"Busybody" in Hokkien

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
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Casey

"Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Casey » Thu Jul 03, 2003 7:57 am

"Busybody" expressed in Hokkien is "ke1 po5". In TV programs and movies, it is commonly translated in Mandarin as "ji1 po2" (鸡婆?). I find this irritating. From my limited layman knowledge, "ke1 po5" should be "家婆“ in Hanzi. It is the abbreviated form of "管家婆" (guan3 jia1 po2) (house keeper). It is not “鸡婆" because in all Minnan dialect subgroups it is pronounced as "ke1 po5", otherwise it should have been "koe1 po5" in Xiamen and Quanzhou subgroup, while in the Zhangzhou subgroup it remians as "ke1 po5".
"ke1 po5" cannot be translated literally into Mandarin because there is no such expression in Mandarin. The Mandarin equivalent should be "多事" or "多管闲事”.
Niuc

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Niuc » Fri Jul 04, 2003 2:25 pm

Yeah, 'ke1 pou5' is certainly not 雞婆 (Mdr: ji1po2, 'kue1 pou5' in our dialect). There is high chance that its proper characters are 家婆 (Mdr: jia1po2), but they won't write it this way since 家婆 means 'mother-in-law' in Mandarin.

The phrase 'ke1 kang1' means "doing more than proper limit" in negative sense. I think it's written as 加工. 'ke1' 加 here doesn't mean "to add" but something like "additional", "not required", "excessive".....I wonder if 'ke1 pou5' can be 加婆.

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Andrew Yong

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Andrew Yong » Sat Jul 05, 2003 8:44 pm

加婆 would be kE po in Chiangchew/Penang, not ke po. In Penang the phrase is often ke1 po5 chi2.
Niuc

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Niuc » Mon Jul 07, 2003 2:21 pm

Hi Andrew,

Thanks a lot for the info. Then it may not be 加婆. Is 'chi2' in 'ke1 po5 chi2' 姊 (elder sister, 'ci2')?

How do you pronounce 家 (home/family) in Penang Hokkien, is it 'kE' or 'ke'? Could you please give more examples on 'E' vs 'e'. Is there any equivalent sound of 'E' in English? I need more examples since in my dialect there is no 'E' sound hence I may not know how to differentiate them.

Thanks!

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Andrew Yong

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Andrew Yong » Tue Jul 08, 2003 1:59 am

I don't know which chi it is.

Actually 家 is also pronounced kE, e.g. chhin-kE, thau-kE. What is the literary pronunciation?

E is the IPA symbol (small) epsilon, like a mirror image number 3, like in English bet or Mandarin ye or Hakka he.

andrew
Casey

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Casey » Tue Jul 08, 2003 2:20 am

Yes, both "家" and "加" are pronounced as "kE" in Chiang Chiu/Penang accent.
The Penang expression of "ke1 po5 ji2" could have been "ke1 po5 jih8" (家婆舌) meaning a busybody always wags his tongue.
Sim

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Sim » Tue Jul 08, 2003 3:39 pm

Hi Andrew,

I have previously observed that in both Penang Hokkien and non-Penang Hokkien there are 2 types of “o” - the closed-o and the open-o - in ASCII IPA “ho” (good) vs. “hO” (tiger). As you undoubtedly also know, the latter is transcribed as a lowercase “o” with a non-closure on the left hand side, sort of like an upside-down “c”. I think this is transcribed as “ho” (good) vs. “ho.” (tiger) in some systems (where the dot is not at the bottom, but is at the same height as the top of the “o”). I believe some other transcription systems make this “ho” (good) vs. “hoo” (tiger). [ Further examples of this are “bo” (female of an animal) vs. “bO” (wife), “go” (goose) vs. “gO” (five) (though the latter pair are also distinguished by having different tones), but I give these more for the benefit of other readers, as I think we both speak the same variant :-) ]

I have also previously observed however, that it is only in Penang Hokkien that there are 2 types of “e”, the closed-e and the open-e - in ASCII IPA “be” (buy) vs. “bE” (horse), “peh” (eight) vs. “pEh” (father’s elder brother, or to climb) [ here I’m using “-h” for the glottal stop ].

So, I definitely agree with you that Penang Hokkien for “busybody” is “ke po” not “kE po”.

I also agree that in Penang the phrase is often 3 syllables rather than 2, but I personally would have transcribed the last syllable “ci~” (“c” = IPA “ts”, with no aspiration, and ~ = nasalisation). Now, your writing “chi” does not necessarily imply that you are aspirating, because you might transcribe the aspirated equivalent as “chhi”, so perhaps we are pronouncing that aspect of the syllable in the same way. However, I definitely pronounce it nasalised, whereas you don’t.

So, in summary, (in my transcription) I would say: “ke po ci~” whereas you seem to be saying “ke po chi” (but perhaps you say “ke po ci” (or perhaps you even say “ke po ci~ and neglected to indicate the nasalisation).

I really wish we had a standard way of transcribing (the various variants of) Hokkien instead of all of us having to explain our transcription systems with every single post we make!

Best regards,
Sim.
Sim

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Sim » Wed Jul 09, 2003 3:13 pm

Hi Casey,

Please see my response to Andrew, in this same topic, at http://www.chineselanguage.org/forum/re ... =771&t=753

I noticed that you have yet another variant for the pronunciation of the third syllable of "ke po XX", namely "ji".

I presume by this you mean the "voiced affricate" (as in English, "judge", "John", "Jim", "Jane"). Also you - like Andrew - don't nasalise the syllable. Perhaps I'm pronouncing it wrong!

My pronunciation, "ci~" rhymes with the verb which means "to force something into a tight space".

Regards,
Sim.

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Niuc

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Niuc » Wed Jul 09, 2003 3:44 pm

Hi Andrew, Casey & Sim:

From your examples, I find that 'e' in Ciangciu/Penang paralel to 'ue' in E-mng/Cuanciu and 'E' to 'e'.

I just asked a friend who speaks Medan Hokkien about 'E' vs 'e'. Medan Hokkien is very similar [though not equivalent] to Penang Hokkien. His 'E' vs 'e' is similar to Penang Hokkien i.e. 'be' (buy) vs 'bE' (horse). 加 (add) is 'kE' but 家 is 'ke'. He thinks that 'ke po' is 家婆 and 'ke po ci~' (super 'ke po') is 家婆精 (ci~ "demon").

I also hope that we'll have a standardization for Hokkien romanization. But without any authority board deciding on this issue, it's really hard to have one. Moreover, there is no standard Hokkien in real sense although E-mng dialect is the representative. Personally I believe that dialect variations should be retained. These variations should be taken care of in designing a romanization system. This, of course, will make the system more complex.

Church Romanization is easy to learn yet contains many symbols not found in our plain keyboard. The 'ch' & 'chh' in CR can be simplified to 'c' & 'ch'. I prefer to write 'o`' (o with a dot in CR, as in 'ho`' tiger) as 'o' and 'o' (without dot in CR, as in 'ho' good) as 'ou' because 'ou' in 'hou' [good] is the sound between 'o' and 'u'. I prefer '*' for nasal to '~' since '~' looks more like a tone indication. In Tang-ua* & Cuanciu dialects there are 'er' & 'ir'/'y' sounds. Also 明 (bright) sounds 'bing' in these two dialects, but may be more like 'beng' in Ciangciu dialect. Also standardization of 'E' vs 'e' as in Ciangciu dialect. Romanization system should include tone indications, whether to use numbers or diacritics, whether to write the basic tones or shift tones. There are quite a number of issues on romanization.

If there is a will, we can discuss more about an all inclusive romanization system for Hokkien dialects. What do you think?


Best Regards,
Niuc

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Andrew Yong

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Andrew Yong » Thu Jul 10, 2003 4:08 pm

Just got my Douglas-Barclay dictionary in the post! I bought it second-hand for $US 80.

Under po5 (old woman), Barclay has ke1-po5 a woman in charge of house affairs connected with women; a talebearer. m3-bien2 li2 teh4 ke1-po5 don't come here with your stories.

The entry doesn't give which ke1 it is, but I think it is ke1 (the women's part of the house) written mng5/mui~5 (gate) with two thO2 (earth)'s underneath. This word is not in the main dictionary, so I don't know how it is pronounced in Changchew. However only very few words are ke in both Amoy and Changchew: most of them are ke/kE or koe/ke or ke/koe.

Alternatively, under ke1 (household), there is gau5 ke7 ke1, of woman, given to gossiping round the neighbourhood. I know all these are gossips rather than busybodies, but it is as close as I can find.

My transliteration is the one used in Douglas. Ch is contrasted with ts and chh, but I am not very good at writing sounds in my head. I use the Usenet ASCII IPA O and E for mirror c and mirror 3 respectively. I agree that c and ch are more logical. Since there is no confusion with ng, how about N for the nasal sound, e.g. piaN2 (biscuit).

I find in my Penang sub-dialect/idiolect ch (pinyin j) and ts (pinyin z) are inter-changeable, but ch is more common. Also, the tones 3 and 7 are indistinguishable except in sandhi form.

andrew
Niuc

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Niuc » Sun Jul 13, 2003 4:01 pm

Hi Andrew,

Congratulation for your Douglas-Barclay dictionary :) Although the version (of yours & mine) doesn't have ‘hanji’ in its main section, nonetheless it's very very helpful.

You are correct that 家 is also kE in Ciangciu dialect, the dictionary says so. Your suggestion (i.e. 閨婆) may be indeed is the proper ‘hanji’. Somehow the main section (Douglas’) doesn’t have it (閨) in ‘ke’ entries but only in ‘kui’; the supplement (Barclay’s) has it in both ‘ke’ & ‘kui’ entries.

Personally I don’t find any differences between Douglas’ ch & ts; for me both are just ‘c’. In my dialect, the 3rd & 7th tones are very different and distinctive. Their sandhi tones are also very different: the 7th tone’s sandhi is the 3rd tone; the 3rd tone’s sandhi is the 8th tone. I prefer not to use capital letters (e.g. N for nasal, E vs e, O vs o) because the usage will be confusing if we are writing in uppercase (e.g. PIAN2 -> piaN2 or pian2???, KE1 -> ke1 or kE1???...). That’s why I prefer to use * for nasal, o vs ou. But I have no idea how to write E vs e. Any idea?

[%sig%]
Andrew Yong

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Andrew Yong » Sun Jul 13, 2003 4:51 pm

Douglas also mentions that 3rd and 7th tone in Changchew are impossible to tell apart, except in sandhi form.

I prefer to use o/O and e/E because they are easy to read. I like your * for the nasal.

I find that Singaporeans will normally say ts (pinyin z) where Penangites say ch (pinyin j)


andrew
Casey

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Casey » Sun Jul 13, 2003 5:58 pm

Niuc and Andrew

The word "闺“is pronounced as "ke1" in "厦门话" indeed, like "闺女"-- "ke1 lu2", or "闺房"--"ke1 pang5"; in "漳州话" it should be "kE1".

One way to express the sound "-E" in lower case letters is using "-ae" as in German.

In "漳州话" the 3rd tone and 7th tone are quite distinctive, but the 5th tone pronounced in a lower tone quite close to the 3rd tone except with a slight rising tone. If the 3rd tone is described as "1-" as in "do-o" (long "do") in music, then the 5th tone in "漳州话" is "1-2" or "do-re".

As a Singaporean, I find that there is no difference in "tz" and "ch".
Sim

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Sim » Tue Jul 15, 2003 12:26 pm

Oh Andrew,

I'm so glad to see this posting of yours. Specifically, I'm referring to this:

>> Also, the tones 3 and 7 are indistinguishable except in sandhi form.

I've been struggling with this for ages.

[ Background. ] I believe I speak Penang Hokkien natively. Although my mother's dialect is Amoy-like (from Seremban, Malaysia), my father was born and bred in Penang, from a family which has been there for many generations. My mother has a good ear for languages and learnt to speak Penang Hokkien - as far as I can tell- (near-)natively, living with my father and bringing her family up Penang. So, as I grew up (more or less) in Penang, I don't think that any deficiencies in my accent are a result of influences from her non-native Penang Hokkien (though of course they could be).

Now to come to my point.

Try as I may, I haven't been able to distinguish more than 4 tones in my Hokkien. Now, these correspond more or less to the 4 tones that I was taught for Mandarin (in all my futile childhood attempts at Mandarin classes), so undoubtedly this may have some influence on my own perception of my Hokkien tones. Nevertheless, I have basic training in linguistics (specifically 1st year linguistics at university, with a lot more reading afterwards), and I speak English, German, and Dutch quite well (and a smattering of Danish!), so I'm not "linguistically naive".

I have lately begun to suspect that of the 7 tones which Hokkien is said to have:
#) 1 of them is a ru-tone tone anyway, which I would just consider to be one of the other tones, with a consonant at the end.
#) 1 of them has indeed collapsed with another in Penang Hokkien.
#) 1 of them is actually slightly different from the remaining 4, but I don't make the distinction (i.e. am not 100% native speaker competent).

Andrew, this is where you come in :-).

The whole discussion only makes sense if we pin it down to concrete words. In the next few weeks, I'll try and draw up a list of words, and try and set out the tonal system of my idiolect, and see what you (as a native Penang Hokkien speaker) think of it.

This will take quite a lot of analysing on my part (plus the fact that my Hokkien vocabulary is quite limited, so I can't always get as many contrastive words - e.g. same sound in x different tones - as I would like).

Anyway, I look forward to presenting this all, and hope you will be willing and able to give me a bit of help on it. It would finally clear up the mystery for me of, on the one hand, all the experts saying that Hokkien has 7 tones, and, on the other hand, of my only ever perceiving 4 in my idiolect. [ I once even wrote to a Chinese dialectologist in the US, who confirmed to me that it was (in her opinion) extremely unlikely that Penang Hokkien had undergone such massive tonal collapse that there would be only 4 tones. ]

I'll start a new topic for this, when I get it all together.

Cheers,
Sim.

[%sig%]
Andrew Yong

Re: "Busybody" in Hokkien

Post by Andrew Yong » Tue Jul 15, 2003 2:20 pm

Another feature of Penang Hokkien tones is that what Douglas calls 'enclitics', i.e. words at the end of certain phrases losing their tone, don't really occur in Penang. Maybe this is what people mean when they say Penang Hokkien is very "sing-song". Where my KL relatives would say peh4--khi2-lai5 (pronounced 8 0 0), in Penang it would be peh4 khi2-lai5 (4 1 5).
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