A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
Sim Lee

A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby Sim Lee » Thu Dec 05, 2002 1:11 pm

I have a question about a word used for “Chinese”. This is a word used by speakers of Hokkien on the island of Penang, in Malaysia.

Of course, when referring to the various dialect groups, they use specific words indicating the dialects, but when they want to say “a Chinese person” or “Chinese language” in general, as opposed to (say) Westerners/Europeans, Malays or Indians, they use the word “tng-lang”.

So, for example, “He is a Chinese (person)” is said: “i si tng-lang”, and “he speaks Chinese” is “i e hiau kong tng-lang ua”.

This use of the word “tng-lang” occurred in one of the earlier postings, in connection with a joke about stockings.

Can someone tell me where this word comes from, and what it means? Someone once told me that it was the same word as “Tang”, as in “Tang Dynasty”, but I’ve never heard this confirmed or said anywhere else. Furthermore, when I asked in Taiwan, none of the people I spoke to seemed to know of this term, nor did they use “ang-mo(r)” - literally “red hair” - to mean Westerner/European. (So, how do Taiwanese say Westerner?)

Thanks,
Sim Lee

ppk

Re: A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby ppk » Thu Dec 05, 2002 2:51 pm

ur fren told u right. it means tang people. tang was 'supposed' to be the period where chinese culture and civilization was at its peak, thou personally i woud doubt it. overseas chinese tend to relate themselves to tang dynasty.

James Campbell

Re: A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby James Campbell » Sun Dec 08, 2002 4:42 pm

I'm not good at Cantonese, but that's what I beileve the Cantonese use to refer to Chinese people. Also the term is used in overseas communities to refer to Chinatown, I believe, but not too sure.

In Taiwan, never heard of this term or "ang-mo" either. Here westerners are referred to as 'a-tok-a' or 'a-toh-a', (and on occasion I've heard that preceded with 'si-', but that's a little to the rude extreme)...

Ken

Re: A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby Ken » Mon Dec 09, 2002 3:01 am

Hi folks,

It has been a long time.

Indeed it is true that 'tng lang' refers to 'Tang Ren'. It was during the Tang Dynasty (Golden Age of China) that Southern China was fully assimilated into the Han Chinese Culture. It was also a time when China was more unified as compared to the Han dynasty. Southern Chinese tend to refer themselves as Tang Ren because the Tang dynasty had substantial influence over Southern China as compared to the previous dynasties.
Tang Dynasty also signified an era in which the proper state entity of 'China' was better defined.

The use of 'ang mo' on Europeans is actually a very old Fujianese term used 400 years ago. Originally, 'ang mo' or 'the red haired people' refered to the Dutch who had distinct reddish/orangish(whatever u call it) hair.
During the Ming Dynasty, Europeans including the Portugese, Spanish, English and the Dutch already came to East Asia to trade. Many Chinese sea traders then were Fujianese with the Min Nan people the most influential. One very powerful Fujianese merchant is Zheng Zhilong, a Minnan native from Nan An county. He was brilliant in diplomacy and military capability. He had his personal navy and had substantial contacts with the foreigners, especially the Japanese. In fact, he was a close friend of the English advisor to the Japanese Shogun, Williams, who was shown in the 1980 Shogun series ( Please correct me if I got the Englishman's name wrong) . Using Hirado (near Nagasaki) as a base, he built a solid sea commerce empire that included Kyushu in Japan, Southeast China and parts of South East Asia, which eventually made him one of the most powerful Chinese in late Ming China. He was so powerful that the Ming Dynasty ruler, Emperor ChongZhen decided to make him the Military Governor of Fujian Province and was later promoted to Supreme Commander of the South East Region. This appointment allowed him to take care of the defence and security of South East China. Earlier, Zheng Zhilong married a Japanese woman and had two sons with her. The eldest son eventually became the great Chinese Hero, Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga), who fought the invading Manchus for 16 years and later defeated the Dutch to reclaim Taiwan. Today, Zheng Chenggong is celebrated by both the Chinese and Japanese as a folk hero.

Sim Lee

Re: A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby Sim Lee » Wed Dec 11, 2002 12:07 pm

Thank you all for your responses.

James: what do 'a-tok-a' and 'a-toh-a' mean?

Ken:

>> Originally, 'ang mo' or 'the red haired people' refered to the
>> Dutch who had distinct reddish/orangish(whatever u call it) hair.

I believe you, but this is certainly a bit weird. I live in Holland, and there is a very high percentage of blond people, and quite a number of brown-haired people, but the number of red-haired people is quite low. Based only on gut-feeling, certainly lower than in Australia and England and Scotland (I think particularly the Celts have lots of freckles and red-hair).

-Sim.

a hua

Re: A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby a hua » Thu Dec 12, 2002 5:24 pm

a-do-a, a-toh-a means big nose. as used in Taiwan.

ppk

Re: A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby ppk » Thu Dec 12, 2002 6:11 pm

i would reckon angmoh is the description for brits... a lot of them do have red hair...

Ken

Re: A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby Ken » Sat Dec 14, 2002 2:17 am

Hi PPK,

Do you mean to say ang moh= brits in present day context or the historical context of the Ming Dynasty?

You may be right in present day context ( after so many years of cross ethnic-cultural interaction among Europeans). But I can assure you that the original meaning of 'ang moh' referred to the Dutch. If you happen to read any history literature on Zheng Zhilong or Zheng Chenggong, you will agree with what I say. In those days, the Chinese, especially the Fujianese tend to call the Dutch ' ang mo yi' or 'ang mo huan'. 'Yi' and 'huan' mean a 'foreign tribe'. In Mandarin, they are pronounced as 'hongmao yi' and 'hongmao fan' respectively. I suppose later on, the term 'ang mo' was conveniently used on all Europeans by the Hokkiens.

rgds,
Ken

Dyl.

Re: A word for

Postby Dyl. » Sat Dec 14, 2002 8:34 am

I'm hakka, and we also say red hair /fuN11 mau33/ for foreigners, mainly of western descent.

Dyl.

ppk

Re: A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby ppk » Sun Dec 15, 2002 2:17 am

ken,
i did not do a close research on this, thou i knew the dutch were called angmoh since i took history last time. russian were call 'laomao'(old hairy ones) in chinese, so i reckon there might be a certain colour of 'hair' for a certain group of westerners, in the days where racism was not checked.

regarding ur biblo on the zheng family, may i ask for the sources? cos i am rather doubtful zheng zhilong had a japanese wife. some taiwanese and japanese friends of mine told me this before(but without telling me the origins of their story) to prove that taiwan should belong, or at least, half belonged to japanese. i remembered the time when the last emperor of china, puyi, was in the hands of the japanese, the japanese actually gave a japanese wife to his brother hoping that they will give birth to a half-jap and they can put him on the throne.

Ken

Re: A word for

Postby Ken » Mon Dec 16, 2002 4:33 am

Hi,

It is a official record that Zheng Zhilong, the Ming Dynasty Military Governor of Fujian married a Japanese woman, Lady Tagawa from Hirado before he was given the title by the Ming government. Lady Tagawa (In Mandarin,TianChuan-i.e surname Tagawa and Song, her name) was a daughter of a famous Japanese Physician. Hirado in Japan was a main gathering place for foreigners and was used by Zheng Zhilong as a base for his maritime career. He was very close to the Lord of Hirado as well. The life of Zheng Zhilong and his love story with Tagawa is legendary and romantic as well. I got the a book entitled 'Zheng Zhilong Da Zhuan" or "the Legend of Zheng Zhilong" when I was in Taiwan. It was written by a Taiwanese writer, Xu Wende, and was tremendously appealing and enlightening. Not too sure if u can get one in Singapore.

Anyway, their first son, Zheng Chenggong was born in 1624 in Hirado, who returned to China at the age of 7. Their second son remained in Japan forever. Lady Tagawa eventually reunited with her husband and son 14 years later as the Tokugawa govt in Japan had very strict laws on Japanese leaving the country. Sadly, this reunion lasted only a year as Tagawa was killed by the Manchus when they attacked Fujian. Zheng Zhilong also surrendered to the Manchus but this incident should not be considered as a simple act of betrayal as later historians have agreed that Zheng Zhilong's intention was to negotiate with the Manchus so that Ming dynasty could still remain in Southern China and bid for time. When he left for Beijing to meet the Manchu Emperor Shunzi, he left his wealth and military power to his son Zheng Chenggong, who could not accept his father's act of negotiation and continued to fight the Manchus while his father remained under house arrest in Beijing. Unfortunately, Zheng Zhilong's attempt failed and he was executed the year when his son recaptured Taiwan from the Dutch. That was 16 years later
In conventional textbook history, Zheng Chenggong has always been portrayed as a national hero but his father continues to be a controversial figure even today.

Although it is true that Zheng Chenggong had Japanese blood, it is not a big deal when it comes to identity. The Chinese race is afterall a amalgation and assimilaion of many ethnic groups for the past 2,000 years or so. Zheng Chenggong always called himself a Han Chinese and staunch Ming loyalist, who traced his ancestry to Fujian, Nan An county. When he captured Taiwan, he declared Taiwan belonged to the Chinese Ming Dynasty and instituted Chinese Imperial system of govt, even thoug he, like his father, had close relations with Southern Japanese traders who helped him with supplies needed for his war against the Manchus and the Dutch. The only unique thing being his mother was a beautiful and kind hearted woman from Japan.

Books on Zheng Chenggong are not difficult to find in National Library and Book Stores. They are mostly written in Chinese, though.

Ken

Re: A word for

Postby Ken » Mon Dec 16, 2002 4:57 am

hi PPK,

The fact that Zheng Chenggong had a Japanese mother does not warrant the fact that Taiwan was half owned by Japan. Because Zheng fought for Ming China, declared himself a Chinese, insituted Chinese govt system in Taiwan and lived his life the Chinese way. The inhabitants of Taiwan are Chinese too. Taiwan was, is and will be forever part of China. There is not a single doubt about it.


rgds,
Ken

ppk

Re: A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby ppk » Mon Dec 16, 2002 12:50 pm

man, u should see how some japanese can really make use of that...

Ken

Re: A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby Ken » Tue Dec 17, 2002 1:17 am

Hi,

The book I recommended, 'The Legend of Zheng Zhilong' was wriiten by Chen Wende and not Xu Wende as I previously claimed. Sorry for the mistake.

Anyway, despite the kind of a 'rediculous' claim made by some Japanese on Taiwan, Zheng Chenggong or Tei Seiko (in Japanese) is a folk legend in Japan. 'KokuSenya Kassen' or 'The Battles of Guo Xing Ye (Koxinga)' written by the famous writer, Chikamatsu Monzaeron during the Tokugawa period, is a great Japanese classical work that celebrates the heroic tales of Zheng Chenggong, a legendary man of military capability and scholarly virtues. A movie on him was made in China and has been shown in the past 2 years. It was also shown in Japan to mark the 30th anniversary of the normalisation of Sino-Japanese ties.

Kobo-Daishi

Re: A word for "Chinese" in Hokkien

Postby Kobo-Daishi » Thu Dec 19, 2002 12:32 am

Dear all,

Most southern Chinese call themselves 唐人 (Mand: tang2 ren2, Cant: tong4 yan4; literally “Tang people”).

They call Chinatown 唐人埠 (Mand: tang2 ren2 bu4, Cant: tong4 yan4 fau6; literally “Tang port/city”). According to dictionaries, they also call Chinatown 唐人街 (Mand: tang2 ren2 jie1, Cant: tong4 yan4 gaai1; literally “Tang street”) though I’ve never actually heard anyone use it.

Many southern Chinese also call China 唐山 (Mand: tang2 shan1, Cant: tong4 saan1; literally “Tang mountain”). Recently I was talking to a woman from Taiwan and she started to sing this song in Taiwanese about how the Taiwanese originally came from “Tang Mountain”.

Incidentally, in my dialect of 台山話 (Mand: tai2 shan1 hua4, Cant: toi4 saan1 wa6) we would pronounce those words “hohng ngeehn”, “hohng ngeehn faih”, “hohng ngeehn goih”, and “hohng sohn”, respectively.

Taishan hua belongs to the 粵 (Mand: yue4, Cant: yut6) family of dialects. We call it “hwaih sohn vah” and 粵 is “ywaht”

Sorry, I don’t have the romanization for Minnan. Also, sorry for my weird romanisation of the Taishanese dialect.

Kobo-Daishi, PLLA.


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