Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
Mark Yong
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby Mark Yong » Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:50 pm

Hi, amhoanna,

Absolutely correct. I do not dispute the point that Hokkien should be written as it is spoken, on its own terms, and not be dependent on Mandarin. God-forbid, using Mandarin as a crutch for representing Hokkien is the last thing on my mind - much less suggesting that Modern Standard Chinese is the New Testament of Classical Chinese! 吐血、吐血...

What I meant is this: I believe Sim is trying to pick up a decent number of Chinese characters as a means of reading our 唐儂字 Tng-Lang-Ji Hokkien conversations. Now, he could be waiting till Kingdom come before the Web finally has a full plethora of Hokkien texts written in a universally-accepted Chinese character standard before he has a sufficiently-decent resource - if, at all, that will even come to fruition. So, in the interest of expediency, what is he left with at present? Yup... a Web-full of texts written in that ghastly language called Modern Standard Chinese. It's not ideal, I know, but still better than nothing. Of course, between that and Classical Chinese, I would anytime rather Sim use Classical Chinese as his base.

Put it this way: Hypothetically-speaking, if Sim was learning the character today for the first time, I would not want him to see it as “the Mandarin word bu, read in Hokkien”, just because occurs in Mandarin speech, whereas Hokkien uses m to denote the negative. No, no, no. I would much rather he learnt to read in Hokkien terms as plain and simple put4, a word that occurs in more literary aspects of Hokkien and Literary Chinese. And where would it occur in common Hokkien speech? Well, there's 不孝 put4 hau3 and 差不多 cha1 put4 to1. Similarly, if he saw , I would not ask that he 訓讀's it as ciak8. No, no, no. is ciak8, is khit4.

I also note and agree with you point that while Hoklo has a certain relationship with Classical Chinese, they are not the same. There are sufficient examples of words and morphemes of non-Sinitic origin in Hoklo to make my quest for an all-Tng-Lang-Ji-written Hoklo a totally futile mission. :cry: But I think what you are saying is that, at least Classical Chinese can claim to be an (not the) ancestor of Hoklo, something that Mandarin can never claim to be. That I can - and do - agree whole-heartedly with you.

Of course, all this is on the assumption that Sim does, in fact, want to learn to read Hokkien using 唐儂字Tng-Lang-Ji, and in no way am I forcibly prescribing it to him as the way to read Hokkien.

** Sim - My sincere apologies for drawing you out as an example, and I hope you do not take it that I am being condescending in any way.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Now, regarding Cantonese... :mrgreen:

Okay, I should qualify my previous statement. I do acknowledge that the current Hong Kong Chinese education model of teaching Chinese using Modern Standard Chinese as the lexical and grammatical base for reading and writing does have an impact on the masses' vocabulary and word usage. But I see the impact as one that is more of supplementation rather than displacement.

For example: The Hong Kongers knowing how to read and write ‘just now’ as 剛纔 kÔng-chŎi does not mean that they have stopped using the Cantonese colloquial 頭先 thău-sîn in everyday speech. And I would bet that implicitly, they would know that if they had to write the specific words thău-sîn, it would be 頭先.

What I will acknowledge is that it has not been perfectly zero displacement. With in the standard written lexicon, almost all Hong Kongers have no idea that their colloquial péi ‘to give’ is written as . They either write it as , or that horribly-incorrect . Now that is what I do not want to see happen to Hokkien. hO7 is , not .

And in some instances, Hokkien speakers have it better than Cantonese. At least for ‘things’, we know how to write miq8 kiaⁿ7 as 物件; the poor chaps have to resort to the borrowed for yae.
Last edited by Mark Yong on Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mark Yong
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby Mark Yong » Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:53 pm

Hi, Sim,

My apologies. I actually transposed the examples in (2) to the 3rd paragraph of (3), but forgot to delete the truncated sentence in (2) thereafter. It's fixed now.

SimL
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby SimL » Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:19 pm

Mark Yong wrote:Of course, all this is on the assumption that Sim does, in fact, want to learn to read Hokkien using 唐儂字Tng-Lang-Ji, and in no way am I forcibly prescribing it to him as the way to read Hokkien.

Oh, I absolutely do! At the time, I read with great interest the discussion about "decreased ease of reading Hokkien (or Mandarin or Vietnamese), when it's written more or less phonetically (as opposed to when it's written in characters)" *. My gut feeling is that I absolutely agreed with what a number of people also said: (paraphrasing) "Hokkien is much harder to read in POJ than in characters; reading in POJ often requires one to 'read out loud', and only then does one go 'Oh, that's what it says!', as opposed to characters, where one can get the meaning more directly." **

But, having said that (i.e. "I do very much want to learn to read (and write) Hokkien in TLJ"), it has a (much) lower priority than mastering Mandarin (sorry Mark!). This has had my full attention for the past 4-5 years, and I put in anything between 10 to 20 hours a week towards this goal. I actively collect new words, and write them down in notebooks; I cover up the left column (characters) and try to produce them by reading the right column (English). I refresh them constantly, make separate lists of the ones which refuse to stick in my head, etc, etc. These notebooks are with me 24 hours a day: I take them to work and work on them on the train; when I go to bed, I put them next to my bed, so that if I wake up with insomnia at 02:00, I pick them up and do a bit of work; if I've slept very soundly, and wake up at 06:00, then I do 2 hours in bed, before getting up to go to work; etc, etc.

So, while my Mandarin learning is constant and structured, my efforts in Hokkien are more spontaneous and organic; I do it whenever the opportunity presents itself, or I feel like it: browsing through my character-Douglas pdf, puzzling through mails in TLJ, reading and asking on this Forum, etc. Again, in contrast to my attempt at learning of Mandarin, I don't write down anything in a notebook, in a structured way.

Notes:

*: Difficulty of reading romanization. Even though this is such a commonly experienced thing (I mean by many of the Forum members), a friend of mine (also very interested in Chinese) pointed out that one has to take into account that the amount of exposure most of the Forum members have to POJ is much less than their exposure to characters, so simple "familiarity" has to be taken into account, when thinking about this question. Similarly, one can't just take a bunch of PRC adults and measure their speeds of reading/comprehension of hanzi text vs pinyin text. If it turns out that the latter has a much slower speed than the former, then a lot of that could still be attributed to the fact that the individuals in question have spent 20-30 years reading and writing hanzi - school homework, notice-board signs, daily newspapers, letters from friends, communication with the government, university study, etc, etc, and this would completely outweigh the amount of stuff they've tried to handle in pinyin. [Perhaps this goes part of the way to explaining why the Vietnamese don't seem to have any problem with their romanized system: they did do all these activities in the romanized version of their language.] Though, having said that, it still might be the case that hanzi are actually easier to read than romanized letters. I.e. if a group of individuals grew up with no exposure to characters and exactly the equivalent exposure to pinyin, perhaps such a group might still have more difficulty than the equivalent group which grew up with characters. It's just that this second (i.e. pinyin-only) group doesn't exist, so we can't really know.

**: Getting the meaning directly from hanzi. This is of course separate from the widespread misconception in the West (and even in the East) that TLJ somehow are "ideograms", which 'encode the meaning/concepts directly', independent of any language.

Mark Yong wrote:** Sim - My sincere apologies for drawing you out as an example, and I hope you do not take it that I am being condescending in any way.

Not at all, Mark. I felt rather honoured that you think about me in connection with this topic, also in mails and such.

Mark Yong wrote:I actually transposed the examples in (2) to the 3rd paragraph of (3)

Ah, I see. All clear now, thanks!

amhoanna
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby amhoanna » Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:47 pm

Mark, I agree with almost everything U've said here and on this topic. Kỉsịt lứ sĩ cin ài thạksiá thoảnthóng ẻ Hànbủn, goá sĩ cin ài thạksiá siõng kháugứ ẻ Họ'ló'oẹ, but we both believe that both forms should exist.

I know what U're saying with 物件 and 嘢, although I don't "feel" the same way. Japanese overcame this problem (whereas Vietnamese kind of dodged it) using a system of hùnthọk alongside hiragana, etc. I think Hoklo and Cantonese deserve the same. 嘢 and other "traditionally non-Sino" words in both languages are part of these languages, and should be written just as readily and enthusiastically as Sino words rooted in the Chinese canon, using kanji, hiragana, or something else... And a system that uses 口-radicals everywhere with kanji that have too many strokes... kind of kills the enthusiasm in the long run.

On a tangent, I've heard surprisingly vehement reactions from ROC-educated Taiwanese people toward written Cantonese, including recently. One guy said the first time he came across written Cantonese in a magazine in the '70s or '80s in Hong Kong, he was shocked and wanted to tear up the magazine on the spot and trample and spit on it. After the efforts of our great leaders to spread Mandarin literacy to the masses, that any "Chinese" anywhere would commit a non-Mandarin language to writing ... was just a slap in the face to all Chinese citizens. :mrgreen: Actually this also explains the prevailing attitudes in TW toward written Hoklo. Actually the reactions of these ROC people fill me with disgust.

But I think what you are saying is that, at least Classical Chinese can claim to be an (not the) ancestor of Hoklo, something that Mandarin can never claim to be.

Your take on my take on this is actually a fresh take, that Hoklo has maybe several ancestors, including Classical Chinese. This is more flexible than the prevailing linguistics, which only allows one ancestor except in clear cases of "mixed languages".

Mark Yong
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby Mark Yong » Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:37 pm

amhoanna wrote:
Japanese overcame this problem (whereas Vietnamese kind of dodged it) using a system of hùnthọk alongside hiragana, etc.

That reminds me of an entry in Nelson’s Kanji-English Dictionary - 手巾 is hankachi (handkerchief). :lol:

amhoanna wrote:
...the first time he came across written Cantonese in a magazine in the '70s or '80s in Hong Kong, he was shocked and wanted to tear up the magazine on the spot and trample and spit on it.

I never could understand the basis for this knee-jerk reaction. If it is because of the perception that the vernacular spoken languages are not fit to serve as whicles for written Chinese, then they have obviously forgotten than what they call 國語 Kúo Yŭ (to use the Wades-Giles Romanisation) is based on the spoken dialect of their political nemesis sitting on their lofty perch in 北京. So much for them lobbying for a Taiwan independent from mainland China. 呸喙瀾 phuì chuì-nuāⁿ...

SimL wrote:
...it has a (much) lower priority than mastering Mandarin

No issues, Sim. I have to concede that there is a point where practicality and utility comes into play. Just as long as your endeavours to master Mandarin does not result in you slowly-but-surely sliding into right-wing and joining the Dark Side of the Anti-Dialect Force. :mrgreen:

SimL
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby SimL » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:28 pm

Mark Yong wrote:
SimL wrote:
...it has a (much) lower priority than mastering Mandarin

No issues, Sim. I have to concede that there is a point where practicality and utility comes into play. Just as long as your endeavours to master Mandarin does not result in you slowly-but-surely sliding into right-wing and joining the Dark Side of the Anti-Dialect Force. :mrgreen:

This last will never happen, don't worry :mrgreen:.

One of my biggest motivations (originally) in wanting to master Mandarin was to be able to read the discussions and scientific papers written in characters (and hence in Mandarin) on Hokkien! [Originally, I thought that would take about 5 years. Now, with the wisdom of hindsight, I realise that it will be closer to 10, if ever...!]

Plus, I'd like to remind you that my nick on Youtube is "HokkienSim". This is a wordplay on the fact that my name is Sim, and my heart is totally commited to Hokkien!

amhoanna
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby amhoanna » Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:03 pm

So much for them lobbying for a Taiwan independent from mainland China. 呸喙瀾 phuì chuì-nuāⁿ...

He said it! I'm talking about Mark.

The Green camp, which houses an "independence wing", actually waged a campaign for many years to shrink the Literary Chinese portion of high school curricula. Not sure if they got their way, or if they gave up, or what. I think they got their way to some extent, then they all moved to China to do business, :lol: citing language barriers as a reason to not go anywhere else, :lol: and stopped caring.

Five or six yrs ago this issue came up on Taigibang, the Hoklo mailing list. Reliable reports indicated that high school Chinese (language) curricula in China actually had -- gasp -- much less Literary Chinese content than the TWese high school Chinese curriculum! A sure sign that the Mandarin speakers who ran the TWese education system were running a conspiracy and had to be stopped! Outrageous! The nerve!

Most people on Taigibang agreed that this could not go on. They agreed that half (or all!) of that Literary Chinese had to come out of the textbooks, to be replaced with ... modern Mandarin!

Hardcore types would have advocated injecting full-on Hoklo into the system at some pt. But such types were and are outliers within the Green camp, even w/i the independence wing...

I posted a letter coming at this issue from a Hoklo POV. I asked readers to consider "to cit ciah si hou (WHICH ONE IS THE TIGER), to cit ciah si hou-a-kiann (WHICH ONE IS THE TIGER CUB)?" Predictably, after all the years of Meiji Japanese and Republic of China propaganda, nobody acknowledged my letter ... and people went right on insisting that Literary Chinese was somehow "less Taiwanese" ... than Mandarin.

If U ask me how this came about, I think it had a lot to do with both Japanese and ROC policy. The Japanese discouraged and made it hard for TWese to learn to do anything besides grow crops, fix machines, or -- for the smart ones -- fight disease using Meiji-European medicine. Small communities of literati and "intelligentsia" continued to exist and flourish in spite of these policies, but when the ROC went to Taiwan, they found these hardy all-weather intellectuals to be one of the most threatening kinds of people on the island. Japanese collaborators, no doubt. They "disappeared" thousands of them. Many of the rest fled to Japan or beyond. ... As for "Literary Chinese", it almost had to be reintroduced as an import from New China, alongside Mandarin, with Mandarin being the much more accessible, people-friendly, and "The People-friendly" of the two...

On a tight tangent, I read an essay a few weeks ago, written in Hoklo and romaji (POJ) in Taiwan probably in the 1920s or '30s ... touting Hoklo with POJ as the best way to introduce book learning and the fast transfer of knowledge to the TWese masses. The author cited the immense time investment required for Sino-Taiwanese to become literate in either Japanese or Literary Chinese, vs the simplicity of POJ Hoklo. He also cited how the young TWese of the time were uneducated with stagnant skill sets and a narrow view of the world, i.e. a bunch of Bengs and Lians. He thought this could mean trouble down the road. Eventually he was proven right -- when Chiang Kaishek went to TW with all the king's men, the lack of education among the local population was good reason (or a convenient one) for him to set up a bureaucracy staffed mostly with the urban (non-military) elements among his loyalists, resulting in the "pushing out" of the Sino-Taiwanese ... although to be fair the Japanese had "pushed them out" first ... and this angst is still reflected today in the call for "less Literary Chinese, more Mandarin."

One of my biggest motivations (originally) in wanting to master Mandarin was to be able to read the discussions and scientific papers written in characters (and hence in Mandarin) on Hokkien! [Originally, I thought that would take about 5 years. Now, with the wisdom of hindsight, I realise that it will be closer to 10, if ever...!]

amhoanna
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby amhoanna » Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:10 pm

Hi, Sim! My guess is that U're underestimating how fast U could learn what U've set out to learn!

To add (to my last post), I was surprised by the style of Hoklo used in that essay by that author. He used several words that are associated today with Singaporean Hoklo, but aren't used in Taiwan. For example, he used bo5-pian3 for NO CIGAR.

I can dig out this article again if anyone wants to read it.

Mark Yong
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby Mark Yong » Sat Jul 09, 2011 6:54 pm

amhoanna wrote:
I can dig out this article again if anyone wants to read it.

Yes, please. You know where to find me. 8)

A short one today. Following the live news feeds on the Bersih 2.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur with fervour. No need to guess which camp I am rooting for.

SimL
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby SimL » Sun Jul 10, 2011 8:00 am

Hi amhoanna,

Thanks for the encouraging words. Actually, my Mandarin has progressed considerably in the last year. I picked up the series of about 9 children's books I mentioned in another posting. When I bought them 2 years ago, I struggled through every single sentence. Now, I can sort of read them. There are still quite a lot of sentences where I don't know some ciyu, and still lots of characters I don't know, but at least now I can catch the general drift of what each paragraph is about. This certainly wasn't the case 2 years ago.

I won't be posting much for the coming time, just so that you don't think I've dropped off the face of the planet...

amhoanna
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby amhoanna » Thu Jul 14, 2011 1:44 am

Found it! A vintage essay in pure Hoklo. Actually there's lots more where this one came from, so let's take it slow.

http://203.64.42.21/tg/chu/10hkk/thak.asp?id=2-4

I'm surprised he used "liau" instead of "a". I've never heard that in TW, in fact I figured "Equatorial Hoklo" got it from Teochew or elsewhere. Longkiong also strikes me as "overseas Hoklo". There's also lots of turns of phrase I've never heard anywhere.

Going back to Ah-bin's comment on some thread, yeah, the essay refers to the old schoolhouses as cupang.

Sim,

I've tried different methods for learning languages, but sink-or-swim immersion and "self-confrontation" always seem to kiann5-khi3 行氣 (TAKE EFFECT) fastest. :)

SimL
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Re: Some Rhymes in POJ and Characters

Postby SimL » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:33 pm

Hi amhoanna,

Thanks for the link. My computer at work won't play it, but I look forward to playing it at a friend's place some time.

Yeah, I know that one should just do total immersion, but I never seem to find the time to go to Asia... (Well, we all know that "not finding the time" is just an excuse for "not being motivated enough to do it", or "having other things which one finds more important", but ok. Someday...)


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