Monday, May 31, 2010

潮州话 Teochew dialect

I was into learning some Teochew dialect recently, therefore I searched through the net and find some interesting thing to share.

"Due to geographical isolation from Fujian and influences from Cantonese and the later Hakka, Teochew evolved into a separate language."

Teochew is a member of the Southern Min group in Sino-Tibetan family. It is a dialect spoken in the Chaoshan area, in southeastern Guangdong

and some information from wikipedia

Languages in contact

This refers to Chaozhou, which is the variety of Teochew spoken in the People's Republic of China.


Chaozhou children are introduced to Putonghua as early as in kindergarten; however, Chaozhou remains the primary medium of instruction. In the early years of primary education, Putonghua then becomes the sole language of instruction, although students typically continue to talk one another in Chaozhou. Putonghua is widely understood, however minimally, by most younger Chaozhou speakers, but the elderly usually do not speak Putonghua since, in their times, teaching was done in the local vernacular.

Chaozhou accent in Putonghua

Native Chaozhou speakers find the neutral tone in Putonghua hardest to master. Chaozhou has lost the alveolar nasal ending [-n] and so the people often replace the sound in Putonghua with the velar nasal [-ŋ]. None of the southern Min dialects has a front rounded vowel, therefore a typical Chaozhou accent supplants the unrounded counterpart [i] for [y]. Chaozhou, like its ancient ancestor, lacks labio-dentals; people therefore substitute [h] or [hu] for [f] when they speak Putonghua. Chaozhou does not have any of the retroflex consonants in the northern dialects, so they say [ts], [tsʰ], [s], and [z] instead of [tʂ], [tʂʰ], [ʂ] and [ʐ].


Since Chao'an, Raoping and Jieyang border the Hakka-speaking region in the north, some people in these regions speak Hakka, though they can usually speak Chaozhou as well. Chaozhou people have historically had a great deal of contact with the Hakka people, but, interestingly, the Hakka language has had little, if any, influence on Chaozhou. Similarly, in Dabu and Fengshun, where the Chaozhou- and Hakka-speaking regions meet, Chaozhou is also spoken although Hakka remains the primary language there.


Because of influences from Hong Kong soap operas and Guangdong provincial tele programmes, many young Chaoshan people can understand quite a lot of Standard Cantonese even if they cannot speak it.

Other languages

In the mountainous area of Fenghuang (鳳凰/凤凰), a non-Sinitic language, the She language, is spoken by a few hundred aboriginal She people (畲). It belongs to the Hmong-Mien language family.


[edit] Personal pronouns

The personal pronouns in Teochew, like in other Sinitic languages, do not show case marking, therefore 我 [ua] means both I and me and 伊人 [i naŋ] means they and them. The southern Min dialects, like some northern dialects, have a distinction between an inclusive and exclusive we, meaning that when the addressee is being included, the inclusive pronoun 俺 [naŋ] would be used, otherwise 阮 [ŋ]. No other southern Chinese language, such as Cantonese or Hakka, has this distinction.

Personal Pronouns in Teochew
Singular Plural
1st person ua2 I / me Inclusive naŋ2 we / us
Exclusive ŋ2 we / us
2nd person lɤ2 thou / thee niŋ2 you (all)
3rd person i1 he/she/it/him/her 伊人 i1 naŋ5 they/them
[edit] Possessive pronouns

The Teochew language does not distinguish the possessive pronouns from the possessive adjectives. As a general rule, the possessive pronouns or adjectives are formed by adding the genitive or possessive marker 個/个 [kai7] to their respective personal pronouns, as summarised below:

Possessive Pronouns in Teochew
Singular Plural
1st person 我個/我个 ua2 kai7 my / mine Inclusive 俺個/俺个 naŋ2 kai7 our / ours
Exclusive 阮個/阮个 ŋ2 kai7 ours / ours
2nd person 汝個/汝个 lɤ2 kai7 thine / 恁個/恁个 niŋ2 kai7 your / yours
3rd person 伊個/伊个 i1 kai7 his / his; her / hers; its / its 伊人個/伊人个 i1 naŋ5 kai7 their / theirs

本書是我個/本书是我个 [puŋ2 tsɤ1 si6 ua2 kai7] The book is mine.

However, there are instances in which 個/个 [kai7] can be dropped, such as when followed by a measure word, as in:

裙/我条裙 [ua2 tiou5 kuŋ5] my skirt

[edit] Demonstrative pronouns

Teochew has the typical two-way distinction between the demonstratives, namely the proximals and the distals, as summarised in the following chart:

The Teochew Demonstratives
Proximal Distal
General Singular 只個 [tsi2 kai7] this 許個 [hɤ2 kai7] that
Plural 只撮 [tsi2 tsʰoʔ4] these 許撮 [hɤ2 tsʰoʔ4] those
Spatial 只塊 [tsi2 ko3] here 許塊 [hɤ2 ko3] there
只內 [tsi2 lai6] inside 許內 [hɤ2 lai6] inside
只口 [tsi2 kʰao7] outside 許口 [hɤ2 kʰao7] outside
Temporal 只陣 / 當 [tsi2 tsuŋ5 / tɤŋ3] now; recently 許陣 / 當 [hɤ2 tsuŋ5 / tɤŋ3] then
Adverbial 這生 [tse2 sẽ1] like this 向生 [hia2 sẽ1] like that
Degree [tsĩẽ3] this [hĩẽ3] that
Type 者個 [tsia2 kai7] this kind 向個 [hia2 kai7] that kind
[edit] Interrogative pronouns
The Teochew Interrogative Pronouns
who / whom (底)珍 [ti tieŋ]
底人 [ti naŋ]
what 乜個 [miʔ kai]
what (kind of) + noun 乜 + N [miʔ]
which 底 + NUM + CL + (N) [ti]
底個 [ti kai]
where 底塊 [ti ko]
when 珍時 [tieŋ si]
how manner 做呢 [tso ni]
state 在些(樣) [tsai sẽ ĩẽ]
乜些樣 [miʔ sẽ ĩẽ]
什乜樣 [si miʔ ĩẽ]
how many 幾 + CL + N [kui]
若多 + (CL) + (N) [dzieʔ tsoi]
how much 若多 [dzieʔ tsoi]
why 做呢 [tso ni]

[edit] Numerals

Teochew numeral system
Pronunciation Financial Normal Value Notes
liŋ5 0 〇 is an informal way to represent zero, but 零 is more commonly used, especially in schools.
also 空 [kang3]
tsek8 1 also [tsek8] (original character)
also 弌 (obsolete)
also [ik4] as the last digit of a 2-or-more-digit number e.g. 二十一 [dzi6 tsap8 ik4]
or days of a month e.g. 一號 [ik4 ho7]
or as an ordinal number e.g. 第一 [tõĩ6 ik4]
also 么(T) or 幺(S) [iou1] when used in phone numbers etc.
no6 (T) or
2 also 弍 (obsolete)
also (T) or 贰(S)
also [dzi6] as the last digit of a 2-or-more-digit number e.g. 三十二 [sã1 tsap8 dzi6]
or days of a month e.g. 二號 [dzi6 ho7]
or as an ordinal number e.g. 第二 [tõĩ6 dzi6].
sã1 (T) or
3 also 弎 (obsolete)
also 參(T) or 参(S) [sã1].
si3 4
ŋou6 5
lak8 6
tsʰik4 7
poiʔ4 8
kao2 9
tsap8 10 Although some people use 什, It is not acceptable because it can be written over into 伍.

Note: (T): Traditional characters; (S): Simplified characters.

Ordinal numbers are formed by adding 第 [tõĩ6] in front of a cardinal number.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Holy Crap monkies that's a lot of info.