Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the field

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
amhoanna
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Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the field

Post by amhoanna » Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:04 am

BANGKOK / THÀIKIAⁿ. OK, I'ma rev this thread up sooner than I intended b/c of an interesting conversation I just had. I was getting a massage down by the river, inside a temple compound. After some time, a guy in his early 50s came in and started getting a massage a few beds away. My masseuse had been having a hard time getting her points across to me in Thai, but once they let this other customer know I was from TW, he spoke to me in Teochew and Mandarin and filled the role of translator. I can't remember if he opened in Teochew or in Mandarin, but our dialog was 80% in Teochew/Hoklo. I think he understood my Hoklo perfectly. I had to concentrate to understand him, but I understood almost every sentence out of his mouth on the first try. There was some trouble with stuff that wasn't clear from context, such as the word tiān'oe 電鍋. Teochew tiān'oe actually sounds exactly like TW Hoklo tiān'oē, but an old-school TW Hoklo speaker would probably have understood him, at least as soon as he said pn̄g'oe 飯鍋 to clarify.

Not only did this guy not have any trouble understanding my Hoklo, he also seemed to know exactly where and how I would not understand him. He might have been skewing his vocab toward the common vocab too. In other words, seemed like he had experience talking with Hokkien speakers. At one point he said something about a big-business land lease in Cambodia and he kept switching between 租 cou (diphthong in TC) and 稅 soeh, confident that one of the two should get the job done. That was right in the one stretch in the dialog when my mind shut down and suddenly I couldn't believe it, it was like he was speaking an alien language, with a Teochew accent :mrgreen: . Meanwhile the masseuse was bringing the pain! I think the guy did have a Siamese spin on his Teochew. His /oa/ diphthong was heavy on the /o/, with a schwa-like /a/, like Siamese /ua/. I don't think that's a feature of TC. His comparison structure also sounded half-Thai: he would say "[noun A] pí [noun B] [adjective] koè" or "[noun] [adjective] koè". That could come from the Siamese word which I think sounds like Hoklo "koà" and goes at sentence-end but otherwise works like "khah".

The guy was "sinkheh": his parents came from Soaⁿthâu back in the day, so he was the first generation born in Siam. He makes frequent senglí runs to Cambodia and I think also Saigon. The one thing he said that really "got" me was that he thought it would be a better idea to marry a VN girl than a Thai girl (comparing non-Sino to non-Sino), "in'ūi inâng ū kámcêng", said w/o spite, "inâng" referring to VN cabó͘. (Not sure if that's the exact pronoun he used.) I mean, I vaguely suspected this from personal experience, and I'd heard plenty of jaded ângmo͘ hold forth about Thai women being cold and bô simkoaⁿ and ké cêng ké ài, ... but this guy was a local, trading and getting around from here to Saigon on what are probably the old Teochew networks...

I stay in an old neighborhood by the river, a few stone's throws outside Yaowarat (Chinatown). Much of the population is Tn̂glâng but no one seems to have a light on for Teochew. Maybe these people tried to settle in Yaowarat back in the day but got told "lír khìr sí lah". :mrgreen: I got a haircut at a shop owned by a Mr. 符 (written on the window), most likely Hainamese. He tried talking to me in Mandarin, but didn't speak it well, e.g. when I said jian1 he thought I said jian3, and seemed to prefer to leave me to my own devices, a common 南洋 theme. The guy doing the cutting only spoke Tai-Kadai. In the end I got my point across in simple Hoklo with the help of another guy about 40 who was hanging around the shop: poss. understood, but didn't speak, Teochew.

A 60-ish restaurant owner nearby is the son of immigrants from Kwongsai who settled down south, just up from Kelantan. Speaks Mando and Canto like a Shenzhenite. He said Canto wasn't his first language. His parents came from Guilin. I asked him if bahasa Guilin was some kind of Mandarin, he said he figured it was. Then he said TO EAT in bahasa Guilin and it was something like "yaak faan" (both low level), sounded to me like Hoisan, I wondered if it was actually some kind of bahasa Ping. I asked the guy about Teochew, he told me that was mostly a Yaowarat thing. (!)

When I first got here, a few people talked to me in Cantonese. One was (I'm guessing) a Tai-Kadai speaker who worked in HK at some pt. He had a hoanná look 8) and his Canto was strictly limited. But Mandarin is more widely spoken in these districts than I expected. I saw a couple of monks from northern China walk up to an old dude on a motorbike at a red light and ask directions in Mandarin, and he answered w/o hesitation.

I'll add more from past trips to the LOS, as time and interest permit.
Ah-bin
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by Ah-bin » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:25 am

This is fascinating stuff. I have also had Hokkien-Teochew conversations with Thai Sin-kheh. As it was the only language we had in common. I'll just write this one thing for the moment...
Then he said TO EAT in bahasa Guilin and it was something like "yaak faan" (both low level), sounded to me like Hoisan, I wondered if it was actually some kind of bahasa Ping. I asked the guy about Teochew, he told me that was mostly a Yaowarat thing. (!)
That is either some kind of 桂北平話, or a type of 粵, I'll have to check. It is definitely not what is spoken in the city. He must have been from a rural area as Guilin city speaks a kind of Mandarin, the main difference is the tones. Some finals are different too, but it is much closer to Mandarin than Liuzhou. Liuzhou makes a distinction betwee 京 [ken] and 精 [tsen], in Guilin these are both [tsen].
amhoanna
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by amhoanna » Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:38 am

Right! His folks are (retired?) farmers deep in the countryside. Most likely they were the same way back home in Kwongsai. 8)
amhoanna
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by amhoanna » Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:50 am

Forgot to add that one of the most interesting things, language-wise, about the dialog I had with the Teochew guy at the temple was that the word he used for LIKE (V) was "sukah".

I think he used the word "kàliáu" too at one point, but not sure.
SimL
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by SimL » Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:00 am

amhoanna wrote:Forgot to add that one of the most interesting things, language-wise, about the dialog I had with the Teochew guy at the temple was that the word he used for LIKE (V) was "sukah".

I think he used the word "kàliáu" too at one point, but not sure.
amhoanna: it warms the cockles of my heart*** to see that stuff we discuss here on the net turns up in *your* reality :P. Were you aware of these terms before you became a regular at this Forum?

***: I've always found this expression rather curious (as probably all other native speakers do too) - "gua2 e sin1 e ham1"??? :shock:
amhoanna
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by amhoanna » Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:54 pm

Well, I've learned a good bit from this forum going as far back as 2005. It didn't occur to me to join till 2010. :idea:

As for the cockles, how about "goá ê simkoaⁿ-hammá"? Or "goá ê sim-ham"? :mrgreen:
Ah-bin
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by Ah-bin » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:00 pm

Just remembered to look at some materials on Ping dialects, and haat is fairly common for "eat" all over Kwongsai.
niuc
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by niuc » Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:52 pm

Amhoanna, thank you for sharing your wonderful experiences! I really enjoy reading them. Please write more! :mrgreen:

Btw, my variant also uses 電鍋 tiān-er (tiān-ə) for 電 ê 飯鍋.
SimL
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by SimL » Fri Jan 28, 2011 8:33 pm

amhoanna wrote:Well, I've learned a good bit from this forum going as far back as 2005. It didn't occur to me to join till 2010. :idea:

As for the cockles, how about "goá ê simkoaⁿ-hammá"? Or "goá ê sim-ham"? :mrgreen:
The latter would be more appropriate for Penang Hokkien. Just as we have "o" and not "o-a", we only have "ham" and not "ham-a" (both - as I often say - are 'small enough already' :mrgreen:). I see that I made a typo of "sin" instead of "sim" in my posting. Very irritating, I usually check my posts for typos.

And yes, I agree with niuc. Thanks for giving us these very interesting accounts of "life through the eyes of a Hokkien speaker" (and not just a Hokkien speaker, but a Hokkien speaker with a immense love of, interest in, and knowledge of Hokkien!).
xng
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by xng » Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:33 pm

amhoanna wrote: was. Then he said TO EAT in bahasa Guilin and it was something like "yaak faan" (both low level), sounded to me like Hoisan, I wondered if it was actually some kind of bahasa Ping.
[吃飯 Hiak faan is one of the subdialect of cantonese. Even taishanese use Hek Faan. Since Ping is similar to cantonese, it could be Ping too.]

Let me also relate my experience in yarowat, Bangkok.

I had trouble communicating with the people in bangkok in English as most of them don't understand it. But when I about to reach yarowat after walking quite a distance, I met a woman and surprisingly she could speak cantonese and was able to give directions to little lost me. She was born in gwangdong as thai born chinese couldn't speak any cantonese . But her accent wasn't standard cantonese so I had trouble understanding part of it.

When i reached yarowat by bus, I met one dark skinned girl on the bus who surprisingly asked me whether I am chinese when I tried to speak to her in English, I said yes, and then she switched to mandarin saying she is also chinese. I think she is a mix chinese-khmer as most chinese don't look like her. :lol:

I met another mix chinese-khmer massage guy with dark skin who could speak mandarin in silom road. I am still learning thai language and it was extremely painful trying to remember the words. The younger generation couldn't speak minnan anymore but only speak mandarin.

By the way, do you speak Thai ?
xng
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by xng » Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:42 pm

"/ə/ might be trickier business, but I'm guessing the sound changes went on in lockstep. The Coânciu vowel system is probably closest to the "proto-Hoklo" system. As a historical thing, I get the feeling that maybe Coânciu is an "older" form of Hoklo, whereas Ciangciu Hoklo got its start in the Tn̂g era from a Coânciu base, with a mass infusion of Northern hoanná-fighters ... as well as hoanná converting to Hàn identities en masse."

Do you have any link to the origin between cuanciu and ciangciu ?

I am not sure how accurate this is,.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hokkien#History

It states that cuanciu is a language formed during the Jin dynasty , whereas ciangciu is from tang dynasty.
amhoanna
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by amhoanna » Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:46 pm

Sim, Niuc, kámsiā línlâng ê kó͘lē! Languages were meant to be used, and abused. 8) Thanks for the links and stories, Xng.

I still can't get over how "Chinese" Bangkok is! It's like a Singapore that got its own country to tap into, kóng khah hóthiaⁿ leh...

I picked up a copy of the Sèkài Ji̍tpò a few days ago ... in a 7-11!

I flipped to the business section. There was a listing of Thai stocks. 90% of the companies listed were listed in full Chinese, and most of these names were full-on Chinese-style names, not sinicizations of Sanskrit or Tai-Kadai or European names. For example, Siam Commercial Bank is Hoēsiong Gûnhông (sorry, can't type Tn̂glângjī today). Hoē is the same hoē as in Hūihong (HSBC), siong is business. (OK, I'm not sure if it's hoē or hūi.) But I've never seen that name displayed on a branch marquee or anywhere. It's like it's "behind the scenes".

Walking the streets, it's rare to hear any Sino language spoken, unless it's people from other countries. Now Yaowarat might be an exception. But even there the language you hear is overwhelmingly Siamese. But Chinese is written everywhere, on everything! Probably almost to the same extent as Singapore. It's like there's a huge invisible population of Chinese readers. (I came across something similar in Davao, on Mindanao. This one dep't store had a whole row of cookbooks in Chinese.) And almost all of this is in traditional characters. Every other ASEAN port has gone simplified to some extent, but Bangkok hardly.

Mandarin is widespread in Bangkok, for sure. I get the feeling that it's gonna get more so in the next 10, 20 yrs, and it's not just gonna be Teochews and Hakkas "remembering" their national tongue. Bangkokites of all ethnic persuasions will be in on it.

OK, goá citmá lâng tī "the islands" ah, better go reactivate my Malay-Indo.

As for speaking Thai, I speak a little. It should be real easy for anybody that speaks both Hokkien and Cantonese. No, speaking English in Thailand doesn't always work on its own. It works much better if U pull out your wallet. :P
xng
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by xng » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:45 pm

amhoanna wrote:
I still can't get over how "Chinese" Bangkok is! It's like a Singapore that got its own country to tap into, kóng khah hóthiaⁿ leh...

:P
The degree of 'chinese' in bangkok is nowhere near the level of Singapore/Malaysia. It is mostly confined to Chinatown, Bangkok. I cannot rely on my spoken Chinese or English to come to a comfortable degree of conversation. Even in chinese restaurants in bangkok, I can only resort to 'finger pointing' the menu and can't get special customised orders.

In Singapore/Malaysia you can see chinese signboards on every major town (not confined to chinatown) and hear chinese spoken nearly everywhere and chinese newspaper can be sold everywhere including 7-11.

By the way, have you been to Malaysia ? And which towns ? What was your reaction to all these 'chineseness' in a foreign country other than Greater China ?
amhoanna
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by amhoanna » Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:53 pm

By the way, have you been to Malaysia ? And which towns ? What was your reaction to all these 'chineseness' in a foreign country other than Greater China ?
True, S'pore and most M'sian cities are Han in ways that Bangkok is not. I think it's cool when a M'sian of any ethnic bkgrd can speak a handful of Sino languages AND one or more Austronesian languages, fluently. I think it's cool as hell that Oulangga (Rajakumara) and Phang Xiaoqiao sing in Hokkien.
The degree of 'chinese' in bangkok is nowhere near the level of Singapore/Malaysia. It is mostly confined to Chinatown, Bangkok. I cannot rely on my spoken Chinese or English to come to a comfortable degree of conversation.
Interesting thing U point out indirectly.
xng
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Re: Hoklo (Hokkien-Teochew) in Thai Land, reports from the f

Post by xng » Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:21 pm

amhoanna wrote:
Interesting thing U point out indirectly.
It is truly disappointing because everytime I switch on the TV in bangkok's hotel room, I can't find a single channel in chinese. The channels are mostly in Thai, with one channel in japanese and some English channels. It seems that the japanese have more influence in Thailand.

In Malaysia, you can find free TV to air Mandarin, cantonese and hokkien shows, there are also paid TV channels in those 3 languages. That's why a lot of foreign workers from China 'feel more at home' while in Msia. Unfortunately, not many taiwanese come to Malaysia to visit as compared to Thailand and Singapore.
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