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March 8, 2014
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1 Introduction
Penang Hokkien


Penang Hokkien is a local variant of Min Nan (Southern Min) spoken in Penang, Malaysia. It is the lingua franca in Penang, and is characterised by the widespread use of Malay language|Malay and English language|English borrowed words. It is predominantly a spoken dialect: it is rarely if ever written in Han characters|Chinese characters, and there is no standard romanisation. This article uses the Missionary Romanisation or Peh-oe-ji|Peh8-oe7-ji7 (白話字) which is common in Taiwan.

Minnan is one of the sub-languages of the Chinese language and is mainly spoken in southern Fujian and Taiwan. It is also spoken by many overseas Chinese in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia, and is known in Southeast Asia as "Hokkien" (福建話; pinyin F?ji?n hu?; Minnan: Hok4-kien3-oa7). Strictly speaking, it should be known as Southern Hokkien to distinguish it from Minbei (Northern Min) and Mindong (Eastern Min), the language of Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province.

Sino-Tibetan ⊃ Chinese language|Chinese ⊃ Min (linguistics)|Min ⊃ Minnan|Southern Min ⊃ Penang Hokkien

In particular, Penang Hokkien is based on the dialect of Minnan spoken in the Zhangzhou (漳州 Hokkien: Chiang1-chiu1) prefecture of Fujian. It is said that it most closely resembles the dialect spoken in Longhai (龍海 Hokkien: Liong5-hai2) county, around the city of Haicheng (海澄 Hokkien: Hai2-teng5). In Southeast Asia, similar dialects are spoken in the states bordering Penang, and in Medan, Indonesia|Medan.

The tones in Penang Hokkien are:

# 陰平 Yin-ping |55|
# 上聲 Shang-sheng |51|
# 陰去 Yin-qu |21|
# 陰入 Yin-ru |2|
# 陽平 Yang-ping |25|
# 陽去 Yang-qu |21|
# 陽入 Yang-ru |5|

The numbers in | | reflect the tone contours, with 5 being the highest and 1 the lowest.

As in the Xiamen (Amoy) standard, the Shangsheng is not distinguished into Yin and Yang, and there is thus no 6th tone. However, as in the Zhangzhou dialect the two Qu tones are virtually identical, except in their sandhi forms.

Like in other Minnan dialects, the tone of a syllable in Penang Hokkien depends on where in a phrase or sentence the relevant syllable is placed. For example, the word 牛 gu5 is pronounced with a rising |25| tone, but when it is placed in front of another syllable in 牛肉 gu5-bah4 is pronounced with to a low |21| tone.

The rules which apply when a syllable is placed in front of a connected syllable in standard Minnan, simply put, are as follows:

  • 1st becomes 7th

  • 7th becomes 3rd

  • 3rd becomes 2nd (sometimes sounds like 1st in Penang Hokkien)

  • 2nd becomes 1st

  • 5th becomes 7th

  • 4th becomes 8th

  • 8th becomes 4th

For more detailed rules on Minnan tone sandhi, see Taiwanese (linguistics).

Most of the differences between Penang Hokkien and Amoy Hokkien exist also in Zhangzhou, e.g.:

  • The use of -uin where Xiamen has -ng, e.g. 門 muin 5, 飯 puin 7, 酸 suin 1, etc.;

  • The use of -ε and -εn where Xiamen has -e and -in, e.g. 家 kε1 蝦 hε5 生 sεn 1;

  • The use of -oe where Xiamen has -e and vice versa, e.g. 火 hoe2 未 boe7 細 se3;

  • The use of -oa where Xiamen has -oe, e.g. 話 oa7 花 hoa1; 瓜 koa1;

  • The use of -io·n (or -iaun) where Xiamen has -iun, e.g. 羊 io·n 5 丈 tio·n 7 (or tiaun 7) 想 sio·n 7 (or siaun 7);

  • The use of Zhangzhou forms such as 糜 moai5 (Xiamen: be5), 先生 sin1-sεn 1 (Xiamen: sien1-sin 1), etc.

Although Penang Hokkien is obviously based on the Zhangzhou dialect, there are some obvious differences, which in many cases result from the influence of other Minnan dialects, e.g.:

  • The Yang-ru (8th) tone in Penang, which is pronounced high |5| as in Xiamen and other forms of Minnan, whereas in Zhangzhou it is low with a slight lilt |12|;

  • The use of -u in some words such as 汝 lu2, 豬 tu1, 魚 hu5, etc., where Zhangzhou has li2, ti1 and hi5. This is a characteristic of other variants of Minnan, such as the dialects of Tongan (同安 Hokkien: Tang5-oan 1) and some of the villages on Amoy island.

  • The adoption of variant pronunciations: e.g. 我 wa2 from Teochew (Zhangzhou: goa2);

  • The use of unique variant pronunciations: e.g. 什麼 han 2-mih8 (Zhangzhou: san 2-mih8 or sian 2-mih8).

Like other dialects in Malaysia and Singapore, Penang Hokkien borrows heavily from Malay, but sometimes to a greater extent, e.g.:

  • balai: police station

  • balu (baru): new(ly), just now

  • batu: stone

  • berlian: diamond

  • jamban: toilet

  • jambu: guava

  • kisien (kesihan): pity

  • mana: as if?, since when?

  • mata: police

  • manik: bead

  • loti (roti): bread

  • sabun, soap (borrowing by Malay from the Portuguese language; also present in Taiwanese (linguistics)|Taiwanese)

  • suka, to like

  • tapi, but

  • tuala, towel (borrowing by Malay from the English language)

Penang Hokkien has also borrowed numerous words from English, but these tend to be more technical and less well embedded than the Malay words, e.g.

  • paip: pipe

  • bulek: brake

  • pak: park

  • pam: pump

  • Taiwanese language

  • Singlish

  • Medan Hokkien (in Indonesian)

Category:Languages of Malaysia
Category:Chinese language

:minnan:| Holopedia - Wikipedia in Peh-oe-ji

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Penang Hokkien".

Last Modified:   2005-02-27

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