Burmese Hokkien

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
Ah-bin
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Burmese Hokkien

Postby Ah-bin » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:46 am

Since we've been talking about Thailand a lot recently, I wondered if anyone has ever come across Hokkien speakers from Burma. I met one in Canberra once, about five years ago, and she seemed to understand my rudimentary Taiwanese, but I can't remember how she spoke back. I remember she was a refugee from years back. I also remember having gone to look for information about Hokkiens in Burma, and I think I read they usually lived in urban areas. I have wondered recently whether they speak something similar to northern Malaysian Hokkien, but since I haven;t had the chance to bump into a speaker again, I cannot say.

amhoanna
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby amhoanna » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:11 pm

I met an ex-Hokkien speaker from Burma once. She left Burma at the age of 12 or 13 and somehow found a way to forget Hokkien and Burmese. Her Hokkien was gone w/o a trace. Maybe the "bad old days" were really pretty bad.

I heard that Holo is or was mostly spoken in Yangon and points south. On a map, Yangon and the tail of Burma "look" like Holo territory for sure. Seeing as how there's next to no info on the web in Eng or Mand, I'm guessing that area is just really cut off. I guess someone will just have to go there. Who knows, maybe they speak an "archaic" version of Penang-Medan Hokkien. :mrgreen:

amhoanna
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby amhoanna » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:30 pm

Come to think of it, I also met a fortuneteller in the streets of Thô'áhn̂g, Taiwan, who spoke Holo and came from Burma, probably a long time ago. She sounded Taiwanese, but she quickly switched to Mandarin. I got the feeling that she only uses Holo to get people's attention——kā lâng giú'oá. I can't blame her——you're only asking for trouble if you try to speak non-Taiwanese Holo in Taiwan. :twisted:

amhoanna
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby amhoanna » Thu Jun 30, 2011 4:26 am

Interesting blog for Burma, with references to Hokkian--the place, not the lingo:
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4fdcaff60100px9i.html

Kind of glancing:
http://big5.chinaqw.cn:89/node2/node116/node119/node808/userobject6ai41415.html
http://xmmdlyh.blog.163.com/blog/static/242316420069534426726/

xiaojian
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby xiaojian » Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:34 pm

My father's side are actually Hokkiens from the delta region in Burma (my grandfather has ancestry from Longxi, idk abt my grandmother). Only my grandparents and older aunts and uncles can converse in fluent Hokkien (and Mandarin)--the younger ones, my father included, speak mostly Burmese, but can understand Hokkien, not Mandarin (mostly because of language education policies in socialist-era Burma that restricted Chinese language education immensely--a entire generation of Burmese Chinese were affected).

I don't understand much Hokkien, unfortunately =( My cousins who have both parents as Hokkien speakers can understand and speak a bit, but the rest of the aunts and uncles married outside the dialect group (mostly Hakka, and 1 Toisan), so the common languages in my family are English and Burmese.

But I have a great interest in learning it so I can pass this language on. Any insights are welcome :)

Some features I've noticed:
- 汝 lu, not li for "you"
- 我 wa, not gua for "me"
- -u rhyme instead of -i ('chopsticks' 箸 is tu -- borrowed into Burmese)
- -i rhyme instead of -e ('older sister' 阿姊 is ah-chí, not ah-che)
- -e rhyme instead of -oe ('cake/pastry' 粿 is ke, not koe)
- -ua -ue diphthongs are almost like a -w- medial, as in Burmese ('big' 大 is twa, not tua)
- nasalized 'ah' - nicknames and grandparent terms more commonly use 俺 (an) than 阿 (a) (e.g. 阿明 = an-bein; 阿公阿嬤 = 俺公俺嬤)
- nasalized finals, almost identical to those in French (-ng is pronounced -n, as in 紅包 'an-pau' or 俺公 'an-kon' or 食飯 'cha pn') - probably reflects Burmese phonology (Burmese's 3 nasal finals, -n, -m, -ng have merged to 1, only preserved in spelling)
- softened -k/-p/-t endings (glottal stop like quality) - probably also Burmese influence (Burmese's -k/-p/-t endings merged to a glottal stop a long time ago, only preserved in spelling)
- 阿哥 ah-ko and 阿兄 ah-hian are used interchangeably (perhaps 阿哥 is simply from Burmese အစ်ကို ah-ko for 'older brother')
- Burmese natives are called o-to-kwi (Chinese characters?)
- servant/maid is 'gin-a-sin' (Chinese characters?)
- lui (Hanzi?) used more often than standard 錢
Last edited by xiaojian on Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

SimL
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby SimL » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:40 pm

Hi xiaojian,

Wow, with you and haroldmanila joining, we've expanded our geographical base so much.

Great to have you here. Hope you derive much benefit from the discussions here.

SimL
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby SimL » Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:49 pm

xiaojian wrote:- 阿哥 ah-ko and 阿兄 ah-hian are used interchangeably (perhaps 阿哥 is simply from Burmese အစ်ကို ah-ko for 'older brother')

Yippee! There's my "hiaN" being used in normal life :mrgreen:.

Mark Yong
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby Mark Yong » Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:04 pm

Hi, xiaojian,

Welcome to the Hokkien fraternity.

xiaojian wrote:
Only my grandparents and older aunts and uncles can converse in fluent Hokkien (and Mandarin)--the younger ones, my father included, speak mostly Burmese, but can understand Hokkien, not Mandarin... I don't understand much Hokkien, unfortunately...

From the Chinese characters displayed, I presume you are educated in Mandarin?

xiaojian wrote:
- Burmese natives are called o-to-kwi (Chinese characters?)

I am guessing the 3rd morpheme is (given the Chinese’ disparaging nature!). Is the to aspirated?

xiaojian wrote:
- servant/maid is 'gin-a-sin' (Chinese characters?)

If the first two morphemes gin-a refer to ‘child’, then it would be 囡仔.

xiaojian wrote:
- lui (Hanzi?) used more often than standard 錢

The commonly-used Chinese character is . There was a previous post in this Forum, where this URL was provided on the word’s Dutch origins: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/doit

It is interesting to see how the various local languages influence the phonological shifts in Hokkien, giving them a ‘local’ flavour.

amhoanna
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby amhoanna » Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:22 pm

Interesting, interesting. Lots of Penang-like features! Can we speak of a "Penang-Medan-Burmese-type Hokkien"?

Some features I've noticed:
- -u rhyme instead of -i ('chopsticks' 箸 is tu -- borrowed into Burmese)
- -ua -ue diphthongs are almost like a -w- medial, as in Burmese ('big' 大 is twa, not tua)

"Penang-type Hokkien" ... borrowed into Burmese!!!

The diphthong thing reminds me of Bangkok Teochew, which does the opposite. -ua diphthongs sound like a back rounded vowel (more or less [u]) followed by a weak schwa, just like Siamese -ua.

I wonder if there's anywhere in Burma where young people speak Hokkien?

Do Burma Hokkiens ever write words or sentences in Hokkien using the Burmese alphabet?

xiaojian
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby xiaojian » Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:27 pm

Mark Yong wrote:From the Chinese characters displayed, I presume you are educated in Mandarin?

Yes, English and Burmese are my personal strengths, but I did also attend Chinese school as a child to learn Mandarin, so I am proficient, but my pronunciation is terrible. Definitely not native-like.

Mark Yong wrote:I am guessing the 3rd morpheme is (given the Chinese’ disparaging nature!). Is the to aspirated?

The to is unaspirated, with an almost glottal stop-like quality. According to my mom, in Yongding Hakka, the same word is pronounced 'wo-tok-kwi', so it may very well be 鬼.

amhoanna wrote:I wonder if there's anywhere in Burma where young people speak Hokkien?

Most Hokkien speakers live in Lower Burma (around the rice-growing delta region, where many Southern Chinese settled). Unfortunately, most ethnic Chinese of the younger generations are either monolingual in Burmese or bilingual in Burmese and Mandarin, not their mother dialects, especially given China's clout in the Burmese economy and combined with the fact that many Burmese Chinese immigrate or work in Yunnan, Singapore and Taiwan. Also, intermarriage between the dialect groups has become more common nowadays, so families usually find that their common languages are either Mandarin, Burmese or English. In the past, it was taboo for Hokkiens to marry 'outsiders' (i.e. Hakkas and Toisan speakers).

amhoanna wrote:Interesting, interesting. Lots of Penang-like features! Can we speak of a "Penang-Medan-Burmese-type Hokkien"?

Perhaps this is the case. A lot of Hokkien migrants landed in Rangoon via Penang during the colonial period.

amhoanna wrote:Do Burma Hokkiens ever write words or sentences in Hokkien using the Burmese alphabet?

The Burmese script is pretty well-suited for transcribing Hokkien (it has a full set of aspirated, unaspirated consonants, can form all the finals for Hokkien, but lacks some initials and vowels), but usually, writing is done in Mandarin.

I've noticed that in letters and greeting cards, if the Hokkien pronunciation is intended, there will be a small transcription in Burmese to approximate the phrase (like greetings, 新年快樂 would be transcribed 'Sin Ni Kwai(ng) La' (စင်နီး ခွိုင်းလာ or family terms/honorifics, like 阿姊, transcribed a-kyi အကျိ or အကြည့်) or name.

Some other things I've noted:
- Usually formal readings for people's given names: (e.g. 天正 is Thian-cheng, 海水 is Hai-swee, but some exceptions; my grandmother's name, 金葉, is read Kim-hyor, with hyor being an informal reading)
- Nasalized 阿 = 俺 (not sure if it's specific to certain regions), but 俺公俺嬤 are almost universal, while 阿公阿嬤 are almost unheard of. Also, nicknames tend to use 俺 (my uncle's pet name is 俺明, an-beng), not 阿.
- -eng instead of -ing (慶 is kheng, not khing; 明 is beng, not bing; 正 is cheng, not ching; 警 is keng, not king)
- Preference for unaspirated initial consonants, as in Burmese (姊姊 is usually unaspirated, not 'chi', more like 'ci')

Mark Yong
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby Mark Yong » Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:22 pm

xiaojian wrote:
Usually formal readings for people's given names: (e.g. 天正 is Thian-cheng, 海水 is Hai-swee, but some exceptions; my grandmother's name, 金葉, is read Kim-hyor, with hyor being an informal reading)

Yes, that would be the normal convention, i.e. surnames are in the colloquial pronunciation, and given names are in the literal pronunciation.

xiaojian wrote:
- Nasalized 阿 = 俺 (not sure if it's specific to certain regions), but 俺公俺嬤 are almost universal, while 阿公阿嬤 are almost unheard of. Also, nicknames tend to use 俺 (my uncle's pet name is 俺明, an-beng), not 阿.

This is interesting, as the use of (un-nasalised) is used in Malaysia. It could very well be that Burmese Hokkien has preserved a distinction that has been lost elsewhere.

xiaojian wrote:
eng instead of -ing (慶 is kheng, not khing; 明 is beng, not bing; 正 is cheng, not ching; 警 is keng, not king)

Actually, I find that -e- (and by extension, -eng) is the more phonetically-accurate way to Romanise them, and that is how I normally Romanise those words. I suspect this -i- spelling convention is Mandarin-influenced.

xiaojian wrote:
- Preference for unaspirated initial consonants, as in Burmese (姊姊 is usually unaspirated, not 'chi', more like 'ci')

That really depends on the words themselves; some are, in fact, aspirated, while others are not. is unaspirated, yes. But and are aspirated. Do you mean that normally-aspirated words are unaspirated in Burmese Hokkien?

niuc
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby niuc » Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:21 pm

xiaojian wrote:
- Nasalized 阿 = 俺 (not sure if it's specific to certain regions), but 俺公俺嬤 are almost universal, while 阿公阿嬤 are almost unheard of. Also, nicknames tend to use 俺 (my uncle's pet name is 俺明, an-beng), not 阿.

This is found also in my variant, but it can be ang-/an-/am-. For names, it is followed by -a, e.g. am-bing-a.

Mark Yong wrote:
xiaojian wrote:
eng instead of -ing (慶 is kheng, not khing; 明 is beng, not bing; 正 is cheng, not ching; 警 is keng, not king)

Actually, I find that -e- (and by extension, -eng) is the more phonetically-accurate way to Romanise them, and that is how I normally Romanise those words. I suspect this -i- spelling convention is Mandarin-influenced.

Not Mandarin-influenced. My variant has -ing rather than -eng. I think all 泉州 variants have -ing, while 漳州 -eng. Sim ever wrote about -iəng in Amoy variant (廈門話). Actually I am puzzled why POJ has -eng while Amoy variant is (much closer to) -ing rather than -eng. On the other hand, I saw Cantonese written with -ing while what I heard was actually -eng. :roll:

Mark Yong
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby Mark Yong » Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:50 pm

niuc wrote:
Not Mandarin-influenced. My variant has -ing rather than -eng.

Hi, niuc,

Apologies for my hasty and one-sided comment there! :oops:

After reading your post, I gave some deeper thought about how my mother-in-law (she is of 南安 Lăm-Uāⁿ ancestry, which would therefore make it 泉州 Cŭan Cīu, i.e. akin to your variant) pronounces the so-called -eng words. You are right - they do come out as -ing.

It is interesting to note that Bodman’s texts Romanise this class of words as -ie-, e.g. bieng, which would further demonstrate how 廈門 Amoy Hokkien sits at the centre of the continuum between that of 漳州 Ciang Ciu and 泉州 Cuan Ciu.

amhoanna
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby amhoanna » Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:22 am

The Burmese script is pretty well-suited for transcribing Hokkien (it has a full set of aspirated, unaspirated consonants, can form all the finals for Hokkien, but lacks some initials and vowels),

And it marks tones too, right?

- Usually formal readings for people's given names: (e.g. 天正 is Thian-cheng, 海水 is Hai-swee, but some exceptions; my grandmother's name, 金葉, is read Kim-hyor, with hyor being an informal reading)

I think this is true everywhere in the Hoklosphere, with exceptions. I use informal readings for my whole name, and I'm not the only person who does this. ROC ex-president Tan Cuipinn is the highest profile example of our times. Usually, formal readings are the default, but the person can opt to use the informal. Ma Engkiu and of course Ciunn Kaisek never knew enough Hoklo to opt in or stay out, but lots of people refer to them as Ma Engkau (but not Be Engkau!) and Ciunn Kaicio' as a form of disrespect. I guess this is what all them Amoy cabbies were talking about when they said there was too much freedom across the Straits :)

combined with the fact that many Burmese Chinese immigrate or work in Yunnan, Singapore and Taiwan.

Ironic but no doubt true. Spending time in Sg or TW actually helps Hoklo Burmese lose their Hoklo. Don't know if U guys have been to "Burmese Street" in Outer Taipak, Taiwan. My guess is that ethnic Burmese are greatly outnumbered by Sino-Burmese there, although I wouldn't be surprised if this changes somewhere down the line, if regulations shift and ethnic Burmese go abroad to seek better pay. Many of the restaurants are straight up Cantonese restaurants--branded as "Hong Kong" restaurants b/c TWese people don't really grasp the concept of "Cantonese"--but U would almost need to have a history degree to guess that a lot of the people there are probably Hokkiens ... who migrated to a Hoklo speaking city (Taipak) and lost their Hoklo in lockstep with the city.
...
Re: the -ing/-eng thing, in TW I think it's Ciangciu-type accents that use -ing. All other accents, including the mainstream, use -ieng with the schwa. I believe the Ong Le recording and Chonglam Hoklo are the same way. Penang has the "strongest" -eng I've ever heard, it's almost like -eing. Some Teochew dialects really do have -eing, and -eik. Goa kodin si cin ka'i!

SimL
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Re: Burmese Hokkien

Postby SimL » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:55 pm

Penang has the "strongest" -eng I've ever heard, it's almost like -eing.

Fascinating ;-).

I'm not sure I hear it myself, but if we ever meet, I'd love to hear you do a contrast between a 'normal' "-eng" and a Penang Hokkien "-eng" -> "-eing".


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