linguistic nationalism and Hoklo (Taiwanese, Minnan)

Sino-Platonic Papers has rereleased its August 1991 issue: Linguistic Nationalism: The Case of Southern Min.

An excerpt from the introduction:

In this paper, I will explore aspects of the social value of Southern Min. I draw on data collected in three Southern Min-speaking communities in which I have done participant-observation fieldwork: Penang, Malaysia; Tainan, Taiwan, and Xiamen (Amoy), the People’s Republic of China, focusing in particular on the political importance of Southern Min in Tainan. I take as one goal that of drawing attention to the importance of regional identities and differences in Chinese society, differences all too often disregarded by those who seek to reify ‘Chinese culture’ as a monolithic entity.

Also, the color scheme of the online catalog for Sino-Platonic Papers has been adjusted a little in order to make clearer which issues are presently available for free download.

Shanghai metro told to end language service

This week’s news provides a good example of how petty China’s language police can be.

Workers in Shanghai’s metro service must often deal with Chinese who do not speak either Shanghainese or standard Mandarin, so they began to collect useful phrases so staff members could better understand and answer some questions. They focused on Cantonese, Hoklo (a.k.a. Minnan, Southern Fujianese, Taiwanese, etc.), Wenzhouhua (although this is generally classified as part of the same language that contains Shanghainese, it is largely incomprehensible to most people in Shanghai), Wuhanhua (although classified as a Mandarin dialect, it is far removed from standard Mandarin), and Changsha (a dialect of Hunanese). More than fifty metro employees are to study the phrases.

This caught the attention of Shanghai’s Spoken and Written Language Work Committee (Y?yán Wénzì G?ngzuò W?iyuánhuì). On Tuesday, Zhu Lei (??), a committee official, reported that her office had “contacted the Metro management …, stating that the program could violate the country’s language policy to promote the use of Putonghua [i.e., Mandarin].”

“The right way to solve communication barrier is to speak Putonghua,” she is quoted as saying.

university Web site on Taiwanese

National Taichung University (Guólì Táizh?ng Jiàoyù Dàxué / ????????) has a new Web site on Taiwanese. Unfortunately, parts of it — especially the sound files — appear to require the use of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser and ActiveX. But it’s still a useful resource.

further reading: M?nnány? Luóm?zì p?ny?n f?ng’àn jí f?y?n xuéxí w?ng jiàn zhì wánchéng (????????????????????), CNA, June 15, 2007

Chinese characters for Taiwanese–a new list from Taiwan’s MOE

Taiwan’s Ministry of Education has released a list of Chinese characters that can be used for writing common words in Taiwanese. (Note: PDF file.) I’ve provided a few examples at the end of this post.

The minister of education stated last week that students will not be tested on Chinese characters for Taiwanese, so I doubt there will be a widespread effort to learn these. Moreover, some of these characters are not presently in Unicode, making their use in practical applications at best difficult. (And even if they were in Unicode, that doesn’t mean fonts would include them or that a significant number of people would have such fonts.)

More characters and readings are to be released later. But since this list of just three hundred entries took the ministry four years to compile (not counting the many years various scholars worked on this before then), I don’t think anyone should be expecting much more to be released soon.

Here is the ministry’s press release on this.


  1. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
    1. ???
      ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????kiánn?????????kué?????????????????????????????[webmaster’s note: written together as one character] ?in??????**?[webmaster’s note: see PDF for these characters] ?tshit-thô????????????????Unicode?????????????????????????????????????????????????????
    2. ????
      ??????????????????????????tsh?ng sann??????????????á??????bô?? ????sán??????g?ng??????óo/ué??????????????????????????????
    3. ????
  2. ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
    1. ??????????????????????????????ê????ê??????????????????????tsi?t-ê??????it–ê??????????????????tsi?t-ê???????????????????????it–ê????????guá-ê???????
    2. ???????????????????????????????m?????????t?????????suí????????kh?g????????kha????????báng?????????ts??????????háu????????tsiânn????????l?ng?????

Here are nine entries from the list of three hundred.

建議用字 音讀 又音 對應華語 用例 異用字
recommended character pronunciation alternate reading corresponding Mandarin example different wording
ba̍k   目鏡、目眉  
bang   蚊子 蠓仔、蠓罩
蠻皮 bân-phuê bân-phê, bân-phêr 頑強不化 你真蠻皮 慢皮
bat pat 認識、曾經 捌字、捌去  
beh bueh, berh 要、如果、快要 欲食飯、欲知、強欲 要、卜
  微、細小、輕微 風微微仔吹、微微仔笑  
bīn   臉、面 面色、面熟  
明仔載 bîn-á-tsài miâ-á-tsài, bîn-nà-tsài 明天、明日 明仔載會好天 明仔再、明旦載
  無、沒有 無錢、無閒  


Taiwan gov’t releases booklet on Hoklo romanization

Taiwan’s Ministry of Procrastination Education has finally released a handbook on the use of romanization for Taiwanese: “Táiw?n M?nnány? Luóm?zì p?ny?n f?ng’àn sh?yòng sh?ucè” (??????????????????).

Most of the pages in this are devoted to a list of the syllables of Taiwanese. Without counting tones Taiwanese has nearly twice as many unique syllables as Mandarin (797 vs. about 410, respectively).

Here’s the list of Taiwanese syllables, as given in Taiwan’s current official romanization system for Hoklo:

a, ah, ai, ainn, ak, am, an, ang, ann, ap, at, au, ba, bah, bai, bak, ban, bang, bat, bau, be, beh, bi, bian, biat, biau, bih, bik, bin, bing, bio, bit, biu, bo, bok, bong, boo, bu, bua, buah, buan, buat, bue, bueh, bui, bun, but, e, eh, enn, ga, gai, gak, gam, gan, gang, gau, ge, gi, gia, giah, giam, gian, giang, giap, giat, giau, gik, gim, gin, ging, gio, gioh, giok, giong, giu, go, gok, gong, goo, gu, gua, guan, guat, gue, gueh, gui, ha, hah, hai, hainn, hak, ham, han, hang, hann, hannh, hap, hat, hau, he, heh, henn, hennh, hi, hia, hiah, hiam, hian, hiang, hiann, hiannh, hiap, hiat, hiau, hiauh, hik, him, hin, hing, hinn, hio, hioh, hiok, hiong, hip, hit, hiu, hiunn, hiunnh, hm, hmh, hng, hngh, ho, hoh, hok, hong, honn, honnh, hoo, hu, hua, huah, huai, huainn, huan, huann, huat, hue, hueh, hui, hun, hut, i, ia, iah, iam, ian, iang, iann, iap, iat, iau, iaunn, ik, im, in, ing, inn, io, ioh, iok, iong, ip, it, iu, iunn, ji, jia, jiam, jian, jiang, jiap, jiat, jiau, jim, jin, jio, jiok, jiong, jip, jit, jiu, ju, juah, jue, jun, ka, kah, kai, kainn, kak, kam, kan, kang, kann, kap, kat, kau, kauh, ke, keh, kenn, kha, khah, khai, khainn, khak, kham, khan, khang, khann, khap, khat, khau, khe, kheh, khenn, khennh, khi, khia, khiah, khiak, khiam, khian, khiang, khiap, khiat, khiau, khiauh, khih, khik, khim, khin, khing, khinn, khio, khioh, khiok, khiong, khip, khit, khiu, khiunn, khng, kho, khok, khong, khoo, khu, khua, khuah, khuai, khuan, khuann, khuat, khue, khueh, khuh, khui, khun, khut, ki, kia, kiah, kiam, kian, kiann, kiap, kiat, kiau, kik, kim, kin, king, kinn, kio, kioh, kiok, kiong, kip, kit, kiu, kiunn, kng, ko, koh, kok, kong, konn, koo, ku, kua, kuah, kuai, kuainn, kuan, kuann, kuat, kue, kueh, kui, kun, kut, la, lah, lai, lak, lam, lan, lang, lap, lat, lau, lauh, le, leh, li, liah, liam, lian, liang, liap, liat, liau, lih, lik, lim, lin, ling, lio, lioh, liok, liong, lip, liu, lo, loh, lok, long, loo, lu, lua, luah, luan, luat, lue, lui, lun, lut, m, ma, mai, mau, mauh, me, meh, mi, mia, miau, mih, mng, moo, mooh, mua, mui, na, nah, nai, nau, nauh, ne, neh, ng, nga, ngai, ngau, nge, ngeh, ngia, ngiau, ngiauh, ngoo, ni, nia, niau, nih, niu, nng, noo, nua, o, oh, ok, om, ong, onn, oo, pa, pah, pai, pak, pan, pang, pat, pau, pe, peh, penn, pha, phah, phai, phainn, phak, phan, phang, phann, phau, phauh, phe, phenn, phi, phiah, phiak, phian, phiang, phiann, phiat, phiau, phih, phik, phin, phing, phinn, phio, phit, phngh, pho, phoh, phok, phong, phoo, phu, phua, phuah, phuan, phuann, phuat, phue, phueh, phuh, phui, phun, phut, pi, piah, piak, pian, piang, piann, piat, piau, pih, pik, pin, ping, pinn, pio, pit, piu, png, po, poh, pok, pong, poo, pu, pua, puah, puan, puann, puat, pue, pueh, puh, pui, pun, put, sa, sah, sai, sak, sam, san, sang, sann, sannh, sap, sat, sau, se, seh, senn, si, sia, siah, siak, siam, sian, siang, siann, siap, siat, siau, sih, sik, sim, sin, sing, sinn, sio, sioh, siok, siong, sip, sit, siu, siunn, sng, sngh, so, soh, sok, som, song, soo, su, sua, suah, suai, suainn, suan, suann, suat, sue, sueh, suh, sui, sun, sut, ta, tah, tai, tainn, tak, tam, tan, tang, tann, tap, tat, tau, tauh, te, teh, tenn, tha, thah, thai, thak, tham, than, thang, thann, thap, that, thau, the, theh, thenn, thi, thiah, thiam, thian, thiann, thiap, thiat, thiau, thih, thik, thim, thin, thing, thinn, thio, thiok, thiong, thiu, thng, tho, thoh, thok, thong, thoo, thu, thua, thuah, thuan, thuann, thuat, thuh, thui, thun, thut, ti, tia, tiah, tiak, tiam, tian, tiann, tiap, tiat, tiau, tih, tik, tim, tin, ting, tinn, tinnh, tio, tioh, tiok, tiong, tit, tiu, tiuh, tiunn, tng, to, toh, tok, tom, tong, too, tsa, tsah, tsai, tsainn, tsak, tsam, tsan, tsang, tsann, tsap, tsat, tsau, tse, tseh, tsenn, tsha, tshah, tshai, tshak, tsham, tshan, tshang, tshann, tshap, tshat, tshau, tshauh, tshe, tsheh, tshenn, tshi, tshia, tshiah, tshiak, tshiam, tshian, tshiang, tshiann, tshiap, tshiat, tshiau, tshih, tshik, tshim, tshin, tshing, tshinn, tshio, tshioh, tshiok, tshiong, tship, tshit, tshiu, tshiunn, tshng, tshngh, tsho, tshoh, tshok, tshong, tshoo, tshu, tshua, tshuah, tshuan, tshuang, tshuann, tshue, tshuh, tshui, tshun, tshut, tsi, tsia, tsiah, tsiam, tsian, tsiang, tsiann, tsiap, tsiat, tsiau, tsih, tsik, tsim, tsin, tsing, tsinn, tsio, tsioh, tsiok, tsiong, tsip, tsit, tsiu, tsiunn, tsng, tso, tsoh, tsok, tsong, tsoo, tsu, tsua, tsuah, tsuainn, tsuan, tsuann, tsuat, tsue, tsuh, tsui, tsun, tsut, tu, tua, tuan, tuann, tuat, tue, tuh, tui, tun, tut, u, ua, uah, uai, uainn, uan, uang, uann, uat, ue, ueh, uh, ui, un, ut

reviews of books related to China and linguistics (2)

Sino-Platonic Papers has just released online its second compilation of book reviews. Here are the books discussed. (Note: The links below do not lead to the reviews but to other material. Use the link above.)

Invited Reviews

  • William A. Boltz, “The Typological Analysis of the Chinese Script.” A review article of John DeFrancis, Visible Speech, the Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems.
  • Paul Varley and Kumakura Isao, eds., Tea in Japan: Essays on the History of Chanoyu. Reviewed by William R. LaFleur .
  • Vladimir N. Basilov, ed., Nomads of Eurasia. Reviewed by David A. Utz.

Reviews by the Editor

  • “Philosophy and Language.” A review article of Françcois Jullien, Procès ou Création: Une introduction a la pensée des lettrés chinois.

Language and Linguistics

  • W. South Coblin, A Handbook of Eastern Han Sound Glosses.
  • Weldon South Coblin. A Sinologist’s Handlist of Sino-Tibetan Lexical Comparisons.
  • ZHOU Zhenhe and YOU Rujie. Fangyan yu Zhongguo Wenhua [Topolects and Chinese Culture].
  • CHOU Fa-kao. Papers in Chinese Linguistics and Epigraphy.
  • ZENG Zifan. Guangzhouhua Putonghua Duibi Qutan [Interesting Parallels between Cantonese and Mandarin].
  • Luciana Bressan. La Determinazione delle Norme Ortografiche del Pinyin.
  • JIANG Shaoyu and XU Changhua, tr. Zhongguoyu Lishi Wenfa [A Historical Grammar of Modern Chinese] by OTA Tatsuo.
  • McMahon, et al. Expository Writing in Chinese.
  • P. C. T’ung and D. E. Pollard. Colloquial Chinese.
  • Li Sijing, Hanyu “er” Yin Shih Yanjiu [Studies on the History of the “er” Sound in Sinitic].
  • Maurice Coyaud, Les langues dans le monde chinois.
  • Patricia Herbert and Anthony Milner, eds., South-East Asia: Languages and Literatures; A Select Guide.
  • Andrew Large, The Artificial Language Movement.
  • Wilhelm von Humboldt, On Language: The Diversity of Hunan Language-Structure and Its Influence on the Mental Development of Mankind.
  • Vitaly Shevoroshkin, ed., Reconstructing Languages and Cultures.
  • Jan Wind, et al., eds., Studies in Language Origins.

Short Notices

  • A. Kondratov, Sounds and Signs.
  • Jeremy Campbell, Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language, and Life.
  • Pitfalls of the Tetragraphic Script.

Lexicography and Lexicology

  • MIN Jiaji, et al., comp., Hanyu Xinci Cidian [A Dictionary of New Sinitic Terms]
  • LYU Caizhen, et al., comp., Xiandai Hanyu Nanci Cidian [A Dictionary of Difficult Terms in Modern Sinitic].
  • Tom McArthur, Worlds of Reference: Lexicography, learning and language from the clay tablet to the computer.

A Bouquet of Pekingese Lexicons

  • JIN Shoushen, comp., Beijinghua Yuhui [Pekingese Vocabulary].
  • SONG Xiaocai and MA Xinhua, comp., Beijinghua Ciyu Lishi [Pekingese Expressions with Examples and Explanations] .
  • SONG Xiaocai and MA Xinhua, comp., Beijinghua Yuci Huishi [Pekingese Words and Phrases with Explanations] .
  • FU Min and GAO Aijun, comp., Beijinghua Ciyu (Dialectical Words and Phrases in Beijing).

A Bibliographical Trilogy

  • Paul Fu-mien Yang, comp., Chinese Linguistics: A Selected and Classified Bibliography.
  • Paul Fu-mien Yang, comp., Chinese Dialectology: A Selected and Classified Bibliography.
  • Paul Fu-mien Yang, comp., Chinese Lexicology and Lexicography: A Selected and Classified Bibliography.

Orality and Literacy

  • Jack Goody. The interface between the written and the oral.
  • Jack Goody. The logic of writing and the organization of society.
  • Deborah Tannen, ed., Spoken and Written Language: Exploring Orality and Literacy.

Society and Culture

  • Scott Simmie and Bob Nixon, Tiananmen Square.
  • Thomas H. C. Lee, Government Education and Examinations in Sung China.
  • ZHANG Zhishan, tr. and ed., Zhongguo zhi Xing [Record of a Journey to China].
  • LIN Wushu, Monijiao ji Qi Dongjian [Manichaeism and Its Eastward Expansion].
  • E. N. Anderson, The Food of China.
  • K. C. Chang, ed., Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives.
  • Jacques Gemet, China and the Christian Impact: A Conflict of Cultures.
  • D. E. Mungello, Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodation and the Origins of Sinology.

Short Notice

  • Roben Jastrow, The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe.

In Memoriam
Chang-chen HSU
August 6, 1957 – June 27, 1989

  • Hsu Chang-chen, ed., and tr., Yin-tu hsien-tai hsiao-shuo hsüan [A Selection of Contemporary Indian Fiction].
  • Hsu Chang-chen, T’o-fu tzu-huiyen-chiu (Mastering TOEFL Vocabulary).
  • Hsu Chang-chen, Tsui-chung-yao-te i pai ke Ying-wen tzu-shou tzu-ken (100 English Prefixes and Word Roots).
  • Hsu Chang-chen, Fa-wen tzu-hui chieh-koufen-hsi — tzu-shou yü tzu-ken (Les préfixes et les racines de la langue française).
  • Hsu Chang-chen, comp. and tr., Hsi-yü yü Fo-chiao wen-shih lun-chi (Collection of Articles on Studies of Central Asia, India, and Buddhism).

This is SPP no. 14, from December 1989. The entire text is now online as a 7.3 MB PDF.

See my earlier post for the contents of the first SPP volume of reviews and a link to the full volume.

reviews of books related to China and linguistics

Sino-Platonic Papers has just released online its first compilation of book reviews. Here is a list of the books discussed. (Note: The links below do not lead to the reviews but to other material.)

Invited Reviews

  • J. Marshall Unger, The Fifth Generation Fallacy. Reviewed by Wm. C. Hannas
  • Rejoinder by J. Marshall Unger
  • Hashimoto Mantaro, Suzuki Takao, and Yamada Hisao. A Decision for the Chinese NationsToward the Future of Kanji (Kanji minzoku no ketsudanKanji no mirai ni mukete). Reviewed by Wm. C. Hannas
  • S. Robert Ramsey. The Languages of China. Reviewed by Wm. C. Hannas
  • James H. Cole, Shaohsing. Reviewed by Mark A. Allee
  • Henry Hung-Yeh Tiee, A Reference Grammar of Chinese Sentences. Reviewed by Jerome L. Packard

Reviews by the Editor

  • David Pollack, The Fracture of Meaning
  • Jerry Norman, Chinese
  • N. H. Leon, Character Indexes of Modern Chinese
  • Shiu-ying Hu, comp., An Enumeration of Chinese Materia Medico
  • Donald M. Ayers, English Words from Latin and Greek Elements
  • Chen Gang, comp., A Dictionary of Peking Colloquialisms (Beijing Fangyan Cidian)
  • Dominic Cheung, ed. and tr., The Isle Full of Noises
  • Jonathan Chaves, ed. and tr., The Columbia Book of Later Chinese Poetry
  • Philip R. Bilancia, Dictionary of Chinese Law and Government
  • Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China
  • Robert K. Logan, The Alphabet Effect
  • Liu Zhengtan, Gao Mingkai, et al., comp., A Dictionary of Loan Words and Hybrid Words in Chinese (Hanyu Wailai Cidian)
  • The Mandarin Daily Dictionary of Loan Words (Guoyu Ribao Wailaiyu Cidian)
  • Shao Xiantu, Zhou Dingguo, et al., comp., A Dictionary of the Origins of Foreign Place Names (Waiguo Diming Yuyuan Cidian)
  • Tsung-tung Chang, Metaphysik, Erkenntnis und Praktische Philosophie um Chuang-Tzu
  • Irene Bloom, trans, ed., and intro., Knowledge Painfully Acquired: The K’un-chih chi of Lo Ch’in-shun
  • Research Institute for Language Pedagogy of the Peking College of Languages, comp., Frequency Dictionary of Words in Modern Chinese (Xiandai Hanyu Pinlyu Cidian)
  • Liu Yuan, chief compiler, Word List of Modern Mandarin (Xianhi Hanyu Cibiao)
  • The Editing Group of A New English-Chinese Dictionary, comp., A New English-Chinese Dictionary
  • BBC External Business and Development Group, Everyday Mandarin

This is SPP no. 8, from February 1988. The entire text is now online as a 4.2 MB PDF.

Mandarin’s ‘four languages’

Another back issue of Sino-Platonic Papers has been released: The Four Languages of “Mandarin”, by Robert M. Sanders of the University of Hawaii.

Here’s how it begins:

Many hours have been spent at scholarly meetings and many pages of academic writing have been expended discussing what is to be considered acceptable Mandarin. Very often these discussions degenerate into simplistic and narrow-minded statements such as “That’s not the way we say it in …!” or “We had better ask someone from Peking.” Objectively speaking, these disagreements on style reflect a less-than-rigorous definition of which type of Mandarin each party is referring to. Because there has been a failure by all concerned to define fully the linguistic and socio-linguistic parameters of their assumed language(s), Mandarin oranges are often unwittingly being compared with Mandarin apples. This paper is a preliminary attempt to articulate the fundamental differences distinguishing four major language types subsumed under the single English heading ‘Mandarin’. Though the Chinese terms putonghua/guoyu, guanhua, and difanghua help to accentuate the conceptual distinctions distinguishing our four types of Mandarin, it is arguable that even Chinese scholars are not immune from confusing one language with another.

Sanders goes on to indentify and discuss what he calls

  1. Idealized Mandarin
  2. Imperial Mandarin
  3. Geographical Mandarin
  4. Local Mandarin

The entire text is now online for free in both HTML and PDF (875 KB) formats.

Professor Sanders is also one of the associate editors of the excellent ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary.