Diacritics

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
Yeleixingfeng
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:50 am

Diacritics

Postby Yeleixingfeng » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:12 am

Hi, new member. Living in Penang, knows a little of Hokkien, hell lot of Mandarin, a secondary student.

I was just wondering, I saw diacritics used to indicate the seven tones of Hokkien. I know some Hokkien, and it would certainly help if someone could point out which diacritic corresponds to which tone. I found this incredible post about pronouncing 三字經 in Hokkien, and is really interested to learn it.

By the way, I am curious as to why 唔 was preferred over 毋 to indicate m(不)? And why 個 is e(的)? Is there any historical or linguistic proof? Or is it an informal convention?

Ah-bin
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Location: Somewhere in the Hokloverse

Re: Diacritics

Postby Ah-bin » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:05 am

Check out the guide here. It doesn't go into the tone changes in compound words though, and it is simplified down a bit. If you want a tone change guide for the way the tones shift in compound words, just send me a message.

http://penanghokkien.com/?page_id=1194

and the general guide for writing POJ (note that most of the people here except for me change the original POJ chh into ch and ch into c, Aokh writes them tsh and ts)

http://penanghokkien.com/?page_id=1141

Hope you enjoy it!

I tried to write a blog in romanised Penang Hokkien as well:
http://kimmoangmo.blogspot.com/

Haven't done much recently though, as I've been working on a dictionary (77 pages now!)

I spotted a mistake in the printed out Sam Chu Keng....or was it the other one. I'll sort it out in the next few days.

Ah-bin
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Location: Somewhere in the Hokloverse

Re: Diacritics

Postby Ah-bin » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:43 am

I forgot to add....when I say four tones in that post, I am putting the entering tones (= the ones that end in a k,t, p, or glottal stop written as h) or "short versions" into the same category as some others, thus reducing the total to four tones, with different sub-classes depending how the tones change when they are in the first syllable of a compound.

The ROC (Taiwanese) Ministry of Education uses 毋, some Taiwanese books use 伓 and I just stick to using 唔 because I'm used to it. For these sort of issues I don't really know about the deeper reasons for the choice, or care too much which one gets used, as long as people can read it. My own opinion is that the Taiwanese Ministry of Education is wasting too much time debating over character usage, when the real treasure (spoken Hokkien as the medium of communication between family and friends) is dying out in the younger generation in Taiwan.

Hokkien has only one particle "ê" corresponding in meaning to Mandarin 個 and 的, that's why they write it as 个, perhaps to prevent confusion with the characters in 個人 kò-jîn and 目的 bók-ték.

AndrewAndrew
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Re: Diacritics

Postby AndrewAndrew » Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:55 pm

Ah-bin wrote:Haven't done much recently though, as I've been working on a dictionary (77 pages now!)


Ooh, is it English-Hokkien? I've been busily putting tones into van Gijzel's dictionary, but haven't got very far, and would love to have something more handy. I have iPhone apps for Mandarin and Malay, and desperately need something I can fit onto my iPhone, as Douglas is just too big (1GB).

A.

Ah-bin
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Re: Diacritics

Postby Ah-bin » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:27 pm

Unfortunately it's Hokkien to English. Once I am finished, I may do an English to Hokkien one, but it will be quite different, as I don't intend it to be just a word list, but a guide to usage of words with example phrases and sentences. I hope to get it to at least 200 pages, maybe even 300, before trying to publish it.

Yeleixingfeng
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:50 am

Re: Diacritics

Postby Yeleixingfeng » Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:23 pm

Unfortunately, I don't think that debates over the correct character is as useless as it seems. I mean, of course, to encourage the people to speak Hokkien would be the main priority, but who exactly would want to speak a language without a writing system? (And, Romanising Hokkien is for mere reference for pronunciation; it cannot and should not replace the Hanzi system, which it was originally meant for.) Therefore, I guess the Taiwanese government had acknowledged this fact, and though they might be overdoing it (I'm not exactly sure since I do not follow up with their efforts to find the correct Punji), it is still fundamentally creditable.

In my opinion, both efforts should happen together. Besides, finding the correct character actually boosts the self-esteem of Hokkien-speakers as they are suddenly regarded as the living fossils of olden Chinese. I don't know, but to me it did.

Just some of my thoughts.

Ah-bin
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Location: Somewhere in the Hokloverse

Re: Diacritics

Postby Ah-bin » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:23 am

In my opinion, both efforts should happen together. Besides, finding the correct character actually boosts the self-esteem of Hokkien-speakers as they are suddenly regarded as the living fossils of olden Chinese. I don't know, but to me it did.


I think that is the same reason why some people are so keen on looking for these characters. Constant propaganda from the Chinese states (PRC, ROC, Singapore) depicting the "dialects" as backward or as corruptions of the pure Chinese created an academic reaction and a search for old roots to raise the status of Taiwanese (this began in Taiwan, and didn't spread to China or Malaysia until later). Unfortunately, the reaction carried with it a load of mythologising about how Hokkien was the language spoken in the T'ang, Ch'in, Han etc., or how it is "pure" Chinese compared to other types of Chinese like Mandarin. I like the sense of pride in one's own language, but it's better to build such pride on facts rather than wild claims (not that I'm accusing you of wild claims!).

The fundamental problem is that Hokkien is not pure Chinese, even if we do take out all the more recent foreign loans such as "lui" and "sat-bun". There are words that have no original character, because they were not Chinese words to start with. The one I always put out there is bah for "meat" 肉 is not the original character for this word, as bah is not historically related to rou or yuk (Cantonese). There are many words like this, that came from the language spoken in southern Fukien before sinitic people colonised the area. No-one has ever given me a satisfactory explanation for an original character for bah, although I have seen plenty of shonky explanations.

Romanising Hokkien is for mere reference for pronunciation; it cannot and should not replace the Hanzi system, which it was originally meant for.)


"Should not" I can respect as your own opinion. But I must take issue with "cannot", as it has been proved wrong in Taiwan for years. The Taiwanese Presbytarian church published their church news in POJ for years, and their hymn book and Bible, and there were a few generations of people who could write no characters, but could read and write Hokkien perfectly in POJ and be understood by other readers. Even a kind of Mandarin has been written in the Cyrillic script in Kazakhstan for over 60 years, and the people read and write it with no trouble. So any kind of Chinese can be written in romanised script, it is the should and shouldn't that are up for debate. In addition the Chinese character system was meant for literary Chinese, and only much later adapted to write spoken languages like Mandarin and Hokkien.

Romanisation wasn't devised to replace characters for Hokkien, because Hokkien was actually written in romanisation before it was written in characters. Catholic missionaries were the first people who tried to scientifically write Hokkien. The earliest written records of Hokkien are from the Philippines in the 16th century.

http://www.ihp.sinica.edu.tw/~asiamajor/pdf/1966/1966-1.pdf

The second part I have linked to back in a past thread, but I can't remember where.

So actually what is going on now is a replacement of romanisation by characters, not the other way around.

Now after all that, I'd at least like to say that I'm not opposed to finding original characters or trying to write Hokkien with them (not that my opinion holds any weight with politicians, who are the real decision mqakers for these sorts of things). I'm certainly not qualified to find origina characters myself. To do so requires a deeper knowledge of Old and Middle Chinese phonology, and of the comparative phonology of all Min dialects, which I don't have, althought I can sometimes judge why a proposed character would be unlikely. But in the end it is an impossible task to complete, because Hokkien is a mixed language to start with!

Yeleixingfeng
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:50 am

Re: Diacritics

Postby Yeleixingfeng » Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:31 pm

Yeah, and I sometimes regard it a misfortune for Hokkien to be so 'rojak'.

I actually do not understand why not to create new characters, especially when the original character is not found. Of course, I am totally against those mindlessly invented mouth-radical characters, but in the end, Hanzi is just a script, of which to record Sinitic languages. Languages evolve, and scripts should be updated every once in a while.

For example, for convenience of writing I shorten 不能 (be5 - I hope the tone number is correct) to 屯. 屮 is the earliest form of representing grass, and by adding 一 at the tip of the grass I mean as though the budding of plants. (I guess) it is hard to break through the Earth to receive sunlight, but it is not impossible. This clicks with the Classical Chinese word-choice for 'cannot' - 難, difficult but not impossible, though it eventually shifted to only mean difficult.

My point is, why are we so stubbornly restrained by the existing Hanzi? Invent semantically a character, and explain it to the world. For example, no matter how Chinese(Sinitic) Zhang1-lang2 is over ka-chuak, they are basically the same, unless a third variant of character emerges to depict cockroaches - unlikely, since it was the classifications of daily items that brought about Phonosemantics (形聲). But it is feasible. Then Mandarin would use Zhang-lang to read the characters, and Hokkien ka-chuak.

What do you think?

*In reply to my 'cannot', I apologize. I must be clear that by saying cannot, I was more of referring to our responsibility towards Hanzi which SHOULD (not can) not allow us to abandon it. Or leave it to rot as how we are treating it by leaving it to the destructive hands of Mandarin. >.<

I hope if by any chance I forgot to state, you would remember my this concept - It was never the debate between can or cannot. Human will wills everything to be successful, as how we willed ourselves to travel across the Earth within hours or to send messages through the sky within seconds. History has proven that everything is plausible, so there is no point debating otherwise. The crux however, is whether we as intelligent beings should or not.

Apply that to Romanising of Hanzi. You get my meaning. ^^ I mean no offence, by the way.

Ah-bin
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Re: Diacritics

Postby Ah-bin » Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:58 pm

No offence taken at all.....it's nice to have someone else around thinking about these things. Actually I should probably aplogise to you for being rather brusque in my responses.

I love inventing characters.......I hope some of the other people turn up soon....they have their own ideas and opinions about things,(many quite similar to yours) but I'm not sure where they are at the moment.

I can kind of agree about the principle of photosemantics, but when it causes trouble is when one morpheme in the word is used somewhere else. Kha-choah you could write with 蟑螂 but I think it is kind of the same as writing "eau" with "water" and it kind of spoils the sound elements 章 and 郎. The Japanese have been doing it for centuries though, and if it's good enough for them I suppose it could be good enough for Hokkien. The oldest character texts did it a lot, writing 識 for bat etc.

amhoanna
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Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2010 12:43 pm

Re: Diacritics

Postby amhoanna » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:47 am

For me, the "enchantment" of Hokkien lies in it being
non-Han in places where it's assumed to be Han.

The punji game can be fun.

I think a flexible mix of punji and something like hangul would be ideal. Learned users could use obscure kanji as desired. Kanji illiterate folks could go all hangul. Google would bridge the gap.

Practically speaking, Hoklo would do well to follow in the footsteps of Cantonese first. Hoklo punji and siokji inserted into Mando texts ... with increasing frequency ... and density ... and gradually elbowing their way into more spheres ... where no Hokkien has ever gone before.

We gotta make some headway, sometime...

Yeleixingfeng
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:50 am

Re: Diacritics

Postby Yeleixingfeng » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:49 pm

What are siokjis?

And, the idea of Hangul is really appealing. I was thinking about ways to form a unified Hangul-like system so that all Chinese dialects can use it. I mean, they share many characteristics among the different dialects. For example, as far as I know, Hainanese uses the Dh consonant, such as Dhu in you (汝?) But I don't think it occurs in Hokkien. Hence, the Hangul letter for the consonant Dh would be known and used by the Hainanese, but not Hokkien people. Likewise for the vowels and consonants that are obscure or absent in other dialects.

But, ultimately I would not encourage the full usage of such Hangul. They might end up like Korean, being all Hangul and only uses a few Hanja.

Ah-bin
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Location: Somewhere in the Hokloverse

Re: Diacritics

Postby Ah-bin » Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:43 am

Siók-jī = 俗字 common or vulgar characters - not vulgar in the sense of rude, but in the sense of "in common use"

My definition in Penang Hokkien would be:
正儕儂慣勢用个字,無定著是著个,焦鱉較儕儂捌个。
Chiàⁿ-chē-lâng koàn-sì iōng ê jī, bô-tiāⁿ-tióh si tióh ê, ta-pih khah-chē lâng bat ê.

amhoanna
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Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2010 12:43 pm

Re: Diacritics

Postby amhoanna » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:17 pm

焦 as Ah-bin just used it would be an example of a siokji, true?


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