɑ242] 廈門 Â-muòng Amoy (Xiamen) hâ [hɑ242] 大廈 dâi-hâ mansion

Loan words from English
The First Opium War, also known as the First Anglo-Chinese War, was ended in 1842 with the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing, which forced the Qing government to open Fuzhou to all British traders and missionaries. Since then, quite a number of churches and Western-style schools have been established. Consequently, some English words came into Fuzhou dialect, but without fixed written forms in Chinese characters. The most frequently used words are listed below:[1]

kŏk, [khouʔ5], noun, meaning "an article of dress", is from the word "coat";
nă̤h, [nɛʔ5], noun, meaning "a meshwork barrier in tennis or badminton", is from the word "net";
pèng, [pheiŋ53], noun, meaning "oil paint", is from the word "paint";
pĕng-giāng, [pheiŋ53 ŋiaŋ33, noun, meaning "a small sum of money", is from the word "penny";
tă̤h, [thɛʔ5], noun, meaning "money", is from the word "take";
gă̤-lō̤, [kɛ53 lo33], noun, meaning "girl" in a humorous way, is from the word "girl";
sò̤, [so53], verb, meaning "to shoot (a basket)", is from the word "shoot";
ă-gì, [a55 ki53], verb, meaning "to pause (usually a game)", is from the word "again".
Mā-lăk-gă, [ma21 laʔ5 ka5], meaning "Southeastern Asian (esp. Singapore and Malaysia)", is from the word "Malacca".

Other features of Fuzhou dialect grammar

Some common phrases in Fuzhou dialect:

Fuzhou dialect: 福州話 / Hók-ciŭ-uâ / [huʔ21 tsiu53 uɑ242]
Hello: 汝好 / nṳ̄ hō̤ / [ny33 ho33]
Good-bye: 再見 / cái-giéng / [tsai53 kiɛŋ213]
Please: 請 / chiāng / [tshiaŋ33]; 起動 / kī-dâe̤ng / [khi55 lɔyŋ242]
Thank you: 謝謝 / siâ-siâ / [sia53 liɑ242]; 起動 / kī-dâe̤ng / [khi55 lɔyŋ242]
Sorry: 對不住 / dó̤i-bók-cê̤ṳ / [tøy21 puʔ5 tsøy242]
This: 嚽 / cuòi / [tsui53]; 啫 / ciā / [tsia33]; 茲 / cī / [tsi33]
That: 噲 / huòi / [hui53]; 嘻 / hiā / [hia33]; 許 / hī / [hi33]
How much?: 偌 / nuâi (nuô-uâi) / [nuai242] ([nuo53 uɑi242])
Yes: 正是 / ciáng-sê / [tsiaŋ53 nɛi242]; 無綻 / mò̤ dâng / [mo21 lɑŋ242]; 著 / diŏh (duŏh) / [tyoʔ5] ([tuoʔ5])
No: 伓是 / ng-sê / [ŋ53 nɛi242]; 綻 / dâng / [tɑŋ242]; 賣著 / mâ̤ diŏh (mâ̤ duŏh) / [me55 tyoʔ5] ([me55 tuoʔ5])
I don't understand: 我賣會意 / nguāi mâ̤ huôi-é / [ŋuai33 me21 hui53 ɛi213]
What's his name?: 伊名什乇? / Ĭ miàng sié-nó̤h? / [i55 miaŋ53 sie21 nɔʔ24]
Where's the hotel?: 賓館洽底所? / Bĭng-guāng găk diē-nē̤? / [piŋ53 ŋuaŋ33 kaʔ5 tie24 nœ33]
How can I go to the school?: 去學校怎行? / Kó̤ hăk-hâu cuōng giàng? / [khɔ213 haʔ21 hɑu242 tsuoŋ24 kiaŋ53]
Do you speak Fuzhou dialect?: 汝會仈講福州話賣? / Nṳ̄ â̤ báik gōng Hók-ciŭ-uâ mâ̤? / [ny33 e21 peiʔ24 kouŋ33 huʔ21 tsiu53 uɑ242 ma242]
Do you speak English?: 汝會仈講英語賣? / Nṳ̄ â̤ báik gōng Ĭng-ngṳ̄ mâ̤? / [ny33 e21 peiʔ24 kouŋ33 iŋ53 ŋy33 ma242]

Regional variations

Writing system

Chinese characters

Fuzhou dialect Bible in Chinese Characters, published by China Bible House in 1940.Most of the characters of Fuzhou dialect stem from Ancient Chinese and can therefore be written in Chinese characters. Many books published in Qing Dynasty have been written in this traditional way, such as Mǐndū Biéjì (閩都別記, Foochow Romanized: Mìng-dŭ Biék-gé) and the Bible in Fuzhou dialect. However, Chinese characters as the writing system for Fuzhou dialect do have many shortcomings.

Firstly, a great number of characters are unique to Fuzhou dialect, so that they can only be written in informal ways. For instance, the character "mâ̤", a negative word, has no common form. Some write it as "賣" or "袂", both of which share with it an identical pronunciation but has a totally irrelevant meaning; and others prefer to use a newly-created character combining "勿" and "會", but this character is not included in most fonts.

Secondly, Fuzhou dialect has been excluded from the educational system for many decades. As a result, many if not all take for granted that Fuzhou dialect does not have a formal writing system and when they have to write it, they tend to misuse characters with a similar Mandarin Chinese enunciation. For example, "會使 (â̤ sāi)", meaning "okay", are frequently written as "阿塞" because they are uttered almost in the same way.

Foochow Romanized

Bible in Foochow Romanized, published by British and Foreign Bible Society in 1908.Main article: Foochow Romanized
Foochow Romanized, also known as Bàng-uâ-cê (平話字), is a romanization of Fuzhou dialect invented in the middle of 19th century by some Western missionaries.

Chen Zeping: Loan Words in Fuzhou Dialect, Fujian Normal University, 1994

Books and other sources
Li, Zhuqing: A study of the "Qī Lín Bāyīn", University of Washington, 1993
Cathryn Donohue: The tone-vowel interaction in Fuzhou revisited, University of Nevada, Reno

External links
Because of technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article.
This article contains Chinese text.
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Fuzhou dialect edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaWikisource has original text related to this article:
Dictionary of the Foochow DialectFuzhou dialect textbook: Elementary school textbook in Matsu.
Fuzhou dialect phonology, by James Campbell.
SĬNG GÔ IÓK CIÒNG CṲ̆: The Old Testament, in Foochow Romanized.
SĬNG IÓK CṲ̆: The New Testament, in Foochow Romanized.
MĀ-TÁI HÓK-ĬNG: Matthew's Gospel, in Foochow Romanized.

I am so grateful to the Wikipedia for helping us learn a little more about our dialect. The WWW is indeed a 21 century wonder!!

2 memories:

Bryce Wesley Merkl said...

I noticed your interest in the Fuzhou Dialect, and I thought you might find this resource helpful:

Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄ wiki browser

I Am Sarawakiana said...

thank you for dropping by.

My interest is in Foochow dialect and everything Foochow and particularly in the history of Foochows in Sibu from 1903 to 1980's

Hope you will drop by again.


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