Hokkien compared to Mandarin

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
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SimL
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Hokkien compared to Mandarin

Post by SimL » Tue May 10, 2011 3:38 am

There's possibly an existing topic for this, but I thought I'd put these new questions here.

I found the following expressions (and the corresponding characters) in various Mandarin dictionaries:

哎呀 ai ya - Damn/Ah/My God
哎唷 ai yo - expression of of surprise/pain
哎喲 ai yo - hey/ow/ouch

I'd venture to say that 哎唷 and 哎喲 are just alternative ways of writing the "same" Mandarin term.

Now, in Penang Hokkien (and probably other variants), there is also "ai a" and "ai o".

For me, they have slightly different shades of meaning (from one another - I leave the question of their relationship to the Mandarin terms open).

"ai a" has connotations of irritation or impatience. IRRITATION: "ai a, an-cuaN lu an-nE gong e?" (= "Oh, dammit, why are you so stupid?"). IMPATIENCE: "ai a, wa ka lu kong ka cap-kui tau liau, lu ko(h) ti-ti be-ki!" (= "Dammit, I've told you more than 10 times already, but you keep forgetting!").

"ai o" has connotations of surprise or regret. SURPRISE: "ai o, an-nE tua ci(t)-kue!" (= "Gosh, that's big!"). REGRET: "ai o, wa sua be-ki gia lai - tong kim an-cuaN ho?" (= "Oh dear, I've forgotten to bring it - what are we to do now?").

Are these two practically identical in usage to the Mandarin equivalents, or are there subtle differences?

PS. In my variant of Penang Hokkien, the term used for PAIN - "ow/ouch" - is "a1_doi5". I believe this is borrowed from Malay. [I'm using niuc's convention of "_" if the preceding syllable is written with sandhi/RT - thanks niuc, I think it's a very simple and clear convention.]
Last edited by SimL on Tue May 10, 2011 5:15 am, edited 7 times in total.
SimL
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Re: Hokkien compared to Mandarin

Post by SimL » Tue May 10, 2011 4:02 am

Here's another question.

We know that Hokkien nasal vowels come from nasal finals which were lost. In addition, if the nasal vowel occurs after an initial nasal consonant, then the nasality of the vowel isn't really that obvious any more. In any case, it doesn't contrast with a non-nasal equivalent. For example, "ka2" (= "to grind"), and "kaN2" (= "to dare") are very clearly contrasted, as are "i5" (= "aunt") and "iN5" (= "round"), but I'm less aware of contrasts between (say) "mi5" and "miN5". [Can anyone give any examples of the latter contrast?]. I.e.: whether one writes "na" or "naN" doesn't make much difference, similarly "miN" or "mi". So, for all intents and purposes, one can say that the nasal vowel after "m-" or "n-" (or the rare "ng-") is non-nasal (or the nasality is not important); or, alternatively, that all vowels after nasal consonants are nasalized.

In any case, those are just background thoughts (which will be relevant at the end), not my real question.

My real question is this. I used to be surprised that the character , pronounced "mu4" in Mandarin, was used for "bong7" in Hokkien. For most of the time, I assumed - because the Mandarin equivalent didn't end in a nasal consonant - that this was not a 本子, and was just borrowed because of the similarity in meaning, to write a Hokkien character which has since been lost (or never existed). However, recently, I came across , pronounced "mo1" in Mandarin, used for Hokkien "bong1" (= "to feel").

This forms too much of a pattern to be a coincidence:
- "mu4" / "bong7"
- "mo1" / "bong1"

I.e. I stopped thinking that was just borrowed for meaning, and started thinking that perhaps both and were 本子 after all.

This then immediately suggests this question: Could Mandarin have once gone through the process of loss of final -ng (perhaps contextually sensitive, e.g. only after "O", perhaps even more restricted, e.g. only after an "O" which follows an initial nasal consonant, perhaps even only after "m-"), resulting in an intermediate stage of nasalized vowel, moving then to loss of even the nasalized vowel:

<initial-consonant>-<vowel>-ng => <initial-consonant>-<nasalized-vowel> => <initial-consonant>-<vowel>

This would explain the above correspondence. Can anyone think of other such Mandarin / Hokkien pairs? I've never read of any (complete) loss of final nasals in Mandarin before... (I'm excluding the merger of "-m" with "-n", and the (very) modern Beijing tendency to reduce both "-n" and "-ng" to a nasalized vowel.)

PS. Just to be really clear: this question has nothing to do with the fact that the Mandarin members of each pair have "m-" as initial consonant, while the corresponding Hokkien members have "b-". That is the famous "Tang-Min denasalization", which concerns the loss of initial nasals in Hokkien (or rather their change to the corresponding stops), and stands independent of what I'm asking about here, which concerns the (possible) loss of (some) final nasals in Mandarin.
Ah-bin
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Re: Hokkien compared to Mandarin

Post by Ah-bin » Tue May 10, 2011 11:08 am

I think it is because Mandarin is a big mix of different dialects as well, so some words with certain phonological characteristics have become the mainstream and others have been dropped. I think this is definitely the case for the entering tones. In some types of Mandarin all the old entering tones have ended up in the same tone class, but in Peking Mandarin it is impossible to predict what an entering tone in another Sinitic language will become. Acccording to my first Chinese teacher, this indicates dialect mixing at some time in the past.

So it could be that 摸 and 墓 in Peking Mandarin were borrowed from some other variety of Mandarin in which the old nasal endings had already disappeared completely, but I am just guessing.

Then again, looking at Cantonese, some characters with the 莫 component end in a -k, and some don't 摸 can be moh (no glottal stop) or mok!

So it could also be that Hokkien has borrowed these two words from some other older dialect where all final -ks became -ngs? I use 摸 and 墓 as the characters anyway, because they are almost the same sound and have much the same meaning.

I had some idea that the aiyo/aiya thing was a difference between Taiwanese Mandarin and Chinese Mandarin for some reason, and that aiya was more but I am not sure.
niuc
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Re: Hokkien compared to Mandarin

Post by niuc » Tue May 10, 2011 9:31 pm

SimL wrote: "ai a" has connotations of irritation or impatience. IRRITATION: "ai a, an-cuaN lu an-nE gong e?" (= "Oh, dammit, why are you so stupid?"). IMPATIENCE: "ai a, wa ka lu kong ka cap-kui tau liau, lu ko(h) ti-ti be-ki!" (= "Dammit, I've told you more than 10 times already, but you keep forgetting!").

"ai o" has connotations of surprise or regret. SURPRISE: "ai o, an-nE tua ci(t)-kue!" (= "Gosh, that's big!"). REGRET: "ai o, wa sua be-ki gia lai - tong kim an-cuaN ho?" (= "Oh dear, I've forgotten to bring it - what are we to do now?").
Same usage in my variant. For normal usage, the tones are aī_ä (ai7_a0) and aī_ö (ai7_o0). Some aunties and elderly ladies would prolong the last vowels and the tones become aī_â (ai7_a5) and aī_ô (ai7_o5).
Are these two practically identical in usage to the Mandarin equivalents, or are there subtle differences?
From what I know, the usage is similar but not identical. According to http://www.zdic.net/cd/ci/8/ZdicE5Zdic9 ... 214529.htm, 哎呀 has broader usage.
PS. In my variant of Penang Hokkien, the term used for PAIN - "ow/ouch" - is "a1_doi5". I believe this is borrowed from Malay. [I'm using niuc's convention of "_" if the preceding syllable is written with sandhi/RT - thanks niuc, I think it's a very simple and clear convention.]
Glad that you like it, Sim. :mrgreen: Penang's "a1_doi5" is from Malay "aduh", and interestingly it has '-i' like some other loanwords, right? Could it be that those loanwords are from a variant of Malay, may be a northern type of Malay?

When I came to know about "aduh" in primary school, there was a time when I often used that (including for sighing), and my mom scolded me and forbade me to use it, since she didn't know much Indonesian/Malay and thought it was a bad word. :lol:
This forms too much of a pattern to be a coincidence:
墓 - "mu4" / "bong7"
摸 - "mo1" / "bong1"
I heard of those pronunciations in other variants. 墓 in my variant is bō•, and 摸 is mo•.
SimL
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Re: Hokkien compared to Mandarin

Post by SimL » Wed May 11, 2011 5:44 am

niuc wrote:From what I know, the usage is similar but not identical. According to http://www.zdic.net/cd/ci/8/ZdicE5Zdic9 ... 214529.htm, 哎呀 has broader usage.
Thanks for the link, niuc. Still a bit difficult for me to follow, in my current state of Mandarin, but filed away for future reference, and send on to a friend who is learning Mandarin but is (quite a bit) more advanced than me.
SimL
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Re: Hokkien compared to Mandarin

Post by SimL » Sat May 14, 2011 8:06 am

SimL wrote:"ai o" has connotations of surprise or regret. SURPRISE: "ai o, an-nE tua ci(t)-kue!" (= "Gosh, that's big!"). REGRET: "ai o, wa sua be-ki gia lai - tong kim an-cuaN ho?" (= "Oh dear, I've forgotten to bring it - what are we to do now?").
Sorry to bring this up again, but I think I noticed a subtle distinction in these two.

The SURPRISE one is pronounced "ai1_o5/ô", whereas the REGRET one is pronounced "ai1_o3/7/ò/ō". Mark or Andrew or Yeleixingfeng: could you confirm this for Penang Hokkien?
SimL
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Re: Hokkien compared to Mandarin

Post by SimL » Sat May 14, 2011 8:13 am

niuc wrote:Penang's "a1_doi5" is from Malay "aduh", and interestingly it has '-i' like some other loanwords, right? Could it be that those loanwords are from a variant of Malay, may be a northern type of Malay?
I seem to recall Ah-bin telling me something very similar to this, perhaps for "botOi"; i.e. that rather than being a "corruption" or "mispronunciation", it was actually borrowed from a variant form of Malay, where the pronunciation was indeed with <o-like-vowel>-i.

BTW, I did confirm with my parents that a "cork" (or any other - say rubber - stopper) for a bottle (fitting into the top of a narrow neck) is indeed called a "bu3/but4_tut4_tat4", rather than a "bo3_tOi7_tat4" - "tat4" being (I imagine) "blocked" (though both amount to more or less the same tone contour: low-low-low). Strange, that one.
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